It’s Not Too Late!

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

Full disclosure.

During a radio interview, a caller asked me if it was too late – in her forties – to change careers and pursue something for which she is passionate. “It’s never too late,” I told her. “If you feel led in a new direction, make a plan to transition and go for it!” Her call came as no surprise. Many of you – some in your twenties, others in your sixties – have sent me emails wondering if it’s too late to make a change – too late to change jobs, save a relationship, plan for retirement, or even changes like finally fixing your teeth for that smile you’ve always wanted.

This week, I challenge you to let go of the idea that it’s too late to change the course of your life. In a world that pressures us to believe everything must happen in a compressed time frame, it can feel as though it is “against the rules” to follow a path that is outside the norm. It can especially feel like it is unacceptable to change your mind about what you want in life. But often, you will be lead in a new direction once you’ve learned all that you were supposed to learn at a particular stage in your life.

What have you previously decided it was too late for you to do? Is it time to reconsider? Let this message rekindle your desire for change. Give yourself permission to dream a bigger dream and walk a divinely-inspired path that is uniquely your own.

It’s not too late to try something new. In fact, life becomes stagnant when you get stuck in a rut. It’s tempting to give up on the idea that you could have what you really want in your life, but you don’t have to give in to that temptation. Your journey becomes richer and more joyful when you remain open to your possibilities.

For instance, if fixing your teeth is something you’ve considered, talk with your dentist or orthodontist about Invisalign® clear aligners, the practically invisible way to straighten your teeth so no one even needs to know you’re in treatment. It treats mild to complex cases, so if you’re not happy with your teeth, get a consult from an Invisalign trained doctor near you. I have friends who have used this treatment to finally fix their teeth and it was one of the best things they could have done for themselves and their confidence!

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Here are some great before and after Invisalign treatment photo transformations that will inspire you to do something for yourself. It truly is never too late!

Here are a few more things it’s not too late for you to do. Print it out and add a few items of your own if you wish.

It’s not too late for you to:

  • Change careers.
  • Go back to school.
  • Fall in love.
  • Apologize to someone you hurt.
  • Forgive someone who hurt you.
  • Plan a trip to your dream destination.
  • Have children (even if it’s biologically impossible, the child you were meant to raise may be waiting to be adopted by you.)
  • Start saving for retirement.
  • Get fit.
  • Start taking better care of yourself.
  • Turn your finances around.
  • Change your attitude or your perspective on life.

What have you deemed it too late to do? How would it feel for you to experience that opportunity after all? What will you do to move towards it?
Make a decision to open your mind to new possibilities. Take a step in the direction of your potential.

4 Questions to Uncover the Message Your Challenge is Offering You

Throughout my life, whenever I’ve gotten stuck – whether in a relationship or work challenge, financial dilemma or a stagnant workout plan – it is the power of honest self-reflection that has gotten me unstuck time and again. In seemingly dark, frustrating moments, the lightbulb comes in the form of a powerful question. The questions aren’t always the same, but they are always simple, the answers always altering my course.

I don’t know what dilemma you face right now. Perhaps a loved one has made a choice you don’t agree with and you don’t know how to make peace with it. Perhaps you are dealing with changes in your work, and you’re uncertain how to best handle it. Maybe you’re tired of waiting for the love of your life to show up in your life and feel ready to throw in the towel. Or maybe there’s a conversation you need to have and you’ve allowed fear to keep you from speaking up authentically.  Whatever your situation, there is a message being offered to you – and opportunity for growth.

Coach yourself with these four questions to discover just what the message might be in the challenge that frustrates you right now:

 

  1. Looking back years from now, how will you wish you had handled this challenge?

 

  1. What would it look like to handle this dilemma with grace, maturity and wisdom?

 

  1. If God himself were talking to you right now, what might He say to you about the situation?

 

  1. If you are to walk through this dilemma as the best version of yourself, what will you need to do differently?

 

My challenge to you this week:

Uncover the message in your challenge.

 

Journaling assignment:

Choose a current challenge in your life. Journal your answers to all four questions.

 

Resources:

Start Here, Start Now: 5 Minutes a Day to Love Better, Work Smarter and Live Bolder

Coaching on Demand: Make that Decision with Confidence 

Coaching on Demand: Get Unstuck!

 

 

Don’t Shop til You Drop!

“Shop ’til you drop,” might be a clever slogan for advertisers, but it’s also a literal description of what happens when you shop in an attempt to feel happier. A recent study reveals something that any emotional spender can already tell you: Feeling down can make you go shopping … then shopping ends up leaving you sad again. It’s a vicious cycle and a bad habit. And bad habits lead to stuff you don’t want – like having credit card debt and car loans equal to a year’s salary.

