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Five Tips to Ease Into a Morning Routine

morning routine

Does the start of the school year drive you to drink? Since we’ve had the world’s longest Spring Break (seriously, that’s the last time my kids went to in-person school), the idea of starting school feels even more daunting than usual. As a coach who helps busy adults own their time and energy to achieve their goals, I’m quite fond of routines (you might even say I’m the queen of routines…haha). And – a morning routine will keep you from reaching for that morning Prosecco before you’ve finished your cup of coffee. Keep reading for my five favorite tips to ease into your morning routine.

1. Give yourself an adjustment week.

The whole idea behind easing into a morning routine vs. ripping off the band-aid on the first day of school is preventing Godzilla mom from making an appearance (and then feeling guilty about the way the morning went after it’s over). By giving yourself a week to adjust, everyone can get used to getting out of their pjs before noon. Even if you’re not leaving the house for in-person school, the morning still requires everyone to be ready to learn on-time.

The week before school officially starts, plan to integrate essential parts of your routine each day. For example, have your kids get up at a certain time (which requires going to bed earlier) each day the week before. You might even decide to incorporate just ONE part of the routine that you deem the hardest to conquer the week before (for me, that’s getting everyone up and dressed)!

2. Choose the path of least resistance.

If you haven’t been exercising, journaling, and preparing a five-course meal in the mornings before the start of the school year, the week they go back is not the time to start. Adding too much pressure to have the “perfect” morning routine only causes more overwhelm. Think about the basic tasks that have to be accomplished to get everyone ready on-time. Stick to those at first. You’ll have time to incorporate the other habits (if you so desire) at a later date. For now – make it as easy as you can on yourself!

3. Reverse engineer the process.

Something I’ve gotten used to doing from my healthcare project management days is reverse engineering my desired outcome. So, if I know my kids have to be ready to learn at 8:20, I work backwards to determine all the steps that need to occur for that to happen. I don’t make a schedule or anything (no offense to anyone who does), but I do make a mental note of milestones (project manager talk for reference points). Things like “we need to be in the car ready to pull out of the driveway by 8:05” or “the kids need to be brushing their teeth by 7:55” so I have a way to keep us on track. If that sounds a little type A for you, just completing the exercise of walking through the steps to get your final destination on time is so valuable!

4. Start the night before.

Complete as many parts of your morning routine the night before as you can! Packing lunches, setting out clothes, putting folders in book bags, and prepping some breakfast items are all things that can be done the night before. This makes the mornings run much more smoothly. Even with virtual school, my husband and I packed lunches for our kids the night before. This allowed us to actually sit down and eat OUR OWN lunch for a change. It made such a difference in our day! Involve your kids in the prep, too – it doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders!

5. Be prepared to make tweaks.

Some mornings are harder than others, so keep that in-mind. Try to keep that in perspective before making a change to your routine. However, if parts of the routine just don’t seem to be working day after day, make a tweak! I recommend making small tweaks to the process vs. overhauling the whole thing. Take a step back and look for what might be causing the routine to fall apart objectively. Try something different for that ONE part of the routine. And try the new tweak for awhile before changing again – it might take some time to catch on!

You’ve Got This

Successful morning routines are different from household to household! What works for your neighbor might not work for you. I’ve helped tons of adults engineer the right routine for them, and I’d be happy to be a sounding board for you, too. Reach out if you’d like to talk through your routine before it starts or if you want some help on the hot spots once it’s begun. I’d love to help! I hope these tips help you ease into your morning routine and your school year is a healthy one.

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Slow Down and Enjoy Life with Hygge

slow down and enjoy life with hygge

Do you ever wish you could slow down?  Enjoy the simple things in life more? I know I do.  I was just speaking with some other moms yesterday who feel they are always hurrying their kiddos (and themselves!) along.  Hearing this, I was reminded of a chat I had with a friend last year around the concept of hygge.  Since that conversation, I’ve learned to recognize hygge and make space for it in my life by slowing down and enjoying the moment more often.  So, I’m excited to share the highlights from our conversation and how you can slow down and enjoy life more with hygge.

When I wanted to learn more about hygge last year, I went straight to the source and spoke to a friend of mine who was born and raised in Denmark. Malte Pendergast-Fischer, in addition to being Danish, is the CEO and owner of the Green Ridge Group specializing in Human Resources, Business and Professional Coaching, and Business Expansion, amongst other things. He really helped me understand the concept of hygge.

