5 Money Beliefs You Need to Leave Behind

A long time ago, I worked in the projects.  You actually don’t understand poverty until you have seen people who really do live in areas considered “below the poverty line”.  I know that doesn’t help you right now, but it needed to be said.

On the flip side of this, if you actually do have money, do you feel like you aren’t entitled to it?  Do you feel bad for having it?  You see, for a long time, I felt really bad about money after seeing children from poverty.

I was a teacher, yes.  I struggled just like everyone else to make ends meet.  To be honest though, I never struggled as badly with little money as I did when I had more money, and then suddenly didn’t have as much.  Life’s funny that way.

What lessons did money really teach me then?

  1. I was not as poor as I imagined.  I didn’t have any idea how to use food stamps.  I could actually pay for gas for my car and did not have to use public transportation.  My belief was that I was really struggling.  And while I was, it was not at a level that some people are currently facing.  Money showed me that lesson and in turn, I thanked God for my current situation.  I became a mentor and took children out in their neighborhood to places they wouldn’t have been able to go without my help.
  2. I was not as rich as I imagined either.  Money is hilarious.  It taunts you to spend it and spend it you do.  Then that funny guy called Visa calls on you one day and you owe $20,000.  For house remodeling…that you did to save money.  Oops.  My belief was that I could always make more…that is until the day I got really sick.  I had not learned the save for a rainy day lesson.  I was out that day.  Sick.  I needed to have a savings, so lesson learned.
  3. I was “always” going to be in debt.  You think there is absolutely nothing you can do, but you are wrong.  You can actually call credit cards and reduce your rates, work to pay off the least amount or the highest interest rate, and continue to visualize your debt being paid off.  Here is the part where I start to lose you.  I did good things.  I paid for things, donated, and such…even when I had not as much as others, and more than some.  I tried very hard to get out of this fear mentality that debt wants you to be in.  I knew that it was not going to be forever and I was right.  The belief that it was going to get worse held me back.  It almost stopped me in my tracks, but I made a plan.  This is the hardest of the steps I think.
  4. Others seem to have it “easy”.  There were times I would look at other people’s posts and think wow!  What a nice vacation.  But you know, they split it 3 ways maybe and I didn’t know that.  Or you might see the “I did a great job and got a raise” post.  They don’t mention it took them 5 years of hard work.  Don’t always think that the grass is greener because you know I say it’s Astro-turf.  Some people just make things appear as if it was handed to them, and it’s okay.  You know you are a hard worker and there’s no shame in being real.
  5. Throwing in the towel by saying “I can’t afford that.”  When I was driving my mini-van into the ground…with the oil leaking, the tires deflating and fixed more times than I can count, the hood looking like hail had beat it to death, and the hub caps rusting, anyway, I thought “I will not be able to afford a new car anytime soon…but I have to”.  I started changing the way I thought that year.  I had used that car to get me to more doctor’s appointments than I could count and it had been a good car, but it was time to move on.  So I wrote about it as if it happened.  Over and over again.  Each month.  And then it happened.  We donated our car to a good cause and I bought a vehicle I had long since wanted because one of my illnesses left me with really sensitive hands to cold…and the vehicle came with a warm steering wheel control as well as butt warmers!!!  I thought it was heaven.  I still do.

Money is energy.  I see that now, and I also know that I actually have more control over my actions with it than I previously realized.  I don’t use it as an excuse, I don’t hide behind it, but I don’t need to lie about it either.  When I want to go after something now, I just work harder, and put more energy into my plan.  I don’t if you believe this, but try it sometime.  Don’t let money control your thoughts…control your thoughts and therefore control the flow of money.  ~Aimee

Money beliefs

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Overthinking 101: Learning How to Postpone “Worry”

Look, I get it.  I worry with the best of them.  In fact, I come from a long line of “worriers”.  Things like Don’t push the trash down with your hand or you will get cut. Or If you go snow skiing, you will probably fly off the mountain.  Recently it was A shark might eat you if you swim in the ocean and if that doesn’t happen a rip tide will get you. 

I actually love swimming in the ocean and taught my daughters to jump waves as well as my niece with my brother…while the worrier was watching.  We all came back in one piece.  So what does this type of habitual practice do to your brain?  Well, I probably should have been in therapy, in fact I tried it once, but she just there listening to me saying “umm hmm” so that made me wonder what was going on in her head and that was worse to be honest.

Anyway, I discovered yoga years ago, but I didn’t actually “get it” at first.  I love this article on it because it was like this.  I started to think if a freaking neuroscientist thought just like me at first, then perhaps I am not the only one noticing that some people do go to “yoga” and in fact are not doing yoga at all.

So what did I start teaching that was different in my own yoga classes (and in real life, including my HHH Club)?  I started teaching yoga-like thoughts and being aware of the absence of thought, even if it’s just a minute.  Now, what if you worry about all of the above mentioned things, plus many others that never ever come to pass?  Here are a few tips for you.

