When you slip

2015-04-12 13.42.57I set a goal a few week ago to write a blog post every day for 30 days straight. It quickly turned into every week-day for 30 days. And I was plugging along until yesterday, when I missed a post.

How do you handle slip ups?

At first I was disappointed with myself and started to get upset that I ruined everything, but then before the voices in my head got a strong foothold, I took a deep breath.

Isn’t it amazing how healing breathing can be?.

And in that breath what I realized was that slip ups and misses and stumbles are all part of the process. We can’t win every single moment of every single day. We can’t be perfect. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Some days I’m going to eat cookies instead of dinner.
Some day I might drink more wine than I should’ve.
Some days I am going to skip my workout… or work… or writing a blog post.

And that’s okay.

It’s not how you handle success so much as how you handle failure.

And missing one day out of all-the-days is not the end of the world.

All in and unattached

2015-03-31 08.08.57-2Is it possible to be totally committed to something and yet not attached to the outcome?

Being all in to me means bringing all of my best stuff and really wanting to create something amazing. Building relationships and being part of the team. And generally not holding back.

Sometimes being all in can turn into a deep sense of attachment.

I put in so much, it has to work out.
Not just work out.. it has to work this way.

As a coach, you learn to fully commit to your client without getting wrapped up in the outcome. Or at least you do your best. And remaining unattached is in your best interest as a coach because people do what people do, and often that is not the thing you think they should do (and there is still great learning for everyone. Crazy, I know).

But can we learn to be in that same less-attached place in our own lives and for our own sake?

Can we love someone completely and not be attached to whether they love us back?
Can we share our best ideas and not be attached to someone using them?
Can we teach our children how to do their laundry and not be attached to them doing laundry on our schedule?

I like to think we can. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and sometimes easy is overrated.

Slow and steady

2015-04-13 08.33.50We don’t really want slow and steady anymore. We want fast and now. Instant gratification. Binge-watching an entire season. On-demand and at your fingertips.

And for lots of things, that’s just how it is. I don’t fight it. I want my internet fast and my latte now.

But what about those things that require a little planning?

Like business, for example.

Much of business can be done at the speed of light, but how do you plan for success if you never slow down to well, plan for success?

And what about those things that don’t happen overnight? Like weight loss. Building strength and stamina. And again, business growth.

When we focus on overnight success, we miss opportunities for slow and steady growth.

In most of the things that matter most, we need to take the time to plan, to build, to grow, to invest. Slow down. Breathe. Expand.

In fact when we slow down and steadily build success, we usually find more time for binge-watching and spaghetti-throwing. And we make it count more.

Know your limits.

Photo Credit: _Hadock_ via Flickr.
Photo Credit: _Hadock_ via Flickr.
I was reading an article this morning about Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, and it got me thinking about how important it is to test limits.

If you never test the limits, you’ll never know where your limits are.

Imagine what our world would be today if the Wright Brothers never tried to fly. Or Christopher Columbus (and all of those other explorers) never set out to find new lands beyond the edge of the world (cause you know, the world was flat back then). Or Kathrine Switzer never ran the Boston Marathon with race officials trying to physically remove her from the course.

Imagine if as a baby you never tried to crawl or walk or talk or venture out beyond the watchful eye of your mother. Testing limits is hardwired into us. It’s not until later that we’re taught not to test limits and sternly admonished to “know your limits”.

But in order to know your limits, you need to push a few “normal” limits. Or ignore what’s normal and do what feels right to you. If someone tells you that eating dairy is bad for you but you feel your best when you drink milk everyday, drink milk. Likewise if someone says that everyone needs to eat dairy everyday but you feel sick every time you do, don’t eat it.

This goes for the limits we set on ourselves too.

I could never run 5 miles.
I can’t write.
I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.
I couldn’t possibly travel alone.
I’m not outgoing enough to be a leader.

You can either accept limits as they are and live in world that is flat. Or you can explore and stretch and say why not?, and live in a world that is round.

What if this is it?

2015-04-17 08.25.31Today I woke up exactly 12 minutes before my 7am workout class. I was tired and wanted to go back to sleep, but made myself do it anyway. Not because I have anything to prove and not because I was excited to go.

I got up and rushed out of the house to make it just in time to catch the first exercise because this is it. This is my life.

I go to a workout class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7am. I come home afterward and eat breakfast, feed the cats, read emails, kiss my husband, catch up on social media, drink coffee, pet the cats, and then I open up my laptop to write a blog post like this one. And only after that do I go shower up and get ready for work.

I could spend my mornings worried about getting to work earlier or getting more done or all of the stuff I have to do later. I could skip my workouts and inhale breakfast, stop writing, and generally speed through my morning in order to be a better worker, stepmom, wife, friend, daughter, coach, whatever.

But the sun will set later today, whether I fret about everything that I should do later or if I spend time noticing where I’m at right now. So regardless of what tomorrow brings or what the future holds or what goals I may have, I covet my mornings. I luxuriate in them. I do my best to just be in this moment whether that is savoring the first sip of coffee or taking a moment to pause and say good morning to each cat (we have 3) individually.

What if this really is it?

Today, this moment, this space between waking up and doing the things that need to be done. What if this is where life happens?

What I know for sure is that I am a bad facsimile of me when I rush through my morning. This is my time. And this is my life. Why not take the time to enjoy it?

Do it anyway.

