Archives for life

For What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

 

My father-in-law, Kenneth Huller

I sit astounded at how many made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless those who were willing to leave their loved ones, put themselves in hell on earth, and give their life to secure a safe, prosperous life of freedom for future generations.

My Uncle Barry fought in D-Day, and made it home to receive the Purple Heart. My husband’s father was shot guarding the US Embassy in Germany. Thankfully, he survived to meet my oldest daughter. But my husband’s grandfather died in WWII when his mom was just four. I am eternally grateful for the choices we are afforded because of this sacrifice, but also saddened that my mother-in-law had to spend time in an orphanage when her mother could not support her three kids after her husband was killed.

Today I honor not only the men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend my freedom, I also honor the families who sacrificed for them and suffered for this cause.

A memorial to my husband’s grandfather – click for a larger size

I think about the comforts we are afforded because of their sacrifices, and though I cannot say we all take them for granted, too many stay stuck or stifled, unwilling to risk that comfort, even in small ways, to pursue their truth, their passion, and their freedom.

While the majority of us recognize that our basic needs are met every day – food, shelter, clothes, we often have much more than we need to survive, and yet not enough in our lives to feel fulfilled and happy.

I aim to teach my kids not to succumb to what is immediately gratifying when what they really want for their lives requires a little effort, time, and patience. It seems like such a small thing compared to putting your life on the line, but it is because of their sacrifices that we have much smaller sacrifices to make in order to live a full life.

 

What are you willing to give up to improve not only your life, but also the lives of future generations?

 

How Can Anybody Get Anything Done These Days?

Social Media by Magicatwork of Flickr

 

It has been an interesting past few months on social media. I can personally say it has been much more of a distraction now than it has ever been.

My usual tricks for limiting the amount of time that I spend engaging in non-work related activities on social media have had much less of an impact, and in a lot of cases it’s like I’ve forgotten all about them.

(I will share them in a bit.)

I do not post or comment a lot on political subjects, but I do feel a need to stay informed. This leads to observing very heated discourse between people on both sides of various topics.

I do not seek to persuade anyone, but I do seek to understand both sides. Unfortunately, in most cases I don’t find understanding. Instead, I noticed that I’ve just wasted an extra 15 minutes, sometimes even longer, reading commentary that upsets me. Then I spend another 15 minutes trying to find content that will help me get back into a healthier, more positive, more productive mindset.

Generally, I have noticed that I feel a little more powerless and that has led to a lot more anxiety. I have noticed that people I like to spend time with, I avoid now, knowing that they are very vocal on the opposite side of my beliefs. This makes me sad and I do not feel as connected to these people who used to bring such joy to my life.

I have a given an exception for invitations to meet new network contacts, and favor shorter get-to-know-you phone calls to avoid topics that usually tend to emerge when you sit down with someone for longer than a half hour.

My practice of being happy has required a lot more diligence to overcome these obstacles. I tend to want to immerse myself in more positive content just to normalize myself into a state where I can get done what is on my agenda to fulfill my mission.

Then I wonder about all of these people who are engaging in heated discourse. Some of them seem to go back-and-forth all day defending their original statement and refuting others. I’m seeing referencing data, which may not have just been at their fingertips. It is clear that they have taken the time to search and find this data simply to prove to a stranger that they are right and the other is wrong.

The upsetting thing for me is not that people disagree. I believe that is part of the beauty of our country. The upsetting thing is the name-calling and the dismissing other people’s opinion as being a product of ignorance, lack of morals, or low intelligence.

As a human being prone to bias just like anyone else, as per my previous post, I may make the same initial assumptions, but I know logically that even if there is a different belief system driving people to reside on an opposite side than me, my beliefs are not better than theirs, nor are they worse. It is just very difficult using the medium of social media and a venue like emotionally-charged sound bites, to really get down to the understanding that would enable me to draw a more accurate conclusion.