Overthinking 101 notes:

  1. Postpone worry.  On your calendar, write out a time that you worry.  I know, it’s crazy.  But seriously.  As you are working, if worry starts to come into your head while you are busy doing something else, just stop, write worry at 5p.m. today, and keep going.  If it gets really bad, set a timer as well so you can worry about the sky falling for exactly 15 minutes and if you start to think about it longer, you are reminded you devoted enough time to that thought, now it’s up.  Like an appointment.  Meet back there in your head tomorrow at a different time if it still lingers, but don’t think about it anymore.  This actually allows you that slight bit of control that we need.
  2. Obsessive thoughts can be faced.  So imagine for a minute you are Sheldon Cooper.  What happens if he doesn’t knock the third time?  Can he go a whole day without that?  So if you don’t get this, Sheldon is a character I love on a T.V. show.  He has to knock three times and say his neighbor’s name.  But let’s put this in perspective again.  My dad uses antibacterial squirty stuff like it’s going out of style.  What if a germ actually gets on him?  To test this theory and face not using the anti-bac, he would have to touch something and then not use it.  See if he can last after being in public. Each time maybe go a bit longer.  Again, you get the drift here.  Each time try to go a little bit longer without feeling like you have to do the obsessive behavior and see what happens.  Are you okay?  Can you make it from one task to another without reaching for the anti-bac or knocking on the door a third time?
  3. Use a mantra to relax.  As you begin to feel stressed, say “I am in control of my thoughts.”  Then breathe in and hold at the top of a breath just a sec and focus on that feeling, then release and breathe out.  Keep breathing in and out for a full round of three.  Start to notice the tension in your body releasing.  Notice the set of your jaw, and unclench the teeth.  Let the shoulders relax, and just be aware of being in your body.  Notice how you control the rise and fall of your chest by breathing deeper, not shallow, short breaths, but deep, controlled breaths.  You are in control.  You are able to breathe deeply and focus on the now.

As I have been working on my practice of teaching others how to control their thoughts, I am reminded again and again that just like anything we do, the power of now must be practiced.  We mindlessly go through our days sometimes and that is really not healthy.  Flex that muscle and learn to practice the power of now through tiny activities like washing the dishes, going on a walk, gardening, yoga and meditation.  Each of your tasks can be a mini-meditation in itself.  Like riding a bike, but just practice staying present.

Want to learn more?  >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<<

 

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Warning! Are you becoming the Hermit Empath?

“Mom.  Name the friends you hang out with.”  Sigh.  I have friends, but I am a grown woman and I like my alone time.  It is a familiar conversation in my house.  For highly sensitive people, sometimes it is very hard to be around large crowds of people, noises, and anyone who might be trying to hide things.  So that pretty much is everyone, right?

Let me explain.  We all hide things to a certain degree, of course.  However, if you are an empath, you pick up on so much more.  <<< If you aren’t sure, I liked to my first article on my experiences. Anyway, here is an example of something that might happen to me.  Someone sends me a text or a message.  It seems like an ordinary message, but behind it I feel the reason they sent it and can tell that there are ulterior motives and/or strings attached.  I decide whether or not I want to answer and how to answer as I know that there is something else coming.  Maybe this sounds a bit woo-woo to you, but it really happens.  Another example, someone says something in conversation that seems innocent to others.  I look around at a gathering and see if anyone else believes what they just said and people are buying it.  I am in disbelief because I feel the lie…and it makes me uncomfortable so I usually change the subject if it is a group of people or I just decide that it’s time to leave.

Final example on this…you go to social media and you see a series of clues that someone you know has put out there, but it’s like you have x-ray vision and no one in your circle does.  You casually mention that so and so seems to be really upset and you think maybe they need to talk about it or something along those lines, and suddenly you are starting gossip when the truth is, you were really just concerned.  This is the one that makes me upset because people are like how do you know?  What did you hear?  What do you know?  Erm.  I just felt it.  So perhaps you back away slowly from this because my, that escalated quickly.  Thus the makings for the empath hermit.

3 Social Tips for the Empath:

  1. Get centered before you go out to any event.  What does that mean anyway?  Put both feet flat on the ground (barefoot) and if you are sitting sit up straighter through the spine.  Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, but then relax them back down as if you are shrugging, but opening up the heart area.  In my Head|Heart|Health Club, I teach these steps in a series of videos relating to yoga and connecting to the body.  So now I want you to place one hand on your stomach area above your navel.  I want you to take a deep breath in and then hold at the top and then release the breath feeling your hand rise and fall.  Do this for a round of three.  This helps get you steady, especially if you suffer from anxiety, and this breath technique is available to you at all times should you need it.  You might feel like you need to deep breathe to connect to your energy more than someone’s at a party or event as a reminder that your feelings are still there and you can then snap back into your own body.  This is very effective.
  2. Dress for the event.  Visualization and physical reminders help as well.  You might want to wear pink to remind yourself to imagine a bubble of love.  For someone not familiar with this practice, it is easy to get caught up in these bad feelings, and feel miserable for knowing things.  As we practice “bubbling up” we can visualize a bubble of pink surrounding our physical body and carrying it with us into the crowd.  As many people are quick to point out the negatives of humanity, you are going to remind yourself that there is good out there as well, and carry that feeling with you in the bubble.  Think of it as Harry Potter’s Patronus…”a projection of your most positive feelings”, and only you know that it’s there.  If you like to wear a necklace or bracelet with a word or charm on it to remind you of that, go for it.  I actually wear a bracelet with the word gratitude.
  3. Do work prior to going out and when you come home.  Here comes the part that I teach my club, talk about on my page during my live chats, and do myself daily.  I journal and I do the work.  I work through all of the feelings, and I have learned to tell immediately what is mine and what is not.  I protect myself from the negative energy of others through a combination of yoga, journaling, meditation/prayer, and more.  It has really helped me over the years take back what is my energy and sift through what might be a negative feeling that merged with mine.  For very specific instructions, videos, tutorials, breathwork, and over 30 journal prompts designed specifically for the empath, check out my guide for your soul.  <<<