Hygge just happens.

The first big ah-ha I experienced during our conversation came when I asked him to define hygge.  Malte explained that it is “something that naturally occurs by being together: finding opportunities to sit down, drink coffee or tea, and just chat.  Sitting on a couch, reading alongside each other. You don’t have to be in an intense conversation about life…it’s about gearing down. Hygge is finding motivation and opportunities to get together and be together.  You can hygge with yourself. It’s about slowing down and enjoying life.”

In the US, we are trained to seek and to achieve.  We want to see the bullet-points and guidelines for how to do something…then we set a goal around it and work hard to achieve it.  This work ethic helps us be successful at our goals, but there’s a downside to this. We miss some of life’s most amazing moments because we’re always looking to the next thing.

So, when I asked how to “practice hygge,” I realized it’s more about slowing down and making the time and space for hygge to happen naturally.  It’s not something to “seek” or to “achieve” at all. It happens if we allow it. However, this can be hard to do until you are better able to recognize when hygge is happening – and once you do – you’ll want to incorporate more and more of it.

Learn to recognize hygge.

With this said, here are some examples Malte shared so I could recognize when it’s happening:

  • Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the ultimate example of hygge.  Everybody slows down, gathers around a meal, and there is no pressure around presents.  It’s about being around family together. 
  • Inside during winter or rainy nights with a candle lit or a fire in fireplace.  (Malte also shared the Netflix fireplace feature with me…genius!)
  • Playing games, cards, or puzzles as a family.  There’s no real “end goal” or pressure… just chit-chatting about the day and enjoying each other’s company.
  • Turning off technology and reading alongside each other on the couch.
  • Taking a lunch break with work colleagues, leaving the office, and learning more about each other.
  • Having tea with neighbors or friends after a day at work.

Work to live.

Another important distinction we discussed that allows hygge to happen more regularly in Denmark is their point of reference for work.  There, they “work to live.”  In the US, we can be characterized as “living to work.”  In Denmark, you would never work longer just because your boss is still there.  There, you leave work by a certain time because you have things to do…yoga, being together, soccer, hygge.  

So, as we move into the busy season of the holidays and year-end deadlines, I encourage you to make time and space to slow down and enjoy life more…to hygge.  By learning to recognize it in my life over the past year, I’ve embraced a slower way of doing things but have enjoyed special moments with family and friends so much more.

Here’s a free resource for you.

If you are looking for some additional inspiration to slow down and enjoy the moment throughout the holidays, I invite you to take advantage of a free gift I’ve created to do just that.  It’s a Wholesome Holidays 2019 calendar that includes daily tips to choose joy and prevent stress all season long. Visit bit.ly/WholesomeHolidays for your copy.

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What’s the Cost of Busy-ness

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

Busy-ness has become a badge of honor. Besides turning us into Godzilla mom (or dad or friend), there is a definite cost to all this busy-ness. Have you ever stopped to think of the consequences of being busy? I did some research on the subject, and I here’s what I learned. Busy-ness costs us…

1. Connection.

When you are stuck in the cycle of busy-ness, you:

  • have less time for family and friends.
  • experience a lack of presence (even when you do make time for others).
  • find yourself unable to enjoy the time because of too much to do
  • turn to social media for numbing and to escape the stress.

In fact, in a study conducted by Princeton University on seminary students found that 90% of those who felt extreme time-urgency and pressure to meet a deadline walked right past someone who was in desperate need of help. The take-away: busy-ness and stress rob us of connection and the very things that make our lives meaningful.

2. Money.

In the more literal sense of the word “cost,” there is a true financial cost to being busy, too. When you are busy, you are more likely to:

  • Miss payments, be charged late fees, forget to cancel extra subscriptions, and have limited time for bill review.
  • Eat out or purchase convenience foods which are 5x more expensive than eating meals at home or food you prepared yourself.
  • Let that gym membership go unused.

For example, have you signed up for that “special deal” on cable or internet that requires you call every 6 months to keep the payments at a manageable level? You can quickly spend an extra $50/month on your tv if you don’t have the time to do a bill review or call to update your subscription (that’s $300 every 6 months or $600 per year!).

Also, the subscriptions you put in place to outsource things or make your life easier also require attention and management. That Blue Apron membership or milk delivery is great…until you forget to cancel them and you’re on a two-week business trip.

