The Learning Curve

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It’s that time of year when students of all ages are graduating on to bigger and better things. In my family alone, we have three graduations in as many weeks.

After a couple of decades of being out of school, my sister just completed her Master’s Degree in Student Leadership.  Her daughter is finishing her last week at SCAD and will be heading out to California to start her creative career with a hat maker. And my nephew just graduated from Illinois State University and is on his way to Wyoming with his girlfriend to experience a summer working at Yellowstone.

Oh, the thrill of the open road and a new chapter!

This is the promise of new beginnings. Anything is possible.

The reality is that new beginnings are available to us at any time, although we sometimes need a little pomp and circumstance before we’re officially ready to roll.

I prefer to start without the fanfare.

I tend to launch before I know what I’m getting into.

Because if I knew what would be required of me to do half the things I long to do, I’d never do them.

It’s too daunting.

The learning curve is too steep.

If I knew how ridiculous I would feel prior to feeling fabulous or smart or trendy, I would never conjure up the courage to connect or create in all the ways that really light me up.

If I knew how much time, energy, and effort would be required to learn something people half my age were born knowing, I’d be tempted to use the “I’m too old for this” excuse.

But it’s that attitude that ages us faster than anything else.

The thing is, before we can get there from here, we have to go through the I-have-no-idea-where-I-am-or-what-I’m-doing place.  No one talks about this place because once we get where we’re going and know what we’re doing, we often erase limbo land from our memory.

It’s human nature to want to forget our ineptitude or gloss over the obvious errors in our thinking or the epic failures we didn’t anticipate.

But these often make the most memorable stories and become the beginnings of our greatest adventures.

Countless success stories start with the adventure that went awry, the chance meeting that wouldn’t have happened if all had gone as planned, or the random recalculating of  an accepted hypothesis that resulted in a scientific breakthrough.

There is an urgency about getting to the Promised Land, wherever that may be. We want to start out making top dollar. We want to instantly become an internet sensation. We want everyone to know our name. We want to succeed in business without really trying.

But there is a necessary learning curve. This is that magical time when we are humbled and frustrated and overwhelmed and filled with uncertainty that’s only occasionally sprinkled with awe and amazement and enthusiasm about what’s possible.

It’s this grace period when we get to fly under the radar, make mistakes, and hone our craft before we get pummeled by public perception.

It’s when we realize how lucky we are not to have our dreams realized before they are fully formed.

I recently came across a book titled “What’s In The Way, Is The Way.”  This echoes the idea we’ve been tossing about in my coaching program that the life we’ve lived so far, with all its trials and tribulations, has provided the precise experiences we need to succeed.

Whatever impeded our journey informed our journey and placed us in the perfect position to offer the unique contributions we can today.

So, graduates, as you saddle up and ride off into the sunset, remember it’s the detours, flat tires, the missed turns and the learning curves they afford that hold the real gifts.

I have no doubt you will get to your Promised Land with the flair and finesse that only you possess. Just remember to embrace with grace the path that leads you there.

I’d love to hear what you are graduating from at this juncture in your life. Please leave your comments, insights, or advice for fellow graduates of all kinds in the comments below.

 

 

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 – Finish Strong

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Congratulations for sticking with me through the whole alphabet plan in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.  As you know, each day presents its own challenges. Since you can’t always depend on Plan A or even Plan B, you now have a whole alphabet plan in your arsenal.

But it doesn’t end here.

We’ve got one week left and this is when things can get tricky. It’s like you’ve been on this long road trip and you’re mere miles away from home when suddenly your car breaks down, you get pulled over for speeding, or you’re redirected on a detour that turns your minutes from home into hours.

How you handle this determines how you view the entire journey as well as how you approach future adventures.

Remember, you are equal to the challenge. You wouldn’t give up earlier in the challenge. Do not give up now. Don’t let fatigue or perceived failure stop you now. Put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this, my friend.

Even if there are no hurdles left to jump and you plan to coast into the New Year without much thought, I’m asking you to give more.

This week reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the bardo – an intermediate time between death and rebirth. So much depends on this week.

Pay particular attention to your thoughts and actions. Act with intention and do with deliberation.

If you can take the time and make the space to review your year, you’ll be much more likely to see the patterns, the people, and the places that impacted your well-being in the last twelve months. Then you can consciously choose whether you want to include them in the next twelve.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Acknowledge what went well and what didn’t. What did you learn and how can you leverage that in the New Year? What do you want and why do you want it? I mean really truly want and are willing to disrupt life as you know it to get, not those things you say you want every year but never quite get.

I’m not interested in resolutions that will be broken by 12:15am on 1/1/17. Resolutions seldom stick. We need “goals with soul” as Danielle Laporte calls them.

I’m interested in those things you want to create, do, be, or have that will keep you up at night dreaming and scheming and planning and collaborating until it comes to fruition.

And that starts with a little clarity.

This week I’ll be sharing some of the templates I use to do my Year In Review. Hopefully they will help you start thinking about what’s possible for you in 2017.

Regardless of how you’ve ended years in the past, this year I want you to finish strong. As they say, “It ain’t over, til it’s over.”