The work that I have done on myself and others has helped me become more aware of how I navigate the world.  I could have saved myself loads of pain over the years if I had realized what was happening earlier in my life, but the good thing is that now that I know, I am able to get out more and make better friendships and connections than I did prior to learning how to control my highly sensitive emotions.

Hacking failure…and using it to your advantage.

Failure sucks.  Yup.  We’ve all been there, done that.  You tried and failed miserably.  But what did you do with that knowledge?  Did you give up?  Go on to make more improvements in your life?  Change something about what you did and repeat it to achieve success?  I know that I have failed trying to do a yoga pose and actually fell on my nose…I luckily didn’t break it as I saw the fall coming, but I knew that I had to get stronger or I was not going to be able to hold myself up.

And that my friends, is what failure does for me.  It makes me want to get stronger.  I remember hearing this once about Thomas Edison when asked by a reporter if he should give up on the lightbulb: “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” 

As difficult as it is to remember this lesson, other approaches to what you are working on might work better.  If you feel like you need a fresh set of eyes on something, ask a friend for some objective help.  From personal experience, I know that I didn’t start off knowing how to play soccer.  I had to be knocked down quite a bit in the beginning.  And mountain biking.  Whosh.  I will never forget how ermmm it felt like I had ridden a horse for days in the saddle when I was done with a ride once.  I was like oh.  That’s why people wear padded pants.  Note taken.  And then the bruises and scrapes from falling, but I got back up.

3 lessons I learned from failure:

  1. You get back up and try again.  Okay, so maybe your ego takes a beating.  That does occasionally happen in life.  My ego went to the backseat as I was wrestling with invisible diseases.  Things that had once been easy for me, like eating, became very complicated.  Walking tired me out, so I had to learn new ways to get exercise in.  I came back to yoga and couldn’t do things that I once had a better grasp on.  I knew that it was time for me to get serious about moving forward and that I was really going to experience set-backs, but that no matter what, I couldn’t give up on what I wanted to accomplish.  I was going to complete yoga teacher training even if I soaked in a hot bath with salts every single night.  Even if it hurt to move…because one day, it wouldn’t hurt as much.
  2. There is more than one way to do something.  I started dissecting what was happening to me.  Most of you know that I am fascinated with research and the holistic approach to healing.  I knew that I had to think, act, and imagine the goal being accomplished.  I had to immerse myself in the experience of what I wanted…and I also had to think backwards.  I would take a yoga pose and go slowly.  If my hip was tight, I would have to work on hips for a while.  If I didn’t feel strong, I would have to work on my core again, which side note, ummm had been cut to save my baby (emergency c-section).  I couldn’t compare my progress to anyone’s in the room.  Comparison makes you feel like a failure.  <<< Do not do that to yourself.  You only have to better than you were the day before and that is the root of my progress.  I was not looking at where others were going.  I only looked to myself.
  3. Failure was teaching me how to set myself up for success.  I knew that throughout history, people have failed.  I didn’t own it like it was my shame to fail.  I didn’t think that inventors had woken up one day and said “Hey Wilbur, I think we should build this and fly.”  Poof.  They flew.  Nope.  The crashing part sets you up for that awesome day when you really do learn to fly.  So sticking my crow pose, in yoga this was my nemesis for a while, well, getting into that and holding it for longer than a second takes work.  I am still working, trust me, but the day I did it, I knew that I was making progress in many areas.  Not just the pose or the form, but the act of not giving up.  The act of perseverance and sticking to my goal.

hacking failure

Want to know more about my Head|Heart|Health Club and how you can hack into your own success?  >>> I need support <<<     

9 Steps to Achieving Flow (and Happiness) in Your Work

9 steps to achieving flow

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

A Guest Post by Leo Babauta

Have your ever lost yourself in your work, so much so that you lost track of time? Being consumed by a task like that, while it can be rare for most people, is a state of being called Flow.

In my experience, it’s one of the keys to happiness at work, and a nice side benefit is that it not only reduces stress but increases your productivity. Not bad, huh?

When I wrote about the Magical Power of Focus, I promised to write more about how to achieve Flow, a concept that is very much in vogue right now and something most of us have experienced at one time or another.

Today we’ll take a look at what Flow is, why it’s important, and how to achieve it on a regular basis for increased productivity and happiness at work.

