One Simple, Profound Way to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Get Clarity

Over the last couple of weeks, an unexpected and amazing thing happened as I made a commitment to spend ten minutes every day focused entirely on breathing. And perhaps you are crossing paths with these words because it’s a message for where you are in your life right now, too.

Here’s what I’ve been doing, and I challenge you to try it this week too. I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes. I close out all distractions, place my hand on my tummy so I can feel it rise and fall with each inhale and exhale, and focus my mind only on the sensations I feel as the air travels through my mouth to my diaphragm and back out again. That’s it. Pretty simple. My mind wanders a bit and I have to refocus. Suddenly, I remember calls I need to make and the mozzarella cheese I keep forgetting to pick up at the store. But I gently bring my thoughts back to the sensations, the rise and fall of my tummy, and how rejuvenating it feels to really breathe.

And as I have done this for two weeks, something profound has happened. I’ve gotten clarity on the vision I’ve been pondering for a long time about this next season of my life and business.  I wasn’t trying to get clarity. I was just trying to breathe better, meditate, and connect with God, with no particular agenda in mind.  And as I did that, a beautiful agenda showed up. Racking your brain to identify goals, next steps, purpose is an uphill climb. But in a relaxed state, free from thinking, it seems suddenly the space is created for fresh, new insights to emerge.

If you’re like most people, you take shallow breaths – all day long. In fact, you might be doing it right now. So go ahead, stop for a few moments and take a deep breath. Place your hand on your tummy and focus your sense on simply feeling the sensation of your breath moving through your body. Let your tummy rise while your chest remains still, just the way a baby breathes. A baby breathes that way because it is natural. It was the way we were created to breathe.

Breath is life, and when we feel stressed or stuck or anxious, a natural physiological response is to cut off the flow of breath. So we take short breaths or shallow breaths into the chest, but not deep into the diaphragm. But when you breathe slowly and deeply, that flow returns. Your heart rate slows down. Your shoulders relax. Your thoughts refocus.

It is these moments that you can get centered again. It is pretty amazing that something so simple and quick can shift your thoughts, your mood and even your reactions in a profound way.  If you feel particularly anxious or stressed, try this for a little rejuvenation and clarity:

  • Sit straight up or lie comfortably on your back.
  • Breathe through your mouth as much air as you can take in, then suck in just one more bit of air.
  • Hold for three seconds.
  • Push all of the air out with your mouth.
  • Repeat at least ten, but not more than 20 times.

 

My challenge to you:

Breathe intentionally every day this week.  Set a reminder on your phone.

 

Journaling assignment:

What time of day could you block out ten minutes to slow down and simply focus on deep breathing? What clarity would you love to get in the next few weeks that stress, overload or anxiety seem to be blocking?

3 Ways Successful Women Never Stop Learning

There’s something in me that gets all giddy at the thought of learning new and fascinating information. It may explain why there are three open books on my nightstand as I type these words, each in the process of being read. It may explain why, in advance of a visit to Italy, my husband’s gift of an Italian language course excited me so much I had butterflies as I started listening to it. It also explains why, along with my team, I am developing a new online series of courses specifically designed for inspiring and successful women.  On the VIA Character Strengths Survey, “love of learning” is one of my signature strengths.

Since you’re on my email list or read my blog, my guess is that you love learning, too.  The most successful women never stop learning. But there are some key ways to direct your love of learning that can boost your ability to reach your goals and achieve the vision you have for your life. Are you doing these three?

 

  1. They study their failures.

It is easy to become discouraged by your failures. But the wisest thing you can do is learn from them. What didn’t work? What will you do differently in the future? Was there any aspect of the situation that was positive – that worked well? It is important to do more of what works and improve what doesn’t. Think of an area where you are lacking the success you desire. What lesson(s) is life offering you about your failures right now?

 

  1. They don’t see challenges as a threat, but as an opportunity.

Those who have a growth mindset see challenges as an opportunity to learn. Consider your biggest challenge right now. What would you do differently if you approached your challenge as an opportunity? What would shift? How could you become better and wiser as a result?

