Wanting it to be Different

I have been thinking a lot about investments and how crucial it is that we care for and nurture the investments that we make in our life. Not only the investments we consciously make but also the things that are important to us – relationships, education, health, etc. We all know that we have to invest time and energy in what’s important to us but many of us forget to apply that logic to ourselves.

When we find ourselves wanting things to be different, there is only one way to bust out of that plateau and build a life that will blow our own mind: intentional investment of our time, energy, and resources. Because wanting it, is never enough.

I recently invested in a personal trainer for the first time in my life. I’ve always been really fit and active but I finally got to a point where my health and fitness seemed to plateau. My weight wasn’t changing, my body wasn’t looking any differently, I wasn’t excited about working out; I realized that it was time for me to mix it up. I went to the gym anxious about the meeting and not committed to purchasing anything. As someone who’s always been into health and fitness, I figured that they could just give me some pointers and I can figure out the rest from there.

As we made our way through the session, I had a rude awakening. The workout was grueling and painful (and moderately humiliating!!!). At the end of the session, I realized that maybe I didn’t have it all figured out. Maybe it would make sense to bring in some support. So we sat down in the cubicle in the middle of the gym floor and started crunching the numbers. And I was completely floored! It was significantly more expensive than I had expected, and it was significantly more money than I had intended to spend on that particular afternoon. At that moment, I realized I was experiencing the same thing that many of my clients experience:

I wanted to change but I was hesitant to commit to doing the hard work.

My reptile brain was freaking out, objecting to this new possibility….when will I find the time…it’s too expensive…I can do it on my own…I don’t need this….it won’t work…, etc. As my brain spun out of control, I realized in that moment what was happening. I realized that it wasn’t really about the money, it was about my level of commitment to making an actual change…to signing up to do the hard thing…to spending a ton of money on myself in furtherance of a goal. To spending a ton of money knowing that I would HAVE TO show up to justify the expense! I didn’t actually believe that it wouldn’t work. I had clear evidence I wasn’t figuring it out on my own and I knew that I could find the time. None of my brain’s thoughts were the truth.

The REAL truth was that I wanted the transformation but committing to the work was freaking me out.

At that moment, I gave my reptile brain the middle finger and signed up. It was something I wanted and this was the first step to making good on that commitment to myself.

After I left the session several dollars lighter than I began, I realized that this is the challenge that many of my clients go through. No one gets excited about spending tons of money on personal training. People don’t get excited about spending thousands of dollars in therapy sessions. And many of the people I encounter are not excited about spending money on a coaching relationship. Why?

Because we’ve gotten along on our own for so long.

What more could these people possibly offer?

It’s not sexy. It’s not fun. It’s not a new purse that we can show off to our friends. It’s something that will require more of us. It requires us to put our money where our mouth is. To do something more than WANT THE CHANGE. Do we want it badly enough to submit to a process that will demand more of us and that will push us to take a hard look at where we really are? After I left my training session, I realized that just maybe I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought I was.

Just maybe I had some things that I needed to learn. And just maybe I need a little bit of humility about what I was capable of and how badly I really wanted things to change.

When we choose to make an investment in ourselves or not make an investment in ourselves, it is never really about the money or the time. It’s really about our humility and our willingness to recognize that we can’t do it all alone; that we aren’t getting there on our own.

I like to think about our investment in our professional lives and careers, in the same way, I think about buying a house. In both scenarios, we spend THOUSANDS of dollars on the investment. Both investments will provide for us and our families, will protect us, and give us stability. But the main difference is that when we buy a home, no one ever believes “that will be the last money I spend on that!” We know there will be upkeep and maintenance costs. We will make improvements and changes. When it comes to our homes, it seems we are always spending money to care for them and improve them.

But when it comes to our careers, we are much more reluctant to spend our own money on upkeep and maintenance. It is no wonder that for so many of us, our careers are run down and abandoned houses, left to wear away on their original foundations. Just like a run-down, decrepit house, treating your investment in that manner will never provide any return!

If you want your career and your life to blossom, you have to care for your original investment.

Professional athletes are the best in the world at what they do and they all have coaches. They acknowledge that there is room for growth, there is value in the different perspectives that those coaches offer. In order to create the life of your dreams, you must be open to the possibility that you aren’t seeing everything clearly. That just like me and my personal trainer, maybe you have more room to grow if only you had someone to push you.

I’m here and ready to push you out of your plateau. Are you in?

Do You Have “It”?

I was recently coaching a new client and I was explaining to her why I do this work. For those of you who have heard this rambling, let me summarize. When I was at my first, nationwide law firm out of law school, the shine eventually wore off. I was working all the time, struggling to find balance, and I became incredibly unhappy. At the time, I didn’t have the tools that I have now and I didn’t understand how to “fix” my situation. So I left. I cracked open the exit door just a few inches and I was quickly drawn out by another opportunity. I was hired by a rival firm to build a practice group from the ground up.

