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Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

Consistency–The Slight Edge

In today’s society, consistency has almost become a bad word.  We are focused on wanting things now and along the way, we somehow lost discipline of taking one small step at a time–the art of doing small things over and over again until they become a well-grounded habit. Yet to tell the truth, consistency is the very thing that actually leads to breakthrough.

There is a marvelous little book out there by Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge. He begins by telling the story of a wealthy man offering both of his sons a choice between one thousand $1000 bills (one million dollars) right now, or a penny in a purse with the stipulation that the content of the purse would be doubled every single day for 31 days.  One of the sons chose the million dollars, the other the penny. The son with the million dollars hired financial advisors with the hope of turning the million dollars into a genuine fortune.  The other son chose the penny. Within a week, he had sixty four cents. After two weeks, he had $81.92. On day 28, the purse of pennies passed the million-dollar mark, and on day 30, it was at more than 5 million. Crazy, isn’t it? That’s the power of compound interest–and the power of consistency all at once.

pennies

Consistently in the little things seems worthless, but that is where personal breakthrough is found most of the time. Building new habits through small, insignificant daily actions lead to massive changes. And consistency, it is like the special glue that makes you stick to something until you get there.  The more you utilize this glue, the stronger it becomes…super glue.  At some point, you begin  to notice that you can stay focused on what is needed over and over with less effort, thereby changing outcomes on many different levels.

Many, many of my life coaching clients, probably most of them, reach their goals by setting up small daily action plan that I keep them accountable for.

Think on the areas of your life where you have been successful: graduating high school or college, marriage maybe, career, raising kids, volunteer work.  Do you see how your consistency in these areas was part of the reason for your success?  The end result might be glamorous, yet the consistent everyday work that was involves is not; it is often menial, and maybe boring, requiring a lot of discipline and can seem ridiculously unimportant.  Yet we are the sum of our small acts and thoughts…

Small acts count greatly; small thoughts can cause us to quit or go forward.  Nothing small is irrelevant!

Think of a hand-pumped water well. The water table is, let’s say, 25 feet below the ground. A pipe runs down to the water table and you have to pump the lever to create the suction to get the water above the ground and out the spout.  Here is what most people do when they start a new endeavor. They grab the lever and start pumping really hard… they pump and pump, and after a few minutes (or a few weeks), they don’t see any water (results), so they give up the lever altogether. People expect instant results. This is where most people quit, before the success ever begins.  If they persevere and continue to pump and pump the lever, eventually they get a few drops of water. This is when a lot of people say, “You’ve got to be kidding! All this pumping and for what, a few drops of water, forget it.”  If you continue to pump soon enough you will get a full and steady stream of water. Congratulations, a success!  Now that the water is flowing, you no longer need to pump the lever as hard. It becomes easy and you can keep the pressure steady by just pumping the lever CONSISTENTLY.  Now, in our water-well analogy, what happens if you let go of the lever for 30 seconds or so? This is what happens if you don’t strap on your gym shoes for a week or two. The water falls below the ground and you are back to square one again.  To just get back where you were you have to pump the lever like crazy again. But if you’d just kept a consistent, easy, even stroke, you could have kept the water (success) flowing.  It’s not how you (or your competition) start; it’s how you CONTINUE. The definition of commitment is: Doing the thing you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.

Consistency–a single discipline that gives the advantage. 

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Acknowledge Success

We are still in the beginning of a new year; let’s do it right, shall we? This is tweaked from a newsletter from Jack Canfield, and I believe it is very appropriate for us in the Now.

Sometimes, it simply it time to acknowledge and appreciate yourself for everything you’ve accomplished today, throughout the year, and in life.  How many times did you do well in this new year? Are you able to recall your successes as well as your failures and missteps?

Can you recall in detail all your mistakes but not your accomplishments?  Most of us do. One of the reasons is that the brain remembers events more easily when they are accompanied by strong emotions. You might recall clearly graduation, losing 10 pounds, winning an award, or landing a highly sought after position.

But do you include in your successes how you had a really great talk with your spouse, how you spent quality time with your teen, how you got all your list of things done for the day, how you learned to change your own oil, or got your fussy child to take a nap?  If we don’t acknowledge our successes the same way we acknowledge our mistakes, we are sure to have a memory full of blunders.  If you only remember the mistakes and failures, you won’t be as ready to take risks that will lead to your successes. Build yourself-esteem by recalling ALL the ways you have succeeded and your brain will be filled with images of you making you achievements happen again and again.

Acknowledge your own success!  Toot your own horn and don’t wait for anyone else to praise you!

When you inventory your successes. you look at things in a much more sober way, and you build your confidence in life– by focusing on your strengths, you become able to feed and grow them, leaving weaknesses behind.  I have told my children for years, “What you fix your eyes on grows.” 

So, what will it be?