 

  1. They invest in their own personal development.

The most successful women read a lot.  Be curious about the world around you. Use books as a tool. Take informal classes. Be open to learning. Even though you know a lot because you’ve experienced a lot, there is so much yet to be discovered. In what way(s) do you want to develop yourself personally? Do you want to learn more about how to handle your money? Become better at building strong friendships and meeting likeminded people? Learn how to control your eating and exercise habits? Grow spiritually and learn to trust God more? Figure out how to excel in your profession?  Bullet point your own personal development plan and start growing intentionally.

 

My challenge to you:

Never stop learning. Identify something you want to learn in this season of your life.

 

Journaling assignment:

What lesson is a recent failure offering you?  What would you do differently if you approached your current challenge as an opportunity rather than a threat? What skill or knowledge do you want to develop personally over the next year? Jot down a personal development bullet point list of things you want to learn.

 

Stay tuned for the launch of the Successful Women’s Academy. Join our mailing list to be the first to get special rewards and discounts at www.vbsuccessacademy.com.

For more about what successful women do differently, check out our Successful Women Think Differently 7-CD course and the book Successful Women Think Differently.

6 Signs That This is Not “the One”

 

Whether pondering a new job or a new relationship, knowing whether a long-term commitment is right for you can mean the difference between misery or “happily ever after.” No situation comes without challenges, of course, but when the situation is right, it will not feel like a burden. You’ll have the grace to get through the challenges, and those challenges actually make you stronger. When you find yourself in a situation or relationship that works in the short-term, but it’s not a forever match, it’s important to know the difference.

Fear is what tempts us to make something work that was never meant to be. You’ll always regret making a permanent decision out of something that was meant to be temporary.  So if you’re contemplating a commitment to someone or something that’s long-term, you’ve got to dig deep and be brutally honest with yourself. Making decisions from a place of love and not fear will always point you in the right direction.

These are six signs that the opportunity in front of you is not “The One.”

  1. You have to change who you are to make it work.

When something or someone is meant for you, you can be yourself.  You will feel inspired to the best version of yourself, but who you are at your core will be an asset, not a liability. If you’re trying to like things you don’t like, or feel like your behavior or personality is constantly being criticized, this is not “The One.”

 

  1. You have to convince the other person of your own worth.

When it’s the right situation, the other person will always see the value of what you bring to the table. In fact, they may be excited about elements of you that even you take for granted. You’ll feel appreciated and valued.  If you have to beg for appreciation or have to convince someone of your worth, think twice about moving forward.

 

  1. In your heart, you know you are settling.

If fear has you making excuses for why this situation could work even though it does not line up with the vision in your heart, slow down. Be honest with yourself. Why are you settling? Is it because your expectations really are unrealistic or inauthentic? Or is it because you’re afraid that you can’t have what you really want?

 

  1. If another opportunity came along, you’d take it.

When you find “the one,” you’re not holding out hope for something better. What you have brings such contentment that your entire focus is on savoring and making the most of the opportunity right in front of you. If that’s not how you feel, you should definitely question whether this is the one.

 

  1. You don’t share the same values.

There’s no getting around it. When your values aren’t aligned, there’s bound to eventually be conflict – unresolvable conflict.  Simply put, “values” are the things you think really matter in life. What you value is what you put first. Your values guide your decisions, how you treat people, and the vision that you have for what you want your life to look like. If you don’t share similar values, eventually you will have to compromise too much of yourself to make it work in the long term.

 

  1. You are not at peace about it.

Perhaps the most reliable indicator that you’re on the right path is your peace. Do a gut check. Do you feel at peace about moving forward, or does something simply feel “off”? It can be easy to second guess that divine inner compass, but don’t. If you’re not at peace, it’s either not right or not the right time. Be patient. Have the courage and faith to believe that if you show up in life healthy and ready for love and opportunity, it will make its way to you. And in retrospect, the timing will be just right.

 

My challenge to you:

Pay attention to the signs before making a commitment.

 

Journaling assignment;
Where does this message apply in your life? What message is the situation sending you about how or whether to move forward?