3. Health.

When it comes to your health, busy-ness is certainly not in your favor. Busy-ness causes chronic stress and leads to:

  • Increased cortisol levels. Excess cortisol in the body has been linked to acne, abdominal fat and weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, and more.
  • Limited or no time for exercise, healthy eating, or self care.
  • Eating excess calories. You are more likely to eat out and reach for comfort foods when you are busy leading to up to 1,000 excess calories per week (that’s 10 lbs. of weight gain/year).

As a health & productivity coach, I’ve found that busy-ness and stress are the root (or underlying) cause of many health and lifestyle issues my clients are trying to improve. Once we tackle the busy-ness and stress, the ability to lose weight, exercise, be more present, prepare healthy meals, and just plain enjoy life becomes much easier. This was even the case for me!

4. Productivity.

Finally, busy-ness impedes our productivity. Here’s the irony: we are often staying busy because we associate it with being productive. This is not the case. Busy-ness causes:

  • An inability to focus on tasks. With so much swirling in your brain and no time for transition, you aren’t able to give the task-at-hand your full attention, limiting your creativity, problem-solving, and relationship skills.
  • You to be a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” By spreading yourself thin, you’re doing a lot of things with mediocrity instead of doing a few things exceptionally.
  • Rushing as well as being late to meetings and appointments. Talk about high cortisol levels!
  • Missed deadlines. You are more forgetful when you are busy and rushing, so deadlines fly out the window! Plus, the busiest people also tend to be the most over-committed people.

How Do You Stop the Cycle of Busy-ness?

The habit of being busy can be tricky to break, but certainly not impossible. It requires:

  • identification of your patterns and increased awareness on how you are spending your time and energy.
  • shifts to your mindset and habits towards doing less.
  • focusing on the vital few items that must be in place to feel present as well as to maximize your time and energy. 

I’ve seen this system work time and time again for my clients (and even in my own life), and now I can share it with you!

Do Less, Be More Coaching Program

My Do Less, Be More program is a 6-week group coaching program where I take you through my “busy-ness cleanse” so you can take back your time, energy, and joy.

The next round ofstarts October 23 and will be held on Wednesday’s through November 27. Space is limited, and I won’t be offering this discounted price again in the future. Don’t miss your chance to Do Less and Be More!

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Five Signs You’re In Need of Some Time-Away

This scene from Bad Moms is hilarious.  However, you’d be surprised how many moms I’ve talked to who actually agree with it!  Being mom is a full-time job – and one that comes with limited PTO.  Taking time away from family and kids is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself.

Here are five signs this could be the case for you.

1. You often hear yourself saying (outloud or to yourself) “I just need a break.” 

Girlfriend – Listen to what you are telling yourself.  If you think you need a break: you do!  Things don’t have to be at catastrophic levels to warrant a retreat or mom-cation. Even low amounts of stress on a regular basis can keep you from being your best. 

2. You’ve started to resent certain things (or people). 

Are there some days where you feel that if you have to answer one more question, respond to one more email, fix one more meal, or fold one more load of laundry you will absolutely lose it?  You’re not alone.  Adulting is hard work! Psychologists have proved that time outside of your normal routine to connect with other women helps wonders!

3. You’ve stopped doing things you love.  

Have you found yourself bowing out of chances to hang with friends?  Ditching the morning workout you normally can’t live without? Hitting the snooze button instead of getting up for your beloved morning “me time?”  When you’re in need of some time away, even the things you love doing can lose their luster.    

4. You have lost motivation for pursuing your goals.  

You were on-fire a few months ago: Reading self-improvement books.  Listening to podcasts.  Checking goals off left and right.  But now, you seem to have forgotten why you started them in the first place.  You can get your motivation back with some intentionally planned time away.

5. You just want some time away. 

Have you heard friends talk about time they’ve taken away and want this for yourself?  Are you craving the opportunity to take care of “just yourself and yourself alone?”  You deserve it!  You don’t need to have any other reasons to need time away other than wanting more for yourself.

Did you find yourself in any of the scenarios above?  If you’re a driven, dynamic, hard-working mom, chances are you’re up there somewhere.

That’s okay.  Many of us feel this way from time-to-time.  Regular time away from your regular routine to take care of yourself, relieve tension, and return home ready to take on the world again is so beneficial.  So, give yourself the permission to take some time away…and then schedule it!

And…Here’s What You Can Do About It!

