Maria Connolly, LPC

Tag: mastery

Mastery is the ability to focus deeply on a compelling area of personal development and having the courage to pursue that course until you make it an intrinsic part of who you are.

5 Ways to Make Your Lifestyle Changes Stick Even if You’ve Failed Before

7 lifestyle changes that empower you to cultivate physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health one small, deliberate lifestyle change at a time.Human beings are complicated yet we want simple solutions. That’s why many look for a prescription to deal with pain – whether the pain is physical, emotional, mental or even spiritual. The right prescription can at times help. However, we need to make sure that we don’t ignore the lifestyle choices that got us where we are today. If we do – we won’t really get better.

Let’s say you’re under a deadline, so you live on caffeine and sugary energy bars. By skipping meals your body is starving for essential nutrients and minerals. This leads to sleep deprivation, which hinders your body from making vital repairs. Your moodiness and tiredness cause your relationships to suffer. You turn to alcohol to relax, but it makes things worse. Your mind starts bombarding you with negative and abusive self-talk. You begin to believe nothing you do works. You’re a failure. Everything starts to snowball into a mental health crisis like depression. So you keep pushing harder and harder…

Did you see the lifestyle choices that led to this pain? If you see yourself struggling be assured that it’s never too late to improve your health. We have the power to cultivate wellbeing by making small, deliberate changes in our lifestyles in the following seven areas:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Sleep and daily relaxation
  • Intimacy with self and others
  • Setting short and long term goals
  • Spirituality

You might say, “Maria, every year, I really try. I resolve to do things differently. And I do okay for the first day, the first week, or the first month. Then I mess up. I just can’t keep it up. Now I feel even worse. Not only can’t I change, I feel like such a failure for not having enough willpower. Why should I even try?”

Let me reassure you…you can change. It is worth the effort. You can succeed.

How can you make lifestyle changes that truly lead to better physical, emotional, spiritual and metal health? Where do you start and how do you make these changes stick? 

When making changes it’s really important to:

  1. Avoid the temptation to work on all seven areas at once. That’s too much. Instead, pick only one lifestyle change to work on until it becomes the way you want to live. That success will empower you to tackle the next one.
  1. Do it in small chunks. Take your one big goal and list the steps you need to take to accomplish it. This makes it more realistic, achievable and less overwhelming. For example, do you want to eat healthier? One step may be to clean the sugar and junk food out of the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Another step may be to find healthy recipes you want to try. Another step is to stick to a weekly grocery list of only healthful foods. Another step is to build in new reward systems for each success – treat yourself to a pedicure, a new book, new clothes, etc.
  1. Have a buddy system. We need support and encouragement to be successful. We need someone to be accountable to and to share our challenges and victories. I could not do it without the fierce and gentle support of my buddies!
  1. Continue to adjust your goals as new information is available. We aren’t aware of all the variables when we start, so we need to continue to adjust. It’s like a pilot that starts with a destination and a route in mind and during the flight has to adjust because of the weather or other air traffic. You may make it your goal to lose weight, but first you need to learn to eat healthier or start an exercise program. Or you might find that you’re an emotional eater who needs to heal a relationship problem first.
  1. Accept that there are some things that can’t be changed. If there are some physical problems that can’t be fixed, you can still focus on mental health, emotional support and spirituality to help you accept your current situation and cope in a healthier way. You will often discover this improves your physical wellbeing in the process.

Every time you make mindful choices that supports the lifestyle you envision for yourself, you’re taking back the control you need. Each success empowers you to go on to the next with confidence. You can improve your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health one step at a time. If you find you aren’t getting the support you need, why not give me a call and we can schedule an appointment to work together so you can achieve the success you desire and deserve.

Seven Ways to Break Free from Being Too Busy

break free from being too busyWhen all is said and done: “I wish I had spent more time…”

When was the last time you sat in silence and thought deeply? Chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed as you juggle everything in your life. So you write lists and schedule calendars to get everything done. You try to keep the important things front and center, yet as the days and weeks pass, you get sidetracked by the busywork that seems to accomplish a lot, but in reality doesn’t get you closer to your goals. You’ve been sucked back into the vicious cycle of being too busy.

Being “too busy” is a symptom of the much larger condition – that of reacting to situations instead of making good choices. What can get you back on track? More lists? No! You need a solid foundation for change, and practicing mindfulness is a great way to do that. Mindfulness is the antidote to “too busy”.

