Make this your first holiday dinner without hurt feelings

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, one of America’s favorite holidays.

Coming from Romania, Thanksgiving is something I knew nothing about until a few years ago, except for the image I gleaned from Hollywood: a big family dinner full of all the uncles you never want to have over for dinner, and lots of tasty food.

Once I came to the United States, I got the confirmation that, for many people, that’s exactly what Thanksgiving is: a big family dinner (with its good and bad), full of delicious food, mixed in with some gratitude and followed by a killer football game.

I come from a country known for its big, loud, obnoxious family gatherings with tons of food (Romanians are a lot like Italians in that respect). I’ve had my fair share of hurt feelings and awkward questions around the dinner table.

Coming together with people from your extended family is never easy – especially not when grandma is obsessed with asking you when you’re getting married and uncle George always has to bring up some controversial topic that makes everyone scream at each other.

This holiday season, I have a proposition for you: don’t let your feelings get hurt. [Read more…]

How to stop being jealous

Growing up, I was very competitive. While I loved my friends and wanted what was best for them (and helped them achieve their goals as much as I could), I also wanted to be the best.

You know how it goes… “I’m happy for every achievement you have, as long as your achievements are not greater than mine.” The ugly truth.

Over time, of course, I learned to work with these little demons of mine and stop comparing myself to others (which is, let’s face it, the main cause of jealousy). That is a big task, and it can take years of practice to master. I am reminded of that reality every time I feel that knot in my stomach when someone else just happens to stumble into success… and I still seem to be here slaving away with seemingly zero results.

But, like you, I don’t like being jealous. I never wanted to be jealous in the first place. It’s just this ugly feeling that creeps into my soul and shows up in the worst circumstances – the times when I want to be there for my friends and be truly happy for them.

Fortunately, I’ve found a system that works for me when I find myself in the throes of jealousy – it might work for you too.

Before you roll up your sleeves, here are two things you should understand about jealousy first:

1. Your friend has probably worked a lot harder than you think. Chances are, they didn’t just stumble into success half-assing their work. They worked their butt off. Maybe even more so than you.

2. You are jealous because you compare yourself with others. You compare yourself with others because you’re insecure and have the self-defeating belief that by being “better” than those around you (by what standards, anyway?) you will command more respect, appreciation, and acceptance. Chances are, once you finally do get ahead, you will realize what an empty illusion this is. But, for now, it seems very hard to shake.

Now that you understand what jealousy is made of, click play on the video below to learn what you can do to let go of your jealousy and be truly happy for your friends.

Jealousy is a nasty little demon… but when you understand why it happens and take the right steps, you can successfully let go of these feelings and get back to your cheery old self.

Do you struggle with jealousy? What do you do to help yourself let go of it?

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?

 

Reach your goals: Are you using these four essential techniques?

Are you having trouble keeping on track with your goals?

Do you need too much motivation to keep going?

Do you feel like your inner resistance is getting the better of you?

Paralyze resistance with persistence. - Woody HayesYeah, I’m intimately familiar with all of that.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

You can reach your goals, without feeling like you’re attempting an impossible feat.

All it takes is the right approach.

Here are some techniques that you can use to get yourself started on the right track.

1. Create an actionable habit that’s sustainable

When that initial surge of motivation is so high, it’s easy to imagine that you will move mountains.

And, honey, I believe you will.

Just not right now.

You see, new changes take time and effort. The bigger of a change you try to make all of a sudden, the more the Grinch will whiplash you back with the biggest motivation slump you’ve ever lived through.

So make it sustainable. Don’t aim too high… not just yet. Start small to give yourself a chance to succeed.

It’s important tomake the distinction here between an actionable habit and a goal. Maybe you like to set high goals. I know I do. I don’t just aim for the moon, I aim for the next galaxy!

And that, my friends, is a-ok. No problem. Set your goals as high as they can go. Setting super high goals is actually a great thing.

But that’s not what your actionable habit needs to be.

Your actionable habit should be something that you can reach (think the closest star, not the closest galaxy), and it should be something you can comfortably fit into your life without too much disruption.

That means, if you’ve been smoking 3 packs of cigarettes for the past 30 years, for the love of all that is holy, don’t just quit cold turkey. (unless you have the right kind of support to help you through that massive transition)

If steak gives you foodgasms and you hate veggies, don’t start a raw vegan lifestyle out of the blue.

