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What do you want in 2017? (and 5 ways to get it!)

Resolutions don’t work! 5 things to do instead

Happy 2017! I love the sense of possibility the new year brings. It feels like a fresh start – out with the old and in with new. It’s the perfect opportunity to build on the growth and success you had in 2016 and chuck the beliefs, behaviors and situations that didn’t serve you well.

What do you want most this year and how will you make it happen?

If you’re like millions of people, you’ve already made a resolution or two – find a new job that lights you up, get those regular workouts in, find more time for the people and experiences you value most. (Or my perennial favorite, finally lose those extra 10 pounds! But enough about that…)

The truth is, a whopping 92% of resolutions fail!

I spent more years than I care to admit jumping on the resolution bandwagon, only to fall off it fast and land hard. I felt like I’d failed. I beat myself up for not doing better. Not surprisingly, I had trouble picking myself up and regaining my momentum. Ever gotten caught up in a spiral like this?

Finally, I wised up and decided to stop doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Here are five strategies that helped me stop “resolving” and start creating what I really want.

  1. Dream big. Having a vision for where you’d like to be next December can be exciting and motivating. If you haven’t done this already, write down what you want to achieve and the kinds of experiences you want to have that would make 2017 amazing. Give yourself permission to go big and have fun with this!
  2. Identify priorities. This is key: get clear on why each of these goals is important to you. How will you feel and how will your life be different when you achieve it? If you aren’t connected to your why, you probably won’t reach your goal. Rank you goals in order, starting with the one that will have the biggest positive impact on your life.
  3. Start small. One of the biggest reasons resolutions fail is because they’re too unrealistic. By breaking a bigger goal into more manageable chunks you’re far more likely to accomplish it. Set a time frame – 90 day sprints work well – and outline the specific actions you’ll take each week.
  4. Create accountability. You’ve got a goal and a plan, but let’s be honest – even the most disciplined among us make more progress when we’re accountable to someone else. Reporting activity and getting support from an accountability partner, mastermind group or coach keeps your confidence high and your momentum strong.
  5. Manage your mindset. You can have the most brilliant plan in the world, but if the story you tell yourself is that you don’t have the right credentials, it’s too hard and you can’t do it, it will never really happen. Make your mindset your greatest ally instead of a sneaky saboteur.

Here’s to making 2017 your best year yet. You can do this!

 

 

Want to take back your sanity this holiday season?

3 Myths About Boundaries (and what to do instead)

The holiday season is in full swing – shopping, parties, cards, cookies, friends and family!

It can be wonderful, but also overwhelming. For many of us, it means skyrocketing stress levels. Instead of feeling merry and bright, you may be feeling over-extended, time-crunched and a bit resentful about the length of your to-do list.

Setting healthy boundaries is the key to reducing your stress, but Good Girl beliefs (I must make everyone happy, I need to accept every invitation, the house needs to be decorated perfectly) can make setting limits feel really hard. Here are three common myths about boundaries and some stress-busting strategies you can use instead.

Myth # 1:The problem is the other person. Truth/What to do: It’s really about what you’re tolerating. The other person may have no idea how you feel. Where are you feeling the most stress or resentment? That’s the place where a healthy boundary can really help. Have a conversation and communicate what you need.

Myth # 2: Setting boundaries means you’re selfish. Truth/What to do: It actually means you want to show up at your best, not exhausted and resentful. Give yourself permission to start setting the limits you need. What is one thing you don’t really want to do that you can drop from your to-do list or say no to?

Myth # 3: It’s your job to keep everyone happy. Truth/What to do: No it, isn’t! And you’ll end up exhausted and disappointed if you try. If keeping all the holiday traditions you’ve ever had (or your parents had) because you think everyone expects it is wearing you out, ask for help. Someone may step up or you may discover that certain things actually aren’t that important!

Here’s to a joyous (and a little more peaceful) holiday!

 

 

Are you settling or doing what you really want?

5 ways to get more of what you want

As someone who acknowledges that she’s a recovering Good Girl, you won’t be surprised that I’m hooked on the new Amazon series, The Good Girls Revolt. Based on the book by Lynn Povich, the show is set in 1969-1970 and tells the story of women working at the fictional News of the Week magazine. They face discriminatory practices in the newsroom amid the drama of cultural changes and their own shifting family and romantic relationships.

Here’s the real story: On March 16, 1970, 46 female employees of Newsweek magazine (including Povich) filed a complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming discrimination against women in both hiring and promotion. Their brave action changed years of newsroom traditions and opened the door to new opportunities for women.

While the show is entertainment, I was struck by how relevant the themes still are today. Here are five takeaways I got from watching The Good Girls Revolt and some questions to spark your thinking and motivate inspired action.

