A Powerful Tool To Create A Better Life

This is the season of excess.  There is just so much at this time of year. So much food and drink, so many gifts and events.   

In the midst of all the excess, it can be tremendously liberating to use a powerful tool to create a life that you love: constraint.  

The type of constraint I’m talking about is just a limitation or restriction that you decide ahead of time to impose on yourself because you realize that it’s in your best interest.  

When you decide ahead of time, you’re allowing your pre-frontal cortex to run the show and decide how you want to live your life.  And when you do that, you’re likely to find that you like your life a lot better.  

This is not about deprivation.  It’s about taking care of yourself, deciding what you really want, and living with intention. 

Most of the traditions that we follow at this time of year come from other people.  We spend, eat, and drink too much during the holidays because it’s what we’ve always done and we continue to do it every year.  But is it really serving us?  

When you constrain, you take a step back and evaluate what you really want for your life.  You get to throw out other people’s rulebooks and expectations and decide how you really to live on your own terms.   

Here are some ways to consider applying constraint in your own life: 

  • Maybe you decide that you don’t really want to have tons of sweets in the house from Christmas until New Year’s, or until you finish them.  You can decide to constrain.  You can decide ahead of time to enjoy the treats at one or two holiday gatherings and then throw (or give) the rest away.
  • Consider whether you want or need so much physical stuff in your life.  If the stuff is taking a significant amount of your time or energy to care for or maintain, it might be time to simplify.  
  • Think about what you really want in your life for the next year.  Write down your top five priorities and your core values and then see what changes you need to make to cut the rest out.  
  • If you want a less hectic schedule during the week and more time with your kids, you can decide to limit the number of extracurricular activities for the kids—many families require their kids to choose just one—and also the number of events that you’ll attend outside of work, etc.
  • Constraining your consumption of social media, news, and TV will give you both time and the mental space for creativity.  You can try going on a media fast for a week and see what it does to your productivity. Our brains need to rest and daydream, without consuming content during every waking hour.  You may try it and decide (like I did two years ago) to limit its presence in your life. 
  • You might decide not to buy any new books until you finish the one you’re currently reading. 
  • You might decide that you’re going to have a fixed weekly meal plan (i.e. Italian on Mondays, tacos on Tuesdays, etc.) so that you don’t have to spend so much time and energy figuring out what’s for dinner at this point in your life.   
  • You can decide that you’re only going to shop at one to three clothing stores from now on.  Why spend a lot of time looking everywhere when your three favorites will do?  

How To Practice Constraint

There are myriad ways to use this tool to improve your life.

Regardless of which area of your life you decide to focus on, there are three main steps to practicing constraint.

  1. Examine your life with a fresh perspective.  What do you have that you don’t need or want any more?  What are you doing just because you’ve always done it that way?  What are you doing because “everyone else” does it, too?  
  2. Then ask yourself:  Is this action/habit/practice/thing really serving me?  Is it in alignment with how I want to live?  Is it bringing me closer to my goals and the person I want to be?  Or is taking me further from them? Is it taking something away from my life (like time, energy, space, etc.) instead of adding to it in a positive way?
  3. Finally, decide now what you no longer need and want.  Decide now what the meal plan will be or what stores you’ll shop at or what your media usage will be.  Decide and commit to that decision and you will eliminate the brain chatter that goes on when we’re typically debating whether or not do something.  You’ve already decided ahead of time.  

For example, I have decided that my family will only have sweets after dinner on the weekends, so my kids never ask for treats during the week.  There’s no point in arguing or pleading. The decision has been made.

When you decide ahead of time, you are more free to focus on what you’ve already decided is the most important. You practice honoring your commitments to yourself. You cut out the excess that is no longer serving you and intentionally enjoy what is most important to you.

Have a beautiful New Year.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.



Why I’m A Coach

Why I’m A Coach 

I am a coach.  

When I tell people that I coach now instead of practice law, they are often surprised.  What is coaching?  

Here is what I do as a coach: I help people get clarity about what is most important to them and what they really want for their lives, and then I help them figure out how to achieve that.

