a new month.

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Beginning of November.

A time to reflect on what we are working towards. A new month and a chance to re-evaluate what we want to accomplish. A chance to course-correct and to get back on track to end the year in a strong way. Or perhaps, an opportunity to create some priorities for ourselves for the first time, all year.

It doesn’t matter where we are at, whether we have been consistently working on our goals or we haven’t created any yet, there is still time to make the next 30 and 60 days really count!

When we sit down to do this work, we need to distinguish between “priorities” and “to do lists”. I teach my private clients this concept and it really helps them to focus on what really matters in their lives – to help clear away the clutter of obligation and to minimize the distractions that inevitably arise.

I will share a story about my client who wants to bring more money into her life. When she hired me, she was struggling to pay her bills and everything related to her money situation is very stressful. At the beginning of our work together, she identified that she wanted to double her income in 2016. She knew that this would be a very serious stretch goal, it would take tremendous focus and accountability. She wanted to figure out how to do the hard work associated with achieving this money goal way more than she wanted to feel stress, pressure and anxiety about not having enough money to pay her bills. She was committed. So we began with creating her goal: Double income in 2016.

Next we created her “priorities” list – the things / tasks that she would prioritize because they were in alignment with her over-arching goal of doubling her income in 2016. Priorities support goals 100% of the time. Priorities become the road maps and create the structure behind the goal setting. Priorities help us to stay focused and to provide the necessary restraint to achieve what we most want.

My client created her 5 priorities that would support her goal of doubling her income in 2016. This included the specific ways that she would earn money and save money. The priorities were very straight-forward and clear. She had created her plan. And then she went to work on outlining the steps underneath each priority and learned that this is where she needed to direct her focus every month, every week, every day.

There have been moments when my client has gotten off-course with her money goal this year. Each time it has happened was because she allowed her “to-do list” to take over. She hadn’t meant to abandon her money goal and never forgot how important it was to her, it’s just that other things created moments of momentary distraction. Other things became temporarily more important.

And this happens to us all the time. Doesn’t it? Our lives are so full and there is so much going on in the world around us, that it is easy to lose track of what we say is important to us. We never intend to turn our back on our goals and yet we do it all the time. We want to stick to our plan and our priorities and yet finding the time can sometimes feel impossible – especially when we allow our “to-do lists” to take over our lives.

I want to explain exactly what I mean by “to-do lists”. I am referring to them as the task lists that we create every week. The lists that wake us up in the middle of the night. The impossibly long lists of errands, shopping, driving, dropping off, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, helping out….that run our day-to-day lives. These lists dictate our schedules, our free time and set a precedent for how we organize ourselves. If left unchecked, they can take over everything.

Now I am not suggesting that we can abandon these “to-do lists” all together – that would be impossible – we need to have clean laundry, food in the pantry, our cars inspected. We need to go to the dentist, pick up a birthday card and volunteer at school or in our communities. These are the realities of life. And they cannot become the excuse we use to not make time for what we say we really want. I know that when a client says they want something and yet they are spending time on other things, it is because they are caught up in their “to-do lists” and think that they have no other choice. They believe that there is no extra time to devote to working towards their goals.

I believe that you always have a choice. I believe that there is always more than enough time. I believe that when you identify your goals and the priorities that support it, you can look at your “to-do list” with a different perspective, that you can un-obligate yourself from all the extra and unnecessary items that are not in alignment with what you really want.

So, I know that my client with the money goal is starting today and this new month, revisiting her priorities. She is evaluating her progress and seeing where she needs to do to push harder, shift attention and focus. She has taught herself how to put her priorities first and fill her “to do list” around it. She is determined to reach her goal this year and she is very close!

What can you do today on this first day of the month, to check in on your priorities?

How do you want to finish this year?

What would you like to accomplish?

Where can you carve out time from your “to-do list” and work on your priorities?

There is still plenty of time – to prioritize what matters to you most. To work towards it and most importantly, to experience achieving it.

Creating Focus.