At that time in my life, I was roughly 29 years old. I had been practicing for about four(ish) years. I had a solid foundation and I knew enough to be dangerous but to start a whole practice group–pure silliness. What kind of maniacs would take that risk on me?! Despite it all, I sold them on the idea and I gratefully leapt from the arms of one task-master to another.

As I settled in and started to take an inventory of everything that went along with “running” a practice, I realized that I was going to need some support. I already felt myself bristling at the tired mentalities and structures that I disliked at my last firm and I could tell that many of the challenges I had run away from at my last firm would be waiting for me in this new place. So I hired a coach–a female attorney who had successfully built her own firm. I wanted someone who got it. I wanted someone who understood the subtext, the struggles, and the environment without my having to explain it.

(If you are interested in that kind of support, grab a free session now.)

In working with her, I was able to see and deconstruct many of the patterns that were following me into my new firm. I was able to shift into a different mentality — a space of confidence and unwavering belief that I COULD do it. That I did have what it takes. We worked through the imposter syndrome that many of us carry with us especially those of us that didn’t come from professional, college-educated homes.

Working with my coach, I was able to build a practice that was bursting at the seams within one year. Within one year, I had so much work and garnered the confidence and trust of so many large and demanding companies that I was drowning in billable hours. We hired two partners from opposing firms to come and join me…partners that were 20 and 30 years my senior and had been practicing for many years to great success without the oversight and wisdom offered by this 30-something little girl. So naturally, with that change, came all sorts of new challenges.

During that time, I was traveling all over the country selling our services to clients. Every day, my calendar was jammed with breakfasts, lunches, and happy hours where I was selling and schmoozing without end. I was asked to teach at a business school and then to also teach at a law school and I was constantly presenting at one conference or another.

My practice was thriving and I had done what I set out to do. I loved every minute of it.

The last time I related this story to a client, she asked me whether I thought my success was attributable to skills I had developed or whether I just had “it.” “Do you really think that is something I can do? I just don’t think I’m the type,” she explained.

This, people, is why I do this. There is nothing magical about my success.

“I am nothing special, of this I am sure.” – Nicholas Sparks

The only reason people aren’t going out and creating the life of their dreams is that they believe they can’t do it. Because they, like this client, allow themselves to consider that there is some innate “it” and you either have it or you don’t.

Let’s level set here. I am an introvert and I do not love to speak publicly. Prior to joining that firm, I hadn’t spoken publicly since COLLEGE. At my prior firm, I wrote the speeches, I prepped the slides but I was the silent partner — speaking was never permitted for associates. I was good at my job but I was not (and am not) any kind of a legal prodigy. Aside from leading bar crawls during my sorority days, I had never “led” anyone other than a secretary and a paralegal. I had no idea how to set budgets or project income, how to “sell” legal services, how to talk to partners who weren’t pulling their weight, and the idea of presenting my business plan to a Boardroom full of men made me sick to my stomach.

If there was some special “it” that made this stuff easy, I didn’t receive that gift.

I created my success because I INVESTED in myself. I put in the work. I allowed my coach to push me to do things that made me very uncomfortable. I got really good at uncomfortable conversations, I got really practiced at humility, and I learned how to “sell” myself authentically. Does it come easily now? No. It still doesn’t. But I have done it so many times despite the discomfort, I understand now that’s just part of the process for me.

I came to understand that in order to create a different career for myself, I had to do things differently. I had to take time to actually work on myself and that meant I had to get comfortable spending my hard-earned money on the fluffy stuff. I had to invest my money differently. I needed to acknowledge that, in order to create a different future, I was going to have to completely revamp my approach to practicing and that meant getting a coach on my team.

She pushed me to do things I didn’t want to do; things I WOULDN’T have done but for my respect and commitment to her. She helped me to see things about myself that were holding me back and she helped me to find my voice in a world where many of us just put our heads down and “accept” the legal profession with all its warts.

I wanted to share this with you today because I want to dispel this notion that we can’t all have the lives of our dreams. There is no magical “it.” You have what it takes and we have to stop considering that we aren’t enough. Instead, I implore you to consider —

What if you are wrong — what if you have EXACTLY what it takes?

Why We Procrastinate (and how to stop)

Procrastination much? We all do it from time to time and, with effort, we can develop different habits. Dare I say, we can stop procrastinating for good? I rarely procrastinate anymore and many of my clients have developed better planning skills and tools to combat the urge to procrastinate but we’ve done that song and dance so we aren’t going there today. Today, we are exploring the rationale behind our procrastination.

First and foremost, let’s blame biology.

In brief, as humans, we are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This means that when our brains perceive danger, rightly or wrongly, our brain will begin crafting an escape route. This biological wiring is designed to keep us out of the mouths of hungry lions.