This desire to understand, however, is not only unsatisfying but unproductive. Especially while my first quarter initiatives have been riddled with technical setbacks and difficulties, it has been even easier for me to justify the distraction of so called informing myself and seeking understanding. I’m at a crossroads and I have to make a change.

No, this isn’t my usual “insight, expertise and practical tips” post. This is something I am still in the middle of figuring out, and I know that I’m not alone. I am hoping we can help each other figure it out. Here are some things that I have done in the past that have been successful in helping me curb succumbing to the siren of social media:

 

Lists on post-its

I cannot always opt to just to avoid social media; it is part of my job. Not only do I market myself on social media, but I also help others leverage it to increase opportunity. That means staying in tune with changes, staying up on navigation and future updates, and listening and observing to help others effectively use social media. Lists may not seem like that ingenious of an idea, but the key is keeping them visible. I write a sticker for whatever I am there on social media to accomplish and stick it to my screen. It serves as a constant reminder that I am there for a purpose.

 

A timer

It is a best practice to decide the night before what I really need to accomplish the next day and break my day up into segments. If you are someone who experiences high-level anxiety when things don’t go as planned, this may actually increase your stress. The purpose is not to be rigid, but to be intentional. If something happens to take longer than anticipated, I know that I have to adjust the rest of the day and the activities, perhaps making some sacrifices to make sure that the most important things get done.

In The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I learned that we will tend to take as long as we give ourselves to complete a project. This is why some people wait until the last minute to finish a project– they feel it will ultimately take them less time than if they started early. Of course, waiting until the last minute can cause problems when unexpected events and challenges occur. Tim Ferris does not recommend waiting until the last minute, but he does recommend giving yourself and others an early fake deadline. In applying his advice, not only will I manage a larger project like this, but also milestones, mini-projects and tasks.

When it comes to things like writing and social media, I know my tendencies are to get sucked in and take too much time. These are the things that I time. I might give myself an hour to write a blog, but when it comes to social media I will keep the time very short, I favor multiple short visits versus blocking a significant amount of time to get everything done. For instance, I will avoid social media until I have gotten the most impactful things out of the way. I will have already have meditated, and I certainly will have already broken my day down. Then I will schedule three 10 minute time slots intended for short postings that I will write outside of social media first. The next day I will allocate an hour to posting a client’s LinkedIn profile content. Then I plan when I will engage in social media for personal pleasure and interaction. I usually do this during a meal, unless I am eating with someone. I may slip in again while my kids brush their teeth at night. This is ideally where it would stop.

 

Turn off notifications

Social media designers know what they’re doing, and their intention is to make you come back over and over again. They want you addicted. Turning off notifications can be tough when potential clients and customers reach you through these venues and their needs are immediate, for instance if you’re a plumber and you deal with a lot of plumbing emergencies. Realistically, you would want to have someone else handling any incoming inquiries, because most of your time would ideally be spent helping customers. When you have a different quandary – make sure whoever is assisting you with incoming leads isn’t wasting their time on social media.

If these strategies alone do not help you minimize the amount of time that you spend not getting closer to your goals, there are some apps that can help you block websites for periods of time. SelfControl, StayFocsd, and Cold Turkey may help. If your job requires you to be on social media, these tools maybe too inhibitive for you.

If you have noticed a decrease in your quality of life and relationships, and you believe there might be a correlation between this and your social media usage, I encourage you to try these tricks.

However, if these tricks do not work and you sense that your social media habits will continue to have a cost to your life, consider that you might be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out). While this legitimate syndrome recognized by psychologists is not just limited to social media and users thereof, you may be able to look at your social media usage as either a symptom or a cause, and reach out for help.

 

As I am committed to relieving myself from the potential costs that social media has been imposing on my own life, I would love to hear others strategies and tactics.

 

10X Your Everything in 2017

Swirling Sky - Happy New Year Everyone by Steward Biard of Flickr

Swirling Sky – Happy New Year Everyone by Steward Biard of Flickr

 

Let’s pretend that the current global economic conditions have no effect on us whatsoever. Let’s pretend, while we’re at it, that regardless of who is president, what tax laws may benefit us or harm us, or if anyone else in the world accepts us for who we are, we can create an ideal future for 2017 and beyond.

