Start With Why

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As any of you who have been around small children know, kids are curious.  Their favorite question is “why?” Whatever answer you provide inevitably leads to another question.

They beg for you to “tell me more” regardless of how ready, willing, and able you are to dig deep into the subject of their inquiry.

Over time their questions may wear you down and you may tend to treat all questions as irritants rather than clues that unlock the great mysteries in life.

Questions like, “How much?” ,”By when?”, “Where in the world?”, and “What the heck?” often hint at answers that may be just as tiresome as the questions.

As a naturally curious type and a firm believer that the right questions asked at the right time can change your life, I invite you to not give up on questions.  (In my last post, I asked you a whole bunch of them!)

Just keep it simple and start with why.

If you are making New Year’s Resolutions this year, why do you want your life to be different?

I’m sure you have a compelling answer.  I’m also sure it’s not the first one you will come up with.

If you stay as persistent as a child and let one answer lead to another question, then you might discover why it really matters.

And then you are on to something.

The reason most resolutions fail is not because you don’t have the discipline, willpower, wisdom, strategy, or support to achieve them.  The real reason resolutions fail is because you don’t have a clear and compelling reason to work through the challenges that will present themselves as part of your journey.

What you’re resolving to do is difficult.  It’s the reason you haven’t achieved or been able to sustain your success before.  So what’s different this time?

If nothing has changed and you’re not willing to do anything different, then don’t waste your time making the resolution. It just leaves you feeling bad about yourself.

But if you are willing to do something different, whether that be to hire a coach, take a class, or join a support group, then write your goal down and take at least ten minutes to imagine what it would feel like to achieve it.

Then grab a pen and paper and write this down at the top of the page:  THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT & I WILL DEFINITELY SUCCEED BECAUSE.  And then list at least 10 reasons it is  different and why you will most definitely succeed.

I recently did this and came up with 25 reasons I will be able to create a thriving business doing what I love, with people in love, in places I love.  And let me tell you, it was one of the most empowering things I’ve done.

I got the idea from Mike Dooley’s book, Playing the Matrix, where he talks about creating results based on how you want to feel instead of focusing on what he calls the “cursed hows” and attaching to the results of getting what you think you want.

If you are resolving to be a better version of yourself in 2018, give yourself a boost by writing down the reasons you will succeed.  This is something you can look back on any time you are tempted to give up.

Here are a few of the things on my THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT & I WILL DEFINITELY SUCCEED BECAUSE list. I  hope this helps you jump start your list:

#1 – I’ve prepared for it and have a strategy.  I’ve invested an incredible amount of time, money, and resources to make this happen.  I’ve taken lots of baby steps, tested the market, and had consistent, small successes and epic failures.

#2 – It has become my #1 priority.  I have given up many things so I can spend time building my business.  I invest any extra time I have and money I make back into my training so I can work with great coaches, be a part of a supportive community, and continue mastering new technologies. I follow my fascination and never stop learning.

#3 – I get by with a little help from my friends.  I have been actively building my community for several years. I now have an amazing tribe of peers, mentors, and clients who do great work and are willing to collaborate, support, participate, and play along.

#4 – I’m not attached to the specifics of how it needs to happen. I step into the flow of my life and focus on feeling good, staying healthy, being creative, trying new things, doing things that make me feel alive and energized. Of course, I’d love for this to yield certain results, but I’m not so focused on those results that I limit myself or miss even better opportunities. I celebrate the smallest successes as I keep the big picture in mind.

#5 – I show up.  Every single day I take one small step in the direction of my dream.  I stopped hiding. I shed my invisibility cloak so I can do the things that scare me (like make a lot of videos), and keep putting myself out there in fun and creative ways.

#6 – I live in a loving and abundant universe.  I am connected to source energy.  The only lack is a lack of imagination. My life supports me, my tribe has my back, and the universe conspires on my behalf. I’m grateful to get to do this work.

#7 – I own my throne.  I stand in my power and attract fabulous clients, co-creators, friends, mentors, opportunities. I’m done apologizing.  I want what I want.  This is who I am. These are my gifts. This is what I charge. This is how I work.  This is the time I have available.

