The 4 Step Follow Through Formula for Tough Goals and Resolutions

“Hey mom, I’ve got it all figured out this semester. I’ve got a system and will make sure I stick to all of the work.”

My mom was on the other end of the line, growing more and more impatient with my college exuberance.

“I’m excited for you, but you’ve said this a million times before and it never worked. What makes this time so different?”

Ouch.

I was a junior at UPenn, and my procrastination and desire to do everything fun under the sun left me too little time to be competitive with my fellow Ivy League overachievers.

I still got good grades – just never as good as they could have been had I just “applied myself.” This pattern repeated across everything I did.

That semester, I finally broke the pattern of procrastination (not for good – I had, and still have, a lot more work ahead) and got to see my mom beam over the Dean’s List notification letter.

I can thank my mom’s question for that result. I may have burst into tears after I hung up the phone that night, but it shook me into asking myself some vital questions that helped me stick to my plan and achieve my goals.

This is a very powerful exercise, and you absolutely need it if you’re trying to achieve a goal you’ve failed at in the past. Especially if it’s an emotional one, like working out, losing weight, or getting the results and recognition you crave.

It’s quick – but not comfortable. It will put you face to face with uncomfortable feelings and force you to take action. That’s also why it works so well! [Read more…]

Stop Half-Assing It, Your Success Is Waiting

If you're going to try, go all the way. It's the only good fight there is. - Charles BukowskiI’m a half-asser.

There, I said it. All my life I’ve given less than my very best to almost everything I did.

And then I’d beat myself up for it (for a bit). Before I’d declare that it’s not my fault, because, hey, I was in such a time crunch, so all things considered I actually did a fantastic job.

And I’d finish it all with a solemn pinky swear that next time I’m going to be super organized and start as soon as I put my mind to it and the entire process will be so relaxed and breezy and wonderful…

… only for this ever-so-solemn pinky swear to be solemnly ignored the next time around, when everything would be fun and games until the deadline was staring me right in the face.

That’s when the hustling began – sleepless nights, circles under the eyes, and strained focus.

It took me almost 10 years to break through this merry-go-round of guilt, disappointment, and burnout.

[Read more…]

The one thing you can’t afford to skip if you want to make your dreams come true

My dream, hanging in my childhood bedroom

My dream, hanging in my childhood bedroom

6 years ago I made my dream come true.

I had been living in Romania for 18 years. I had a couple of friends, a boyfriend, and a loving family. Many of my friends were getting ready to go to college in Germany or Romania.

I was getting ready to hop on a plane and travel across the ocean with two giant suitcases containing everything I wanted in my new life. The destination: Ivy League.

Looking behind wasn’t even on my radar. [Read more…]

Transform your life without setting goals

A couple of weeks ago I told you why I think setting goals is a bad idea.

That hasn’t changed. I still think that goals set you up for failure more than success.

1. Goals keep you focused on the destination, instead of allowing you to focus on the journey. Whether your goal is to run a successful business, get in shape, or have a better relationship, what you want to focus on is this present moment – not the future. Lofty goals will leave you discouraged, while too-small ones will leave you not motivated enough. Relying on artificial ideas of what you think the destination will look like is the poorest form of motivation I’ve ever heard of.

2. Goals are completely artificial and are usually created by the ego, which means two things: one, you’re setting a destination for yourself without knowing that it’s the right one (you can probably tell the direction is right, but not necessarily the destination).

3. You’re allowing the ego to take charge by setting up a new construct that it can compare you to (and create lots of shame and guilt around not having reached it, having over-reached it and therefore not aimed far enough, or having landed someplace else altogether – even if you’re actually better off than you would have been had you reached the goal in the first place). Fun fun fun.

4. You’re pushing forward with the destination in sight (and only the destination in sight) without considering where you’re coming from and whether or not your beliefs about yourself and the world actually allow that kind of transformation to take place.