What is Flow?

Put simply, it’s a state of mind you achieve when you’re fully immersed in a task, forgetting about the outside world. It’s a concept proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and these days you’re likely to read about it on blogs and in all kinds of magazines.

When you’re in the state of Flow, you:

  • are completely focused on the task at hand;
  • forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you;
  • lose track of time;
  • feel happy and in control; and
  • become creative and productive.

One thing I love about Flow is that it takes the very Zen concept of being completely in the moment, and applies it to work tasks. It’s a concept I’ve talked a lot about on Zen Habits — being in the moment, focusing completely on a single task, and finding a sense of calm and happiness in your work. Flow is exactly that.

Why is Flow Important?

I believe the ability to single-task (as opposed to multi-task) is one of the keys to true productivity. Not the kind of productivity where you knock off 20 items from your to-do list (although that can be satisfying), where you’re switching between tasks all day long and keep busy all the time.

The true productivity I mean is the kind where you actually achieve your goals, where you accomplish important and long-lasting things. As a writer, that might mean writing one or two important and memorable articles rather than 20 or 50 unimportant ones that people will forget 5 minutes after reading them. It means getting key projects done rather than answering a bunch of emails, making a lot of phone calls, attending a bunch of meetings, and shuffling paperwork all day long. It means closing key deals. It means quality instead of quantity.

And once you’ve learned to focus on those kinds of important projects and tasks, Flow is how you get them done. You lose yourself in those important and challenging tasks, and instead of being constantly interrupted by minor things (calls, emails, IMs, coworkers, etc.), you are able to focus on the tasks long enough to actually complete them.

And by losing yourself in them, you enjoy yourself more. You reduce stress while increasing quality output. You get important stuff done instead of just getting things done. You achieve things rather than just keeping busy.

Flow is one of the keys to all of that.

How to Achieve Flow and Happiness in Your Work

So how do you achieve this mystical state of being? Do you need to meditate or chant anything? No, you don’t (although meditation can improve your ability to concentrate). And Flow is anything but mystical — it’s very practical, and achieving it isn’t mysterious.

It can take practice, but you’ll get better at it. Here are the key steps to achieving and benefiting from Flow:

  1. Choose work you love. If you dread a task, you’ll have a hard time losing yourself in it. If your job is made up of stuff you hate, you might want to consider finding another job. Or consider seeking projects you love to do within your current job. At any rate, be sure that whatever task you choose is something you can be passionate about.
  2. Choose an important task. There’s work you love that’s easy and unimportant, and then there’s work you love that will make a long-term impact on your career and life. Choose the latter, as it will be a much better use of your time, and of Flow.
  3. Make sure it’s challenging, but not too hard. If a task is too easy, you will be able to complete it without much thought or effort. A task should be challenging enough to require your full concentration. However, if it is too hard, you will find it difficult to lose yourself in it, as you will spend most of your concentration just trying to figure out how to do it — either that, or you’ll end up discouraged. It may take some trial and error to find tasks of the appropriate level of difficulty.
  4. Find your quiet, peak time. This is actually two steps grouped into one. First, you’ll want to find a time that’s quiet, or you’ll never be able to focus. For me, that’s mornings, before the hustle of everyday life builds to a dull roar. That might be early morning, when you just wake, or early in the work day, when most people haven’t arrived yet or are still getting their coffee and settling down. Or you might try the lunch hour, when people are usually out of the office. Evenings work well too for many people. Or, if you’re lucky, you can do it at any time of the day if you can find a quiet spot to work in. Whatever time you choose, it should also be a peak energy time for you. Some people get tired after lunch — that’s not a good time to go for Flow. Find a time when you have lots of energy and can concentrate.
  5. Clear away distractions. Aside from finding a quiet time and place to work, you’ll want to clear away all other distractions. That means turning off distracting music (unless you find music that helps you focus), turning off phones, email and IM/PM notifications, Twitter, and anything else that might pop up or make noise to interrupt your thoughts. I also find it helpful to clear my desk, even if that means sweeping miscellaneous papers into a folder to be sorted through later. Of course, these days there isn’t anything on my desk, but I didn’t always work like this. A clear desk helps immensely.
  6. Learn to focus on that task for as long as possible. This takes practice. You need to start on your chosen task and keep your focus on it for as long as you can. At first, many people will have difficulty, if they’re used to constantly switching between tasks. But keep trying, and keep bringing your focus back to your task. You’ll get better. And if you can keep your focus on that task, with no distractions, and if your task has been chosen well (something you love, something important, and something challenging), you should lose yourself in Flow.
  7. Enjoy yourself. Losing yourself in Flow is an amazing thing, in my experience. It feels great to be able to really pour yourself into something worthwhile, to make great progress on a project or important task, to do something you’re passionate about. Take the time to appreciate this feeling (perhaps after the fact — it’s hard to appreciate it while you’re in Flow).
  8. Keep practicing. Again, this takes practice. Each step will take some practice, from finding a quiet, peak time for yourself, to clearing distractions, to choosing the right task. And especially keeping your focus on a task for a long time. But each time you fail, try to learn from it. Each time you succeed, you should also learn from it — what did you do right? And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
  9. Reap the rewards. Aside from the pleasure of getting into Flow, you’ll also be happier with your work overall. You’ll get important stuff done. You’ll complete stuff more often, rather than starting and stopping frequently. All of this is hugely satisfying and rewarding. Take the time to appreciate this, and to continue to practice it every day.