So where does this danger come in? For those of you living in the thick of your practice, you might be thinking that some of your partners and clients actually resemble hungry lions out to rip your throat out and that’s actually not too far off…. When we have something that we are avoiding, the REASON we are avoiding that project is because we have some underlying fear associated with the project. There is something about the project that is arousing your biological flight response. It might sound something like this

I’m not going to get this right and she is going to be so pissed at me.

I don’t know how to figure this out and he is probably going to fire me when I mess it up.

I cannot stand working for this client, they always leave out crucial facts.

I am so nervous, I cannot botch this project.

I hate working for this partner, I really don’t want to do this.

This is going to be miserable.

All of those thoughts will arouse some type of fear-based response. All of those thoughts trigger more negative thoughts and on and on it goes until we have built up this project to be cruel and unusual punishment that must be avoided at all costs. We are afraid of the consequences of not getting it right, pissing off the partner or the client, or we simply dread the perceived misery of the project.

In either case, we are being driven by some unacknowledged fear.

No problem, says the procrastination fairy, Starbucks has a new latte you need to try, and have you checked out your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page lately? Then we indulge in our other biologically motivated response–seek pleasure! Gobble up endorphins wherever you can find them!

This routine will stretch on only until another, larger, and more critical fear enters the dance floor:

the deadline

Suddenly, the fear that we won’t get the project done in time looms larger in our minds and drowns out the earlier fears of failing the project. We start to imagine the SHOUTY CAPS emails raging over our missed deadline or failure to respond. Our mind is abuzz with a full-on parade of horribles showing us what will happen if we don’t stop shopping on Amazon and get. to. work.

Off we go, motivated by fear once again.

But this time, our earlier procrastination has likely set us up to fail in the exact same manner we were afraid of failing to begin with. We work frantically, our thoughts are scattered, and our work is filled with a chaotic sense of urgency. Ultimately, we end up beating the project to death with the procrastination stick until it is unrecognizable. We make mistakes that are completely out of character because we are rushed and panicked and now even MORE convinced that the partner is, in fact, going to seriously impede your survival at the firm. When we work from that mental space, motivated by fear, we do not do our best work. We miss things we would not normally miss and we overlook basic things that we KNOW. In sum, we fail ourselves and show up much less than our best.

This whole routine is tethered together by one small similarity: fear. We procrastinate because we are avoiding some negative emotion; we are afraid of something about the project. Then we procrastinate until a larger fear gets us moving. Ultimately, we end up creating our own self-fulling prophecy where we do the really terrible job that we feared we would do in the first place.

So what do we do?

We have to start getting honest with ourselves about why we are procrastinating to begin with. Once we get to the root of fear, we can ask whether we like that reasoning. Furthermore, we can acknowledge how this story will end if we choose to invest in that fear and go down the Facebook rabbit-hole instead. Combating procrastination only requires one thing from you: honesty. Honesty with yourself about your actions and your justifications. From there, all you have to do is ask yourself whether you like your reasons for acting or not acting and make a new, informed, honest choice about your next steps. Those are the choices that will determine the type of person you become — one who procrastinates or one who doesn’t. The choice is ultimately yours and all that matters is whether you are comfortable with your reasoning.

“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”

Gene Hayden

Start taking actions towards your goals and stop letting fear derail your progress. Sign up for a free session and stop procrastinating today.


Photo by RODOLFO BARRETO on Unsplash

When Your Boss is the Villain…

In every drama, there are three characters — the villain, the victim, and the savior. But for any drama to continue, the characters must remain fixed. The villain remains bad; the victim remains the loser, and the savior never saves anyone. Cinematic dramas only end when one of those characters decides to stomp out of the drama and write a new story.

Whenever we find our lives dripping in dramatics and heightened emotions, we must consider: which role are we playing?

As children, many of us learned that, in every story there is a villain and a victim. Someone is either inherently good or inherently bad. Consider popular children’s movies — Cruella de Vil, Ursula, Scar, Maleficent, Jafar, Gaston, etc. Those characters were the “bad guys”, ever-tormenting the lives of the “good guys.” Foiling their attempts at happiness and the simple enjoyment of uncontaminated apples. Those stories don’t allow for the complexity of humanity that the rest of us come to understand as adults.

People are murky, a mix of light and dark, good and bad.

Rarely are we all able to universally agree that one human is good or evil — even the most despised criminal has family members and lovers that speak to their more redeeming qualities. We are humans, not storybook characters. Despite this awareness, many of us make habits out of classifying others around us as villains, consciously or unconsciously. We see others as out to “get us” and committed to making our lives miserable. We use phrases like “they are freezing me out”, “I have been completely written off”, “he hates me”, “she has no interest in developing our relationship.” We invest in these statements and close the book as if that is simply the end of the chapter in some Disney movie. 

What we fail to recognize is that complexity that we know resides within all of us. That positioning disregards any other possibility than how we are currently seeing things. Most importantly: if they are the villains, that makes us the victim. We are at their mercy, at the whim of their cruelty and there is nothing that we can do about it.

