To Change Your Life, Change Your Perspective

I was walking along the beach the other day doing what so many of us do—thinking about the things in my life that I want to fix—when I noticed a crooked Christmas tree someone had planted in the sand. The tree was leaning far to the left and had an uneven shape. crooked tree

I wasn’t in the best of moods, so the crooked tree irritated me. I looked away and kept walking. But when I glanced back a few moments later, the tree appeared perfectly straight.

“Got it,” I said out loud, acknowledging the lesson in perspective that I was meant to receive. The tree hadn’t changed, but my vantage point had. Similarly, I needed to shift my perspective on my life.

upright tree

Immediately, I began thinking about my many blessings. And as I did, I began to feel happier, kinder, more of the world and less caught up in myself. I began to see possibilities rather than roadblocks, beauty instead of annoyances—all because I simply chose to be grateful.

Anyone can learn to do this, and it only takes a few minutes. Do it daily and it’ll knock your socks off.

How to Practice Gratitude

  1. At the beginning of each day, list five things for which you’re grateful. This positive start can carry through the day, helping you view challenges as opportunities.
  2. During the day, if there’s a bump in the road, take yourself back to your list. Notice how this feels in your body and how being grateful affects your words and actions.
  3. Just before bedtime, give thanks again for your blessings. You can do this in your head, but I think it’s more powerful to write them down. This end-of-day practice programs your subconscious with positive, empowering images and helps you create more positivity in your life.

If Not Now, When?

begin

Our best selves don’t happen by accident.

Most of us don’t just fall into our dream jobs or instantly have the lives we want. In fact, most people who succeed have been quietly working at it for a very long time. They’ve been making steady progress.

The good news is that success is replicable. By following these three steps, we can each create the lives we want for ourselves:

  • Picture it. Decide what you want to accomplish, and then act as if you’re already there.

    What does it feel like and look like? Imagine a movie of your ideal life playing on a screen and then step into it. Let yourself experience the joy of this new life.

  • Plan it. When you’re in this joyous state, list out the steps you’ll need to take in order to reach your goal. Begin with the end in mind, as the late leadership expert Stephen Covey said.
  • Take intentional action. Take your list of steps and break them into bite-sized tasks, then put each of the tasks onto your calendar.
    The idea here is to keep the tasks small. That way, you’re taking baby steps toward your goal while still managing your day-to-day responsibilities. It’s this steadiness that leads to success.

Whatever you want to accomplish, there is no perfect time to begin. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll reach your goals.

 

 

Unchained

unchained

How would it feel if you gave yourself

permission to reimagine

what you view as true?

 

If you shoved the lead door of “I can’t” open just enough to

get a glimpse of daylight,

to peek at possibilities?

 

If you unchained yourself

from having to be right, and

from doing things the way they’ve

 

always

always

always been done,

 

how could you better

be the person

the world needs you to be?

 

 

 

The Live in Peace Challenge

liveinpeaceWe often use the epitaph “rest in peace” when referring to those who have died. It’s a lovely thought, and one I think we should extend to the living. What if “live in peace” was what we all wanted for ourselves and for others?

Live in Peace

If “live in peace” guided our actions, what changes would we experience in our day-to-day interactions? Imagine:

  • a business negotiation where the intention was to find a solution that benefits everyone and to put goodness into the world
  • a conversation with a loved one where kindness was the starting point
  • a day-to-day interaction—at a restaurant or while commuting, for instance—where your best and kindest self drives your actions

“Live in peace” is my intention for this week. I’m eager to see how pausing to set this intention will change my words and actions.

Will you join me? I’d love to hear how “live in peace” changes your experiences in your work, within your relationships, and in your day-to-day life. Please leave comments here or in my Facebook Group.

 

My No-Plan Approach to Overhauling my Health

whole foods
My new dietary endeavor feels about as difficult as hiking a snowy mountain in flip flops.

I’m a horrible eater. I believe in dessert before dinner. I find it difficult to eat vegetables without making the face your 2-year-old makes when you give her broccoli for the first time. And I’m ever-so-slightly addicted to Diet Coke.

My children complain so much about my Diet Coke habit that I no longer keep it in the house. Rather, I stop by a liquor store every day, pick up a can of Diet Coke and slide a dollar to the guy behind the counter. He asks no questions, which is just the way I like it.

“You’ve got a dealer,” my friend Jackie said when I told her about my Diet Coke outings. “Yup,” I said, without feeling the least amount of guilt. Because when it comes to food, I don’t do guilt. Rather, I have the opposite problem: forgiveness.