“To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.” – Bertrand Russell

Dear Reader, we are working on uncovering our gifts this month in the Head|Heart|Health Club and using Flow to our advantage as we step into our power.  Want to try it out for a month and see how your life changes?  Feel free to join us!  Just click on “I need support” to read more.  <<<

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5 Fun Things to do on Summer Solstice

Summer solsticeHere it is, the summer solstice.  Or as the bard would have it, a fabulous tribute to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  One of my favorite quotes from that describes me perfectly.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

On June 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere, people everywhere have celebrated renewal, life, fertility, and hopefully a good harvest.

To be honest, I would like to be here today:

Aimee at Stonehenge
The Burned Hand visits  Stonehenge

But if that is not an option for you, as it is not currently an option for me either, then I have a few ideas for you to celebrate today and tomorrow should you desire.

5 Fun Things to do on Summer Solstice:

  1. Do some gardening with herbs if you can.  I recently went to my favorite local garden center (it is owned by a local family), and I purchased lemon verbena, honey lavender, and rosemary, which is a favorite of mine.  I already have my chives, thyme, mint, and some catnip actually (mosquitoes don’t like it).  I have been infusing my tea with fresh herbs, cooking with it and just smelling it.  My family has been gardening for years and my dad is considered a master gardener, so identifying plants runs deep, but herbs have been a favorite since my first taste of basil.  Yummy.  An old favorite is a tomato/basil sandwich with nothing else.  Just a bit of Himalayan Salt and pepper.
  2. Make a fairy garden.  I have been a bit obsessed with fairies for as long as I can remember.  I started collecting pewter fairies, castles, gnomes and anything I could as a pre-teen, and have passed on my things to my youngest teen.  But this new craze of fairy gardens can be expensive.  So just get an empty pot, some dirt, grab some sticks on a walk, bark, moss (that’s what grows in my yard), and make a tiny display inviting the wee folk into your display. You can make tiny mushrooms, houses, and put a few of the plants that stay small like succulents and walkables (they will spread, but can be walked on should you want to do this in your garden).  Now I have to put another favorite quote in here from my college days.  “Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Practice yoga or meditate!  HEY.  I am doing that tonight!! Yes, I make up a special class for my friends and then we sip wine after, but you don’t have to do anything fancy.  In my Club, I break down a few yoga moves that can be done anywhere, including a chair, but you can just do a few Sun Sals.  I linked that for you to watch as she has a sweet energy.
  4. Set intentions of what you want to come into your life!  My club members have really gotten into the habit of this as it is so good to focus on what we want in our lives.  I do this monthly with them as we really clear out the old and then shift our thinking into how we want the next few weeks to look.  Focus on the feeling at the end, and then yoke that feeling towards you with all your might as you write out the intention.  I know you might be reading this thinking I am cray, and I won’t disagree with you, but I have changed my life and continue to do so each and every month.  Need proof of what I speak?  You can read my about me here. 
  5. Create a new self-care ritual.  My something new this month seems to be bringing me pain, but I am starting to feel alive again after a knee injury.  I admit I am somewhat hermit-y << that’s a real word.  I keep a tight circle, and I force myself to expand it when I feel it shrinking…as it periodically does because of my nature to keep to myself.  However, I joined a new ermmm torture chamber, others call it a gym/personal training type place.  Anyway, I think it is good for me and I have been setting my alarm earlier.  That is itself is a miracle I tell you as I can sleep like the dead, but usually only those two hours right before I wake up, so I sleep late.  Anyway, I have all the excuses you can think of down, but not this time.  In order to exact change, I myself and no one else can make me get out of bed.  If there is something you have been wanting to try that’s new, I say go for it!

I hope this helped you think about the things you want to invite in your life, and not just on the summer solstice.  Summer always brings that child-like wonder and energy that might be dormant, so if you want a helping hand or two, come find me.  I have some amazing content geared just for your soul.  I use my empath abilities to check into the collective of the group and see what we really need from a Head|Heart|Health perspective.  Get out and enjoy the day my friends!

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It didn’t go as planned…the story of life.

It didn't go as plannedIt didn’t go as planned…what truly ever does?

Do you remember your first day of school?  I don’t really.  I just have a recollection that I was in a dress with a tin lunchbox and it was Mickey Mouse.  I think I picked it out because I watched The Mickey Mouse Club, but I could be wrong and it was all they had.  It’s doubtful I had a plan that first day other than go to school, learn/play, and apparently throw a tantrum over being forced to nap <<< that has since changed.  I will throw a tantrum over not having enough sleep.

