Know Your Worth.

“Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are.” ~Jo Blackwell-Preston

I swear when you have kids no one EVER tells you that you won’t sleep for a veryveryveryvery long time. What they tell you instead is that the first three months suck and then it gets better. I don’t know exactly just who “they” are but “they” are LIARS! Of course, I say that with all due respect. Perhaps, maybe “those people” are just blessed with magical children, who love sleep. For that alone, I hate them. Even at 7 and with the twins who are 3, I am still consistently woken up several times a week in the middle of the night. It may be a bad dream, a bloody nose, a bathroom trip, leg cramps or “I just want Mama!” but I swear I have three of the worst sleepers EVER. That said, this isn’t what this post is about at all. You see? I’m SO tired, I can’t even think straight! Actually, for once it was not my kids who woke me up this morning in the wee hours, at 3:48 AM. It was someone else. And she inspired this post. So at least some good came from it. Right?!?

My neighbors down the street (three houses down to be exact) consist of a couple of guys about my age (brothers, I think) who own a few bars down on 6th street. While they may be my age, their profession (and who knows what else) puts them about a decade behind the times. Truly confirming the saying “that age is just a number.” Hmmm. This sounds rather “judgy” huh? Totally not my intention. Sometimes, I’m even jealous that we’re both up at 4AM, for very different reasons. Anyway, long story short, there are a lot of comings and goings at their house. Of the female variety. Well….last night they must have upset the wrong female because at exactly 3:48 this morning she had a nervous breakdown of epic proportions outside of their house. For all of the neighborhood to see. At first, I thought something really bad had happened. There was screaming, pounding, wailing. And lots and lots of profanity. It was really quite the show.

That poor girl. Had she not likely been under the influence, it not been 3:48AM, and had I more energy, I would liked to have gone out and told her “Honey, NO man is worth this.” I know break ups are hard and it brought me back to a time where I too *may* have acted this way over a boy. Only I wasn’t drunk and it wasn’t 3:48 in the morning. Which in a lot of ways probably makes it worse. :)

While I can attest to the fact that love can make one temporarily insane (so can sleep deprivation, by the way!) I think it’s so important (especially as women) that we know our worth. It’s important not to settle. Or to allow others to treat us in a way that is demeaning. Most importantly though, we must not demean ourselves. I think the important lesson here is this: No one is going to love you more than you love yourself. We teach people how to treat us. When we allow ourselves to settle for less than best…. that’s exactly what we’ll keep getting.

Also, it’s oh so important to watch others actions versus listening to what they tell us. Saying is one thing. Doing is another. And everybody knows that actions speak louder than words. I’ve known a few people, in my time, who are SO eloquent in the words that they use. They come across as smart, confident, and successful. And yet, I trust only a fraction of what they say to me. It’s so interesting. Eye opening, really. At first, I thought I was crazy. Until I watched their interactions with others and I saw the body language at play. For one, I learned that I’m not all that crazy. And, two, I could tell that lip service will only get you so far.

Now, off my soap box and back to the point :(see, still tired!) If you accept whatever comes your way, then that’s precisely what you’ll get. You have to be discerning. It’s like knowing where you want to grow, and where you’re happy to stay the same. It’s boundaries, mostly. It’s knowing yourself. And it applies to everything.

You have to keep top of mind that YOU are a force to reckon with. You are someone to watch. The only person who can really know this is you. Your work, as a person, is to make everything you say and do speak to how awesome you are. No one else can or will do that work for you. I used to think that my sense of self worth could somehow be gifted to me by other people, but the real, cold hard truth is that other people take their cues from you. It all comes from you. Which is why it is essential that YOU know your worth. Not the worth of the person you are going to to be, not the worth of the person you could be, if only. I’m talking about knowing your worth as you are. Right now. Starting on this very day.

“If you’re wearing a disguise for too long, it will be difficult for the mirror to recognize you. At the end of the day I hope you become the person they didn’t expect you to be. Be proud to wear you.” ~Dodinsky

Initiating Change. Keep Austin Friendly.