“I totally deserved that chocolate cake,” I’ll say to myself while scraping the last bit of frosting off my plate. “I deserve another slice, too.”

While I don’t feel guilty about the way I eat, my dietary habits have resulted in me feeling less physically vibrant than I’d like to feel. I’m tired much of the time, and that bothers me because there are so many things I want to do—if only I had the steam. So, in an attempt to regain some energy, I’ve decided to make some dietary changes.

Keeping it simple

I’m not trying a specific diet. I’m not joining a group. I’m not downloading an app. Rather, for the next two weeks, I’m just going to try to make one big change: eating mainly whole foods.

I expect to complain a lot. I’ll try to keep it to myself, but I may not have enough willpower left to stick to my no-complaints intention, so my apologies to my friends and family in advance.

As for exercise, I don’t believe in hard core. I hate going to the gym, and I’m not planning on exercising so much that I hurt myself or am so exhausted that I can’t exercise the next day. I’m pretty much going to continue what I’ve been doing for years–walking five days a week and doing a gentle hatha-style yoga class twice a week. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the different styles of yoga, hatha is essentially one step up from sleeping.

Today is day one. I’ll weigh myself just to get a baseline. And while I’d be delighted to lose five pounds over the next two weeks, I’m only 5’2″, so five pounds in two weeks is a bit of a stretch.

I’d like to say that I’m excited about the next two weeks. But honestly, I’m kinda dreading it. I’m only writing about it because going public may help me follow through with this dietary change.

If any of you would like to join me in this endeavor, or on any self-improvement effort you choose, I’d love to have the company. Please leave comments here–I promise to cheer you on and to listen to your complaints. And I’d appreciate it if any of you threw me some extra love for the next few weeks–I could use the support.

It’s day one. The rest of our lives starts today.

 

 

What Do You Want to Accomplish in Your Lifetime?

dreaming

I’m a planning junkie. In the last 30 years, I’ve tried dozens of systems, have read stacks of books about planning, have taken seminars and have used many of the planners on the market. I start thinking about planners in June. By July, I’m researching them. My fellow junkies and I spend hours discussing planner options in August. Sometimes we have to cut the conversations short because the excitement is too much for me and I honestly feel like I’m going to vomit.

I generally order next year’s planner in September. For 2019, I ordered a completely customized planner because I wanted to combine aspects of several of my favorite planning systems with some of the systems I’ve created for myself. Nerdy? Totally, but I fully embrace my nerdiness.

Ensuring my success

I always set goals in seven areas of my life: career, financial, health/wellness, family/relationships, free time, community and personal development. Then I set up a plan for achieving each of the goals. Because without a map, I’m not going to reach my destination–I’ll get lost somewhere along the way and look back later feeling badly that I fell into the trap of being busy and didn’t do what was most important to me.

Thinking big

When I went to set goals for 2019, I noticed something had happened to me over the last few years. My goals had gotten smaller. They weren’t reflective of my potential. And that made me feel pretty crappy. So  I added a new first step to my 2019 goal-setting process. To force myself to step back and to think bigger, I wrote a list of 100 things I want to accomplish over my lifetime.

Calling up my inner superhero

And you know what happened? It was really hard. At first, I couldn’t list more than three. That indicated to me that I definitely wasn’t thinking big enough, and that I also had lost touch with the part of me who, as a little girl, believed I could do anything. What happened to my bigness?, I wondered. I spent some time reminding myself of my capabilities. I wrote a list of things I have accomplished. I called up my inner superhero, and then I gave my 100 goals list another stab.

Saying goodbye to busyness

And this time, I felt an immediate internal shift. I wrote the list more easily, and I started working on some of the big goals immediately. I’ve already begun seeing results. I have renewed energy, which I brought into my goal planning session for the seven areas mentioned above, and I’m keeping the big picture in mind, which is enabling me to move more gracefully from one task to another. Keeping the big picture in mind also keeps me from loading up my to-do list with tasks that aren’t important and don’t help me reach my goals. I don’t believe in being busy. I believe in being purposeful.

I highly recommend trying the 100 life goals exercise. If you need help figuring out your life purpose, what you want to accomplish in the seven areas of your life, or in creating a plan to help you get there, book a coaching session with me. Together, we’ll help you move closer to creating the life of your dreams.

You Are Not Broken

When I hear people say that we’re all broken, I think about the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The misfit toys—all unwanted because of their imperfections—live on an island, away from the rest of the toys. They wait on the island  until their ruler finds a child who will love them.