  • You can challenge the status quo. At the start of the show, most of the women accepted their assigned roles. It took time for them to realize the business practices of the day were not only unfair, they were illegal and could be challenged. What are you tolerating that doesn’t serve you? How would your life be different if you changed it?
  • You have many possibilities. Career opportunities for these smart, highly educated women were limited to subsidiary roles. Over the course of the show, their thinking about what is possible for them expands. Where in your life are you limiting your own success and happiness? What would it take to make a deferred dream come true?
  • Feel the fear, act anyway. As the Good Girls start to plan their revolt, their fears quickly surface. What if we get fired? What if we fail? The bigger the change, the greater the fear. Is there something you really want, but haven’t pursued because fear or self-doubt popped up? What could you achieve if you acknowledged the fear and still took action?
  • You’re more powerful than you think. Like the women in the show, we often give our power away by living according to other people’s rules and expectations. You can take your power back. Are you saying yes when you want to say no? What would be possible if you said no sometimes so you could start saying yes to what you really want?
  • Find friends who’ve got your back. These Good Girls banded together to create a major change. When one faltered, another was there to support her. The people you surround yourself with can lift you up or bring you down. Who are you spending your time with? What would it mean to have a network of support that inspired you to be your best?

Know your worth and don’t settle.

Why I’m grateful for you….

At a time when fear, anger and intolerance seem to have a grip on our country, it may feel challenging to focus on gratitude right now. It’s easy to get caught up in complaining, blaming and negative thinking.

I get it. I did some of that, too.

But these times can also serve as a catalyst for us to find the good, let our voices be heard and unite in action for positive change. It’s heartening to see so many people stepping up as leaders in ways they never considered before. And that gives me hope.

This Thanksgiving, know that I’m grateful for you, the gifts you share with the world and the difference you make.

Let’s join together to create a better vision – and reality – for tomorrow.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

Masquerade on Halloween – not all year long!

How to drop your mask – even when it’s scary

drop-the-mask_fbRemember how excited you got about Halloween when you were a kid? It was so much fun to decide what you were going to be and what you’d wear.

Dressing up for Halloween has its roots in centuries old Celtic tradition. The Celts put on scary costumes and masks to hide their true identities from evil spirits intent on causing them harm.

I still see lots of people wearing masks, pretending to be someone or something they’re not in order to protect themselves. Only it isn’t just on Halloween.

If I’m honest, there have been times over the years that I’ve hidden the real me behind a mask.

Do any of these disguises sound familiar?

  • Good Girl: I embraced this persona way back in grade school. It seemed innocuous at first. Live up to other people’s expectations and then bask in their approval – a win-win! All I had to do was follow the rules, get good grades and be a model citizen. But there was a dark side to my childhood people pleasing. It set a pattern that I unwittingly carried into adulthood. The price for pleasing everyone else was steep: I started to lose touch with who I really was and what I really wanted.
  • Perfectionist: This mask is tricky because perfectionism often masquerades as having high standards. I’m all about striving for excellence, but the drive to be the best can become self-destructive when it leads to nasty habits like being overly critical (of yourself and others), procrastinating because you have to make things just right and reveling in your workaholic tendencies because they’re proof of how indispensible you are. But trying to be perfect takes a toll. It results in mental and physical exhaustion from chasing an impossible standard and straining to keep up the facade of perfection.
  • Superwoman: Do you have a cape and tights in your closet? While I absolutely believe you have special powers, the reality is that none of us can do it all. But if you’re anything like I was, that may not stop you from trying! Taking care of your career, family, health and all the other demands in your life while never looking stressed or admitting you need help is a seductive image. But pretending you can do it all comes at a cost. While others see the “smiley” mask you’re showing on the outside, you can feel like a fraud on the inside.

The truth is, it can feel pretty vulnerable to show up every day as your authentic self. Others will judge you. And maybe – terrifying thought – they will find you lacking in some way. It feels so much safer to present the face you think the world wants to see and not risk that kind of rejection.

 But there is an internal struggle that rages within us when our values – who we are at the core – are in conflict with how we’re actually behaving. We may be able to rationalize the compromises we’re making for awhile, but something is always out of sync and true happiness eludes us.

It’s time to drop your masks – even if it scares you (and it will). It’s also very liberating!

 Here are 5 steps that can help you start letting go of who you think you should be so you can start showing up as who you really are.

Step one: Get re-acquainted with yourself. If you’ve gotten into a pattern of keeping other people happy, you may have lost track of what’s really important to you. Brainstorm a list of your values and what matters most.