If this message doesn’t apply to you right now, is there someone in your life who needs this message?  If so, share it with them.

 

Resources:

Coaching on Demand: Make That Decision with Confidence

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable (book)

 

The One Question that Will Make Your Goals More Authentic

I remember sitting curled up on the living room sofa of my cozy Dallas condo many years ago, notepad in hand as I daydreamed about the vision for the public relations firm I was running at the time. “Where do I want to take my business?” I asked myself. My answers all had to do with money and clients. What clients could we land? And how much money could the business make? These aren’t inherently bad questions for a business owner to ask, but they weren’t the first questions I needed to ask to pinpoint the goals that would most resonate with my soul. The truth is, I didn’t particularly love my work. The writing, the ideas, the strategy of it all – those things challenged me, but they didn’t evoke passion or purpose.

Instead, I was trying to create goals that would conjure up passion and purpose. I need to answer a question even more important than, “What do I want?” I started to think about what I wanted to feel and how I wanted to show up in the world, and here’s what came to me:  I wanted to feel like the stuff I did every day was what I was meant to be doing. I wanted to look back and have no regrets about my choices. I wanted to feel courageous enough to live the life I dreamed of. I wanted to feel free to pursue what I felt was my life mission: inspiring others to live more fulfilling lives.

Getting in touch with what I wanted led me to one powerful coaching question that shifted my goal entirely:

 

What is it that you want your goal to give you that you don’t have right now?

 

We all need to ask ourselves this question about our goals. Why? Because ultimately our goals need “why.” There must be a deeper purpose that keeps us going when getting to the goal becomes difficult.

The goals I created that day on the living room sofa appeared to be about money and clients, but by asking this one question, I learned that they were really about what I believed the clients and money would give me: Freedom.

With that one question, my goal shifted from making more money in the career I was in to creating a transition towards the career I really wanted. It is not about the goal, but about what the goal will give you that you don’t have right now.  What I really wanted wasn’t more clients or money, but the freedom that more clients and money would give me.

So where does this apply to your life right now?  For example, the goal may not be about losing 20 pounds, but about feeling more in control of your behavior. With that as your goal, you may just see shifts not only in your weight, but in your tendency to overspend and overschedule yourself, too.  Figure out how you want to feel, and it will point you in the direction of your most authentic goal.

 

My challenge to you:

Figure out what you want your goal to give you that you don’t have right now.

Journaling assignment:

In the area of your life where you want to make a change, how do you want to feel? What do you want your goal to give you that you don’t have right now? Is there a more authentic version of your goal that will deliver that?

Resources:

For more help in setting authentic goals, check out the powerful Goalsetters Coaching on Demand program. You can download and listen in a matter of minutes!

Coaching on Demand: Goalsetters

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable

5 Things Happy People Do Every Day

It is true that some people are born happier. About half of your happiness is genetic, attributable to your personality and temperament. But the great news is that only about 10% is circumstances. The rest is about the intentional choices that you make every single day. There are some habits that happy people have in common, and if you practice these habits, you too are likely to see a boost in how you feel every day. Here are five things happy people do daily:

 

  1. Spend time with people they enjoy.

When it comes to happiness, you are about as happy as your relationships. We cannot be happy without people. That’s because we were made for connection and love – and that happens through relationships. When you serve people, connect authentically and allow others to impact you, your life is richer and more meaningful. So intentionally stop to have that conversation, look that friend or co-worker in the eye and really listen. If your relationships are filled with turmoil, make a plan to calm the drama in your life. The stress is a threat to your health and your happiness.

 

  1. Focus on what’s right in front of them.

Happy people live in the present moment. They don’t dwell on the past or get overly focused on the future. Instead, they value the power of the present, which means they have fun. When working on a task, they get into “flow,” meaning they engage in tasks where their skill level matches the challenge in front of them, and time seems to fly by because they are so engaged in what they are doing. It is no wonder that people who love their jobs are twice as likely to be happy than those who don’t, according well-being research by Gallup.