We all have imperfections. Many of us go through trauma at some point in our lives. And all of us have moments where we’re not our best selves. These experiences are painful at best, excruciating at worst. But they don’t mean that we’re broken.

What if, instead of holding onto our brokenness, we saw ourselves as whole, as being in the process of getting stronger? What if we trusted that somehow, we could get through this?

My experience during dark times is that I needed to process the emotions—the anger, the fear, the sadness—but every day, I also needed to find some light. It was the light, the abundance of love in my life, that gave me the certainty that I’d somehow get on the other side of the situation, even if I didn’t know how.

We don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t need to be happy all the time. We just need to be doing our best in the moment, understanding that our best will look different when life’s going well for us than it will when we’re suffering. And if we’re relentlessly grateful for the brightness in our lives, we’ll bring more brightness in.

Misfit toys see themselves as not worthy. They’re focused on their flaws and are destined for unhappiness. And because they’re so fixated on flaws, they tend to magnify those flaws.

But those who find a spec of light even when they’re in jet-black darkness are taking an important action, one that will help them recover and become stronger. By finding a bright spot and focusing on it, they’re magnifying that brightness.

 

Try this:

Be Relentlessly Grateful

People who regularly practice gratitude sleep better, experience more positive emotions, express more compassion and kindness, and have stronger immune systems. Nightly gratitude helps reduce anxious thoughts that keep us awake at night, and sets the stage for a more positive next day.

Before bedtime each night, write down three things you’re grateful for. In the morning, review your list before you get out of bed.

 

How to Start Moving Toward Someday

Imagine that you’ve been given one day each week — a full 24 hours — to do what you please. What would you do with it?

Would you learn the skills you need in order to move into a satisfying career? Take up a hobby you’ve said you’d get around to “someday?” Spend more time with friends and family?

Creating Windows of Opportunity

The time is there–it’s just a matter of using it differently. According to the 2017 Digital Future Report’s survey, Surveying the Digital Future, Americans spend an average of 23.6 hours online each week. This is double the 9.5 hours each week reported in 2000.

There are a lot of necessary and worthwhile uses of technology for sure. Maybe being a part of a Facebook group gives you a sense of support and social connectedness, so you consider your time in the group well spent. But if, like many of us, you feel like your life isn’t where you want it to be and that you’re always too busy, maybe you can see some part of this 24 hours as a gift of time, and a chance to make some changes that will help you move your life from O.K. to fabulous.

Getting there needn’t be as difficult as it may seem. But it does take some pre-planning and small, consistent steps in order to reach your goal.

Four Steps to Creating Your Dream Life

  1. Decide what you want. What’s most important to you? What do you want to accomplish? Is there a passion you’re dying to pursue?
  2. Figure out a path. What do you need to do to get yourself there?
  3. Break it down. List the individual steps involved in getting you from where you are now to where you want to be. Make sure each step is small enough so that it can’t be broken down futher.For instance, if you’re want to write a book, “find an agent” isn’t a task. You’d need to break it down further, so perhaps the tasks relating to finding an agent are researching agents for similar books to yours, reading The Writer’s Market to learn which agents specialize in the type of book you’re writing, and pitching five agents per week.
  4. Plan it and do it. Write down the individual steps as tasks in your calendar, being realistic about how long each task will take to accomplish. Completing each task moves you that much closer to your goal.

Life is so damn short. But spending your time consciously enables you to bend time a little and start to use your energy to create something spectacular.

 

Read more inspiration for creating your future.

 

Do No Harm, Not Even To Yourself

My favorite people are those who consider the impact of their words and actions before speaking, writing, or taking action. They use their words to support and heal. They act in ways that reflect how deeply they care for others. And they use a light hand with those they love.

It’s how they operate in the world, and how they operate internally. They know that how we’re treated begins with us.

A quote from my dear friend Dorothy Rupert sums this up beautifully for me. “Do no harm,” Dorothy says. “Not even to yourself.”

What would happen if we all became aware of the toxic thoughts we direct toward ourselves and replaced them with more positive messages? Would we feel better about ourselves and be able to put more kindness into the world?

Replacing Criticism With Compassion

This week, try to be conscious of how you speak to yourself. Are you diminishing yourself or giving yourself the message that you don’t deserve any better than what you’re currently experiencing?

Pay attention to how your words feel in your body. Do you feel loved or do you tense up?

Rephrase your thoughts the way you would if you were directing them toward a friend. Let your words and thoughts come from a place of love.