#8 – There is enough for everyone.  My success inspires others. My fearlessness, my failures, and my willingness to take action encourage others. We’re all in this together.

#9 – I fire on all cylinders – or all 7 chakras, as I prefer to say.  I am grounded in my body as well as open to spiritual assistance and worldly wisdom.  I love to think and create and spend  my time with heady stuff.  That makes it tempting to ignore my body. I’ve learned to embody and bring my ideas into my body and get grounded. When I eat healthy foods, get outside in the sunshine and play with the dogs, and get some body work when I need it, everything goes much smoother.

#10 – I honor  my lineage.  I stand on the shoulders of giants.  I value the teachers, mentors, coaches, shamans, spiritual teachers, and students I’ve had the good fortune to work with. I honor them by continuing their work in my unique way and value all of us by charging enough that I can support my business and continue to share the message.

Here’s to you being wildly successful in 2018.

I’d love to see your list and learn about your dreams for the New Year.  Please leave your comments below.

 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of the Year

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For someone who is not real big on the holidays, I absolutely adore these days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Part of it is because I work full-time at a college and, like our students, we get these glorious days off  before starting full steam ahead again in January.

The other part is I happen to believe there is something magical about these days.  Because they are the last days not just of the month or the quarter but the whole year, people tend to write them off as an insignificant segue into start of a New Year.

But I know better.

It’s as if these days have a secret they will share only with those who can get quiet enough to listen and be still enough to notice.

While many people are bustling about returning items, reconnecting with family and friends, or trying to check off the last few items on their yearly to do list, I’ve been quietly calling the pieces of myself back home in order to acknowledge all the adventures I’ve had during this trip around the sun.

Before I even begin thinking about what I want to create in the New Year I ask myself a series of questions about the current year. The answers I get inform my direction and my intentions for the upcoming year.

I wanted to share them with you as a way to consider what 2017 has meant to you. You may want to sit with them, answer the ones that feel most in need of answering, skip those that don’t make sense for you, or make up your own.

After allowing my answers to these questions to reveal themselves to me, I take out a piece of paper and put a big plus sign on one half of the page and a big minus sign on the other. Armed with the insights from this year, I can clearly articulate what I want more of and less of in the New Year.

Because this is a process and the questions require time to marinate, I first read through them and let them seep into my psyche before attempting to answer them. Then I grab a pen and let the answers come to me.

By about Sunday I’ll be able to collect my responses and apply the perspective they afford to the New Year. On Monday I’ll spend some time welcoming 2018 and contemplating the choices ahead of me. I’ll Name & Claim what I intend to create and then release that intention into the wild.

I share this with you in hopes that these questions might help you find some clarity and direction in the New Year. Maybe you can ask some of these questions of your family and friends at a New Year’s Eve gathering?

May you savor these last days of 2017 as they share their secrets with you.

Baby Steps & Best Advice

  • Where did the smallest step produce the biggest result?
  • What was the best advice you were given this year?
  • Who shared it with you or how did it find its way to you?

Body Wisdom

  • How aware of your body were you throughout the year?
  • Did you feel connected to your body and allow yourself to feel the pleasure of being in a body or did you disconnect and spend the majority of time in your head?
  • Did you have any health challenges or achieve any health or fitness goals?

Experiences

  • What books, movies, music, conversations, trips, trainings, or classes forever changed the way you think, feel, see, or experience life?
  • What places provided you with the most peace or inspiration, the best working environment, the most creative conversations, the most nutritious and delicious food and drinks, incredibly beauty, or fascinating people?
  • Where did you love hanging out and with whom?

Fears & Thrills

  • What was the scariest thing you did this year?
  • How did you feel once you faced your fear?
  • What was the most thrilling thing you did, said, felt, or experienced this year?
  • What made you feel most alive?
  • What caused you the most pain or regret?

Gadgets & Gizmos

  • What new technology did you master that catapulted your business or personal life forward?
  • What products, apps, or life hacks made your life easier, more organized, or more fun?
  • What purchased created the most joy and/or frustration as you worked through the learning curve?