I went through school not really having a plan as I wasn’t aware I needed one until I got to high school and was told to pick out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  THE REST of my LIFE?  I was 15 years old.  I wanted to throw on my mix tapes, and listen to some singles of Heavy D and the Boyz, sing along to my Sir Mix-a-lot Swass tape and eat Taco Bell and drive my doo-doo brown car.  I really didn’t have a plan.  I went to soccer practice and got out my frustrations about teenage bitchy girls and how they could be so gossipy and wrong about things, and where did I fit in with this crazy universe.

So when I got to college and finally thought I had things figured out because, by the way, I was one of those kids who didn’t like homework and tests and refused to actually take the SAT, yup, shocking, I went to a 2 year community college where it actually clicked that I needed to work my butt off…and so I graduated Summa Cum Laude…but only because I wanted to.  No one could make me.  <<< and that’s the thing.  You have to decide for yourself what you are going to do and what is worth working for.

So if you don’t know my story by now, just as I was getting my stuff together to be a teacher, I worked really hard at the 4 year college I transferred to, I started to feel awful.  Like physically beat down.  I would sleep more during the day…and have to take later classes.  My skin started acting funny, and the rest is history which you can read here, then continue here.  << Note, if you want to keep reading those, hit the next button at the bottom of the post.  So by 2010, I had been diagnosed with around 7 invisible diseases.  But the thing is this, was that the plan all along?  I actually believe it was so if you didn’t see me speak on this during my Live chat, here it is.  <<<

I have been through more than most and less than others.  I have changed my “plans” to suit those pitfalls and I have tried to hang on for dear life when things get too crazy.  I honestly have to believe this was meant for my highest good.

So my friends, if your life sentence really is “it didn’t go as planned” I want you to think long and hard about whether it really did…because if you ask me, it did.  It was up to me how I navigated those changes to my path, and it is truly up to you how you navigate yours.  Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. ~Ferris Bueller

If you enjoyed this message, I would love to have you read more about my group coaching here for times such as these.  When life doesn’t go as planned…just click the “I need support” button.  Thank you my friends.

Top 20 Motivation Tips

top 20 motivation tipsGuest Post By Leo Babauta

This article is a list of tips and tricks that, if used in combination, are a nearly sure way to achieve your goals.

Achieving goals is not a matter of having “discipline”. It’s a matter of motivating yourself, and keeping your focus on your goal. Follow these tips, or any combination of them that works for you, and you should have the motivation and focus you need.

Here are the top 20 Motivation Tips:

1. Chart Your Progress. Recently I posted about how I created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I’m doing. It’s to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I’m diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or “x”s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, “I better do this today if I want to mark a dot.” Well, that’s a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe’s Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

2. Hold Yourself Back. When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself. After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

3. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated.  Editor’s note, join an online community by searching for what you love near you.  If it is daily motivation you are searching for with an online community and a closed group, check this link here and click on “I Need Support”.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

4. Post a picture of your goal someplace visible — near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example. Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you’ve achieved it, whether it’s financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long-term — once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

5. Get a workout partner or goal buddy. Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. You don’t have to be going after the same goals — as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

6. Just get started. There are some days when you don’t feel like heading out the door for a run, or figuring out your budget, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do that day for your goal. Well, instead of thinking about how hard it is, and how long it will take, tell yourself that you just have to start.

I have a rule (not an original one) that I just have to put on my running shoes and close the door behind me. After that, it all flows naturally. It’s when you’re sitting in your house, thinking about running and feeling tired, that it seems hard. Once you start, it is never as hard as you thought it would be. This tip works for me every time.

7. Make it a pleasure. One reason we might put off something that will help us achieve our goal, such as exercise for example, is because it seems like hard work. Well, this might be true, but the key is to find a way to make it fun or pleasurable. If your goal activity becomes a treat, you actually look forward to it. And that’s a good thing.

8. Give it time, be patient. I know, this is easier said than done. But the problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. When you think about your goals, think long term. If you want to lose weight, you may see some quick initial losses, but it will take a long time to lose the rest. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight. If you don’t see the results you want soon, don’t give up … give it time. In the meantime, be happy with your progress so far, and with your ability to stick with your goals. The results will come if you give it time.

9. Break it into smaller, mini goals. Sometimes large or longer-term goals can be overwhelming. After a couple of weeks, we may lose motivation, because we still have several months or a year or more left to accomplish the goal. It’s hard to maintain motivation for a single goal for such a long time. Solution: have smaller goals along the way.

10. Reward yourself. Often. And not just for longer-term goals, either. Above, I talked about breaking larger goals into smaller, mini goals. Well, each of those mini goals should have a reward attached to it. Make a list of your goals, with mini goals, and next to each, write down an appropriate reward. By appropriate, I mean 1) it’s proportionate to the size of the goal (don’t reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); and 2) it doesn’t ruin your goal — if you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It’s self-defeating.

11. Find inspiration, on a daily basis. Inspiration is one of the best motivators, and it can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain motivation over the long-term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, photos, people you meet.

12. Get a coach or take a class. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. It can be applied to any goal. This might be one of the more expensive ways of motivating yourself, but it works. And if you do some research, you might find some cheap classes in your area, or you might know a friend who will provide coaching or counseling for free.