Here are two simple tricks that are very useful.  You may feel stupid at first, but that is simply because of a life-long habit of being conditioned to inventory our failures only: 

~Take time to write your achievements down. Start when you were very young and think of all your achievements since then. Don’t just pick the big things, write down all the things you take for granted. You can also create a log of success everyday and review it when you are faced with a new challenge. By writing it all down everyday, you’re securing it in your long-term memory and it will become a part of what makes you tick.

~Surround yourself with reminders of your success. Put up pictures, articles, trophies, awards and other pieces that ring your attention to you success. Make your environment speak to you about your achievements. Be proud of them!

People like to be around those who have a healthy confidence and who are achieving their goals. Commit to acknowledging your achievements and you brain will begin to tell you the truth… that you can really do a lot more than you have given yourself credit for!

Taking just 30 minutes to complete this activity will become your positive springboard into this almost-new year for even more successes.

Overcoming Setbacks

Set backs… we all experience them, right? Maybe we blame them on a family vacation, a lousy week-end, a break in the routine, no time to plan the next day’s snacks, an injury, personal tragedy or a zillion of other things… but they happen to all of us. The question is simply: what to do now?  The biggest mistake is for us to think we have to start all over again—and get discouraged!  Why would you need to start all over again?  You are still way ahead of where you started, aren’t you?

Just take a deep breath and keep going from where you left off.

steps

“Two steps forward, one step back” is kind of a negative way to describe someone who is having trouble making progress. But realistically, you are still going forward, right? You are still coming out ahead. Losing one point isn’t the end of the world–it happens to the best of us.

And actually, if you can consistently win a few more points that you lose, you will wind up a winner. 

basketball

No matter what the obstacle, or how many of them you have to deal with, what matters is that you tackle them, one at a time. One at a time is the key here.  Little steps forwards.  John Quincy Adams said that “patience and perseverance have magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”  I like that!  I also like this quote by Samuel Johnson, “Great works are performed not by strength by perseverance.”  I have seen this work so many times in the lives of so many people.   And as far as healthy eating and exercising, as long as you’re consistently out-stepping your steps back, you’re ahead of the game.

If you expect perfection, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and guilt.

Guilt can be totally debilitating to your healthy habits. So we messed up.  Well, life goes on, doesn’t it?  Here is another quote I think is very appropriate and useful: “None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows.” (Collin Powell)  This is the place where we have to make a wise choice: to let that guilt plummet us into a cycle that could spit us out worse off than before, or to accept the step back and say “where do I go from here?”  Here are some of my tricks that are useful at that point:

  • Take a walk in the woods to clear your head and regroup.
  • Have a personal “bounce back” motto that will re-energize you. Put it everywhere.
  • Take a break if you think you’re trying too hard.
  • Return to the basics. Are you making it too complicated and tough on yourself?
  • Plan ahead for irregularities in your schedule, call ahead to healthy restaurants, pack healthy snacks.
  • Stay aware of what you’re doing. One meal mess up can turn into a one day mess up, a one week mess up if you’re not careful.
  • Remind yourself of your success so far when you need a boost.
  • Don’t try to fix yesterday by starving yourself today; you know where that leads!

Of course, consistent success is still something to strive for. The 1Step/2Step strategy doesn’t lessen the need to do your best. You should still work hard to keep those steps back from happening. But it helps to be prepared with a plan and a positive attitude for when they do happen…

Happy Ever After Today

I found out early in life that I am way happier when I practice certain things–like exercise, and letting go of things I can’t change.

Science actually now agrees that greater levels of happiness are attainable through practices that change how your brain functions.  Neuroplasticity is a big word to simply say that the brain is able to change.

Here are some things that are now scientifically proven:

1. Your Set Point 

Each of us is born with a happiness “set point” around which our happiness level tends to settle, regardless of what happens to us. Research suggests that genetics determine about 50 percent of this set point and environment determines the other 50 percent. But you have much more power over your happiness level than you probably realize, because only a small amount of your environment is out of your control (things like the weather and the stock market). This means that you have control over 40% of your happiness level. Own this fully. Intentionally make choices that make you happier.When you make positive changes in your self and your environment, you raise your disposition toward happiness.

2. It’s as Much About What You Don’t Want as What You Do Want

It’s much easier to decide what you don’t want than what your really, really, really want. Once you know what you don’t want, figure out what the opposite looks like. “I don’t want to be out of shape” may become “I want to be toned and workout five times a week so that I can enjoy my life.”  When you learn to avoid the things that lower your happiness set point, it will naturally rise.

breathe2

3. It’s About This Moment

We are not very good at predicting what will make us happy or how long that happiness will last. Studies show that there is a gap between what we believe will make us happy and what actually does – a big one. We tend to overestimate how things will affect us, thinking we’ll be much happy when we get something we want. Major life events (positive or negative) lose their impact on happiness levels, often as quickly as a few months. For example, lottery winners settle back into their pre-winning level of happiness and paraplegics become happier after they process their loss.

Focus on happiness here and now, not some day in the future. You will naturally stabilize toward your set point – and there are many things you can do to get there more quickly.