I have always wanted to help people in my career but figuring out exactly how I was best suited to do that hasn’t been easy.  I first thought medicine would be my way to help people (I was pre-med in college), but after spending time shadowing doctors, it didn’t feel like a good fit for me.  After exploring many more options, I landed on law.  But even when I was helping people with hugely important legal issues, something was still missing for me.   

Then, a few years ago, I was tremendously fortunate to be able to participate in a coaching program offered for female attorneys at my former law firm. Once I experienced coaching as a client, I knew I had to learn more. I researched and enrolled in several different coaching programs and was hooked. I knew that coaching was the way that I most wanted to help people.

For me coaching is in (what Gay Hendricks calls) my “zone of genius.”  Everyone has a zone of genius.  It’s work that invigorates you, that allows you to really shine, and that feels amazing to do.  It’s like a sweet spot that combines what the individual loves doing and what the world needs.  When you’re working in your zone of genius, it can feel almost effortless.  It can feel like play.   

When I’m coaching, I get to show people how to live their very best lives by helping them find the work they love, to do that work confidently, and to balance that work with the rest of their lives:  their families, their creativity, their hobbies, their relationships.

Looking back, I can see that I’ve been coaching my entire adult life.  I didn’t call it coaching and I didn’t always have the tools that I have now, but ever since I can remember I have always loved helping people figure out what they wanted and live at their highest potential.  I was coaching my peers in high school when I was leading church retreats.  I was coaching in college when I was a Resident Assistant and a camp leader.  I was also coaching when I was practicing law at a large law firm by mentoring junior associates as they developed new skills and confidence.  

Now in my coaching practice, I get to work in my zone of genius every day.  

I see in others the potential that they can’t always see in themselves and I help them overcome obstacles (most of which are in their own minds) so they can do the work they love and show up as the people they want to be.  To me, it’s the most exciting work on the planet.  

How Is Coaching Different From Therapy? 

People often ask me how coaching is different than therapy.  

Others can tell you about therapy, so I will stick to describing the type of coaching that I do.  Coaching is helping people who are already healthy and functioning to live at a higher level. People seek coaching to improve and evolve towards their ever-expanding potential.  It’s the equivalent of a personal trainer for personal growth.  

I never tell clients what they “should” do.  They’ve heard enough about that their entire lives.  

I never tell them what to do.  They always decide.  They are always in control.  

My job is simply to show them why they have their current results and how to create the results they want instead. It’s a practical approach using cognitive science-based tools.

Each coaching session is impactful and transformational.  The client leaves the session seeing their issue from a completely different perspective and with practical tools they can apply to progress between sessions.  

They learn how to feel better in their current circumstances.  They also learn how to take action to change their results.  

My one-to-one coaching programs are designed to teach clients how to manage their own minds so that they can self-coach going forward, for continued benefit and impact.  I do most of my coaching via video conference or by phone, which makes scheduling easier because there is no travel time.  

It’s an amazing process.  It’s life-changing for those who try it.  

What do you want to do with your one, precious life?  Whatever it is—or if you don’t know yet—I can help.  I love to help.  

That’s why I’m a coach.    

Go forth, grow, and bloom.



Believing New Things

There is a saying that if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.  It’s absolutely true.  Our actions (or sometimes lack thereof) are what create our results in life.

But to do something you’ve never done before, you’ve also got to believe that you can do it.  You’ve got to believe even though you don’t have any evidence to prove that you actually can do it.  This is where we get stuck, because our brains like to have evidence.  But when you’re trying to do something new, by definition, you won’t have any evidence yet.  You’ve got to believe you can do it before the evidence exists.

What Is A Belief?  

A belief is just a thought that you keep on thinking.  If you want to change your beliefs, you’ve got to look at your current thoughts.

To get something you’ve never had, you’ll have to think different thoughts than you’ve ever hadYou’ll have to believe differently than you’ve ever believed.

How Beliefs Trigger Action 

The process of deliberately thinking new thoughts and creating new beliefs is by far the most important component of changing your behavior and your results. 

We’re not taught this in school.  We’re taught to just do it.  And if we don’t feel motivated enough to take action, we think that something must be wrong with us or that we’re inherently lazy.

This is why learning how your brain works is so powerful.  Your feelings are what drive your actions.  And your thoughts and beliefs create your feelings.  Whenever you’re not taking action, there is always some underlying thought or belief that is the cause.

