Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook


Continually grow as a person and find your work/life balance

You Know It’s Time to Make a Change When…

You know it’s time to make a change when you dream of escaping from your life or if you have these four other signals that you’re ready for a change.Does your work make you long for the weekend so you can escape? If so, you’re not alone. Feeling trapped has caused many people to think it’s time to make a change in their lives. You may want freedom to spend more time with your family, focus on your passion and to make a difference in the world as you fulfill your purpose in life.

So, is it time for you to make a change? Perhaps you’re thinking of starting your own business. How do you know if the time is right for you to make a change? Here are five ways to tell…

Do you want to escape? This signals that it’s time to go on a journey of self-discovery and uncover what’s not working and find out what you really want.

Do your priorities match your daily activities? Are you making time for your top priorities? Consistently doing what matters most is vital to feeling fulfilled.

Do you still feel excited about life? Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’ve lost the spark, look for it. Do less of what drains you. Try something new. Do more of what inspires you.  

Do you look at others and think, “Why isn’t my life like that?” When you’re truly satisfied with your own life, you won’t be comparing yourself to others. Figure out what’s missing and fill that personal need you have.

How long has it been since you stepped out of your comfort zone? Growth only happens when you stretch yourself.

Just the fact that there’s so much talk about creating a work/life balance proves that many business owners are struggling. Does there really have to be a clear line between the two? Not necessarily. Don’t many choose to run their own business so they can blend all aspects of their lives together?

Think about an artist who doesn’t quit thinking about form and color when she’s doing the dishes or going for a walk with her loved ones. She delights in sharing her discoveries with those she loves and later she applies them to her work! In the same way, you can blend every aspect of your life in a harmonious way. How? Your life is the canvas and you can paint on it whatever you like by becoming mindfully self-aware.

Yes, mindfulness is a powerful tool, like the paintbrush in the hands of an artist. When you are centered and have greater mindfulness, your life takes shape as you make decisive choices instead of reacting to situations. Your choices become ultra-refined as you know what will enhance your life’s vision and what will not. You create a joyful palette of “colors” (activities, attitudes, intentions, emotional states, habits, mentors, friends) that work for you. They keep you from getting sidetracked by every bright “color” that comes along. You don’t get blindsided by mistakes because you’ve developed adaptive coping strategies. No matter what happens you can handle it for you’ve mastered your emotions and can see the whole picture as a life lesson.

Life is too short to spend it without living up to your full potential. If you know it’s time to make a change, why not start reassessing your life by taking my 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment, as it will help you pinpoint areas that need your attention first. Click here to download your free copy.

How to Become More Creative – See the World through Different Lenses

If you’re wondering how to become more creative, try this mindful approach toward the roles of explorer, judge, artist, and warrior to keep your ideas freshPeople who lead a rich and abundant life are very creative people. Maybe you think of artists when you think of creativity. Take another look. When you start to examine patterns of success, you’ll see that people rise to the top in ALL professions because they value creativity. They get there by relying on their own creativity and/or the creativity of their staff to find innovative solutions. They know that a person must go beyond what’s comfortable and familiar to create (the root of the word creativity) a remarkable life.

Even if you don’t think you’re a creative person, you can learn how to become more creative. Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post on creativity using the Disney model that makes magic out of chaos.  Recently I stumbled upon the work of Roger Von Oech who wrote, A Whack on the Side of the Head. It’s a good book to show you how to become more creative. I think you’ll enjoy his roleplaying approach to increasing your creativity.

He speaks of four distinct roles that we should use to increase our creativity. Each one teaches you how to become more creative as you expand your mindsets and skills. The four roles are:


The Explorer can teach you how to become more creative. She isn’t happy staying with the status quo. Her itchy feet make her want to know what’s on the other side of the mountain. Curiosity fuels creativity. How can you become an explorer?

  • Cultivate a greater awareness of yourself, your surroundings and others.
  • Learn to mindfully experience each moment, instead of rushing to the next.
  • Relentlessly search out new things every day. 
  • Explore different areas of experience and knowledge.
  • Keep asking questions until you connect all the dots.
  • Talk to people of varying backgrounds, ages, experience and education.


The Artist can definitely teach you how to become more creative. She’s playful and experiments as she stirs things up. She’s not afraid to try different color and texture combinations. Imagination fuels creativity. How can you become an artist?

  • Jot down ideas as they come to you. This frees your brain to think of even more ideas.
  • Let the little girl come out to have fun and play, instead of being so serious.
  • Laugh more – at yourself first and foremost.  
  • Read, listen, and participate in things that keep your brain active.
  • Let your imagination go as you visualize new possibilities.
  • Make ‘what if?’ your leading question.
  • Don’t worry about what others expect of you.


Surprisingly, The Judge can teach you how to become more creative too. She analyzes and assesses all the ins and outs of a thing. She weighs the pros and cons before making a decision. Comparison fuels creativity. How can you become a judge?

