Category Archives for Think Right

8 Technological Tools to Improve Your Business

Many of you will probably laugh at me while reading this article! But that’s okay – you probably should, because I admit that I sometimes still live in the Stone Age. You see, I am a self-proclaimed “Technological Idiot,” and I have no problem with it. Many people love to make fun of me because of that – especially my kids. I’m not that old, but I am a creature of habit. So that means I don’t usually seek out technology if I can avoid it. But sometimes, I am either forced into it, or I have a strong enough curiosity that will lead me to learning the basics of something.

So I am going to tell you about some of the technological things I have learned to use that have actually made my life better. For those of you who are like me and prefer living in the Stone Age, here are some of the things you can try that you might think are cool too (once you learn how to use them):

1. Skype

When I was a kid, I always wondered if one day, we would have video phones. Well, fast forward a couple of decades, and here we are! From Skype to Facetime, we have video calling now. Honestly, I was forced into using it. Someone contacted me and wanted to interview me for their Internet web show, and they used Skype to do it. So I had to learn. But I’m so happy I did, because now I use it all the time. It’s not that difficult, and I have met so many people I have done business with using it (virtually, of course).

2. Video editing

The world seems to revolve around videos these days. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, you know that videos can go viral. But I wanted to use videos to teach people. But I knew I couldn’t rely on hiring someone to do all my editing, so I had to learn it myself. And honestly, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it! You can have a lot of fun tinkering around with any video you create.

3. Touching up photos and using Photoshop

It also seems like people take a lot more photos than they used to – mostly because they do it with their phones. But if you’re like me, you end up with a lot of bad ones, or at least ones you want to fix. Whether you want to fix them because you have to, or just for the fun of it, there are some cool things you can do to edit photos. And Photoshop can do wonders for your pictures too. But just like editing videos, there is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth it.

4. Power Point

Several years ago, I was still using transparencies in the classroom on an overhead projector. Until one day, a student said to me, “do you want me to teach you how to use power point so you can convert your lecture notes away from those overheads?” It was at that point that I knew I had to get out of the Stone Age. I was way behind most professors with the use of technology, but once I learned to use it, I can’t believe it took me so long.

5. iPads

I thought iPads were cool, but I never had any desire to have one. But as time went on, I saw how other people were using them. It could be a “phone,” a word processor, a camera, a video camera, an audio recording device, and many more things. Plus, it’s a lot easier to carry around than a lap top – especially when you are traveling.

6. Smart Phone

Okay, now I KNOW you are laughing at this one! But I actually resisted getting a smart phone for many years. My friends really had a field day laughing at me for this one! But it was only when I realized that flip phones would not be around forever that I actually broke down and got one. And they are very cool! According to research, 64% of the people have smart phones, so I guess I am not the last person in the country to get one, which is shocking!

7. Maintaining a YouTube account

Because I wanted to do short, “Motivational Monday” videos to share on social media, I knew I had to have a YouTube account. I had learned how to edit them, so now I needed to learn how to maintain a YouTube account. As with most of the things I have discussed, it takes some time to figure it out, but once I did, it was freeing to know that I can now share my knowledge with the world on the internet.

8. Creating a video class

I figured that since I was getting so good at making videos, I might as well try to create a whole class. So, that’s exactly what I did. But it was also difficult for me to figure out how to do it on the platform I was using. However, I eventually figured it out. After much blood, sweat, and tears, I finally created a whole class that hopefully will help a lot of people.

While most of you were probably giggling at me reading this (honestly, I am too), maybe some of you are “technological idiots” like me. And if so, I hope I have encouraged you to get out of your technological comfort zone a little bit and see how learning new things can actually benefit your life!

4 Ways to Stop Your Suffering & Attain Peace of Mind

By Dick Sutphen

Whatever you refuse to face consciously you must suffer unconsciously.

In fact all your current suffering is the result of situations you have refused to confront. You’ve refused to act, repressing your thoughts, feelings and emotions until they are like a rubber life raft held just below the surface of the water.

You can stand on the emotional raft, forcing it down, but when you run out of energy to do that, or when you are not guarded, the repressed emotions surface and you experience the effects.

The only way to resolve the conflicts in your life and attain peace of mind is to deal with them as directly, honestly and efficiently as possible. There are four steps to end suffering and to attain peace of mind:

1) ACCEPT SELF-RESPONSIBILITY: In accepting karma as your philosophical basis of reality, you accept self responsibility. Your problems are karmic situations you need to experience to learn and grow. There is no one to blame for anything you’ve ever experienced. And remember, wisdom erases karma, and the law of grace supersedes the law of karma (if you give love and mercy and grace in your life, you will receive the same in return).

2) ACCEPT THAT WHAT IS, IS: Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference. Remember, you cannot change another human being.

3) DEVELOP DETACHED MIND: The goal is to enjoy all the good stuff life has to offer, but when outside conditions change, refrain from sinking into the basement of emotions (anger, hatred, desire for revenge). Allow negativity to flow through you without affecting you.

4) HARMONIOUS VIEWPOINT: The way you experience life is based on the way you choose to view what happens to you. Your viewpoint is the deciding factor in whether you perceive life as a troublesome journey or a harmonious experience.

Four steps to end suffering and obtain peace of mind! I’ve been working on these four wisdom points for 40 years and I’m still not there. But I can’t imagine living my life without this philosophical back up.

Psychology’s Newest Secret

By Dr. Sean Sullivan & Dr. Carol Morgan

As a communication professor, I have also done training and speaking to businesses and other organizations over the years. And what amazes me the most is that some of them don’t realize how things like communication skills, the ability to get along with people, and mental health issues are intimately intertwined with the success (or failure) of their business.

The good news is that over the last few decades, this is starting to change. That’s why businesses bring communication/relationship experts such as myself into their organizations so that they can work on the “human” aspect of business.

One thing you may not know about me is that I am continually seeking out other professionals in all sorts of fields who are doing similar – yet different – work. One such person that I have been working with for about a year now is Dr. Sean Sullivan, a performance psychologist based in San Francisco honored by OpenCare for having one of the top psychology practices in the city.

