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 – Day 3 – Plan C

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It’s Day 3 of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer Challenge.

I love the letter “C” because there are so many compelling action verbs beginning with “c” competing for today’s tip. We have create, collaborate, communicate, connect, catalyze, curate, caress, consider, commit, coach, consult, conspire, cook, coax, comfort, cuddle, climb, compose, craft, complete, continue, conquer, concede, compliment, contribute, calibrate, cushion, chill, celebrate, chuckle, change, challenge, chant, choose, captivate….

Since it’s complicated to pick just one action, I decided to go with an idea that will inspire continuous action. That idea is curiosity.

Just as this picture captures this sweet little pup’s curiosity, you, too, can benefit from cocking your head to the side and considering something you’ve never thought of before. Or at least not in this context.

The trouble with getting all cranky and crabby at this time of year is that need your sense of curiosity, wonder, and humor now more than ever. It’s the connective tissue that keeps you compassionate and civil when your instinct may be more combative.

So try this.

Every day from Here to the New Year, write down at least one thing you are curious about. Just thinking about it won’t do. Please write it down somewhere every day.

By the end of the year,  you’ll have 35 conversation starters should you happen to be stuck at the DMV or cousin Carol’s Christmas concert. Instead of complaining, connect with a complete stranger and see if you can curtail any criticism or cynicism by starting a captivating conversation about any of the things you are curious about.

I’d love to hear where your conversations lead in the comments below. And if you haven’t officially registered for the challenge, please do so here so I can send you your free Holiday Survival Guide and enter your name for the goodies I’ll be giving away.

“What could those clever concoctions be?” you ask.

Stay curious and continue to check in daily.  I’ll leave clues that will allow you to connect the Christmas cookie crumbs to some sweet surprises coming soon.

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Here to the New Year In Good Cheer – Day 1-Plan A

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Welcome to the Here to the New Year Challenge in Good Cheer Challenge. From now until December 31st I’ll be sharing some short tips to keep you humming through the holidays.

Because I can easily get distracted by shiny and/or stressful objects, I’m sticking with the full alphabet plan as our guide.

Today we start with Plan A.

I did a search on verbs that started with the letter”A” and assembled a few of them here. I used WordClouds to help me create a visual that allows various verbs to capture your attention, depending on where you look. Notice how the words are shaped to form the letter A?

Today’s tip is all about attitude.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to select a handful of these verbs and act on them today. Let them amplify your awareness and align your actions.

For example, some of my favorites are articulate, amuse, awaken, astound, and anchor.

By writing this blog post I’m articulating my thoughts as well as anchoring my intentions for our time together, awakening my curiosity as to how best to convey these concepts, and possibly amusing you and astounding all of us when you share your responses in the comments below as to how this small change in awareness impacts your day.

Make sure to sign up for the challenge here in order to get your free Holiday Survival Guide.  You’ll also earn points and get in on other free stuff only available by registering.

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The Wonder of a World Series Win

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photo by Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Several years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a poem that became a book called,“All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

Having watched my share of baseball lately I feel like I could write, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching the World Series.”

I don’t usually pay a whole lot of attention to sports teams or their players, their stories, salaries, stats, or celebrity status. But this year, I was looking for a team, a mascot, or a metaphor for my How to Get Your Groove Back coaching group that would mirror back the challenges we face in our ongoing efforts to own our throne and name and claim our power.

I picked the Chicago Cubs because I’ve spent a lifetime of summers listening, watching, and waiting for them to grow into their greatness. When my dad shared a copy of Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview with four of the Cubs on the cover early in the season, I suspected this could be the year the world would get a glimpse of what Cubs’ fans have believed for 108 years.

Little did I know how well this team would play their part or how much I would learn from watching them.

Here are just a few lessons learned from watching the boys of summer play their way into November.