Out for a walk that I did not want to take this morning.
Out for a walk that I did not want to take this morning.
Some days motivation is easy. Excitement is high, energy is up. And doing the things that need doing is easy.

You know, things like exercise, eating well, going to work, making that phone call, writing that blog post, getting out of bed, etc.

And then some days it feels impossible. You’re tired, frustrated, bloated or moody, or just aren’t feeling it. These are the days it’s easy to make an excuse and do the opposite thing — eat the brownie, lay on the couch all day, call in sick, whatever.

And once in a while, taking a break is exactly what’s needed.

But most of the time, we just have to do it anyway. Because it is what is right. In the big picture, it is the thing that will keep us moving toward our goals. Because skipping it for one day is taking a break, but skipping it day after day is choosing a different outcome.

Unconsciously choosing a different outcome. Unconscious choice is the thing that causes us to wake up a week, a month, a year or more later and wonder “how did I get here?”.

Yes, take breaks. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t try to do everything all of the time. But most of the time remember your big picture goals and go do it anyway. Your future self will thank you for it.

Out of body experience.

2012-04-06 10.15.42When I start something new (new job, new project, new relationship, new hobby, whatever), I tend to get I-can’t-sleep-excited. This kind of excitement is fun and intoxicating so I freely give myself over to it.

But there comes a time when the excitement has turned to adrenaline fumes. Sleep is still disrupted but the high isn’t so high. Nothing bad has happened, it’s more that I’ve forgotten to breathe. I’m no longer “in” my body”.

This out of body experience is like the difference between smiling and nodding your way through a conversation and actively listening to someone. In the former, you catch just bits and pieces, but are busy thinking about other things or what you are going to say next. In the latter, you are really “there”. Present. And with the other person.

So whether you are running on excitement or overwhelm, joy or fear, love or hate,… remember to breathe. Feel your feet on the ground. And come back into your body. Because that’s where life really happens.

Limits create freedom.

2014-11-09 07.46.36Sometimes the only way to create more possibility is by saying No to something. Instead of trying to do everything or keeping your options open or wearing all of the hats by yourself, trust yourself enough to say No.

For example, for several months I was half in my own business and half wondering what else I might do instead. But that created a whole bunch of stagnation and murkiness. It wasn’t until I consciously decided to search for a job and put my business on the back burner (in essence saying no to most of what I had been pouring my energy into) that everything expanded.

Saying No to what isn’t fun, opens the door for more fun.
Saying No to all of those Maybes, opens the door to a much bigger Yes.
Saying No creates clarity and freedom.

It doesn’t mean that the thing you say No to will necessarily be cut from your life forever and ever, but when you consciously choose where not to put your energy, all of a sudden you have a lot more energy to put toward that 1 thing that is most important right now.

This allows that 1 thing to thrive (or fail) a whole lot faster. And that in turn (regardless of success or failure), moves you forward. And without movement, we are not living.

All of those little Maybes we hold onto because we might want it later or it might be important rob us of time, energy, focus, and aliveness. It’s like trying to carry water in a bucket full of holes. But when we say No clearly and consciously, we plug those holes and get the water up the hill.

And just because we say No to something today doesn’t mean it is forever No. The limit, the choice, the No, is a way to create freedom for something more right now.

What would be possible if you focused all of your time, energy, aliveness, and focus on one Yes today?

It’s all an experiment.

Photo Credit: Clement127 via Flickr
Photo Credit: Clement127 via Flickr
I’ve read several online marketing experts who say to do lots of little experiments to see what actually works for your business (start with the best practices and advice but then experiment because what works for business A won’t always work for business B).

Then sometime last year I realized that this same principle applies to life. And everything has been different for me since then.

When you approach life as a series of experiments, it expands the scope of what’s possible.

Experimenting keeps you in the learning process (which is the most fun place to be, right?). You can start with a standard or best practice or classic advice, and notice what works and what doesn’t. And then adjust. Shift. Try the opposite. But the whole time, noticing what is and is not working.

There is no one-size-fits-all life. So why not experiment to find the one that fits you best?

It’s about people.

Everything in our human lives is about people. Relationships, sales, marketing, parenting, politics, leadership, business, medicine, money, animal rights, …everything.

More specifically, it’s all about what motivates people, how they feel, and what they believe. Yet in so many areas of life, the people-part of things gets forgotten. And that’s where it gets messed up.

Businesses that focus on the bottom line while disregarding the people they employ and the people they serve with whatever product or service they create, those are the businesses we instinctively dislike. Even if we barely know anything about them.

Doctors who are more interested in time and fitting in more patients are the ones we most want to avoid. No one wants to feel like a number.

The blogger who focuses on the number of followers and comments they have without taking the time to appreciate and communicate with the people who are already following them find it hard to build those numbers they covet so much.

Sure, there are shortcuts in most of these areas. Ways to trick or manipulate or find quick gains, like the marketer who figures out all the right things to say, tugs on your heartstrings, and makes you feel like they get you. But then after you’ve given them your money, it feels like you don’t exist.

This is also why so much of social media feels disconnected and unsatisfying. We all get so caught up in the number of likes or retweets that we get instead of the people. [Nerd moment: when we get the likes and retweets, we get a little shot of dopamine which feels good and makes us want more. So of course, we like chasing those numbers.]

But for lasting success in any area of life, build relationships with the people involved.

Let them know you see them, hear them, get them. And actually take the time to see them, hear them, and get them. It’s not always easy, but it’s key to better business, better parenting, and everything else.