Not only does that mentality ignore the true complexity of human relationships, it provides an excuse to stop trying. It offers justification to leave the relationship where it is and not take any action because, after all, you are very busy being a victim to circumstances beyond your control. There is simply nothing you can do. No way to fix it.

You have tried “everything!”

In keeping with the theme of children’s movies, when we allow ourselves to camp out in this world where this is “no solution” and “I just don’t know what to do…nothing will get better” we ignore the best parts of our beloved movies! We love children’s movies because they teach us about TRANSFORMATION! They invariably revolve around a character who refuses to be a victim. Who refuses to roll over and “accept” their reality. We all want the big transformation! We all want to see the main character stretch outside their comfort zone, use their voice, and give their villain the middle finger. We love seeing people rise above adversity and step outside of victim mode! No one wants a story were the “victim” gives up.

We all want to see the “victim” become empowered and seize their life by its sensitive bits!

Why am I going down this rabbit hole? Because in every day, we have opportunities to be that transformative story. So many of us camp out in the victim mentality. We tell ourselves, there are no solutions, I’ve tried everything, nothing will get better…this is just my life…we immerse ourselves in disempowering thoughts sprinkled with a boatload of self-justifications I tried EVERYTHING, I just know it won’t work, I know he won’t be responsive…. Those thoughts are fraught with victimhood! I have yet to find any human on the face of the planet who has tried EVERYTHING at anything. Yet we develop justifications for our inaction. We tell ourselves there is nothing more to be done and we stay put. Often unhappy and miserable (and we’ve concluded that there is no solution, so we’re here to stay and that’s fun too).

No one wants to read that story! Why do we do this to ourselves?

Because it’s easier to be a victim than it is to do the hard work that comes with transformation.

Being a victim is easy. Growth is hard. 

There will be scenarios in our lives that will afford us an opportunity to write our own transformative stories. Life will give us abundant chances to grow and develop. Similarly, life will give us challenging hands and ample opportunities to see ourselves as the victim. There will be times when you give up and that’s okay! But we cannot become skilled at giving up. We cannot become skilled at being the victim. Instead, we must become skilled at transformation! We must practice doing the hard thing. Trying just ONE more way to break through to your boss…To ask for that raise ONE MORE time…To voice your feelings in another kind of way…To try and develop that relationship with your co-workers one last time.

Too often I see women who have dug in their six inch heels. They refuse to see how they have given up to victimhood. They are CONVINCED those around them are the bad guys and there is just no fixing it. While that is certainly one way to live your life, wouldn’t it be so much more fun write your own hero story?

If you find yourself in a space where you are convinced there is no solution available, I would love to work with you and start writing a new story. You are stronger than you think and the possibilities to rewrite your happiness are endless.

To put a bow on this and conclude the title of this rambling: When Your Boss is the Villain…YOU become the victim.

Is that how you want your story to go?

If your life and your “villain” were characters in a children’s story, how would you want it to end?


Photo by murat esibatir from Pexels

Productivity and Perfectionism

Many of my clients describe themselves as perfectionists. They don’t want to do something unless and until it can be done properly. While that sentiment sounds noble and worthy, its impact on our lives is much more nefarious.

The truth underneath that notion is that when we allow ourselves to delay action until it can be done perfectly, we are really just trying to protect ourselves from failure.

But what I often see happening is that perfectionism morphs into complete inaction; permission to remain in place. I’m not ready to move forward yet so I’m just going to stay where I am.

It is not logical to believe that we can plan everything to such an extent that we can eliminate all risk of failure.

You are going to have to risk failure if you are ever going to act.

Those that work with me regularly know that I believe perfectionism is for scared people and I’m not the only one who objects to perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism is a just a prettier word for self-protection.

While I agree that we must all act in a manner that protects ourselves in the highest sense, that self-protective impulse is not relevant when it comes to commonplace activities — applying for a new job, reaching out for support, finishing a large project, sending an email. So many of us apply that self-preservation impulse to those every day tasks and the net result is that we don’t apply for the job, we never reach out for support, and we agonize over the tiniest details of projects and simple emails. Our work takes longer and our emotional fortitude wanes.

When we allow ourselves to linger in preparation mode rather than simply acting, not only do we prolong our current state (assuming we will EVENTUALLY act, which is not always the case, some of us prepare indefinitely) but we rob ourselves of the opportunity to create self-confidence.

Self-confidence is not something we are born with; it is something we create for ourselves.

How do we build it? We take action and fail and develop the ability to move forward despite the failure. When we know we can survive failure, heartache, embarrassment, shame, humiliation and all the other fantastic emotions that accompany failure, we learn to trust ourselves. We realize that we can weather any storm, overcome all those negative emotions. In that experience we develop confidence in ourselves because we know we can do and survive anything that comes our way.