I see so many parallels in the work we – both with individuals and organizations. It’s so exciting to see what is on the cutting edge of psychology, and how Dr. Sean is bringing it into the mainstream. I’ve come to think of Dr. Sean as San Francisco’s psychologist.

So in order to learn what exactly he’s doing, why I think it’s so ground-breaking (and why you should care), I’m going to let Dr. Sean’s own words describe this powerful phenomena that can change not only your business life – but your personal one as well.

Here we go …

As great scientific discoveries so often do, psychology’s newest secret is finding its way into the business world.

To improve employees’ performance, contentment and health – i.e. overall wellness, leaders are beginning to harness a discovery that shifted how psychotherapy is practiced.

It’s only the beginning…

What’s the big secret?

I call it “Mind Exercising.”

A Mind Exercise is a strategic meditation that guides your attention through specific shifts with the intention of achieving and maintaining “real life” results.

Think of Mind Exercise as meditation’s high-performing cousin. You can Mind Exercise to improve your tennis game, customer service style, sales results or personal relationships.

Brain scientists have concluded that how and where you direct your attention produces measurable changes in your brain’s structure, physiology and function. A changed brain produces changed results.

The impact of Mind Exercise is not only theoretical or intellectual; it’s psychological, physiological and practical too.

How does it work?

Mind Exercise works like physical exercise. Just as the right physical exercise can improve your body’s strength and function so you perform better at particular tasks, the right Mind Exercise can improve the strength and function of your attention so you perform better at particular tasks.

How much practice produces measurable results?

Let’s look at examples of meditation research results that relate to changes to the brain that have been found in meditators.

Eight weeks of strategic meditation has been shown to increase the thickness of the hippocampus—a pair of thumb-sized structures located in the center of your brain that are vital to your ability to learn and remember.

When you manage your stress effectively your hippocampus can generate roughly seven hundred new brain cells every day. When unmanaged stress accumulates your hippocampus cells can shrink and die.

A shrinking hippocampus is associated with stress-related conditions such as anxiety and depression, and lifestyle choices like being sedentary and eating junk food. Your performance is negatively impacted in very real ways when you don’t manage your stress effectively.

What are other important findings?

Improvements in attention and concentration, (i.e. less mind wandering), have been repeatedly found in empirical research on meditation’s effects.

The average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013 (National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine).

Where does Mind Exercise come in?

Meditating with the intention of achieving a specific goal — Mind Exercising — is meditating strategically to change your “real life.”

With the right practice, you can reduce stress and access your ideally focused state of mind and body for performing at specific tasks that are important to you.

My clients typically set five to twenty-minute appointments with themselves throughout the day to complete Mind Exercises that relax their brain and body and strategically reconnect them to their personal, real-life, intention.

Mind Exercising can improve performance of teams as well. Group objectives are integrated into a customized Mind Exercise sequence that team members complete on a schedule. The exercises align team member’s mind-body state with their intention to produce clearly defined results.

Strategically applied habits of mind can lead to increased productivity, propagating a virtuous circle of improving performance and propelling teams toward shared goals.

What’s the rub?

The rub is that research indicates a variety of specific requirements must be met to realize many of the benefits of meditation. My experience is that the same criteria apply to benefiting from Mind Exercise.

While the benefits of meditation and Mind Exercise are significant, developing an effective practice is a commitment.

What’s the best way to begin?

Since maintaining your Mind Exercise practice after the initial fun and excitement of learning something new wears off is a challenge, it helps to clearly understand how your brain is changing, and how that will benefit you if you keep it up over time.

I developed an online learning format to guide people through the sequential steps my clients and patients take when they begin a Mind Exercise practice. You can complete the steps free at BeYourPurpose.com anytime.

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Dr. Sean Sullivan consults to organizations about brain training and Mind Exercise and maintains a performance-focused psychology practice awarded as, “One of the Top Psychology Practices in San Francisco in 2015,” by OpenCare. Dr. Sullivan is the author of two popular books about Mind Exercising: The Mind Master’s Silence Journey and Be Your Purpose. Join Dr. Sean live on Periscope to meditate and Mind Exercise.

Are You In The Wrong Job? A Five Question Quiz

By Mary Miller

1. Are you trying to get answers from Google?

2. Have you watched Office Space more times than you’d like to admit?

3. Do Sunday nights make you break out in a cold sweat?

4. Are you no longer able to manage your stress like you once could?

5. Do you often escape into the bathroom during a meeting to scream, cry, or punch something due to frustration?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, then you are probably in the wrong job. Your job fits you as well as your 5 year old’s sweater. The problem is that it’s a really well-paying job, and you have no idea what you’d do instead.

That is why…you’re still there…with a reoccurring case of the “Mundays.” But your grip on the ladder is starting to fail you and you don’t know how much longer you can hang on.

The good news is that you’re the architect of your own life. Yes – your life. This isn’t just about your career; it’s about your life.

Here’s what you can do about it.

Stop to think about what is causing your stress? Look for your triggers

• Write down why this is the “job from hell” – be specific. What doesn’t fit (i.e. too many details, no time to think etc)?

• Now take that and turn each negative statement into a positive one (i.e. I get to work on one project at a time, I have time to think & plan – it’s part of my job)

• Which parts of your job do you like?

• When did you stop liking your job?

• Now for the hard one…does part of the loathing you have for your job come from your attitude? If so, how?

Don’t be like the 52.3% of Americans who are unhappy with their jobs (2014, Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group). Chose to do something about it! To do something about it NOW click here.

4 Tips For Working At Home

By Jolie Miller

If you’re one of the millions of people who hope to work from home in 2015, we’ve got some tips for you.

Last week, we showed you how to set up your home workspace for maximum efficiency. Today in the second article of our Work From Home series, we’ll help you figure out how to structure your day.

Establishing routines will make all the difference between crazy days in which you get little done and productive days in which you accomplish a lot with few interruptions. Even a company that’s skeptical of work-from-homers has to appreciate productive workdays!