It is only when you uncover the underlying thoughts and beliefs that you can change them.

What Do You Believe Now? 

The first step to creating a new belief is to understand what your current thoughts and beliefs are.  Write them down.  Do a thought download and see what’s really going on.  Take a look at what is 100% factual and what is a story that you’re telling yourself.  Notice how that story is causing you to feel, and what you do when you feel that way.

Let’s say that you want to find a new job, but you’re not taking any action.  You sometimes scroll through job postings when you’ve had a particularly bad day at work, and maybe you apply for an opening or two, but that’s the extent of it.  You’ve already got a full-time job and a couple of kids.  It seems like there is just no time to start job searching right now.

The thought that “there is no time to start job searching right now but I’m miserable at my current job” is not going to help you feel motivated to do anything productive.  The only thing that thought will probably motivate you to do is to curl up in a fetal position under a blanket.  And perhaps reach for wine and chocolate.  And when you do that, your result is that you don’t make the time for a job search and you’re keeping yourself stuck at your current job.

What Do You Want To Believe? 

Once you know what your current beliefs are and can see how they are causing you to feel and act, ask yourself why you’re holding onto those beliefs.

Imagine what it would be like to be someone else in the same circumstance, having a different belief than your own.

For example, in the job searching scenario, can you imagine that there might be one other person in the exact same circumstances who is creating time in her week for a job search?  She may be carving time out on a Sunday afternoon during nap time or spending an hour or two in the evenings during the week.   She might be getting up an hour earlier, or using some vacation time off of work to job search, instead of going to Disney World.

What is causing her to do that?

Hint:  It’s her beliefs. 

The person who believes “there isn’t enough time for my job search” will not even try to make time.

But the person who is taking action is doing that because she’s feeling committed to making a change.  And she’s feeling committed because she’s thinking something like this:  “Getting a new job is a priority for me right now and I am committed to finding pockets of time for my job search.”

Inherent in that thought is the belief that there is a way to create the time.  The belief that it’s possible and that it’s worth it.

The good news is that you can borrow the thoughts and beliefs of that person—real or imagined—and put them to use in your own life.  Right now.

Here are some thoughts that you can practice to change your beliefs about what’s possible for you right now.

  • I’m open to the possibility that I can find some time for ________.
  • I can find a way to prioritize this in my life right now.
  • I’m committed to figuring out how to do this.

These thoughts create the space in our minds for new possibilities that you have not believed up until now.  They open the door to your creativity and problem-solving abilities, which had been firmly shut by the prior belief what you want wasn’t possible for you.

Try these thoughts on.  Write them down and practice them.  Brainstorm the ways in which you can figure out a solution when you practice believing something different.  Then watch yourself as you begin to create different results in your life.  It’s mathematical.  Different thoughts and beliefs create different results.  Period.

Go forth, believe, grow, and bloom.



What Is Your Life Purpose?

Many people spend more time and energy planning their next vacation than they spend thinking about what they want for their lives.  But when the vacation is over, you still have to go back to your life.  It’s worth taking a long, hard look at what you love about your life and career, and what you want to change, so that after your next amazing vacation, you can’t wait to get back to your life. 

Life design involves many different components, including defining your core values, your current priorities, and your goals.  And it’s not just what you want to do, but also who you want to be and how you want to show up in the world.

Life design also includes defining your life’s purpose, preferably in single sentence.  This is not because having a purpose will make you any more worthy or valuable as a human.  You are already 100% worthy just because you’re human.

The reason I recommend defining your purpose is so that, going forward, you can be purposeful in living your life in a way that is more enjoyable and meaningful to you.  If you bring intention to what you want your life to be about and then you go about living that out, it will change your experience. 

You Get To Decide

There is no right or wrong purpose for your life.  No one else’s life purpose is more valuable than another’s.  We adore the Mother Teresas of the world because of their selflessness and impact on others, but not all of us would be happy doing that kind of work, nor would we be as good at it.

Many people who want to create beauty or art worry that that purpose is not as impactful or important as the work of people who are literally saving lives, fighting injustice, or ending poverty.  But just imagine a world without human-created beauty:  no music, no art, no movies, no performances, no beautiful architecture, no poetry, no pictures, no stories.  It would be crushing to our souls.  The people who are on the front lines need the beauty that others create.