“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

For a while now, I’ve had an idea for an initiative that I’ve wanted to start. A movement of sorts. The problem has been finding the time. I mean, yes, I want to change the world. And when I say that, I’d don’t mean to sound like a quack. I genuinely believe that each of us has it within ourselves to make a difference. I know I want to make a difference. I think we all do. But because time is obviously an issue, I’ve been putting it off. And putting it off. Until last night, when my husband and I went out for date night, and we encountered (in multiple venues) the very thing I am looking to change. Rudeness. Unfriendliness. People cutting in line. And generally just being nasty. We talked about how Austin is changing with the influx of people moving here. And how we are encountering this more and more everyday. Because both of us were born and raised here in Austin, we know this is not the “norm.”

You see, my family, friends, and I discuss all of the time how Austin is changing. It’s growing (massively) and we all know that with growth comes change. As a 7th generation Austinite (maybe more than that, but it’s as far back as I can go) I have grown up here and love what this culture and community is all about. The Austin I grew up in had that small town, hippy, friendly, sleepy, college town feel. But I noticed that is changing. Rapidly. I notice now how folks no longer say hello. Or look each other in the eye. Everyone is in a rush to get ahead. People are rude. Unfriendly.

Now, I don’t know if that is just how things are in other parts of the country , and if those folks are just bringing what they know, and sticking with it once they get here, but I do know that it’s not how we roll down in these here parts. Does that sound Texan enough for y’all :)

Perhaps though, their way of living is even rubbing off on some of us natives. I guess maybe we figure “If we can’t beat ‘em, might as well join ‘em.”

I don’t know about you… but I’m not down with that. I want Austin to continue to be the friendly place, with the culture (and community) that I’ve grown up with, for the past 30 years. I want my children and their children to know the same city I’ve known.

Perhaps you might be thinking (especially if you are not native to this city) that Austin is pretty awesome in comparison to other places. You would, in fact, be absolutely right. But I want to ensure that it stays awesome. Not just awesome. Not just weird. But friendly.

This is more than about Keeping Austin Weird. This is about Keeping Austin Friendly.

As I was discussing the initiative to “Keep Austin Friendly” with my husband once again last night he initially thought it was a great idea. But then (bless him) he looked me right in the eye and said “Britney, you can’t change people. People don’t change. And nice people never win.” Now, (I think) I know him well enough to believe that he doesn’t really believe these things. While he’s always been my balance, the pessimist to my optimist, I think it was a challenge. And it certainly lit a fire under me. So….I say, game on!

That said, this isn’t just about me and what I want. This is about starting a conversation. Check out this video about starting a movement. My thoughts exactly.

I don’t want to be the crazy person dancing alone. The lone dancer. I’m certainly willing to start though….more tomorrow on how you can help.

P.S. In the meantime, please “like” us on Facebook. Thank you.

What Katniss Everdeen and I have in common….

“I feel there are two people inside me — me and my intuition. If I go along against her, she’ll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.” - Kim Basinger

I’m going to guess that unless you have been living under a rock that you’ve heard of Katniss Everdeen and The Hunger Games Trilogy. With today being the opening day of the much anticipated movie I thought I’d write about what Katniss Everdeen and I have in common.

First of all, I have to admit that there are lots of things that Katniss and I do not have in common. For one, I don’t like to get my hands dirty. Two, I’m not “outdoorsy” at all. And three, if you dropped me in the woods and I had to survive, I would be totally screwed.

You see, I always felt a little bit “different” growing up because I didn’t have a “thing.” And by “thing,” I mean, something that I was good at. Passionate about, even. For some it’s sports, some music, or art, others dance….but not me. I was never particularly good at any of those things. And when asked what I enjoyed, I never really had an answer that fit into the “norm”; otherwise known as those categories. When I first met my husband (who is good at most of those things) I was reminded of this when he asked me what I was passionate about. He was in his final semester of college pursuing a degree in fine arts and he would spend hours (and still does) tinkering and working away on his latest “thing.” I love that about him. But I’ve always felt a little bit weird about the fact that I don’t have that certain “somethin'” that I’m passionate about. Or even particularity good at.

