Say No to the Good

No

Every once in a while, I will recommend a book that I think everyone should read if you want to be successful in achieving your life goals. I know this one has been out there for a while (as a matter of fact the 10th Anniversary Edition came out in 2015), so I’m a little behind, but if you haven’t read it yet, you need to. I’m talking about Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles.

This book is 500+ pages of incredibly insightful and time-tested principles to help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Among those pages is a chapter dedicated to keeping one from being “terrorized by the expectations of others”.

I’ve written on this subject before. Most of us tend to live our life based upon what other people expect of us and what they think we should do. For example, we pick professions that our parents feel would be the responsible career path instead of what inspires us. We take on more than we can manage at work in order to impress others or get ahead instead of focusing on delivering the best work for our top priorities.

Unfortunately, living to everyone else’s expectations keeps us from living to ours.

According to Mr. Canfield, “To be successful in achieving your goals and creating your desired life-style, you will have to get good at saying no to all of the people and distractions that would otherwise devour you. Successful people know how to say no without feeling guilty. To them, “No” is a complete sentence.”

The way to benefit from saying no is not just to say no, but to say no to those things that don’t have a high payoff. The key is to say no to the good so that you can say yes to the great.

So, how can you determine what’s truly great so that you can say no to what’s merely good? Mr. Canfield has four suggestions.

  1. List your opportunities

Start by writing down all of the options, opportunities, requests, activities, etc. that have been presented to you. Seeing them in writing will allow you to figure out what questions to ask and what additional information you will need. Then review the list to see which truly align with your overall life purpose. The ones that align with your goals are great options. Those that don’t are probably just good options and will do nothing but take you down a side road instead of take you closer to achieving success.

  1. Talk to advisors

Talking to advisors is not the same as seeking out the expectations of others. Talking to advisors means talking to those who have experienced what you are considering and can offer insight, lessons learned, expected challenges, amount of commitment required, etc. Learning from the experiences of others will help guide you to make the right decision and shorten the learning curve.

  1. Test them out

Determine if there is any way to test a new opportunity without investing a lot of time and money. Is there any way you can integrate the opportunity on a part-time basis before going all in? If it’s a new sales and marketing strategy can you implement it with a test group before sinking your entire budget into the strategy? If it’s a new business location can you try a pop-up shop before signing a long-term lease? Testing in order to collect data to determine potential success will go a long way in protecting your time, money, and sanity.

  1. Review where you spend your time

Finally, determine if the activities on your list truly serve your goals or if saying no would free up your schedule for those pursuits that do serve your goals. This is not a delegation exercise but an elimination exercise. For instance, I’ve had a newsletter for the past three years. I had one because every other business coach I know has one. I assumed it was just something that you were supposed to do. But, when I take a step back to evaluate whether or not it truly serves any of the goals in my business, I have to admit that it doesn’t. So, effective this year, I have stopped publishing a newsletter. Eliminating this activity frees me up to focus on other items that do serve my goals.

It’s not easy to draw a line in the sand and start saying no to the good so that you can say yes to the great, especially when others expect you to do certain things.  No one ever wants to let people down or not live up to the expectations of others. But believe it or not, people will respect you more for being clear on your goals and clear on what you will do or won’t do to advance those goals. This practice will take you from, what Jim Collins calls, just good to great (another awesome book if you haven’t read it yet – Good to Great).

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The Best Way to Sign Emails

Email-Icon

Over the years I’ve toyed with using different email closers, like “best”, “regards”, “all the best”, and others. Most times than not, the motive for switching them up had less to do with the impact I felt it made on the reader and more to do with the fact that I just get bored. It doesn’t really matter any way, right?

Well, research is now showing that the way you close your emails really does matter.

According to the article, “This Is the Only Way You Should Sign Your Emails”, in the November 2017 issue of Money Magazine, the email scheduling app Boomerang analyzed more than 350,000 email threads to see which closing got the best response rates. The clear winner? “Thanks”, or some variation of, got a response at least 62% of the time. That’s compared with a 46% response rate when using a closing that was not “thankful” in nature.

Of all of the sign-offs measured in the survey, “Thanks in advance” got the best response at 65.7%. That was followed by “Thanks” at 63% and “Thank you” at 57.9%.