I’ve decided to start offering retreats because I’ve heard loud and clear the need for busy moms to take time away.  A girls’ weekend of drinking wine, sleeping ’til 10, and laying by the pool for hours is great, but in order to come back home ready to take on the world, you need something more.

This is exactly the reason I’ve put together a weekend retreat to provide you with the time, space, tools, and inspiration to do less and be more in your everyday life.
With the backdrop of the beautiful town of Crested Butte and fresh mountain air along with peaceful, luxurious accommodations, I’ll lead you through an intentionally planned weekend where you will:

↠Hit the pause button on life’s demands and commitments with time carved out especially for you

↠Nourish your body with healthy food and learn tips for optimizing your nutrition even amidst the busiest of schedules

↠Feel invigorated through fitness adventures – hiking, stand-up paddle boarding (no experience required), yoga, and plenty of time outdoors

↠Connect with other women for laughter and support in making these new commitments to ourselves

↠Enjoy an opportunity to give back to others through a special art-inspired project 

Save $500…sign up by July 30!

This retreat is a girls’ weekend you don’t have to plan and doesn’t leave you needing a vacation from your vacation!  You’ll be able to reset and recharge to return home an even better version of yourself. Plus, you’ll have new tools, new friends, and new experiences to supercharge your ability to make your intentions come to life.

Valued at over $3,000 per person, you can join me for just $997 if you sign up by July 30 (the price increases to $1,499 on August 1).  Plus – then you’ll have your much-needed time away in the books!

Ready to sign up?  Contact me with any questions or go ahead and reserve your spot now!

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Find Comfort Outside of Your Comfort Zone with Self Care Rituals

Find Comfort Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I hear a lot from women that they want to get outside of their comfort zone.  In fact, research has shown that if you are completely comfortable you aren’t growing.  I love to witness this ambition and drive to make a difference and succeed.

But, here’s the thing: staying at this level of performance all of the time leads to stress, overwhelm, and burnout.  Certainly not the intended consequence.

The key is learning to find and create comfort outside of your comfort zone…to sustain your glow-getter status with self care rituals incorporated on a regular basis.  

Mindful Living

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Hudson of Mindful Haus, an online shop created with the intention to inspire others to live and give with more light and presence through artisan beauty, sacred self-care rituals and mindful living.  

Julie shared that, for her, a self care ritual can be taking even five minutes every day to honor yourself, slow down, and be a little bit more present.

Establish Your Own Self Care Rituals

Not sure how or where to start?  Here are six easy ideas to try in order to inspire comfort and help you find more joy even in the simplest of things:

1. Savor your morning coffee.  

Pick out a favorite mug. Smell the aroma as it brews and enjoy the sounds that mean the warm cup is almost ready.  Enjoy the flavor slowly and while setting your intention for the day ahead.

2. Treat yourself to fresh flowers.  

Select flowers that elicit a warm and pleasant feeling or that bring up a fond memory.  Place them in a handcrafted vase that suits your style in an area you’ll see often.

3. Light a candle.  

This can be a great addition to other self care rituals or can be one on its own.  Choose an artisan-crafted candle with a look, fragrance, and even crackle that makes you feel warm inside.

4. Take a warm bath with natural bath products.  

Read a book and enjoy a glass of wine or cup of hot tea.  Enjoy the warmth of the water, the fragrance of the products, and the taste of the drink.

5. Take a mindful walk without your phone.  

Establish a regular path that allows you to connect with the outdoors and causes you to leave your thoughts and worries alone for awhile.  Feel your feet hitting the ground, the sound of your breath, and even the beating of your heart in your chest.

6. Sit in stillness and reflection for five minute, do some deep breathing, or meditate.  

Taking even a few minutes to tune into your body’s cues and letting your mind relax does wonders for your soul.

Increase Your Awareness

Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “Am I showing up the way I want for myself? My family? My friends? My life?”  If you’re answer is no, consider investing some time and energy in establishing self care rituals.

I often say, the real secret to feeling energized and thriving is to find that space where your comfort zone and the discomfort of growth intersect…and then learning how to live there.  

Based on my own experience, self care rituals are essential to the “learning how to live there” part.

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Start the Day Stress-Free with Smoothie Prep

Smoothies are a great way to start your morning. I love them because they are easy to eat on the run. Also, you can pack them full of nutritious ingredients that will keep Godzilla mom/wife/partner/sister (or even dad) at bay.

