Goal Setting & Self-Talk (Secret Weapon or Saboteur?)

When it comes to goal setting and (perhaps more importantly) goal attainment, Self-Talk (ST) runs the show!  

Consider these ways to bring awareness to your Self-Talk and make sure it’s acting in your favor as your secret weapon instead of conspiring against you as your saboteur…

See if this resonates:

We want to set a new goal. Let’s call it an exercise routine because, well, almost everyone has been there. Let’s assume that we want to start an exercise routine because we’re hoping to see some kind of result – call it weight loss. So we decide that we will work out 4 days per week for 45 minutes per day. (*disclaimer – this is not a ‘how to set a goal to lose weight’ post… I definitely have thoughts on that too – but this is about our ST)

ST likes this goal because it’s not daily! She says: “Daily would be hard! Ugh we seriously hate exercise!”

This is what we want to bring awareness to! She’s at it already – telling us how hard this is going to be and we haven’t even begun!

So we wake up on Monday ready to start tackling our goal of 4x/week workouts. Maybe we achieve it on Monday! Maybe we even succeed week that first week… but at some point (fairly early on for most) we break a commitment to ourselves and ST starts saying things like:

“Well, I worked out Monday and Thursday… but now it’s the weekend… What day of the week does the week actually start on? Maybe I can work out Sunday and Monday and that’s kind of the same thing… 4 out of 8 days… that’s close to 4x/week… Ugh I knew this would be hard.”

She’s totally in the “push” position.

We have to push her to keep the commitment – to hit the goal – she’s definitely not our cheerleader. We have set her up for failure and as such she’s doing the same right back to us. No good.

So how do we make her our secret weapon?

Here is the often counter-intuitive answer:

We want to set a new goal – exercise – weight loss – you know the deal. Let’s start by thinking about something that would be a lay-up to accomplish but for whatever reason we’re not currently doing it. Maybe this is something we enjoy doing (for example, if you dig dancing maybe you commit to dancing to two songs every night before you brush your teeth) or maybe it’s something that’s so easy it would be hard not to stick to it (like 15 jumping jacks every morning). Something that makes ST say: “Well yeah, we can totally do that, but is it really going to help us lose weight?!”

Bingo. That’s where we want her! The first half of her statement is beautiful… don’t worry about the second half just yet.

Stick to the easy and/or enjoyable goal for a few weeks. If you’re Type-A like I am, make yourself a check list and make a mark each day to signify that you kept your commitment.

John C Maxwell famously said: “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

If you really want to conquer something, make it a habit! Make it a DAILY goal! It is exponentially easier to figure out how to fit in 15 minutes of “X” every day than it is to try to schedule 30 minutes of “X” every other day or 45 minutes of “X” every third day. The more “mental math” is involved, the more at risk you are of not following through.

(And to scientifically define “mental math”, it sounds like this: “What day is it? Wednesday? Did I do “X” Monday? Or was that Sunday? If I skip it today I could do twice as much…” No. No. No. That is awful. That is sabotage.)

 

So at “easy/enjoyable and daily” goals ST may be our ally, but how do we turn her into our secret weapon? Simple. It happens organically with momentum.

Because I am not a dance-before-teeth-brushing kind of girl, I’m going to run with the jumping jacks example…

 

Here’s our scenario. We commit to 15 jumping jacks every morning without exception. We tell all of our friends who might be with us in the mornings so that they expect this and encourage us.

(Oh. I don’t mean like friends around the office Keurig – although the more the merrier – I really mean the people who sometimes wake up next to us… our spouses, significant others, family members… or whatever else you’re into. Not judging. Just keep your commitments!)

We print out a Word template calendar and stick it on our fridge to track our victories… and then we rock and roll! This is so easy that we can’t NOT do it. Even if we have some crazy circumstance in the morning we can always knock out 15 JJs before bedtime and call it a win. With every successfully completed session of jumping our ST whispers a little “yes!” Each check mark on the calendar gets a “woohoo!” Sure, she may know this is easy but let her revel in it for a few weeks! Give her some EASY WINS!

Eventually she’ll bite the bullet and say: “You know… we can really do a little more than this. If we added 10 pushups to the 15 jumping jacks it wouldn’t take but a minute more…”

And now she’s in the PULL position!

Every goal is easier to attain when our ST is positive. Positive ST boosts our self-esteem and improves the way we feel – and the feeling of accomplishing is not much different than the accomplishing itself. It’s hard to have one without the other.

This can be applied to all facets of your life. From weight loss to business to literally anything you want to improve. Small incremental changes that seem too easy to matter lead to improved self-talk which will propel you to bigger changes AND improved self-concept.

