I am watching Marie TV and she is interviewing Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet.” She mentioned that she used to be terrified of speaking publicly, but she knew that in order to get her message out, she would need to get over her fear. So for a year she embarked on what she called her “Year of Speaking Dangerously,” and it is amazing to me how just the right article/video/advice will come to you when you are looking for it. I just yesterday mentioned to a few of my girlfriends that one of my goals for 2014 was to talk to more people. I just started my busines, Oasis For Change, this year (I offer Life Coaching and Individual, Family, Child and Group Counseling services) and I now am at a point where I have to spread the message that my services are available. For an introvert, this can be frightening. When I think about networking the gremlins in my head start the negative talk. “They’ll laugh at you,” “They will think you are dumb,” “They will not understand what you are saying,” “They will think your business is stupid and that you don’t have anything to offer them.” The voices can be pretty brutal. I am lucky that I don’t have a fear of public speaking. I don’t mind getting up in front of a crowd anymore, which is a huge blessing. I worked through that in college with a public speaking class. I do, however, have a fear of small talk, both with people in person and on the phone. And this is not helpful when it comes to making connections for your business.
Susan Cain talks to Marie about how she trained herself over the course of a year to speak in front of others. She started small, talking in front of small, familiar groups and working her way to larger groups. I am dedicating myself in 2014 to something similar, but instead of speaking publicly, although I will continue to practice this, I will begin to talk to everyone. People at the library, at the grocery store, at the gym, I will make small talk with the grocery store clerks.
Cute Website Article
How about you? Do you struggle with small talk? Do you need to work on connections this year? Let me know below if you will be joining me this year for a Year of Speaking Dangerously!!
December is my second favorite month of the year. July wins out because that is my birthday month, so it is full of celebration. But December is close on its heels. I love December for many reasons: there’s the holiday celebrations, the holiday food, the holiday music, and the gracious attitude that people seem to adopt as they count the days to Christmas. But my favorite part of the month is its representation of the end of the year. Over the last few years it has become a time for me to reflect on the past year and think about the next. It gives me a chance to look at all of the challenges that I went through and to congratulate myself for the successes. And it is a time for me to prepare for my New Year’s Goals.
How many New Year’s Goals have you successfully made and kept throughout the year? For the majority of the population most goals are dropped by February and completely forgotten about by March. Health clubs go through a ginormous spike in memberships during December and January. And more than half of those people stop showing up a few months later. Why is this? People are usually VERY motivated at first. They get the membership. They buy the outfits. They research the diets. They get the nicotine patch. They bite the bullet and look at their finances. They stop buying things they don’t need. They buy the Spanish Rosetta Stone. They spend more time with family and friends. But soon enough the motivation goes out the door.
I believe that we do not spend the time we should on figuring out WHY we want to reach the goals we choose. We pick lofty goals that sound great, but when our desired outcome is superficial, or we’re trying to please someone else, we tend to lose motivation. Want to lose weight? Why? Want to get out of debt? Why? Want to stop smoking? Why?
If you can’t answer the question, you are likely to be one of the millions of people who drop their New Year’s Goals. And if you answered that you just want to stop smoking because other people tell you it’s a good idea, your chances of following through are pretty slim. But if you desire to stop smoking because you have a new baby in the house and you want to feel energetic enough to play with her, or you want to protect him by keeping second hand smoke away, now those are more likely to push you through the year.
So what if you can’t answer the why or you’ve just figured out you have no motivation past pleasing your spouse? Journaling is my first recommendation for most problems. The process of writing helps you get clear on what you perceive the problem to be, and helps slow down your thinking when it comes to solutions. You can also go back and look at your writing if you lose motivation or need to remember something you’ve forgotten. For those who don’t like writing, drawing a picture, cutting out pictures, or recording voice memos can be helpful as well. Here’s some journal exercises that I have done over the years to get really focused on my goals and helped me follow through.
Write down what you think your goals should be. Then ask yourself the question, “Why?” and write the answer. Continue to ask yourself a few times until you feel like you’ve really gotten to the answer. An example- “I want to stop drinking.” Why? “Because I have gained weight and been less motivated to do work.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy.” Why? “My wife is unhappy with me.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy and I’m not taking care of myself.” Why? “I want to feel healthy and take care of myself.” Why? “Because I want to be healthy enough to take care of myself and take care of my wife.”- Now there’s motivation to stop drinking.
Write down previous goals that you have made in the past. Free write about any challenges or successes you had while meeting those goals.
Write out your fantasy life. Write how everything would be different if you met your goal. All of the things you would be able to do, places you’d be able to go, or things you’d be able to have. Get precise and specific.