I’m also a big fan of prepping as much in advance as possible. Prepping in advance allows you to be more organized, productive, and present throughout the week. (No more chasing after the kiddos while you try to chop veggies). What’s more – most of us hate to waste food – so if it’s already prepped, your chances of following through your goals of eating healthy are much higher.

Here’s how to prep a work week’s worth of smoothies so you can start the day stress-free!

Step 1:

Get the necessary ingredients from the store.

This is where meal prepping typically begins. Want to be even more efficient? Order your groceries online and pick them up! Make sure to add these ingredients for 5 days of smoothies:

Shopping List

10 cups almond milk
3 bananas
5 cups baby spinach
1/3 cup chia seeds
5 teaspoons cacao nibs
1/2 cup almond butter
5 servings protein powder (chocolate works best)

If you don’t already have these storage containers, you’ll want to grab them too:
5 baggies (ziploc or reusable)
1 mason jar or any large container with a lid that holds liquid

Step 2:

Prep all of the ingredients.

Pick a day to set aside 15 minutes to pre-portion your ingredients into baggies.

1. Prepare 5 individual baggies consisting of:
1/2 banana (you’ll have 1/2 banana left…put him in a baggie in the freezer for a smoothie on another day)
1 teaspoon cacao nibs
1 cup spinach

2. Place the baggies in the freezer (where you can easily find them). 

3. Have the following readily available in your fridge (not behind the water filter):
Almond milk
Chia seeds
Almond butter

4. Keep these tools handy:
Blender
Measuring tools (tablespoon and a cup)

Step 3:

Make your smoothie in 3 minutes.

Every weekday, throw all of your ingredients into a blender, and hit the button. There you go!

Ingredients
2 cups almond milk
1/2 banana
1 cup spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon cacao nibs
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 serving protein powder

Directions
1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 45-60 seconds.

2. Pour into a mason jar or any BPA-free container and enjoy!

Step 4:

Read these helpful tips for the most enjoyable smoothies.

  • Freezing your bananas helps your smoothie’s consistency. Plus, it will keep you from needing to add ice.
  • It’s helpful to start with the liquid so you can use the marks on the blender for measuring.
  • It’s best to enjoy your smoothie within 30 minutes of making it. It’s still safe to eat it after that…but let’s just say it might not be as desirable.
  • Clean your blender quickly by filling half-way with water and adding a drop of dish-soap. Pulse for thirty seconds, rinse, and turn upside on a dish cloth to dry.

While you’re at it, make sure you have ingredients on-hand to prep some healthy lunches, too!

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How Kelly Got Unstuck…Her Confidence…and a 20% Raise

how kelly got unstuck

Kelly first came to me as a consulting client.  She was so overwhelmed and knew something had to give.  She thought that hiring a consultant to take some of the extra work off her plate would take the pressure off and allow her to perform like she used to. And it helped a little, but as we continued to work together, it became clear that what Kelly really wanted was help to get unstuck.

She felt overloaded with the amount of work she had to get done every day.  She loved her team and the idea of her job, but what it had become was unsustainable.  Kelly felt like a failure for feeling like she needed to ask for help.  And she didn’t believe that things would really change if she did.  Plus – she wasn’t sure where to start.  It all seemed impossible.  Kelly was tired of feeling helpless to change her situation and figured the only way to improve things was to look for a new job.  But, that had challenges of its own.  So, she continued to struggle through things and hope that something would happen to make things different.

What It Means to Be Stuck

What Kelly was experiencing happens to a lot of us and causes us to get stuck in the first place.  We start to experience the discomfort that comes from a change in our lives or our routines or even a mindset shift.  In Kelly’s case, it was an increase in demands of her job and the size of her team without a change in compensation or even input into how things were done.  When trying to talk to others about her challenges, she was only able to talk about what was going wrong and how she felt.  Her ability to come up with a path forward was clouded by her fear of being a failure or letting others down.

How Coaching Helped

I approached Kelly with the idea of giving coaching a try to help her get unstuck and see new possibilities.  Like many others, she wasn’t sure how coaching worked or how a health coach would help her job situation change.  But – she felt like it was worth a try.  I started with Kelly as I do with my other clients – establishing a vision for the ideal situation.  She resisted at first because it seemed worthless to envision something that seemed impossible.  However, she was able to bring herself to do it.