Then one day as I was reading The Hunger Games series and reflecting on it I was thinking about why the series had become so popular. For me, I think, it’s because I can relate so much with the main character. She has a knack for surviving based upon her instinct and intuition. And finally I realized, that’s it! This is my thing! People. I’m good with people! Allow me to explain further: there is something about me (I really don’t know what!) that makes others open up so freely. It always happens about five minutes into a conversation with a person that they’ll end up sharing something very personal. This happens to me EVERYWHERE. Once, I went to get a massage and the therapist connected with me on the fact that we both had twins and therefore proceeded to tell me her whole life story during my treatment. Now, that was bad timing. For sure. It also happened to me the other day, when I called upon someone for something business related, and she proceeded to tell me about something deeply personal that she is going through. I know what some of you might be thinking….how does people “spilling the beans” to you happen to be a gift? I believe that it allows me to connect with people in a way that is truly meaningful. Aside from just on a superficial level. The relationship, in turn, evolves that much more quickly. This “gift” has always allowed me to get to know others in a way that makes them feel heard. Connected. And we all know the saying “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.” Katniss truly embodies this gift. She is able to (quickly) connect with her audience on a level that keeps them not only engaged but keeps them rooting for her.

Also, like Katniss, I have mad skills when it comes to feeling people out. My intuition (instincts) never let me down. I don’t know how I developed this ability (ok, I do, but that’s a whole other post, for a time when I’m feeling a little more like being vulnerable) but I can quickly determine whether a person or situation is trustworthy or not. Now, this doesn’t mean that even though my instincts are telling me what I should (or should not) do, that I always listen. I mean, that ” little voice” is just so easy to ignore. Until, often times, it goes from whispering to me to full out SCREAMING. I’m working on getting better at trusting my “gut.” At really listening (not just hearing, there is a difference, you know) before the whisper becomes a scream. In order to do that I often remind myself of the lessons below. I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Learn to listen for your inner voice. The noise of your thoughts and fear often drown out your quiet voice within. Stop, breathe, and see what you can hear.

2. Trust your heart. Go with your gut. Value what you are feeling as well as what you are thinking. The first step toward trusting your heart is acknowledging, and appreciating your conditioned trust in logic. Both qualities are essential and if you tend to rely on logic over heart, focus on building your heart strength. If the opposite is true and you tend to “over think” things, practice going with your gut.

3. Take notice of your beliefs. Our minds are intimately connected to our bodies. In fact, no organ system operates separately from our thoughts and feelings. Studies have shown that an optimistic mindset helps promote wellness and a negative one can impair it. Letting go of defeatist attitudes that you may not even realize you have is crucial.

When you trust your gut in social situations, you’ll become a more likeable and effective communicator. This is because people will know that you understand them. Remember that your gut feeling will not always be right, but more often than not , it will be. It’s so important to trust it. To listen. Also, keep in mind that if you’re not willing to trust yourself, others are going to be less likely to do so either. I’m a firm believer that when you know, and trust yourself, success will follow. I mean, after all, how do you think Katniss survived all those trips to the arena? ;)

Why Are You Here?

“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” —Jim Rohn

Why am I here? And what am I here to do? I know these are age old questions. But I think about these things a lot. Also, I recently re-read A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle which got me thinking even further. I wonder how many of us actually know our life purpose? And what would happen if we did?

I truly believe that the farther away we are from knowing these answers, the unhappier (and less successful!) we tend to be. I think not knowing makes us feel restless. We go through life lacking contentment.

That said, if I asked you why you’re here, on this planet, at this time, would you have an answer? Do you know what your life purpose is? Does it guide you?

Here’s a hint: It’s Bigger Than Your Goals!

Your purpose transcends your goals. It goes beyond what you do for a living. It’s the big picture. It answers the question, “What are you here to do?” It’s inspiring, engaging and clear. It creates a feeling of significance. A focus for your life. Identifying your purpose enables you to choose what to give your time, energy, and attention to rather than being sidetracked by distractions.

I think in finding your purpose there are three critical things to start with: knowing who you are, why you’re here, and what you want.

As an added bonus, now that I know what I’m here to do, I’ve learned to say, “no” to things that aren’t aligned with my purpose.

You may be wondering, “How the heck do I get clear about my life purpose? That sounds like a massive undertaking!”