That will bring you tons of challenges and resistance that you don’t have the tools to deal with, so you chalk it up to “need more willpower” or “poor time management” and throw your money at yet another course that gives you a boatload of gimmicks and tricks that cover up the issue like a band-aid but don’t actually do anything about the real underlying problem. (Ask me why I don’t believe in time management issues… another video for a future Monday!)

Since year-end has left me seeing everyone boast about their goals (and the inner me screaming NOOOOOOOO) I’ve put together the framework I’ve used to create some huge changes in my life from the inside out. From the bottom up. From top to bottom.

You get the point.

Since it’s kind of complex to explain all in one video, I take you through a portion of it in today’s Shine your Light Monday vlog, and have prepared the rest for a FREE workshop/webinar you can participate in on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014. It will take place at 7 pm EST/4 pm PST, and you can sign up for it here.

Of course, I will have a recording for you after it’s over. But there’s nothing like being there in person, so show up!

Without further ado… here’s your quick lesson in un-goal setting! [Read more…]

Why you’re stuck and nothing is working

So you’ve made up your mind to eliminate a bad habit. Or build a good one. To change something about your life. Make it better.

You want to lose weight and feel good in your skin again.

You want to get organized and stop procrastinating.

You want to make your business more successful.

You want to wake up early and be productive.

You want to cultivate the habit of mindfulness and become more zen.

You’ve gone out, done your research, and immersed yourself in books, websites, and “friendly advice”. You’ve tried a dozen different diets, snoozed a million times, taken more business courses than your wallet can afford, and only become more frustrated in the process.

No matter what you try, nothing seems to change. You’re stuck, and you’re ready to throw yourself on the floor and stomp and cry like a toddler because nothing. is. working, dammit!

I’ve been there. [Read more…]

YOLO in your 20s: A Gen Y smackdown

This is a two-part series. To read about the 5 things you should learn in your 20s, click here.

You’re young. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you; the whole world at your feet. You’ve got your diploma. You have a job. You have a cool apartment in a big city. You have friends. Now you’re ready to just have some fun.

This is what the 20s is supposed to be all about, right? Having fun, partying, traveling, and exploring various interests?

Hollywood gives us a perfect image of life in our 20s: an extended adolescence with better perks. You have your own apartment, live on your own terms in a big city, spend your time in bars, at parties, or with friends until 2 am, start your high-achiever job 6 hours later and make your type A boss happy for the next 12 hours. Control-oriented, fashionable, full of energy, and highly emotional. But that’s ok, you’re just exploring and experimenting. That’s what the 20s are for. Right?

You’re supposed to make the most of life while you’re young and free. Before the kids come, while you can still flirt with every six-pack who smiles at you. Your boyfriends are like your lingerie drawer: sexy and lacking substance. After all, no one expects them to be mature at this age. They’re living the party life as well.

Real life can come later, in your 30s. That’s when you’ll live up to your standards. That’s when you’ll settle down in a fairy-tale marriage with a modern-day Pierce Brosnan and have two perfect kids, a fulfilling career with a six-figure salary, and everything figured out.

Post 13 20somethingsIt’s only too late when you realize that you’re still stuck in the same old job, marriage is tough and not something you prepared yourself for, and figuring out your purpose, being a good spouse, parenting, and the pursuit of happiness is too much all at once. So your unrealistic expectations lead to a divorce, a very well-paid therapist, a soul-crushing job, and a million doubts and insecurities.

Here’s the reality: You don’t live in a bubble in your 20s. Everything you go through affects you later on. The time you’re not using now to figure out your purpose and meaning in this world will get pushed back to what’s become the 35-year-old crisis. You might think that you’re “exploring” right now, but ask yourself – is staying in your comfort zone for an entire decade really going to help you be any more prepared to “live your dreams” in your 30s?

At some point, you will have to come to terms with the fact that dating the same old dead-beat guys with a hot face and no brain is not going to prepare you for a real marriage with a man who respects himself and you. It’s going to take a lot more work to keep that one up. You’re going to have to let go of the guilt-tripping, the yelling, and the drama. You’re going to have to step out of your insecurities and neediness and learn to love yourself before you can give him the love he deserves. You’re going to have to learn how to make love happen rather than expect it to happen if you want to have a happy and successful marriage.

