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Develop Your Professional Expertise by Keeping 3 Steps Ahead

Learn to gain self-confidence as you develop your talents into a professional expertise that you can use to build a satisfying and successful business.Would you like to turn your personal talents into a business that you love? You can when you discover your genius and build your professional expertise around the things you love to do, working with the kind of people you enjoy. Does this idea appeal to you? Do you wonder if it’s possible for YOU?

I know it is, because that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do. It takes work and effort, but if I can do it, so can you.

“But Maria”, you might say, “I don’t know what my genius is! I don’t have a specialty. I’m too ordinary.” If that’s how you feel, don’t despair. You can become an expert.

Usually the thing that makes developing a professional expertise so overwhelming is that you think you have to know everything about a subject before you can consider yourself an expert. Let me tell you a secret I’ve learned along the way… you don’t need to know everything. You just need to stay three steps ahead of the people you’re serving. And that makes it very doable!

Why three? Our brains seem to more easily grasp things in threes. It forms a pattern that we remember better. Add more to the mix and we become confused. Just think about some common trios: red, white and blue; blood, sweat and tears; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; mind, body, and spirit;  A,B,C’s; 1, 2, 3; three blind mice; three little pigs; the three musketeers; and Larry, Curly, and Moe. People who originated these concepts intuitively recognized that three is a powerful number.

This principle of keeping three steps ahead applies to any business you have. Whether you’re providing a service, coaching an individual or leading a large group. Your community will see you as an expert if you teach them something they don’t know, or if you can do something they can’t do. You don’t have to know everything to be an expert.In fact, it’s impossible to know everything. You just need to know more than the person you’re teaching or leading.

Staying three steps ahead puts you in the place where you can do your best work. It keeps you in the sweet spot – not too far ahead that you forget what it’s like at their level; and not too far behind, which is so stressful.

 For example, if you’re ten steps ahead, you may forget part of the process and not be able to connect as deeply as they need. On the other hand, If you’re only one step ahead, you probably haven’t integrated your learning enough to have “worked out all the bugs” as the saying goes.

Part of living a healthy life is making sure we’re not staying at the same level personally or professionally. We, as creative humans, are happiest when we’re growing and expanding our knowledge, skills and expertise.

As you expand your professional expertise, you’ll find that there will be things that you outgrow. Over time you’ll weed out what doesn’t bring you joy, and you’ll pinpoint the things that keep you excited and engaged.

Don’t try to hang on to something just because it’s familiar or you’re afraid of trying something new, or you think you owe it to the people in your community. If you’ve outgrown it, be assured there’s someone else out there who can step in and fill that place.Keep yourself in your sweet spot of being three steps ahead and you’ll feel comfortable enough while still feeling challenged. That’s what keeps life exciting and fresh.

So what is it you love doing, or that you do easily? If you’d like help identifying or stepping into your professional expertise more fully, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let me  guide and support you as you explore your options.

Master the Art of Continuous Self Improvement to Achieve Lasting Results

If you want to master the art of continuous self improvement so you see consistent and constant results, then you won’t want to miss this crucial element.If you’re like me, you want lasting results from your efforts. But often our efforts at self-improvement are more like a yo-yo – we go up and then we come back down. Are you frustrated by the time and money you’ve invested just to end up back where you started? If so, you’re ready to master the art of continuous self-improvement.

We all have something we don’t like about ourselves. And, let’s be honest; we’re looking for the magic that instantly transforms without much effort. But you know life isn’t a fairy tale, right? It took years to become the person you are today. You can’t expect to change overnight.

How can you make continuous self-improvement your way of life so it sticks and you don’t revert back to old habits? It begins with being fully aware and committed to a self-improvement habit.

Yes, self-improvement must be its own habit. That’s what so many people miss…they don’t think about making self-improvement a habit. How do you do that?