 

  1. Do something that helps someone other than themselves.

Committing a random act of kindness isn’t just a trendy suggestion. It’s a way to be happier. Serving others is a happiness trigger. And it is the core of what we are all here to do – love. When we focus on helping others, it redirects our focus from our own problems or challenges, and helps put our lives into perspective.

 

  1. Express gratitude.

Gratitude is powerful. It keeps you from taking things for granted. It strengthens relationships. It feels good. So say thank you and mean it, even adding to your “thanks” an expression of why another’s gesture was meaningful to you. When you count your blessings, write them down or share them with a loved one.  And reflect on why you are grateful. It expands the positive emotion you feel when you are grateful.

 

  1. Redirect their happiness-sabotaging thoughts.

Happy people don’t dwell long on thoughts that make them unhappy. This doesn’t mean that they don’t acknowledge negative feelings. They do. But they are also less likely to dwell on them, wallow in self-pity or blame others for their misery. Instead, they ask, “What’s within my control to change?” They change what they can and do their best to work around the things they can’t change.

 

My challenge to you:

Pick one of these habits that you don’t currently do every day, and intentionally try it every day this week.

 

Journaling assignment:

Is there something you’re doing every day that might be making you less happy? What could you replace that habit with? Of the five habits above, which one do you most need to practice more?

 

Resources:

For more support in your journey to more joy, I have these resources I think you’ll find really helpful:

Happy Women Live Better Coaching Program

Happy Women Live Better (book)

3 Questions to Journal Yourself Happy

Sometimes the best path to happiness is a very intentional one. There are many times when circumstances and stress sap your joy, and you have to find your happy on purpose. Journaling is one way to pause, reflect and shift your attitude in a positive direction.

In the 9th habit of my book Successful Women Think Differently, I talk about the research of Dr. Laura King, a professor at University of Missouri, who discovered that writing about “your best possible future self” actually has health benefits such as boosting your immune system. Apparently, writing about your life has a very positive impact on your emotions. Combine that with powerful coaching questions that prompt you towards happiness triggers such as gratitude, anticipation and savoring, and you’ll feel a shift in your emotions in a matter of minutes. Here are three of my favorite questions to do just that:

 

  1. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? (Or tonight/this week/this season?)

Anticipation – having something to look forward to – is a happiness trigger.  So think about it. Notice the stuff coming up, whether dinner with friends this weekend or a favorite show you’ll watch tonight or that vacation that’s 46 days away and counting, thinking about what you’re looking forward to and why creates positive emotion.

 

  1. What was your favorite moment of the day and why was it meaningful to you?

This question cultivates gratitude. It prompts you to sift through the moments of your day and find the shiny, golden nugget. To deepen the positive emotion created by gratitude, research suggests you don’t just identify what you’re grateful for, but also reflect upon why you are grateful for it.

 

  1. What achievement are you most proud of (in your relationship/career/finances/health) and why?

Especially if you have a tendency to gloss over your efforts or beat yourself up when you don’t do things perfectly, stopping to reflect on something you are proud of can give you an instant boost. Overachievers and people with high standards (and since you’re reading a whole column on personal growth, you might just fit into that category ;)) tend to take themselves for granted. And that can leave you feeling that you’ve never done enough, that despite your best efforts, your progress isn’t worthy of celebration yet. Hogwash. You push through obstacles and challenges every day and continue moving forward. That is worthy of acknowledging. Pick an area of your life and journal about what you are most proud of and why you’re so proud. What did it take for you to get there, what did you have to push through, and what does it tell you about your ability to handle the opportunities and challenges that lie before you now?

 

My challenge to you this week:

Journal yourself to a happier place by answering questions that prompt positive emotion.

 

Journaling assignment:

This week, answer the three questions I posed in this column.  What are you looking forward to? What was your favorite moment of the day, and why is it meaningful to you?  What achievement are you most proud of?

 

For more support in your journey to more joy, I have these resources I think you’ll find really helpful:

Happy Women Live Better Coaching Program

Happy Women Live Better (book)

What to Say When You’re Afraid to Say “No”

Do you ever struggle with saying “no”? If you get so anxious about declining a request that you end up going against your better judgment and saying “yes” or avoiding the conversation altogether, here are a few ways to authentically voice exactly what you need to say.