Let’s examine seven ways you can replace busyness with mindfulness:

  1. Slow down, concentrate on one task, and be fully present and engaged. For example: How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? Shut them all down except for one and fully concentrate on the information before you. Or when you converse with someone, give your entire focus to the person and listen closely to what’s said rather than looking around the room or thinking about something else.
  1. Stimulate creativity by being open to the possibilities. Your brain needs to relax to switch into its creative mode. When you’re “too busy” you’ll dismiss a new idea or opportunity as a distraction. Instead, carefully contemplate if it’s a way for you to grow and advance. If it’s not, dismiss it, or write it down for later consideration, and move on. If it is, spend time with it.
  1. Set priorities so you can engage in life more efficiently and effectively. Start each day with a review of what you want to accomplish and end each day with what you have accomplished. This will allow you to do the things you really want to do, giving you a sense of satisfaction.
  1. Build a routine that supports your health and minimizes stress. To live an incredible life, you’ll need to be committed to the wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Some people choose to stay “too busy” so they don’t have to confront or resolve issues in their lives. When you’re mindful, you enhance your ability to perceive what is experienced through your senses rather than building fear and stress over something that isn’t real, only a mistaken notion in your mind. So add one supportive activity to your routine until it becomes your habit.
  1. Renew motivation by sharpening your vision, the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ll be able to replace “I can’t” or “Why try?” with “Yes, I know I deserve to make a success of this and I have the resources to do so”. As events unfold, observe the experience instead of always engaging in it. This will increase your emotional stability and vibrancy, as well as, open up to you a full range of options.
  1. Establish good self-relations so you can think, plan, and dream. Depression and anxiety are signs that something is trying to wake up within a person. By acknowledging the purpose of a symptom, you are in a much better position to seriously reexamine your life and begin the process of living with renewed purpose. Taking time off is essential for recharging your spirit, mind and body. Even when you’re working, be sure to set boundaries and don’t be available all the time. This will help you keep your passion alive and discover your extraordinary purpose for being.
  1. Become centered through connections. Everyone needs cherished family and friends. Instead of being so focused on doing and accomplishing, mindfulness keeps you centered on being the person you want to be. Your family and friends can help keep events in perspective. At the end of life, no one ever says, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

Mindfulness provides access to powerful inner resources so you can change the way you see and ultimately experience each situation. It puts you in a better position to do something different. It empowers you to participate in the world at large, as you work with what arises instead of trying to escape. Is that what you desire? Are you ready to develop a more mindfulness and meaningful life? Please contact me and we can discuss the best way for you to do that.

25 Ways Highly Successful People Make Us Feel Better About Ourselves

Anyone can become extraordinary by achieving these transformational 25 positive traits of successful people, which start with seeing yourself as others see you.Think for a moment about someone that you’re drawn to – can you picture him or her? You can probably identify certain qualities they have such as being charming, gracious, generous, sincere, honest, genuine, open, kind, compassionate, giving, loving…

However, we can gain additional insight into what makes them highly successful by reflecting on their behavior. What is it that they do that brings out the best in us?

When you mindfully observe the way they interact with others, their speech and their actions, then you can model their behavior within your own life. As you read the following list of 25 positive behaviors of highly success individuals, imagine how each item makes you feel. Then you can begin to comprehend how you can use these behaviors to extend this feeling towards others…

 

1. They step forward with hand extended, head slightly tilted forward, smiling, and expressing sincere delight when meeting you rather than waiting for you to come to them.

2. They respectfully call you by the name that you introduce yourself as, rather than presumptuously giving you a nickname.

3. They are fascinated by you, asking you who, what, where and why questions without prying into off-limits, personal territory.

4. They respect your personal space. If you’re a hugger, they’ll hug you. If you’re uncomfortable with physical touch, they won’t force the issue. (This involves some sensory acuity on your part. Always take your cues from others!)

5. They make you feel important, maintain eye contact as they attentively and patiently listen to every word.

6. They willingly reveal themselves openly and honestly as they show their genuineness.

7. They always keep confidential information confidential.

8. They avoid gossip by tactfully changing the conversation or walking away.

9. They listen more than they speak.

10. They give without expecting anything in return.

11. They recognize even the tiniest of efforts and expresses appreciation for what you’ve done and why you’ve done it.

12.They encourage you to reach your full potential.

13. They trust that you’re doing your best, and they look deeply into each situation for the reasons why you’re doing something rather than jumping to conclusions.

14. They lead by example and willingly “roll up their sleeves” to pitch in where there’s a need before being asked.

15. They are mindful of your feelings, expressing joy when you’re celebrating, expressing sincere sorrow when you’re saddened.