Gifts

  • When and how were your gifts recognized and appreciated this year? (By you and others.)
  • When did you need to activate your superpowers and how did you do so?
  • Was there a particularly painful lesson that held an exquisite gift for you?
  • When did you have to practice patience and learn to move at the pace of grace?

Health & Well-Being

  • What creative, meditative, fitness, or health practices did you begin that made a noticeable difference in the quality of your life?
  • What new foods or drinks did you discover this year that you now can’t live without?
  • What really nourished you?   (Mind, body, and spirit)
  • What health care practitioners offered you the most comfort or provided you with the most helpful information necessary to achieve your optimal health and well-being?

Homefront

  • Were there any new arrivals in your home? (Pets, people, plants, furniture, etc.)
  • Were there any departures in your household or family circle?
  • Did you move or add on to your existing home or somehow alter your living arrangements?

Livelihood & Creativity

  • Did you start a new adventure, begin a new business, retire, or leave an old career to start something new this year?
  • Who was on your dream team? What collaborations or partnerships gave you the most joy and brought about unexpected or innovative results?
  • Who needed to be fired from your life? What relationships created chaos, unnecessary drama, miscommunications, or major meltdowns?
  • Where did you create something amazing out of nothing?
  • Where did you take “massive imperfect action” as my coach likes to call it?
  • What crazy idea captured your attention and refused to let go until you took action? What happened next?
  • Where did you lose track of time and fall into the flow of doing what you love?

Money

  • How did money show up in your life this year?
  • Did you experience any money miracles or windfalls?
  • When did you feel especially abundant? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • When did you feel constricted or tight about money? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • Did you read any books, attend any seminars, work with any financial wizards or coaches who helped shift your mindset around money?

Relationships

  • Who walked into your life this year? How did their presence impact what’s possible for you?
  • Who walked out of your life this year? How did their absence create more presence for you?
  • Who do you long for? Who is missing in your world?
  • What relationships shifted or transitioned as you changed and grew?
  • Where was your love most needed and how easy was it for you to offer it up?
  • Who surprised you with their unwavering support and love? Who disappointed you?

Travel

  • Where did you go this year and how did you get there?
  • Did you travel for business, for pleasure, out of obligation, and/or because it was your soul’s calling?
  • Who did you meet in your travels?
  • What did you see?
  • How did it change you?

Spirit/Divine Intervention

  • How did God/the Universe/the Great Creator/Divine Feminine or Masculine reveal itself to you? How did you respond?
  • Were any of the answers you were seeking hiding in plain sight?
  • What was lost? What was found?
  • When did you feel closest to God or Source energy?

Surprise

  • What was surprised you most this year?
  • How did this surprise rearrange your reality?
  • What unlikely sources of support, funding, friendship, or freedom showed up for you?

World Events

  • How did world events impact your actions?
  • Did these events alter your opinion of humanity or change the way you view the world or the future of the planet?
  • Did these events catalyze you to join a movement, stage a protest, offer aid or assistance to those in need?

If you had to sum up the year in 6 words, those words would be:

___________    _____________    _____________     ______________   _______________    _____________

* Mine would be:  You can’t make this stuff up.  Really, it was that kind of year! Totally amazing.

Top 10 Takeaways from the year? List them here!

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I’d love for you to share any aha’s or epiphanies that may arise from these questions in the comments below.

 
 

Freedom Through Discipline

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From fireworks to parades to hot dogs, apple pie, and baseball, many Americans will find a way in the next couple of days to celebrate the freedom this country was founded upon.

With the need to be free hardwired into our operating systems, it’s the rare person who willingly gives up that freedom without a compelling reason. Yet, to achieve almost anything worthwhile, sacrifice is usually required. At the very least, discipline is demanded.

Think about the last thing you wanted to learn, do, or achieve that you knew nothing about. Chances are you did not just do it and become an instant expert.

Say you want to get in shape to run a 5k race in October. If you’ve never run anything but late, then you’ll need a strategy, a training schedule, some dietary guidelines, and basic structure in order for your plan to succeed.

Too often we’re seduced by the idea of easy.