THAT’S what happens when you take charge of your ST in relation to goal setting and put her to work for you!

 

 

 

The Simplest, Most Effective Way to Build Credibility

 

Credibility is huge.

No matter what role you’re currently in, if you are interacting with other human beings you will probably be best served by having a reputation of credibility.

Regardless of the company name on your business card, in the modern day world of transparency made possible by social media sites such as LinkedIn, your results will largely depend on your personal brand.

In this post I will share what I believe to be the simplest way to build credibility – it takes little (or no) extra time of effort, it is extremely effective and it is often times overlooked.

First, some housekeeping. My intention is not to help you trick people into believing you’re more credible than you are. If you habitually underdeliver – clean that up. That is no way to nurture relationships or profits so fix that, stat.

Glad we straightened that out. Now you’re ready. Here it is – the fastest, simplest, most effective way to strengthen your personal brand by building trust and credibility – drum roll please….

Tell your clients where and when to expect you – and then show up there.

That’s it.

Tell your clients where and when to expect you, keep your word, and show up. Jackpot. (For realz tho.)

I don’t mean solely in the physical realm – as in, “Katie, I will meet you at 12:00pm in front of the Starbucks on Main Street” and then be there (although, yeah, do that too), I mean in every sense. For example, be specific about the date and time and you’re going to send the email with the proposal – and then send it at that date and time.

And herein lies the magic as well as the missed opportunity…

Let’s run through three scenarios pretending that you are my prospective client:

Scenario “A”:

It’s Monday afternoon and we just finished a lunch meeting. As we’re getting ready to part ways I sincerely thank you for the meeting and the opportunity to partner. I close by telling you “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work – and that you should have my proposal later today.

BUT WAIT. I didn’t say later today! I didn’t say anything! I left it open ended because, truthfully, I’m not really sure when I’ll get to it. That’s fine, right? Can’t under-deliver on a non-promise, right?

 

Scenario “B”:

This time I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you by noon on Wednesday, would that work for you?”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You walk into your office and tell your CEO that you think this partnership could really work well and that you’ll have my proposal on Wednesday.

 

Scenario “C”:

I close by telling you “I’ll get that proposal over to you!”

You say “Perfect!”  We smile, wave goodbye and get into our cars to go about the rest of our days.

I put your proposal on my mental checklist and jet off to my next meeting.

You pull out your iPhone so that you can post a picture of your lunch on Instagram and ‘check-in’ to the restaurant we just dined at via Facebook.

 

Let’s say in all three scenarios you receive my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday.

Here’s how the ‘credibility set-up’ (or lack thereof) plays out in reality:

In scenario “A” I was not specific and you interpreted my closing statement to mean “Proposal. Immediately. Top priority.”

If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday you may perceive me as a slacker. In a best case scenario you might email me politely Tuesday morning asking where the document is (in which case I actually make perceive you as a nag!) In worst case you may have already moved on to another provider feeling slighted.

I didn’t tell you when to expect me so chances are when I arrive on my timeline, it’ll be out of whack with your expectations.

 

In scenario “B” I was very specific – you’ll have the proposal by noon on Wednesday.

If you get my proposal at 3:34pm on Tuesday I am a hero! I’m on my game! I’m EARLY! … and I get bonus points if I include in my email some language that references “I know I said I’d have this to you by noon tomorrow but I am really excited about working together. I reorganized some things on my end so that I could get it over to you a little sooner.”

Same result (proposal arrives at 3:34pm Tuesday), totally different impact (I’m a hero).

Another important thing to note – I am JUST as credible if this document hits your inbox by 11:59am on Wednesday. No need to come in a day early… but if you’re able, why not?

 

In scenario “C” I wasn’t specific and you probably don’t care. I would call this a “neutral” position.

Is there big risk here? No. But is there any opportunity for reward? Not really.

The only thing required for me to earn the coveted deposit in the credibility bank is that I say where I will be and I show up there. So in scenario “C” I haven’t hurt myself – but I haven’t helped myself either. This is a common example of a missed opportunity.

 

The specifics make all the difference.

It’s imperative to create alignment early and often with prospects and clients. If you think it’s not possible for your prospect to take your “I’ll shoot that proposal over to you!” to mean “within the hour” you are sorely mistaken.

As a rule of thumb, every time you’re NOT specific imagine that the prospect has taken your statement to mean “immediately” and the clock has already begun ticking. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is that the case 100% of the time? No, it certainly isn’t. But why risk it?
Implementing this strategy just takes practice. Demand specificity from yourself on all deadlines, commitments, and next steps. Leave nothing open for interpretation.