It’s really not as huge as it sounds. Here’s a process for you. 5 Steps to Clarity:

  1. Identify your UDQs. My what?!? I’m talking about your unique, distinctive qualities. Qualities such as curiosity, integrity, commitment. To get these, think about how you’d describe yourself. Or perhaps qualities that others have pointed out to you. If you’re stuck, ask a few friends what they think your distinctive qualities are. As part of a planning process I used for this year, I did this. It was quite interesting to see how others perceived me, and how similar and different they were from my own perceptions.
  2. Consider the impact you’d like to have on the world, and on those you interact with. How will people and the world be better off as a result of your having lived your purpose? Dream about this a little. Or a lot, actually. Imagine it happening as if you are watching a movie.
  3. Make a list of as many action verbs as you can think of. Try each one on. Circle those that get you excited, that speak to you. Then narrow it down to two or three. Examples of action verbs might be such things as build, motivate, educate, defend, discover, communicate, share, produce, work, explore, and improve.
  4. Figure out who you’re here to impact or help. Remember, we’re going for clarity here. Be as specific as possible.
  5. Combine your work in the first four steps into creating a Mission Statement. Play with the words. Combine them in different ways. Write down your purpose, go off and leave it for a while, then come back to it. Is it simple? Clear? Easy to understand? Does it inspire and excite you? Even better, does it give you goosebumps? Remember, this statement can (and should) change. Often times, the more we grow (and the clearer we are) the bigger our vision and therefore mission becomes.

When you have your statement complete, post it where you will see it. Carry it with you. Take it out, look at it, and think about it each day. It will provide you with inner guidance, direction, and focus. And I believe wholeheartedly that it will lead you to everything that will support it. At the very least, it will give you the permission to say, “no” to the things that don’t.

You Gotta Own It!

“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.” - Mary Catherine Bateson

I have a story to tell about “owning it.” It was recently brought to my attention in a very BIG way that I am terrible at accepting compliments. First of all, I’m a Leo, and while I enjoy the spotlight, and praise, just like anyone else, I didn’t realize just how bad I was at actually receiving it. Here’s what happened: at our first event, the kick off for Austin Women’s Network I received a ton of compliments and much praise in a room full of about 50 women. As the first few women approached me, and told me what a great idea they thought AWN is and thanked me for creating the community, I was ecstatic. It affirmed my vision and I thanked them. But after the first handful or so, I started to get really uncomfortable. Inside, I was screaming “Wait, this isn’t supposed to be about me!! and “Is that what they think?!?” So, I let my uncomfortableness start to show. It was as that point that I started diminishing myself. And in all of my awkwardness, I actually said something really really stupid.

And just so you can avoid making my mistake, I’m going to “out” myself and share what I said: “Well, I didn’t exactly have high expectations, so, yes, this is great.” Can you imagine? YES! I actually said that!

However, after I beat myself up for a little while about it, as well as some of the other things I said in response to the compliments and praise, I realized that this could be an amazing “teachable moment.”

You see, as women I think we often limit ourselves by not acknowledging our greatness. We are much less likely to “own it”  than are men when we achieve and/or accomplish something. A major problem with this is, that when we fail to take credit for the things we do, you can bet that someone else will surely come along and take it for us.

That said, I wonder why women have such a tough time graciously accepting praise and simply saying thanks? I think that it’s entirely possible that the pressure to reject a compliment is ingrained in women from an early age. Because we as women are often raised to seem humble and modest.

I remember an exact example of this: I was about five or so and an older family friend, a pre-teenage(ish) girl was pushing me around in a wagon as I was telling her about something (I have no idea what) when after we were done playing and went in the house where the adults were, she exclaimed rather loudly: “I don’t want to play with her. She’s a bragger!” Now, my five year old self had no idea what being a “bragger” meant, only that is was apparently bad. And would make others not want to play with you anymore. Especially, cool, older girls who seemingly knew way more than you. So, I set out to find out what being a “bragger” meant and how to avoid being called out in the future. That day, I think, changed a part of me. The experience quite honestly traveled with me and brought me to right where I was in the situation last week.