Our culture has given 20-somethings an easy out from the hard work that is growing up. In its typical consumerist fashion, it has told us to “just enjoy” these years and take our time with everything. There is no need to step out of your comfort zone now. That’s what your 30s are for.

When you get to your 30s and realize that you just wasted the better part of 10 years, it’s too late. Now the sense of urgency that was inexistent in your 20s doubles and even triples, to the extent that “figuring it all out” becomes just a little too overwhelming. Stepping outside of your comfort zone in too many areas wears you out, and you slowly start to lose hope and give up dreams.

It’s too late now. Maybe I can do this later, when the children are older, when this crisis is over, when I have this figured out. But you realize that you may never have it all figured out and live up to your big dreams. You just can’t do it all yourself anymore.

But you were never supposed to do it all yourself. Maturity, the ability to hold a successful marriage, learning to be happy… all of these were supposed to come on their own, as a result of your “exploration”. Right? All that time you spent in your 20s making mistakes and “figuring things out” should have moved you forward. Right?

This is where your future 30-something-year old self gives you a smackdown and you realize that you’re not doing yourself any favors by wasting this time away.

Nothing is going to happen just because you “explore” life while being comfortable. You’re going to have to make it happen instead.

And it’s not going to come across magically. It’s going to come across because you put in hours of work to understand yourself, respect yourself, get in touch with your inner wisdom, and act from a place of love rather than fear.

This doesn’t just happen. You create it.

You create it by stepping out of your comfort zone over and over again.

You create it by refusing to fall back into old patterns and habits.

You create it by committing to live up to a higher standard, to be a better YOU, every single day.

And the biggest favor you can do for yourself, especially if you’re a 20-something, is to start today.

Cultivate awareness. Learn to be present. Live out of love instead of fear. Connect with your inner wisdom. Step out of your comfort zone. Keep expanding. Be better.

Don’t just let time take care of it. Your life is your responsibility. You are the only one who can make your dreams come true.

What’s most important is that finding yourself, discovering your gift, connecting with your purpose is just so important not only for yourself, but for the world. And the more time you spend stuck in the fears and insecurities that are driving your comfortable life, the less time you will spend enriching the lives of others with your unique gift.

Why would you live a comfortable life, full of superficial happiness and a money-driven career, when you can start laying the foundation now to a rich life filled with authenticity, love, generosity, and a deep fulfillment you may otherwise reach only when it’s too late?

Your 20s are an amazing gift. Now, when you have your life ahead and the world at your feet, when you have nothing to lose, when you heal quickly and bounce right back on your feet… now is the time to push through your boundaries and discover the stuff you’re really made of.

The world needs you. Even in your 20s. Especially in your 20s.

Step up to the game.

I’m going to leave you with this inspirational TED talk:

 

What are you doing to make the most out of your 20s?

If you’re past your 20s, what is your perspective on this?

What did you do in your 20s that made the biggest difference in your life?

P.S: For those of you wondering what YOLO means (as was I only a few months ago): YOLO = You Only Live Once. (Don’t you just feel a few years smarter now that you know this? I thought so.)

This is a two-part series. To read about the 5 things you should learn in your 20s, click here.

Fulfill your potential

Everything that happens to you is exactly what you need at that moment.

Everything that comes up in life is an opportunity. Most importantly, it is the RIGHT opportunity for you at that moment in time.

Post 8 4-21-2013We are built to grow, to expand, and to allow ourselves to reach new heights of consciousness. We are made to love, trust, and believe. We are created to shine our light into this world and to live out loud.

Every experience you go through is a lesson. Every opportunity is a lesson. Every unfortunate event is a lesson. It can be a lesson in gratitude, a lesson in love, or maybe a lesson in responsibility.

By this, I don’t mean a lesson that will teach you “what you’re doing wrong” and make you regret what you’ve done or failed to do.

No, by this I mean a lesson that will allow you to grow.

Every experience is an opportunity for growth.

At any moment in time, you have two choices: to be comfortable or uncomfortable.