Naturally, that means that in order to become more confident, we must fail. We must take action and set ourselves up to experience failure. If we don’t ever experience failure and adversity, how can we learn to trust in our ability to do and survive anything?

If we play it safe forever, allowing ourselves to linger in preparation so that when we do act, we can act perfectly (as if that ever really works) we prevent ourselves from simply acting and taking the chance that we might fail.

At the same time, we rob ourselves of the possibility that we might act and do it perfectly the first time. It just might work out! All those details you wants to distress over and sift through might never even matter. But you won’t know until you take the risk.

When we linger in preparation we imply that it is possible to know exactly what is needed for success and what is necessary to prevent failure. That is ridiculous.  If that were true, our lives would be very different. The truth is that we never know what will work or won’t work until we start acting and learning all the things that didn’t work.

When my clients explain to me why they aren’t taking action on things or why they are taking so long to complete their work, I challenge them to experiment with the concept of B- work. What if you allowed yourself to present B- work where it was warranted? What if you allowed yourself to recognize that sometimes done is actually better than perfect? What if you accepted that all the minutia, all those nagging second-guessing thoughts might not actually be important to the overall project? What if a client wants a B- answer and doesn’t want to pay for a A+ dissertation-worthy response?

What is the worst that could happen if you just committed to acting and stopped second-guessing?

Embarrassment…shame,…guilt…?

Those are all just vibrations in your body, caused by your thoughts. YOU and how you talk to yourself when things don’t go as planned, THAT is what causes those emotions.

The beauty of it all is that you control those thoughts and you can decide what you want to make it mean when your commitment to action is met with failure. 

It doesn’t have to mean that you are a failure or that you aren’t cut out for your job. It could simply mean that you learned how to not do something; you can add that learning to your arsenal, practice experiencing the feelings of embarrassment of guilt and just keep moving.

Without acceptance of failure, you will never create meaningful success. The price for success is repetitious failure. The process of repetitious failure creates self-confidence. What do you have to lose?

Are you wanting to take action but can’t figure out how to get moving? One session can make all the difference. Sign up for free session and get started creating the life you really want.


Photo by Karyme França from Pexels

Perfectionism

AKA the most common way we hold ourselves back.

I recently had a mini-session where my client was telling me that she needed an entire day to complete one of the tasks on her action plan. When I challenged her to constrain herself and do it in half the time, we discovered that her reasoning for this conclusion was it would take an entire day to “do it right” and to make sure that it was “perfect.”

We do this all the time. We convince ourselves that we must complete something to perfection before we can move on to the next step.

We can’t ask for a raise until we are able to conduct our work with perfection. We aren’t going to offer to speak at a conference until we have a full mastery of the underlying material. We don’t want to take that expert deposition until we have done simpler depositions perfectly.

We carry around this faulty belief that there is no sense in doing something unless you can do it flawlessly.

Can you imagine where we would be if everyone followed that logic?! If everyone was afraid to massively fail on the way to success?

Consider Thomas Edison and his endeavors to create artificial light: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

The real motivation behind this perfectionism is the avoidance of failure.

If we believe we can’t act until we can do it perfectly, then we don’t have to do anything until we know we can do it without failure. We don’t have to face any criticism of our imperfections until we have a foolproof plan to avoid criticism. We can spend our entire lives building up to those perfect skills and never getting there: we never take any risks so we never fail.

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Perfectionism is a way to stay stuck. To convince yourself that your efforts are noble. You simply want to do it right and you can’t move forward until you do that. It seems valid. It seems reasonable. But this is simply fear masquerading in a more “honorable” outfit. The fear of failure, dressed as perfectionism.

Perfectionism is for scared people.

The truth is that you don’t want to face any criticism.

It’s easier to tell yourself you are only going to do it if you can “do it right” than it is to be honest with yourself and admit that you don’t want to experience failure or criticism. Most people avoid criticism because they have a practiced habit of endorsing the criticism. They agree with the criticism and interpret the feedback to mean that they are a failure.

When you allow criticism to mean that you can’t do it, of course you are going to try and avoid criticism!

Enter the myth of perfectionism to distract you from what’s really going on.

Don’t jump teams and join your critics by default. Don’t let failures mean anything about you. Don’t let the words of critics hold you back. Criticism from others has more to do with the other person than with you!

You can decide to receive criticism however you want. Consider allowing it to mean that you are learning and always improving (because you are a human and “to err is HUMAN”).

If you committed to doing everything 80% and moving on, how different would your life be? How much more could you accomplish?

People may criticize your B+ work. People may NOT criticize your B+ work. You won’t know until you stop trying to manufacture A+ work before putting anything out there. You can always go back and make something better but you won’t know what is “better” until you start trying and learning.

Besides, just because you conclude something is perfect, doesn’t mean no one will criticize it. Spinning on things until they are perfect, does not “save” you from criticism.