Since then, I’ve thought about it a lot. I’ve talked with others and realized that so many of us face this issue. In the process, I came up with a few things that I will use in teaching my children to avoid my mistake. Most specifically, my daughter. Here is what I will tell her:

  • Own your accomplishments: It wasn’t luck that you managed to do something praiseworthy – it was your own effort and commitment. Even if you truly were just in the right place at the right time, you deserve credit for recognizing an opportunity and acting on it.
  • Be gracious: Giving a compliment isn’t always easy. Being gracious and appreciative when receiving one lets someone know that you are grateful for their kind words.
  • Practice with people you trust: Make an effort to share accomplishments with friends and family in a self-confident way. If you do really well on something, admit it. The people who care about you  probably won’t think you’re an arrogant narcissist.
  • Just say thanks: An enthusiastic “Thank you!” needs no additional quantifiers. That’s it. Thank you. Handed over with a smile. Enough said.
  • Give compliments freely: There is no better way to learn to accept compliments and praise than to give it to others. A lot. And as an added bonus, they’ll love you for it.

How about you? What do you say when someone gives you praise? I’d love it, if you would share below. 

P.S. You’re awesome! Has anyone told you this today? If not, allow me! :)

Put Your Blinders On

“The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” Colin Powell

Racehorse trainers use blinders because they believe that blinders keep the horse focused on what is in front of him, encouraging him to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions, such as crowds. Additionally, blinders are commonly seen on driving horses, to keep them from being distracted or spooked, especially on crowded city streets.

In the past, I’ve certainly made the mistake of taking “my blinders off.” I’ve allowed myself to get distracted. I’ve taken my eye off of the prize. And I’ve spent energy on things (and people ) that didn’t deserve it. In the process, though, I’ve learned major lessons. But that’s what growth is right?!? It’s making mistakes and learning from them. Course correcting just as soon as you realize you’re off track.

That said, I’ve learned a few things lately due to what I’ll call “growth experiences.” The outcome has been that I realized I have to “put my blinders on” and stop worrying about what others think. Or what they are doing. Personally, I don’t think it is entirely possible to completely stop caring what people think of us, and I don’t think that is such a bad thing. We are social creatures and this is how we learn. Still, it’s essential not to spend too much energy worrying about other people’s motives or agendas. It is a waste of time. Also, when you compare yourself, it takes energy away from focusing on YOUR dreams. Worst of all, it can make you doubt yourself. And that’s the opposite of what it takes to live confidently. It’s SO important to compare yourself only to your personal best. This will allow you to stay focused.

Below I’m going to show you how I learned to “put my blinders on”, stop comparing myself to others, and how I became genuinely happier in the process.

I learned (and/or re-learned) these tips. Perhaps, they will help you:

Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be wealthier, but they will never be YOU. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love you.

Quit spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. Never, ever spend time with someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst, that make all the difference.

Don’t over think it. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress, trying new things, and growing involves risk. Period! You simply can’t make it to second base with your foot still on first.

Refuse to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success should be a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.

Do not allow others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.

Take a break. – The time to take a break is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

Quit blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. Plain and simple. Plus, when you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility, and in the process you give others power over that part of your life.

Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you wake up each and every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.

So….how about you? How do you stay focused? Please feel free to share below.

Memory Monday.

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.” ~Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Today my oldest turns 16. 16! How did this happen so fast? Anyway, because we’re busy celebrating I wanted to share a post that I wrote a few years ago, over on my old blog. I’ve decided that I may do that from time to time. Calling it “Memory Monday.” I think it can be just plain ol’ fun (though sometimes a little scary) to look back and see just how far we’ve come….and boy how far we’ve come!

I simply, cannot. wait. to take him down to get his drivers license today. It is entirely possible that I may be just as excited as he is! And while I still worry, I worry less these days. Because it’s truly amazing to see your children turn out to be such great people. Despite the mistakes that *you may* or may not have made along the way.

Trying to find the words….