Just gaining clarity around what she really wanted – to keep her current job but with credit and compensation for her increase in responsibilities as well as better work/life balance – brought a sigh of relief.

Our next steps together included mapping out the top priorities for attaining this vision and action-oriented goals she could accomplish in order to move closer to it.  This part of the process helped her see how much control she actually had over the outcome and made her feel less helpless in her current situation.  And – by setting deadlines for the goals – she was being held accountable to completing them but also knew there was a timeframe to re-evaluate the situation if the outcome wasn’t what she hoped.

Confidence As An Unexpected Outcome

It took several months, but eventually Kelly devised a new way to tell her story to a leader who would listen.  And, then things started to change for her.  It’s possible that Kelly could have done this on her own over time.  But like many of my clients, she felt that having a coach listen and help her see things from a different and sometimes more objective perspective expedited the process.  It also helped her increase her confidence to a higher level than it was before.

Kelly was also able to use her new skills to tackle some additional areas where she felt stuck.  With her confidence at a new level, she decided she would start exercising more.  She also started a new meditation practice.  It turned out that getting unstuck in one area opened up the opportunity to more easily change in other areas.

You Can Get Unstuck, Too

Where would you like to get unstuck in your current life?  Is it your job like Kelly?  Or maybe it’s losing weight.  Or finding more balance. Whatever the reason, I’d love to help you get started.

It’s never too early or too late to begin working on the best version of yourself.  Your dreams can be achieved…let’s get started!

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5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals: Tips to Organize Your Ambition From A Project Manager Turned Health Coach

5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Learn how to meditate.  Volunteer more at my kids’ school.  Join the chamber for more networking.  Plan a monthly lunch date with my husband.  Achieve my goals of training for a half marathon and eating less fast food.  Drink less coffee (and maybe wine, too). Listen to a daily self-improvement podcast.  Create a new family budget to allow for more vacations. Plan and book family vacations.  Learn how to make zucchini noodles. Get a promotion at work. Start my own business…

Sound familiar?  If you’re like many successful women, you are not lacking when it comes to ambition.  You have goals and aspirations. Your track record shows that you are able to accomplish what put your mind to.  Yet, you continue to struggle to find time for those “nice-to-have” goals. Things that would contribute to your health and wellbeing.  Things that you’ve always wanted to try…but never seem to have the time or energy to bring to fruition.

5 Steps To Achieve Your Goals

Plan for Success

When an organization wants to ensure success for an important initiative, leaders generally assign a project manager (or several if it’s big enough).  Why? Project managers are skilled at breaking down initiatives into measurable tasks; tracking dependencies, risks, and issues; keeping the team accountable to success; and influencing members of the organization when they are holding things up.  You can use these same concepts to ensure success for your own important initiatives.

5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Five Steps to Organize Your Ambition

As a project manager for over ten years, I find these same skills to be quite handy when working as a health coach. I’m excited to help you achieve your goals in five simple steps:

  1. Write all of your goals and ambitions down.

    Put everything you aspire to do on this list.  This is more or less a brain-dump. It’s an opportunity to get everything down on paper.  TIP: Some of my clients have preferred to do this exercise on a computer in an excel spreadsheet so they can organize it more easily later.

  2. Create categories.  

    Next, take a high-level look at the list.  First, notice any similarities.  Are there some items that can be grouped together into a category?  For example, if you have “learn to meditate,” “take a regular yoga class,” “journal daily,” and “listen to a daily self-improvement podcast on your list,” you could list each of these items under one header such as “Personal Self Care.”  Try to create three to five broad categories so that each task has a larger category it belongs to. Write the category name, then list each of the items that belong to the category under the header. TIP: Most frequently used categories include self care, work/career/purpose, family/spouse/romance, finances/money, health, self improvement, fun/recreation, and physical environment (i.e. home).

  3. Consider dependencies.

     Once you’ve finished your categories, it’s time to consider dependencies.  These are items that depend upon one another in order to be completed. For example, if you have “eat less pre-packaged and fast food” as well as “learn to make zucchini noodles” on your list, you might feel that eating less pre-packaged and fast food is dependent upon you learning new cooking techniques…such as making zucchini noodles.  Consider any dependencies for the items on your list and write them down in a column to the right of the corresponding item.  TIP: Common dependencies include time, money, skills, and personal permission (giving yourself the permission to make this a priority).