And when you leave without being specific (as you will… as I still do) call the prospect back ASAP.

Make the call as you’re driving away from the restaurant and say “Hey Katie, I’m so sorry. I know I just said I’d ‘get that proposal to you’ but I should have been clearer. I plan to have it to you by noon on Wednesday, does that work?”

That one minute phone call is a priceless opportunity to earn a deposit in the credibility bank… and avoid a potential deduction!

 

An Easy & Powerful Meditation to Start With (My Personal Fave)

I am certain there are as many effective meditiaons as there are meditators – and I see value in all of them. This post is meant to give specific and detailed instructions about the meditation that I personally began with as I understand/experience it. This is not to say this is the “only”, “right”, or even  “best” place to start, but this is my personal recommendation based on the powerful and positive effects that I experienced firsthand. After trying several apps and techniques, I found that this was the best entry-point for me to start a consistent practice. Maybe this will be an effective entry-point for you too! It can’t hurt to try! If this isn’t your jam – don’t give up on creating your practice! Keep trying different methods until you find the right fit for you!

Oh! And if you haven’t yet done so I recommend reading my post: “Why I Sucked at Meditating (and why you probably do too)” before you get started. Hopefully it will help to dispel some common misconceptions and help you to understand that one of the critical keys to success is simply the commitment to show up.

 

Gan Puttee Kriya: The Kriya to Make the Impossible Possible

3ho.org has a comprehensive explanation on how to perform the meditation. They’re the experts so I recommend referencing this page for official ‘instructions’: 3HO: Making the Impossible Possible

Here is my less-than-expert, unofficial explanation on what it is and why it worked for me…

First and foremost I sincerely believe that the reason I had such a positive experience with this is that I committed to it for 40 days. As you will discover, this meditation involves “chanting” so keeping my 40 day commitment meant that I sometimes had to tell my friends/family/houseguests that I would need 11 minutes of time during our morning or evening to meditate and chant (= weird conversation). In some instances (when I wanted to avoid said weird conversation) it meant sneaking out of bed at obscure times to whisper the chant and complete the practice on a dark kitchen floor (for example). It meant building 11 more minutes into my morning routine and/or redistributing 11 minutes of my already “busy” day. (See my post “The Lie We’re (almost) All Telling” for my thoughts on this). https://deemullin.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/the-lie-were-almost-all-telling/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

Suffice it to say, sticking to the 40 days wasn’t ‘easy’ for me either, but I remained committed. I mean, c’mon, 40 days it not that long.

Once I committed and set my intention to do this I created a “meditation space”. If you’re picturing a guest room filled with Buddha statues and silk pillows a la “Arabian Nights” you could not be more off base (although that sounds lovely.) My “meditation space” is a little corner of my living room to the left of my entertainment center where I sat each morning and lit incense in front of my vision board.

For the “Making the Impossible Possible” meditation I sat in “easy pose” – which is a very close cousin to what children call ‘Indian-style’. The meditation is supposed to be practiced with your eyes “9/10ths closed” staring down at the tip of your nose but most of the time (especially in the beginning) I’d notice that my eyes would naturally close. (9/10ths may be ‘ideal’ but I say whatever happens happens – if you’re showing up to meditate I wouldn’t beat yourself up too badly on what’s happening with your eyes.)

Then you begin chanting as you move your thumb to make contact with each of your fingers (pictured on the 3ho.org page). You repeat: SA, TA, NA, MA, RA, MA, DA, SA, SA, SAY, SO, HUNG.

In my past attempts to explain this process I have gotten to this point and have been hit with some silly objections. I have often heard that this string of sounds is “too hard to memorize”.

Let’s be real: If you’re weirded out by the chanting too much to try it, I get that – but don’t kid yourself about the difficulty of memorizing some sounds in order. It’s not hard. Even if you had to spend your entire first session reading (vs keeping the eyes partially or fully closed) you’d certainly have a firm grasp on it by day two.

Most commonly I think people are afraid that this will look and feel funny. It does! But it’s probably not as bad as you think and (for me) the rewards significantly outweigh the “risk” of looking and sounding strange.

The chanting really helped keep my hyperactive mind busy. When I would sit in silence (which I am able to do now that I have a practice, but was unable to ‘start’ with) the mental to-do list was never ending, incessant, and very distracting. I found it impossible to even dip a toe into the pool of “zen” while listening to my limiting self-talk reciting all the things I needed to accomplish in the day and not-so-subtlety pointing out that right now, at this very moment (the moment of meditation-attempt), I was doing precisely zero of the things on the list. Ugh. No Bueno.

