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Archive for Personal Growth

9 Ways to Reduce Your Stress as a Single Mom

When I was first separated, I remember people talking about what a stress it would be to start parenting as a single mom. I couldn’t imagine it would be any different since my ex-husband hadn’t ever participated in the parenting duties.

But I was wrong. I had completely overlooked the support of having another adult human being in the home could be. However small his participation had been – he had participated in SOMETHING. Suddenly, while I had done most of the physical parenting labor in the past, I was now doing all of it AND responsible for keeping a roof over our heads.

While the circumstances may differ, nearly 25 percent of children in America live in single parent homes. It may have been the result of death, divorce, separation, or becoming a single parent by choice. Whatever the reason, the challenges are nearly the same.

There are at least nine things you can do to help reduce your stress level so you can parent your children and be productive at work without blowing your top every other minute. Even if you aren’t physically yelling and screaming, the stress you feel from frustration and irritation is also felt by your body and by the people around you who have become adept at reading body language.

My dog knows from my body language when I’m ready to take her for her afternoon walk. We don’t go at the same time each day but she invariably understands the slight shifts in my body at my desk chair, or the way I get up that indicates I’m not heading for a bathroom break, but rather for an afternoon walk with her.

Your children and your co-workers can also fairly easily read your body language and know when you’re stressed, even if you don’t say anything. When you minimize your stressors, you can bring peace and joy back into your life and your relationships with your children.

Finances

This is often a major stressor in your life. It doesn’t matter how much money you do or don’t have, the issue is a big one. You may not have enough for groceries next week, or may not know how to invest the coin you do have. One way or another, you need to get a handle on your current situation and make a logical and reasonable plan for the future. You’ll be amazed by how much just this knowledge and a plan can reduce your stress. By ignoring the issue altogether, it increases your stress as you may believe the situation is worse than it is. Even if it’s exactly how bad you imagined, it will not change until you face it first. And facing it will reduce your stress and help you develop a reasonable plan of action.

Set up a Daily Routine

A consistent routine for your daily activities helps your child feel more secure in his environment and helps reduce your own stress level over what should be done next. Dinner time, packing lunches, bed time, and naps should all be scheduled to help you plan the rest of your day.

Get Rid of Guilt

All single moms have rights. YOU have rights. You are a loved and blessed woman in God’s eyes and He wants you to believe that. It may be easy to feel guilty about time you may not spend with your children, how you reacted at dinner last night or that you don’t have enough to buy your child’s new favorite toy. But being a single mom is not about being easy – and in the end, feeling guilty is not easy at all. If you feel guilty about disruptions in your family life, like divorce or separation, get support from a local group. It is more important that you grow your relationship with your children and take care of your family, and guilt will keep you from that goal.

Kids Need to Be Kids

It’s important to remember that your children are children. They aren’t your local support group. They have problems and issues of their own. They need your support and structure to help them feel secure and loved. Children who are secure in their environment are better able to become strong, functioning adults. If you find that you rely on your children for emotional support, or sympathy, then it is time to seek out that support outside your home.</

Get Support

No matter how strong you may be, you shouldn’t take this journey alone. Find a trusted family member, therapist, counselor, pastor or good friend who can offer you the emotional support you need. No one is an island unto themselves and you WILL need someone because it’s just the way we are wired.

Answer Honestly

Where my family lives there are condominiums and apartments directly next to each other. The condominium section is gated and there’s a chain so the apartment community cannot drive through. The apartment community pays for garbage removal using dumpsters and the condominiums have individual pick up from a different company. There is one family in the condominiums that routinely sends their two girls with garbage to the dumpsters in the apartments.

It is very important to practice honesty when you talk to your children and answer their questions. Children are like little computers – they often remember everything. If you don’t answer honestly, what you tell them today will come back to haunt you later.

When those two little girls grow up and start hiding things from their parents, the parents may wonder where the girls learned this behavior. Some of it will likely be from their friends or just about being teens – but it’s a good bet that some of it will have been learned at home.

Consistency is Key

Children and adults thrive when they understand the expectations. You likely would quickly change jobs if your boss changed the rules every week. While you have the choice to leave an inconsistent environment, your children don’t. You might think that being lenient once in a while is just showing them you love them – but there is a difference between giving grace and being lenient.

There are always consequences for the actions you take. Whether it is the choices you make or the ones your children make – there are consequences. If you were to steal a gallon of milk from the store because your children were hungry, grace would be when the judge gives you community service for your actions while leniency would be when the judge doesn’t require any punishment at all. You could have gone to a food bank, asked a church for help or called a friend or family – there are always choices to make and consequences for those choices.

Grace is a wonderful thing that teaches your children to show others grace – leniency just teaches them they can get away with just about anything.

Set Written Rules

Again – consistency is key. When your children know exactly what your rules ARE, they can follow them or choose to disobey. Writing them down helps them to learn to read and to rely on written ideas and not memory. Make the rules global instead of specific so your list isn’t miles long. Instead of saying they must not hit their brother, make the rule that no violence will be tolerated.

Make Time for Yourself and Your Children

There are a limited number of hours in your day, and it’s likely you burn through them quickly every day. However, both you and your children need your attention. You need to pay attention to your emotional health doing the things that feed you – friends, workouts, music, walks, reading or whatever it is that recharges your batteries. Your children also need your time and energy. You don’t need to spend days together, but more than minutes each day.

You might feel like you don’t have time to spend individual time with your children, but think of it as an investment. The time you invest now pays off when they are teens and adults, in the time they invest back into you. Children don’t raise themselves well. Take time to listen to their daily struggles, pay attention to changes in their behavior and try to remain positive through the whole thing.

How to Get and Stay Motivated to Strength Train

Strength training is an important part of your overall health and fitness regimen. It increases natural growth hormone secretion, builds strong bones and improves your balance.

While you might be afraid you’ll end up looking like Mr. Universe, women don’t have the necessary amount of testosterone to growth that amount of muscle. Building strong muscles also helps you lose weight and maintain the loss, improves your posture and improves the way your clothes fit. Better body mechanics and a reduced risk of disease rounds out the incredible benefits of incorporating strength training into your workout routine.

BUT, getting motivated to do the work each week – and staying motivated to continue a program – may be more challenging than doing the workout! According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise.

Your Genes May Control Your Motivation to Exercise

It turns out that while some people enjoy sweating, others find just the thought of exercise to be painful. Researchers have now demonstrated there are genetically programmed reasons you may not like exercise – and there are ways to rewire your brain and enjoy cardiovascular and strength training.

Basically, your genes control your pleasure and reward from exercise, modulating dopamine in your brain.

BUT, while there is a genetic link, it has been established that exercise may change the expression of your DNA and potentially improve your satisfaction and motivation to exercise.

So, in other words, you might not like exercise, but the more you do it, the more you enjoy it and the greater your motivation to continue.

This follows the adage that once you’ve developed the habit of exercise, it’s more difficult to stop, than it is to exercise. You learn to enjoy the journey enough that the habit becomes a part of your everyday routine – and you enjoy the benefits as well.

Once you appreciate the functional changes to your life and your body, there is greater motivation to continue exercise than there is the desire to lay in bed another hour.

What’s Stopping You?

This is all a cycle – you have to start before you enjoy the benefits or experience the reward of changes to your DNA and subsequent release of dopamine in the brain that triggers your reward center.

The trick is to start the cycle, so you enjoy the benefits – which goes right back to how you get motivated to start strength training.

Let’s start with the mistakes many people make to try motivating themselves to strength train.

The biggest mistake is focusing on the extrinsic value of exercise, such as reducing disease potential, slowing the aging process, getting fit, or improving creativity and productivity.  These reasons that exist outside of who you are and your immediate experience are not strong motivating factors and won’t override the usual excuses that center on the discomfort you anticipate from the activity.

Some of the more common excuses for not exercising include:

Getting dirty
Sweating
Being uncomfortable
Feeling insecure at the gym
Not enough time
Getting out of breath
Too tired
It’s boring
Overwhelming to think about startin
Tried it and didn’t like it
Don’t like feeling out of shape
Nervous of getting hurt

How Do You Start a Positive Cycle?

Instead of focusing on extrinsic motivating factors, it’s important you identify your intrinsic factors, or those things you experience immediately. Extrinsic factors aren’t strong enough to get you out of bed in the morning or working out at a gym in front of others.