  4. Assign support to complete the tasks.

     Now that you’ve considered your dependencies, it’s important to think of a strategy to manage them.  This might be a person reminding you of your commitment, finances to get started, or learning new skills.  Create a new column labeled “support” to the right of each item, and fill in the strategy or support for managing the dependencies. TIP: Outsourcing or delegating can be a helpful support mechanism.  For example, to make more time for tasks, the support you need might be someone to clean your house periodically or a personal chef to help you make healthier meals while you are still learning.

  5. Determine a timeline.  

    Now it’s time to add your final column: timeline.  The most important thing here is not to pick too many items to complete at one time…or you’ll be right back where you started.  When I work with clients, we pick two to three overarching goals per three month period. In this instance, you would pick two to three of your larger categories to work on for the next three months.  Then, determine which of the smaller tasks in each category you’ll complete in order.  Assign a date to have each item completed. When you are doing this, you might notice that some of your items need to be broken down into smaller tasks to make them manageable. TIP: This step can be really helpful in calming your overwhelm.  If you’d like to learn more about how designating a timeline can reduce stress, check out my blog on “creating a when to do list.”

Support is Key

Now that you’ve organized your ambition into a manageable plan and set a timeline to complete your goals, make sure to share them with someone.  Telling someone about your plans will make you more likely to complete them. 

Want more tips on achieving your goals? 

Join my Facebook group for women where I share free tips to be healthy, feel happy, and live well.  Plus – you’ll have the support of others who are striving to do the same!

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“Busy-ness” = More Stress, Less Happiness

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

Let’s say you somehow got granted two extra hours in a day.  No one else knows about these extra two hours, so you get to spend them however YOU want.  What would you spend them doing?  I have asked this question of clients who would like to have more balance or less stress.  None of them answered “work more,” “check my email” or “watch tv.”  The most frequent answers are: sleep, exercise, or spend time doing something fun with family (kids) or friends.

This is your mind and body trying to tell you something.

The Busy-ness Cycle

The last time you asked someone how they were doing, what did they say?  9 times out of 10, people say “busy.”  Do you answer this way? So many of us – especially women – feel we need to be busy as a badge of honor.  If we are not busy, we are not proving our worth.  But, this constant “busy-ness” is a fast road to burnout, chronic stress, and missing the best of what our lives have to offer.

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

Your Body is Telling You Something

I have had many successful female clients tell me about their “wake-up” calls as it relates to their stress and busy-ness.  Some had some serious health scares themselves or ended up with symptoms of illnesses that have no real explanation.  Others find themselves turning to food or more to do in order to stay awake or make it through their day.  So many of us have stopped listening to our body’s cues to slow down.  We just keep pushing forward until our body makes us stop.  This is not a healthy or happy way to go through life.  But you already know this.

It Starts with What You Say

In her book You are a Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life, Jen Sincero writes “Stop talking about how busy you are.  Focus on what you enjoy about what you do and the spaces in between the doing instead of feeling weighed down by it all.”  Reading this allowed me to change my own perspective and increased my awareness.  If I stopped talking about being busy, what would I say?  It turns out that the simple act of changing this perspective allowed me to reexamine my priorities. Give it a try the next time somehow asks you how you are.

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

What Are Your Priorities?

In her book The Sweet Spot: How To Find Your Groove At Home and Work, Christine Carter suggests that we aim to spend 95% of our time on our top priorities and saying “no” to virtually everything else.  She writes “Spending 95% of my time on my top priorities left only about 5 hours a week for other things.   Something often had to give; for me, it was my health.  Like many working mothers, I had put my own well-being on the back-burner, never exercising and rarely getting enough sleep.  I was sick all the time.”  But once she started looking at her time from a place of sufficiency (there is enough time), understanding that “more is not better,” and realizing her power to change things, she was able to shift her time and focus.

So, get really clear about your priorities.  YOUR priorities based on YOUR values.  Not the ones you think you should have or that someone else thinks you should have.  Try picking three to five top priorities and use them as deciphers when starting or stopping an activity.

Listen To Your Body

Our bodies are pretty amazing if you consider all they do (and all we do TO them).  It’s important to honor this and start listening to your body’s cues.  For example, do you find yourself in a mid-afternoon slump – having to push yourself to finish one more thing?  Or – maybe you reach for things like food (or wine or coffee) to help you feel comfort or even to push through the day.  I’m not saying all of this is bad.  I’m just asking you to take a deep breath and decide if your body is trying to ask for what it needs.  For example, maybe you’re actually dehydrated in the mid-afternoon.  Research shows that many people feel much more alert after drinking 8-12 ounces of cold water when this happens.  And, if you couple this with a quick walk around the block, researchers have found that many people come back to their work or tasks more productive and with a new perspective.