That is a lie you are telling yourself to keep you safe. To keep you stuck.

Don’t convince yourself that perfect is something to strive for. It’s all subjective.

Don’t allow the myth of perfection to keep you stuck.

Success only comes from trying and failing repeatedly. Not from sitting on the sidelines theorizing about how to best do something.

Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection. ― Kim Collins

Get out there are start failing. You can’t learn how to handle critics if you never do anything noteworthy.

Think your perfectionism is serving you? Let’s see what’s really going on. What are you afraid of?

Photo by George Becker from Pexels

Contrails (Your Past is Stalking You)

When someone says to you: “Tell me about yourself.” How do you respond?

Most of us take this to mean the trifecta: What do you do? Are you married? Do you have kids?

The interesting thing about how we respond to these lines of questioning is that our responses almost invariably describe our pasts.

I am married (Read: 10 years ago, I took a vow to another person.)

I have 3 kids (Read: Over the past several years, I have given birth to three humans.)

I am an attorney (Read: I went to law school 15 years ago.)

I don’t know about you but who I am today is only a small fleck of the person I was 10 or 15 years ago. All of those responses describe our past actions. Our past selves. None of this is who we are today.

What if you had to answer that question but could not reference your past in doing so? What would your response be?

Hard, right?

What gets really interesting is when we take it one step further:

I like to read.

I am not good at basketball.

I am an introvert.

I don’t like to be in large crowds.

I am not a good dancer.

I like to snow ski.

All of these things we use to describe ourselves we treat as factual. As if they just are. But in reality, these things describe our past experiences. Our past likes and dislikes. Our past successes and failures.

I used to like to wear my brother’s clothing and I never wore makeup.

That is not the case anymore! I have changed, and my likes/dislikes and self-expression have changed as well.

So often in our lives we drag our pasts with us in ways that we don’t even recognize:

I’m not good with relationships (because I am divorced)

I am not good at public speaking (because I had a really bad experience at a conference 2 years ago)

I don’t really like to try new sports (because I broke my ankle snowboarding for the first time)

Whatever it is we are telling ourselves and others about ourselves is often past-focused. We look to our past to describe who we are. To define ourselves. We look to our past to forecast our future self:

In the past I had a bad relationship and so that means I am bad with relationships today and will be in the future. I’ve tried, and it didn’t work out so that’s just my lot.

When you do this, when you look to your past to describe who you are today, you are investing in your past failures and limitations. You are looking to those past experiences to create your future.

For instance, so often people identify themselves by what they do for a living. That characterizations can limit how we see ourselves today and in our future. Who cares if I became an attorney decades ago? That has no bearing whatsoever on who I am now and where my future is going! So what if you didn’t go to college?! That has nothing to do with whether you will go to college next week, so why bother bringing it up? What you wanted to do for a living when you were in your 20s is irrelevant today.

When crafting your future, do not limit your dreams to what you have accomplished in the past, it will only limit you. Your past is no indication of who and what you can be tomorrow, next week, next year.

We carry our pasts with us like the contrails from a plane. Stop doing that! That doesn’t exist anymore unless you let it. Don’t look to your past to define yourself today and envision your future. It is irrelevant data. The only thing that matters is what you want in your future; that has nothing to do with where you have been.

The next time someone says to you “Tell me about yourself,” I hope that you will pause and consider the question anew. Don’t limit who you are by what you did 5, 10, 15 years ago. Let you past rest and start creating the person you want to be today.

Every. Single. Day. Is an opportunity to create the life and the person you want to be.

I love helping my clients dream about their future and move away from their past limiting beliefs. I would be honored to support you as well.

The Elusive Happy

Do you ever feel confused about why you are not happier in your life?

You have a job that pays the bills. You have a home. You are healthy. You have family and friends who care about you.

Despite seemingly having all the ingredients to live a satisfied life, you just can’t seem to find happiness.

It always feels like something is missing or you catch yourself constantly wondering is this it?

Most of the women that I work with come to me to work on this very issue. They want to be happier, they want to feel better.

They believe that I can help them complete a task of some sort that will lead them to the elusive happy-land they have been seeking.

Unfortunately, when we learn to understand why we feel the way we do, we also come to realize that there is nothing that I can do to make you happier.

There is nothing anyone can do to make you happier.

You are going to have to go this one alone.

In our society, so many people blame their unhappiness on things outside of themselves:

I’m unhappy because I hate my job.

If my spouse was more affectionate, I would be happier.

I’m unhappy because I don’t make enough money.

I’m unhappy because I’m always broke.

Circumstances outside of us have no way of imparting feelings upon us. There are no magic feeling zappers that other people use to control how we are feeling. People cannot reach out and inscribe emotions onto your brain.

Your feelings are created by your thoughts and the often-times nasty things swirling around in your head.