Many studies on the effect of motivation in the workplace demonstrates in work and recreational situation you are more motivated by intrinsic values. Many people anticipate how bad a workout will be, and most focus on the external reasons they should exercise – like better health, toned body and slowing the aging process.

This all means that the hardest part about getting motivated is getting started!

It also means that in the moment of exercising you may experience a boost in your emotions and mood, an increase in the release of hormones that affect your motivation and experience a powerful intrinsic value to exercise.

Before exercise you anticipate that you’ll feel bad – but DURING exercise people experience positive emotions. And, during a study from the University of Chicago, people stated they placed more value on what they felt during the exercise than on any benefits they would experience later.

The research indicates that your intrinsic incentives improve your experience during exercise and the biggest mistake you may make in motivating yourself to exercise is placing value on extrinsic incentives.

Just by putting exercise on your “to-do” list and just doing it is an important way of experiencing the mental and emotional boost that may help continue to motivate you over time. The memories of feeling good and having fun go a long way toward increasing your motivation.

Just Do It – And More

Here are several more strategies to help you include strength training in your routine, even when you don’t want to.
The important fact here is that there is NO easy button. You just have to do it – there are ways to make it easier – but no way to make it easy.

  1. Use motivational books, music and video

Inspirational stories may spark your short-term desire, music improves your mood, video may give you the boost you need to start strength training.

  1. Partner up

Like any other new activity or sport, it’s easier when you have a partner. A partner will help motivate you to continue during your workout and will be waiting for you at the gym to get started.

  1. Work within your limits

When your activity puts you over your anaerobic threshold (you can’t breathe fast enough to keep up with your oxygen needs) you don’t experience the feel good hormones as quickly. Stay within your limits and you’ll feel better, experience gains in your fitness faster and improve your motivation to continue.

  1. Stay positive

You can change how you feel about something when you change how you think about it. Psychologists have an equation – your thoughts create feelings, your feelings produce actions and your actions predict your results. When you can think positively about your workout, you will improve your motivation, increase the likelihood you workout and your actions will produce feel good hormones that continue to feed your motivation.

 

The last strategy is one you can use for any action you want to take. Whether you want a new job, have better relationships with you children or improve your financial situation – when you think positively about what you are capable of achieving it drives your actions. And RIGHT actions produce incredible results!

The Value in Your Vision

Here’s a thought . . . where you are today in your life, is a direct result of all the decisions you’ve made in the past years.

That should come as no real surprise to you. After all, you probably have experienced the consequences of your behavior and your decisions in the past. If you smoke, then you have a higher potential of developing cancer. If you spend all your money, you’ll be broke. If you eat too much, you’ll gain weight.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It’s Newton’s Third Law of physics that applies as much to your life as it does to the physical world. If you do a diligent job at work, it does NOT automatically mean you’ll be promoted – but if you do a bad job, it’s highly likely you’ll be let go.

Not every action has an opposite reaction we’d like to see.

If you work diligently you’ll likely be respected by your co-workers, others will notice the good job you’re doing – but your promotion will be dependent upon other factors as well.

So, in the grand scheme of things, how do you achieve the goals you want to achieve in the time frame you want to attain them.  Since you can’t turn back the clock and undo your previous decisions, what can you do today and tomorrow to make your next tomorrows better?

Your past is set in stone and can’t be undone. The path you took last year or the year before can’t be undone. A past relationship, a poor business decision, even an afternoon of watching movies instead of working on your new project can’t be undone.

But, a strategic vision and mission for your life will help you make better decisions in the future and change the results you experience.

Albert Einstein is credited with making the statement, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.”

The same holds true for your life. By doing the same thing over and over again, by making the same decisions day in and day out, you HAVE to expect the same results. If you want to expect and experience something different then you HAVE to do SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Start with developing a strategic vision for your life that will guide your decisions and help you develop a plan that works for you. Your vision is NOT a pie-in-the-sky dream for your life, nor does it belong on corporate letterhead. Instead, it should become a living, breathing document that changes over time as your circumstances change.

Here’s the journey . . . you develop a strategic vision that helps you make better decisions.

nov17decisionsBetter decisions change your circumstances.

At some point your changed circumstances will have grown YOU so much that it will require your vision grows and improves to keep up with your growth.

Your vision should include your goals, your desires and hope – but with realistic expectations of what you could accomplish in your life. It should be what you aspire to, and how your are inspired to achieve it.

Get specific and talk with your future self about what you want to achieve. BUT, don’t make 20 different goals for 15 different areas in your life. Instead, this is a global, overall vision of how you want to be living, or who you want to be in the next years.

Your vision is just a bit different from your goals. My vision statement might sound like: “In five years I’ll be living in Florida with my husband, minutes from the beach, retirement stable.”  At the moment, I’m not married, engaged or even dating, live in OH and my retirement plans are not yet stable.

Now, each time I make a business decision, a personal decision or financial decision, I must put it up against my vision for the next five or ten years to see if THIS decision will take me closer to, or further away, from that vision.

From my vision I develop goals, a plan of action and determine the type of help I need to get there.

But it all starts with a vision.

You can increase the potential you’ll follow that vision when you take more steps:

ONE: Make it Public

Visions, mission statements and goals that are hidden in a closet have a tendency to stay there. When you make them public you’re more likely to move on them as others are watching.

TWO: Write it Down

Dreams, visions, inspirations and aspirations remain in “the cloud” when they aren’t written down. There is something about writing down your vision, posting it where you can see it and referring to it each day. Your vision becomes real when you make it tangible.

THREE: Make it Scale-able

Is your vision attainable . . . and will it grow with you?  As you begin to live out your vision, is there a next logical step, or is this vision the end of the road?  You’re more likely to work toward completion and achievement if there continues to be something else you can grow into on the other side.

FOUR: Make it a Gift to Yourself

This is YOUR vision for YOUR life. Just as you shouldn’t live out your dreams through your children, you shouldn’t take on the burden of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or best friend.

This must be YOUR vision for your life and it should be a gift you give yourself. This is your inspiration, aspiration and love affair all wrapped up into one special package. THIS is what you’re working toward, so it should be the best that you can believe for yourself.

FIVE: Your Vision Lights a Fire Under Younov17fire

It may sound redundant, but your vision should set you on fire. It is YOUR inspiration for your life.

 

If you don’t have a vision that jumps out at you immediately, ask God to lead you to that thing in life He wants you to achieve. Suddenly you’ll be on fire for a future you may not have even imagined several months ago.

 

How to Face a Challenge and Come Out a Winner

Becoming and living a single mom life has been an incredible challenge. And, like all challenges, the only way to face them is one day, and one step, at a time. I’m not sure if it has been the biggest challenge, but it has been the most enduring by far.

From the early days when I didn’t know if I could pay the mortgage, to the hormonal teen years and now the growth of my business that has infringed on my time with my youngest daughter – now entering her teen years – each stage has had challenges and obstacles, each stage has created problems and each stage has offered opportunities to grow as both a parent and person.

Sometimes I’ve taken the opportunity and at other times I’ve needed an added push from others.

While these times have not been unexpected – the challenges have provided me a chance to do things I would have not otherwise attempted. I’ve found ways to both thrive in the situations and finally emerge on the other side (of SOME of the challenges!) a new person.

Here are the strategies I’ve used to make it through intense loss, financial instability, hormonal storms and the challenges of everyday life.

nov3faceONE: Face It

I’ve never been one to hide my head in the sand. Unlike the proverbial ostrich, I’ve usually faced my problems head on. I don’t know if it’s been the way God made me, my mom raised me or my experiences in life. Whatever the reason I’ve always found the faster I could face the situation, the faster it resolved.

Sometimes help is required.  Three years ago my youngest son was having trouble controlling his anger and I was taking it personally. Instead of being mom, I abdicated my role and sunk into a pit of sadness. His behavior reminded me too much of my past and I was still raw from the loss of a personal relationship I had believed was a gift from God.

Instead of facing his behavior and putting rules in place to help him control himself, I reacted and retreated.

It finally got to a place where I realized his behavior was only taking place at home, and only with me. He could control himself with everyone else. So we got help together from a counselor who straightened out my behavior, and thus my son’s.

Before any change happens you have to face the situation, evaluate it, understand it and make a plan. No plan happens without these steps, and sometimes you need the added insight from an objective person to get there.

TWO: Give Yourself Time to Grieve

When I was married I learned that crying was a sign of weakness, and my ex would pounce on that within seconds. I learned how to bury my feelings – all of them. I didn’t get very happy or sad. By the time we were divorced I hadn’t cried in almost ten years.