The ‘silly’ chanting was a game changer. At first I was preoccupied with keeping the ‘sound-words’ in order. (It wasn’t hard to memorize but I found it required a beneficial amount of mental effort to keep it flowing). Once I had it down, the chant had a kind of calming effect. The sounds, the vibration, the meridians… I won’t attempt a scientific argument but I bought into the idea that the magic was happening.

Here is my video to show how ‘accessible’ this can be: Making the Impossible Possible (like a Type-A New Yorker)

 

Finding a meditation practice that worked for me was life changing. I invite and encourage you to try this for yourself! I promise – without a doubt – that if you commit to 40 days of this and honor your commitment, you’ll have life changing results as well!

Best of luck getting your practice started and if you try this method, let me know how it goes! I would love to hear about and celebrate all of the “impossibilities” that you’re able to make possible!

PEACE, LOVE & MINDFULNESS.

Thoughts for Leaders: 5 Reasons Why Holding Others Accountable Might Feel Awkward (and how to overcome them to get results!)  

“Holding Others Accountable” is a challenge for many leaders regardless of how much experience they have. The good news is once you “get it”, you GET IT. You can’t un-learn it, and it’s one of the most valuable competencies to master.

More good news? I’m pretty sure it’s not genetic.

Sure, it may be naturally easier for some, but I believe everyone is capable of learning and developing this skill. So if you haven’t had your ‘aha moment’ with accountability yet, don’t write yourself off! Read through the 5 Roadblocks I witness most often and see if you can relate… they’re probably not what you expect!

*But wait: Before we start we need to make sure we’re addressing the right problem. Do you have an accountability problem? Or do you have the wrong people on the bus?

My favorite quote on this subject is from Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”:

“The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” rather than “what,” you can more easily adapt to a changing world. If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem. But if the people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s much easier to change direction. “Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.” Second, if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great. Third, if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company. Great vision without great people is irrelevant. “

 

Be real with yourself. If you’ve got the wrong people on the bus you need to start there!

 

So for our purposes let’s assume we’re dealing with the right team:

 

  1. Holding Others Accountable Might Feel Awkward IF: You’re not sure if what you’re holding them to is really important.

“Is this important?” is the first question we need to ask.

“Why?” is the second… and the third, fourth and fifth.  Six Sigma calls this the “5 Why” approach. It’s a simple and effective tactic for identifying “root cause”.

It is going to awkward and near impossible to hold your team to something that you do not wholeheartedly believe is important. If you don’t believe it, they won’t believe it, and then you’re dead in the water. So you need to dig to find the important nugget… and it’s usually not the number/aspect you start with.

For example: Let’s say your sales team’s quota is to make 50 calls per week and you want to hold them accountable to this. You need to ask yourself if the “50 calls” is the most important piece. Your thought process may sound like this:

Is “50 calls” important?  – Yes

Why? – Because I know my sales reps average 10 calls per presentation and they need to make 5 presentations per week.

Why? – Because one out of every 5 presentations results in a sale and they need to hit one sale per week.

Why? – If they do less than 5 presentations they are not likely to hit their sale.

Consider: Are the 50 calls important? Or is the 1 sale per week important? If they consistently hit the 1 sale per week by making 47 calls per week, is that acceptable?

This could (and should) go on and on…

 

Keep asking why and self-questioning until you’re stuck – until you arrive at your most essential piece.

 

The behind-the-scenes work and self-talk that sets the framework for Holding Others Accountable is often overlooked. Very few people are effective at holding someone accountable to something they don’t believe in or fully understand. That’s not personal! That’s universal!

Work out your “Is this important?” first and foremost. Write it out and/or ask a co-worker to challenge you through it. Just keep asking “why”.

 

  1. Holding Others Accountable Might Feel Awkward IF: You believe that “Accountability Conversations” and “Discipline” are the same…

You’re not disciplining someone each time you challenge them or hold them accountable. These instances should feel VERY different.

Discipline should be short, concise, and generally one-sided. Discipline may be necessary is a commitment is missed repeatedly, but it’s not where we start.

Let’s imagine you are my Direct Report:

An Accountability Conversation is just that – a conversation. It is a two way street where we talk about the ways which you’ll commit to taking action on the abovementioned IMPORTANT task.

For an Accountability Conversation, we’re on the same team. Our interests are aligned. We both agree that the task is important and we make a plan to succeed.

You may have questions about WHY the task is important (which is the reason I need to be sure I have the answers!) That’s OK! Your questions are valid. I had to question it too otherwise I wouldn’t be strong enough to hold you to it!