The power of focus has taught me how to increase success in my life and business. In order to meet my goals personally and professionally, I have learned to focus my time and attention on only the activities that will bring my desired results. This means bringing my attention to my center, concentrating on one thing intently in order to gain clarity. Clarity fuels my focus. Focus combined with commitment and consistency creates momentum; and momentum creates more momentum, which eventually leads to success.

If you want to have more fun, grow your business, lose weight, or improve your relationship with yourself or someone else but find yourself distracted, then it’s time to bring the power of focus into your life. When you teach yourself to focus on one goal or opportunity at a time not only will you be much more productive, you’ll learn incredible things about yourself.

Distraction blocks our creativeness and inner greatness from emerging. It’s hard to focus and complete what we set out to do when we are highly distracted. Take a look at what you’re doing right now. Ask yourself three simple questions and see what your level of focus is.

  • Do you generate so many new ideas that you never implement or don’t finish one idea to completion?
  • At the end of the day do you feel as though you haven’t accomplished anything meaningful towards your most heart-felt goals?
  • Do often wonder where all the time has gone?

We are all creative beings and we want to pursue many paths at once. However, when we expend our energy in too many directions it weakens the power of focus. Is there a project, goal or opportunity that is in need of your devoted attention right now?

List out your top three priorities. Preplan your schedule with your priorities in mind. Block out focused time to attend to these three priorities every day. Consistently remind yourself why these priorities matter. Be grateful for your power of focus (especially as you are learning to become more focused). Commit to practicing this new routine throughout the day, every day. The momentum will build and you will create new results.

Honor your priorities and desire for creating better results in your life and apply the power of focus starting today. Don’t wait until tomorrow or it won’t happen. Your life needs your attention and focus now.

Distraction

We are all prone to a little distraction now and again. In truth, it is sometimes exactly what we need. We need to be able to do something a little mindless, blow off steam, relax and detach every once in a while. It’s good for us.

Especially when it is intentional and planned. Conscious distraction, is what I like to call it.

And then there is the other kind of distraction – otherwise known as unintentional distraction.

Unintentional distracted is subtle, less obvious and usually not planned.

So what really happens when we spend time in unintentional distraction?

It means that we show up in life half paying attention, half focused, half checked-in to what is going on. Our bodies go through the motions while our minds are elsewhere. We say one thing but do something else. We eat even when we are not hungry. We say yes when we mean no. We stay up late when we are tired. We use being too busy to exercise as an excuse when we really want to be in better shape. We are prone to forgetting what is important to us, caught up in the moment instead of being grounded in our truth.

Being unintentionally distracted means that we are constantly leaking our own precious time – wasting it on stuff that is usually not very important. It means we deplete our creative resources, energy, health, love and money for instant gratification. We stop investing in our goals and dreams. And then when we do not get the results that we want, we like to blame others for the outcome.

Instead, we can look closely and discover when and where we slip into unintended distraction. We can notice where we are leaking time and moving further away from the goals and dreams. We can consciously and compassionately bring ourselves back to more presence and connection with what really matters – rewarding ourselves for our hard work with intentionally “taking a break” instead of constantly living in distraction and half commitment to everything.

The Joy List

I love creating a Joy List. I love it because it feels good and reminds me of the things that I love that bring me joy.  The things that I love don’t just show up in my life by accident. I have to give what I love, my attention. I direct my thoughts towards what I love, so that I can have more of it. It’s that simple.

When we don’t give what we love our fullest attention, other things come in and take their place. All of a sudden, we find ourselves spending time on things that don’t mean anything, or are important to someone else, or waste our time. We fill our days with tasks and activities that keep us busy but lack joy producing effects. We trade what we love for Facebook, T.V., hanging out with negative people, eating because of boredom, over-spending, etc. This happens because we just forget to tap into what fuels our joy.

When was the last time that you created a Joy List?

Do you still know what brings you joy?

Do you know that you deserve to have a life filled with joy – things and experiences that you love?

Do yourself the biggest, most generous favor and create a Joy List today. Find out what you love. Reconnect with it. Write down what makes you happy and then find time in your day to give yourself the gift of something from your list. Let go of something from your day that doesn’t make you feel incredible and replace it with something from your Joy List. You will be amazed with the results.