Grief and crying is normal behavior – and in fact, healthy behavior. Without grieving for what has happened, there is no way for your brain to fully appreciate the good things in life. Give yourself permission to cry, grieve, get angry and get over it. If you don’t you won’t experience the joy on the other side.

THREE: Identify Your Strengths

You have strengths! You couldn’t have gotten this far in life if you didn’t. It is important for you to acknowledge those attributes to yourself.

If you have trouble identifying the strengths that have allowed you to live fully to this point, ask someone. Your friends and relatives can readily identify your strengths. They are less likely to be honest about your weaknesses as most of us don’t like be critical of others – but we do enjoy complimenting people.

Are you a creative problem solver? A good mediator? An inventive financial planner? Do you have a strong social network of support? Have you found a saving faith in Jesus? Can you find humor in life? Do you know who to ask for help? Will you ask for help?

Each of these are strengths – and there are many, many more.  Find yours, write them down and then use them.

FOUR: Set a Goal

Identify WHAT you want differently for your life and then set a reasonable goal you think you can achieve. When you achieve that one – set another.

We all need goals in life so that five years from now you don’t look back and wonder where the years went.  When I graduated from nursing school my goal was that I would no longer be working weekends, holidays or nights within five years.

And, because I had a goal and made steps to achieve that goal, I wasn’t working weekends, holidays or nights in five years – and never did again.

Pull out a notebook and start writing down the things you enjoy doing, how you interact with your environment, what you find fun and exciting – and then objectively figure out how you can integrate some of that into your daily routine.

For instance, you might enjoy working puzzles and relationships with new people. Would you like to work with students and career counseling? What about working with adults looking for a second career? How about being a life coach? Or working with companies to streamline their business?

FIVE: Reframe Your Doubtsnov3reframe

Anytime you are faced with a challenge it brings up doubts – in your abilities, your opportunities, in your journey and whether you have the strength to finish.

Reframe those doubts into questions.

One of the most interesting and powerful things I learned many years ago from marketer Jim Edwards, was the power of questions. When you ask someone questions you get information you’re looking for to solve a problem.

But, what happens when you ask yourself a question? You don’t often ask YOURSELF a question because you probably think you already know the answer and don’t need to ask.

Try asking yourself questions about your environment, your children, your relationships, your career – and then look for the answer.

If you don’t think you can take action on your goals – ask yourself “why?” Don’t settle for a pat answer – “I’m not smart enough,” “I don’t know the right people,” or “I’ve never done this before.” Each of those have answers – YES, you are smart enough; you can meet the right people; of course you haven’t done it before but it doesn’t mean you can’t.

Doubts are there because you put them there – reframe them to questions, answer the questions realistically with actual fact, then MOVE ON!

 

 

Movement in your life is often precipitated by a great challenge or crisis. This may be true because we are not often inclined to LIKE or look for change. Status quo is easier to deal with than thinking about doing something differently or becoming someone different.

The expression, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” comes to mind. I remember hearing that growing up, and it influenced my thinking for years. If I was familiar with – and could handle – my current daily challenges, why would I take on others?

It’s thinking that kept me in an emotionally damaging marriage for years. It’s thinking that I allowed to guide my career choices. It’s thinking that even guided my nutritional choices!

Before you can experience real change, growth and movement toward your hopes and dreams, you have to make change. These changes will make your life different. You’ll be different. You might lose a friend or two – and you just may find a couple of new great friends. You may find new challenges and experience greater joy – but you won’t know until you try.

 

5 Ways Digital Communication Creates a Rift in Your Relationships

And How to Fix It . . .

Although digital communication has created some incredible opportunities, both in business and relationships (thinking about long-distance relationships and the ability to stay connected more easily), they can also increase both the potential and the perception of problems in your relationships.

When the mobile phone morphed from a means of voice communication to checking email, sending pictures and surfing the Internet, the potential for people who may not have otherwise thought about cheating, is suddenly just a finger click away on a device that isn’t far from you at any one time.

Of course there are positive ways to use digital communication with your boyfriend, siblings or children – but with every positive also comes a negative – or maybe a challenge.

I haven’t faced all these challenges, but I have faced most. And, while there are significant challenges to using mobile devices to stay in touch, I believe on the whole they can be a positive experience.

What I’ve found is that to BE a positive experience, I have to address the challenges directly. No hiding behind an excuse, or avoiding a situation. Like all challenges or obstacles, when you bring them out into the light, you have a better chance of overriding the issue and squashing it before that little molehill turns into a mountain you can’t climb.

I’d suggest the same in any circumstance – address the issue head on. You may be nervous that the conversation may end in a broken relationship, but what is the alternative? Would you rather be quietly concerned, jealous, sad or envious – or would you rather know exactly what is happening between yourself and your boyfriend/sibling/child?

And, truth be told, unless you are not willing to make a compromise or two it’s highly unlikely an honest conversation will destroy your relationship. . . . . UNLESS of course the relationship wasn’t based on honesty in the first place.

Rift 1: Trust and Jealousy

oct20tweetUsing a mobile device opens a multitude of opportunities to find people to meet your needs. Whether you are searching for an online confidant to vent about your children or your boyfriend, or for a boyfriend – it’s all possible online.

The trouble occurs when you’re already in a relationship and start looking for a new one before, either giving the one you’re in your full attention, or ending it. Both men and women are guilty and fully aware of their behavior or the release of information from Ashley Madison wouldn’t have created such a stir.

Don’t wait until you can’t stand knowing if your boyfriend is talking to someone new or your child is involved with a friend you don’t feel is suitable. Take the reins and ask the hard questions.  You might not like the answers – but without the answers you can’t address the problem.

You can ask to read your child’s text messages without feeling as if you’re the wicked stepmother. The safety and well-being of your children are your responsibility. They won’t like having their privacy invaded, and you won’t like feeling like a snoop – but if the rules are set early and you briefly scan through their messages for keywords that catch your eye, you’ll both be satisfied.

The same is true for your boyfriend.  He should understand your need to learn to trust his behavior – but you must understand that this cuts both ways and be prepared to share your phone with him as well.

Rift 2: Miscommunication

No matter how many emojis you use in your text messages, there will be times you won’t understand what your child sent or your message to your boyfriend comes across like you’re a harpy.

Communicating over text doesn’t allow the recipient to read your body language or listen to the tone in your voice.  Talk about this!

Let your friends and family know that if they are offended by something you said you want them to tell you immediately – the likelihood is that you didn’t mean it the way they took it. And, if you did mean it that way – talking with them gives you both the opportunity to air your differences.

Rift 3: Lack of Communication

No matter how many times the hero and heroine in the movie understand what the other means by a “look,” don’t expect that from your children, friends or boyfriend. My mom had a “look” that could fry my sister and me from across a room. I’m sure she worked for several years to perfect it. We KNEW what she wanted without saying a word.

The look meant we’d done something wrong – it didn’t communicate a complex thought or desire for an action. It was simple and clear. STOP IT!

On the other hand, men are usually not that perceptive. My daughters get me and my sons don’t.  Both girls got the look – not that they obeyed it! – and both boys were clueless.

So, before you transmit your digital or visual message, remember – the other person just might not be able to read your language. You may need to talk, using words and body language, for someone to finally understand.

Rift 4: Social Media Occupies More Time Than the Real World

Living in a world where most people have their phone in hand at all times, checking social media and answering text messages as if their life depended upon it, it’s no wonder that you may feel distant from the person sitting across the table from you.

I was talking to a friend the other day at church. He picked up his cell phone and started going through his social media account – I could SEE what he was doing.  I calmly said, “I can see you’re busy right now. We can talk later.”  If my sons start to answer text messages in the middle of a conversation, I stop talking and leave the room.

My time and energy are worth it. I’m worth it.

When you value your own time and energy, and demand others respect you, you’ll find you connect with them on a deeper level. Children learn mostly through face-to-face interactions with their parents – not by communicating with them on social media or their smart phone. So this means you too!  When you’re talking with your kids, put the phone down.

Rift 5: Increases Your Negative Feelings

Whether you want it to or not, spending time on social media or surfing the Net will increase your negative feelingsoct20cellphone about yourself and your relationships with others. Relationships you build online don’t develop the trust you need to have for true connection with another person.

During a conversation with a real person you SEE their minute facial changes, body language, and hear the changes in tone. This helps develop that trust, empathy and understanding with another person.

