What is the controlling force in your life? Is it conscious choice or the power of habit? If you picked “habits’, you’re right! And that’s a good thing, because if you had to stop and make a brand new decision about every little thing in life, you’d never make it out of bed, let alone get to work. You might get stuck on something nonessential like – “Should I put my shoe on my left foot first this morning or on my right foot?” Most habits are behaviors that save you a great deal of time.
But not all the habits are helpful. Some actually get in your way of making progress toward desired goals. For example, you might want to lose weight, but if it’s your habit to watch TV while you eat, you won’t be mindful about the type and amount of food you eat. It also promotes a less active lifestyle. Bad habits like this one are cruel taskmasters. They stop you from being the best version of you possible.
Excellence is a habit that supports you in your quest for a more fulfilling life. Let’s first see how bad habits are able to get such a strong hold over you.
How is a habit formed? Any activity or thought (physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) will become a pattern or a habit if you repeat it often enough. They actually create physical, electrical and chemical pathways that become set in your brain. Yes, there are well-worn paths in your brain, and they got there just like you’d make a trail through a grassy meadow by going over the same ground again and again until you wore down the grass into bare soil. (If you’d like to learn more, check out Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I highly recommend it.)
Once patterns of behaviors are set, they run unconsciously in the background, like your computer’s operating system. You don’t see them or think about them, but these unconscious patterns control your life.
Many of the patterns are laid down as a result of fears from early childhood events, and they will draw you off the path to success. Here are some of the worst habits that even leaders may fall prey to…
- Failure to hold on to your purpose.To know what adds meaning to your life, you must make time to be quiet and thoughtful. You need to be willing to be vulnerable and dig deeply into what really matters to you. Once you identify your purpose, success requires that you hold on to it and not let go. Being specific and intentional about what you want drives the creation of excellence as a habit and keeps you from reverting to the past.
- Unclear goals. A vision without a plan is just a wish. You have to define your goals and then chunk them down into baby steps so you can successful accomplish them.
- Inaction. Once you have a well-defined plan and you’ve defined your mini goals, you still need to take action. Procrastination and perfectionism are enemies to action. Effective leaders don’t wait for the perfect moment or try to plan for every contingency. Taking the first step may be the hardest, but have faith that everything will fall into place as you go.
- Loss of focus.Distractions and overstimulation interfere with planning and achieving goals. When your mind leaps from one thought to another, practice calming breathing exercises. Regularly spend time in mindful meditation. Learn to focus on one thing at a time.
- Acceptance of the status quo. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re content with where you are, that’s fine. But if you want to excel, it requires that you take risks and get out of your comfort zone. You can’t change what’s going on around you until you change what’s going on within you. Rekindle the fire within yourself. Your determination and commitment will enable you to attain the success you seek. Each success fuels your self-confidence and spurs you on to greater efforts.
Do you agree that excellence is a habit you want in your life? Then, I’m happy to invite you to a special talk: Choose Life Enhancing Beliefs on Thursday, August 25th. Nando Raynolds and I will be meeting with you in Ashland, Oregon to share how NLP can expand your abilities for happiness and excellence. This is a great first step in reassessing your goals and analyzing your life to see if you’re incorporating excellence into your habits. Learn more about it by clicking here or contact me for more details. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.
Which would you say is more damaging to your health: stress from a car accident or from a messy house? Which is worse: a breakup with a romantic partner or a friend who makes you crazy because she never follows through on what she promises?
The answer lies in whether the stress is short-term or long-term. We’re actually equipped to handle life-threatening situations. It’s the constant, nagging stress that causes problems. Why is that?
“Today, many people live in stress mode all the time, and the constant release of steroids like adrenaline and cortisol can lead directly to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer, and indirectly to bad health habits like undersleeping and overeating.” says James Ehrlich, MD, clinical associate professor of endocrinology at the University of Colorado.
Interestingly, women produce a higher amount of oxytocin than men do, which counters the rush from cortisol and epinephrine and puts them into a “nurturing, tending and befriending” mode, according to a WebMD article on why men and women react differently to stress. This means that if you’re not careful, you can find yourself focusing solely on giving to others, which will leave you depleted.