These are the three questions you should ask yourself when setting up your workday routines:

1. Find your Einstein window.

We all have times of day when we’re “on it” and times of day when we’re not at our best. Figuring out your window of Einstein-like brilliance is key to structuring your day. (See Finding your Einstein window from the lynda.com course Managing Your Time.)

If you’re a morning person who needs to get things done first thing in the morning (like I do), then block out the first hour or two of your daily calendar to make sure it stays focused with no interruptions. For me, 7:30-9:00 a.m. daily is a meeting-free zone when I review our customer feedback from the day before, work through emails and special projects, and organize my day. If everything after 9:00 becomes a free-for-all (it happens; you know it does), then at least I had my hour-and-a-half of super-productive time.

2. Decide on break and lunch plans. 

When I first started working at home, which was only a five-minute drive from my office at the time, I still met up with colleagues for lunch on telecommuting days. It kept me connected socially and helped me address some of the questions easier dealt with in person than email.

Give some thought to whether your breaks are going to be time for errands or house chores or perhaps a walk or video-game break. And are you planning to eat in or get out?

There are no right or wrong answers here. I like the solace of being home all day doing my own thing for about a week—and then I need human contact again by way of lunch dates. Others thrive on the variety of one “out of house” appointment a day to stretch the legs and shift mental focus. Get to know yourself better by trying on different routines here and seeing what frequency and type of breaks and lunch plans work best for you.

3. Let your colleagues know when they can count on you to be around.

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One of the advantages of working remotely is we can all be there in our pajamas in different time zones getting things done. But with that comes the tricky logistics of time-zone management—sometimes even across continents. Early in my career, I’d sometimes have calls across five time zones in a single day; I put clocks for different time zones up in my browser so I could always see what was happening when.

No matter what time zone you’re in, send an email to your team and key stakeholders and let them know your working hours. If they’re scattered across regions, make sure you build at least part of your day around being available to them. I used to start my days at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time because most of my authors were on the East Coast.

Once your colleagues know your hours, make a point of actually being around during those times. If you promise availability from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a lunch break around noon, then be reachable via email, chat, and phone when you say you will be.

Similarly, if you know you’re going to be gone picking up your kids from school between 2:00 and 3:00, then let everyone know that, too–and adjust your available hours accordingly so your coworkers have access to you for a full workday.

Note: It’s helpful if large, remote-located teams keep a central team calendar where everyone can track who’s where and when (ie. taking time off or traveling to other locations).

For more tips, watch Enhancing Your Productivity on lynda.com.

4. Have a few go-tos for slumps and stress.

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We all have those restless moments when we realize we’ve been staring at a screen or working on the same project for too long. Then there are those days when just one more email from that one person threatens to send you over the edge.

Decide in advance a few recharge activities you can jump to when you need to get your energy and focus back. This could be anything from a walk to a Sudoku puzzle, from folding laundry to listening to music.

When this happens at the office, we can get up from our desk and go chit chat with or vent to a friend for 10 minutes. You need to figure out what the equivalent solution is when you’re at home.

Get some practical coping tips from our 21-minute course Managing Stress.

5. Draw lines around personal time.

There are 24 hours in every day and we spend roughly a third of them working, a third of them sleeping, and another third attending to our personal lives. Keep it in perspective as much as possible.

I’ve been terrible about this in the past and paid the price of too little sleep and too much stress, all to pack in a few more work hours each day. My new motto is: Work today so you can work tomorrow. Put in just the right amount of time today so that you can come back the next day ready to work—rather than too exhausted to think.

If you share the house with another family member who works at home, you really need separate spaces and a noise buffer between you. Having your own rooms is obviously best, but it’s not always possible. So figure out an easy system for signaling each other when you need no interruptions. For example, you might put on a hat or headphones.

Equally important: Know when you both need to quit working in order to have plenty of “you time” so that having your desks in the house doesn’t get the better of your life.

Want more tips on keeping your professional life out of your personal life? Check out Balancing Work and Life and Finding Work-Life Fit on lynda.com.

Setting up a few simple routines will take you a long way toward productive, balanced days at home. And don’t forget: Working at home is a privilege. So make it count.

Use your time as productively as possible and then don’t hesitate to go out and enjoy the other things that make life complete.

***This article was originally published on Lynda.com and it is re-published here with permission. Please visit Lynda.com for more great career advice.***

Top 3 Beliefs Women Carry That Sabotage Work-Life Balance

By Nicole Coope

In an earlier article, I shared Work-Life Balance is possible, as learned from my elementary girl self on the see saw. However, I continue to read articles that state, peace in both our professional and personal lives is impossible. So before I go off on another “it is possible” tangent, let’s be clear about the most prominent beliefs women carry that sabotage work-life balance.

Belief #1: “Having it All – I have to choose one or the other to achieve balance”

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Drew Barrymore stated she learned very quickly that “work-life balance” does not exist after the birth of her child. She could no longer work 50+ hours on the set of a movie and still manage to nurse and nurture her newborn. “Having it all” implies an extreme swing of the pendulum of equilibrium, either a full time career or motherhood – imbalance. The balance she once experienced in her professional and personal life changed because her priorities changed. “Work-life balance exists in finding the balance between the two so that women such as Drew Barrymore, can still enjoy promising roles as an actress while still enjoying the throes of being a new mother. If we define our lives by the extreme swings of the pendulum, then life will be grossly out of balance and the stress of such a life will manifest mentally, emotionally, and physically. Work-life balance requires compromise, finding unique ways to still enjoy the people, activities, and values in your life.

Belief #2: “Knowing it All – I have to have all the answers”

An issue that commonly comes up for women struggling with the ability to find balance in their professional and personal life is the belief that “I am supposed to know it all…I should have all the answers”. And if we don’t have all the answers or know it all, then we are burdened with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, shame, and unworthiness. Have you ever wondered, “What kind of mother am I because _______(fill in the blank)”? Maybe your child is not doing well in school, or you can’t figure out how to get your child home from school without sacrificing your work hours, or your teenage child clearly needs your attention but you can’t find any more hours in the day. If we were supposed to KNOW all of the answers to these questions, it would have been a part of our DNA, a natural instinct, like food, shelter, and water. But it is not. I believe we were designed with a need for others, a need for help, and guidance. When you take a moment to look around, we are surrounded by a world of resources and answers: Internet (aka Information Highway), teachers, mentors, family members, books, blogs, and so much more. If we were truly meant to figure it all out for ourselves, then there would be no need for phrases such as: “It takes a village to raise a child”, or “without counsel, plans fail but with a multitude of advisers they succeed.” Work-Life balance requires seeking help from other people or resources to answer our most difficult questions.