Others just want their purpose to be taking care of their own families and they worry that that purpose is too small.  But size and recognition do not equal purpose.  You can have a fiercely purposeful and meaningful life by focusing on your own family.  The main thing is to be intentional about defining your purpose and then living it out every day.

This needs to come from you, your heart, and your internal desires.  Not what you think you should do.  Not what you think others will view as important.

Write It Down

If you knew and accepted that you are already 100% worthy and complete as a person, what would you decide to do with your time?

What delights you?  What makes your heart open up?

Write it down.  I want to ____________.  Or: I want my life to be about ______________.

When You Define It, You Begin To Live It

Because you’ve defined your purpose for yourself, you will start living in a purposeful way.  Maybe your everyday life doesn’t change much on the outside, but you will notice an internal shift.

For example, if your life’s purpose is to be a loving mom, then you don’t have to change your external circumstances.  You can just be intentionally more present and loving when you’re with your kids.  You get to be more purposeful in how you show up as a mom.

On the other hand, maybe you find that it’s time to make some changes in your life to facilitate living out your purpose.  Having a clearly written statement of purpose will be your North Star as you make changes.

But even before you make any changes, I encourage you to live out your life purpose in who you are, no matter what your current circumstances are.  Write your life purpose on post-it notes around your house, at your desk, and in your wallet.  Remember it when you wake up in the morning and reflect on how you lived it out when you go to sleep at night.

You may find that you want to re-define your purpose later down the line.  That’s completely fine.  It just means that you are following your heart as you go and being thoughtful about how you want to live.

And when you’re thoughtful about how you want to live and you design your life with intention, you will find that you have more of what you want, more of what you love, and more of what matters to you.  It will not be perfect because, after all, it’s still a human life.  But it will be a life that you’ll love to return to after your next vacation.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.



How to Have Better Work Relationships  

One of the top complaints that I hear from clients who are frustrated in their current jobs is that they have strained or difficult relationships with colleagues, partners, and bosses at work.

People report that this has a significant negative impact on how they feel about their jobs.  And, as I’ve discussed previously, how we feel determines how we show up and do our job.  It’s worth spending some time examining what we can do to make our work relationships better.  Here’s how.

First Thing’s First

First the bad news:  you cannot control what other people think, feel, say, or do.

There is one caveat in the workplace that I should mention:  supervisors. If you are a supervisor, you can (and should) set clear expectations, give feedback and make requests.  And you can fire someone who does not meet your expectations.

But regardless of your position at work, you still can’t control what goes on in other people’s brains.  Sure, you can certainly try to influence what people think about you (for example, by producing your best work product and being polite and friendly).  And you can make requests of them.  But ultimately they get decide what they’re going to think, feel, say, and do.

That includes thinking whatever they want about you.  You could be the sweetest, juiciest peach in the pail, but if someone doesn’t like peaches, they aren’t going to like you.

This is actually very liberating.  We waste tons of time and mental energy trying to control what other people think about us, but of course it doesn’t really work.  Just think about if you could let other people think what they want about you—and even be wrong about you—while you go about the business of showing up as the person you really want to be and producing your best work.

It frees up mental space for you to think about the only thing that you can really control, which is YOU.  The more you can let people be exactly as they are, the more you can focus on feeling good and being productive.

Relationships Are Thoughts

Your relationships with other people—including work relationships—are really just comprised of your thoughts about those people.  They, of course, have their own thoughts about you, but that part is really none of your business and is definitely outside of your control.

Here is the really good news about understanding that relationships are thoughts:  You get to choose your thoughts about work colleagues, which will determine how you feel about them, which will determine how you show up in your interactions with them.

For example, say you have a colleague who routinely takes credit for your work and delegates the admin tasks to you, while keeping the high-profile projects for himself.  Your default thought about him might be “He’s such a jerk.”  That thought is likely to create the feeling of anger.  When you’re angry, you probably spin in your thoughts about him and what he said or did, even when you’re at home with your kids making dinner.  And your result is that you keep repeating his jerky behavior in your head to yourself and you let that thought take much more space in your life than it needs to.