Step two: Find the disconnects. Compare your values to your actions. Are they in sync? Notice any misalignments. Hint: they’re usually areas where you feel frustrated, unhappy or conflicted.

Step three: Take a baby step. Once you know where the biggest gap is, you have a place to start. What’s one small thing you could do to get more aligned? For example, if self-care is a value you’ve been ignoring, take a walk, meditate or plan a healthy meal.

Step four: Appreciate your progress. Since you’re a successful woman, you’re probably used to getting quick results. Change is a process that requires time and hard work. Give yourself credit for the efforts you’re making and the small victories you’re achieving along the way.

Step five: Be kind to yourself. I know from experience that being authentic can make you feel pretty naked. What if other people react negatively when you speak your truth? If that happens, remember – the person whose respect and love you need the most is your own.

 

2 out of 3 women say….

We need more confidence! 3 ways to bolster yours.

dont-let-fear_ww_fbIn a recent study by KPMG, 67% of women said they need more support building confidence to feel like they can be leaders. Experience, title and earnings don’t make you immune from this feeling.

As someone whose work centers around empowering women to achieve their highest success and happiness, I hear the same thing from clients, workshop participants and women in professional groups. They crave the confidence to create the career and life they truly want.

So what exactly is confidence? It’s often defined as an attitude, belief or feeling that you can master or succeed at something. But I like this definition by Richard Petty, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, which links confidence to doing.

“Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into actions.”

Ever spent time thinking about doing something you really want instead of jumping into action to go get it? I have. And I know from conversations with other high achieving women that they experience moments when they hold themselves back from pursuing a dream, desire or goal. It sounds like this.

“I’m exhausted. I know I can’t keep working 60-80 hours a week. But I don’t feel confident about speaking up and drawing some boundaries around my time.”

“I feel undervalued in my current position. I’d love to find a new job, but frankly, I’m not confident that anyone would hire me at my age.”

“Starting my own business is a big ambition of mine, but what if I fail?”

Here’s the irony.

By avoiding risk and sticking to the status quo until you’re completely confident you can do something, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to build your confidence: succeeding at something that seems slightly beyond your reach.

Here are three tips to help you build your confidence so you can turn your thoughts into actions.

  • Take personal responsibility. It’s great to surround yourself with people who are inspiring and supportive, but the reality is that confidence building is an inside job. It requires you to take action even when the outcome is unsure and to keep going when challenges start to come up.
  • Put fear in the backseat. Trying something new and stepping into uncertainty is an invitation for fear to show up. And it will! I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice on how to move forward anyway: acknowledge your fear and let it come along for the ride. But never, ever let fear drive.
  • Tap into your strengths. When it feels as if your confidence is deserting you, remember: you’ve overcome obstacles and achieved goals you’re proud of in the past and you have the personal qualities and skills to prove it. Maybe it’s your courage, persistence, optimism, commitment or resilience that got you through. Make a list and you’ll see – you’ve got what it takes!

What happened in Vegas….

How to play a bigger game (in life, not at the tables!)

14329886_10154701816189271_5794697167328105569_nI just got back from Vegas.

I didn’t gamble, hang out on the strip or stay up all night partying. But I came back feeling infinitely richer than when I arrived.

I was in Vegas to attend a 3-day business retreat with 9 other women and one amazing leader (I’ll admit, I’m slightly in awe of them and honored to be part of this group). What brought us together is the shared goal of using our voices to create positive change for individuals, organizations and communities. Powerful stuff.

Truth be told, it can feel a bit humbling and overwhelming. Despite years of experience and training, it’s easy to think:

 “Who am I to speak up, help women own their power and go after their dreams?”

Marianne Williamson lent this perspective:

“Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world.”

She’s right.

I believe you have a special genius. And you have unique talents. When you’re able to fully use these gifts, you come alive, you’re happier and you do your very best work. You create a ripple effect that inspires everyone around you. Your colleagues, your company, your community – even the world.

But the reality is, most of us get in our own way and hold ourselves back from our highest performance and happiness.

Here are 3 tips to help you ditch the Good Girl thinking (I don’t have all the right credentials, prioritizing my needs is selfish, what will other people think?) that may be getting in your way so you can find your voice, create momentum and achieve your dreams.

  • Change the self-talk. If you are second-guessing yourself, questioning your abilities and telling yourself you don’t have what it takes – STOP! Try speaking to yourself the way you would to a friend – with greater objectivity and compassion. My hunch? Once you start looking for evidence that you have the skills, experience and aptitude to go after what you really want, you’ll find it.
  • Build a support system. There are times when we all need an encouraging word, a compassionate listener or someone to brainstorm with us. Whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, a coach, a business group or some combination of these, find people who will be there for you and be there for them, too. In my experience, this is a big win for everyone.
  • Take action. It’s one thing to talk about taking action and it’s another thing to actually do it. The two things I see that most often getting in the way? Lack of clarity on what to do or trying to do too much at once. If you’re not sure of your next step, it may be time to get some help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you have too much to do, try breaking your goals into more manageable pieces, then get them done one at a time.