  •  Start with the end in mind. Name it and claim it.  Know what you want and why.   What are you willing to do or give up in order to be, do, or have what you want?
  • Be all in. Show up and suit up no matter what. When you are attempting the impossible, every day is up for negotiation. Do you have it in you? Is it worth it? Only you can decide. And then you decide over and over and over again.
  • Your body is your friend.  Be in it. Embody. Get so comfortable in the skin you are in that when your body needs to bypass your brain, it knows exactly what to do.
  • It takes a village. You cannot get there alone. It takes a coach, a team, an infinite number of visible and invisible allies, adversaries, and loyal fans to bring out your best.
  • Be a good sport. Be generous. Be gracious. Be kind to all of those who are fighting the good fight right alongside you.
  • You win some. You lose some. Setbacks happen. Comebacks, too. Do not give up until you’re certain the game is over.
  • Stay flexible. Shake it off. Be willing to play whatever position is necessary and take one for the team. You never know when the sacrifices you make will pay off.
  • The better you get, the bigger the challenges. Never fear. You are equal to the task. Remember who you are, what got you here, and what you are capable of.
  • Expand your vision of what’s possible. Each experience opens up the door to another that may not have been possible until now. Why not you? Why not now?
  • Pray Rain. I had heard about this concept before but as I was meditating in my basement in an attempt to calm my nerves during the 8th inning of Game 7, the concept came up again.  The story goes that if you are in a drought, you don’t pray for rain.  That only acknowledges the lack of rain. You simply feel the rain on your skin, smell the rain in the air, and see the rain soak into the earth.  In other words, you allow the rain (or whatever you desire) to come forth, emerge, or manifest. You pray rain. Well, I went back upstairs to finish watching the game and guess what happened? Rain delay! And what happened during that rain delay? Jason Heyward reminded his team of who they were and what they were capable of doing and the rest is history.

Sometimes life is so surreal it’s mind-blowing.  And sometimes mystics disguise themselves as bubble-gum chewing ballplayers.

What about you? What lessons have your favorite teams, family members, or adversaries taught you about life?  I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

Get Stuff Done 1 x 31

 

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It’s that time of year again!

July is our Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge month.

What is the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge?” you ask.

It’s a way to slowly but surely knock out those little tasks that gnaw away at your peace of mind. It’s committing to daily micro-movements that move the action of your life along at regular clip, without getting stuck in the doldrums.

“What do I have to do?” you wonder.

I’ll post a prompt here each day. You just have to read it.  And act on it.

“Why would I do this?” you protest. “I’m already overwhelmed!”

Well, you don’t have to do it. But it’s fun. It’s free. It’s different. It only takes 5-15 minutes of your day. You’ve got support along with some built in accountability. And it feels really satisfying to get even the smallest stuff done.

Here are 7 Rules to Success for this challenge:

  1. The activity will only take between 5 -15 minutes… because who doesn’t have at least 5 minutes? (If you’re into it, feel free to spend more time.)
  2. You have to actually do it, not just think about doing it.
  3. Approach each day’s challenge with an open mind. (“Been there, done that” attitude does not lend itself to openness. Avail yourself to new twists on familiar themes.)
  4. Be present to the task at hand. Save multi-tasking for the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day.
  5. Have fun with it. Judging, criticizing, or censoring yourself – or me! – takes all the fun out of it.
  6. Post your responses, reactions, or results in the day’s comments. It’s more fun  when everyone contributes!
  7. Enlist a friend or two or twenty to join you. This will definitely boost your accountability and your popularity as leader of the pack.

The truth is you don’t get stuff done at all once. Overnight success is often years in the making. Your life moves forward decision by decision, action by action, thought by thought.

For the next 31 days, let’s move the needle on our mojo measuring devices so that by August 1, collectively we can feel as accomplished as all get out.

 

Riding Lessons

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At some point in my life – after being thrown from a horse or thrown off course –  I remember someone in authority telling me to, “Get right back on that horse!”

If you’ve been thrown from a horse, you know the last thing you want to do or possibly can do given the extent of your injuries, is get right back on that horse.

In theory the immediate do-over counteracts the embarrassing, terrifying, or deeply disappointing dismount and nips the fear of ever trying anything remotely scary again in the bud.

I’ve been doing things lately that have left me with some inexplicable internal injuries. Nothing of the sort that should concern anyone. Just the kind that makes me question why getting right back on that horse is a good thing if I haven’t had any additional riding lessons.

Isn’t the point of any lesson to learn from it? If we don’t exactly know what causes our fall from grace, how can we prevent it from happening in the future?

I’m learning as I work through my Daring Leadership/Leaders Rising course that if you are a leader or a creative person or public persona whose job it is to continually put yourself out there, you are going to fall. You may even fall often.

The trick then is to learn to land so you can rise repeatedly.  As the Zen saying goes, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Last week I did something out of character for a writer. I went on live tv. Unlike a blog post that can live in obscurity forever, what happens on live tv, stays on tv… and the internet and can show up as a random rerun at 1am.

I’m not sure what made me think this “horse” would be a great one to get on after the last dog and pony show. Maybe it was the false sense of security that came from riding this one before.

I’m happy to report there were no disturbing incidents with this metaphoric horse like the ones that happened when I took my actual horses (who where in heat) to the fair when I was in seventh grade.