16. They dignify you and bolster your self-esteem and self respect by asking for your help and your opinion.

17. They wait to be asked before giving advice.

18. They look for and focus on the positive in you.

19. They remember their own mistakes, thereby giving you a pass when a mistake is made.

20. They don’t give up on you.

21. They sincerely and openly express their approachableness and humanness while maintaining professionalism.

22. They let you blossom as they gift you with freedom to express yourself within the necessary business or personal boundaries that must be set.

23. They collaborate rather than patronize.

24. They recognize everyone is at different stages of their life’s journey and they encourage, support and guide without stealing your freedom of choice.

25. They make you feel special, smart, and valuable.

Most extraordinary individuals have not achieved their personal and professional greatness by themselves. They’ve learned that we often need to see ourselves through the eyes of others before we can make real transformations. If you’re anxious to make a difference and would like me to mentor you, please contact me so you can reach your full personal and professional potential.

Focus on Competence Not Perfection when Striving for Excellence

Focus on competence to achieve excellence in business and life skills.

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” ~ Dr. Harriet Braiker

Somehow, many of us have grabbed onto the idea that if we can’t do it perfectly, then there’s no sense in even trying. Where did we get the idea that never failing is good? This thinking robs us of the feeling of satisfaction and self-respect when overcoming obstacles and accomplishing our goals.

Perfection is like a digital clock. Every minute the numbers display the time. It’s either on or off. Those are the only two choices. It’s very rigid thinking. If you achieve your goal in just the right way, you’re a success. If your work doesn’t measure up perfectly, you feel like a failure.

However, competence is like an analog clock with its minute and hour hands continually changing to adjust to each moment in time. You have a goal and you know that each step brings you closer to where you need to be. And along the way, you allow yourself the freedom to discover that your original goal may not be what you need or want after all.

When you focus on being perfect, you’re less likely to allow for mistakes. Mistakes are necessary in the learning process to achieve competence in any field. To understand competency more fully, let’s break it down into its five stages.

The five stages of competence are:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence – Unaware
  2. Conscious Incompetence – Novice
  3. Conscious Competence – Technician
  4. Unconscious Competence – Artist
  5. Reflective Competence – Master

To illustrate these stages of competency, let’s think about something we’re all familiar…learning to drive a car.

Stage 1 Unaware: As a child, you know the car will get you to the ice cream parlor, but you don’t care how it works.

Stage 2 Novice: When you’re ten years old, your best friend dares you to drive the car, and you run it down the driveway into the neighbor’s mailbox.

Stage 3 Technician: In high school, you take Driver’s Education and you learn how to drive slowly and methodically.

Stage 4 Artist: As an adult, you can drive anywhere and can instinctively respond to deer in the road, rainy conditions, or cars swerving into your lane on the freeway.

Stage 5 Master: You become a racecar driver and can confidently maneuver around any track, even through complicated obstacles, at incredible speeds.

Stages 3 and 4 are the most challenging and frustrating. This is where people begin doubting themselves, losing faith in their abilities. They start thinking they’re not good enough. The inner critic is very active at this stage.

The trick is to stay focused on the task at hand by maintaining this attitude: “If I practice deliberately and methodically, I will become better and better. It just takes time and patience.”

In order to develop a higher level of competence in any area of your personal and professional life, these skills are vital:

  • Determination
  • Focus
  • Creativity
  • Big-picture thinking balanced with small, progressive steps
  • Deliberate practice
  • Curiosity
  • Positive expectation

If your child needed a life-saving operation, wouldn’t you rather find a surgeon who is highly competent rather than wait for one who is perfect? Isn’t competency what you want in your life too? Are you tired of perfectionism getting in your way? It’s helpful to have a coach who supports you in developing the level of competence you desire. Contact Maria and let’s work out a strategy that keeps you accountable and gets you to where you want to be in life.

Release the Power of Mastery – Never Stop Learning

Happy woman enjoying the confidence that comes from releasing the power of mastery“The ultimate form of power is mastery itself.” ~ Robert Greene

As human beings we tend to deeply admire people who have achieved mastery. Whether they are a master athlete, musician, business mogul, etc. we see the results of their hard work and we admire their dedication. Fortunately, mastery in any field is not something genetic, or for a lucky few. It is something we can all attain if get rid of some misconceptions and gain clarity as to the required path.

So what about mastery at life? What does that require? What are some of the most important life skills? Here’s a link to an amazing list of essential life skills that I think you’ll enjoy. (Click here.)

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