Look back at 2016, and, in spite of any disappointments or shortcomings, and regardless of anything we may still feel is lacking in our lives, see the successes of the past year as proof that we are able to make good things happen. Even if those successes seem insignificant or have not improved our overall status and the satisfaction of our lives, assume that they happened because there are forces conspiring for our greater good, even if logic tells you it is a pure coincidence.

Go even further now, and take those successes and project them into 2017, we will increase those moments ten times. What would your 2017 look like?

Yes, this may require you to suspend skepticism. It will definitely require you to abandon cynicism.

I will warn you that a voice will creep up, and it will say, “Earth to [insert your name here]. You’re dreaming, again. Don’t waste your time. You have earthly duties to tend to…bills and…cleaning…and yard work….and errands…”

On and on, it will try to interrupt, but you are in control, not that voice, who we will regard as “Norm.”

Norm makes sure you are consumed by your duties, and he is not all bad, because he reminds us of who we want to be for people and what we need to do in order to be that person. Sometimes, however, we need to tell Norm to shut up.  Once he is quiet, we can spend more time in deeper evaluation of who we want to be, who we are capable of being, and what we can DO as the better versions of ourselves.

Also, science has proven that imagining your ideal future is not a waste of time, and in fact has an impact you can SEE in your physical world. I am willing to wager that your heroes would most likely advise that if you have any inkling of greatness for your life, even if it seems relatively simple, that one of the MOST important things you can spend your time doing is imagining that greatness.

Take an inventory of your top 12 highlights of 2016, one in each of the following categories (borrowed from Vishen Lakhani’s Code of the Extraordinary Mind). Then make a new list for 2017 with the same categories, and write what you imagine the corresponding moment from 2016 would be like if it were increased ten times.

 

  1. Love Relationships
  2. Friendships
  3. Adventures
  4. Environment (Home, or anywhere else we spend a lot of time.)
  5. Health and Fitness
  6. Intellectual Life
  7. Skills
  8. Spiritual Life
  9. Career
  10. Creative Life
  11. Family Life
  12. Community Life

 

My favorite: In 2016, I was finally able to take a FULL week’s vacation with my family, including my brothers and cousins, disconnected from social media and e-mail.

In 2017, I would spend ten weeks disconnected.

Norm has already started in with his negativity, telling me that it is not viable. I mean, that is about two-and-a-half months OFF of work!  If you are not from the US, this probably does not seem so outlandish.

So, if my mission is to prove Norm wrong, all I have to do is ask myself how that could possibly happen, and a magical thing happens – another part of my brain starts filling in the HOW. Let’s call her Hope.  When I ask Hope how I could possibly make this happen, she lists the following:

  • Move to a country where 8-10 week holidays are standard
  • Hire and train a staff of people to take the torch and carry on my mission
  • Create residual incomes that work on autopilot so I make money while I sleep
  • Win the lottery
  • I could write off, or at least justify, some of that time and use it to write a book

I could actually implement most of these, if I decided my WHY was stronger than my WHY NOT.

 

Please share your favorite(s.)

 

17 Academically and Scientifically Proven Benefits of Practicing Gratitude Regularly

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is not about presents; it is about togetherness. It is the perfect kick-off to start reflecting on our past and planning our future. What science has proven time and time again is that if we want a brighter, happier, and healthier 2017, giving thanks is best done on a daily basis, not an annual basis. It improves mental and physical health. Even when practiced by individuals, the impacts reach far into families and communities.

Here is a list of the SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN benefits of being a thanksgiving practitioner, meaning having a regular regimen around practicing gratitude, such as including it in your meditation, prayer, or journaling.