If you are unhappy, it might be because you spend 99% of your time thinking about how much you hate your job, or how your partner isn’t good enough, or you don’t have enough money. Those thoughts feel terrible.

Those thoughts will never create happiness.

People are so incredibly wed to this notion that circumstances create our feelings. When I explain this concept, they get so defensive. They want to tell me how terrible their boss is or how broke they really are, because once I really understand their circumstances, I will get it. Then I will see that their bank account balance is what is making them unhappy.

Nope. Your bank account balance is just a circumstance. When you see that balance and think how am I going to pay the bills, that thought is what is creating unhappiness. That thought only leads to worry and a whole parade of terrible emotions, insecurities and does not create any good results.

If circumstances were able to change the way we felt, then we would all feel the same way about your bank account balance. But we don’t. There are undoubtedly people on this planet who would see your bank account and think wow, that’s a lot of money or I wish my account was that big. They might feel jealous or envious of your bank account based upon the thoughts that come up for them. The point is, the circumstance is neutral. Your thoughts about it create your emotions.

The same is true for happiness. If you want to be happier in your life, take a look at the thoughts you are carrying with you. Do those thoughts invoke happiness?

If your thoughts are breeding negativity and pain, it’s important first to understand that your brain is just running some old patterns, rinsing and repeating thoughts it is comfortable with. That is what brains do—they want the easy route, the neural pathways that they know and are good at running.

Second, try to shift how you are viewing and characterizing the circumstance. Instead of agonizing over the job you hate, consider thinking I am a good employee and you are going to miss me when I’m gone or I am using this opportunity to learn how to use my voice or this job is a stepping stone to get me one stop closer to my dream job.

I call this truth shifting. Find a better truth to focus on and ditch the old one. The key is that the thought has to be something you believe: something true.

Any of those thoughts will create feelings of motivation, inspiration, focus and excitement. Spend more time in that space and less time in the space where you are feeling depressed and unhappy about your job.

Imagine what you could create and who you could become if you learned to create positive emotions instead of letting your brain keep you stuck in a mental rinse and repeat cycle of negativity.

The next time you find yourself wanting to be happier, think of it as an opportunity to sit with yourself and examine your thoughts that are creating those emotions. The truth might surprise you.

Need support? Schedule a free coaching consultation and learn about how to take this basic concept to the next level.

Forget NYE Resolutions

New Year’s came and went and here I stood, resolution-less. That might seem odd, given my profession. Let me explain.

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because they usually have such a negative flavor:

This year, I’m going to lose weight.

This year, I’m going to finish my college degree.

This year, I’m going to find a boyfriend.

This year, I’m going to find a new job.

These resolutions all smell of lack and unhappiness for our present state. They suggest that there is something wrong with where we currently are—that we need to find something better.

This year, I’m going to lose weight because I hate my body.

This year, I’m going to finish my college degree because I’m not good enough without it.

This year, I’m going to find a boyfriend because I’m tired of being alone.

This year, I’m going to find a new job because then I will be happy.

So often, we set resolutions because we are fed-up and throwing in the towel. We are sick of where we currently stand and tell ourselves, this is the year we “fix” things. It’s a resolution because you are resolved to do better, be better, find better.

This is one of the reasons people avoid setting goals—it reminds them that they are not happy with their current state.

It reminds them of what their life is currently lacking.

That is not the way to set goals.

The other reason people avoid goal-setting is because it creates discomfort. Setting a goal positions your brain to start lecturing you about how this goal will never work. Why you won’t attain it or can’t attain it. Those thoughts create tremendous discomfort and, if unobserved, will create tremendous inertia. (Resolution: go nowhere fast!)

The end result is broken resolutions and more proof that you simply aren’t good enough.

It’s no wonder that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are fulfilled! We are approaching it all wrong.

In coaching, we approach goal-setting from a place of abundance. We start from a place of gratitude for what you have achieved. In between thinking about what we want, we remind ourselves of what we used to want so badly but now have.

I want to become an accomplished partner and lead a practice group.

I want to spend a month living in Thailand.

I want to spend a summer in China.

I want to work from home.

I want to have a house that is warm and inviting and demonstrates my personality and love for antiques, life, and all things hippie.

I want to have 10 cats and dogs!

I want to teach in a collegiate setting.

Half of the things on this list I have already accomplished. Half of them I haven’t.

When I read this list, I get excited. I remember how badly I wanted some of those things. I remember how I was able to accomplish them. I am filled with pride and hope and excitement, knowing that I can accomplish everything else on this list…I’m already half way there!

That is the space to “goal” from. That is the energy that will bring your dreams to light.

Stop criticizing “here” and dreaming that “there” will be better. It won’t! Life is 50-50, no matter how many goals you check off your list, there will always be good days and bad days.

In contrast, when I create a list comprised solely of things I want but don’t have, it makes my stomach turn in knots. It feels overwhelming and insurmountable. Intimidating. Pie in the sky, adorable little list of dreams that I can throw away in the month and get back to reality.