Belief #3: “I’m all alone – This problem is only mine”

One of the greatest mind tricks of this generation is convincing us that we are all alone in our struggles, issues, or concerns. In fact the shame or guilt of such situations or predicaments often prevents us from sharing the reality of our situation with family and friends. Did you know the best resource for how to manage a family of 3 as a single mom is another single parent?! Even the single moms who appear to have it all together had to start somewhere. I would bet money on the fact that their early years looked just like the phase of life so many women are currently in. It would be easier to work through the hoops of bankruptcy if we could share with another woman who had walked through the same financial difficulty. If we think we are alone, we will remain isolated and that much farther away from finding peace in our lives. Work-Life Balance does not mean you have to hide the struggle of your situation and figure it out on your own. To achieve the life you desire, you need to lean on the support of those closest to you. Why not start with the women or people in your community that have already crossed the bridge you are standing on?!

On a Personal Note

Like many Americans, I have a significant student loan debt. I used to be ashamed to talk about it because the whole point of going to school is to learn new skills so that I could earn a significant income and quickly pay back the loan. The fact that I am 10 years out of school and still carrying the debt often made me feel embarrassed or insecure about my skills. How can I be a good counselor/coach/financial therapist, if I still have debt – completely discrediting myself?! Although my goal was to be debt-free (pendulum swing), I could not figure out how to do accomplish the goal without sacrificing my time with my family by working 2 jobs (pendulum swing).

Last month, I decided to find out if there were any other working women in my situation on Google. I was shocked by the number of success stories of women and couples who eliminated large student loans or credit card debt. I wrote pages of notes on how these amazing people, who were not high profile financial experts, were able to pay off their loans in record time without sacrificing time with their family. Walking through this personal situation, I found peace restored and life coming back into balance because I realized:

1.) I am not alone – sharing my story is better than isolation and guilt
2.) I do not know it all – answers are all around me (seek and you shall find)
3.) I cannot figure it out on my own – ask for help, specifically, from those who have been in similar circumstance
4.) I cannot have it all – work-life balance requires compromise, and finding ways to meet my desire to be debt free with my need to have time for my family

Take a moment to ponder, what have you been struggling with in your life that you have not yet figured out? In what area have you kept yourself isolated because you felt too ashamed, embarrassed, or guilty to share with others out of fear of being judged? Now is the time to come out of hiding, look for answers, and seek the support of those around you, so that you can experience peace and balance in this key area of your life.

Late to the New Year’s Resolution Party?

By Kristi Hoffman

Getting a late start on your New Year’s resolutions and now it’s February? Well lucky you. Join the party! February is the new January. So jump on, late “New Year New You” starters.

If hopes of starting a fresh new year filled with resolutions didn’t quite work out as planned. — health or family crises may have taken over, over-commitments didn’t allow it, poor time management took over — c’est la vie. Let’s get going #RightNow.

Here are three actions to get you February-motivated, to step aboard and get unstuck. Who says January 1 is the magic start date? “New Year New You” starts now, no matter what the calendar says!

Action #1: LOSE SOMETHING.

-Release an unhealthy habit such as smoking, over-indulging, impatience with others.

-Let go of an old routine — eating sugar-laden cereals for breakfast (try oatmeal), getting on your computer for hours every night (try talking with the family or call an old friend instead)

-Walk away from a negative, judgmental, nasty person in your world. Meanness is so last year.

-Let go of complacency and become active.

Action #2: CHANGE IT UP.

-Eat breakfast in a different chair.

-Drive the kids to school a different way.

-Get up 15 minutes earlier and read the headlines.

-Stretch before bed.

-Walk for 20 minutes in the morning.

-Have something to look forward to: spring, a vacation, a new job.

-Pray upon waking.

-Start a craft, an adventure, join a club. Start a new “thing.”

Action #3: BE THE FORCE THAT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING.

-Smile at a stranger.

-Lead by example; people are watching, what are they learning?

-Don’t wait for someone else to tell you it’s “go” time. Take action.

-Trust your intuition.

-Speak positive words about yourself to others.

-Stop gossiping and start complimenting.

And now….. Download the Total Package Lifestyle App for daily positive #MeMantras! Your total package of Body, Brain, and Spirit will thank you! Happy New Year to you, no matter what the date is!

Let’s Make Commitments, NOT Resolutions!

By Talya Flowers

There’s a running joke in my house around the New Year that we each start our resolutions on Dec. 31 and then break them on Jan. 1. That’s a stretch, but it never fails. We become motivated to begin— we start, and then slowly everyone forgets what their new year’s resolution was in the first place. Incredible. Now instead of making ourselves crazy by starting and stopping, we just do nothing. Nothing is easier than making a resolution and sticking with it throughout the New Year.

But let me tell you a secret: doing nothing is for the mediocre. You and I are not mediocre. Doing nothing is harmful because we are subconsciously telling ourselves that we do not matter, we do not trust ourselves, and/or that we do not value ourselves to commit to our goals and see them to fruition. When I realized that I was sabotaging myself and killing all of the potential chances that I had for success: I stopped making resolutions.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I became self-aware and critical of the damage that I was causing myself. I became critical of myself, and I started to see a major flaw with my resolutions: I had the heart, the motivation, and the drive, but I lacked action. I constantly told myself that I would lose weight this year and when winter hit, I was back to the old me. It was a vicious cycle: I exercised extensively during the summertime. I would lose all the weight that I had gained. BUT I was not enjoying my summer because I was too busy exercising all of the weight off. By winter, I had amassed even more weight than what was lost. I was in a sense driving my own self crazy and sending the message that I could not be trusted.