This conversation might be long, especially if we’re new to each other or new to Accountability, because we both need to walk away feeling confident and committed.

While we’re both feeling engaged and inspired I need to ask you an important question in an empathetic tone. I say:  “You know, this plan really sounds great and I think we’re going to nail it, but to be sure I’m holding up my end of the bargain, if I feel like I hear you making excuses about any of this or if I feel like you’re not living up to your potential in the areas we’re talking about, how do you want me to address that with you?”

Boom. Accountability game changer.

It should really be smooth sailing from here on out (although we have 3 points left, so read on…)

 

  1. Holding Others Accountable Might Feel Awkward IF: You’re more concerned with their immediate comfort than their long term success.

I’ll be blunt on this one: It’s not fair to NOT hold people accountable. It’s not fair to ‘let it slide’. No matter whom you lead or in what capacity it’s your job to develop them and help them to succeed. If you’re not down with that, please stop leading.  

 

If I know the task is important and I know that Accountability does not equate to Discipline, there shouldn’t be a lot of discomfort to begin with BUT sometimes (for example) my Tuesday afternoon would just go smoother if I let you slide when I see you not upholding an IMPORTANT obligation.

Bottom line? If I know it’s important it’s not fair for me to turn a blind eye – so we might have a slightly uncomfortable conversation. I’m doing it for your benefit. Your long term success is more important to your immediate comfort (and my immediate comfort for that matter).

If I watch you breaking a commitment and I want to say something but instead I think  ‘I am so annoyed by this but I don’t know if I really want to confront him… he might get defensive… and it’s almost 5 o’clock and… excuse, excuse, excuse’ you’ll know what’s up. Not to get too esoteric here but if that’s my mental talk-track, my energy will inevitably be different towards you. And if my energy is different and I don’t address it with you, I break our trust. Not completely or irreparably – but I cause damage. So the next Accountability Conversation will be just a little bit less impactful… and so on…

I am teaching you how to treat me. I am teaching you how our relationship works. I’m teaching you a little about how the world works – and if I am not holding up my end of the bargain and challenging you to keep your commitment then I am not teaching you a lesson that will serve you well. I am not being fair.

 

  1. Holding Others Accountable Might Feel Awkward IF: You make it personal

Accountability is not personal.

Discipline is not personal either.

Business is not personal.

Here’s when it will feel personal:

  • When I don’t know if the task is truly important
  • When I have not set clear expectations
  • When I dodge the follow up conversations as I see you not upholding your commitment
  • When I am inconsistent in my message and/or methods
  • When I haven’t done the behind-the-scenes work to really adopt the ‘impersonal’ aspect of it all

This could potentially be confusing because I’ve said it’s my job to be fair and develop you and teach you to succeed… and it could be argued that there’s an emotional feel to that, but here’s what I mean:

If you said you were going to make five presentations and you made three – YOU, as a person, are not a failure.  Your performance may not be acceptable, but I know your performance is not your character. You’re not a bad person. Neither am I. This is not personal.

 

  1. Holding Others Accountable Might Feel Awkward IF: You have not set the stage

This point may be belabored by now but that’s OK: it’s critical.

Expectation setting is paramount in every relationship and interaction.

People generally do not like surprises, they don’t want to be caught off guard, and they don’t want to be unaware of the rules. You can say or do almost anything (legal and ethical of course) if you just give people the heads-up that you’re going to do it.

I recommend starting this conversation on day one if you have the luxury of writing on a blank slate. If not, it’s really never too late! Either way will require strength and consistency from you.

Make a promise to those you lead that you will only hold them accountable for things you genuinely believe are important and are in their greatest good. Tell them it is your commitment to them and their development never to ‘turn a blind eye’ or ‘let it slide’ because those approaches do not make them better. Make it safe and prepare them: there WILL be times when they miss on a commitment. You’re going to speak with them about it. It WON’T be personal. And so long as they prove that they’re the right person to be on the bus, you’ll work through it, set a new goal, learn and be better for it.

And then keep your word.

 

Create a Culture of Accountability and your results will take care of themselves.

The Lie We’re (almost) All Telling

Almost everyone you know is lying.

They’re lying to you, and they’re lying to themselves.

You’re doing it too!

And yes, I’m guilty as well.

Our widely told, widely accepted, and seriously limiting lie sounds like this:

“I’m just too busy”

“I don’t have any time”

“I really need to find more time”

That’s right. I’m calling it to the carpet. “BUSY” is bullshit.