Carve out time for a daily self-improvement session and commit to keeping it. Start with something easy like 15 minutes each day. Turn this scheduled time into a habit that’s as strong as your other habits like eating, walking, or sleeping. This session is YOUR TIME for only self-improvement activities.

At the beginning, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, other than learning to commit to this dedicated time. You can read, journal, make lists, listen to audios, do Yoga. Just keep this self-improvement appointment with yourself.

Concentrate on strengthening your self-improvement “muscle” by reminding yourself that…

You CAN do it! Your thoughts shape your reality. Believe in yourself. You deserve to live your best life ever.

Self-help resources are tools. Tools don’t get the work done. The workman does. So it’s your job to become skilled at using them in a way that fits your life and your needs. Put in the time and practice it takes to become skilled. It’s not supposed to come easily. Hard work pushes your boundaries so you finally start growing as a person.

Change comes from making new routines. Just as you don’t have to think about how to walk – you do it automatically – you can actually physically create pathways in your brain for your new self-improvement routines. In time, they become so firmly entrenched they become second nature for you.

It takes honesty. Realize where you are right now and set realistic goals. First you may need to go back to basics like stopping procrastination or overcoming compulsions. Your construction is only as good as the foundation you set.

Patience is essential. You’re in this for a lifetime. You’re never going to be “done”; you’re simply getting better. Remember your achievements, be persistent and enjoy the process.

Success comes from turning information into action. Pick one thing you can do today and DO IT. Taking in information is not going to bring transformation. That’s like reading a cookbook without making the recipe. You’re not nourishing yourself until you put the food in your mouth, chew it, and digest it. Just do something!

Any improvement is success. There will always be room for further improvement, so don’t look at how far you still have to go. Recognize and celebrate how far you’ve come.  

Oftentimes it helps to have an accountability partner. I’d love to help you achieve your most excellent self. Feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), and let’s get started. Also be sure to download The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It’s free and is a great way to pinpoint the area of life you want to improve first.

How to be More Productive in Life –The Secret No One Is Talking About

If you’re wondering how to be more productive in life, first believe that it’s okay to be “selfish” with your time, spending it wisely not giving it away. I’m going to share with you a productive secret that very few people will ever share with you. And it may even shock you. Are you ready? It’s okay to be selfish in the morning. No, actually it’s absolutely necessary.

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend selfishness, because it can really damage relationships. But, when you think about it, what is your most important relationship? (Hint: It’s the one you’re most likely neglecting.)

It’s your relationship with yourself, right? If you’re not treating yourself with love, patience, and respect, you won’t be able to show those qualities to others. And you won’t have enough energy to be productive in life.

So, I’m suggesting you do something just for yourself as soon as you get up. It might be making your bed, exercising, reading something inspirational, or meditation. Whatever fuels your creativity and energy. Become a master of your time and set intentions for how you want your day to be.

Now let’s increase your productivity in life by using this same “principle of selfishness” as you carve out the first hour of your work day to focus on your own project. (Of course, this works well if you run your own business. But the principle can also make you indispensible in whatever organization you work for, because it effectively prioritizes your day.)

Too often we jump into taking care of others’ requests or ‘urgent’ needs. Emails, voicemails and the like can wait…they’ll still be there later. Responding in this reactive manner makes you feel like you’re always trying to catch up. Like there’s not enough time. Like you’re not doing what fuels your soul. Like you’re missing out.

On the other hand, if you guard the first hour of your workday, you’ll feel like you’re living up to your potential and that you’re accomplishing something important. In turn, this energizes you to do more, and you build momentum, getting more accomplished with less effort.

Try the following steps to ease into this new morning routine:

  • Block out the first hour of every workday on your calendar. Make this a recurring event, and let everyone know this hour is taken. No compromising!
  • Avoid distractions and set boundaries you can live with, like not checking your email, social media or answering your phone.
  • If you have a mandatory meeting at this time, consider starting your day an hour earlier so you honor your commitment.

