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Why You Need To Toss Your Resolutions To Create Space

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I remember watching Oprah a few years back. The show that particular day was about making the best use of a small apartment. As a New Yorker, I was intrigued. One couple lived here in New York in a small one bedroom in the West Villlage. When I say small, I mean the space could not have been more than like 400 square feet max. But they loved the neighborhood. They loved the community. And they loved their apartment, tiny closet and all. They’d learned how to make an uber confined space work for them (and their new baby if I recall correctly!)

Towards the end of the segment, the woman shared her wardrobe secret. She said, “I always leave space for new and fabulous items to come my way. Her rule was that 10% of her closet must always remain empty in order to call these new things in. If a piece of clothing came in, another item she no longer enjoyed went out to be sold, donated or simply tossed in the trash if it was in terrible shape and couldn’t benefit someone else. Pretty smart right?

What if we adopted her wardrobe secret for ourselves? What if we applied this technique to our businesses and lives? I personally believe this kind of thought process is mandatory to enable real change, to create space for new and fabulous things to enter our lives.

Most of us know that New Year’s resolutions don’t work yet we make them year after year anyway. They don’t work because they don’t dig deep enough. They don’t address the overarching why. Learning how to coach yourself to see what lies beneath the surface is difficult, and often painful, so we skip it. We say things like, this year I’ll loose 20 pounds or earn another 10K or just be nicer to people.

It’s not any of those resolutions are bad or wrong. It’s just that they are very surface. They don’t actually mean or address all that much.

If you’ve made these kinds of resolutions for 2015, I suggest you toss them. They are going to remain in your way and may even make you feel bad or guilty if you’re not in action around them. Get rid of them, and let’s start over. Let’s clear some stuff out of our lives so we can really start to see what needs to change.

A few days ago I cleaned out my closet, so to speak. I unsubscribed a significant number of people from this newsletter.

Why?

They weren’t reading it. Getting emails in their probably already cluttered inbox was not serving them, and it certainly was not serving me. It’s not much fun to write to someone who doesn’t read your stuff or speak to people who don’t listen. Yet, we all do it sometimes—in our jobs, our personal lives … We think it’s just business as usual. This is the job. This is the relationship. This is the way it is.

NO IT’S NOT!

I’m writing because I want to, because I hope to impart some value and because I want to create the possibility of connecting now or in the future about your business and life. I don’t have to do it. I choose to do it.

So I want you to let go of (or make a plan to let go of) everything that doesn’t serve you. Job. Boyfriend. Girlfriend. Friend. Apartment. Clients. That bag of potato chips. Whatever! Just do it.

Trust me you will feel super empowered after you let these things go and open up the space for better things and people to enter your life.

Right now let go of one thing. Even if you’re at the office and it’s the pen that just kinda sorta works, throw it in the trash! I will give you a minute to complete this task …

Ok. Great job!

I wish so much for you this year. May you go after and get everything your heart desires. Happy 2015. It’s gonna be a great one!

 

On Discipline and Consistency {Why I love Long, Boring Plane Rides}

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I started writing this on a US Airways flight to Texas. Unlike my favorites, JetBlue and Virgin, Us Air has no inflight entertainment. That means I had exactly 3 hours of staring at the tray table in front of me. Or I could choose to be productive via my trusty MacBook Air. I chose the latter and worked on a few program I’m refining (more on that soon) and then this post.

I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or anything of the sort but if I’m being honest, I have difficulty focusing from time to time. I’ve talked about my solutions for this before, but it seems distraction has been rearing its ugly head more than usual lately. I want some inspiration. I need some discipline.

For me, the inspiration part, as you probably know by now, comes from travel. It comes from seeing new places, meeting new people, and trying new things. Newness inspires me. Hello Dallas and Austin!

And then there’s discipline. That’s tough. I used to be super disciplined. I was the girl on the dance team in middle school and high school who would practice for hours each night so that I would excel. That discipline paid off for a while until laziness started to creep in. I thought I could get away with not giving 100%. And I did for a bit. Until, one day, after enough laziness and apathy, the whole thing fell apart.

I kind of hate it when things fall apart. Don’t you? That whole excelling at something seems much better to me.

So these days I have to mentally and physically combat my laziness. I have to set a timer for uninterrupted work, or park myself in a coffee shop with my headphones, or call my coach, or get on a plane with no inflight entertainment … But my point really isn’t about how you do it. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how you do it. What matters is actually doing it. Even if it’s just one important thing that gets accomplished that day. Laziness takes a nosedive and you get to feel proud of yourself.

Doing the work is hard. But that’s OK. It’s in the doing that we shine, grow and prove to ourselves what we are made of. And I am a BIG fan of proving things to yourself.

So strive to do the work consistently and with faith that your time will be worth it in the end. This is what I’m working—discipline and consistency. Join me?