Saying you’re busy is like saying you’re breathing. It’s so universal that it’s completely useless. Please show me a person who doesn’t believe they’re “busy”. The word is so overused that it’s basically nonsense.

Saying you don’t “have any time” is even more absurd. In many ways ‘time’ is the great equalizer because we all “have” (or “don’t have”) the exact same amount of it. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 365 days in a year… I mean, you probably know. This is true for everyone currently on the planet as well as everyone who has ever lived. The fact of the matter is that you “have” the same exact amount of time as Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Oprah Winfrey, and (as my mug says) Beyoncé.

In addition, I have never once been walking down the street and looked down to find a ‘minute’ lying around – spare change, yes. Minutes, no. You can’t enter a lottery or compete on a game show and win more hours in your day, so where are we all planning on “finding” more time?

Saying that you’re “busy” or that you “don’t have time” implies a lack of control over your life. You paint yourself as a victim – that’s why the busy lie is truly a limiting belief in disguise.

Just because it is widely told and widely accepted does not mean it is not holding you back!

Take control! Stop telling this lie! Embrace the mantra: “Busy is bullshit.”

 

In no scientific or certain terms, here is what I believe happens when we say that we are “too busy”. Let’s pretend (for example) that you and I are discussing starting a daily meditation practice and you tell me you “really want to” but you’re “just too busy”.

During this dialogue exchange your brain hears something about the daily meditation and thinks ‘Oh, yeah! That would be so good for us!’ but then is quickly thereafter stopped dead in its thought process-tracks by hearing that limiting word: “busy”.

Your brain hears your declaration of “busy” and takes it seriously.

You automatically switch to victim mode. To “lack” mentality. To a place of “not enough”. This is a dangerous mental space to live in! Nothing can grow here!

 

Here’s the trick: If you were instead to say “I really want to start a meditation practice but I don’t know how I’d fit it into my morning routine” you bring a whole different energy and set of possibilities to this conversation.

I believe that your brain hears that sentence and takes it as a directive rather than a declaration. It’s like you’re asking your subconscious to work on a difficult math problem while you go about your day. Your brain is suddenly deployed on a mission. You’re in a place of possibilities. A place of codes to crack and options to consider. A place of control! This is where ideas blossom!
I’m not suggesting you wake up tomorrow and throw open your bedroom windows  while singing to the woodland creatures about all your free time as if you’re in a Disney movie. That’s a place of delusion. That’s not the point.

There is a happy medium.

You will be better served by not defaulting to the common cop out of busy-ness. Stop being a victim and start getting real. Think about whatever task you’re denying yourself because you “don’t have time” for it.

Is it important to you?

Really important?

Then make it happen. You’re NOT “too busy”.

And if it’s not a priority or you’re “just not that into it,” say so! Claim control. This is your life. It’s not happening to you, it’s happening because of you!

And when it IS important but you just don’t know how you’ll get it done, just sit with that. Try owning one of these responses:

“I don’t know how I’ll fit that in”

“I want to make this happen I am just not sure how yet

“I’ll probably need to move things around”

“I need to think about how to make it work”

“I don’t know where to start”

Feel the energy of the above statements and how it differs from the energy of “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy.” This is a simple semantics switch that packs some serious power.

Ready to try it? Good!

First learn to hear yourself. Listen for the B-word. (This takes practice). When you catch it just immediately say out loud (or to yourself depending on the age of surrounding ears) “busy is bullshit.”

Break up with “busy” for good and start realizing all the things you’re able to make possible!

PEACE, LOVE & POSSIBILITIES.

Why I Sucked at Meditating (and Why You Probably Do Too)

If you already have a solid meditation practice – Rock on!  If you want to create a practice but haven’t been able to get started – READ on!

Here are the three things that tripped me up most when trying to create this valuable habit & how I overcame them:

  1. I was under the misconception that in order to “meditate” I needed to “clear my mind”

I am Type-A, self-diagnosed with more-than-a-touch of OCD, and I am most comfortable in fast paced environments – which makes me impatient.For me, I am fairly certain that “clearing my mind” is not something that is going to happen. Ever.

Setting a goal to ‘clear my mind’ was setting me up for failure.

But I thought that was how the whole meditating thing worked…?

So I failed at it, avoided it, and ultimately chalked it up as something better suited for a different kind of person – probably someone who surfs more and showers less than I do.

What I have now learned is that ‘clearing my mind’ is not the aim of mediation (not for me anyway).

At first I would sit in meditation and it wasn’t much different than sitting, well, not-in-meditation. My thoughts would come rapidly, my mind would wander, and nothing special seemed to be happening. (More on this ‘nothing special’-ness in point #2) As I have become more consistent in my practice I find that meditating doesn’t stop me from having thoughts but instead allows me to notice them.