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated
  • Better sleep (even for chronic pain sufferers)
  • Less depression
  • Stronger relationships, including marriages
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Higher likeliness to help others (aka pro-social behavior)
  • Better handling of adversity / greater resilience
  • Lower violence
  • Fewer complaints
  • Less sickness
  • More exercise (an average of 1.5 hours more per week)
  • Lower need for material possessions
  • More energy, alertness, and enthusiasm

 

Below is a non-exhaustive list including some of the studies done on gratitude, validating that many have deemed gratitude worthy of great investments of time and money.

Harvard Medical School

Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

2006 study in the journal Psychological Science

2010 study in the journal Psychological Science

University of California, Davis & University of Miami

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Western New York Veterans Administration Hospital, University at Buffalo, SUNY & University of Alabama at Birmingham

 

What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

Tombstone by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

Tombstone by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

 

You might have heard that the most significant part of the tombstone is not the epitaph, but the dash between your birth date and your death date. What will the dash mean to the people you leave behind? Will you have had the chance to fulfill your highest purpose? Is that even really important?

According to Dr. Abraham Maslow, a purposeful vocation is essential after your most basic happiness needs are met. With nearly 70% of Americans being disengaged in their vocations, the majority of us won’t know higher levels of happiness before we make our exit.

On this Halloween, when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest, it might seem preposterous to suggest visiting a graveyard. If you are not that kind of thrill seeker, simply read through this exercise then close your eyes and use your imagination.

Sit in front of a tombstone and imagine that it is yours. Reflect on your life. Consider the legacy you cultivated. Did you bring forth your fulfillment in this lifetime? Did you complete your missions? Did you find your passion and share it with others? For what do you wish you had made more time?

When life gets hard, it especially becomes difficult to be grateful for the little things, like the fact that we woke up this morning and we’re still alive. We have today, but we don’t know if we will have tomorrow. What can you do to make today a meaningful part of your dash? What can you do tomorrow, if you are lucky enough to still be here?

Are the hours you are spending at work bringing you closer to the kind you of happiness that will make you feel proud of the life you led?

If this exercise makes you aware of a gap that needs filling in your purpose, contact us and we can help you accelerate the career discovery process and help you find a purpose-lead vocation that suits your skill set, personality, and desired lifestyle.

 

Don’t wait until December for my book, Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days.

 

How Have You Grown Since the Last Olympics?

Olympics by Peter Burgess of Flickr

Olympics by Peter Burgess of Flickr

The Olympics are here again.

I can’t believe another four years has passed by so quickly. I revisited the vlog, 8 things that Corporate America can learn from the Olympics, and while those eight things are timeless, I think about everything that has changed since then.

When I made the video my daughters were eight months and two years old. They were both still in diapers and both still napped, which is how I was able to make the vlog. I was still nursing, which meant that every three to five hours I was either attached to my baby or attached to a machine for 45 minutes (my babies were not as efficient eaters as others). I preferred being with the babies, though that meant not having any full day adventures away from home.

My sister-in-law had not yet passed, and I had no idea that we would lose a nephew on his 28th birthday, prompting me to seriously reevaluate the time and the sense of urgency that I give to my most meaningful projects. I also reevaluated the amount of time I feel is acceptable to bring about meaningful changes and momentum for my clients in their job search.

It was another election year, but I knew who was getting my vote. Our financial world was still feeling the effects of the depression, though at least all signs were pointing towards a continuing recovery.

When I was recruiting and an employer wanted a certain number of years of experience, a question I always thought it was important to ask was, “what would someone learn in those extra years of experience that they would not have learned in a lesser number of years?” This is especially true in a world where technology is making everything evolve at such a fast pace. What are the lessons of the past that need to be carried into the future?

I made a shortlist of universal lessons and skills that I have acquired in the last four years. However, I really want to know about you and what you have learned in the last four years that have enabled you to increase your value to make a more meaningful impact in your job.

 

Mine:

I have learned, practiced, and then demonstrated and taught the value of my authentic story. I have learned that I can be more inspiring and reach people on a deeper level if I am real about the darker places in my life. I feel like I am more myself with people now than I had ever felt free enough to be before, and it has made me bolder. I am more willing to experiment and take risks, and more willing to “look bad” if an idea fails.