When you think of it, it seems pretty reasonable to see “Thanks” perform so well. It is appropriate for just about every type of email conversation and you can use it to end a note to any level of individual.

Which closing had the lowest response rate? “Best”. This closing came in at an average response rate of 51.2? The thought is that people tend to feel that it sounds a bit cold or rushed. So, it may be “best” to steer clear of that one. (See what I did there?)

It all comes down to this. When in doubt, closing an email with gratitude is always your best bet. It makes perfect sense. Gratitude is the best way to go in just about all aspects of your life, so why not email as well.

Reflection Challenge

reflection

As we start the new year, you will find me writing more and more about reflection and resetting intention. While I feel that reflection and intention setting should happen more often than just once a year, I do feel that most of us do a pretty good job of pausing at least during this time of year to evaluate where we are and think about where we would like to be.

As you spend time reflecting on the past year, I would like to issue a challenge. While you are setting your intentions for the upcoming year, I want to challenge you to move from the idea of who you should be to the idea of who you really are and who you want to be. This shift will force 2 issues:

1.       External influences vs. Internal influences

One of the areas that this shift will impact is external vs. internal influences. In order to move from “should be” to “are and want to be” we have to place more importance on our internal needs and desires and less on what others think our needs and desires should be. We spend so much of our life trying to live up to what others think is best for us that we lose sight of what we know to be best for us.

2.       Personal needs

We must also pay attention to our personal needs. Let’s say you set some goals last year that you haven’t completed yet. If they aren’t complete, then take a close look at why. If the goals are still valid and important, then you need to recommit and create a plan to make them happen this year. But, if you didn’t reach your goals because your needs have changed, then you have to be fluid and not so tied to the original goal that you don’t recognize that it isn’t valid any longer.

In summary, I want you to ask yourself these two questions when reflecting on last year and setting your intentions for this. I want you to ask (1) Are external influence or internal influences driving my goals? and (2) Are my incomplete goals still unfinished because my needs have changed?

Answering these two questions will allow you to move into the new year with more clarity regarding what you need to accomplish and why it’s important to you.

“Self-Care Isn’t Always Glamorous!” – Ash Ambirge

Hearts

I love this statement by Ash Ambirge, Creator of The Middle Finger Project. In the day and age of the popularity of self-care as a topic, we generally think of bubble baths, massages, mani/pedi appointments, and time for meditation. We think of “me” time and things that feel indulgent and luxurious. And while all of things are important and a valid means to self-care – which by definition is what we do to take care of ourselves – not all of them are fluffy and glamorous.

Ash writes in a recent post, “But, you know, I don’t think we’ve got the right idea. I think the concept of “self-care” has been trivialized into mud baths and Bridget Jones marathons, when in reality, it’s not just a self-indulgence: It’s self-preservation. And self-preservation isn’t always glamorous. Actually, most of the time, it’s really, really uncomfortable.”

She goes on to list the things that really make a difference in self-care.

·       Doing the thing you least want to do

·       Letting go

·       Forgetting about the money

·       Finally stopping what doesn’t work for you

·       Prioritizing joy

·       Letting other people down

·       Coming through for yourself

·       Making a budget

·       Sticking to your guns

·       Giving up…sometimes

·       Being selfish

·       Acting on your curiosities

·       Being selective

·       Choosing differently…despite your past

·       Doing the things you want without regard for how it will seem, or appear, or be talked about by others

If self-care is really about self-preservation, then maybe the bubble baths and justified clothing expenditures (while deserved) aren’t really what will do the trick. Maybe, as Ash says, it’s the big, difficult, unpleasant things we must do in our lives that are actually the most beautiful and beneficial.

Thanks to Ash for challenging us to look at self-care from a different perspective. Creating a life we don’t want to run from may be the biggest form of self-care we can possible do for ourselves.

The Lost Art of Self Validation

self validation

I haven’t written a volleyball story in a while. For those of you new to my blog, our daughter is a volleyball player. She is very committed to her sport and plays year-round. Not only do I love watching her play, I love watching the life lessons that come from a team sport and often the lessons I observe her experiencing spill over into my blog posts. And today is no different.