The truth is – and it took me awhile to learn this – it doesn’t have to be so hard!

Think you need to reinvent yourself? (you don’t!)

3 truths to let the real you shine through

come-home-to-yourselfI admit it. I’m a recovering good girl (with the occasional relapse).

I spent years following the rules, living up to other people’s expectations and trying to keep everyone happy. One of my core beliefs was that if I did all the “right” things, worked extra diligently and built up my credentials, success and happiness would be mine.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

I learned many valuable skills, got promotions and increased my earnings. But true happiness? Somehow, that kept eluding me.

Not one to give up easily, I kept searching. When I felt I’d achieved my goals at one job, I’d get restless. Time to reinvent myself – again. At least I thought of it as reinvention at the time.

Here’s how it played out. After transitioning from advertising executive to stay-at-home mom and community volunteer for several years, I re-entered the workforce to do something I’d never done before: sales. A few years later, I decided I wanted to put my skills and energy towards making a difference in a more hands on way. So I became a nonprofit fundraiser, then a consultant and eventually an entrepreneur running my own consulting practice.

All of this was incredible experience. I met smart, dedicated, inspiring people and worked hard to make the best contribution I could. With each turn of the career kaleidoscope, I gained new perspective and learning.

Still, there was a missing piece. Then it dawned on me.

All those years that I thought I was re-inventing myself, I was actually coming home to myself. With each new endeavor (even those that didn’t work out the way I hoped they would), I became stronger and braver. The Good Girl persona I’d started to develop as a kid that had become ingrained in my adult self, was gradually getting chipped away through my experiences.

Here are 3 truths to help you ditch the Good Girl thinking and habits that may be getting in your way:

    • Your hopes and dreams are what matter, not everyone else’s expectations
    • Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish – it enables you to show up at your best
    • You can’t please everyone – and you don’t need to try

You don’t need to reinvent yourself to find the happiness and fulfillment you seek. Challenge the old stories that keep you playing small, find your voice and come home to your amazing self. It’s time to let your full genius shine!

Tired of people telling you to follow your passion?

Take Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice. Follow your curiosity instead!

Elizabeth%20Gilbert%20Quote%20about%20Following%20CuriosityHave you ever felt frustrated when well-intentioned people advised you to just follow your passion? I have. The problem with this advice is that you may not know what your passion is!

Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours considering myriad possibilities of what my true passion might be. I’d brainstorm lots of options, but I carried this strategy so far, it actually backfired! It left me feeling overwhelmed, confused and stuck about what to do next.

If only I had a bone-deep certainty of the path I was meant to follow….

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic) has known from childhood that she was born to be a writer. The drive to get her words and stories into the world has been her lifelong passion.

What an inspiring message to share with others, she thought. So Elizabeth went on the speaking circuit, believing she was performing a public service by urging people to follow their passion.

Until someone told her she wasn’t.

One night after delivering a talk in Australia, Elizabeth decided to check her Facebook page. She was shocked by a comment written there by a woman who’d attended her talk. Here is a slightly paraphrased summary of the message:

Because of what you said up there on stage last night, I’ve never felt worse about myself than I feel at this moment. You spent the last 2 hours telling me to follow my passion. I DON’T have one! You just made me feel like the biggest loser in the world.

Bravo to Elizabeth Gilbert for being brave enough to take in this feedback with an open mind.

She was willing to question her assumptions and realized, hers was not the only way. In a subsequent talk, she reflected that there are two kinds of people. Jackhammers like her who have an overwhelming passion and pursue it relentlessly. And hummingbirds, who follow their curiosity and fly from place to place, building rich and complex lives while cross-pollinating the world.

Hear the story in her words – it’s worth the 2 minutes to listen.

Don’t Chase Your Passion and Maybe You’ll Find It (2 minutes):

Flight of the Hummingbird – The Curiosity Driven Life (28 minutes):

Elizabeth Gilbert: Flight of the Hummingbird – The Curiosity Driven Life

If you know with certainty what your passion is, congratulations! But if, like me and many other women I’ve spoken with, your flight has taken hummingbird twists and turns that have sometimes left you wondering where you were headed, take Elizabeth’s advice:

Follow your curiosity. It just might lead you to your passion.

As the saying goes, not all who wander are lost. Your road may be a winding one, but think of all the experiences and adventures you’ll have!