I visualize this as if my thoughts were attached to clouds by a clothes pin. Each cloud passing through with its own individual clothes-pinned thought in tow. Once the thought comes into focus I have the choice to keep it hovering and explore it in more detail or to give it a gentle push and send it floating on its way. I mentally thank the non-productive thought-cloud for stopping by and ask it to please continue on its journey. No room for you here right now, negative thought. Peace out.

I have learned how to better distinguish my thoughts – both during meditation and in the ‘real world’. Once you can distinguish what something is you dramatically increase the control you have over it.

I am a firm believer that there are only two things that impact the way we experience life: our thoughts and our habits. This habit (meditating) offers me more control over my thoughts and, therefore, my LIFE.

I had to take the important step of changing my expectation to gain that control. Expecting to clear my thoughts would never have gotten me here. Expecting instead to notice my thoughts = game changer.

  1. I thought something was supposed to “happen”

The first time you exercise you do not instantly transform into perfect health.

The first time you make a positive change in a financial habit you are not instantly wealthy.

Why do we expect that the first time we meditate we’ll feel instantly zen? Or expect something to “happen”?
Sure it’s possible to feel more relaxed right away just like it’s possible to feel stronger after your first session back to the gym, but neither scenarios guarantee the corresponding sensation, and if you do feel something immediately that feeling is just the tip of the iceberg.

The game changing key for me here was to just stick with it. The commitment was critical.

I started with a 40 day commitment and all I required of myself was to just ‘show up’. Just show up and try every day for 40 days. Do not judge. Do not try to be perfect. Do not look for the “something” to “happen”.

My favorite quote on commitment and consistency is from Darren Hardy’s book “The Compound Effect”.  In this particular paragraph Darren is expanding on a quote by Jim Rohn. I love this and I repeat it to myself often:

“What’s simple to do is also simple not to do. The magic is not in the complexity of the task; the magic is in the doing of simple things repeatedly and long enough to ignite the miracle of the Compound Effect. So, beware of neglecting the simple things that make the big things in your life possible. The biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not. Remember that; it will come in handy many times throughout life when faced with a difficult, tedious, or tough choice.”

This framework can (and should) be applied to basically everything in life and it was important for me to take this to my meditation pillow. I had to learn that the magic will “happen” if you keep showing up.

 

  1. I was pretty sure I didn’t have “time” to meditate

I have a standard-to-extensive morning ‘getting ready’ routine for a 30 something girl who likes hair and makeup. I have never once in my adult life had an experience of getting ready ‘too quickly’. I’ve never looked at my watch and thought – I’ll just sit on the couch for a few minutes and watch ___ (whatever adults watch – news? Not my cup of tea anyway but, you know.)

My point is it’s not like premeditation me was strategizing how to fill all of her extra time in the morning! I had a window of time in the morning and my morning routine filled that window exactly. Believe it or not there’s actually a term for this: Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Parkinson’s Law is part of the reason that nobody feels like they “have time” for anything, but it’s simply not true.

We have time for what we prioritize. We have time for what’s important to us.

This one is tricky with meditation because for us to bother to ‘make time’ (as if it’s something we manufacture) for it we have to believe it’s important.

Marianne Williamson frequently relates meditation to bathing. We bathe every morning because we find it unacceptable/inappropriate to go into a new day with yesterdays ‘dirt’ on our bodies. Once we realize the power and benefit or meditation we realize it’s equally unacceptable/inappropriate to go into a new day with yesterdays ‘dirt’ on our minds.

You wouldn’t forego showering or brushing your teeth in the morning and justify it by telling yourself you don’t have time. You’d take the task into consideration when planning your morning. You’d wake up at a time that would to allow you to get it all done.

Same thing.

I had (have) time. So do you. 

 

If you’re looking to start a meditation practice (and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do!) try keeping these three points in mind:

  • You do not have to ‘clear your mind’
  • It’s working even if you don’t “feel” anything the first (or second, or third) time
  • Commit to a time frame and stick to it
  • Be easy with yourself – just commit to ‘showing up’ and let the rest flow naturally
  • You have the time (as long as it’s important to you)

 

I have had many girlfriends tell me “Oh yeah, meditation, I’ve tried it a few times and it’s never worked.” My answer? “I could say the same thing about dating but it’s not going to stop me from trying again” 😉

 

PEACE, LOVE & MEDITATIVE MORNINGS

Love Yourself First… No, but really.