The high school volleyball season recently wrapped up and now we are on to club season. While our daughter loves playing for her school, she faced some challenges this year with her coach that she has never experienced before.

You see, our daughter is a pleaser. It is something we identified in her very early on and is a characteristic that greatly impacts her relationships and her motivations. I can go into all of the pros and cons of being a pleaser but that’s not really the point of this discussion. It is what it is and that understanding just gives us greater insight into how she operates and how to guide her.

Back to volleyball. Our daughter is a pleaser and felt throughout the school season that it was impossible for her to make her coach happy. This perception crushed her spirit to the point that she pretty much lost all confidence and on top of that, her love and passion for the game. (This statement is not in any way an opportunity to blame the coach – it was my daughter’s perception, not necessarily the truth.)

It became so bad – her loss of confidence and love of the game – that she stated that she wasn’t going to try out for club this year. She said she felt really burned out and thought she needed to sit out a year to figure out if she still loved the sport enough to pick it back up again next fall. She stated that her coach took her joy for the game away from her and she needed some time to see if she could get it back.

As a certified life coach, I was pretty empathetic. I mean the kid has only had three weeks total away from volleyball in the past year. It’s really easy to see how she could be burned out. So, I was pretty empathetic until I heard “she took my joy for the game away from me.” What? No one can take joy, peace, love, happiness, etc. away from anyone. You give it away. People don’t take it away. We have a big issue here. Why in the world did my daughter feel she was powerless to keep her joy? Why did she feel someone else had the power to give and take those things from her? Clearly, she has not been paying attention to my ramblings over the years!

The more I think about the situation, the more I believe this is about her lack of ability to self-validate instead of her willingness to give her personal power to someone else.

From a very young age, we are told not to pat ourselves on the back. That to celebrate and congratulate ourselves is the truest sign of an egotist. And while this is true to a certain extent, self-validation is a healthy and important part of empowerment and a positive mindset.

In reality, most of us have lost the art of self-validation. We don’t want to appear full of ourselves or to have huge egos. So, instead, we seek validation from others – especially if you are a pleaser or if “significance” is at the top of your list of basic human needs. Needing others to validate us is dangerous because it does give our power to others. It does allow others to determine our worth, our joy, and our happiness.

If self-validation is a lost art, then it means it can be found again. It all begins with a conversation in the mirror. Combat any self-limiting or damaging thoughts by speaking the opposite to yourself in the mirror each morning or each time you pass one. For instance, if you seek validation for your public speaking skills then self-validate in the mirror. “I am an engaging public speaker. I am a frequently sought-after speaker.” Simple right. In our daughter’s case, it might have been, “I am a good volleyball player. I had 12 kills in our last game and served 5 aces. My teammates appreciate the effort I make on the court.”

It may seem kind of cheesy to start this way but we all have seen the scientific research around the power of positive thoughts. Being able to self-validate is as important to us as teenagers/adults as it is for infants to learn how to self-soothe.

The great thing about this technique is that it spills over into other areas of your life. Start a new habit of congratulating yourself in all areas of your life on a daily basis. Take the time to recognize when you’ve done something well or you’ve made an impact or made a good decision (like to not have that piece of chocolate after lunch).

The next time you feel like someone has taken your joy, happiness, peace, love, etc. away from you, ask yourself this. Ask if you feel this way because you’ve given someone the power to take them away (you’ve gone into victim mode) or if you feel this way because you are seeking validation. If the answer is validation, then take a few moments each morning in the mirror to work on self-validation. Not only will it manifest in the immediate area of concern, it will manifest itself in all areas of your life. 

Surprising Habits of High Performers

high performers

Brendon Burchard, one of the most followed personal development trainers in the world, has released a new book called, High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way.  I had the privilege of listening to an interview of his a few weeks ago where he covered a few of the findings that he included in his book. I found them interesting and wanted to share them with you as food for thought as we wrap up 2017.

Many of us think that creativity is a requirement for success. We seem to believe there is a correlation between creativity/innovation and high performance. Interestingly enough, Brendon discovered through his research that creativity is not strongly correlated to high performance. Rather, execution, consistency, and showing up are more important than creativity.

As part of that execution, consistency, and showing up, the following items are common themes for high performers.