A study from the University of Michigan found that people who spent time on social sites like Facebook, felt worse the more they used it. Researchers theorized it was because you compare yourself and your life to others online who post pictures about their “perfect” life.

The positive element from this study was that moving to a face-to-face interaction or talking with someone on the phone could lift your spirits again.

 

 

There are both positive and negative consequences from using digital media. Although it has improved productivity, creativity and opportunity – like all good things – you must use it in moderation.

Making Doubt Work For You and Not Against You

 

Self-doubt and poor self-esteem has profound effects on your life. It triggers poor business and life decisions, depression and anxiety and impacts your relationships with your children, your friends and your family.

Could it get any more pervasive?

The problem is that too many moms suffer from self-doubt – and there’s too much for us to doubt ourselves about.

Business
Job performance
Children
Relationships
Finance
Investing
Bills
House

and the list goes on . . .

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could harness the incredible power behind doubt and make it work FOR you instead of AGAINST you?sept15sign

Well, guess what . . . with the right tools, that’s exactly what you can do. The challenge is that you must follow through with the plan. It isn’t enough to read it and say, “Oh yeah, I know about that,” “I think I could do that,” and then forget about it after starting a new project.

Like everything in life at which you want to be successful – you must have persistence and consistency. If you want to lose weight, get fit, reduce your blood pressure, improve your sales numbers or get a new job – you HAVE to be persistent and consistent in your efforts.

The same is true here. If you want to reduce or eliminate your self-doubt you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. It doesn’t just happen, it requires your effort.

Your first step is to USE your doubt to push you in the right direction. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the “feelings” and sinking further into depression, turn the energy you use to worry and doubt your decisions, to push you into using the tools you need to overcome it.

This is by far the most difficult part of the process. It’s just so much easier to approach self-pity and self-doubt, tumbling headlong down that slippery slope. The closer you get to the edge, the easier it is to go over. Dragging yourself back is an obstacle you are capable of overcoming only when you believe you can.

Let’s move on and come back to this part later.

Once you’re back on solid ground, even for a short while, it’s time to make use of the strategies that will keep you there.  The first strategy is to continue to use the technique you used to get up on solid ground. It’s a simple and effective way of running your whole life.

Doubt kills the dreams that failure never sees. It’s time to erase the doubt and recognize that you just might stumble and fall. The fear of failure will guarantee you’ll never succeed. Whether it’s being the best mom you want to be, starting a new business, or learning how to invest your money, fear of failing means you won’t try anything new and guarantees you’ll fail.

You might think you’re safer by not trying something new, but instead you aren’t trying. It’s plain and simple. It isn’t the safe option, it drives you in reverse instead of forward through your life.

Come to the understanding, you’ll stumble, you’ll fall and you’ll get up again. You only fail when you stop trying.

Yeah, you’ve read that before. Do you believe it? Do you practice it? It doesn’t matter if you’ve read it or even if you believe it.  What matters is if you practice it.

Let’s start with being aware of the self-talk that goes right along with self-doubt. Awareness goes hand and hand with falling into a pit of self-despair and self-pity. Know when you’re in that pit or heading down that path and put on the brakes.

Interrupt your thoughts and turn them around. It’s time to “Just Say No!”

Now ask yourself, are the thoughts you’re having valid? Do you think if you start investing your money you’ll lose all of it? That might be a valid thought if you don’t do your homework and understand what you’re doing. But when you are well-prepared, the likelihood is much less.

Do you think if you start a business it will fail? It might. However, if you’re well prepared, ask for help from those who have gone before you, and take advice you’ll likely experience less challenges and more rewards.

The thoughts running around your head don’t have a life of their own. You give them life and you give them weight. When you interrupt and put other thoughts in place you can reduce your self-doubt and anxiety.

Unfortunately, in the throes of a barrage of negative self-talk it can be difficult to remember that your thoughts don’t have a life of their own. You give them life and you give them power over your life.

You also aren’t the only one in this position. There are plenty of single moms who are wondering if they can do the job needed to raise responsible and wonderful young people.

sept15thoughtfulI use a friend each day to help me stay clear of the negativity in my brain and improve my results. I’ve found that I could try every strategy under the sun, but until I recognized that I was forgiven and could crawl out of the pit of self-pity, no amount of self-help was going to change my situation.

Self-help strategies work when you have a strong foundation from which you work. When you’re sitting on the sand, all the work in the world will only help you dig a bigger hole.

I changed my life when I committed myself to Jesus. He became everything to me and over the last years has shown me a path that has led me on a journey I could not have predicted. I have less self-doubt and when things go badly – and they do! – I have Jesus who is with me always.

This is the strategy that moves me out of the pit of self-pity and onto solid ground. This is what we were coming back to later. Doubt worked to drive me to the place where I recognized a need I couldn’t fill on my own.

The only thing that filled that void for me is Jesus.  If you want more information about getting to know Jesus check out this page.

How Do You Define Success?

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. The shape and size of your success may be different than one I define.

You can read a book or three about how to become a success. You might attend several conferences, buy several DVD home study courses or even pay for the services of a life coach.

But ultimately, the potential for your success rests on your shoulders. And how you define your success is fundamentally up to you.

I’ve also discovered something no one ever told me.

June23WaterfallSuccess is fluid.

It isn’t stable. Yes, it’s a journey, but no, you never arrive.

Success, however you define it, is achieved during the journey and your definition of what IS success will be fluid and change throughout life.

What you once thought of as a success when you were 20 may be completely different by the time you’re 40, and change again by the time you’re 70.

What Do You Do To Define Your Success?

Success happens in the moment but what you celebrate as success could more often be defined as mastery.

When you master a talent or craft . . . when you become the big fish in your pond . . . you’ve mastered a task or function, you ‘feel’ successful, when in fact you are experiencing mastery.

However, you can’t consistently be the master. Learning is a journey. Life is a journey.

You aren’t born being the best mom you could be. You didn’t start your first job as the CEO of the company. You weren’t the star basketball player on your team the first time you stepped on the court.

In other words, neither you nor anyone else was born successful. You have to work for it.

From the outside, it may appear that others have it easier than you do. But, you don’t know their struggles and challenges. And, while their challenges are different from yours, they still have obstacles they must overcome to achieve what they define as success.

Success is Driven by Failure

Not everything you do will be successful. However, by the same token, not everything is a failure.

In fact there are very few things you do that are totally one thing or the other. Each accomplishment has an element of failure and every time you fall down there is an element of success.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn from the failures and to find those kernels of success in everything you do.

Whether you want to be a successful author, entrepreneur, mother, missionary, business owner, or dog trainer . . . it’s important you learn from your failures and celebrate your successes no matter where you find them.

Dictionary.com defines success as the attainment of your goals, accomplishments or attaining wealth.

In order to reach those goals, you must find the successful moments in times of frustration or inadequacy. Maybe the training session with your dog went miserably, but you can find success in understanding why, so you don’t repeat the mistakes.

Every time you stumble as a mom, you have the potential to learn something very important about yourself and your children.

But. . . too often we hide inside PRIDE.June23Peacock

TV moms are either screaming and abusive, or have an abnormal amount of patience. We aspire to be the second and sometimes end up acting like the first.

The hard part comes when you have to humble yourself before your children and yourself to admit that you did something wrong. You must first admit you aren’t right all the time before you can learn from the mistakes and do a better job the next time.

The same is true in business.

Before 2008 my business was flying along. At the current rate of growth I could expect to break 100K in the following year.

And then the recession hit. My business bottomed out at the same time that I took a huge emotional hit.

Instead of doing what was necessary, I buried myself in feelings of inadequacy and failure.  It was a very difficult time . . . financially, emotionally, relationally and every other way you can think of.

It took longer than I wanted but eventually I learned to look at what happened, learn from my mistakes and move on.

How I define success will be different from how you define it. What I celebrate will be different from what you celebrate.

But the journey to achieving success and mastery is paved with persistence, dedication, insight and a humble attitude. You must look at your failures square in the face and take responsibility for your part in the achievement – or lack thereof.

I didn’t and paid a high price for years. It wasn’t until I could look at the why and make changes to the way I was doing things did I begin to experience greater business success.

It wasn’t until I could hear and incorporate the constructive criticism of my family did I become a better parent.

And, it wasn’t until I could admit that my ex-husband was treating me inappropriately could I understand that it was time to move on.

My definition of success has changed along the way. The dreams I had as a young woman are completely different than the ones I have today.