Use this week to amplify your output.  You know how you get super productive the day before you leave for an Alaskan cruise, Hawaiian vacation, or weekend getaway? This is the time to tie up loose ends, anchor out of control emotions, make things right in your relationships, and take care of any business you don’t want to drag into the New Year.

You are beginning Week 52 of 52 for 2016.  What would it take to make it your best one so far? Only you can define what that means to you.

Let me know in the comments below what you would like to accomplish this week so you can go into the New Year in Good Cheer – especially if that is to just have fun and completely relax because you’ve been crazy busy all year.

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P.S.  Do you need a notebook to write down your responses?  If so, I’ve got one for you.  Leave your information below and I’ll send a Resolve to Evolve notebook out to you in time for the New Year. Your information is safe with me.

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “X-Y-Z”

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It’s not that each of these letters aren’t worthy of their own plan in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. It’s just that I’d like to finish the whole alphabet plan this week so we can get down to business next week preparing to ring in the New Year.

Like a well-planned exit strategy from a job or a relationship or a location, a well-thought out exit strategy for the year will yield excellent results.

While you may yearn for a yacht, a yellow submarine, or a career in yodeling, you can’t get from zero to hero without a little strategic planning.

You may zig. You may zag. You may even zip around in order to convince yourself you are getting there fast.  But as Aretha once asked, Who’s zoomin’ who?” Let’s get real about what it’s going to take.

So after we have ourselves a merry little Christmas and make the yuletide gay, we’ll recap 2016. We’ll leverage what we’ve learned so we can leap into 2017 with every intention of 10Xing the results we can expect once we get clear on why we want them.

I appreciate you reading and working through the Alphabet Plan. All I want for Christmas is to hear how these tips helped you or someone you love through the holidays.

Please leave your comments below.  Or just pipe in and share how you are spending the holidays. What are your favorite traditions, foods, presents, places, or parties? I love learning from you and knowing what matters to you.

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P.S. If you’d like to trade in your fruitcake or other interesting gifts for a perfectly-sized Resolve to Evolve journal, just fill out the info below and I’ll send you one.  No need to send me the fruitcake in exchange though. 🙂

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

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The letter “V” is the visiting today to validate and vouch for the various strategies we been voicing to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer.

If this were a tv show, I’d be asking you to vote for your favorite strategy. But I’d like to give you a vacation from vocalizing your views or vetoes and simply ask you to practice the strategies that add value and verify what works for you.

Venting about what vexes you may be all that’s necessary to vanish the stress.  Or visualizing a vibrant,  healthy, happy version of yourself may do the trick.

The variety of tips vying for your attention may vary. So I’m going to volunteer one of  my very favorite strategies.

Find a room with a view and let your imagination veer you towards that venerated state of a virtual Valium like quality peace and serenity. When you can vacate the need to control events and open to the vulnerability of being present, the volume of vibrant ideas you recognize as vital signs to your well-being may astound you.

One of those ideas for me is to venture into video. So slave-driving Santa will be bringing the equipment I need to up my game, face my fears, and be more visible in the New Year.

I’d love for you to voice your viewpoint in the comments below.

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P.S. How would you like a perfectly sized Resolve to Evolve journal to record your resolutions, write out your to-do or ta-da! list, or record the many vistas you see out of your room with a view?  Just let me know where to send it below and I’ll get one to you in time for the New Year. Please know your information is safe with me because selling your information violates all that I hold dear.

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

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Skipping to the front line of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge is the letter “S”, stacking one stone upon another in seasonal style.

There are several “s” words and ideas that strive to serve you. I could shower you with strategies that leave you staggering with a sprawling spread of spirited suggestions, but sticking to something more subtle suits us better.

You don’t need a series of solutions to get through the day. All that scheming, scripting, scouting, and scheduling may sacrifice your sanity. Where’s the satisfaction in that?

So without further speculating I shall spill the beans and sow the seeds of what I hope will be a shared sentiment.

Slowly succumb to the sights and sounds of your sacred space. If you can’t physically be there, go there in your mind. Soften your sharp edges. Seize the opportunity to shimmy, shake, shine, shout, or seek shelter in this place sanctioned solely for the spectacular surrendering of your stress.

It may seem silly or sound self-indulgent and you may be tempted to shrug it off.  Do it anyway. It will soothe your soul, sweet pea. Splurge. Savor. Soak it up.

You deserve some serious stress relief. And I’m here to see that you shift your sights slightly sideways so you might be seduced by a shameless sashay into a silent night – or seconds if that’s all you can sequester – to sleep, shop, or shovel snow in heavenly peace.

Score some stickers or snag a sassy Resolve to Evolve mini journal  by sharing your “S” stories in the comments below.  I never sell the information on my list so your secrets and your emails are safe with me.

P.S.  Here’s a bonus book recommendation for Plan “S”.  Start With Why from Simon Sinek. If you prefer watching TED talks to books, catch his sensational talk here. (Thanks, Tom, for sending the book to me in the (saint) nick of time for Plan “S”.)

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