A major shift occurred when a friend said “you are letting yourself go!” It was the truth. I did, I was, and I had. I had to start making some drastic changes. The next day after our heart-to-heart, while at work, I pulled out some construction paper, a marker and began to write out the goals that I had for the year. High on my new list was a healthy lifestyle and daily exercise. Instead of telling myself that I would start in a week or so, or when I felt like it, I started the next day. I woke up at 5 a.m. and began to run. On days that had prior commitments or needed to go to work early, I woke up even earlier. Why? Because instead of making a resolution, I made a goal, and a commitment to myself. I told myself that I was too valuable to accept any more lies. I told myself that I deserved to consume nothing but the best foods—healthy foods. As I reprogrammed my palette and mindset, the weight came off, and I began to work on other goals, always aware that being healthy is the first priority.

I am proud to say that was two years ago, and I am still going strong. I even went running in the cold several times, and it was fantastic. On the days that I do not go outside, I join a workout class, and, for me, it is mandatory and not optional.

Here are my six tips for keeping commitments:

1. Decide now

You are not a victim. You have the power to create and choose. Colossians 3:2 is a powerful reminder that once a decision has been made our minds will actively create pathways for success, but you cannot be double-minded. You have to decide and be firm and resolute.

2. Value yourself

I have been on this two year life style change because I learned to value myself. How much are you worth? How much do you value yourself? Those are two of the best questions to ask yourself before starting a new commitment.

3. Use Declarations/Affirmations

I am a giant fan of affirmations so on the days that I did not feel like getting out of bed at 5 a.m., I would ask myself “How much do you value yourself?” and then my body would jolt out of bed. Two of the best affirmations for starting difficult changes are “I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ, and I am disciplined and self-controlled,” which came from Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts.

4. Visualize success

I never visualize myself to be skinny, I visualize myself to be healthy. And even still, I try not to visualize myself skinny because it becomes frustrating when the image in my head is not congruent with my body. I don’t do that, instead, I visualize myself cooking a healthy meal, getting out of bed excited to go running and fuel up my day, or meeting new friends during a group fitness class. Train your mind, like your body, to work for you and not against you.

5. Write out your goals

The minute I wrote out my goals on a large piece of paper and put them on my wall, my brain automatically reminded me of the commitment I made. Your mind will ensure that you do not forget.

6. Make a commitment

Once a commitment has been made on the inside, life begins to portray the fruits of your labor on the outside. It requires dedication and self-control and discipline. But you are worth it, remember?

Well, what are you waiting for? If you’re nervous, make a small commitment and increase as you go. I know right now, I am making huge commitments because I trust myself to only succeed. I know that I used the example of weight loss but you can make a commitment in any area of your life that has left you feeling stumped. For some, it is financial, mental, emotional, or relational struggles, but whatever it is make a decision that some things are going to have to change, and then begin to implement strategies for those changes. For 2016, the biggest commitment that I have made is stepping outside of my comfort zone and aiming higher because I want to succeed. How badly do you want it? Only you can define what “it” is, exactly.

Discover The Power Of Acceptance

By Alice McCall

All of us have had disappointments in our lives. We have worked hard for something that just didn’t happen – like a promotion, or a job offer. Many of us have had an unforeseen event or accident occur that renders us helpless.

When you are faced with a life experience that isn’t what you expected, consider the power of acceptance. That’s right, plain old ‘acceptance’.

It is easy to accept life when everything goes your way, but most of us tend to resist when the tide shifts, therefore not accepting things as they really are.  Often the most powerful life lessons come from these times. You learn about yourself, what you are capable of, and what you have to offer others.  Remember, everything is in perfect working order from your soul’s perspective.  Since you do not have that perspective, it is best to accept the moment and let go of your expectations.

You may think that things are not working, because it is not what you had planned or expected. You then complicate the process by resisting – due to the expectations that you have created.

You may feel that if you are good and follow your truths that nothing bad will happen. You then can feel frustrated and betrayed when ‘bad’ things happen. I’d like to offer another perspective. There are no bad experiences. What appears bad is only the result of your perceptions and classifications about a situation at a particular moment in time.

Have you ever looked back on a so-called ‘bad experience’, only to see that a new direction followed? This experience probably changed your path, creating something that was so much better for you.  It is not easy for us to recognize the bigger picture in the moment, but our soul can. Remember everything that at first appears bad, always has a gift inside for you.

You may also feel as if you have been ‘stopped’ from moving forward. Your progression probably isn’t halted but rather, you are finding a new direction.

As your soul grows and evolves there are always ‘tests of faith’. These can often feel like a struggle, however, to your soul it is an advancement, which you often complicate by resisting. As easy as it is to fall into a pattern of resisting or getting upset, it won’t change the situation. So, why not switch that pattern and support your soul’s advancement through acceptance.

Here is a message that I received in a meditation the last time I was faced with a ‘why me’ experience which was leaving me angry and in despair… “Do not be hurt or angry when your soul is following its natural course of direction.”

Therefore, when things are not going your way, let it be so. But how? How do you find acceptance?

First: Surrender the need to change it.  Surrender the need to question it. Surrender the expectation of how it should be. Surrender the need to ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Just accept that this is what is supposed to be happening right now.

Second: Quiet yourself. All answers come to a quiet, harmonious mind.  Peace comes to you when you accept it. Peace cannot be forced or willed, it must be experienced. Wealth in all forms comes easily when you acknowledge, accept, and appreciate all that you have been given. Accept your plight as an opportunity to learn and move forward. Do not view it as an obstacle. See the opportunities in your available directions, and accept them as they are.

Third: Release the need and frustration of what it is not available at this time. Let go of what is not working and move forward. Do not dwell on what you are leaving behind, if you do, it will only hinder your new opportunities. Remember the future is always greater than the past.

A great exercise to help you visualize and release attachments is to see each thing or thought inside a balloon. Focus in on the color, the size, and even the shape of each balloon. Then see your hand holding the strings. Slowly release each balloon, watching them fade away into a cloudless blue sky.