 What do you do with the first hour of your new schedule?

Choose a meaningful and/or important project to work on. Look for something that you’ve been intending to do, but haven’t gotten to yet because you’ve been too busy taking care of everyone else’s priorities. For entrepreneurs this can mean working on your business instead of in your business and coming up with plans for future growth.

Then, start making notes for what needs to happen to make your project a reality. Once you have these notes, organize them in a book, card file or small sheets of paper. Put one task per page, card, or piece of paper with instructions of how to do it. If you don’t know, then your task is to find someone who can teach you or can do it for you.

How do you organize all these notes into a productivity strategy you can reuse in all facets of life?

  • Break your project down into monthly benchmarks for success.
  • Break each month’s objective down into weekly tasks.
  • Break down your weekly tasks into 3 critical items.

Start your day working on your single most important item. Once it’s completed, move to the next. If you don’t accomplish all three tasks within the hour, move the unfinished task to the top of your pile to work on tomorrow. Oftentimes you’ll accomplish more in this first hour than you otherwise would all day.

This process helps you become more mindful as you regularly pause to breathe and assess what’s most important to you everyday. You develop a skill that helps you to be fully engaged and productive in life.

Need some help getting started? Whether it’s personal development, improving your health or marketing your business, I’m here to help you stay on track and reach your highest purpose. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), and let’s get started.

The Price of Success – What Is It? Are You Willing to Pay It?

If you think it takes a lot of time and pushing your skill set as much as you can to pay the price of success, that’s partly true, yet there’s more to it… “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” ~  James Allen

We don’t often think about this, but if you make a choice, you also make a sacrifice consciously or unconsciously.

For example: You give up work time to read a book. You invest in your education rather than taking a vacation. You may even purchase shoes instead of food. In each case you sacrifice something to get something you value more.

Each sacrifice, each choice brings you closer to, or takes you further away from, the amazing lifestyle you desire. To get it, you must pay the price of success.

What will excellence cost you? Focused action, hard choices and consistent follow through. You have to become what some might view as “obsessed’ with getting results.

How do you pay the price of success? It could be money. It could be physical effort. It might even be your health if you’re not careful. But your greatest asset is your TIME. Once you spend a second of it, you can’t get it back. It’s in limited supply, so spend it wisely.

However, success isn’t solely guaranteed by how much time you put into an endeavor. Perhaps you’ve heard that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” Malcolm Gladwell posed this rule in his book, “Outliers.” It gives you the impression that you have to put in a vast amount of time and deliberate practice to achieve excellence. (Deliberate practice means pushing your skill set as much as you can.)

But I don’t think that time and deliberate practice are the entire equation for success.

Excellence doesn’t just take time and practice. Your heart, soul and mind must be involved as you find and fulfill your purpose in life. If you aren’t good at an endeavor or you’re doing it just because someone else expects it, no amount of time and practice is going to make you great at it.

When you’re firmly convinced of your purpose, you’re more than willing to make sacrifices to fulfill it, because it fills you with joy and brings out the best in you. Some women have achieved excellence by being wonderful wives and mothers. While the world in general doesn’t give them the recognition they deserve, I think they’re awesome! Others achieve excellence in their chosen profession. That’s awesome too!

Personally, I’ve found my purpose by being the best daughter, wife, friend and coach that I can be. I love assisting women to achieve their purpose whatever that might be. Will this be enough for my lifetime? Time will tell. We all have the freedom to rewrite our lives any time we want.

One thing I do know is that you don’t get anywhere without some level of sacrifice.

On the other hand, be careful about the price you’re willing to pay for success. You don’t ever want to trade your reputation, ethics or integrity for a quick gain. It’s not worth it.

Giving up on your dreams is not a good option either. It exacts a high price in regrets and unhappiness. Don’t quit because you can’t figure out what to do next. If you want it enough, you’ll find a way.