 

  1. “Let me think about that.”

Sometimes, you’re just not sure you want to say “yes.” If it just doesn’t feel right or it is a request that deserves more than a knee-jerk reaction, say, “Let me think about that and get back to you.”  Especially if you are someone who says “yes” much too quickly and ends up regretting it, this statement should become a habit.  It gives you the breathing space to process the request and build the courage to be honest in your response. Then, if the answer is “no,” one of the next three statements can be your follow up.

 

  1. “That’s not going to work for me.”

Whether it is a conflict in your schedule or a conflict in values, “that’s not going to work for me” is a boundary-setting statement. It indicates that your decision is about your needs and/or boundaries.  If there is a negotiation to be had about the request, it communicates that the only way to get to a “yes” is for the person that made the request to adjust the request so that your needs are met.

 

  1. “I wish I could say yes.”

Especially when you feel badly about saying “no,” expressing that you wish you could say yes is a way to acknowledge this is not something you take lightly.  You want to be able to help, but you simply cannot.

 

  1. “No.”

Every “no” does not require an explanation. Sometimes a simple, “Thanks, but no thanks,” is really all you need. Especially if you have a habit of saying “no” tacked on by a long explanation that eventually turns into a yes, try saying “no” and then stop yourself from saying anything else. No is a complete sentence.

 

My challenge to you:

In that situation where you need to say “no,” tell the truth and just say it.  Trust that things will unfold as they should.

 

Journaling assignment:

Where in your life are you saying “yes” too often and ending up overwhelmed?  To whom do you need to say “no”?  What are you afraid will happen if you say “no”? How would it feel to have the courage to tell the truth and say “no”?

Coach Training Intensive Preview

 

When I made the decision to step on to the path of coaching, I pondered it for a long time…actually too long. Looking back I realized that becoming professionally trained in the art and science of coaching was one of the best investments I ever made in my career and my life. Within 3 months of completing my training, I not only earned back my investment but my business really took off. That dream isn’t just for me though. Many of the coaches we train have been able to build their coaching business over time. They’re able to do this because they learned how to be not only a stellar coach, but also how to build a stellar coaching practice. So if you’re ready to take that next step, to make your biggest coaching dreams come true, then register for our upcoming Coach Training Intensive. Join us October 8-10 in Atlanta, GA. We can’t wait to equip, train, and support you as you create your highly successful coaching business and your dream life!

Register and pay in full by MIDNIGHT ON MONDAY to receive 25% OFF plus automatic enrollment into a FREE group mentor coaching call with me!

REGISTER HERE

What if Everything Goes Right?

What If Everything Goes Right?

 

I am an Invisalign® brand spokesperson and all opinions expressed are my own.

Full disclosure.

 

Fear. It creeps up on us, often without a sound. It asks, “What if everything goes wrong?” “What if I fail?” “What if I never get what I want?” And disastrous answers to those questions can send us down a path of negative thinking that spirals out of control. Psychologists call it “catastrophizing.” Next time it happens, stop fear in its path with an opposite question: What if it does work out?

 

What if you succeed? What if you finally get what you want? Like that new job, going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, meeting that right person or finally fixing your crooked teeth that has bothered you for years. What if things go right? Asking these questions gives you a sudden burst of energy. That energy is hope. It can feel like a small light in a dark place. What if your idea does manifest into all you have hoped? What if that relationship does work out? What if your persistence despite your discouragement does pay off? What then? Then, perhaps it will all have been worth it.

 

A great example is Kristina from Los Angeles who knew her teeth were holding her back. When she finally decided to fix them with Invisalign® clear aligners, which discreetly straightened her teeth without the embarrassment of metal braces, it changed everything for her.

 

Living and working with passion means giving your all because you believe in the possibility of success. You hold more closely to your dreams and desires than your fears and doubts. So in this moment, I invite you to consider the challenge or possibility that causes you the most doubt or anxiety. You know the one, that thing that causes the persistent question, “What if it doesn’t work out the way I hope?” And ask the opposite question: What if it does work out the way I hope? Don’t just ask the question. Imagine your answer in depth. Take a moment right now. Imagine what it would look like for things to work out. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. What would it feel like? Really imagine yourself there. Imagine who is with you. What you are doing. How things are different than they are in this moment.