My final word on the topic of acceptance is to allow the process of your life to unfold gracefully. Acceptance allows this to happen. Choose acceptance and you will receive the gift of all that is suppose to be!

10 Things I Want To Tell My Daughter

By Talya Flowers

I believe that God has a great sense of humor.

I will believe this until the day that I die because several months ago, I started working with children, and not school age—I worked with toddlers. You know the group of kids that every parent, as they drop their kids off with us, says “I just don’t know how you do it.”

Neither did I.

Every day I would come into work, bright and early, and see the prettiest little girl. I’d come in and she’d hover near me, give me a hug or ask me a million and one questions. Then I’d begin my daily routine: Lip-gloss. Deodorant. Lotion. “Taya, what is that?” “Can I have some?” she’d say in the cutest voice, with her hands wrapped around my thigh.
I’d squeeze the tube so that just a dab of lip-gloss came up and then I’d place it on her finger. As she placed the lip-gloss onto her lips, I’d tell her “you are the most beautiful girl in the world.” And she’d smile the biggest smile.

Looking down at her, I’d picture my own daughter one day saying and doing the exact same thing. She’ll want to do what mommy does because she can only do what she sees. She’ll want to know what mommy knows because she can only know what she has been taught. As a queen, I want to raise a queen.

Here are 10 things that I want to tell/show my daughter; ten non-negotiable facts about her worth.

1. God loves you unconditionally.

I can tell you all day that God loves you, but you have to believe it for yourself. He does. He really does.

2. Know your value.

When you accept that God loves all of you, you begin to see yourself as he sees you: worthy, deserving, a queen. God raises queens. Always know your worth.

3. You are more than enough.

Everyone has their own interpretation of who somebody should be. Define yourself and never allow someone else to determine your worth. We have raised you better than that.

4. You are beautiful.

When I see you, I hear the scriptures “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” and “you are altogether lovely my darling there is no flaw in you.”

5. Honor your body.

I have heard this scripture quoted so many times in church. I understood what the intention was, but then I started analyzing the scripture. God tells us in scripture that a house divided cannot withstand. Then he tells us to honor our bodies and that we are a temple (we are a house). Hear me out. When you honor your body, you are honoring your mind, your body, and your spirit. To deny one of the three (mind, body, soul) is not honoring you.

6. Wait. Wait. Wait.

We meet people. We fall in love. We fall out of love. We are heart broken. We learn not to repeat those steps. Who you are in elementary school will be different from who you are in high school. Who you are in high school will be totally different from who you will become in college. Don’t rush. Wait. Wait. Wait. God blesses those who wait.

7. Guard your heart, don’t gate it.

I have a big heart, and I pray that I am going to pass that down to you. Guard your heart by wisely choosing who will be close to you. Love everybody but only allow those into your queendom who are willing to do the same for you. Never gate your heart but become selective in who gets to get close to the gift. You are the gift and not everyone can afford you.

8. Believe in yourself.

I will support you. I will fight for you. I will motivate, encourage, and uplift you. That will mean nothing if you don’t believe in yourself first. Believe in yourself and you will take on the world.

9. Work hard for what you want.

I am in a place mentally where I know that my decisions now will impact you. I am working hard to figure out what is going to be the best decision for the family. I am working hard. I value hard work. And you should too. It’s okay to rely on other people, but you have to work hard for what you want. Become your own cheerleader.

10. Your life, your rules, choose wisely.

I know I will see myself in you. I pray now that you do not inherit my stubbornness or self-sufficiency (you can have some but not all :). It’s your life. Period. Point. Blank. I can only offer guidance from what I have experienced by having a heart too big in a sometimes cruel world. Every choice you make has a consequence. As your mother, I’d advise you, of course, to reread number 6 on the list.

If you know that God loves you unconditionally and you know your value, then I am sure you will be just fine.

I love you, and I haven’t even met you yet.

Sincerely,

Your mother

12 Wrong Assumptions People Often Make About Their Life

By Dr. Carol Morgan

So you think you know how the world works, huh? Sure, we all do. We all like to think that we have it figured out. But do you really? Many times, people make assumptions about life that simply aren’t true. Here are 12 of them.

1. People are watching your every move and judging you.

We live in a world that is highly judgmental. Every time you open up a celebrity magazine, you read about how the latest beautiful actress has suddenly gotten “fat.” And if you’re not a superstar in your chosen field or your kids aren’t getting straight As, then you’re a loser. At least that’s probably what goes through your head. And you also think that’s what other people think. They don’t. Most people are so busy judging themselves that they don’t even give you much thought at all.

2. You have “failed,” when in fact you just haven’t succeeded yet.

Anyone who has ever achieved greatness has “failed” more times than they have succeeded. Donald Trump lost all his money many times, only to make it back again. George Lucas got Star Wars turned down by countless movie studios. And Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. If any of them had given up because they thought they had “failed,” then where would they be now? Nowhere.

3. If you ignore a problem, it will go away.

Ahhhhh. The ostrich. Keeping your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. Well, here’s a newsflash for you: It won’t. I don’t care what the problem is—it can be problems with your marriage, at your job, your kids—it won’t go away unless you take action to fix it.

4. You need to be perfect.

You don’t. Perfection is just an illusion. It doesn’t really exist! The problem is that we all think it exists. What is “perfect” for one person is not perfect to another. It’s all subjective. So instead of chasing perfection, how about chasing happiness instead? Do things you love. Spend time with people who make you happy. That’s a much better goal than non-attainable perfection.

5. Everything that goes wrong is other people’s fault, not yours.

Personal responsibility—it’s a lost art in our culture. We see this every time we hear crazy law suits where someone is suing a restaurant because they spilled their own hot coffee on themselves. Sure, other people contribute to problems. But it’s up to us to adjust our attitude and reactions to that. All you can control is your perception of the problem, and then take action toward personal responsibility.

6. You just can’t do it.

You can. You can do anything that you set your mind to. So stop making excuses. I don’t care what your goal is, if you want it badly enough, you will find a way. If you don’t want it enough, you will find excuses. Spend some time really examining what you want. Then go after it.