 

 

Stealing Your Copy [Tricks of the Trade]

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I imagine most of us have those Oh Crap moments when we sit down at our computers or with our notebooks and pens (if you’re old school like me) and attempted to write content. It really doesn’t matter what it is—content for websites, product packages, sales materials or blogs or newsletters.

Creating something from nothing is daunting and can paralyze you before you write even one word. 

I remember as a young strategist the first time I sat down to write a creative brief I nearly had a heart attack. It was my job to craft this ever-important document that would inform and influence an advertising campaign, and I had no clue how to begin. No bueno.
 
Know what I did? I looked at old briefs written by strategists for other brands and copied as much as I could. Then I filled in the gaps and tweaked what I needed to for it to make sense. The first brief I wrote wasn’t a masterpiece, but it also wasn’t a total flop. Over time I got better at writing briefs, and now I can create one out of thin air. But that wasn’t always the case. I had to start somewhere, so I started by cheating off my peers. Thankfully there’s no detention in the advertising world.
 
Just the other day, I led a big brainstorm for one of my clients. We needed to come up with several potential claims and messages for his brand. First we looked at what our competitors were saying. That was good to know but not particularly mind-blowing or catalystic. So we decided to look outside our category and into everything from liquid plumbing to organic cosmetics to automobiles to energy drinks. We looked at their websites, their packages, their social media and their product reviews on Amazon. When it was time to come up with ideas for our brand, we literally stole, or stole and then tweaked, what all those other brands had to say. Granted we didn’t steal everything. We created brand new copy as well, but the exercise of stealing and tweaking undoubtedly acted as our catalyst for creation.
 
So yes, I recommended strategically stealing your copy—especially at first and especially if your resources are limited. Over time you’ll get better at crafting content. But in the meantime, don’t feel guilty.

If you really think about it, most everything, including what we think of as innovation, is a rip of something else. {Tweet it}

Steal. Then tweak. Then create something new. 

 

The Next Time You Think You Don’t Make a Difference, Think Again

We all want to make a difference in the world but sometimes it feels like we just don’t. This past Thursday I completed a course that I coach each year. During this four-month program participants create projects that impact communities all over the world. They also confront many of the things that stop them from getting what they want in various parts of their lives. I love this program because of the many, many miracles that are created in it by people just like you and me. Seeing the results they produce each year is a powerful reminder that in our work there is indeed great reward.

At the end of the program, we estimate how many people may have been touched and inspired through the projects, the conversations, and the numerous and unique contributions each participant offered the world. (We calculate this mostly through direct interaction, media coverage and social media shares and mentions.) Normally it comes in around 1 million or so. Slightly amazing given there are always 100 total participants or less. This year was different. The people in this program were more driven, more self-aware, and more powerful than I’ve seen in the 3 plus years I’ve been a part of this course. Estimated impact this time: Over 1 billion. 

People’s projects were written up in several local, national, and global publications. There was TV station coverage. There were tons of emails sent and even more social media campaigns created. I had my first article published in MindBodyGreen, which was a huge win for me. In short, the victories were numerous and profound. With each one shared, another was created.

I’m telling you this because I want you to really understand that everything you want for yourself, your business, your community … can be created in action. A vision is great. It’s imperative to determine what steps need to be taken towards a goal, but a vision is nothing without work. You must do the work to have your vision become reality. 

I truly believe that many times we don’t take those actions because somewhere inside we think we don’t matter. Maybe someone told us that we couldn’t make a difference once, and we believed it. But it’s not true.

Our actions matter.

They have the potential to impact millions, if not billions, of people all over the world. {Tweet it!}

The picture below was a gift from Andrea Scher of Mondo Beyondo. I received when I attended her seminar at The World Domination Summit in 2012. Since she gave it to me that July, it’s been a fixture on my vision board and my inspiration when I didn’t really feel like doing anything. Now I’m giving it to you.

Print it out. Look at it when you just don’t feel like it. And always remember, there are people who believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself.

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3 Great Gifts To Give Yourself (For Free!)

Oprah is one of my idols. She has taught me about compassion and continues to inspire me towards personal expansion and growth. I was always a fan of her “Favorite Things” episode each year and decided to share of few of my favorite things with you this holiday season. They’re all free apps that friends have shared with me this year and have helped me to keep calm, productive, and happy.

Who doesn’t like presents?! These are all gifts to give yourself, and the best part is you can start enjoying them right away. 