What is it that makes your stress level rise? Is it chaotic surroundings or disrupted schedules? Do you fall prey to negative self-talk or negative body image fed by food and fitness issues? Or do relationships make your blood pressure rise?
The underlying cause for many of these stressful issues can be traced to self sabotaging behavior. You’ll achieve greater happiness and freedom to excel if you adjust your perspective on the following five traps:
- Imagined fears.Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection and even fear of how your decision will impact your family, friends and others – all of these are paralyzing. And it’s all imaginary. It’s not real. How many fears in the past actually came true? It’s better to focus on what’s real. Your desires for a better life are real. Your dreams can become real if you cultivate a mindset that gets rid of self sabotaging fears.
- Perfectionism. Women tend to compare themselves to others wishing to be smarter, more attractive, or more successful. These comparisons are harmful. The only comparison that’s beneficial is – how can I become a better version of myself? Love yourself for who you are.
- People Pleasing. Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting. Worrying about what others think is nonproductive. Let everyone know what you need and think. If you set boundaries, you won’t fall into the trap of not having a life of your own, being at everyone’s beck and call. The world needs to see the “real you”, and they’ll respect you more. You absolutely do have gifts, skills, and personality traits that are extremely valuable. Value yourself, and others will value you more.
- DOing instead of BEing. When you measure your value by how much you achieve, will you ever feel like you’re good enough? Not likely. You won’t be able to slow down for even a moment because there’s so much to do! Give yourself a break and learn to be mindfully present in each moment. Enjoy the journey. In the end, what will make you feel more satisfied – accomplishments or a life well-lived?
- Self-punishment. So many women struggle with feeling unworthy or undeserving. They minimize their value as an individual. They downplay their accomplishments. You won’t become egotistical if you stop to recognize and acknowledge the positive good you do. When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, choose to self-correct, find a better way, and keep moving forward. Everyone fails. That’s how we learn to do better.
Are there areas in your life that could use some attention? I’d love to partner with you as you create a life in alignment with your purpose. Join me in my new workshop, The Power of Embodied Presence – Empowering Women Through Somatic Education and the Art of Relationship. This highly experiential, one-day workshop draws on neuroscience, mindfulness, somatic principles, and adult development theory to help you unlock your inner wisdom and create harmony between your mind, spirit, and body. Mark your calendar – July 16th. Click here to learn more.
Don’t you admire a fearless person – one who steps up and does the things you only wish you had the strength to do? Maybe it’s someone who speaks with ease in front of thousands, or happily travels to new places and fits in to every culture they encounter, or someone who reveals their deepest emotions without fear of rejection and has the most awesome relationships. Actually, if you talked with them, they’d tell you they have fears too. The difference is they’ve embraced the advice, “Don’t let fear stop you”. This is good news, because it means that you can too!
Granted, some fears protect you. Other fears are irrational. It’s your choice as to how you deal with your irrational fears. You can either let those fears box you in to a limiting life that immobilizes you from achieving your full potential. Or, ideally, you don’t let fear stop you because you’ve learned to non-judgmentally observe your emotions and face each fear. The second option allows you to view it as an opportunity to consciously choose to live more expansively.
Don’t let fear stop you from fully enjoying the life you want to live. Here are five ways to deal with fears so you can reach your potential for happiness…
- Suspend self-criticism that you are “less than” and alone. Do you have one of these phobias: Ablutophobia (fear of washing or bathing), Bibliophobia (fear of books), Cacophobia (fear of ugliness), or Pteronophobia (fear of feathers)? From A to Z, there are literally hundreds of phobias that grip people today. You’re not alone. Don’t let yourself feel isolated or think you’re weird. You might even feel better knowing others deal with fears more severe than you.
- Fears can be overcome one small step at a time.As you take one small step toward conquering your fear, you can become more comfortable. What you thought would happen, doesn’t. As you ease into it, you’ll prove to yourself that your fears were groundless. For example, you learn that your heart isn’t going to stop if you speak in front of a crowd.
- Change your emotional focus and view it as an opportunity to grow. Look beyond your fear and see the improvements waiting for you – increased self-confidence, healthier personal relationships, happiness, even greater wealth and professional status. Shifting your focus away from the fearful feeling robs it of its power, because you’re no longer feeding it.
