Tag Archives: 2016

Build your environment for success

Motivation is great.  Literally billions of dollars are spent each year by people trying to build their motivation.  Toni Robbins, Jeff Keller and others have made fabulous careers helping people maximize their motivation.  In truth, part of what I do with my clients is help them focus their motivation on their own success.  All of that is good and useful but your environment may be as, if not more, important as your motivation.

By environment, I’m not talking where you live.  It is more about how you choose to live.  The first big choice that determines your environment is the people who choose to spend your time with.  Jim Rohn once said, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  Are you choosing to spend your time with positive people who are looking to progress in their lives or are you spending time with negative people who never met a situation without a fault?  Yes, your family and co-workers have been chosen for you but you still have a lot of flexibility about which family members and co-workers you spend more time with.  Choose the ones with a healthy outlook on life.

Another big component of your environment is how you set up your office and home.  Look at your living room.  Are all the chairs facing each other to encourage discussion or are they all facing the television?  Is your dining room table ready to welcome everyone to diner or is that where bills and homework are piled up, making a family diner all that much more effort.  How big are your plates?  Really.  Professors Brian Wansink and Roert van Ittersum studied how plate size affected people’s estimate of what a healthy portion was.  The bigger the plate, the bigger a healthy portion was.  People are likely to each 30 percent or more more when their plate is larger than when they eat off of a smaller plate.  In that study, they weren’t even asking people to limit their diet.   They were simply asked to eat until they felt satisfied.

So what do we do with this information?  Set up your environment to align with your goals.  Your environment needs to make actions that are inconsistent with your goals more difficult and actions that support your goals easier.  You can set up your environment to address you weaknesses.  For example, I lost 50 pounds last year.  I’m motivated to lose a bit more but I have a weakness.  I’m a grazer.  I work out of my home, which means I’m in and out of my kitchen a dozen times a day.  Each time I pass through, I grab a handful of something.  It is such a reflex for me that no amount of motivation can over come it.  Knowing that environment plays a key role in actions, I addressed my environment.  First, grazable foods are no longer allowed on the counter tops.  They can go in the fridge or cupboards but they can’t be where I see them.  Also having to get into the cupboard or fridge is just one more step in making the conflicting action more difficult.  Second, we now keep healthy grazable foods.  I used to go through 1500 calories of raisins a day.  Motivation and willpower cut that down to around 500 calories but stopped there.  Now, I go for grapes.  Third, I used to keep some of my work supplies in the kitchen, making my go into the kitchen a couple of extra times a day.  I pulled those out of the kitchen.  Fewer trips into the kitchen means few grazing handfuls.

Think about the actions you need to take on a regular basis to reach your goals and those actions you need to do less frequently.  Whether it is financial, career, health, personal or relationships, there are daily things you could do better.  Identify obstacles and opportunities.  Then adjust your environment to support your desired actions.

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Is motivation enough?

Many self-help gurus preach that simply being motivated is enough to overcome any obstacles in your life.  If you aren’t reaching your goals, they teach, then you simply aren’t motivated enough.  And, by the way, they have a book to sell you or a class to offer to really ramp up your motivation.  Maybe a week in Fiji walking over hot coals is just what you need.  So, no.  Motivation is not enough.

I am a big fan of motivation.  By no account am I saying that motivation is unimportant or ineffective.  I am saying that motivation alone doesn’t move mountains.  Even mountain size motivation won’t do it.  Most goals that are significant in our lives require effort over longer periods of time.  You don’t launch a business, learn a language or drop those pounds with an intense five day seminar. . . . . at least not if you plan on maintaining or growing your success.

So if not motivation, what helps my clients become successful?  Before I get to that, let’s talk a little about psychology.  You can think of your thought process as having three distinct personalities.  There is the Cool Calculator.  The Cool Calculator sits in your frontal lobe and thinks very rationally about what is best for you.  It weighs cost versus benefit and creates action plans.  The Cool Calculator isn’t bothered by weakness or emotion.  The second player is The Toddler.  The Toddler is emotional.  The Toddler is very much in the moment.  Long range plans or balancing cost and benefit are beneath The Toddler.  It simply wants what it wants and it wants it now.  The third player in your own personal psychosis is The Traditionalist.  The Traditionalist has the easiest job of the three.  The Traditionalist simply responds to every situation by saying, well this is what we have done in the past.  This is what we ALWAYS do.  Every thought you have and every decision you make has a little of each of these three players.  Sometimes the Cool Calculator is a little more powerful.  Sometimes it is The Toddler.  Frequently, especially when you aren’t thinking about the situation very much, it is The Traditionalist.