  • Develop critical thinking instead of assuming.
  • Use the scientific method – make a hypothesis, run an experiment, analyze the results and draw a conclusion. 
  • Make the hard decisions.
  • Trust your gut feelings.
  • Be practical – do you have the resources to make it happen or is a pie-in-the-sky dream?
  • You can compare apple and oranges, but avoid comparing yourself to someone else.


The Warrior can also teach you how to be more creative. She leaps into action when she knows her idea is a good one. Despite pressure, pushbacks, or competition, she has the perseverance to keep going no matter what. Action fuels creativity. How can you become a warrior?


Playing all four roles is crucial to creatively making things happen. For example, when you’re nurturing a new idea, it’s time for the dreaming artist instead of the pragmatic Judge. Maintain your awareness of which role you’re performing. And double check whether it’s the appropriate role for that point in time. If you get stuck in one role, mindfully switch to another that moves you forward.

As you read over these different roles there was probably one that felt more challenging to you than the other three, right? You see it’s value… but you can’t quite embrace it since it goes against your natural inclination. Perhaps it’s time to enlist my help? I love helping my coaching clients develop new strengths they were completely unaware of previously. Feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation so we can explore your options.

How a Results Oriented Outlook Conquers Negative Thinking

To totally shift away from negativity, it’s important to become a results oriented person, focusing on a desired outcome, not on a set way of getting there.“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Normally, people tend to be process oriented. They write to-do lists everyday and feel like they’ve accomplished something only when they cross a line through one of the tasks. However this does little to overcome a negative attitude. To completely shift away from negativity, it’s important to become a results oriented person – someone who focuses on a desired outcome, not on a set way of getting there.

The results oriented outlook is far superior, for it gives you greater flexibility. You see the end result in your mind and you look for the fastest way to get there. You don’t get stuck when one way doesn’t work. That doesn’t matter. The result does, so you look for another way to make progress.

A results oriented outlook also fuels your passion. You really want the end result, so your energy level rises. The anticipation of the result makes the process enjoyable, even if an individual task is difficult or unpleasant. This can be illustrated by something Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness. To paraphrase his experience:

When he was still a novice at Tu Hieu Pagoda, he had to wash all the dishes for over 100 monks. They had no soap. They only had ashes, rice and coconut husks. The water was freezing cold, so he had to heat the water over the fire.

Today we have comfortable kitchens, hot running water, liquid soap, and special scrub pads. It’s so much easier. It should be a pleasure to wash dishes. In no time you can finish and sit and enjoy a cup of tea.

He said, “While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”

If we view it as a nuisance to get out of the way (a process oriented attitude), we are not alive to the miracle of life during the time that we’re washing the dishes. Thereafter, as we sit to drink tea, our minds would be racing onto the next task, hence not enjoying the moment with the tea.

However, if you want a clean kitchen that keeps your family healthy and happy (a results oriented attitude) you’ll enjoy each step that gets you closer to your objective. Wipe down the stove…that looks so good! Empty the counter of dirty dishes…wonderful! Put the dishes away in the cupboard…absolutely lovely!

Being results oriented will help you excel in whatever endeavor you choose. Here are five things to keep in mind:

Educate yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the information available. Choose the best information you need right now and avoid the rest.

Find role models. Look for the best and use their example to inspire you.

Develop mindfulness. Keep your big picture vision always in sight and daily practice awareness of what your actions, thoughts, and desires are doing to fuel your passion and move you toward your goals.

Make sure you’re in tune with your inner self. Do what you’re good at, that you love, that serves others, and that fulfills your purpose. This keeps your mind, body, and spirit in balance.

Persevere. Don’t let the Debbie Downers cause you to lose focus, but hold onto your self-confidence and conviction as you strive for excellence. Never give up!

Would you like to create more excellent results in your personal and professional life? I’d love to partner with you and you expand your leadership abilities. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation so we can explore your options.

How to Stay Positive Despite the Debbie Downers in Your Life

Even if you know how to stay positive, there will be times that you feel down, because others’ negative attitudes rubs off on you, so here are 5 strategies.“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ~ Jim Rohn

We really do become like the people we spend time with. So it’s important to consider: Are there any Debbie Downers in your life? (It’s so common people have coined phrases like Debbie Downer or Negative Nellie to describe them.) They’re people who, no matter what, see the negative in every situation.

They can be hard to avoid, especially if they’re an important part of your life. Perhaps you have a childhood friend you love a lot, but you just can’t understand why she is so negative? I’ve been sharing a series of blogs on how to be more positive, however the reality is staying positive is a challenge when dealing with people who are downers.

Of course, no one can be up all the time. Even if you know how to stay positive, there will be times that you’ll feel down. The attitude of the people around you rubs off on you. This is good if you surround yourself with positive people who want you to be happy. However, if the people in your life are consistently negative, for your own health and wellbeing, you’ll want to find ways to deal with this in a constructive manner.