Now I’m all for things being easy, but the things that really matter usually do so because of the time, effort, and discipline required to call forth our commitment and courage. When we can conjure up those characteristics, then unlikely allies and opportunities also arise and ignite a spark we may not have even known was in us.

This summer and fall I am taking on a couple of things are way beyond my skill set. I’m making a video series called Sunday Summer Stretch Series (watch today’s episode here) and hosting a retreat in September called Tapping Into Your Wellpower. (Watch for details posted here this week.)

I refuse to let the fact that I currently don’t have the expertise I would prefer to have to boldly go where I have not gone before stop me from heading in that direction. I have traveled enough to know there will be rest stops, restaurants, and resources along the way. Consequently, I trust I will be okay.

If I let the reluctance to start because I have no guarantees I will succeed stop me, I’d never get anywhere. And, oh, the places I would like to go!!

To me freedom is always hard won. While I’ve never fought for my country as some of you have, I fight daily for my dreams and the privilege to help you realize yours as well.

I’d love to hear how you are not just celebrating your freedom, but finding it through discipline and exercising it by stretching your skill set this summer.

Tell us all about it in the comments below. (Accountability does wonders!)

 

 

 

What’s the Plan?

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I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.

It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.

Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.

As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.

So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.

So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now?  What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?” 

The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!

Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”

Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.

I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top  10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.

The other was Nourished the daily planner for a well-fed life.  I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.

As much as I love  each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.

For example, every morning it helps me to ask:

  • What is this day about? 
  • What wants to come forward?  
  • What needs to get done?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What am I willing to do to feel that way?

Every evening it helps me to figure out:

  • Where was the magic hiding?
  • Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
  • What was lost? 
  • What was found?
  • What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
  • What brilliant ideas surfaced?
  • What thoughts consistently hound me?
  • What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
  • Where did I excel?
  • Where can I improve?

The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.

What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dreamspeech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.

Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.

One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*

I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.

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*P.S. –  There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead.  Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan.  Keeps it interesting!

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – You’ve Got This

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Congratulations!

You made it through the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Let’s pop the cork and toast the successful completion of this challenge and the good fortune that brought us together.

I look forward to supporting you in achieving your deepest desires in 2017 and having a whole lot of fun along the way.

Why does this template look like this and not numbered lists and boxes and categories? Because we’re starting with the basics. Feel free to fancy it up and add as many lists, boxes, and categories as your heart desires. It’s your field guide to use as you like. If you want to add some support materials like day planners and schedules, by all means do.

But let’s start with the basics.

What do you want and why? How do you want to feel? Underneath all the striving and longing is a desire to feel something. Feeling drives everything. So what are those feelings and what are you willing to do to feel that way on a regular basis?

Do you want to feel alive, free, vibrant, rich, confident, healthy, sensuous, brilliant, gorgeous, generous, passionate? What exactly? I want to know. I also want to know what you are willing to do to experience this regularly.

Who do you have to support you and encourage you to along the way? You wouldn’t climb Mt. Everest without securing a Sherpa, setting up base camps, knowing the terrain, or studying the weather conditions. Don’t go into this alone.

Gather your ground crew and intel. Hire a coach, a personal trainer, a chef, someone to clean your house or shovel your snow, get a virtual assistant, do what you can to set yourself up for success.

Build daily wins into your Name It and Claim It blueprint. Our brains are wired for winning, so I want you to sprinkle as many small victories along the way as possible.

Wins can look like anything from stopping to notice the finches have discovered a full bird feeder outside your window to savoring a home cooked meal to finally beating your brother at Euchre.

Here are 6 key concepts to keep in mind as you move into the New Year.

  1. Thinking your way into your goals or intentions doesn’t work.

  2. Feeling your way into them does.

  3. Large, grandiose declarations that you can easily put off don’t work.

  4. Small, consistent daily actions do.

  5. Complicating things distracts, overwhelms, and pulls the focus away from your goals.

  6. Simplifying and being specific about small, easily executable actions allows you to focus and build unstoppable momentum.

You can download the template here.