7. All of your expectations of other people are reasonable.

Expectations are deadly. If people don’t live up to your expectations, then you are disappointed and it creates problems. Think about this: how do you feel when other people place expectations on you? It feels suffocating, doesn’t it? So let people be who they are. If you don’t like it, then stop hanging around them.

8. You think “this” is permanent. It’s not.

I don’t care what “it” is: an unsatisfying job, unemployment, being single, or being in debt. It can all be changed. All you need to do is believe it. Then take action. The only thing that is permanent is death. All other things change. One of the sayings I love is, “And this too shall pass.” It’s true. Really, it is!

9. You’re not important.

Everyone is important. You don’t need to be a CEO of a company or Oprah to be important. We all have our own little niche in the world. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you are hugely important to your kids. If you’re a cashier at a fast food restaurant, you’re important to the people who are trying to buy food. Reframe “important” and believe that you are valuable in your own way.

10. You think you’re always right.

Perception is reality. That’s a motto I live by. And you should too. Just because you don’t agree with someone else’s point of view, well, that doesn’t make them wrong. And just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t make you wrong either. Everyone is “right” because it is their perception of a situation that matters. And that’s it. So agree to disagree.

11. Something is holding you back.

The only thing holding you back is yourself. Examine your beliefs. Do you think you’re smart? Capable? Worthy? That you can add value to the world? If you don’t, then you need to figure out why because those thoughts are like a cage that keep you stuck. Being stagnant isn’t healthy. So learn to get out of your own way and believe you can do it!

12. You can’t be happy.

You can. It doesn’t take money. It doesn’t take beauty. It doesn’t take fame. It doesn’t take any of that to be happy. But you know what it does take? A decision. A decision to be happy. Yep. That’s it! Another motto I have is, “It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem.” It’s all about viewpoint and attitude. You are in control of both of those. So changing your thinking will change your life and ultimately make you happy!

10 Ways To Get Up When You’re Feeling Down

By Steve Goodier

Do you ever feel blah? Ever wish you had a permanent “picker-upper”? If so, this may be for you.

In the 1920s, if you were looking for a little pick-me-up with your mid-afternoon snack, you might have reached for a cold, refreshing glass of 7-Up. Well, it wasn’t called 7-Up back then, it was called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.” (Say THAT three times fast!)

Inventor C. L. Griggs’ original recipe included the antidepressant lithium until the 1940s as a “picker-upper.” The original Coca-Cola formula also included a “picker-upper” — cocaine.

Today, people not suffering from serious depression understand that they usually don’t need mood-altering drugs to cope with daily life. But most folks struggle with bouts of mild depression, despondency or “the blahs” from time to time. How do you pick yourself up when you’re feeling down, without the aid of Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda?

I hope I’m not telling you anything new when I say that talking about the reasons you’re down, making needed changes, watching your diet, getting enough exercise and sleep, developing a positive mental outlook and utilizing spiritual resources are all important pieces of our emotional puzzles. But one important strategy for feeling better (and one that’s LEAST used) is as important as the rest. It is helping others in need.

1. Visit a shut-in neighbor.
2. Write a letter.
3. Call a friend who has been struggling.
4. Volunteer at church, synagogue or the local food pantry.
5. Rake someone’s leaves.
6. Bake homemade bread for a new neighbor.
7. Wash your spouse’s car.
8. Volunteer to baby-sit for a young mother.
9. Plan an unexpected act of kindness.
10. Give a gift for no reason at all.

The needs are abundant, and those who put aside some regular time to do something kind for others will often forget they were feeling low. Why does is work? I don’t know … it just does. Reach out and lift somebody else up and for some wondrous and magical reason, you lift yourself up, too.

Corrie Ten Boom beautifully said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” And if you’ve been feeling low, the best time to donate a piece of yourself is now.

3 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Dreams

By Amanda McPherson

Something inside of you is saying that you want more…that you have more to offer the world. But, the thing is, it just stays there—sitting stagnantly inside that head, that heart, that gut of yours…

Why?

Here are three ways you may be sabotaging your dreams:

1. You are waiting to feel “special”

Here’s the deal, the people who are out there living their dreams are special.  Yep,that’s right.  They were born with this super fantabulous specialness chip, and you simply didn’t get. Sorry. You’re out of luck.

How ridiculous does that sound?

When we look at the people who we admire; the people who are using their unique gifts in a way that fills them up and makes them shine from the inside out, we aren’t looking at some kind of alien from the Planet of Specialness of which we don’t belong.  Those people don’t have anything you don’t have —except maybe the realization that they didn’t have to be “special” before they started pursuing their dreams.

Take the pressure off of yourself to be “special” and allow the flawed, imperfect, brilliant, unique, authentic you to put one foot in front of the other.

2. You think you’re “lazy”

A mentor of mine once told me, “I don’t believe in lazy”.  She went on to explain her belief that there is always something deeper behind a person’s laziness— Maybe it’s a fear of failure. Perhaps it’s disbelief that you really can be happy; or that you deserve to be. Or, maybe, you have no tolerance for the discomfort and hard work that comes with leaving your comfort zone.  The next time you blame your “laziness” for not pursuing your dreams, I encourage you to look deeper. Examine it.

Don’t let yourself believe in lazy.

3. You don’t want to be an acorn

You’ve probably heard the analogy about how every beautiful oak tree once had to start out as an acorn. But, I mean, who the heck wants to be an acorn?! We want to be beautiful, big, strong oak trees, darnit!

I am going to take this opportunity to practice what I preach about vulnerability and share something with you—I would love, loooove, loooooove to be sitting on a couch across from Ellen someday (yes, as in DeGeneres). You know, just us girls. Chatting like old pals about spreading kindness, empowering women…saving the world…yada, yada, yada. Whoa! That’s some serious Oak Tree dreamin’, right? Sure, I’ll admit it. I have some big dreams. But, if I put that kind of pressure to succeed on every word I write or speak,I’d be paralyzed.

You have to be willing to be an acorn.