How I define it might be different, but how I arrive will be the same.

Definition, persistence, focus, dedication and a humble spirit to face the truth.

Become Inspired and Achieve Your Dreams Part I

Deciding that it’s time to make a change in your life can be overwhelming and sometimes just a little scary.

You’ve been standing at that crossroads before, knowing that the decisions you will make will have an impact on the rest of your life.

Imagine standing at a four way stop. Each road takes you on a different journey. Each journey has a different destination.

YOU are at that crossroads right now.

In fact, truth be told, you stand at that crossroad every day. There are times when it’s more evident than others, but every day you have the opportunity to make decisions that change your life.

Maybe today you’re making a decision to change the way you’ve always done things and do them just a little bit differently.

These little differences pay out huge results over time. Even the decision to consistently drink one more glass of water every day can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health.

Today you might be considering a journey that will lead to a healthy lifestyle for your physical body, emotional and financial health and spiritual growth.

The result of that journey will be greater joy and enjoyment of the one life we’ve been given to live.

To get there and achieve your goals and dreams you’ll need to be inspired. You have everything you need to get the results you want when you’re inspired.

Inspiration is the driving force behind your ability to meet challenges and overcome obstacles in your life. Inspiration is what you’ll need to attack new problems, approach new people and take new risks.

Even the smallest decisions you make have a big impact on your life.  For instance, the decision to floss your teeth.  Maybe you’ve been flossing every day and now decide to floss every other day.  This can start your habit down a slippery slope where eventually you aren’t flossing at all.

Without flossing the health of your gums deteriorate and over the years you could lose many of your teeth to gum disease. The health of your gums is also reflected in the health of your heart. Gum disease allows more bacteria into the blood, which affects the health of your heart. All this happens because you started flossing every other day, instead of every day.

And all this rests on being inspired. Inspired to achieve greater health, wealth, emotional stability or whatever it is that YOU want.

Inspiration is more than motivation. It’s basic to life.

May19BabyThe word “inspiration” means to “breathe in”. When a baby is first born they take in life giving oxygen in the act of breathing. That inspiration of oxygen is life giving.

When we are inspired we can tackle challenges and obstacles because we believe that it’s possible. We are inspired to give life to our dreams and the possibilities that live in our dreams. We are encouraged by our feelings of inspiration.

 

Because, inspiration is a feeling.

We feel inspired.

Inspiration can lead to great discoveries, creativity and provide strength to overcome trials on the way to your goals.

YOU can become inspired to make changes in your life that will impact your life today and for all of your tomorrows.

They will change your life, the lives of your family and your friends.

That’s because everything you DO in your little part of the world, has an effect on yourself and on others.

The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” made that reality famous. George Bailey was a small-town man whose life seemed so desperate he wanted to commit suicide. He had wanted to leave his hometown to see the world, but his circumstances and own good heart, prevented it from happening.  So, as he prepares to jump from a bridge, his guardian angel stops him and shows him what life would have been like for the whole town if he had never lived.

The small things he did everyday made a huge impact in the lives of others. Without George Bailey the entire town would have been different – and yet he didn’t see it that way. He couldn’t see the entire forest for the trees that were in front of him daily.

You have the same perspective on your life. In fact, each of us does. It is difficult to see the entire picture when you’re focused on the tasks right before you.

Thoughts . . . Feelings . . . . Actions . . . . Results

The results you achieve will be driven by your actions, which are influenced by your feelings and are activated by your thoughts.

In other words – what you think will change the way you feel. How you feel will influence the actions you take. The actions you choose will dictate your results.

Another way to say it is that your thoughts lead to feelings. You develop feelings based on the thoughts that you think. AND more specifically, the thoughts you think on purpose.

You can make yourself angry at someone by just thinking bad thoughts about them. It happens to each of us. ThinkMay19Yelling bad thoughts about someone and you’ll start to have bad feelings.

Dog trainers understand that the thoughts they are having during a training session with their animals will impact how successful that training session will be. Their thoughts about the abilities of the animal and how the trainer feels about the dog, will translate into feelings about the animal and dogs are very perceptive about feelings.

When you think on purpose you develop feelings on purpose. Those feelings will drive your actions.

When you think bad thoughts about someone and get angry with them, your feelings will motivate you to take certain actions.

And the actions you take will develop specific results.

If you yell at your friend because you’re angry, the result will often end in hurt feelings and a damaged friendship.

Your thoughts will create feelings that drive your actions which predict your results.

Each of us has the ability to achieve the results we dream about. Each of us can be successful in whatever terms we define success.

You can improve the health of your body, your finances, your mind, your relationships and your spirit.

In order to reach those goals you you must take action to accomplish your goals.

But, not just any action – you must take INSPIRED action.

In the next article you’ll discover six things you can do in order to find your inspiration and use it to achieve your goals.

 

 

Pushing Past Fear to Success – Part Two

If you haven’t had a chance to review the article from Monday, you should probably take about 3-5 minutes to do that right now. The content in that magazine article is the basis for the strategies being discussed today.

While you may or may not think there is an underlying current of fear in your life, you’ll likely benefit from the strategies outlined here. These fears are often the result of common limiting beliefs you hold about yourself and your abilities.

You might think you aren’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough, pretty enough or have enough money to accomplish the goals you have for yourself.

However, you would be wrong. If you’re reading this then you know how to manipulate and read email, can use a computer, can surf the Internet and can read at least a 7th grade level of content.

There is nothing stopping you from succeeding.

March17LionCIYou can read to get the information you need for your goals. You can find partners who have a different skill set than you to help you reach your goals. You can find investors.

The point is that . . . You CAN.

What’s stopping you? . . . Limiting beliefs about yourself!

How to Eliminate Limiting Beliefs

Here is where the rubber meets the road.

At some point in your life you may have heard some or all of this . . .   BUT, changes in your life won’t happen when you KNOW the information; it happens when you ACT on the information.

Success REQUIRES ACTION.

Let’s start at the beginning. Before you can change what you believe, you have to know what you think.  In order to make changes you MUST take action.

ACTION STEP: Set aside at least 30 minutes to go through the following questions and identify your personal limiting beliefs and fears. Then work out a plan of action from the rest of the article.

Know First, Act Second

You might be tempted to read through these questions without taking out pencil and paper to jot down your ideas and answers – but DON’T do it! The reason you’re getting the same results is because you’re using the same resources.

To change what you do you must change how you think. To change how you think you must first know WHAT you think.

Your limiting beliefs are a large factor of what keeps you from achieving and enjoying your dreams. There are several common limiting beliefs that you may hold and others that are individual to just your situation. Before moving to success, it’s important that you identify what is holding you back and then address it.

An integral part of identifying the beliefs that hold you back, is knowing what you say to yourself. This is also called self-talk. Use the following questions to help guide your thoughts and find the limiting beliefs that are holding you back.

Remember that it is important to write down your answers; don’t just answer them in your head. The act of pen to paper has a neurological response that helps your brain to assess and evaluate your thoughts. You need that part of the process to find the answers you’re looking for.

Let’s start with a bold statement that you make. Once you make this statement, out loud, listen to all the reasons you believe you probably couldn’t achieve it. For instance, if you want to lose 100 pounds – make the statement that you CAN lose 100 pounds. Once you make the statement out loud pay attention to the excuses and reasons you come up with for NOT being able to achieve your goal.

Your statement might be you want to make one million dollars, start a new business, get physically fit or any number of other goals that you might feel are out of reach.

  1. Write down your Big Goal.
  2. Why haven’t you achieved this goal yet? What’s holding you back?
  3. What are some of the quotes or clichés that run through your head about your own abilities? Here are a few to get you started thinking:

Filthy Rich
Acorn doesn’t fall very far from the tree.
Actions speak louder than words.
All thumbs.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Any port in a storm.
Back against the wall.
At the end of my rope.
Better safe than sorry.
Between a rock and a hard place.
Bigger they are, the harder they fall.
I bring home the bacon.
The buck stops here.
By the book.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Champagne taste and a beer budget
Climbing the walls.
Can’t find my way out of a wet paper sack.
Doesn’t stand a chance.
Dog eat dog world.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Don’t rock the boat.
Fat as a pig.
Don’t make a Federal case
Like a fish out of water.
Get over yourself.
Give an inch and they’ll take a mile.
Grass is always greener on the other side.
It’s all over but the crying.
Last ditch effort.
Left at the altar.
Licking my wounds.