There is also no real benefit to having that thought.  Seething with anger is not going to lead to problem-solving.  And the more you keep repeating negative thoughts about co-workers, the more your brain will look for evidence that those thoughts are true.

Now imagine having a different thought in response to the exact same circumstance.  A better-feeling thought.

Maybe you could decide to think, “He’s a human.  He’s doing what humans sometimes do.  He gets to be a human.”  That thought creates a much more neutral feeling.  Maybe one of understanding or even compassion.  When you’re feeling neutral, you can then focus on how you want to respond.  Do you want to talk to your colleague about it directly?  Do you want to set the record straight with your supervisor?  From that place, you’re able to access your creativity and problem-solving abilities and you’re able to consciously choose how you want to show up in response.  These more neutral thoughts will also allow your brain to look for evidence that your co-worker isn’t such a terrible person.  He’s just a flawed human (like the rest of us) trying to find his way.

Set Boundaries When Needed

Just because we get to let people be who they are doesn’t mean that we don’t also take care of ourselves.  Setting boundaries is a healthy way to communicate if someone has crossed a line with you that is unacceptable.

You usually don’t need to communicate a boundary until there has been a boundary violation.  And you always get to decide what constitutes a boundary violation for you.

For example, you may consider it to be a boundary violation if a colleague yells or tells inappropriate jokes in your presence at work.  If that occurs, you set the boundary by making a request and then stating the consequence (what you will do) if they don’t comply with your request.  You may say “I’d like you to stop yelling. If you continue to yell, I am going to leave the room.”  Alternatively, you can just follow through the consequence right then and there, without further explanation.

There is no need to get upset when establishing a boundary.  You can choose to communicate the boundary calmly and clearly.  Then, if the other person does not comply with your request, you can calmly follow through with what you said you would do.

It’s good to consider what your boundaries are ahead of time, so that if there is ever a boundary violation, you’ll know it immediately and can set the boundary clearly.  Setting boundaries is easier after the first boundary violation, rather than waiting until there is a pattern.

Put It All Together

It’s so much easier to “let” people be who they are, because they’re going to do that anyway.  That said, it’s also empowering to clearly define your own limits ahead of time.   The combination of letting people be who they are, managing your own thoughts about others, and setting healthy boundaries will allow you to continue to focus on your goals of growing, learning, and thriving at work.  Which is what you came here to do in the first place.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.



Why Goals And Growth Are Essential

When we’re in our twenties, we’re constantly striving, stretching ourselves, and growing by earning our degrees and landing our first jobs.  Once we achieved our desired success, we’re supposed to feel content.  When we don’t feel content, we sometimes start to wonder what’s wrong with us.

It turns out, that nothing is wrong with us.  What is wrong is the expectation that, once we achieve our goals, we should be living happily ever after and that there’s no need to continue growing or setting goals.

In fact, growth is our natural state of being and when we forget that, we lose a hugely important component of a fulfilling life.

In 2006 and again in 2016, psychologists Carol Ryff and Burt Singer researched what factors contribute to having well-being and what they found was that there are six factors that are commonly found in people who had the highest levels of fulfillment and well-being:

  1. Personal growth
  2. Self-acceptance
  3. Life purpose (defined as having meaning, a sense of direction, and goals)
  4. Positive and healthy relationships with others
  5. Mastery of the environment (feeling confident and capable that you can manage your own life and do your work well)
  6. A sense of autonomy

But the two factors that diminished the most as people reached their 30’s, 40’s and beyond were personal growth and life purpose.  In other words, these things made us happy in our 20’s but we’re not focusing on them much as we get older.

But that decision not to grow has a cost.  The researchers found that people with a clear life purpose and who continued to grow are more likely to have greater well-being and remain healthy and physically stronger throughout their lives.

When Is The Last Time You Thought About Your Life Purpose and Personal Growth?

When you’ve got young kids, a job, and a household to manage, it can feel like you’re doing really well just to feed and clothe everybody.  Contemplating your life purpose, goal setting, and personal growth might seem too exhausting. But if you’re just surviving, then you’re not thriving.  And if you’re not thriving, then you are robbing both yourself and the world of the opportunity to fully experience YOU as your best self.