Please join me on Facebook Live on Saturday, December 31 at 10am CST or Sunday, January 1 at 2pm CST where I’ll be discussing the Year In Review and Name It & Claim It process.

I’m sharing some of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer tips on Paula Sands Live today at 3pm if you happen to be in our QC viewing area.

I’d love to hear your responses to these questions in the comments below.  Or join me over the weekend on Facebook.

Thanks so much for reading.  Happy New Year!

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P.S. Did I mention I have a Resolve to Evolve journal with your name on it?  Just leave your contact information below and I’ll get one in the mail to you.

 

 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “R”

 

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Plan “R” is ready to report in for duty in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

Although there are many “R” words in the running for today’s top tip like relax, rejuvenate, roam, radiate, read, renew, receive,  reveal, respect, restore, represent, reflect, reign, and shake-rattle-and-roll, one of the revolutionary principles I like to coach people on is resolving to evolve.

Although I have written Reasonably Radical Resolutions to Redefine Your Reality in response to regular resolutions that tend to last as long Rocky Road ice-cream on a ridiculously hot day, resolving to evolve means you repeatedly return to the place where you get to rewrite, re-do, or reinvent yourself as a result of your most recent reach for something outside your comfort zone.

This quote by Rumi sums it up.

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”

The reward for risking everything is that you reveal who you really are and this reminds you of what is possible for you.

Instead of removing yourself from any chance encounter with a roly-poly bearded guy and his flying reindeer, see if you can recapture a bit of the Christmas magic by reclaiming your  own superpowers and rising to the challenge of realizing your potential.

I know you may resist and possibly resent me for requesting this of you at this time of year, but I want you to ride this year out on a wave of remarkable moments made possible by your commitment to reigniting your rousing curiosity and rejoicing with the totally righteous dudes and dudettes who recognize your rebellion as your resurrection into right livelihood or reassurance that you’re already rollicking along the right track with no regrets.

And one more thing.

Release the need to ricochet or rush around. It will rob you of any peace of mind you may have recovered while reciting riddles in a padded room. Rely on your own rhythm to move at the pace of grace this holiday season.

What rings true for you?  Report in and recall your reasons why you rock and your Plan “R” rules below in the comments.

Right on. Or write on, as I like to say.

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P.S. I almost forgot… more Good Cheer here! Remember I told you there would be goodies? Well, I’ve got goodies galore!

If you would like Resolve to Evolve or Here to the New Year in Good Cheer stickers to put on packages or love letters, or a mini Resolve to Evolve journal, respond in the comments below. Please leave your contact info below so I know where to ship your goodies.

It’s my way of rewarding you for reading and responding. (And don’t worry, your privacy is a big deal to me. I don’t let anyone have access to the information you share with me.)

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “N”

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No way! We’ve already narrated our way to Plan “N’ in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer and nothing can stop us from neglecting our duties now.

The need for novelty necessitates less napping and more noting of nouns and verbs that begin with the letter of the day. Focusing on things of a specific nature nurtures a nuanced notion of creativity not normally noticed by novices or newbies.

But since you are nearly a ninja now at naming a number of basic holiday survival tips, I must be nimble and expose the naked truth in order to nab your attention in a noisy world.

Despite never ending negotiations as to whether you belong on the naughty or nice list,  nailing the nickname “Notorious”  by nosy neighbor Nigel does nothing to negate your nomination to St. Nick’s newly named Not Quite Sure list.

Here’s a little nugget of advice.  A nudge in the right direction is as near as one good deed away.  Notice, nourish, and nuzzle up next to any number of noteworthy causes.

When Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, neck, knuckles, and knees, donate hats, scarves, gloves and other necessities to local shelters or schools. The net gain gleaned from giving is often greater than receiving.

Or while nibbling away at Nana’s nutritious nutcracker cake instead of Nelly’s nachos, find out where your local food bank is and feed a family or two.

What needs nestled into the nooks and crannies of normal life might you meet for others in your neighborhood this season?

Give me a nod and share the ways you move up a notch on the Nice List in the comments below. For every like, comment, or sharing of this post with, I’ll donate a dollar in your honor to our local food bank. How’s that for spreading good cheer?

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