Time for You

It’s easy to get wrapped up in our routines and forget about the priorities and goals you’ve set for yourself.  Sometimes the best place to start is to stop doing something.  Take a good look at your time spent on different activities each day.  It might even be helpful to keep a running tally for a week.  You can create different categories: taking care of kids, work, housework, self-care, sleep, social media/email, cooking meals, driving. Keep a running tab of how much time you spend in each category.  If you have new goals, like starting to exercise, cooking more meals at home, or even finding more time to rest, take a look at the different categories and decide what you can stop doing to make time for your goal.  This might require that you outsource, ask someone else to help you, or stop doing it altogether for a period of time.  Creating systems to group certain activities for efficiency (like meal-prepping) can also help.  The trick is – once you’ve created the extra time for your new goal – you have to make sure to not fill it with something else.  Use it as time for you!!!

Fall Into Healthy Habits

Happiness Instead of Busy-ness

Let’s all make a decision to start focusing on our happiness or productivity instead of our “busy-ness.”  It starts with each of us deciding to do things differently to shift this new norm.  And – maybe you’ll even end up with the extra two hours to spend the way you want without having to call upon your fairy godmother. 🙂

If  you’d like more tips on how to make the time and energy for your goals, follow me on Facebook or Instagram!

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Reading for Mindfulness and Inspiration

Reading for mindfulness and inspiration

Especially now that I’m an entrepreneur, I find it harder and harder to let my mind rest.  All the more reason to make sure I take time for meditation to aid in my mindfulness.  Here’s the problem: I am not very good at meditating.  And, since it is a skill that takes time to master, I lose patience with it before I’ve started to reap the benefits.  But, it turns out that I can gain some similar benefits from reading.

reading for mindfulness and inspiration

Hard to Find the Time

As a mom of two little kiddos, it has been difficult to fit in time for reading.  Until recently, I started drifting off to sleep due to lack of zzz’s when I tried to read.  However, now I find myself with more time to focus on reading.  I’ve realized a key benefit – it helps me be more mindful.

Reading for mindfulness and inspiration

Mindful Reading Takes Focus

To mindfully read, it’s important to take in each word and focus on the content itself.  When you realize you’ve read three pages and really don’t have any idea what they were about (but you’ve successfully planned your outfits for the week and what you will have for dinner tomorrow), it’s time to bring yourself back to the present.  The practice of paying attention to the words and bringing your focus back when it drifts away is a key part of meditating.

Reading for mindfulness and inspiration

Benefits To My Daily Life

I’ve found that this practice of focusing on the content in the book and the words on the pages has helped me be more mindful throughout the day, too.  Catching myself drifting away from the task at hand and redirecting my thoughts to the present is easier now that I have some experience with the skill.  I also find that I am noticing more about even the smallest details.  This helps me appreciate more each day.

Reading for mindfulness and inspiration

Books I Find Inspiring

What to read?  Well, anything that catches your attention.  However, in the spirit of inspiration and self improvement, here are a few good reads that I recommend:

The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter. Easy to read with a ton of tips for getting into your groove at home and at work.  I love that it is backed by research.

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter. This was recommended by my colleagues at Kaiser Permanente.  It takes data from Gallup polls from those with the highest levels of wellbeing and breaks key elements down into measurable steps.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I love Brene Brown.  This book was the easiest of hers for me to read.  I found a lot of truth in her research for living a wholehearted life.  Her suggestions for becoming more vulnerable and caring less about what others think rang true for me.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This was one I found on Amazon’s reading list.  It was hard for me to put down.  After reading it, I was inspired to seek out a life that has meaning for me.

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.  A lot of famous folks have been seen toting this book around.  I think there’s good reason.  It is inspirational in that it encourages us to seek out our true gifts and dreams.

simplified. A Real-Life Guide to Organizing Your Space and Saving Your Sanity by Stephanie Sikora.  My good friend wrote this book, and it is so helpful for creating systems in your home that turn your chaos into calm.

So, take some time to practice mindfully reading.  I’d love to know what’s at the top of your reading list!