I have adjusted many of my programs to be much shorter. They are now three-months long instead of six-months, even for my executive clients. I focused on productivity, learning from experts like Tim Ferris and Neen James on how to fold time, work smarter rather than harder, and make things happen faster. I then worked those lessons into my coaching and products.

My paradigm shifted from learning new ways to reach my audience for the purposes of building an empire and a legacy, to challenging myself to serve my audience in the highest ways possible. This means constantly reinvesting in improving the products and services I offer, and innovating new, groundbreaking tools, technologies, and programs, as well as being a lifelong student of personal and professional marketing.

 

What are your learned lessons? What are some significant ways that you have evolved in the past four years? What have you learned that has been a game changer?

 

Redefine Your Definition of Freedom

Peace Doves Alice by Popkorn of Flickr

Peace Doves Alice by Popkorn of Flickr

 

If you subscribe to enough newsletters by business coaches or perform enough Google searches on residual income, you will be bombarded by gurus selling the idea of products promising that financial freedom can be yours.

You know the ones…

“For 3 easy payments of $997, you, too, can achieve financial freedom.”

What an uninspired vision.

Do not get me wrong. I would love to be at the point in my life where an income was optional. Nevertheless, does financial freedom equal freedom?

The idea of being financially free sounds so ethereal, so evasive, like such a pipedream, but I’ve found that for every appealing fantasy, there are an equal amount of reservations of living with unlimited income:

Would friends and family presume you were somehow different and “too good” now?

How many people would come out of the woodwork with their hand out?

What kinds of new family drama might ensue because of this windfall?

Would it turn you into a miserable recluse afraid to trust anyone?

What if you could not walk the streets without feeling like a target for pickpockets or even more unsavory characters?

What if the success you achieve just adds to the pressure of living up to expectations you cannot possibly uphold?

 

Does that sound like freedom to you? Even the thoughts themselves serve as shackles.

If we are ever able to get our imaginations to stretch far enough to imagine ourselves without financial worry, a whole new set of worries tend to creep into our thoughts.

But what if we were free from those fears?  What if, no matter what our current financial situation was, we felt secure in our faith that all would be taken care of?

I honestly do not know that many people who possess and practice that level of faith, but let me be crystal clear – surrendering your fate to a higher power is still not freedom.

I don’t mean to say that you can sit back, relax, do nothing, and great things will come to you.  As a matter of fact, I mean the opposite.

I have shared with you before how the word “can’t” is forbidden in my house.  Not only is it forbidden, but it’s not even acknowledged as a thing: “There is no ‘can’t.’ Only ‘I don’t know how yet. ‘”

The concept of freedom that I want you to entertain and try is one in which anything you could want to do is possible – a world without limits. Limits have a tendency to stop us before we even reach them. Or, we let other people who have not even tried to reach them tell us that they are there and we take their word for it. That is certainly not freedom.

I did not write this article to define freedom for you; I wrote it because I want to encourage you to reevaluate your own definition of freedom and furthermore, assess how much effort you have really made to achieve it.

Do not give up on freedom. Do not assume it is not possible for you. Do not decide that there is nothing really all that fantastic about it, or you know right away that you have not discovered an empowering vision of freedom, and therefore it is not really freedom at all.

Here is my empowering vision of freedom:

I wake up every day certain about how I can be my highest self and what actions I can take to fulfill my highest purpose. I let my intuition guide me and trust unwaveringly that as long as I follow it, everything will turn out exactly as it should. I speak from a place of love, compassion and acceptance. Each moment is infused with joy and fun. I expect and therefore notice when something or someone has been put in my path to help me, and I openly receive this assistance. I go to bed each night knowing, with great peace, that I have done everything that was in my power to do, and tomorrow I will be even better.

 

What is your empowering vision of freedom?