I’m having a hard time lately. A hard time finding the words to describe what I’m feeling. I’ll start writing and stop. Delete. Delete. Delete. So I write nothing at all. I’m just not sure what to say. Should I say something? Tell the truth? The way I see it. Or keep quiet? Let it ride. I don’t know. I’m feeling a conglomeration of emotions. I think part of it has to do with the fact that K turns 14 on Friday. The age that I was when he was born. While I want to celebrate his birthday and do that we will, I am also mourning. Mourning the little girl that I was. It’s so strange to see my child and know that’s where I was physically and emotionally when I gave birth. In some ways, I was the same and yet in so many I wasn’t the same at all. And I mourn that too. But mostly, I mourn the things I can’t give him but wish that I could. Thinking that maybe if I just had more time then maybe I could do better. But time doesn’t wait. The clock keeps ticking. Will he be angry that his siblings will most likely have more opportunity than he does? I play this game with myself and tell myself “Don’t complain.” It could be worse. It can always be worse. You are lucky. Blessed. And that I am. But I wonder? Am I cheating myself out of feeling what I really want to feel? What I need to feel? Part of the thing about becoming a Mother is that in some ways you don’t matter anymore. You must put on a smile, go out into the world and pretend that all is OK. There isn’t time to worry about yourself. There are so many other things to worry about. So many needs to be met. And here’s the thing… when we are young we think grown ups know EVERYTHING. I certainly thought that I’d have it all figured out by now. And as a parent I know that we need to pull out the “age” card on occasion. To say “I’ve lived a lot longer than you. I know more. Do as I say, not as I do. Because I’m your mother. That’s why. Been there, done that.” And the one that particularly bothers me “I told you so.” But why do we say these things? We don’t really have all of the answers. Yes, maybe we have had more life experience. But we’re still figuring all of this out too. Making it up as we go. And trying to find the words.

3 Powerful Tips That Can Change Your Life

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” – Carol Welch

First of all, perhaps, I should have added “if you stick with them!” to the title. I want to preface this post by saying that I am really struggling with what I write about below. Often times, when I write about something that I’ve learned or implemented in my life it does not mean that the buck stops there. I never want to give my readers that impression. I’m continuing to learn and grow. I’m a work in progress, just like anyone else. I’m evolving and sometimes with these changes I find myself slipping back into old habits. Change is hard. Maintaining that change, when slipping back in to old patterns (and ways of thinking) would just be easier, is even harder. That said, I chose to write about this today, because with my Grandma getting sick, caring for her, and all of the other stuff that has happened in the last month, I myself, needed a reminder. XO, B

I’ve talked with countless women lately who say that they feel “disconnected”, “lonely” and “overwhelmed.” They feel as though there is nothing left over at the end of the day for themselves. As a mom/wife/employee/entrepreneur myself, I know how hard it is to try to find balance. Finding, creating, and keeping balance is no easy task. For me, it seems that just as soon as I find that elusive “feeling” known as balance and think that perhaps there really is an “easy street” (and by golly, I’ve just found my way, landing smack dab in the middle of it) WHAM, I’m hit with something new. Something unexpected.

I think that part what these women (myself, included) are feeling is a lack of “self-care” It’s just so easy to give to everyone else and to allow our needs to fall by the wayside. Sometimes we allow it to happen without giving it much thought. Sometimes though things can be going along really well and just when you start to think “I’ve got this”, it all comes unwound. During the busy periods of life, it becomes all too easy to knock ourselves right off of our list. But practicing self care (and making this a non-negotiable) can change your life.

Working, caring for a family, and balancing the two takes a level of commitment and focus that is hard to understand until you have actually experienced it for yourself. In fact, it’s often a challenge that takes on new meaning the moment you set foot down that path—stretching you to grow, learn, and do things that you never would have imagined that you would or even could do. And once you get into a groove, where you are laser focused on achieving your vision, it’s easy to let areas such as health and fitness fall a bit by the wayside.

You may feel like there’s no way you could possible fit one more thing into your day. Perhaps you may even feel a bit guilty for taking any of your precious attention away from your family or your work, because you are afraid that any time spent on “frivolous things” like planning and making healthy meals or exercise would be a distraction from achieving your big goals and/or spending time with your family.

You may feel that, in all honesty, the value just isn’t there. Your health is okay, and yeah maybe you aren’t feeling your best physically, but all in all, you feel good enough to keep pressing forward.

Does any of this sound familiar?

I’m here to tell you that creating a lifestyle of health and fitness is far more important to the quality of your life and your ultimate success in business than you might think. I actually think they go hand in hand.

I mean, really, what’s the point of having success and achieving your goals, if you’ve paid the price of your long-term health in order to achieve it?