Happier

Gratitude is so important, and yet I still forget to practice it sometimes. Happier is basically an online gratitude journal with social media. Users can post things they are grateful for and the community can “smile” about them or comment. I like it because of the built in feedback loop, which helps me remember to post again. It’s also a great way to document your gratitude each day and check out what other people are grateful for, bucketed in nice little categories like “time with friends” or “chilling out.” And the app shoots you periodic reminders to share in case you do forget. Pretty smart. https://www.happier.com

F.lux

I struggle with sleep so I’m always on the lookout for ways to sleep better, longer, and with less anxiety. The blue light emitted from computer screens may limit the production of melatonin, which can mess up your sleep/wake cycle. F.lux adapts your computer screen to the time of day. For someone like me, who often works at night and then has problems sleeping, the app really seems to help. F.lux minimizes this and allows you to work later at night without side effects.  http://justgetflux.com

Insight Timer

Two years ago I was lucky enough to run into my friend, Emily Fletcher, who had just launched her business, Ziva Meditation. Lately I’ve been struggling to find, or may be make, the time to complete my 20 minutes of meditation in the morning and at night. One of the ladies I coach, and a fellow meditator, introduced the app to me a few days ago, and I have to say it’s been reawakening my inspiration to meditate and keeping me on track.  You can document your meditation and earn milestone points, connect to the app’s meditation community, time your meditations, and see who is meditating at the exact time as you. There are also guided meditations available. https://insighttimer.com

I hope you try these apps, and I hope they help you as much as they’ve been helping me. Wishing you the warmest of all holiday seasons.

 

How to Focus Like a Laser

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Photo via Mark Hunter

I began writing this post while sitting on a runway waiting for my plane to Nashville to take off. The pilot had just made the announcement that our plane was #27 in line for takeoff. Translation? We would sit on the runway for over an hour. The good news? The delay gave me time to write without distraction and implement what I like to call, “Laser-like Focus.”

When people ask me how I’ve accomplished everything I have over the last few years, be it branding myself, writing my book, or getting to the next level in my career, I basically tell them this: 1) Clarity 2) Focus 3) A bit of assistance from the universe. 

A laser is a beam of pointed energy. It’s nearly impossible to point your energy when you are not clear about what you are doing or why. This is why clarity is the first step. We become distracted and start spinning our wheels when we are not clear. As soon as you find clarity, you ignite your drive and the second step, cultivating the ability to focus like a laser, becomes a whole lot easier.

The third step isn’t really so much of a step as it is the result of clarity and focus. My favorite book, The Alchemist, tells us, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” But you have to make sure you really know what you want.

When we are unclear and wishy-washy, the universe doesn’t know what to do and so, it does nothing. {Tweet it!}

There are, of course, specific actions I take that make it even easier for me to focus:

Blocking Time
I have a full-time job, teach a class at Miami Ad School, and get on at least four coaching calls a week. It can be a lot. I set aside about half a day on Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays to write blog posts, prepare for my class, and take coaching calls. The other parts of my weekend are for relaxing or socializing, though I often prefer to socialize during the week as it requires less pointed energy after a long day at the office.

Limiting Unproductive Distractions
My favorite place to work is a coffee shop because I can’t watch TV, can’t clean, and since I don’t want to be rude to the people around me, can’t chat to friends on my phone. I put on my headphones so I can listen to my music and plug away for 3-4 hours at a time. I’ll take mini-breaks to grab food or a beverage but other than that I’m focused on my work the whole time.

Enlisting the Help of Coaches
Right now, I have two main people I turn to for coaching. One is a business coach and one is more of a personal coach who also helps me with professional dilemmas. Coaches know your goals. When you lose focus, they point it out to you and get you back on track.

Reward Systems
I reward myself with a nice dinner, a night out with friends, or a few hours of Hulu after a good day’s work. If I worked sun up till sun down, I would go insane and the work would certainly suffer. Play and relaxation are important. They keep our brains fresh and our hearts happy.

Deadlines
This is arguably the most crucial of the list. Whether it is part of a full on action plan or a simple to do list, you must set specific deadlines for yourself and your work. You must also write these deadlines down so you can refer back to them as needed. Otherwise, if you are a procrastinator and prone to feelings of overwhelm, you will freak out when you have to do everything last minute or you just won’t do anything at all. When I designed my website, I had a specific deadline to have the necessary assets up. I needed the images and content in place by my attendance at a seminar in July so that I could send the people I met at the seminar to a legitimate website. This deadline is the main reason I was able to design the site, write the content, find a photographer, and complete a photo shoot in less than two months.

The people I coach often laugh at me each time they get off course or start telling me long-winded stories because I immediately redirect them by shouting the word “Laser!” They laugh because they know I’m calling them out on their sort of BS, (which we all have by the way) and then they are back on task at hand in seconds. The next time you feel distracted or out of focus, imagine a person you trust yelling “laser!” in your ear. But don’t make yourself wrong or give in to feelings of guilt for wasting time or feeling lazy. Rather, shift your attention back to motivation and pointed energy and get on with it.