I did, however, experience the kind of vulnerability hangover that happens when I become visible and happen to get a glimpse of myself and the episode on my Facebook feed. Seeing this makes me recommit to my writing in hopes that I might be able to earn a respectable living without ever being seen in public again.

But here’s the rub. The creative life, the courageous life, the connected life demands that we be seen, heard, and felt in order to be experienced. That means getting right back on that horse. Even if it’s a Shetland pony.

So once again Monday morning or the next challenge/opportunity rolls around for each of us. What do you say, shall we saddle up and ride?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

8 Excellent Reasons to Challenge Yourself

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During the month of July I led a  group of through my Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge.    The goal was to do one thing each day for thirty-one days  on our to-do, to-dream, to-become list.  These things needed to be small steps that didn’t require a lot of planning or equipment and could be done within 5-15 minutes. 

While I could go into detail about the impressive things  participants got done, what I’d rather share is why taking on a challenge that catapults us out of our comfort zone and into the “What was I thinking?” zone is so important.

The reason for doing anything that challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally, spirituality, financially or all of the above is because we forget what we are made of.   We lose sight of our superpowers and the only way to reactivate them is not to just dream the impossible dream but actually do something about it.

While it may seem like trying something for a few weeks, twenty-one days, or a month  or two won’t change  a lifetime of bad habits, you may be surprised what a little forward momentum will do for you.

Here are eight excellent reasons to act on your desires and take on  a time specific challenge.

#1 – Focus is required.

Whether it’s 3 days or 30, knowing you have a finite amount of time to achieve certain results definitely clears your calendar of any unnecessary clutter or distractions and allows you to focus on the goal at hand.  If you think you have all the time in the world to work on your website, draw up a will, or lose twenty pounds, that’s how long it will take.  If you have a timeline, a plan, and a schedule that’s non-negotiable, you’ll get down to business.

#2 – Resources rush to the rescue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” The universe will meet you halfway but you have to take the first step.

When you are committed to the challenge, synchronicities occur.  From random songs on the radio to books that fall off shelves to old friends who suddenly call with the exact information you need, assistance is all around you.  Tune in to it.

#3 – Activation energy is unleashed.

In her TED talk, Mel Robbins talks about “activation energy” or the energy required to overcome the inertia you will experience when faced with the physical reality of changing your behavior.

Whether that’s throwing off the covers and getting out of bed a half hour early to write instead of hitting the snooze button or walking away from the chocolate chips crying out to you from the cupboard, you will feel a gravitational pull to old habits that you will have to conquer as part of your challenge.

#4 – Next steps are revealed.

The great thing about taking the first step is that in order to get anywhere, you have to  take another.  You do not have to know where it will lead or how long it will take to get there.  You only need to pay attention and take the next step when it is revealed.  Attempting to blast through all of the steps at once is not only incredibly destructive but hides the treasures that can only be found in navigating  a tricky terrain.

#5 – Perfection is not an option.

The quickest way to learn a something is to fail a few times.  Just like getting lost will help you find your way the next time, failing is a sure fire way to help you continue to refine and define your reason for wanting to master this skill or challenge.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you begin.  But you get leaner, fiercer, and smarter as you gain experience. Or you soften, become more compassionate, and wise.

As most people training for a marathon will tell you, they are not in it to win it. By qualifying, participating, and completing, they achieve something beyond winning.

You are not taking this challenge to become perfect.  You are taking this challenge to become more of who you know you can be.

#6 – Expect the unexpected.

At some point during the challenge something will surprise you.  Whether it is something you learn about yourself or an opportunity that presents itself, your efforts will be rewarded when you least expect it.

#7 – Freedom comes through discipline.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets to Adulthood is,  ” What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” The biggest lesson I’ve learned from any challenge I’ve completed in the last year is this.  Freedom comes through discipline.

Discipline makes those hundreds of decisions that could derail me so much easier to make.  I just say no.  Not for the next 21 or 31 days or however long it takes.  Doing what I need to do every day instead of once in a while or when I feel like it makes all the difference.

#8 – You are capable of more than you imagined.

Until you activate your superpowers, you don’t know you have them.  Until you do what you say you want to do, you’ll never know that you can not only do that, but so much more.

One of  Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs encourages us to “Love the necessary hard work.”  While it may be difficult to believe in the beginning, you will come to respect this advice. Once you have walked through the fire, felt the heat of the challenge, and come out on the other side, you will not only understand the wisdom of these words, you will be an example of them.

I’d love to hear about the some of challenges you’ve taken in the comments below.