And I’m not just talking about physical health here either, your mental health is also extremely important in both family and work life. Creativity, clarity, focus, stamina—these are all very necessary, in child rearing and in business.

I’m want to show you exactly how you can not only bring physical health into your life, but mental health too, just by making 3 fairly simple adjustments in your regular routine. Below are 3 tips I use in learning how to shift from being the “overwhelmed and overworked chick” to ” the calm, energetic, ass kicker.”

1. NEVER underestimate the power of “me-time.”

Me-time is essential to finding calm and creativity. Many women don’t realize the power (or the necessity) of me-time, or time away from your work, business or family, time where you do something that you love to do… unrelated to all of those things. This can be a hobby, exercise, or both. It can be an appointment to do something special to treat yourself, like a massage, girls night, or family day.

Taking time to fill your cup up is absolutely crucial to being healthy and to achieving success because you need that time to recharge.

Have you ever noticed that you get your best ideas in the shower, on a long run, or when you are doing something where you are not taking in information? Sometimes it’s tough to tap into the creative part of yourself while you are in action mode.

A really great question to stop and ask yourself often is, “Why am I doing this?”

Yes, it’s because you have a vision and want to be successful, to make your mark on the world, or maybe even to change the world, but underneath all of that, there’s an underlying truth to your desire for success.

You’re doing this because you think that the achievement of this goal or a certain level of success will make you happy (feel free to insert other similar words here like validated, worthy, important, fulfilled, etc).

I believe women often think that they need to put off present happiness for long-term gain. But I say, you can have both. You can choose to be happy right now and the simplest way that you can do that is to give yourself the time to recharge your batteries. The most important thing is that whatever you choose with your me-time, it should be time spend doing something just for you. Many people look at taking time for themselves as being selfish when really it’s not. You simply have nothing to give to others if your tank is empty.

2. Plan, batch, and make eating healthy meals no big deal.

First of all, I have to be honest. I am fond of neither cooking NOR grocery shopping so this one is really hard for me. Much harder than the other two rules. I know what you’re thinking ” She has FIVE kids and she hates cooking and grocery shopping, how exactly does that work?!?” Most days, I wonder this myself. And there is nothing I hate worse than having to combine my “me-time” with my grocery shopping. That is a recipe for disaster. Pun intended.

But what I have learned is this: Healthy eating really doesn’t have to be difficult. I can throw together a bright colorful salad in 5 minutes or less… which is a lot less time than it takes to go get take-out or heat up a frozen dinner.

The trick I’ve learned is to multitask food prep into your routine. For example, on Sundays and Wednesdays, when you are making dinner, make 3-4 times as much protein so that you will have enough cooked for the next few days—protein meaning chicken breasts, lean turkey or lean beef.

While your protein is cooking, chop veggies for salads not only for dinner that night, but for the next few days as well.

Then, when it’s time for lunch during the week, all you have to do is pull your prepped ingredients out of the refrigerator, throw them in a bowl and eat. This can work extremely well for on the go meals AND for packing kids lunches.

I usually prefer to use organic frozen veggies. Because, (surprise!) my kids are picky eaters, and therefore the veggies they will actually eat is limited. Plus, I just find it easier than washing and chopping.

If you tend to travel and/or eat at restaurants often, you’ll typically be able to find some sort of grilled fish or chicken and salad or steamed veggies on most menus. I know it’s hard to choose these things, especially if you are in a really good restaurant. This is why I try and stay pretty strict with what I eat during the week, so that I can “splurge” a little on weekends, when we are most likely to eat out.

Eating healthy is really no big deal… if you can convince yourself that it’s no big deal. It’s a baby step process, changing one small thing at a time, until suddenly those small changes add up to a lifestyle of long-term, sustainable healthy eating habits . For example, I cut out milk and sweetener and now drink my coffee black with (liquid) stevia. When I started my “lifestyle change” I cut out little things here and there. As it turns out, it really does add up.

Still, there’s no magic switch-flipping secret that’s going to make you a healthy eater overnight, and this is something I really struggle with, so do be patient with yourself and know that every healthier-than-before choice is moving you in the right direction.

3. Schedule your workout as if it were a meeting with your boss. Or an appointment with a VIP.

And then KEEP the appointment! Because that’s what you are, you know…very important.