Now that you’ve gone a little deeper with your goals, it’s time to evaluate if they need to be rewritten. Continuing with the example above, wanting to stop smoking because of the new baby in the house, maybe you realize that it’s not just about cigarettes. You want to feel energetic enough to play with your baby and keep both of you healthy. Quitting smoking might only be a part of this goal. Writing your goal in a more positive frame will help keep you on the right track, even when things get hard. Your new goal might be “By February I will be able to have the energy to spend at least 8 hours with the baby.” Framing your goal in this way might help you make decisions not just about smoking, but about exercise and healthy eating as well. And if you give in and have a cigarette, you have not “failed your goal.” You don’t have to give up. You have the motivation of spending time with your baby to keep trying.
What goals do you have for the New Year? What is the motivation behind it? How will you keep the motivation to make it all the way through to December 2014? Comment below!
Don’t waste your life on anything that doesn’t fill you up in some way.
Life is too short to waste on any activity that angers you, bores you, doesn’t fulfill you, unless it is a step in the process of getting to something you love.
Life is too short to not do something because of money. Find a way.
Spend time looking into your loved ones’ eyes. Spend time listening to the words they say. Hold their hand, savor the moment. Really hear them, see them, and love them for who they are.
Love yourself in the same way. Stop to look and listen to yourself. Treat yourself with as much kindness as you would a child.
Don’t get in the way of joy. If someone you know is in the middle of a truly joyful moment, don’t let thoughts of time, responsibility or money get in the way. Let them experience the fullness of it. In fact, join them.
I am a big fan of gratitude. Although sometimes it may appear to be a catchy, new-agey theory that having gratitude is good for you, the truth is that when practiced regularly finding the time to be thankful for the little things in life can be life changing. When you get into the habit of focusing on the positive, more positive seems to show up. The explanations for this vary, they go from magic, or a miracle, to the Law of Attraction where you literally manifest what you want in life. I’m more of a sciency, objective type of person. For me it simply makes sense that if we are looking for things to be grateful for, we are more likely to see them and be ready to appreciate them when they come our way. Let’s take this scenario taken from my very real life.
Situation 1- I have not been practicing gratitude, in fact it’s been a long, exhausting, negative day and I am having negative thoughts about everything. I arrive home from work and my husband is at the sink washing the dishes and the negative thoughts just continue on, merrily. “Oh, NOW he wants to wash the dishes. He lets them sit around for weeks, waiting for me to wash them or until they magically wash themselves.” And I probably say thank you in a sarcastic, passive-aggressive, snarky tone and head to the couch to sulk and think about how crappy his dish-washing timing is. This is, by the way, a serious example in my life.
Situation 2- I have been practicing gratitude, I have had a trying day, but have been looking for the positive. I come home and my husband is at the sink washing dishes. On this occasion, I can walk in the door, thank him for washing the dishes and go relax on the couch for a few minutes knowing that the dishes are being washed. The only difference in the two days is my attitude when I walked in the door.
So- now we know, gratitude is awesome and worthwhile! And just as we bring in the New Year with our fitness, health, career and life goals, we bring in the Thanksgiving season with reminders of gratitude. “What are you thankful for?” is the catchy phrase that’s being thrown around recently. The newest status trend on Facebook is to list all of the things you are grateful for that start with the corresponding letter of the day (1=A, 2=B, etc). Although the gratitude trend may not last beyond the holiday, I do think 30 days a year of gratitude is better than zero and it’s a great start to what could become a habitual practice.
Some days it’s easier said than done. Have you been there? There you are, having a shitty day- your child barfed on you in the morning so you changed your pants, then you accidentally spilled coffee into your lap in the car, didn’t notice until you got to work that you forgot to brush your teeth, had a long passive aggressive conversation with a co-worker that took up all of your free time including any time you had to run out and grab lunch, then you got stuck in ungodly traffic on the way home. You know, those kind of days. Then you get home and call a friend because you just need to vent to someone and they say something along the lines of, “Just be thankful for what you have.” Well, THANK YOU, very much, you (insert expletive of choice here).
On this kind of day I have a quick exercise that works well to adjust your thinking back to what you have in life, even if you don’t particularly feel like it.
1. Find somewhere to be alone, not in front of the tv, phone, or computer. These are all distracting and are guaranteed to remind you of some more things that you could possibly be angry about.
2. Sit still for a few moments. If you are a practiced meditator, now is a really good time. If you are like me, and have difficulty shutting your brain off (the yoga peeps call this monkey mind), don’t fight it. Just sit still for a few moments. Take a few deep breaths.
3. State your intention (ideally out loud, yes, speak to yourself) to find three things you can be grateful for.
4. Start thinking. If your meditation and deep breaths helped you calm down, you should be able to come up with a few good ones on your own here. However, sometimes we’re really stuck. If that’s the case, look around you. The stories in our heads can keep us from finding the good in our lives, but often physical items around us can trigger a memory.