The good news is that you can thrive even if you have a hectic work schedule and a busy family life, if you learn how to manage your thinking and the feeling of overwhelm.  You can learn how to create time for yourself, to contemplate your life’s purpose, to think about what you really want for your life, and to make the changes you want to make to get there.  You are not at the mercy of your circumstances—you are in control of what you do.

Your Happiness Is Important

It can be tempting to believe that, if you have achieved prior goals and have built an externally successful life, your current state of discontent is not really a big problem.  Maybe you think of it as a “first-world problem,” as if the feeling of unhappiness were somehow less genuine just because all of your material needs are met.  I disagree.  I believe that lack of happiness and fulfillment in one’s work (and life) is a big problem, not only for the individual, but also for the world at large.  That’s because the feeling of discontent drives negative actions that don’t do anybody any good.  Stressing out, anxiety attacks, overeating, over-drinking, over-working, over-shopping, and disconnection in relationships are driven by the feeling of discontent.

In contrast, positive feelings drive positive actions that benefit both the individual and the world.  Taking massive action, making a contribution, connecting, creating new things, and serving others are actions that are created by the thriving mind.

Thriving minds are the ones that create and innovate, that make the technological, scientific, business, legal, educational, and creative breakthroughs.  They are the ones that will figure out to how to end poverty, how to stop global warming, how to inspire the next generation.

What do you want to contribute?  What goals do you have that you’re not currently working towards?  How do you want to grow?  If you need help with this, contact me for a free strategy session.

Go forth, grow (as if your life depended on it), and bloom.



How To Deal With The Fear Of Failure

One of the first things that tends to happen when we start to dream big and think about what we really want for our lives (instead of what everyone else tells us that we should want) is that our brains freak out and tell us all the ways why our dreams are not going to work.

It’s like an internal alarm system goes off when you cross the perimeter of your comfort zone and it’s one of those systems that keeps repeating “Warning! Warning!  Fire detected!” until you retreat back to your comfort zone and close the door.

And the most common concern that our brains raise is, “What if you fail?  And look like an idiot to everyone you know?”

To your brain, this prospect feels like death.  Going after what you want is too scary with too many alarm bells ringing, so we decide to sit tight and stay where we are.  Even if we’re not growing or fully utilizing our skills.  Even if we’re not becoming the person that we know in our hearts we were born to be.

But there are ways that you can “reprogram” your built-in alarm system, so that you can start venturing outside of your comfort zone.

You Get To Define What “Failure” Is

Just as nobody else can define what success is for you, nobody else can define what failure is for you, either.  Your definition of failure is basically your thoughts around failure.  And your thoughts are always optional.

For example, say you’re trying to get a manuscript published.  How many queries do you have to make that are rejected or unanswered before you decide that you’ve “failed”? For some people, it will be one query. For others, it might be 50 or 200.  And then some people will not consider themselves to have failed at all until they stop writing and submitting queries.  Those people are so committed to their long-term vision and their passion for writing, that they will never let themselves stop.  And thus, they will never let themselves fail.     

How do you want to define failure?  You can decide that you’ll only really fail if you give up and stop pursuing your goal.  This is a great definition because you always get to decide if you’re going to give up or not.  So whether or not you fail is completely within your control.     

You Get To Decide What It Means About You

Let’s consider two possible approaches to the concept of failure.

  1. There are people who are so frozen with fear about the prospect of failing at anything that they never pursue their dreams at all.
  2. And then there are people who have a standing goal of failing at something, at least five times per week.  They keep a “fail file” and they love to look back at that file and see how far they’ve come.

What’s the difference between the two groups of people?  It’s not their intelligence, it’s not their education, and it’s not their abilities.  It’s their thoughts about what failure means about them.

The people in the first group make failure mean something really terrible about themselves.

Their thought goes something like this: “If I try something and fail, it would mean that I am really stupid, fundamentally flawed, and not worthy as a human being.”  They might not actually be conscious of this thought, but it’s a belief that’s been adopted by their subconscious and it’s having a huge impact on them by creating a paralyzing fear, which prevents them from taking action.  (I mean, who would want to take a significant risk if their very worth were on the line?)

On the other hand, the people in the second group make failure mean something really good about themselves.