  1. When I think about going after my big dream these are the things that pop into my mind:
  2. What assumptions am I making about achieving this goal?
  3. Are these true or am I ASSUMING they are true?

It’s time to ask yourself if what you think is true.March17TruthCI

For instance, you may think to yourself that “My boss never listens to my ideas!” when in fact, they just implemented one of your ideas. Instead, you might mean that your boss didn’t listen to your last idea or that you don’t value your own ideas.

Spend some time thinking about the experiences that made you who you are today. Take your time remembering what happened during elementary school, high school, at home in your childhood, with your friends, at college, at work in your early years. Take your time to think through your memories.

Although this may take a little time and require 2 – 30 minute sessions, the results will help you make successful decisions in your life that give you the results you’re looking for.

From your perspective today, did you interpret these experiences correctly? And if you did, how badly were the results? Did you live through them and move on to something better?

Oftentimes the truth is not nearly as bad as we think we remember.

Coping Today

Another way of dealing with your fears, after you’ve identified them, is to make good plans. Start by determining all the possible outcomes of your decision.

While persisting to worry about all the possible bad things that can happen in life is unproductive . . . looking at the realistic potential outcomes of one decision is highly productive.

Think positively about what you can achieve. This is a powerful way of building self-confidence and neutralizing your own self-sabotage.

Look clearly at the worst case scenario and face the consequences of what that could be – – then make a contingency plan.  Having a plan B in place will help you have more confidence to move forward.

When I was in high school I was asked to organize the Homecoming Parade. I had never participated in a project that large much less organized it! But, being a young adult without the added disadvantage of some of the self-limiting beliefs I acquired along the way to adulthood, I tackled the project and won.

I had a plan A, B and C! Fortunately, I only need Plan A that time.

Stay flexible. You will face challenges and there will be obstacles, but when you can adapt to the changing environment you increase your success rate. As you move through the questions above, think about the situations you’ve faced in the past and how they could have been different if you adapted to the changes instead of folding up your tent and moving on.

Remember that today is not yesterday and you have not yet reached tomorrow. Said another way, you are not the person you were yesterday. You have grown and learned from your mistakes. You are a better version of yourself today.

And today, you can make decisions based on your experiences from yesterday.

One of the benefits of learning from our history is that we don’t have to repeat it unless we choose to.

You are the entrepreneur of your own life. You don’t have to start a business – you are starting a whole new way of living by identifying your fears and limiting beliefs and then banishing them.

You were born without fear of failure or you never would have learned to walk! Retrain your bran and live your life to YOUR fullest potential.

 

 

Pushing Past Fear to Success – Part 1

The core idea behind the common acronyms for fear is that the basis of fear is not real.

False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

Or

Failure
Expected
And
Received

Not that we don’t sometimes have a real reason to experience a fear response, but that the reason behind the fear is more often imagined.

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt campaigned against then President Herbert Hoover for the Presidency of the United States. Soon-to-be President Roosevelt said as little as possible about what he would do if elected and allowed the downward spiraling economy speak for itself.

On the heels of his election came the Great Depression. During his first inaugural speech, President Roosevelt said something that impacted generations to come.

“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . “

BUT that is only a few of the words from the actual quote which reads:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

~President Franklin D. Roosevelt
March 4, 1933

 

In those final words of that sentence, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Roosevelt speaks volumes about the kind of fear that we should be afraid of.

There are specific physical obstacles that should generate a fear response. Being attacked by a bear, falling off a cliff or facing a gunman all SHOULD evoke fear. But, what we more often face are fears that are not based in reality.

Is It Real?

Truthfully, much of what we are afraid of never comes to pass.

Does this mean that fear is not real?  And, if it isn’t, then 2ho wants to spend time, energy and money dealing with fears that are not real?

Fear is real. But, the thing you fear may not be.

March14CrushedCIThe feeling of fear is powerful, real and sometimes debilitating. But, the thing you fear probably doesn’t exist. Left unchecked, fear can deflate your confidence and destroy your dreams.

The reality is that fear is a vital response to physical or emotional danger. If we don’t feel fear then we can’t protect ourselves from very real threats to our body and mind. Fear is designed to protect us from life-and-death situations. When you feel fear or threatened, your body releases a hormone called epinephrine, or the fight-or-flight hormone.

However, too often fear is triggered by situations that are significantly less dangerous. These situations may trigger an emotional response based on a past trauma or it may be triggered by an imagined potential response to a situation. It’s the last one that really creates problems in people’s lives.

This is not the same fear that floods our body with hormones when we watch thrillers and spooky movies. In this instance, many will seek out these experiences to feel the rush of fear from a haunted house or scary movie. Some psychologists believe it’s because our lives have become so routine that we enjoy a bit of excitement.

These movies activate the release of neurotransmitters like epinephrine, including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. They influence our brain to trigger the fight-or-flight response we described earlier. However, in this case because we also know that we’re safe, this state of arousal is interpreted by the brain as positive.

Conquering your fear of zombie land or jumping out of plane will also increase your self-confidence and feelings of competence and success.

Common Limiting Beliefs

Common limiting beliefs are usually triggered by one of the internal fears – a fear of a response to a particular situation – mentioned above. While they are not identical, they are close cousins.

These limiting beliefs restrain us. We don’t believe the good things about ourselves because we choose to believe the bad.

There is a quote from the movie “Pretty Woman” which speaks to this directly:

Edward: “I think you are a very bright, very special woman.”
Vivian: “The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?”

In one sentence Vivian sums up the vast expanse of psychological evaluations and treatment – the bad stuff is just easier to believe. . . .

Some of the more common beliefs that we hold which keep us from reaching our full potential are:

I am not good enough.                                            I will get hurt.
I might fail.                                                               I’m too old.
I might get rejected.

These limiting beliefs are usually tied to some type of fear.

In the late Middle Ages, between the 15th and 17th centuries, a psychiatric disorder moved through Europe. It was called the “Glass Delusion” because people believed that they were made of glass and could shatter to pieces.  The most famous of those afflicted was King Charles VI of France. He didn’t allow anyone to touch him and even wore reinforced clothing for protection.

Today, it seems weird for people to believe this about their physical body. And yet, we have no problem believing that if we face our fear we could mentally and emotionally shatter, just as if we were made of glass.

Fear of Failure

Before we move into how to reduce or eliminate those limiting beliefs in your life, let’s take a little deeper look at the fear of failure.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, said “It is fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of March14TrustCIfailure.”

Because, while success brings with it feelings of joy, accomplishment and excitement, we achieve that success so much faster when we learn lessons from the things we fail to achieve.

And that’s when we feel fear.

Fear is a vague and scary word that can have different meanings for different people. But, underneath it all, most of us have a fear of failing.

Ask yourself:

How many times have you put off something because you weren’t sure how it would turn out?

Do you avoid trying new things in front of people?

How many times have you put off something that you know is good for you without having a good reason?

Did you answer yes to even one of these questions? Then you have operated from a fear of failure in the past. This doesn’t mean that you are controlled by fear of failing, but that somewhere, niggling in the back of your mind, is this very human idea that you could fail at what you think you might like to try.

Most of the time we aren’t afraid at failing at something we have months or years of practice doing. We usually have a fear of failing doing something for the first time.

It is like we expect ourselves to pick up a basketball and play as well as any NBA player just because we’ve watched basketball for 10 years on television. You can’t expect to do something well the first time; and yet, that’s exactly what we expect!

Interestingly, this is the concept that’s been drummed into our brains since we were in elementary school. You got it right the first time or got an “F” on your report card.

In the business world there is an expression – “Fail fast and often” – which means it’s important to fail fast, learn from those mistakes, get up and do it again – BETTER.  But by the time we graduate from high school, we’ve learned that you get it right the first time or you have FAILED.

In other words, our school systems gradually teach all of us the undercurrent of fear of failure that runs through our lives.

Does this mean that because this fear has been ingrained for near 12 years we are hopeless?  Of course not! If you look around at people who successful in relationships, business, finance and entrepreneurs you’ll notice that at some point they “unlearned” this learned behavior.

Psychologically, there is an emotional toll when you try something new and it doesn’t work out. But that has more to do with our own personal fear than any measurable loss.  Something that doesn’t end up working out the way you planned is just a step in the process of success.

Innumerable successful people have that same understanding of fear. The loss we experience when something is not a success is only measured in how much we learn.