- Realize how much your imagination is involved. Neale Donald Walsch says that fear is an acronym for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real.’ This is closely connected to tip number 2. Your imagination magnifies your fear. You begin to rationalize your actions. You say, “I can’t do that because…” The excuse may sound reasonable on the surface. However, underneath it all the irrational fear has no basis in truth. Our imaginings may feel real, but they aren’t. Often our fears are based in our own insecurities. Those who excel learn that taking risks and stepping outside their comfort zone is a way of life that they become comfortable with.
- We learn through failure. Fear of failure seems to be the most common fear. Yet, failure isn’t something to be avoided. It gives us an opportunity to see our strengths and our weakness so we can mindfully focus on the area that needs improvement. Everyone fails. The difference is whether you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep trying, because it’s the end results that matter in the long run. Failure is just part of the learning and growing process.
Learning to observe your emotions mindfully and adopting a positive state is a skill that will help you succeed in conquering your fears. I’m not saying it will be easy. I am encouraging you to not give up, because you have so much potential for experiencing a richer life. Don’t let fear stop you! I’d love to help you reach your potential for excellence, so please contact me and we can work together in person in Ashland, Oregon or if you live too far away we can work via Skype.
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure in the outer game.” ~ Tim Gallwey
Do any of the following statements describe how you’re feeling right now?
- I’m feeling stuck in a rut.
- I feel trapped in my job.
- I’m feeling trapped in a relationship.
- No matter how hard I try nothing seems to go right.
- I used to be really good at this, but now I just can’t make it work, so I end up trying too hard and second-guessing myself.
- My fear of failure makes me default to “I can’t” before I even try.
- I thought I was over that, but it keeps resurfacing again and again to gnaw at me.
The good news is…YOU don’t have to stay feeling trapped in life. You CAN free yourself from these negative mindsets and limiting beliefs. And while it does take some effort, it really isn’t that hard. Especially when you realize you already have the skills, you just need to make the connection between your two selves.
What do I mean by saying you need to connect your two selves in order to free yourself from feeling trapped in life?
Along my personal and professional journey, I discovered a book that helped me transform my inner environment to one that is more nurturing, supportive and all in all more conducive to learning and growing. It’s The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. The core message of the book is that in tennis like anywhere else in life we usually play two games, an outer game with our opponent (self 1 – some people describe it as the body, which acts), and an inner game with ourselves (self 2 – some people describe it as the mind, which instructs).
We get into trouble when Self 2 (the mind) tries to tell Self 1 (the body) how to do something the latter already knows how to do. This disconnect spirals into second guessing yourself, trying too hard and feeling like a failure (In my opinion, the only failure is giving up. Nothing else is a failure. It’s simply a life lesson).
For example, when you learn to play tennis, your instructor tells you to “keep the eye on the ball” and your brain instinctively positions your arm and moderates your stroke speed to lob the ball back over the net. Later you forget this advice and start missing, so you think your form is off. To compensate, you swing harder or hold the racket differently, and it just makes it worse. Whereas, if you would go back to keeping your eye on the ball and let the brain do its thing, you’ll be better than ever.
We must quiet Self 1 (the body) and let Self 2 (the mind) do what it knows how to do. The best way to quiet the mind is not to tell it to shut up or force it or criticize it. What works best is learning to focus it. Focus means mindfully paying attention to only the aspects of a situation that are necessary to accomplish the task at hand. This requires that you become an observer of your own behavior.
There are four important steps to connecting your two selves:
Step 1: Observe in a non-judgmental way, simply seeing the situation as it is, rather than judging it to be good or bad. Being judgmental only leads to self-doubt and anxiety.
Step 2: Visualize your desired outcome.
Step 3: Trust yourself.
Step 4: Observe the outcome and results in a non-judgmental way. It’s neither right nor wrong. You did your best at this point and time, and that’s good enough.
Learn to be aware of your feelings and your body’s responses so you can overcome the self-doubt, nervousness, anxiety and lapses of concentration that keep you from performing at your best. Master athletes and business professionals know that they can’t win the outer game if they lose the inner one. They know the value of having someone coach them as they Master the Inner Game. If you’re ready to make the commitment to a richer experience in life, please contact me. I would love to partner with you as you learn to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge.