How to stay positive when dealing with negative people

While the first reaction may be to distance yourself from negative people and that is one option, that’s not always feasible when you work with them or you’re closely related to the negative person. So, here are four other options to try:

Daily feed your positive energy.

When you make a daily practice of intentionally filling your mind with positive thoughts, you’ll build up the strength to resist negativity. You can do this by: reading or listening to inspirational sources (I love listening to Tony Robbins on YouTube); spending time with people who lift you up; looking for the good in every situation; and daily reflecting on what you’re grateful for.

See the difference between the behavior and the person.

You can love someone, but not love what they do. Or visa versa you can hate what they do, but not hate the person. Remembering this distinction will help you put their attitude into a different perspective. Consider the source and let the negativity roll off of you like water rolls off of a duck’s back.

Acknowledge and empathize, but you don’t have to agree.

The only way some people seem to know how to connect with others is to dramatize how much they endure or suffer. This can be a real downer if you start taking on their issues in the process. It’s okay to show empathy and listen to them. Just remember that you don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. If appropriate, you might even ask them, “Why do you like to look at life through such a negative point of view?” They’ll probably be shocked that you think they’re negative, because they can’t see it in themselves. Which brings us to the last point…

Become a positive influence

Your outlook can be just as contagious as theirs. Think about what you can do to influence them toward a more positive outlook. If nothing else, this will remind you to remain positive.

Showing others how to live life from the most positive perspective is what great leaders do. If you’d like to expand your leadership abilities please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation with me so we can explore a coaching partnership.

Don’t Let a Negative Attitude Blind You. See the Opportunities!

Don’t let a negative attitude blind you to great opportunities right in front of you - check out the subtle symptoms of negativity and how to heal them.“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill

A negative attitude has a huge impact on every aspect of your life, whether you realize it or not. It affected how hard you studied in school, what jobs you applied for, whom you dated, where you live, if you eat junk food, if you exercise, how you dress, the way you speak…are you getting the idea? Every decision, action, and thought is affected by your attitude or outlook. Your very success in life depends on it!

“But I don’t have a negative attitude, Maria”, you might reply. Interestingly, quite often people with a negative outlook can’t see it in themselves. Let me ask you: Have you ever been presented with a great opportunity and you said, “I can’t”, without even thinking it through? If so, this is one of the biggest indicators that you tend toward a negative attitude.

Of course, it’s good to be cautious. But why put limits where there really aren’t any? Successful people look for opportunities! Where one door closes, another one opens. Success depends on seeing these open doors of opportunity and having the courage to walk through them.

Since it’s so easy to be fooled that you don’t have a negative attitude, let’s discuss some subtle ways it can show up. Here are some unexpected symptoms that you may be tending toward the negative…and the “prescriptions” to start the healing process. (Yes, a negative outlook is destructive to you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and if you don’t heal it, your choices in life will hinder your success.)


Symptom: You ache to go to bed and stay in bed.

If you’re not excited about what tomorrow brings, it’s definitely a sign that there’s something negative going on.

Rx: The opportunity is that each new day is a clean slate – you get to “write” on it whatever you want. Begin by reminding yourself of things you can be grateful for, prioritize your tasks, and start something new that you can get excited about.


Symptom: New opportunities fill you with dread.

If your first thought is “it can’t be done”, that’s a good indicator you’re tending toward the negative.

Rx: Perhaps the problem is you’re overtired and overstressed. This is an opportunity, to take a break and be refreshed physically, emotionally and spiritually, so you can take advantage of the next opportunity.


Symptom: You hate your appearance.

Have you ever avoided a function or refused to do something fun, because you weren’t happy with your appearance?

Rx: Take this opportunity to reevaluate what it is that you don’t like (The Wellness Assessment can help) and then do something about it! Learn to accept the things you can’t change, and focus on being a happy. You’ll be surprised at how attractive you look when you have a sunny disposition.


Symptom:  You predict the future based on negative past experiences.

The “when I did this before, it didn’t work, so why even try again” attitude is self defeating.

Rx: The opportunity is that you get another shot at it, this time with a new approach that will work.


Symptom: You make assumptions that support the negative outlook.
Does this sound familiar? “He hasn’t posted the new schedule on his website, so the course must be canceled this year. I’ll never make my business work now.”

Rx: Don’t assume. Communicate! You have the opportunity to ask if something is available. And if it’s not, then look for something that is.

Symptom: You state your predictions as facts.
Are you prone to dogmatic statements that a negative thing is truth, when in reality it could turn out quite differently?

Rx: There’s always more than one way to look at things. You have the opportunity to develop the ability and flexibility to mindfully look at things dispassionately from all angles.

Why not go for a walk right now and think about the past week or month and see if you’ve show any of these symptoms of a negative attitude. If so, be assured that you can form new, positive connections in your brain and get rid of the negative ones.

Please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. (Hint: This is an opportunity…a door opening. Do you have the courage to go through it? I think you do!)

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