  1. High performers seek clarity: they define the feeling they are after. This is interesting because they aren’t defining the what, they are defining the how it feels, therefore keeping themselves open to different opportunities that can help them achieve that result. They aren’t tied to the path, only the outcome.
  2. High performers view high performance as a necessity: they believe they must do well and are excited, not scared, about that fact. High performance is an expectation they set for themselves.
  3. High performers self-talk in second or third person: they coach themselves like they would coach others. For instance, a high performer self-talk conversation may sound something like this: “So, Stacy (to myself), I know you try to do too much at one time and the multi-tasking keeps you from being as efficient as you need to be. It also keeps you from doing your best work. Today, I’m going to challenge you, Stacy, to be completely committed and focused on only one thing at a time so that you can create the highest quality content for your new workshop.” Then, 45 minutes into my first task and I’ve already gotten side tracked, the conversation may sound like this: “Come on Stacy, you can do this. Refocus and let’s knock this out of the park.” It sounds kind of crazy, but this is how high performers do it.
  4. High performers release tension and set intention: they are able to meaningfully transition from frustration to purpose in order to refocus and get back on track. And you can bet that they use second person self-talk to make it happen.
  5. High performers are satisfied people: they take joy in the moment and allow themselves to feel satisfied. It is important to note that satisfaction does not mean settling. It means they are satisfied with what they have and where they are even though they expect to keep pushing and growing. On the flip side, dis-satisfied people burn out and quit before they become successful.
  6. High performers generate joy and happiness: they understand that they are responsible for their own joy and happiness and that it comes from within.

It is possible to determine if you have the aptitude for high performance just by taking stock of your personal feelings. Do you feel full of engagement, full of joy, and full of confidence? All of the time? Some of the time? Never? These feelings are high performance state feelings and you can elevate your performance by focusing on achieving these feelings on a consistent basis.

So, if you desire to be a high performer, ask yourself each morning, “What can happen today to derail me and how can I meet it head on to keep it from stopping me?” Addressing this each day will most certainly add you to the high performers list.

Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

overcoming limitations

Self-limiting beliefs. Those little inaccurate conclusions we have made about ourselves that keep us from realizing our potential. They show up in all areas of our life and convince us that things will never be ideal.

Overcoming these negative beliefs is critical to achieving those things we desire in life. Unfortunately, to overcome them we must identify exactly what they are first. Seems, pretty easy, right? Except for the fact that they live in our subconscious mind. How are we supposed to identify them if we aren’t even aware of them?

In last week’s post, I shared three steps you can take to uncover your self-limiting beliefs. First, identify an area of your life you feel you are not living to your potential. Then get really clear on the exact results you want to see in this area. Be sure to include what it looks like, what it feels like, why it’s important, and how your life will change when you accomplish these results.

Once you uncover what’s holding you back, then you can put in the work to change it. The best way to overcome your self-limiting beliefs is to question those thoughts. Once you stop buying into these inaccurate beliefs you can see alternative thoughts that support the results you want.

What are some ways you can challenge the assumptions that you’ve made or have always had? One way is to see if there is any information out there, that if it became available, would alter your beliefs. For instance, let’s say a teacher told you in second grade that you were a terrible reader and therefore you would always struggle in school. Believe it or not, your behaviors would begin to support that statement. You would hate reading because you weren’t any good at it and you would perform at the bottom of your class. On the other hand, let’s say in 9th grade a teacher told you that you that you had real aptitude in English and that you need to be moved up to Honors English. That statement immediately challenges the assumption you had about your intelligence. What if your second grade teacher was wrong? What if you weren’t a terrible reader and had potential as a student? Then you may start to work a little harder. If you start to work a little harder, your grades would improve. Your beliefs were altered by this new information and now your results are different.

Searching for anything that contradicts your self-limiting beliefs will do the same thing. If you think you aren’t good enough, find examples in your past that support that you are or situations where you did feel good enough. Word of caution here – you can find examples to support whatever you want to believe, including times where you weren’t good enough. This exercise is not to convince you that you have never experienced a time of where you felt less than. This exercise it to challenge the belief that you are always unworthy.

Reframing your beliefs by moving beyond your rigid thinking and being more flexible in what you believe will allow you to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck where you are – never realizing your full potential.