“Good order is the foundation of all things.” ~ Edmund Burke
People who focus on excellence, like leaders and business coaches, know that their best performance starts with becoming highly organized and that “Clutter is a state of mind.” A cluttered space begets a muddled mind and vice-versa.
I have a confession: I’m unusually organized. Not only do I make my bed every morning, I also find a way to tidy up and declutter as I go. I partly inherited this from my mother. I suspect her neatness was a way to cope with stress and anxiety. I’m so glad this gave me a model for creating a simpler, clutter-free environment.
Being highly organized is not only a way to create pleasant spaces but also a strategy for doing anything in life. It means being clear about what you want, being able to prioritize, setting outcomes and the respective steps to make your way to the goal.
We can’t run around stressed all the time with a million things on our mind and expect to perform at our best. So…how are you going to change your lifestyle to one that’s more organized?
Take a look at the following highly organized characteristics that leaders cultivate. (You can do the same with daily, mindful attention.)
1. Be undistracted by uncluttering your mind. Learn to work through the daily stress in a way that let’s you forget it and move on. For some, the best method is a vigorous workout. Others like yoga, walking, or talking with a friend or professional. Personally, I love Crossfit, Archery, and Aikido.
2. Be proactive. If a task takes fewer than five minutes, do it! Pick it up, wipe it down, put it away. That way work doesn’t frustratingly pile up.
3. Be goal oriented. Create an environment that makes it easy to achieve your goals. It’s easier to let things go when they’re not attached to your goals.
4. Be optimistic. The can-do attitude keeps you on track. Focus on filling your mind with the positive things you can do, even if they seem small.
5. Be decisive. Wishy-washy gets you nowhere. Consider your options, pick the best one and work it to the best of your ability without looking back.
6. Be imperfect. Don’t become immobilized in the minutia of the details. It’s never going to be perfect, so determine when it’s good enough and move on.
7. Be list, calendar, and container oriented. Make a place for everything, and put everything in its place. This applies to physical items and routinely scheduled events. You’ll know where it is when you need it and you’ll know if you have a slot open in your schedule for invitations and requests. Capturing your ideas in a detailed list of tasks frees up your mental energy. Referring to your list and calendar often keeps you on-task. This helps you foresee any potential conflicts that might interfere with your goals.
8. Be able to say, “No.” When you know exactly what you want, it’s easier to turn down invitations and requests that don’t fit into your goals.
9. Be prepared. Know how much time you have to complete a project and leave enough time, including a cushion for unexpected occurrences, to do it.
10. Be focused. Avoid multi-tasking. It’s better to protect your time by shutting out distractions and focusing on doing one task at a time.
11. Be aware of your strengths and play to them. Define how you want to live your life such as how you want your home to look, how you want to dress, how you spend your time. This makes it easier to set goals and accomplish them. Do your most taxing work when you’re alert and energized.
12. Be willing to ask for help. Trying do it all yourself only causes more stress. Respect your most valued resource – time – and use it wisely.
13. Be content. Just because you see something beautiful you don’t need to possess it. Just because it’s on sale, it’s not a good deal if you don’t really need it.
14. Be in love with what you own and do. Everything need to be cared for and maintained whether these are relationships, skills, or possessions. Streamline your focus to the place where you can thrive.
15. Be choosy. Don’t attach sentimental value to everything you own. For example, just because you inherit your parents’ furniture, it’s okay to pass it on to someone else if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
What I love about being highly organized is that it:
- Saves time in the long run,
- Lessens your stress because you’re not “playing catch-up”,
- Makes you feel better about yourself,
- Prepares you for everything,
- Empowers you to say NO to excess and say YES to what you really want,
- Energizes you as you stop procrastinating, and
- Shifts your focus from quantity to quality.
Being organized is about striving for optimal effectiveness and maximum efficiency in any task. It is about feeling more in control, about the thrill of setting things up for success. Wouldn’t you love the freedom to be exactly who you’re meant to be as you enjoy each moment of life? Becoming organized can get you there! Contact me and let’s work together on ways that empower you to make lasting change. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!