To be comfortable, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Keep being average. Stay jealous. Remain a victim. Don’t do anything about it, either. You wouldn’t want to feel the pain of failure.

Unfortunately, life brings us pain no matter what. Whether you choose to be comfortable or not, it brings you the experiences that you need to grow.

What do you think will really help you grow?

That’s right, pain.

If you choose to stay comfortable year after year, life will just put you in the same circumstances over and over again – one more painful than another.

What’s the alternative?

Well, you can choose to be uncomfortable. You can say “to hell with mediocrity” and choose to dig deeper within yourself and follow your intuition and inner voice of wisdom. You can choose to work with the opportunities life brings you to grow and transform and expand rather than ignoring them and stagnating as an unhappy, mediocre, jealous couch potato.

You can keep waiting for “one day”, and being comfortable in the meantime, or you can choose to be uncomfortable now and see your life transform as you grow into the person you’re meant to be.

When you choose mediocrity and comfort, you waste precious time from your life. The more uncomfortable you are, the more you push yourself to question everything, the more you expand.

Want to reach your full potential? Want to find out just how high you can reach? Be uncomfortable. Screw mediocrity. Screw doubts and doubtfuls all around. Screw expectations. Question everything. Push yourself. Every day, know yourself a little better. Every day, love a little more. Love everyone around. Love yourself. And you will soar.

Here’s something else you need to do:

Go where your resistance takes you.

Having trouble with something? Do you always get stuck in bad relationships? Can you never focus enough to take something from beginning to end? Do you keep stumbling into this part of you that you just can’t stand?

Go there.

I’m serious.

Having trouble losing weight? Have you tried for your entire life, but you just can’t make it happen? Focus on that. Drill deep down. Why do you want to lose this weight? What’s stopping you? How is being overweight serving you right now? Is this your reality and self-mindset?

Do you keep dating useless pieces of junk? Work on that. How much do you really love yourself? How much do you think you’re worth? How is being in these relationships serving your current sense of self and beliefs about reality?

Just can’t focus? Make that your priority. Take a mindfulness course. Meditate. Understand why you’re having trouble with it, and how to either master and embrace it, or overcome it.

Where you’re most stuck, that’s where your biggest opportunity lies.

If you keep falling while trying to climb over this wall, and yet life just keeps putting it in front of you, then take that message: this is your biggest growth lesson. Make it your purpose for the next few months or years to learn it. Get a coach, read every book you can get your hands on, and be with yourself a lot.

When you finally pick that lock and open the treasure chest of this growth lesson, you will discover a miraculous key that will help you unlock so many doors to success.

That is your Link to Yourself.

Every single lesson life brings, every wall it builds in your path, is a doorway to knowing yourself better, being more in tune with your intuition, following your inner wisdom, and expanding to use your full potential.

You don’t need external validation. You don’t need outside incentives. You don’t need to focus on things that seem so boring, you’d rather jump in a deep well than do this for your entire life.

All you need to do is be true to yourself. Listen to the voice of your inner wisdom. Follow your excitement, even if it feels uncomfortable. Go where your intuition leads you.

How to stop procrastinating

How often do you procrastinate?

Do you feel like you don’t know where your time is going at the end of the day? Do you always feel like you’re trying your best to get stuff done, but it just isn’t getting done?

Does Facebook eat up more time than it should? (aka, more than your work… let’s be honest here, Facebook is allowed to take up an equal amount of time than your work… right? Right?)

Are you stressed out about your work so much so that you never get around to doing it, and then stress out over not doing it as well?

Guess what… SO DO I!

Not just sometimes… all the time.

I’ve been struggling with procrastination for my entire life. Growing up with computers and Internet at my fingertips always provided something more exciting do to than what I had to do. And it was right there!

Repeat after me: A-D-D. Thankfully not diagnosed. After all, I had fun being distracted, and it taught me some valuable lessons. In the end, I managed to learn to leverage the parts of it that serve me and control the parts that don’t.