That is why I hate NYE resolutions.

I encourage all my clients to set “unattainable goals” because we all need something to strive for—a journey that will scare us and try us and mold us into something new. But setting goals must come from a place of grace and thankfulness—a place of abundance.

When setting goals, ask yourself: are you attracting abundance or are you attracting want? Whatever you are putting out into the universe when you set your goals will come back to you. Choose wisely.

Never make a list of goals or NYE resolutions, unless you surround those dreams with the abundance of your life that you have already achieved. Don’t let yourself ignore all the amazing goals you have already checked off your list. You owe it to yourself to recognize those accomplishments. Foster appreciation and recognize your abundance so that you can attract more.

Setting goals is just the first step process. Then the fun begins: fear, doubt, and uncertainty. How do you achieve any goal you set your mind to? Buckle up and start tackling fear, doubt, and uncertainty. That is where having a trusted coach to support the journey can make all the difference.

Need help setting your 2020 goals? Set up a free coaching consultation and let me support you as you plan your 2020 successes.

Pretty Little Thoughts

In my house this year, the holidays involved boxes, pizza, and beer galore. Rather than ringing in the new year in sequins and confetti, we celebrated in sweatpants and dust bunnies as we crammed our belongings into moving boxes and hoisted them into moving trucks. I had long lost track of clothes that weren’t sweatpants and didn’t manage to find any makeup until we unpacked a few days later.

Moving can be a lot of work and, like most humans, it left me feeling a bit frazzled and frantically searching for that one thing that “I know I put it in a box somewhere…”

Upon returning to work, I found myself struggling to focus. Every request for support or input ruffled my feathers and made me want to go hide until 5pm. I felt like I was crawling out of my skin…If I don’t get out of here and get some time to relax, I’m going to jump out this window…

In lieu of leaping from a tall building, I sat down and did some self-reflection. Why was I feeling so irritable? Why couldn’t I focus and enjoy spending a day NOT lifting boxes or cleaning our old house? Wasn’t this a nice respite?

I did a quick thought download and started working through each thought, quickly discovering the culprit: I am just so tired. It was like my mantra…I am just so tired. I just need a break. Over and over, I kept returning to those thoughts.

Admittedly, I was a bit physically taxed: my muscles ached, and my back was screaming but after a few visits to the company masseuse, I was really feeling pretty okay. I had gotten plenty of sleep and had made an effort to enjoy some nice long baths at the end of each moving day. So why was I feeling so irritable?

Because I kept telling myself I am just so tired.

When I sit with the thought I am just so tired, it makes me feel hopeless andd it creates an avalanche of similar thoughts: I have so much to do, I can’t handle this today, I don’t want to do any of this stuff, I just want to be left alone, etc.

Whenever I feel hopeless, it creates a lot of indecision. I spin out, second-guessing how to spend my day, agonizing over my to-do list, trying to figure what to do next, then I remind myself that I’m just so tired and then the feelings of hopelessness resurface along with all the other ugly thoughts and the day just falls apart.

In the end, my thinking I’m just so tired, created a cycle of indecision and unproductivity that made me feel worthless at the end of the day because I didn’t accomplish anything. I just spent my day spinning in mental misery, beating myself up and mentally wearing myself out. I was exhausted at the end of those first few days because I wasted so much energy in this cycle, going in 1,000 different directions and carrying around indecision, self-judgement and heavy hopelessness.

After this realization, I acknowledged that, while I may be physically tired, carrying around the thought I am just so tired was making me absolutely miserable and was truly making me exhausted at the end of the day. It wasn’t that I was “so tired” I couldn’t be productive and focus, it was the trajectory I created for myself when I kept telling myself I am just so tired. Physically tired or not, that thought was not serving me; it was making my current state even worse. Seeing this, I tried on another thought:

I can do hard things. I can be a good employee and a good partner during this transition period. I have done harder things before.

We all have days when we are tired and operating with a low tank of gas but when your thoughts compound that physical tiredness, it is a recipe for disaster.

Don’t let your thoughts compound an already difficult situation. Use your thoughts to shift from a meltdown to a triumph.

So many of our thoughts seem innocuous and others like I’m just so tired, can seem like hard facts. That is rarely the case.

Thoughts like this can seem so lovely and founded in self-care yet create all sorts of emotional chaos and stunted action. Only by examining your thoughts can you truly get to the root of the problem.

For me, it wasn’t physical tiredness that was bogging me down, it was tired thoughts and the feelings those thoughts created.

If you are feeling like you are in a funk or just can’t seem to get it together, just one coaching session can make all the difference. Check it out. I promise you won’t regret it.

Not sure yet? I get it. Try out a free coaching consultation to see if I’m a good fit to help you create the life you’ve always wanted. I would love the opportunity to meet you and see what we can do together!