13. Have powerful reasons. Write them down. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down. If you have loved ones, and you are doing it for them, that is more powerful than just doing it for self-interest. Doing it for yourself is good too, but you should do it for something that you REALLY REALLY want to happen, for really good reasons.

14. Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them. We all have urges to stop, but they are mostly unconscious. One of the most powerful things you can do is to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges. Then have a plan for when those urges hit, and plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan.

15. Make it a rule never to skip two days in a row. This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day … now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy … tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row! Zen Habits says so! And just get started. You’ll thank yourself later.

16. Visualize your goal clearly, on a daily basis, for at least 5-10 minutes. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes, and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Now here’s the next key: do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the only way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.

17. Keep a daily journal of your goal. If you are consistent about keeping a journal, it can be a great motivator. A journal should have not only what you did for the day, but your thoughts about how it went, how you felt, what mistakes you made, what you could do to improve. To be consistent about keeping a journal, do it right after you do your goal task each day. Make keeping a journal a sensory pleasure.

18. Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition. We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Some more than others. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. If you have a workout partner or goal buddy, you’ve got all you need for a friendly competition. See who can log more miles, or save more dollars, each week or month. See who can do more pushups or pullups. See who can lose the most weight or have the best abs or lose the most inches on their waist. Make sure the goals are weighted so that the competition is fairly equal. And mutually support each other in your goals.

19. Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed. This will do the trick every time. Create a blog and announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date. Commit yourself to the hilt.

20. Always think positive. Monitor your thoughts. Be aware of your self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, a lot, but we are not always aware of these thoughts. Start listening. If you hear negative thoughts, stop them, push them out, and replace them with positive thoughts. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

Motivation Tips

3 Ways to Harness Inner Change

Inner Change

Life is always changing…yet inwardly, we resist.  Do you find change to be a scary process?  Especially if you are trying to harness inner change?  I know that at times, I do.  I am facing something right now that could be a very simple change, yet I am finding it hard to consider.

Moving.  Changing addresses.  I feel like that is a really hard thing for many people.  It’s just a house, right?  No.  Not to many people.  It’s memories, feelings, neighbors and more.  So why the resistance to change?

Resistance can show itself in many ways.

The “what ifs” start to surface.  It is this area of uncertainty that drives us mad.  We know the reality we are living in, correct.  We don’t know this scary possibility over here.  So let’s just stay in the reality we know.

We have no control over the change.  It’s like this, does the caterpillar start to freak out as soon as it goes in the cocoon?  Everything happens as it should once it gets in there…and then the butterfly emerges and flies merrily away.  None the wiser I suspect about all the little close calls it might have faced while in that cocoon.  But we start to question what will happen as we set this in motion..never stopping to think that it could just take its natural course and everything will turn out the way it should…or maybe always was going to anyway no matter what we did.

Nothing looks familiar over here!  I went to sleep thinking about the possibility of a new house.  Insert whatever you are thinking of here.  I have a little routine down right now and it works wonderfully.  What if my routine is interrupted?  What if moving messes up my business for a bit as I get settled (I work from home).  I need to remember the important things, and the things that are going to take some time getting used to.  Not focus so much on all the differences.

3 Ways to Harness Inner Change

  1. Get very clear on why you are even considering this change in the first place.  What are the benefits of doing something new, taking a new job, moving, making new friends or doing something that you might consider equally scary right now?  Do you have support should you wish to make a change?  A sounding board that really has no vested interest in your decision other than for you to be happy?  If not, consider joining us in my closed group, <<< but you really do need supportive people around you.
  2. Uncover the block to this change.  This one is really a big step.  If you haven’t journaled around this idea, might I suggest drawing a giant boulder in the center of a page, and then putting all the reasons around this “block” until you have exhausted this, and honing in on the one reason you really think might be the biggest block of all.  It will probably stem from fear, but you do the work and see if that is where it leads you.
  3. Don’t give up.  If the change is scary, worth it, and you know you can do it, make it your mission to succeed.  Put reminders everywhere (fridge if it’s food related, mirror for self-esteem, on the scale if you are wanting to lose weight, etc.), and affirm to yourself that this inner change is worth a few months of discomfort if it is what you truly want.  New thought patterns can be created, and soon those new patterns will become your fall back.  The old paths will become overgrown, and you will feel much better for making that commitment to yourself as you learn to harness inner change.

Here comes the part where you really get real with yourself.  Is this inner change worth the discomfort?  Yes as long as it is within your alignment of what you want for path.  Breathe in and take 3 deep breaths.  Imagine this change has already happened and everything went well.  How do you feel now?  You have your answer.

For more monthly guidance on getting out of your head, aligning with your heart and helping your overall health, join us in the Head|Heart|Health Club.

Harness Inner Change

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10 Tips for Quitting Smoking

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of quitting smoking (editor’s note, he quit in 2007). Well, of finally quitting … like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times and failed. But this quit stuck, and I’d like to share the top 10 things that made this quit successful when the others failed.