In this week’s coffee chat, I’m going to teach you some of the lessons I learned when I finally decided to get out of lazy bum procrastinator mode and get to work.

Now get to work!

But before you do that, tell me…

What tools do you use to kick procrastination to the curb and get stuff done?

Are you failing? Get back on track with these 6 steps!

So you put down your guard. You slipped into old patterns.

You religiously stuck to the exercise program… until you were just too tired. Then you conveniently “forgot” about it for a week.

You were done gossiping. But then that one really good bit came up… it was really just too good to pass up.

Falling off the bandwagon can easily make you feel like you’re a failure. That is a stinky feeling. When you feel like a failure it’s tempting to just stop pursuing your resolution altogether. What’s the point? You’re just going to fail again anyway…

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without the loss of enthusiasmYep, you are. You are just going to fail again. You are going to fail a million times throughout your life. And you are not alone.

No one, and by that I mean no one, reaches their resolutions without setbacks. Everyone fails.

The bigger the change, the bigger the struggle to achieve it, and the bigger and more frequent the slips and falls along the way.

You’re doing something radical. You’re tossing mediocrity and conventionality to the side. You’re following your intuition and reaching for goals you’ve never before allowed yourself to go after.

You’re putting aside your mask, and following your true potential. When you’re this vulnerable, it’s easy to let fear, stress, doubt, naysayers, and other everyday dangers push you back.

When you take a tumble, it’s tempting to throw in the towel.

It’s time for a reality check.

Change takes effort, time, and a serious fight against resistance. It’s not easy, and doesn’t come easily to anyone. Everyone falls down.

That moment when things get tough is when you’re at your most vulnerable, but also when you’re growing the most. That’s when it becomes truly essential to not give up. That’s when you can have a breakthrough moment, if you just allow yourself to push through the fears and doubts and trust your intuition and your path.

So check your disappointment at the door, put your heavy bag of fears and doubts down, and let’s get to work dealing with this mess that’s called change.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Face your setback

The first thing you need to do is accept your setback. Embrace it, even.

I know, I know. That doesn’t sound right. Hear me out anyway.

So you had a setback.

It happens to literally every single successful person. Sir James Dyson, inventor and founder of the Dyson company, says  that “You never learn from success, but you do learn from failure.” (click here to read his interview with Entrepreneur magazine)

Here’s the thing to remember:

Failure is an event, not a character trait. So stop letting it define you.

You choose how to respond to your setbacks. But before responding, you have to just come to terms with the fact that shit happens.

Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you succeed.

But the important thing is that you’re heading in the right direction.

If I set course to San Francisco from New York, I can be walking two steps forward and one step back, tumbling, stepping and hopping along the way, but as long as I stay on course I will eventually reach my destination.

2. Get back up

Get back up. Right away.

Don’t be tempted to quit just because you had one bad spell.

If you pigged out (Ms. Oink here knows), commit to following your resolution of healthy eating for the rest of the day.

If you’ve slipped back into a bad habit, stop. Get back on the bandwagon, right now.

Nip it in the bud.

It’s not going to be easy. I never said it would.

But recovering today is less painful than doing it a year from now, when you have given your resistance time to grow.

Look, resistance is unavoidable, if you really want to make this change, you have to accept that.

So get up and get your butt back in the game! Time’s a-wastin’!

3. Take responsibility

One of my biggest guiding values is taking responsibility for my life.

Too often, we blame our actions, successes, and failures on outside circumstances.

You didn’t fail because you were too tired, stressed out, or because the stars just didn’t align right.

You fell off the bandwagon because of your inner resistance. You gave in to your doubts and fears. You’re human, and you just lost focus and let yourself get discouraged.

That’s OK.

Maybe you could have done something better. You probably could have said no. You could have been perfect.

But you’re not perfect, and you were not made to be perfect. And the more you embrace that and take responsibility for your life, the better you can jump over the hoops and follow your destiny.

So when you slip, call it what it is. Don’t blame it on other circumstances. Life, stress, and other people only have as much power over you as you give them. Recognize that the power lies within yourself, and stop giving it away. Claim it back.