 

Create Your Best Year Yet, Part 1

Rainer Maria Rilke Quotes from BrainyQuote.com

Rainer Maria Rilke Quotes from BrainyQuote.com

 

The New Year is a chance for a fresh start in your career and your life. It is a time to close the book on previous events and to plan new events. There are new opportunities, new goals to set, and new chances to grow and to improve the quality of your professional and personal life. Now is the time to create your best year yet and to obtain everything you want out of your career. A fresh start means breaking away from habits that did not work, focusing on what did work, and creating new opportunities. Take a moment to think about your previous year. Where did you succeed? Where are your areas of improvement and potential growth? What worked for you? What did not work for you? What successes would you like to duplicate to further your growth in the New Year?

Acknowledge the highs and lows the previous year brought as you prepare yourself for 2016. This gained perspective allows you to let go of what did not work and to double down on what worked. This reflection will also allow you to clean your slate and to see that your future is not limited by your past. Creating your best year consists of two parts: constructing a fresh start and setting goals. For this article we will focus on a fresh start in a new year and goal setting will be addressed next week.

 

  1. Focus on the positive

Take a moment to embrace the positive moments from your previous year. Write down your major successes and the goals you managed to complete. Of these successes, which ones would you love to duplicate or multiply in the New Year? Keep these goals as positive motivation. Tony Robbins, one of my favorite motivational speakers, talked about The Seven-Day Mental Diet. In his speech, he highlighted the power of positivity and creating habits around focusing on what is right in your world. “The habit of focusing on what’s right in your world, instead of what’s wrong. The habit of focusing on what you do have instead of what you don’t have in a situation.” Focusing on the positive leads to developing a sense of pride and gratitude in what you have accomplished. Having pride and gratitude is a critical part of inspiring other people to offer you opportunities.

 

  1. Confront the negative

Reflecting on and confronting the lows in your year opens the door to growth. After all, if you do not recognize the areas where the year did not progress smoothly, you cannot create a path to a better year. Take the case of Erin Joy Henry. Erin is a holistic nutrition counselor who used to have a negative outlook. She thought of positive people as insincere. One day she came to the realization that her negative thoughts were standing in the way of her getting everything she wanted out of life. She began to use positive affirmations and enjoyed the process so thoroughly that she sought the help of a wellness expert. With the help of the wellness expert, Erin was able to pinpoint her negative thoughts, confront them, and dedicate herself to writing down her positive affirmations every morning. She gradually transformed herself, saw her own potential, and uncovered her own brilliance.

Changing your outlook as you move into a new year means leaving your negativity in the past. T.D. Jakes, a popular pastor of a megachurch and best-selling author has written extensively on why negativity is best left in the past and how letting go can enable you to succeed. “The only thing left to change is how you process it. And if you process it right, you can turn it into something. You can use it for fuel.” See these events in a positive light and use them as an opportunity for growth.

 

MG_4438

 

  1. Physically manifest your feelings and release them

Take your negative emotions and physically manifest and release them. The act of creating a tangible form for your negativity allows you to capture those thoughts and treat them as though they were real. Seinfeld had the yearly eve of Christmas Eve Festivus, an event where people sit around a table and air out their grievances, among other things. In your case, create a list of self-grievances then destroy them. This destruction could be as simple as burning the list, ripping it up, or my personal favorite, blowing up balloons. Blow up a balloon and take one breath for each item on your list, then pop the balloon. The point is to give your grievances a physical manifestation, to obliterate those manifestations, and to symbolically rid yourself of the mental energy they carry.

The Sedona Method is another great way of letting go of negativity. It consists of a line of questions with “yes” or “no” answers created by Lester Levenson to create positive change. Positivity is created by the act of releasing negative thoughts and emotions. You fully accept whatever you are experiencing by taking note of the underlying desire behind it and finding a release. The mental exercise is often likened to holding a pen in your hand until your hand begins to ache. The pen represents negativity. You have the power to choose to let go of the pen, i.e. your negative emotions, at any time. In short, the Sedona Method works because it allows you to take control of your emotions. Sarah Johnson, an entrepreneur, has created a video on how to use the Sedona Method.