It is only possible to live happily ever after…on a daily basis.

4. The Bigger Picture

There is a lot to be said about using your strengths in the service of something larger than yourself. Volunteering or helping another is a powerful tool to bring yourself more happiness.

hands

But I bet you instinctively knew all of this. The real issue is the daily practice. Because as with any lasting improvement, the magic is in the everyday discipline …

 

 

Think for Yourself

I’ve been talking a lot about being real in your endeavor to be healthy.My thoughts are so ridiculously simple, it’s almost embarrassing  But you know what? My approach works. It simply does!

relatuonship body

If you are interested, here is Barb’s Fit U’s ridiculously simple common sense approach:

  • Don’t go for crazy, stupid diets that promise you to lose 10 pounds in two days
  • Don’t decide that you are going to work out ten hours a day if you don’t even get off the couch right now
  • Be realistic
  • Drink lots of water, but
  • Start small, master one thing, and then go on to the next
  • Face and tell the truth
  • Celebrate your successes
  • Be consistent
  • Concentrate on the positive, not the negative: build new habits instead of trying to get rid of bad ones
  • Learn life while you are getting healthy
  • Cook your own food and discover the joy in it
  • Have fun
  • Eat what your body tells you you need, not what the commercial says you need
  • Commit to health
  • Make it a journey is self-discovery
  • Think for yourself.
  • Breathe…

breathe2

 

Continuous Progress

You won’t be successful overnight–unless it’s 3646 overnights later.

 Even if you want it really really bad and work hard at it.

Because Continuous Progress is what it’s all about.  The concept of continuous progress may not be really cool, but it works. The only thing standing between you and outrageous success is continuous progress.

So here you go! Seven thoughts to help you along the way:

1. Time clarifies perspective:

Most of us are biased, either because of our past or our present experience.  The last 24 hours of your life have a lot to do with how you feel about your goals, your potential, your stamina, the guts you need to summon to get past the pain and press through.  But the last 24 hours change pretty quick, and a day from now, what you know and how you feel will be completely different.  By making progress every day regardless of how you feel, you learn to look past the pain and fear of the moment and just “take another step”.  Over time you get a better perspective.  You realize that your emotions are less important than you doing something.

2. Iteration builds momentum:

Getting things done fuels our sense of purpose.  And that sense of purpose and self worth is what powers our ability to accelerate through the obstacles and toward our goal. Learning through the journey is the real destination.  By conquering small (but continuous) progress, you go through a series of meaningful steps toward what would otherwise be an unattainable goal.

3. Practice compensates for failure:

Success isn’t a day in time and neither is failure.  Failure is just another practice round. I never thought my kids were failuresthey couldn’t shoot a basket at 2 years old. I was okay with that. So why do we get so frustrated when we can’t master our wildest dreams in a single six week spurt? Practice is the secret.

4. Movement trumps lurching:

Stopping and starting is better than nothing, but it’s messy. Steady progress is the key to success.  Any of us can do an “all-nighter” now or then.  Maybe even do 50-60 straight hours on a single project.  But then we are exhausted and we need a break. Continuous progress is a kinder (more impactful) way to move forward and get closer to our goals.

5. Passion builds investment:

When you put enough of yourself, into something, you kind of find of way to make sure you come out on the winning end of things.  When you jump into a quick “emotional fling”, you have so little invested that it’s easy to give up on yourself.  Your commitment to long-term success forces you to build a passionate investment in your success.  That investment is the antidote to the setbacks you can anticipate along the way.

7. Lasting yields differentiation

We all know that showing up is where it’s at. It’s actually 99% of the battle.  If you don’t have the guts (the stamina) to keep fighting for your goal, then you’ll ultimately end up losing.  You can’t help it.

Continuous progress is the ultimate way to stand out from everyone else.  You’re still around when everyone else has given up.  When they are gasping for air, you are pumping your legs and pushing for the finish line.

You don’t have to do it all today.

You have the rest of your life to realize outrageous success.

You just need to get started…

Get Moving.

 

The Alphabet of Health–A

A is for Attitude

Because no matter how much knowledge you have, and how intelligent or strong or determined or beautiful or… you fill in the blanks…you might be, if your attitude is not in line with your goals, you are probably not going to be very successful. And no matter how little breaks you get, how little money, or time, or support, or equipment, or friends or … you fill in the blanks… you might have, if your attitude is one of a winner, you are certainly going to make it.

Success doesn’t have much to do with great circumstances or genes; success is really all about how you see yourself, your progress, your goal, your future. It’s really all about how you think about all these.

I wouldn’t say that I am a Ghandi fan, but these words of his pretty much sum up what I think on the matter: “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

If you think yourself a loser, that is where you will go, even if all the odds are in your favor. And if you think yourself a winner, well, that is what you are. Your life is truly the sum of your thoughts; you and I are what we think we are.

Let’s be careful out there…

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