If you want to be truly happy, shopping is not the path to get you there. It isolates you, focuses you on the pursuit of what you don’t have, and tends to be self-focused – all of which are bad for happiness. In my twenties, I was an emotional spender. I hate to admit it, but when I felt down or bored or lonely, I shopped. I’d get a fleeting burst of pleasure. Then I’d soon feel guilty about going further into debt.

Unlike emotional eating, racking up debt is a secret endeavor. While your budget might get tight from excess debt, your clothes don’t get tight from excess pounds. Instead, you can hide your bad habit behind a façade of fabulous clothes, a nice car, and the latest cool gadget. It’s one bad habit that can win you the admiration of the people around you. “She must be doing so well,” people believe. “I mean, look at the nice house they live in,” they wrongly presume.

But deep down, you know the truth. You feel like a fraud, parading around in stuff you can’t afford, living in a house you don’t have the money to furnish, driving a car with maintenance bills too high for your income. The debt feels like a permanent weight perched on your shoulders. This week, I encourage you to evaluate your spending habits and ask yourself:

-Are my money habits making me happier or sadder?

-A year from now, will I be happy about the financial choices I’m making right now or regretful?

Money’s a good thing when you use it to boost happiness rather than sabotage it. If you’re prone to spend when you’re sad or stressed or frustrated, try this instead:

  • Let the emotions wash through.

Honor your negative emotions by feeling them. Rather than immediately trying to numb the pain, instead say, “I’m sad right now. Maybe I need to cry or journal or talk it out with a friend.” Stuffing your emotions is a temporary fix. They’ll soon bubble back up.

  • Find an alternative to shopping to help you decrease your stress.

Go for a walk in the park, visit a friend, or engage in a favorite (inexpensive!) hobby.

  • Have a financial vision.

Knowing where you’re headed is powerful. Write down your financial goals and keep them in front of you. When you have no goal, you can’t see how bad choices are keeping you from what you really want – financial security and freedom. When you feel tempted to spend emotionally, remind yourself of your vision.

I go deeper into the topic of money and happiness when I discuss the happiness trigger I call “financial savvy” in my book, Happy Women Live Better: 13 Ways to Trigger Your Happiness Every Day.

My challenge to you this week:

Don’t let your emotions rule your finances.

Journaling assignment:

Do you ever spend emotionally? When? What alternative will you engage in next time you feel tempted to try to boost your mood by shopping?

Your Emotions Are Teachers – And They’re Trying to Tell You Something

There are many things I’ve learned in almost fifteen years of as a personal coach, but one of the most impactful was a truth I had never considered before I heard it. It is simply this: “Emotions are teachers,” the late Thomas Leonard, a pioneer in the field of life coaching, used to say.

 

“Emotions are teachers.”

 

Emotions are not there to simply annoy you or make you miserable or ecstatic. The annoyance, misery and excitement are there to get your attention and offer you clues about the state of your life, your thoughts, and what you should do next. When you learn to read the messages your emotions send you, you can literally coach yourself to higher levels of happiness and success.
This week, I challenge you to simply be honest about your emotions and ask yourself, “What message is being offered to me right now?” And I’ll even help you get started with this cheat sheet of common emotions and the messages they send us (from my book, What’s Really Holding You Back?).

 

Anger:  A boundary has been crossed. Perhaps it is time to set stronger boundaries or protect yourself from trespassers.

 

Guilt: You believe you’ve done something wrong. Maybe it is time to apologize … or maybe you’ve done nothing wrong and you need to reset expectations.

 

Jealousy: There’s something you wish you had in your own life. Perhaps it is time to be grateful for what you have … or start creating a situation that reflects your heart’s desires.

 

Disappointment: Your expectations weren’t met. Maybe you need to adjust your expectations.

Burnout: You’ve exhausted your mental and emotional resources. It is time to restore your energy and fill your tank back up.

Sadness: You’ve experienced a loss, whether the loss of something/someone you had or the loss of the vision you thought you were going to have. Give yourself time to acknowledge and mourn your loss so you can move forward again.

Anxiety: You fear danger is looming in the future.

Excitement: You are experiencing something that energizes you. How could you savor it and perhaps even create more of that in your life?

 

Allow your emotions to school you, not rule you. Listen for the messages they are sending and use it as an opportunity to grow.

 

My challenge to you:

Acknowledge your emotions. Then listen to what they are trying to tell you.

 

Journal about it:

What persistent emotion are you experiencing lately? What message is the emotion offering you? What action will you take as a result of that message?
Resources:

Book: What’s Really Holding You Back?

Coaching on Demand: Get Unstuck

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)