Each of these personalities respond to different tactics.  The Cool Calculator will respond to determination.  The cold weighing of cause and affect works well for the Cool Calculator.  The Toddler is swayed by motivation.  Big grandiose visions on a dream board can sway even the grumpiest of Toddlers.  The Traditionalist responds to positive habit.  The Traditionalist doesn’t worry about the end game or the results.  All The Traditionalist cares about is what we always do.

Knowing this, craft your goals and action plans to utilize motivation, determination and positive habit together.  Each of these will help a different one of your personalities to move toward the final vision.

If not you, then who?

Who decides what is important to you?  Who decides by what measurement you value your work, your efforts and your life?  If it isn’t you, than who is making those decisions for you?

What gets measured gets done.  How you measure success determines what actions you take and how you live your life.  U.S.S.R. was a communist country and, therefore, it didn’t have the normal flow of capital to tell its factories what to make.  It had wanted to increase production and put out a message to the factories that they would be measured on total weight produced.  How did the nail factories respond?  They produced more goods as measured in tonnage.  How did they do that?  They made large rough nails that are easy and quick to produce.  Unfortunately, there was no demand for these nails and they stopped producing the regular sized nails that were in demand.  The central agency figured out their mistake and changed the measurement.  From now on, they were going to measure production by the number of units produced.  How did the nail factories respond?  They produced more nails.  How did they do that?  They produced tiny finishing nails that were barely larger than thumb tacks.  It is kind of hard to build a house with finishing nails.

The point is, what you measure matters.  If you are allowing others to decide how your success is going to be measured, you are allowing others to control what you value and what actions you are going to take.

Own your definition of success.  Own how you choose to measure it.

Top ten “small start” habits for an amazing 2016

Today is the first day of the new year.  It is a time for hope and reflection.  It is a time for potential and new beginnings.  Start investing in yourself by making small positive steps toward your personal satisfaction.  Start small.  Start easy.  Start today.

1.) Five minute meditation – For five minutes each morning, sit quietly and comfortably.  The goal is for five minutes of stillness.  Move and adjust as you must but aim for sitting as still as possible, breathing as slowly and deeply as possible.

2.) Start a gratefulness journal – Each day write three things you are grateful for in a notebook.  When you feel down, read over the many things you have been grateful for.

3.) Smile – Smile at strangers.  Smile at friends.  Smile at co-workers.  Smile at your family.  Not a smirk.  Not the go-ahead-and-take-the-picture-already smile.  Think of something positive and smile.  Bonus points: say something nice while you are at it.

4.) Say thank you – Did your kids bring their dishes into the kitchen without being asked?  Say thank you.  Did you kids bring their dishes into the kitchen without you having to bring out any torture devices?  Say thank you.  Sprinkle thanks around town generously.

5.) Turn off the news – The news is not about informing you.  It is about getting ratings.  Do you know the two most powerful draws to get more ratings?  Negativity and sensationalism!  Go ahead and check in on the news online but not daily and not for long periods of time.  Especially now in the 24/7 cycle of news, it is mostly repetition anyway and it will bring you down.

6.) Laugh – That’s it.  Just laugh.  Read a joke book.  Download a comedian.  Watch a funny movie.  Ask your family to tell a joke every night with dinner.  Bonus points: when something bad or frustrating happens, stop.  Breath.  Think about how funny of a story it will be once you stop being worked up . . . . . now why wait.  Start telling that funny story today.

7.) When the other person is talking, listen – Most of the time, most of us are thinking about what we are going to say next when the other person is speaking.  We aren’t really absorbing what they are saying.  We are just waiting for them to pause, so that we can start talking and give them a chance to think about what they are going to say next!

8.) Appreciate someone – take a few minutes every day and think about who you could appreciate today.  Your spouse?  Your children?  Your co-worker?  The guy at the lunch counter who always greets you with a friendly smile?  A customer?  Every day, let someone know that you appreciate them.  It can be a simple, I really appreciate the way  you. . . . . or it could be a thank you card in the mail.

