The Best Way to Get Perspective on Your Problems

The Best Way to Get Perspective on Your Problems

I thought I would break.

I felt overwhelmed. Over my head. I thought the pressure to deliver on my own promises would engulf me.

I don’t even remember what I was working on at the time. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed until everyone forgot about me and what I said I’d do. Which would never work, because the only person who was actually tapping her foot and demanding more results was me.

That night, I attended a party where we were all instructed to write notes of encouragement to our future selves. The party organizer would return our letters in six months time.

Frankly, it all felt a little hokey to me, but I played along.

Here’s what I wrote: (more…)

10 Nifty Ways to Beat Procrastination

10 Nifty Ways to Beat Procrastination

You’re stuck. Again.

You’ve been trying to make yourself work on that book/your fitness/decluttering the house for what seems like ever, but the harder you try the harder it is to resist the siren call of Facebook or Twitter. Before you know it, you’ve run out of time — and steam.

Funny, isn’t it, how much work it is NOT to do the work we’re resisting? It’s exhausting. If you had just put all that time and energy into your goals, imagine where you would be by now.

But you know that. It’s not as though you don’t beat yourself up about your procrastinating ways every day. How’s that working for you?

Don’t feel bad. We all do it.

Why do we resist? Because there is something we fear about the task at hand.

It could be as simple as a fear of the aches and pains of starting to exercise or the discomfort of doing a chore we dislike. It could be as obvious as a fear of failure. Or it could go deeper than that, like a fear of success.

Well, good news: I have battled procrastination all my life and in the process, I picked up a few tricks. (more…)

Are You Really Going to Wait Until It Hurts?

Are You Really Going to Wait Until It Hurts?

What I was trying to do should have been simple.

I was attempting to hold a small stack of books with my left arm, where my hand cupped one edge and my elbow cradled the other. But I couldn’t do it.

I had noticed my wrist getting weaker for a couple of years. And thanks to some back pain issues, it had become clear my office set-up was probably the source of my problem.

But I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t see a doctor. I didn’t look for a new desk. I didn’t even take the simple step of ordering a wrist brace online.

The questions is: why did I wait until I had nearly debilitating pain before I decided to act?

The answer might surprise you.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll share with you the solution I found that almost instantly allowed my wrist to start healing. I can now hold that stack of books with my left arm and write for hours on end without issue. It’s not rocket science, but I’m rather proud of what I came up with (better late than never).

But today, I want to explore this idea of waiting until it hurts. Because it’s not just me that does this. I see how this strange decision-making process trips up my clients and my friends too.

As I recently told people on Facebook, if you want to make a profound change in your life, the fastest way to do it is to become dissatisfied with the way you’re currently thinking. But first, you have to understand your thinking. (more…)

I Spent 3 Weeks Business Planning and Ended Up with a Strategy For A Better Life

I Spent 3 Weeks Business Planning and Ended Up with a Strategy For A Better Life

If I knew of a way to stop telling myself lies, I would.

A couple of CIA agents wrote a book called Spy the Lie, where they reveal the “tells” people give when lying. For example, if someone pauses to answer a question they should easily and immediately know the answer to, they’re probably lying.

As a mother, I already knew this.

If I ask my daughter if she ate five servings of fruits and vegetables last Thursday, she’ll understandably pause before answering. That’s a hard thing to remember. But if I ask if she brushed her teeth this morning and she pauses, she’s probably lying. (She’ll usually do a hard swallow too, another big tell. Poor kid.)

But those kinds of “tells” are useless when evaluating your own internal voices.

For example, sometimes I get caught up thinking about how to create a six-figure business. I spent a week strategizing what products I could offer and dreaming up creative marketing ideas. I got really specific, running numbers for different scenarios, re-evaluating based on my known optimistic tendencies, etc.

It was a lot of work, but it was fun work. Until I realized what having a six-figure business would really mean. (more…)

What’s the Source of Your Sunday Night Blues?

What’s the Source of Your Sunday Night Blues?

A friend, let’s call him Carl, told me he’d seen my videos on career change and resonated with the concept of the Sunday Night Blues.

“Everyone thinks I have the best job,” he confided. “People ask for advice, wanting to know how they can eventually have a position like mine. I want to tell them the truth, but I can’t. I don’t think they’d believe me anyway.”

The truth was that every Sunday night, a feeling of dread descended. He wanted to stop time, to delay perhaps indefinitely, the work week ahead. Not only did he feel anxious and irritable that his free time was coming to a close, but he was confused.

Why couldn’t he enjoy his job like everyone expected him to?

In fact, he felt particularly ungrateful because there was a lot he liked about his job. But none of those positives were apparently strong enough to prevent the Sunday night blues.

And so he came to me for advice on how to change careers, even though the thought of leaving his “dream job” pained him. (more…)

Finding the Space to Quiet Your Mind

Finding the Space to Quiet Your Mind

Editor’s note: Guest post by Stephen Martin

T he summer when I was 23 did not begin well.

For one thing, I was pretty lost. My longtime girlfriend was moving cross-country for law school, and I didn’t have a clue what my next move would be, except that I wasn’t going with her. For another, I was bordering on broke. My contract work at the nearby university had just ended, and I had not a single job prospect. And yet, 16 years later I look back on that summer as one of the best of my life.

Perhaps the biggest reason why: I gave up the news.

It was a grand summer for news, too. Clinton and Dole duking it out for the presidency, mad cow hysteria in Europe, the Olympics in Atlanta. I knew next to nothing about any of it. With no income, I needed to economize. That meant no cable TV, no Internet, not even a newspaper. I barely knew what was happening across the street, much less around the world. And it didn’t bother me because, after years of faithfully reading papers and magazines, I was just tired of it.

Even back in those pre-Twitter, pre-blog, pre-historic days, you could spend enormous amounts of time consuming news or fretting all day about it, and I’d done a lot of both. But now, accidentally adrift from the headlines, I suddenly had time for other things.

I started hanging out in the university library, wandering the stacks and picking up whatever books caught my eye. I’d meet a buddy for a (very cheap) lunch or play cards or listen to music. I went for long walks. Since I never got a weather forecast, what the heavens might bring was always a surprise too.

Free of the usual distractions, I slowly became more centered. I’d spent the previous year exploring and rejecting a half-dozen potential careers.

In the silence of that summer, though, I finally began to feel a faint sense of purpose – a pull toward writing.

I didn’t know what I wanted to write or for whom. But sitting down and writing, longhand, an essay about a monastery I’d once visited created more satisfaction than I’d felt in months, if not years.

The summer crawled on in slow motion, and I began to feel part of it. I hadn’t really noticed the seasons since I was a kid. But now, I started paying attention to the relative cool of a July morning, the building humidity as noon approached, the sticky air and soothing insect chatter of an August evening. For the first time in a long time, I felt aware.

And as the summer burned toward its conclusion, I became aware of something else as well: I was running out of money. (more…)