I was sitting in Lambert airport early this morning engaging in a rapid fire text session with a girlfriend who’s currently going through a breakup. We were talking about why this guy was wrong for her and how to find the “right” one and thoughts were pouring out of my brain (heart?) and onto my phone at lightning speed.

As I paused to re-read the messages I had sent I realized that they had a common theme: It’s going to be very difficult (if not impossible) to attract a healthy relationship until you really, really love yourself.

The summarization of “you need to love yourself first” is not something I’d walk around saying… and certainly not in that language (it’s just not really ‘me’ – hence the “No, but really” above). I’m not sure I even consciously knew how much I believed in this concept until I read my own words – but MAN, yeah. This is important!

 

I know my friend is not alone in her despair over this relationship ending and her desire to find a new one… and lock it down. Home girl wants to get married. Stat.  And I get that. But for all of my Universal “home girls” who are in this same boat I say to you: make sure your side of the street is clean… and more than just clean… make sure you LOVE all of the unclean, imperfect crap you’ve got laying around. If you don’t truly love yourself first, this is not going to work.

 

Now I know what you might be thinking:

That sounds like a lot of work. I mean, getting to a place where you can honestly say that you “love and accept everything about yourself”!? That sounds hard.

Well. Yeah.

And hard work takes TIME. And I don’t have time. I want to be in a relationship now! I want to get married and have kids and I am (fill in the blank) years old! I thought I’d be there already!

OK.

My answer to all of that?

Yes! It IS hard work – but please point me in the direction of work that’s more worthwhile to do? (Go ahead, I’ll wait.. but I won’t hold my breath).

Hard work takes time and “you don’t have time?(I’m going to do a whole separate post on that very popular lie that we tell ourselves). Well, do you “have time” to be in another failed relationship? Do you “have time” to fake it down the aisle to check some imaginary check box just to end up divorced? Do you “have time” to be a single parent?*

*Caveat: I know many tremendous people who are divorced single parents – I was raised by one of the best – and I sincerely do believe that in many circumstances “the obstacle is the way”… however, if there’s way to avoid this fate and create a healthier relationship from the get-go, isn’t that worth a shot?

You really DO need to love yourself first. Scars and all.

If you’re sweeping stuff under the rug and entering a new relationship hoping you can tap dance on top of said rug and no one will be the wiser, 2 things will surely happen:

  1. You will be exhausted from all of that tap dancing. Seriously. And that exhaustion will come out of you in different ways:

– You might blame him for not understanding you (well sister, he can’t possibly understand you the way you want him to if there are parts of you that YOU are not willing to understand about you.)

– You might feel like something is missing

– You might feel like there are parts of HIM that he’s not being forthcoming about

– Or you might just feel bitchy and irritable

  1. It will create distance.

There is no way that there can be parts of you that you don’t love and accept and someone else will love and accept those same parts. It’s impossible. You’ll keep them hidden. You’ll be inauthentic about them. Your partner won’t be able to fully SEE them in order to love them. There will be distance. You don’t stand a chance.

Worst part? You’re not likely to make the connection that these feelings and experiences are tied to the crap under the rug because of the denial you’re in about the crap under the rug, so you’ll experience the above symptoms without understanding why. (Cue Big Pharma to compound the problem – also, a whole other post/rabbit hole.)

 

Some of that may sound a little bleak – and it is. As long as you are hiding, shit is going to be bleak – but let me shed some hope and light here:

This is all (ALL!) within your control.

Doing this work requires only YOU and your own desire to show up and live more fully in your relationships. Getting real with you – learning to love yourself – has ZERO potential negative outcomes. It is ALWAYS work worth doing.

 

So to all my soul sisters (and brothers) who are frustrated by wanting to be in a relationship but the “right person” just isn’t showing up – consider this:

And to all the warriors battling to make their relationships work, to find deeper fulfillment – consider this as well:

It is never too late to pull up that rug. NEVER.

 

Your relationship with yourself is truly the most important one you’re in. It allows you to show up authentically for the people you love now and will love in the future.

You actually DO need to love yourself first.

PEACE & (SELF-)LOVE

 

PS: Here is my favorite quote on this subject that I re-read often. It helps me to make sure I am being raw and real in my relationships and with myself:

You learn that you put your partnership most at risk by avoiding that which you are most afraid will destroy it. It is not easy to express what is inside you; especially that which makes you feel vulnerable or painful or angry or upset. These are the emotions that empower words that can do either damage or can do so much healing, You learn that sharing your concerns with consideration and the intention to heal and trust in the process is the only appropriate avenue.” – Gary Zukav , Seat of the Soul