 

Now, move forward focused on the possibilities for your success. Allow your motivation to be a spirit of faith rather than a spirit of fear. Choose optimism. Stop obsessing about what might go wrong, and put your energy into what could go right.

 

There are so many people taking the steps necessary to improve their lives. I actually went onto Invisalign’s Facebook page and saw so many great examples of women taking a step to improve their lives and transforming themselves. They are all perfect examples of using positivity to achieve their goals!

 

But the real proof is in the photos. You have to see these incredible before and after images of real women who discovered their stunning smile with Invisalign

 

If you’re like any of the above amazing women and have always wanted to fix your teeth, now is the time: Invisalign is giving away five Smile Grants for free treatment! All you have to do is click here and share what you would accomplish with a new, more confident smile, and it could be yours.

 

Action Steps:

Consider the thing in your life you most want, but are afraid you will not get. What if it DOES work out? What will that look like? What action can you take that will demonstrate you are operating in faith rather than fear?

 

How to Instantly Boost Your Confidience

Confidence is what turns your thoughts into action. It is impossible to be successful without it because it is your belief that you can, that you’re worthy, and that you will ultimately succeed.  But sometimes, insecurities can get in the way of feeling confident. When that happens, there are a few shifts you can make to immediately boost your confidence:

 

  1. Open your arms. Sit up straight.

Before we dive into the quick shifts in thinking that boost your confidence, let’s start with one of the most basic techniques: Changing your body position. How you position your body sends a signal to your brain about your state of mind. When you slump your shoulders or cross your arms, you are physically protecting your heart and shrinking to appear smaller and less threatening. So right now, roll your shoulders back and lift your chin – a physical signal of the courage to be seen and be bold.

 

     2. Get a small win.

Self-efficacy – your belief that you can accomplish your goal – can be built.  When your confidence wanes, identify a small goal you know you can achieve and do it. Small wins boost your confidence to go for bigger wins. So perhaps don’t focus on losing 30 pounds. Focus on the 30 minutes you’ll exercise today.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with the $10,000 in credit card debt you want to pay off. Instead, set a goal of paying off that $500 store credit card in the next two months.

 

     3. Own your flaws.

Confidence is largely about showing up fully. And you can’t show up fully when you are hiding who you are. So just who you are? You’re human. That means you’re imperfect. You’ve made mistakes. You’ve been embarrassed about some choices. But here’s what matters: You’re still here and you’ve made a decision to keep moving towards your dreams despite your imperfections. “Yeah, I messed up that project and I’ve learned a lot from it.” “No, I don’t have as much money in the bank as I’d hoped I’d have at this point in my life, but I’m done beating myself up, and I’ve started saving. Better late than never.” “Yes, I’m divorced and it’s hard, but I’m still believing for real love to come into my life.” It’s not easy, but it’s honest. It’s freedom. Own your flaws. Don’t hide them. Get comfortable with your own imperfections. When you do that, there’s no reason to hide. And people can’t use them against you. It’s a bold move that will free you to show up fully – just as you are.

 

     4. Drop the belief that you need to know all the answers.

One of the biggest thieves of confidence is the fear that we’ll be found out – that we won’t know the answer, won’t know how to “do” whatever it is we need to do. It can leave you constantly anxious that you’re about to be embarrassed or mess up. What if you simply dropped the belief that confidence is about knowing everything? What if instead confidence was about your ability to find the answer if you don’t already know it? With that new belief, the pressure to know everything instantly diminishes. Go into meetings and conversations with the attitude that you won’t fake what you don’t know. Be authentic. “I don’t know, for sure, but let me find out.”

 

My challenge to you:

Intentionally boost your confidence in an area where you feel insecure.

 

Journaling assignment:

  1. When are you most likely to lose your confidence? Which of the techniques above most resonates with you? In what specific situation(s) in your life will you try the technique this week?