9.) Read – Read one chapter (or more) of a book every day.  It can be a fun book or educational.  I recommend anything and everything be Dale Carnegie but it doesn’t really matter.  Just read something.  Anything.

10.) Learn from adversity – It really isn’t as hard as it sounds.  When things aren’t going your way, ask yourself what did you learn from this.  What should YOU do differently next time for a better result?  The keys are to focus on things you can do differently (not on what others should do differently) and on the future (not the past).

What small habits are you going to start working on?  What are you going to do to make 2016 a great year for you?

New Year’s Resolution mastermind group

Do you have a New Year’s resolution and are you truly serious about succeeding in it this year?  Have you made resolutions in the past and gave up on them?  You are not alone.  It takes most people eight, nine, ten or more times to finally accomplish their goals.

I’m looking for people to join a New Year’s Resolution mastermind group.  This is a mutually supportive group of people looking to succeed in 2016.  The group will be a private Facebook group with daily checkins, advice and motivations.  The group will go for the first 21 days of January and potentially longer if there is enough interest.

Comment below if you are interested in joining this mastermind group.  Like, share and comment to help build a robust support group.  Even if you don’t want to join a Mastermind group, someone you know may benefit.

Five tips on how to get motivated . . . . . when you don’t really feel like it

When you first start to tackle a big goal ideas are bouncing around your head.  You feel excited.  Things are electric.  They tingle.  You take that first step and it feels so right.  Only 10,000 more leagues to go, right Confucius!

The next few steps fly by.  Maybe a few more. . . . . . then you look up and the goal is still a long way away.  Sure you started the business but no customers yet.  You started running but can’t make it to the end of the street without some serious mouth breathing.  You made you action plan but have made no actions yet.  It isn’t uncommon to lose motivation at this point.

The reality is that motivation comes and goes.  It doesn’t stay at 100% all day, every day.  Don’t let self-help gurus tell you that your lack of motivation means that your goals wasn’t grand enough.  There are two main problems with the idea that grand goals will keep you motivated throughout the process.  First, many goals we have in life aren’t grand.  Your kid asks you to make costumes for the school play; his and five other “actors.”  Your boss asks you to prepare a report on last year’s supply cabinet usage in triplicate incase the board asks about it on their next visit.  Really?  The board is concerned with staple consumption?  Any who does triplicate any more?  Who does paper?  The truth is a lot of what we do – a lot of what we must do – isn’t about grand goals.  There are things that simply must get done.  The second problem with the idea that grand goals will keep us motivated is that it simply isn’t true.  Many big goals take months or years to accomplish.  Thousands of small actions and decisions must align over a long period of time to reach our destination.  It is simply not human to think that motivation will not ebb and flow over such a long time.

So what do we do when our motivation is ebbing . . . or is it flowing?  Anyway, what do we do when we still have a long way to go and our motivation to move in the right direction isn’t pointing in the right direction?  First, realize that keeping on a long path to success is a combination of motivation, determination and positive habits.  I’ll talk more about determination and positive habits in separate posts.  In this post, I give you five things we can do to perk up motivation when it needs a little help.

First, realize it is ok.  Don’t get down on yourself.  Sure that warm bed doesn’t want to let you go running today.  Those white chocolate lemon balls that Debbie from accounting brought in are right next to the coffee pot and they DO look yummy.  And yes, making customer calls when your spouse started mulling some wine and wants snuggle up and watch the snowfall isn’t very appealing.  To be tempted is human.  It let’s you know that you are still alive.

Second, talk to yourself a bit.  Out loud if you must but people will look at you funny.  Ask yourself what is behind this moment’s lack of motivation?  Is it that progress is too slow?  Are you afraid of the next step?  Are there obstacles that you haven’t dealt with?  Be honest with yourself.  Having a little conversation with yourself can either ignite your motivation or, at least, give you an understanding of things that you need to work on.  It may lead to process changes in your action plan.  For example, maybe it isn’t right for you to go for a run when you leap out of bed if you are not an out of bed leaper.  Running may fit better into your life after a nice mosey out of bed and a tall latte.