Granted, it is human nature to default to what we’re used to, what’s in our comfort zone. However, growth depends on discomfort. Creativity isn’t sparked in a circle of comfort. It’s sparked by challenge, by needing to think outside the box, by deadlines, by stress, by what’s called, “Optimal Anxiety”. To achieve greatness, you have to push yourself.

Yes, we live in a world that loves instant gratification. But there are no shortcuts to excellence. It’s so satisfying to take your time and do it right. It will cost you, but it’s worth it.

Would you like to ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the right thing for you, right now? Then please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It pays to explore new ideas and paths that can help you get closer to what makes YOU feel like a success.

Emotional Polarities – How to Embrace the Good, Bad and the Ugly as You Reclaim Your True Self

To feel completely whole you must accept your emotional polarities, i.e. your humility and your arrogance, and quit judging either emotion as good or bad. “To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light”. ~ Carl Jung

Have you given away your power?

Perhaps it started years ago… Many times when we’re young and go through a crisis – caused by divorce, death, illness, or abuse – we never have the room to explores and process all of the emotional polarities that come along with these experiences.

As a kid, you think you have to be mature. You have to show your parents, teachers and friends that you’re fine, that you can handle it… But what you’re really doing is learning to suppress or disown your real self.

As a child trying to protect yourself, you put on a persona. The problem is that persona lives on and you may stop yourself from saying things you want to say; you hide your emotions or your pretend to feel something that you don’t. You show the world a censored version of yourself.

In time, we can bury our authentic self so deeply that we actually lose sight of who we really are. The persona you put on as a child, or Shadow Self, is still there under the surface causing havoc. (Read my previous blog post that explains your Shadow Self.)

To accept your true self you have to identify, acknowledge and own the repressed parts (the good, the bad and the ugly) you may have been denying for years. Consciously integrating your shadow self allows you to reclaim the power you once gave away. It enables you to recognize your uniqueness and the gifts you have. The ultimate result? Total self-acceptance brings inner peace.

This process isn’t easy. To reclaim your disowned parts recognize that…

  • You can’t bypass your past experiences and the unfelt emotions.
  • You can’t get rid of emotions like you can’t get rid of energy. They can only be transformed (emotions = energy in motion).
  • You must bring adult witnessing, compassion and understanding to those young parts to foster healing.
  • You prolong the disattunement (lack of harmony) that you experienced while growing up by failing to attune to your emotional needs in adulthood.

Are you ready to make room for your younger self? Integration is the healing process of identifying, acknowledging, embracing unprocessed emotions from childhood.

This process involves embracing both sides of your emotional polarities. What does this mean? You can’t have confidence without insecurity; humility without arrogance; compliance without rebellion; tenderness without hardness.

As you read these emotional polarities (opposites), did you judge one emotion as good and one as bad? Is it hard to acknowledge that you possess some of them?

In these polarities, neither emotion is right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. And we need to acknowledge that we possess them without judgment.  

I’m not advocating that you unleash your emotions on others without restraint. I am saying it’s important to mindfully acknowledge how you feel, reclaim your feelings, process those feelings, and then express them in productive, non-destructive ways.

It can be very telling when you feel inordinately irritated when you see such qualities in others. Often this is triggered because you’ve disowned this quality within yourself. Ask yourself:

  • Why does this aspect of a polarity bother me?
  • How do I hold its counterpoint?
  • Why do I view it this way?
  • When did I start to disown this in myself?
  • Was it because of what someone said or something I experienced?
  • What was the context then?
  • What is the context now?
  • What will happen when I acknowledge this disowned polarity in myself?

It’s a fact of life that emotional polarities exist within all of us. Bringing them to the surface and acknowledging them enables you to free energy that you can productively use in your personal growth. This is so much better than continuing to feel irritated when you see it in yourself or others.

You can become resilient, successful and capable despite your difficult or traumatic past experiences. I’d love to partner with you on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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