Tonight, being an acorn means sitting home on a Saturday night to write this post. Other days, being an acorn means submitting my writing to a publication and having it rejected. And, some days, this little acorn gets watered and fed by hearing that my words helped someone in some way.

It’s okay to have big Oak Tree dreams.  But, you can’t skip being an acorn. And, honestly, you don’t want to because it feels pretty darn good.

So, what is holding you back from pursuing your dreams? I really hope you’ll take the time to search for the answer to this question.

The world is waiting to receive what you have to offer.

Corporate America: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

By Mary Miller

A while back, I was at a conference, and one of the speakers used the word assimilation. That word makes me cringe because the expectation of someone needing to “fit into” a cultural standard often strips away much needed creativity and innovation. There are already too many people who don’t use their unique gifts to make this world a better place. Many times, in Corporate America, this is because they simply feel like they can’t. But the pressure that comes with not being yourself builds over time, and you are faced with this question: Corporate America – should I stay or should I go?

For those who find the corporate world starting to feel like a wool sweater that is gradually giving you red marks all over your upper body – well, this article is for you. Perhaps you are on your way up the corporate ladder and you’re not sure how much further you really want to go. You have been thinking more about how you want to leave your mark and what you really want to do with your life. Maybe you dream about having more time to think, more space, more autonomy, using your gifting, exploring your passions, having more freedom in your lifestyle etc. With all of these thoughts you may start seeing Corporate American as the enemy. Though more often than naught we are our own enemy because we choose not to make a choice even when we know we need to.

That is exactly what I’m going to help you do today … decide … using an unconventional approach. As Oscar Wilde once said “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.”

Let’s get started:

1. “Should I stay or should I go now?”

Is Corporate America a barrier to claiming your dreams, is it a part of your dreams or is it helping you to achieve them? If you know you are an Entrepreneur, deep down, start talking to those who have taken the plunge to prepare yourself. If you just need more time in your life, consider asking your boss about cutting back your hours, taking unpaid vacation (or ask for more paid vacation), going part-time, participate in a job sharing program. If there isn’t such a thing as a job sharing program work to create one. You’ll never know what is possible if you don’t ask the question.

2. “If I go, there will be trouble”

How do you handle stress? Be honest with yourself. One positive thing about being in an uncomfortable situation is that it teaches you perseverance. If you haven’t begun to master this area of your life don’t expect your dreams to fix all of your problems. Why? Because claiming your dreams also has stress associated with it. Yes it is driven by hope and passion, more so than fear, but stress is still stress good or bad. The financial and time stresses involved in claiming your dreams requires resiliency skills to navigate through these actions and decisions.

3. “And if I sta, it will be double”

Maybe your work situation is diminishing your quality of life. You have to weigh your health against the income you earn each month. Maybe taking a less stressful job is the answer. Or maybe your choice is to stay to help change the culture. Which is an admirable dream and one which takes great mental and physical resilience, determination and real love for the people you work with. Staying is often the hardest thing to do because you have to live in the current culture until it’s changed.

4. “So come on and let me know”

Maybe you read the title of this article and thought I’d tell you what to do. Sorry to disappoint but weather you stay or go is up to you. This article is meant to take you through the thought process of what is best for you and to consider both sides of the equation. Many people will tell you what you should do but you have to decide for yourself. It’s your life, your dreams, your future.

5.  “This indecision’s bugging me”

Why do you want to stay? Why do you want to go? Making a decision without addressing “why” is really more of a reaction than an intentional decision. What have you been reacting to? And what are you procrastinating doing? The sooner you find out your why, the root cause for your actions, you will be that much closer to your answer.

6. “If you don’t want me, set me free”

What is the corporate culture like where you work? Is it a good fit for you? Do you need structure? Or does it suffocate you? Do you feel like when you go against the grain that it’s grounds for termination or is it welcomed and accepted? Does working in a building stifle your creativity? If you were living on your own terms what would your day look like? Where would you work? If you were free, what does that freedom look like to you? Once you know what you need you can create some of that freedom in your current and future work environments.

7. “Exactly whom I’m supposed to be”

If you have “grown up” in Corporate America your identity slowly changes as you begin to assimilate into the culture you work in. This can squash you as an individual and create a fake form of alignment within the workplace. What’s worse is that no organization, or person, can be truly aligned if they are not being their unique authentic self. Start setting aside time, start digging into your own identity. Discover who you’re supposed to be (to do that click here)

Which song verse did you most identify with? What will you decide?

Song Lyrics by The Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” remaining content @2014, Mary R Miller

4 Traits Of An Effective Leader

By Steve Goodier

A young officer in the Army discovered that he had no change when he tried to buy a soft drink from a vending machine. He flagged down a passing private and asked him, “Do you have change for a dollar?”

The private said cheerfully, “I think so. Let me take a look.”

The officer drew himself up stiffly and said, “Soldier, that is no way to address a superior. We’ll start all over again. Do you have change for a dollar?”

The private came to attention, saluted smartly, and said, “No, sir!”

Each of us commands some authority. There are or will be those we guide, supervise, rear, mentor, or lead. Some of us will be effective, and others will feel as if we’re running a cemetery: we’ve got a lot of people under us and nobody’s listening.

Much has been written and taught about leadership, but I find that at least four traits are common in all people of authority who effectively elicit cooperation and respect from those who look up to them. Whether you are a parent, whether you find yourself in the workplace, sitting on a volunteer committee, or teaching some-one a new skill, these traits will help you effectively guide those who would seek to follow.

These good leaders are…

Listeners.

They take time to listen to the suggestions and concerns of those they endeavor to lead.

Encouragers.

They don’t try to do it all themselves. Neither do they motivate by force or guilt. They encourage others and help bring out their best.

Assertive.

They say what needs to be said without being unkind. They tell the truth as they see it, openly, and frankly.

Decisive.

They know what needs to be done and they make timely, even difficult, decisions when necessary. But they can also take charge without running over the people in their lives.

In short, good leaders L-E-A-D!

It’s said that the trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you. But those who will develop these four traits are sure to find that their authority will be valued and respected.

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