Their thought is more like this: “If I try something and fail, it means that I’m putting myself out there, I’m learning by doing, and I’m figuring things out as I go.  The faster I fail, the faster I will learn and grow.”  This way of thinking creates very different emotions, such as motivation and commitment, which drive action.  Massive action.

The fear of failure is likely to still be there at some level because the comfort zone alarm system is pretty much built-in for all humans, but these people are not letting the fear of failure hold them back.  They are acting despite the fear.

It’s kind of like a rollercoaster ride.  We all feel the rush of adrenaline when we’re falling.  Some people think “I could never do that” and so they never do.  Others think “wow, this is going to be a wild ride.”  And so it is.

Which one do you want to choose?

Go forth, fail, grow, and bloom.



How To Show Up As The Mom You Want To Be

Nothing in my prior life experience and education could quite prepare me for the challenge of motherhood.  Especially mothering two young boys.

I was totally unprepared for the intensity of the love that I feel for my children, but I have also been taken by surprise by the intensity of negative emotions that can sometimes come with being a mom.  For example, I have felt tremendous anger when one of my children hurts the other, or someone else.  I have felt maddening frustration when my youngest wakes up two hours early on a night when I really needed the sleep and my husband is out of town.

I still feel anger and frustration on some days (and nights).  But I’ve learned through a lot of coaching (both self-coaching and being coached) that how I think, feel, and show up are still within my control.  Now that I’ve been practicing this, I’m starting to create more evidence that this is true.  Here’s how you can do the same.

They Should Be Doing This

Frustration and anger, like all emotions, come from our thoughts.  The number one thought that creates anger and frustration in parenting is the thought that “my kid should not be doing that!”  We have a whole rule book of “shoulds” and “should nots” that we want our children to follow.

Rules like:

  • Kids should not hurt/hit/bite/push/throw, etc.
  • Kids should listen to/obey their parents.
  • Kids should not wake up in the middle of the night after __ age.
  • Kids should be polite.

These seem like reasonable enough expectations and, in fact, part of our job as parents is to teach children these basic norms.

The problem with believing these thoughts is that, as a parent, you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling incredibly frustrated (and angry) as you go through the process of educating your kids.  I’m not suggesting for a second that you don’t teach your kids not to hurt, how to listen, manners, etc.

What I’m suggesting is that you turn those thoughts around in your mind so that you can create more positive feelings for yourself as you parent.

For example, instead of thinking “kids should not hurt each other,” you can choose to think, “of course kids should hurt each other because that is how they learn that it’s not okay to hurt someone else.”

Or you could try “of course kids are going to hurt each other and this is my opportunity as a parent to show them how to stop doing that.”  The feeling that these thoughts create is one of acceptance, calm, and motivation to teach, instead of anger or frustration.

Your Feelings Really Matter

The reason to consider cultivating more positive feelings such as acceptance and calm is that you will show up like the mom you want to be when you are coming from that place, instead of frustration or anger.

You will also be able to teach your kids much more effectively when you’re using your rational mind, which goes off-line the moment you’ve flipped your lid in anger and frustration.  That’s when your problem-solving abilities and creativity become disabled and your amygdala takes over, which is what causes the waves of intense emotion.  Once this has happened, you’re not going to be able to show up as the mom you want to be.

On that night when my son woke up two hours early and my husband was out of town, I was creating all kinds of upset for myself because I was thinking: “He shouldn’t be awake this early! I should be able to sleep longer! This should not be happening!”  I was arguing with reality, reality was winning, and I was getting frustrated instead of showing up as the mom I wanted to be.

In retrospect, I can see that arguing with reality in that situation had zero benefit.  It did not make my three-year old want to go to sleep.  It did not help me get any additional sleep.  It only made me feel guilty for getting frustrated with him.  Now I understand that he should have woken up two hours early that day because he did.  From that place of acceptance, calm, and peace, I’m able to stay in control with my rational mind and avoid having my amygdala take over.

Now when he wakes up early, I accept it from the beginning.  I’m not necessarily always happy about it, but I accept that this is what is happening and that it should be happening, because it is happening.  I might try to coax my son into getting a little more sleep and snuggling with me, but if he’s not interested, then I take a deep breath, get up, and go make oatmeal for him and tea for me.  I choose to spend this time with him.  I get to spend this time with him.  When he’s a teenager, I’ll look back on these moments and be so glad that I had them.  I’ll be so glad that I chose to show up as the mom that I want to be.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.