Third, talk to yourself a little more.  If no one tried to commit you after you were talking with yourself in the second step, you are probably ok to keep it up a bit longer.  Remind yourself why you are going after this goal.  What is it that you are really trying to accomplish and how will you feel when you accomplish it?  Which will really give you more satisfaction, moving toward your goal or doing that other thing.  I know that some days when I was losing my 50 pounds that extra plate of nachos with an extra handful of cheese was worth the extra 458 calories.  Usually it wasn’t but on those days when it was worth it.  I had that extra plate and enjoyed it.

Fourth, do something.  Action brings outcomes and outcomes bring emotion.  Sometimes I’ll keep a list of easier things to accomplish handy.  Not necessarily busywork.  These are things that need to get done but they are easier to do.  Do them now.  Pick one and get it done.  That should be on a coffee cup somewhere.  Pick one and get it done.  The only danger here is don’t let yourself slip into doing busy work.  Yes, your home office desk might need to be organized weekly but no, that does not include using pledge on the underside of your drawers.  Just do what needs to get done.

Fifth, celebrate your successes.  Early in the process it may feel like you don’t have a lot of successes or you may be on a plateau somewhere in the middle but you do have successes.  Even starting, taking that first step, was a success.  If you haven’t lost a pound in a month but you have stuck to the diet/exercise program anyway, that is worthy of success.  You haven’t made a sale in two weeks but you pick up the phone every day for another customer call, that is worthy of success.  Celebrate you.  I know you have something to celebrate.  Do it now.

I’m going to throw in a bonus point.  I do believe in always giving more than you promised.  It is called temptation bundling.  Basically, bundle whatever you aren’t motivated to do with a reward (your tempation).  Bundle the want to do with the need to do.  So yes, you can cuddle with your mulled wine wielding honey . . . . . after you make three calls.  Of course you can go out to that new indian buffet . . . . . . but you have to walk there.

Stay positive when you can.  Stay productive when you can’t stay positive.  Stay ok all the time.

Five tips for keeping your New Year’s Resolution

The New Year is a week away.  Are you ready to make resolutions that you will actually keep this year?  Studies have shown that as many as 90% of people have abandoned their resolution within six months but it is possible to stack the deck in your favor.  You can be one of the 10% who actually keep their resolution and accomplish their goals.

Here are five top tips to make 2016 your most successful year:

1.) Be specific: The more specific your resolutions, the easier it is to set up strategies for success.  It is also easier to celebrate successes towards your goals.  For example, don’t settle for a resolution to get in shape.  Instead, set a goal to hit the gym three times a week for 45 minutes.

2.) Include your inputs as resolutions: As I tell my clients, the three most important words in accomplishing your goals are measure, measure and measured.  That have specific measurable goals, measure your efforts (inputs) and have reasonable measured steps to take along the way.  Inputs are the efforts you take to reach a larger goal.  For example, inputs for losing 30 pounds might be exercise three times a week, pack a healthy lunch four days a week and limit yourself to 1800 calories.  Inputs for building a home business might be make ten customer service calls a week, attend two networking events a month and place one ad a month.  By including the inputs in your resolutions, you are more likely to make progress.  It may be harder to get those five pounds off but you can definitely hit the gym.

3.) Create accountability:  External accountability is a powerful force.  This could be an exercise buddy, a business group or a life coach.  Making commitments to other people make it just that much harder back out of a resolution.  Some people have success making bets with competitive family members.  Message me before the New Year with your resolution and I’ll send you a daily email with strategies, advice and encouragement for each of the first 15 days of January.

4.) Focus on “the one”: While you may want to lose weight, double your business, write a novel, blog daily, find a spouse, etc., etc., etc. no one can do all of that well.  Figure out which of your goals is the most important and make that your resolution.  You can make progress toward your other goals but prioritize the big one.  Otherwise, it is too easy to become overwhelmed and accomplish none of them.

5.) Create your action plan: Very little gets done with out a good plan or, at least, a good strategy.  Don’t just say you are going to get a promotion, create a plan and identify what action steps are necessary to do.  Break down your goal into a series of smaller steps that you can accomplish.  Some times the big goal can feel a little daunting.

Make 2016 your best year yet.  You can do this.  Stay positive.  Understand that you will stumble and you are not alone.