But, instead, we often measure it in ways that are more personal.  “If I try and don’t succeed, then everyone will think I’m ________”

Fill in that blank with your own personal fear. Do you think people will believe you are stupid, unworthy, unable, weak, poorly prepared or shouldn’t have tried in the first place. Is there something else you would put in that blank?

Will the fear go away? Probably not. BUT, you will learn to discount the fear that stems from unrealistic expectations.

It is important to remember that courage is the act of doing something IN SPITE of fear and not in the absence of fear.

There are specific strategies you can use to reduce the fear you experience and live with each day. Whether you think there is fear in your life or not, these strategies can make the difference between experiencing success or failure.

Stay tuned . . . part two will be released Thursday!

 

 

Negotiating With Your Ex: How to Get What You Want

Getting what you want under many circumstances is a challenge, but getting what you want from your ex – either before or after the final divorce papers – can be a downright obstacle.

My ex was not different. It’s not that they are necessarily bad people – but divorce brings out the worst in most.

Suddenly you are trying to extricate yourself from a relationship with a person you were once deeply in love with, where there are likely children and money involved and where your friends and family all have something to say about the decisions you’re making.

The negotiating doesn’t stop when the divorce papers are finalized. Child support, spousal support, medical bills, extra-curricular activities, private school, extra bills, and the list goes on.

At some point you’ll want to consider changing an agreement that was made under different circumstances.

How do you get what you need?

Negotiation requires skills. You improve skills through practice. You don’t practice during the event. In other words, basketball players have practice all week so they can play the game on the weekend.

You have to do the same thing. You have to practice the skills you need to get what you and your family must have before the main event.

And, in fact, these skills you practice to negotiate with your ex are the same ones you can use when you’re negotiating with your teen!

. . . negotiation takes skills, and skills of any kind take practice.

 

Seven Skills You Can’t Do Without

  1. March3PrepCIPreparation

Before you do anything in life, you prepare. You went to school before starting your career. You took lessons before playing the piano in public. You asked questions before producing the report for your boss. In other words, you prepared.

During your preparation for this event there are several things to remember. Get the facts about the situation. Learn the law and what you can likely negotiate. Write down the information you want to reference.

During the negotiation you’ll continue to prepare by listening before you speak. In fact, you should do more listening than you do speaking. The more they talk, the more information you receive. The more information you have, the greater the chance you’ll be able to make a case for your side of the story.

The more your ex talks, the more they feel heard and understood and the greater the likelihood is that they will be willing to negotiate, something.

 

  1. Ask Questions

During any conversation where you want a specific answer, you ask questions.

Have you ever noticed that really great sales people run the conversation by asking you questions and getting your answers?

Questions are truly powerful. They make you think and consider a situation that you might not have otherwise even thought about.

Start with the small questions and build up in the direction you want them to take. Ask questions that get the other person to talk and answer “yes.” The more times they say “yes,” the greater the probability is that they will say yes to the big question.

Don’t start off with the big question – start small and build. Your opponent wants to talk and tell his side of the story. Ask the questions that let them talk and continue to ask questions that lead them down the path you want them to take.

Practice this with your kids, your friends and your family. You don’t have to tell them this is what you’re doing. You don’t’ have to be negotiating. You can convince someone of something, simply through asking questions.

 

  1. Emotional Control

At all costs, at all times, don’t lose control. If you feel yourself losing it, then make an excuse, back out of the conversation and get yourself together.

You might take a bathroom break if it’s a scheduled meeting with your attorneys. You might make ask to call them back after answering an imaginary knock at the door. At all costs – get away if you’re losing your temper.

When you lose your temper, you’ve lost control – not only of yourself, but also the negotiation. To get what you want, you need control.

 

  1. Stop WorryingMarch3WorryCI

Honestly, worrying does nothing except to wear down your defenses, your energy, and your ability to function clearly. Worrying is a form of rebellion against God because it communicates that you don’t trust Him.

Whether Jesus is your Savior or not, worrying isn’t something that helps. You can worry from today until the negotiation is over, and the only thing it changes is YOU.

And the thing you need in that negotiation is YOU.

This isn’t a good combination. You need your wits about you. You need to be able to listen to what the other person is saying, process it and integrate their thoughts into your conversation.

To many times we’re so caught up in thinking about how we’ll respond to what the other person is saying we hear only the first 30 seconds or minute of what they say, and then start crafting our response in our heads.

STOP IT!

Stop worrying . . . start listening and processing . . . and then answer.

 

  1. Prevent Fatigue

Your body works best when you sleep. If you get enough rest then your mind is sharp, you can process what is said and develop a response that makes sense and drives the conversation in your direction.

If you worry, you don’t sleep. If you don’t sleep, you’re fatigued. If you’re fatigued, you lose the debate.

Stop worrying. Eat well. Get sleep.

 

  1. Forget About Getting Even

This negotiation is all about getting what your family NEEDS and not about getting even. Forget about getting even because it clouds your judgement.

If you’re wrong, admit it. Think hard about each decision and how it will affect you five years down the road. Will you regret making this decision or can you imagine that it might be the right thing to do?

It can be hard making the right decision when you aren’t sure what the right decision really is.

During my divorce negotiation I made a decision that really ticked off my attorney, gave me exactly what I wanted, and allowed my ex to keep what he wanted. He didn’t pay as much spousal support and I kept the children.

We could have gone through the court system, had the children in chambers with the judge, had them evaluated by a court appointed psychiatrist  . . . all to extend spousal support.

Five years later, I could have used that money, but I didn’t regret the decision to keep the children out of court.

 

  1. March3DirtyShoesCIBe Humble, Not a Doormat

There is a vast difference between being humble and being a doormat. One dictionary defines humble as having a ‘modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.”

But the Bible defines humility a bit differently. In essence, humility is grounded in the character of God. Jesus, the Son of the living God, humbled himself to become a human and die on the cross with thieves.

Humility is grace and power under restraint.

Just because you are the best, or you are right, doesn’t mean you should be parading that opinion to everyone in the room.

It’s easy to see through false humility so don’t try it.  If you can’t be truly humble, then don’t. But true humility disarms the situation and drives the conversation in your direction.

Accept criticism, acknowledge when you’re wrong, believe that you have something to learn from the negotiation and trust that you can work with the outcome.

Don’t become a doormat to anyone in your life. No one respects the doormat – not even the doormat.

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions You Can Live With All Year

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
~Bruce Lee

I don’t know that I agree with Bruce Lee’s description of goals. Of course, the quote could have been taken out of context, as quotes often are, in order to make a point.

If a goal is simply something to aim at, then how do you know when you’ve arrived?

Most of us spend the last month of one year and the first of the next crafting resolutions and goals. Forbes Magazine reported at year end 2013 that 90% of all goals or resolutions people make are never achieved.

I don’t know where they got that percentage from, but if the history of my resolutions are anything like other people’s, then that percentage is probably fairly accurate.

At least in the past years. 2015 was completely different for me. Instead of using the same goal-setting, objective-creating, activity-making list for 2015, I sat down and reviewed some of the research about changing behavior.

Because, realistically, that’s what has to happen. Behavior has to change.

If you want to achieve the same goals this year that you achieved last year then you should continue doing the same thing.

But, if you want different results, greater success, more out of your life than you’ve experienced in the past, then you can’t do the same things you’ve done in past years.

You have to change your behaviors.

Creating a vision or mission for your life will guide the steps you have to take to achieve that goal.

It’s like standing at the bottom of a staircase. At the top is your mission or dream for your life, and each step are the activities you have to take in order to get there.

If you get distracted and work towards other goals that don’t ultimately lead where you want to go, it will just take you longer to achieve your mission.

Once you know where you’re going and have written down how to get there, you have to change the WAY you do things or you’ll be facing the same tasks next New Year. Without change, you’ll get the same results.

1ResolutionInsideMageBehavior change is something I’ve been working toward this past year, and here are the steps that I’ve found to be most beneficial.  You might think that some of these are not pertinent to the subject at hand, but if you actively go through and complete the steps, I believe you’ll find that each one had something very important to contribute to your ultimate success.

There are other lists of ways to achieve behavior change that are just as legitimate. But those lists address specifically how to attack your goals. My goal was to do a total overhaul and make changes to all my behaviors so I could experience greater success. These are the fabulous five on which I focused this past year.