Where Do You Want To Be A Year From Now? 

December is the perfect time of year to think about where you are and where you want to be this time next year.

If you don’t know where you’re going or where you want to go, it’s really hard to get there.

Realizing our dreams and achieving our goals requires being intentional in deciding exactly what we want, narrowing our focus, creating an obstacle-proof plan, and then taking massive action to create our desired results.

If you’re stuck in confusion about where you want to go, the first thing you’ll need to do is get clarity. Who do you want to be?  What do you want your core values and priorities to be right now?

Goal Setting Is A Spiritual Practice

Some people view goal setting as simply a way to be more productive.  Others shy away from goal setting because they believe that focusing on the future diminishes their experience of the present moment.  But I view it as a spiritual practice.  When you ask yourself “what do I want to do with this one precious life I’ve been given?”, you’re getting to the core of your very purpose.  Imagine you’re at the end of your life looking back.  What would you want to have done?  What would have mattered the most to you?  Good questions invite good answers, so write down these questions and then answer them in writing.

Then think about how you can start making progress toward your lifetime goals in the next year.   Write down the question: “What do I want to do with this next precious year of life that I have the privilege of living?”

Do you want to have a new job?  Or finally get that promotion?  Maybe it’s writing that book you’ve been wanting to write?

Or maybe it’s not the “what” you want to do differently, but the “how.”  Your goal might be to show up as the mom you want to be.  Not a “perfect” mom, but an authentic, happy, peaceful mom with your kids.  Maybe you love your job but you want to figure out how to show up more confidently and stop holding back.  Or maybe you’re ready to finally figure out how to get control of your time and your life, and learn how to plan so you can stop feeling so overwhelmed.

Whatever it is, take some time to allow yourself to imagine a better version of your life.  Nothing that you truly want is impossible. It is available to you if you set an intention and commit to getting it.

Ask Your Future Self

A powerful exercise is to write a letter from your future self.  This is the part of you that already knows what you want to do.  She already knows that you’re capable of doing and having what you want in your life.  We all have a future self that is a source of inner wisdom.  She (or he) will guide us, if we’ll just ask.

A good way to get in touch with your future self is to write down three questions:

  • What should I stop doing that I’m currently doing now?
  • What should I start doing that I’m not currently doing?
  • What should I continue to do that I’m already doing?

Really do this on paper. Sit down, write the questions, and then write down your answers.  What is your future self telling you to change?

Decide And Make A Plan

Once you know what you want, you need to create a plan for making those changes.

Our brains get overwhelmed with too many changes and are already resistant to change in general, so I recommend that you constrain your focus to one major goal per quarter.  This will be your focus goal.

Decide now the order of your focus goals: which do you want to achieve in Q1, Q2, etc.?  You can still work on more than one thing each quarter, but your focus goal is going to be the main event.

For example, if you have the goals of losing 20 pounds and writing a book, your brain will not like starting both of those at the same time.  You’re likely to have more success if you stagger your goals.  For example, you can focus on the weight loss in Q1 by changing your eating habits, meal planning, adding in exercise etc., while you write down ideas for your book in a journal as they occur to you.  Then in Q2, when you’re already used to the healthy habits, you can focus on sitting down to start writing chapters of your book without reaching for chocolate to get you through the discomfort and sabotaging your weight-loss goal.

Plan ahead but be nice to yourself when planning.  You need to set yourself up for success!

Imagine Your Success

Imagine yourself where you want to be.  Think about how amazing it will feel when you get there.  How will your life be better when you’ve achieved it?  Taste the sweetness of that success now.  That feeling can help propel you to make the changes you need to make.

Write down your goals in several places.  Carry them with you in your wallet and read them everyday.  Keep them top of mind so that next year at this time, you’ll be celebrating your successes and triumphs.

There’s nothing better than actually becoming the person you know you were meant to be.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.



P.S. If you need help clarifying your goals, creating a plan to reach them, or taking massive action, let’s talk in a free strategy session to get you where you want to be.