 

  1. Release negativity and reclaim mental energy

Negative emotions can also be thought of as baggage. Once you understand what is weighing you down, you can release that baggage. Carrying baggage is not very different from walking with sandbags in each hand. When you first lift the sandbags they are heavy, but not particularly burdensome. As you walk further and further to your destination, it becomes hard to walk effectively with them. The muscles in your arms are strained and eventually you drag the bags in an attempt to ease the load. Wouldn’t it be easier to drop the sandbags? Once you drop the bags the load is completely gone and you are no longer worried about your burden. Instead, you are now walking lighter, faster, and are able to focus on and accelerate toward your destination. This renewed focus allows you to reclaim your mental energy. Mental energy is defined by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) as the ability or willingness to engage in cognitive work. The type of energy that goes into maintaining baggage is referred to as mental clutter by entrepreneur Eben Pagan, and it drains of you much needed mental energy. Clearing away this clutter gives you the ability to focus on energy that allows you to build or renew relationships with family, friends, or colleagues, create professional or personal projects, and create thoughts that carry you into a brighter future. Think of what a renewed focus means to your career. You will be able to complete what is incomplete in communication, administration, and housekeeping. In short, once you’ve reflected and dumped your baggage you can focus creating opportunity.

 

Create your best year yet by leaving the past in the past and capturing new professional and personal opportunities in the New Year. Preparing for a new year means recreating what worked for you, pinpointing what didn’t work and using it as a chance to grow, letting go of your negativity, and reclaiming your mental energy. Are you ready to leave the past behind and make 2016 your best year? Are you ready to create and seize new opportunities?

 

Learning to look around.

Heidi, Karen, and Mary Kate

From left to right, Heidi, Karen, and Mary Kate on Heidi’s porch Thursday, Sept. 19,  2013.

In my last blog, I went on a limb and wrote about how I changed the way I was thinking about my stress. I talked about a ski mountain metaphor and the moments at the end of the slope where I can look back to see what I’ve accomplished to take pleasure in crazy busy days, i.e. “The pleasure that I can take from this, is that split second I have at the end of the trail, the end of the day, the end of the week, when I look back up the mountain and take pride in the steep, icy hill that I conquered.”.

Well, that’s really self-centered. Maybe I did need that intensively introspective time to get my head in order, but now that it is, I can’t help but notice the other people in my life who make my life happy. I see that there are moments throughout the day, times when perhaps instead of “bounding down the hill at full force”, as I put it in my last blog, I stop on the slope to talk to people, or times when the ice is too much and I start sliding and someone catches me. Maybe I should lay off the metaphors but I can’t help it :).

Let me tell you what I mean. Thursday morning, I woke up early to my friend telling me that she broke up with her girlfriend. My empathy was immediately called to action and I took her and her puffy eyes to the drive through of Dunkin Donuts, listening and doing my best to console her. We came back to the house and sat on my futon until 11:15.

Directly after she left, I got a text from Mary Kate saying that she was in the parking lot and would be coming to my front door in a minute. The plan was for Mary Kate and Karen to come to my house so that Mary Kate and I could start consulting the other for information about our experience to begin writing each other’s résumés. Mary Kate and I did this for a while and when Karen got here we all sat on the porch and continued. At a certain point, we needed a break and I said, “Who wants coffee?” We ended up sitting outside on my porch for three hours with coffee talking non-stop. We fluctuated between talking about Epic Careering, to Ursinus, to the mainstream media, to funny things that happen to us. I lost track of time being in such stimulating company and conversation.

Two weeks ago, in my last blog I was plowing down the mountain to cope. After doing this for a while, I began to realize that I need to look for the people who are skiing down with me and enjoy the interactions I have with them, like when Mary Kate and Karen came over. This, even more than that moment at the end of the slope to look back, is the pleasure I can take from this busy life. And isn’t it better to look back on what you accomplished with a group of people who all helped each other accomplish it?