  1. Inspiration. We all get our inspiration from somewhere or someone. It’s that one thing that is unique to each of us. What drives and inspires me, doesn’t inspire you – or at least in the same way or in the same relationship. My inspiration is my relationship with Jesus. It’s personal, unique to only me and something I spend time and energy developing every day. It’s important to understand what drives you and where you find both strength and inspiration – because you’ll need it in April when the flush of excitement over your goal list has faded and you’re back where you started in October.
  1. Openness. Being interested in, and open to, new ideas and new concepts is one important way of learning to change your behavior. Again, if you do it the same way – you get the same results. You don’t have to jump ship completely. In other words if your goal is better health, then you don’t have to create an entirely new diet plan today and follow it strictly.

But it is important to open your mind to new ideas about developing better health, how to quit over eating, how to quit smoking or drinking excessively or how to get more exercise. You don’t have to do things the same way that everyone else does to get the same results. But your aim is to get the best results possible for your efforts.

  1. Forgiveness. This is the hero of every day of your life. Without forgiveness you’ll become bitter, angry and not very fun to be around. Whether you have to work at forgiving yourself for falling off the new diet for 24 hours, your kids for not following through on a promise or your friends for being thoughtless in their comments – it’s important that you forgive and learn to do it well.

Forgiveness is something you do throughout your lifetime because none of us is perfect. You are just as flawed as the next person, and require just as much forgiveness as I do. Too often pride gets in our way from asking or giving forgiveness, leading to even greater pain, lost years or deteriorating friendships. And, while our friends and relatives need our forgiveness, our children benefit even more.

  1. Banishing Fear. Fear speaks to you at night. Lying alone in the dark you begin to wonder if you are good enough, smart enough, make enough money, have enough friends, will get through the next day without killing your boss and wonder why the guy in the office who keeps flirting never asks you out. Maybe you aren’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough, eat the right things, say the right things, wear the right make-up or dress the right way. You know the litany of things that go through your head, because they go through most women’s heads.

Whether we want to admit it or not, each of us is afraid of something. We might not even be able verbalize what that something is. It might just be a pit in your stomach that nags at you for attention each night. You don’t put the word “fear” on that thing – but it continues to eat away at your self-confidence and self-esteem. To make any changes to your behavior you first have to get rid of the fear – whatever that fear is in your life.

  1. Self-talk. Do you know what self-talk is? They are the words you say to yourself, in your head or out loud. The words you say aloud are more powerful than the ones you say in your head, but they are both either detrimental or uplifting – depending upon what you’re saying. Your brain will believe what it hears you saying. It sounds a bit farfetched, but it isn’t.

Do this experiment to see results in the physical world.

You’ll need two people. You stand up with your experiment partner standing in front of you. Hold your dominant arm out to the side, level with your shoulder and your elbow straight.

The other person should try to push your arm down while you are holding it up. Ask them to note how difficult it is for them to move your arm.

Next, out loud, say, “I’m not good enough,” three times. Say it out loud, with conviction. You might feel a bit funny about it, but the results of this experiment will demonstrate visibly and physically how important what you say is to your brain and body.

Now, do the same strength test, with the same arm. Your partner should then tell you what they notice.

If you are like 97% of the people who do this test, your arm strength will have diminished. It will be much easier for your partner to move your arm. Even when you KNOW that this will happen and you try to guard against it, the results are the same.

THIS is the reason you should change any negative self-talk to positive!

 

While it may be difficult or time consuming to make these changes, without them you’ll be experiencing the same results this year that you had last year. What do you want? Do you want the same results at the end of 2016? OR do you want to experience something new, better and greater in your life?

The choice is yours.

Reflection Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” ~Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman who lived in the mid-1700s. This quote is often repeated and more often ignored. Even in our own homes and lives, we often overlook the mistakes we made in past years, dooming ourselves to making the same mistakes again in the future.

The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a time of transition when many people start to identify the hopes and dreams they want to see realized in the coming months.

We call these New Year’s Resolutions.

According to Forbes Magazine, an amazing 90 percent of these resolutions are never achieved and most are forgotten by February.

As I look back on this year I find I’ve accomplished a couple of the goals I’d hoped to achieve last January, but not nearly the number that I dreamed I could. I would guess that the same holds true for many single moms, who don’t have enough time in one day to meet all the demands of the family, much less make any additions.

But, realistically, the same is true of all people. We all tend to expand our universe to meet the furthest reaches of our influence. Not too many people carefully guard space in which they can relax and refresh themselves.

I remember walking into a new home my then-husband and I had just purchased. I looked with amazement at the cabinet space in the kitchen and declared there was NO WAY I had enough stuff to fill them – and would never have enough to fill those cabinets.

Within six months, even the cabinets at the top near the 9 foot ceilings were full of ‘stuff.”

We will fill our environment to capacity – whether it’s cabinets in a kitchen or time in our day.

As I look back on this year I have determined to learn from my past mistakes and do my darndest not to repeat them again next year.

Of course, I’ll slip once in a while. But the trick, I believe, is to get up from those slips, wipe yourself off and do it all over again.  In the time between the fall and the rise is when character grows, making the next slip further down the road and the next rise a little easier.

An important piece of the puzzle is reflection. Being able to reflect back on the mistakes I made this last year, identify them, realize what triggered them, and put into place processes so those slips come further and further apart.

The way I use reflection is to ask questions. I find that sometimes it isn’t the answer that’s as important as the question itself. Sometimes there is more information to be learned from the question than the answer.

Here are 5 of the more important questions I ask myself at the end of the year, as I prepare my own New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. What is my life circumstances at Christmas this year as compared to Christmas last year? I use Christmas as my benchmark. You might use another date or time in the year. But pick a time, and ask yourself how “is life different now compared to then”? Our daily lives are filled with minutiae, lists of things to do and places to go. When we compare against something that is larger, it’s easier to see the bigger picture.
  1. What would I have done differently this past year? Identifying the mistakes or lack of success is as important as celebrating the successes in life. If you can identify what didn’t go so well, you can make a plan for it to go better.
  1. How many of last year’s goals were achieved or are in progress? If the percentage of your goals achieved is small compared to last year’s list, then maybe you made a list that was too long, or maybe you didn’t concentrate on achieving those goals. Or maybe, just maybe, there isn’t enough time in the day, no matter how hard you try.
  1. What can I give up or give away? The end of the year is a wonderful time to look forward to achieving more, but also a time to think about what you can purge from your life. What “things” can you leave behind and make your life lighter? Do you want to downsize your home? Can you give away some of your ‘stuff’? Do you need to put some of your goals on the shelf for the next year and concentrate fully on achieving one or two?
  1. What are the new goals or dreams you have for this year and do they fit into your life’s vision? When you put together goals for your life, do they fit into another overall vision for where you want to be in five or ten years? If your vision for your life is to be a millionaire then your goals this year should be pointed in the financial direction – and not just making money, but also learning about investments and growing money.

This concept of having a life vision is not common. More often we are like Queen Latifah in the movie The Last Holiday. In the movie, Georgia Byrd, played by Queen Latifah, works in a department store. She learns that she has a disease from which she is sure to die in several weeks.

In an effort to live all of life in just a few weeks she cashes in all her investments, takes all her money and flies to a luxury resort in Europe. In one scene she tells the people around the dinner table: “You know how it is. You keep your head down and you hustle and hustle. Then you look up one day and wonder, “How did I even get here?”

I’ve always thought that quote sums it all up quite nicely. Caught up in the everyday motions of going to work, taking care of children, being a friend, getting the groceries, making the dinner, cleaning the home, taking the children to their events and the myriad of other things that make up the day . . . most of us forget that when we get to a point when the children leave the nest, we will be alone.

We’ll be alone with our thoughts, dreams and goals – whether we have a spouse at that time or not. There will no longer be a long list of “things to do,” and suddenly we’ll wonder, “How did I even get here?”

That’s why, at the end of every year I also believe it’s necessary to look at the vision you have for your life. For your whole life; and then determine if the goals you’re making this year are taking you toward or away from that vision.

Even goals that run parallel with the vision aren’t going to intersect at any point, so it’s important that you fit your goals to your vision and not the other way around.

The vision you hold for your life is what will drive you when you think you can’t keep moving forward.  Your vision is what you want your life to look like in 5, 10 or 15 years. Your vision is yours and no one else’s, so take care to develop your vision and dream for your life because . . .

“You have this one life. How do you wanna spend it? Apologizing? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Dieting? Running after people who don’t see you? Be brave. Believe in yourself. Do what feels good. Take risks. You have this one life. Make yourself proud.”

— Beardsley Jones