In order to make fitness a priority, you have to treat it like one and, like any other really important appointment, you have to be willing to make space for it in your schedule.

Most people that say they don’t have time for exercise, actually could find time… they just dislike the idea of working out and/or don’t see the immediate value, so they choose not to make it a priority.

Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling, it can actually be something that you look forward to doing. My motto is that fitness should be something that you “get” to do, rather than something that you “have” to do. When you shift the way you choose to look at exercise, it can become a really special part of your day. It’s that much needed time to stretch, blow off steam, and regroup.

Typically, I workout 5 days a week at 5am. I’ve been told a time or two (ok, a lot of times) that getting up at 4 in morning to workout is CRAZY! I’ll be the first to admit, that yes I am just a little bit crazy, but that’s a whole other post. You see, for me 5 am is the ONLY time that I know is JUST for me. At that time of the morning, there is rarely anything else that is going to come between me and my workout. I know my children will grow up and things will change (hopefully) allowing me more options for working out and more sleep. But for now, working out at 5am helps me start my day off right AND allows me to do something for ME.

That said, making fitness a priority (meaning a non-negotiable) really benefits everyone around you. You see, taking 30 minutes to an hour out of your day to workout and get the endorphins going allows you to return to your to-do list with renewed clarity, energy, and focus. I’m pretty sure most of us could certainly use more of those things…..

Now….which of these 3 tips resonates most for you? How might you incorporate these tips into your routine so that you can be the best version of yourself? Please share below.

We Can All Learn A Thing Or Two From This…..

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” -Walt Disney

I want to talk a little bit today about serving. More specifically about serving our customers. And what it means to truly serve. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what you do in your career, or in your business, you are in some way or another going to be serving someone. And until one masters this very important concept, of what it genuinely means to serve their customer, it’s my belief that they’ll never truly find success. One thing I know for sure is, that no matter how good you are at it already there is always room for improvement.

I’ve spent a good majority of my life working in client retention, building and maintaining client relationships. This is otherwise known as “customer service”; though there are many various fancy titles for it. I’ve seen many companies/businesses/people really miss the mark here. So many of them just trying to get the “sale” and once they do, they’re quickly on to the next one. Never stopping to inquire about customer satisfaction, nor are they very interested in maintaining relationships. Which is always amusing to me, because research clearly shows, that our best customer is someone whom has already bought from us.

Someone really smart once told me to Always under promise and over deliver.” I believe that not only are these great words of advice in life but they also serve well in the customer service arena. It’s so important to blow your customer away. Go so far above and beyond what they expect that you’ll leave them talking. Because no matter how far technology advances, word of mouth is still going to trump anything else when it comes to driving business your way. The only difference is that in today’s world, word of mouth spreads 1000x more quickly. If you’re doing it right, and people like you, they will tell others. In other words, learn to make customers really, really happy. If you’ve got a good product or offering, it doesn’t take much more than that.

Speaking of someone going above and beyond what is expected, I want to show you an example. Most of us have heard of Meetup.com. Meetup is no small company, yet I know for a fact, that the team of people who work for them is relatively small. So when the email below landed in my inbox, I was blown away. The fact that they took the time to send me this personal email speaks volumes about their values and the way they view their customers. It also speaks volumes about their success, growth, and potential. I think we can all learn a thing (or two) about customer service from this:

         Hi Britney, it’s Dominic again from Meetup HQ.

Your Meetup Group just surpassed 100 members! Congratulations! That’s a huge milestone *and* you accomplished this amazing feat in under a month. Welcome to the 100 Member Club. :) 

You and your Meetup must be doing something right. In fact, I just checked out your Group and it looks like your kick-off Meetup already has 60 people RSVPed with another 9 people on the waiting list! That’s really impressive for a first Meetup.

Meetups are magical. They can turn a big city into a small town overnight. With every single Meetup you organize, you’re bringing your community closer together, making it stronger and more rewarding.

Feel free to reply to this message or drop me a line anytime.

Best wishes for many wonderful Meetups to come, from all your friends at Meetup HQ!

Cheers,

Dominic Cocchiarella
Community Team Specialist
Meetup HQ

So how about you? Do you have a customer service success story? How are you excelling in this arena? Please share below.