1. Commit Thyself Fully. In the quits that failed, I was only half into it. I told myself I wanted to quit, but I always felt in the back of my mind that I’d fail. I didn’t write anything down, I didn’t tell everybody (maybe my wife, but just her). This time, I wrote it down. I wrote down a plan. I blogged about it. I made a vow to my daughter. I told family and friends I was quitting. I went online and joined a quit forum. I had rewards. Many of these will be in the following tips, but the point is that I fully committed, and there was no turning back. I didn’t make it easy for myself to fail.

2. Make a Plan. You can’t just up and say, “I’m gonna quit today.” You have to prepare yourself. Plan it out. Have a system of rewards, a support system, a person to call if you’re in trouble. Write down what you’ll do when you get an urge. Print it out. Post it up on your wall, at home and at work. If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you’re going to do, you’ve already lost. You have to be ready when those urges come.

3. Know Your Motivation. When the urge comes, your mind will rationalize. “What’s the harm?” And you’ll forget why you’re doing this. Know why you’re doing this BEFORE that urge comes. Is it for your kids? For your wife? For you health? So you can run? Because the girl you like doesn’t like smokers? Have a very good reason or reasons for quitting. List them out. Print them out. Put it on a wall. And remind yourself of those reasons every day, every urge.

4. Not One Puff, Ever (N.O.P.E.). The mind is a tricky thing. It will tell you that one cigarette won’t hurt. And it’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when you’re in the middle of an urge. And those urges are super hard to argue with. Don’t give in. Tell yourself, before the urges come, that you will not smoke a single puff, ever again. Because the truth is, that one puff WILL hurt. One puff leads to a second, and a third, and soon you’re not quitting, you’re smoking. Don’t fool yourself. A single puff will almost always lead to a recession. DO NOT TAKE A SINGLE PUFF!

5. Join a Forum. One of the things that helped the most in this quit was an online forum for quitters (quitsmoking.about.com) … you don’t feel so alone when you’re miserable. Misery loves company, after all. Go online, introduce yourself, get to know the others who are going through the exact same thing, post about your crappy experience, and read about others who are even worse than you. Best rule: Post Before You Smoke. If you set this rule and stick to it, you will make it through your urge. Others will talk you through it. And they’ll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day 2, 3, and 4, week 1 and beyond. It’s great fun.

6. Reward Yourself. Set up a plan for your rewards. Definitely reward yourself after the first day, and the second, and the third. You can do the fourth if you want, but definitely after Week 1 and Week 2. And month 1, and month 2. And 6 months and a year. Make them good rewards, that you’ll look forward to: CDs, books, DVDs, T-shirts, shoes, a massage, a bike, a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a hotel stay … whatever you can afford. Even better: take whatever you would have spent on smoking each day, and put it in a jar. This is your Rewards Jar. Go crazy! Celebrate your every success! You deserve it.

7. Delay. If you have an urge, wait. Do the following things: take 10 deep breaths. Drink water. Eat a snack (at first it was candy and gum, then I switched to healthier stuff like carrots and frozen grapes and pretzels). Call your support person. Post on your smoking cessation forum. Exercise. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, BUT DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. You will make it through it, and the urge will go away. When it does, celebrate! Take it one urge at a time, and you can do it.

8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones. What do you do when you’re stressed? If you currently react to stress with a cigarette, you’ll need to find something else to do. Deep breathing, self massage of my neck and shoulders, and exercise have worked wonders for me. Other habits, such as what you do the first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually smoke, should be replaced with better, more positive ones. Running has been my best positive habit, although I have a few others that replaced smoking.

9. Make it Through Hell Week, then Heck Week, and You’re Golden. The hardest part of quitting is the first two days. If you can get past that, you’ve passed the nicotine withdrawal stage, and the rest is mostly mental. But all of the first week is hell. Which is why it’s called Hell Week. After that, it begins to get easier. Second week is Heck Week, and is still difficult, but not nearly as hellish as the first. After that, it was smooth sailing for me. I just had to deal with an occasional strong urge, but the rest of the urges were light, and I felt confident I could make it through anything.

10. If You Fall, Get Up. And Learn From Your Mistakes. Yes, we all fail. That does not mean we are failures, or that we can never succeed. If you fall, it’s not the end of the world. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. I failed numerous times before succeeding. But you know what? Each of those failures taught me something. Well, sometimes I repeated the same mistakes several times, but eventually I learned. Figure out what your obstacles to success are, and plan to overcome them in your next quit. And don’t wait a few months until your next quit. Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully to it, and go for it!

BONUS TIP #11: THINK POSITIVE. This is the most important tip of all. I saved it for last. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will succeed. Trust me. It works. Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. Tell yourself that you can’t do it, and you definitely won’t. When things get rough, think positive! You CAN make it through the urge. You CAN make it through Hell Week. And you can. I did. So have millions of others. We are no better than you. (In my case, worse.)

 Editor’s note:  Lots of people have asked for this, so I pulled a guest post.  If you are interested in replacing some thoughts with positive ones and being more mindful of getting healthy, see the Work With Me tab as I would suggest the Gratitude Journal to keep you going on the right path.