If you’re 300 pounds overweight and have never run a mile in your life, don’t make your first day’s workout 1.5 hours long.

You will come back to those cigarettes, the steak, and the couch faster than you can say failed resolution.

We all like to aim high. Aim as high as you’d like. Just take a smaller first step. Don’t smoke before 10 am. Have one meat-less dinner a week. Do a 10-minute workout every morning.

Remember that each person is different. Your tiny first step might be ten times bigger than someone else’s tiny first step. This depends on your personality, experience, and whole host of other factors.

Give yourself permission to be your own expert. Click to tweet this quote

Point your awareness inward and take your first step at a size that feels right to you.

2. Do it daily

It’s easy to fall off the bandwagon if you have time to take a break and experience a day without putting in the effort to complete your actionable habit.

Don’t let that happen. Do it every.single.day.

If you need to, reduce your actionable habit even more. It’s often easier to form a stress-reducing meditation habit by sitting for 10 minutes a day than for 30 minutes every 3 days.

Forming a new habit is tough, and it takes work. Creating change requires going out of your comfort zone, and that is hard. I’m not going to lie to you about that, and you already know it. Don’t make it any harder on yourself by taking regular breaks from it.

It’s always easier to maintain a habit than it is to start over. Breaking your habit once is not the end of the world, and it may not be hard to recover from. But get into the habit of breaking your habit, and you’re toast.

Just do it every day. If you’re too busy, set your priorities straight.

If you really want this change to happen, then you can take 10 minutes out of your busy day every day to take care of your actionable habit.

3. Schedule it

Take a pencil, a pen, whatever, and write it down in your planner or calendar. Schedule it down for the next month. Remember, it takes at least 21 days to build a habit. Don’t trust yourself to remember to do it before that.

But I have trouble sticking to my schedule!

If you’re like me and just can’t take your agenda seriously, schedule your actionable habit at a time when you’re not likely to be distracted by anything else.

Wake up earlier in the morning to do this before you even start your day. Or do what I do and whoop some writer’s block ass on your hour-long daily commute on the train.

Don’t allow any distractions during this time. This is your appointment with yourself. Treat it like an important doctor’s appointment, or like you’re preparing for the most important exam of your life.

4. Get your foot in the door

For me, getting started is the hardest thing. Once I’ve been working out or writing for 10 minutes, ignoring distractions is not that hard. It’s the first 5-10 minutes that are really hard.

This goes along with what I said earlier: maintaining a habit is easier than starting over.

So, before you even start, get everything ready!

When it comes time to do what you’ve set out to do, you can just start. No prep needed. No time to change your mind once you start. And certainly nothing to distract you away from your actionable habit in those vital first few minutes.

If your resolution is to jog every day, put your workout clothes on, whether you feel like it or not. Then get out the door, and start walking. You may not feel like jogging, but I promise you, after walking for 5 minutes, you’ll pick up the pace.

When I was trying to build my actionable habit of eating a salad for lunch every day, I would prepare it the night before, then add the dressing right before leaving for work.

Once I was at work, I knew all I had in the fridge was my salad. My only other option was to go out in the cold and spend $5 – $10 of my hard-earned money on something else.

If I really felt like having something else, I would go to the fridge, bring my salad to my desk, open the container and stick a fork in it. Then I would ignore it and just keep working. Inevitably, within 2 minutes, that fork would find its way into my mouth.

Just Do It.

Just. Do. It. You don’t need motivation, you don’t need inspiration. All you need is to get off your butt and get going, and do what you’ve set out to do.

Try to manage your stress levels during this time. You’re trying to make an important change in your life and battling your own internal Negative Nancy. That’s stressful enough. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and try to stay as much in the present moment as you can.

Don’t let failures or setbacks discourage you. Every single successful person has failed more times than they can count.

What differentiates them from the people who are not successful is the fact that they keep getting back up. Over, and over, and over. Get up, and get yo’ ass going. Just do it.

Take action!

Try my techniques for at least the next five days.

In the comments, share your actionable steps!

What other techniques do you use to defeat your inner Grinch and just do it?

How did this 5-day experiment work out for you? What did you find most useful?

Let’s get this party started and reach some goals!