5. If you’re really stuck here, and you are stewing in negativity, then this exercise is really important for you. You need to get unstuck or go take a nap, because if you’re at this place, you might not want to be around people. Force yourself to focus on an item that you see in your physical space. A tree, a piece of paper, a sock on the floor, a piece of lint on your pants, a dresser in your room, a chair. Anything. And find 3 things about that object to be thankful for. For example- the chair under my bottom at this very moment. This chair is ripped, but it has lasted me for almost 9 years. I am thankful that I have it to sit on. Sometimes I will think of something I need to write at the computer, but my husband has wheeled it away from the desk for some reason and I’ll kneel in front of the computer on the floor and that, my friends, is painful. I am grateful for its ability to hold me up to the desk and keep the pressure off of my knees. It has a lever on the side that I can push on and it allows me to adjust the height. It is tall enough in the back that I can lead my head back against it when I have writer’s block. It is made of a feaux leather material that is cooling, and doesn’t get your bottom all sweaty when it’s hot and humid here. It has armrests. What more could you want in a 9 year old desk chair?
This exercise can be done at any time during the day. Look around for an object and think of all the redeeming qualities it possesses. Feel free to stretch a bit, sometimes the fun of it will knock you out of your bitter mood. Maybe that lint is a lovely shade of yellow. Perhaps it is making a smiley-face or appears in the shape of a unicorn. Maybe the lint reminds you of something. Get creative.
If that doesn’t work, look at this picture of this dog chewing on a kitten’s face:
I hope you enjoy this exercise. What other methods do you use to stay thankful over the holiday season?
When setting my intentions and meditation for the day, I now include choosing my Core Desired Feelings. Danielle LaPorte has changed how I view about goal setting and really, life in general. It is worth your while to read her books The Firestarter Sessions and The Desire Map. She also has tons of worksheets on refining your Core Desired Feelings, free on her website, daniellelaporte.com such as this one. I will give you a brief description on what it is and how to begin using them in your daily journal.
Basically, you are choosing how you want to feel during the day. This sounds deceptively simple, but will really change the way you view the goals you have chosen for your life. Let’s do a little exercise. Think of one of those goals you have been working on for a while. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds or you want to exercise more or eat healthier. These are great! You may even have them written down somewhere as SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). So why haven’t you met this goal yet? Often we forget the most important part of the goal, which is the why. Why do you want to lose 10 pounds? Why do you want to exercise more or eat healthier? We miss a very important step. We want to attain these goals because ultimately we are hoping we will feel a certain way. This is the truth for every single goal.
So take that goal you thought of before and think about how meeting that goal will make you feel. Let’s take the example of losing 10 pounds. Why do you want to lose 10 pounds? Because I will look better in my clothes. Why do you want to look better in your clothes? So that I look good. Why do you want to look good? So I can feel beautiful. Boom. You want to feel beautiful. This helps you for two reasons. The first is that when you are looking at a piece of cake you can think to yourself, will this make me lose those ten pounds so I can feel beautiful? It will help you decide if you want the piece of cake or not. The other reason it is great, is because you don’t have to wait to lose 10 pounds to feel beautiful. You can do something this very minute to feel beautiful. You can put a clip in your hair, put on some lipstick, sit up straighter in your chair. My friend Kitty Cavalier has tons of tips in her blog that will make you feel beautiful just reading them.
I have added the Core Desired Feelings to my daily journal because I want to intentionally set how I want to feel during the day. Over time mine have morphed into these six recurring: Joyful, Free, Clear, Connected, Supported and Energized. Just reading those words put me in a better mood. No matter what happens in my day, whatever what comes my way, I can change my circumstances to feel my Core Desired Feelings. I want you to get to a place where you can, too.
Check out this journal workbook I have put together for you.
So this is my first post on this site. It is going to be short and sweet, and it is not going to be my best piece of writing. I have had the website up and running for over a month now. And I have not posted once. I have 4 draft posts waiting. Not one of them is completed. An old habit of mine has been kicking in. Here’s how it usually goes.
1. I have an awesome idea. Seriously, I come up with some good ones.
2. I get started. Who wouldn’t love to hear about this/learn about this/have one of those?
3. It doesn’t look exactly the way I pictured it. It isn’t perfect. The fear starts to kick in. Who’s going to want that? They can get that anywhere! It isn’t ___________ enough!
4. The idea goes onto the list. The list of things that I have not finished due to perfectionism and fear.
Luckily, over the course of the last few years I have done a lot of research on this and have discovered that the best way to get over the fear is to just do it anyway. There is no magic wand that will make it feel easier or less scary. And even if your worst fears come true (someone will make hateful comments! they will hate me! they will tell everyone that my website sucks and no one will ever hire me!) they won’t kill you.
And so, here it is. The completely imperfect, not amazing, but hopefully useful to someone first post on the Oasis For Change website. The good news is, there’s so much room for improvement! Now that the ball is rolling I can get over my fear and start posting all of the goodies that I’ve been hoarding in my draft folder.
Is something holding you back from moving forward on a project? You are 1000 times more likely to make a step in the right direction when you tell someone about it. Test this theory. Post your comments below! Tell us what the project is and what step you will take in the next week to get moving. I will make every effort to reply to all comments.
If you’re like, “Whoa, this is so awesome, I wish there was more!” You can read some of the posts I’ve written in the past on my Blog called Find Your Joy.