How did you create this failure? What could you do better to prevent it from happening next time? What can you do to ensure your success?

4. Get perspective

When you slip and fall, your mind has a way of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Your emotions can get the better of you, and leave you susceptible to your inner resistance.

Don’t be tempted to take a seat on the poor-me-i-can-never-get-anything-done-EVER train.

I’m intimately familiar with every car of that train. It sucks, big time.

That only makes things worse. And the more time you spend on that train of doom, the harder it is to get back up and keep going.

To get some perspective, ask yourself, how much will this matter in 5 years? And what can you do now to make it not matter in 5 years, and ensure your success?

These questions will shift your focus from worrying to taking action – which is the only thing you should be doing.

5. Help someone out

When you fall down, go help someone else pick themselves back up. Motivate them, inspire them, listen to them. Be a friend to them.

It’s so much easier to see the worth in other people. By convincing them that they are worth it, and that they can do it, you are putting yourself in that motivational can-do mindset, and allowing yourself to perceive your own worth as well.

Helping others when you’re going through a tough time will also help you realize that you are not alone. They are going through tough struggles as well. We all have our own hoops to jump through.

When things are tough, give a hand. Hop on the love train. I’ll save you a seat.

6. Channel your inner child

Have you ever seen a baby learn to walk?

It is one of the most adorable things to watch. It’s also terribly inspirational.

We are born with an extraordinary capacity to be present right here, right now, and a fantastic desire to learn.

Anyone who’s watched a child take a tumble knows they cry for a little and then just get over it. If it’s a small slip and fall, and they really want to get to their goal (cupcakes, anyone?), they just get up and keep going. Sometimes it never even registers that their nose kissed the floor. By the time they have the cupcake, the fall is a distant memory.

Your goal is their cupcake, and your setback is their small slip and fall along the way.

When you feel like you are failing, bring out the child inside of you. Go for that cupcake (goal), and don’t stop till you have it!

 

I’d love to learn from your experience!

What do you do to pick yourself up when you feel like you’re starting to fail?

 

The most important decision you will make

Have you ever had someone literally disappear from right next to you?

One minute, they’re right there. The next, poof – they’re gone.

Or how about them not disappearing from right next to you, but going through a traumatic event and having their life changed forever?

Post 3 3-16-2013Your life can change at any minute.

You don’t have to be ready for it. It doesn’t wait for you to be ready.

You will never be ready for it.

The only way to take it is just like that – not ready, knowing you’ve lived every moment.

Have you?

Have you really lived every moment with them, enjoyed every minute spent together?

If your lives were to change forever, would you look back knowing that, while you may not have been ready, you were fully there?

If not, then I dare you to ask yourself, what can you do about it?

Right now.

What can you do about it right now?

About the future? Nothing. When the time comes, it just comes. You can just try to keep yourself, and your loved ones, in one piece. It’s not an easy feat, but there’s absolutely nothing you can do now. Your work for the future lies just there – in the future.

About the past? An even bigger Nothing. Learn from it, whine over it, reminisce over it, or let it be. Take your pick.

About the present? Everything.

When the end seems so near, all of a sudden things lose their importance. Things like that joke your friend made that hurt you, or that old-time quarrel with your dad. Things like that lose their dangerous glow.

But what if it’s not someone else who’s going to disappear from right next to you?

What if it’s you disappearing from right next to them?

What would you do then?

Your life as you know it could end – right here, right now.

It could end for the better, or it could end for the worse. It could end for good.

When life’s changes are staring us smack-dab straight in the face, one thing becomes clear: everything that matters is in this moment.

So cut the crap. Let go of the past. Stop whining about the future. (Tweet this quote)

Give yourself permission to use your present moment the way you want to use it. But choose how you want to use it.

Allow yourself to choose how to live each and every moment.

I choose to forgive. I choose to dream. I choose to see the good in people. I choose to give. I choose to throw myself in every positive experience I have with my loved ones.

Because I know that this moment will never come back. Another one might come along, but it will never be the same one.

I know. And I have made my choice.

What do you choose?