My Joy List this week…

a juicy peach, solitude, an adventure to look forward to, peonies, my daughter whispering in my ear, hot baths, live dance performances, watching the waves, sun on my shoulders, restorative yoga, down pillows, belly laughter, puzzles, holding hands, 30,000+ feet in the air, flamenco music, sushi, gratitudes, paddle-boarding, facials, a fire, family, plan A.

Why I stopped believing in Plan B

For the longest time I thought that I always needed a backup plan. Otherwise known as Plan B. You know, the thing that you will do when the thing that you really want doesn’t work out.

I thought that having a Plan B was….

being smart

being careful

being prepared

having options

creating a safety net

The problem was that having a Plan B always led to having a Plan C which eventually led to a Plan D and so on….

I woke up one day to realize that I had veered really far off-course. I was living the backup plan to the backup plan. What the?

I have come to understand that when you constantly think about Plan B, then you are robbing your Plan A of the energy, commitment and focus that it requires to come true. Your Plan A never stands a chance when it is competing for your attention with Plan B. Plan A get sabotaged with fear and worry when we believe that we need a Plan B waiting in the wings.

I have made the decision that now there is only Plan A. There is no other option. Only Plan A gets the spotlight and all my attention.

I eat Plan A for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plan A is the song that is stuck in my head. It’s the first thing that I think of when I wake up and the last thing that I think of before I go to sleep. I tell those closest to me about my Plan A, so they will help hold me accountable to my dream. I never invite Plan B to the party.

Identifying Plan A takes tremendous work, focus and effort.

It means risking and revealing who we really are.

It takes courage and total commitment.

It means being ‘all in’.

When we go ‘all in’, we are fully aligned with what we desire. From that place of desire, we will take deliberate and intentional action towards realizing our dream.

The result? Plan A every time.

What Is Self Care?

Here’s what I used to think that it meant.

  • Eat semi-healthy foods
  • Drink enough water
  • Get a reasonable amount of sleep
  • Exercise (only if I have to)
  • Resist a second glass of wine on a Tuesday night
  • Wear sunscreen

Practically speaking, yes, daily self care does include these things. Attention focused on our bodies. We need nourishment, hydration, sleep and exercise to exist and contribute productively in this world. So the body usually gets our attention. On a good day, we might also find time to be outside, relax, get a massage and forget about looming work deadlines.

What about our minds? When do they get the attention that they deserve?

Our minds tend to get a little forgotten along the way, burdened with schedules and deadlines, bills and money, the past and the future, what couldn’t have been, what everyone else has.

Our unmanaged minds leap from our bodies constantly, chasing the external – the validation from others, the comparisons to others, learning patterns and behaviors that work for others. We effort against it and yet the draw of the external seems to slay us, every time.

I used to think that this is the way it worked. Focus on physical self care daily, get the basic (I mean, BASIC) plan done (and don’t take up too much time doing it, because someone may really need you) and it will be a pretty good day.

But seriously, who ever wants a pretty good day?

My poor neglected mind. It was dehydrated and starving. It can’t subsist on paying bills, managing schedules, the past, worry about the future. It’s needs way more!

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Our minds crave management and direction – not just about worry, stress and the to-do list – they want to spend time dreaming up happiness schemes and solving interesting problems that actually enhance our lives and make us feel good.

Our minds need our attention. Daily. We get to decide what we want to think. And the best part of this is, that we can choose to think positive thoughts!

My new daily self-care routine looks a lot like the list above, thankfully, without the exercise resistance. It also includes all-day thought attention. I do an inventory of my thoughts, from the minute I wake up until I go to bed. I am making sure that my mind is aligned with the goals that I have for a healthy lifestyle and successful business. I make sure that mind is trying to solve problems that actually enhance my life, not someone else’s. When I sense that my mind is going for a detour and looking for distraction in someone else’s life, I reign it back in. It’s not always easy, in the same way that getting to bed on time or getting to gym to work out can be really hard. I get it. But the gift of caring for our mind and our thoughts has a huge positive impact on daily self care routines.