A Quick Update From Nanoland…..

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”  ~Sidney Howard

I just want to give everyone a quick update from Nanoland…..which I am neck deep in. Ok, maybe technically only waist deep because today marks the halfway point, but you get the point.

For those of you who wonder what in the heck I’m talking about….I’m participating in my very first NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I figured what better way to quit talking about writing and actually start doing it…. so here I am.

Of the 50,000 words needed to “win” I’m currently sitting at 28,316. And for those of you who think you’re going to strangle me if you hear one more thing about NaNoWriMo, I apologize.

That said, it’s interesting what NaNo has done for me. Not only has it provided me with the motivation to make this novel a reality (by actually writing it, what a concept, huh), a few new friends, and lot and lots of additional caffeine (can you tell?! :)) , it has also provided me with data. Lots and lots of sweet, precious data, on when and even where I do my best writing. Which is not at all what I thought, so this alone has been priceless.

My characters now occupy my dreams every night, seemingly stealing what little sleep I get. And they talk to me, too, which is very very strange. I’m happy though. Really, really happy. And, did I mention, very well caffeinated? :)

So….here’s to stretch goals paired with a little bit of crazy! Oh…and speaking of stretch goals, I hope you’ll join us at Austin Women’s Network on December 5th as one of my favorite Executive Business Coaches, Stan Tyler, presents “Reaching Unreachable Goals”   where we’ll discuss, plan for, and learn how to best achieve our 2013 goals.

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”  ~ Doug Larson

Doing Less. Being More.

“We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention.” ~Albert Einstein

I read something this morning that really stuck me: “Perfection is the enemy of everything. We all want it. None of us will ever get it. Even though nobody in the world has ever achieved perfection in their craft, we still believe that it’s possible for us. Even if it were possible, it’s not preferable. Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes, but he’s a little bit of an asshole and no one invites him to their pool parties.” LOVE IT! It’s such good, incredibly truthful advice….and yet so easy to forget, if we are not reminded.

I’ve recently been offered some amazing opportunities. And have unfortunately had to say no many of them. I’m not sure exactly what is going on here….is the Universe trying to tell me something? Teach me the power of saying no? The art of discernment? I’m not sure…I only know that the decisions have been hard. After all, I can be AND do all things, right?!? Sadly, the answer is a BIG FAT NO! I cannot. And neither can you. There is this myth floating around that we can do whatever we set our mind to. It’s like that commercial for women that tells us we need to go out get the bacon, bring it home, and fry it too. “The 24 hour woman.” It’s the myth that we can be all things to all people. This ideal that we can have it all.

The truth is that we can’t have it all. For me, I’ve found that “having it all” means having what it is that I desire-just not necessarily all of it, at the same time. Really, though this just means finding a handful of things that are important to me and focusing the majority of my attention on those. For example, I’ve been bombarded by requests and questions about why I’m not on Pinterest. I think (from what little I know) that Pinterest is great. But quite honestly, I do not have the time to devote to another “hobby” and even more importantly WHY on earth would I want to sign up for one more thing that leaves me feeling like “I’m not enough?” I’m not crafty enough, my kids birthday parties aren’t like so and so’s. And the list just goes on and on. This is my issue, obviously. But why take something on, just because “everyone else is doing it”? I’m not saying never to Pinterest, I’m just saying not now. And for those of you who are on Pinterest and love it, I think that’s great. I’m just sharing my personal story about trying to avoid the next “shiny” thing (distraction) that I’m told is destined to bring me closer to achieving my dreams.

I think too many people (myself included) make the mistake of adding to our plates with out stopping to remove something. It’s exactly like eating a meal. We can only put so much in before we start to feel sick, overwhelmed, and tired. We have to decide what we are going to put on our plate and what we are going to leave off. When we add something, it’s essential that we remove something. In order to make room. It sounds simple, yet so many of us fall into this trap time and time again , all the while asking “How DID I get myself into this?!?!”

I’ve recently decided to start doing less. While BEING more. You see, I’ve learned that my daily incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and tick off items on my to-do list by each day’s end — seems to decide the direction and quality of existence for me. But if I approach my day (and ultimately my life) in a different way, I can consciously change this out-of-control pattern. It only requires the courage to do less.

This may sound easy, but doing less can actually be very hard. Too often we mistakenly believe that doing less makes us lazy and results in a lack of productivity. Instead, doing less actually helps us savor all that we do accomplish. In time and with practice, we learn to do less of what is extraneous, and engage in fewer self-defeating behaviors, so we craft a productive life that we truly feel good about.

I believe that if we can fully own the notion that “we are great, just as we are.” And really let it seep into our mind and body, into our bones, it will make all the difference. We are each born with all the wisdom and imagination we need; we just sometimes need help and a reminder to return to our senses and get out of our own way. Sometimes we just need to let it sink in that nothing extra is required.

The truth is you have everything you need; just let go of whatever distractions, fears, and busyness might be hampering you. It really is that simple. Allow yourself to think and feel and live that way. Acting from this place results in greater composure, and when we act with composure, we are more effective. Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t lessons we need to learn and areas that we need to grow. It just means that we already have what we need inside of us. The answers are inside. Sometimes, it just takes the courage to realize this.

We know deep down that every life has great meaning, but the meaning of our own can often be obscured by the fog of constant activity and bad habits. By recognizing and changing these beliefs and behaviors, and we can once again savor the ways we contribute to the workplace, enjoy the sweetness of our lives, and share openly and generously with the ones we love. Less busyness leads to appreciating how sacred (and truly short!) life is.

It’s strange but for me doing less has lead to more love, more effectiveness and internal calmness, and a greater ability to accomplish more of what matters most — to me, and by extension to others and the world.

I encourage you to take a look at your schedule, your calendar, and really evaluate how much the things on there mean to you. How important are they? Are they allowing you to live the life you deserve? Do they bring you joy? Or do you just do them because you feel you have to? It’s what you’ve always done. Have these things (tasks) become so routine you rarely notice anymore? I challenge you to take a look. Start doing less. It will allow you to be so much more.

“The way you create any outcome in your life is to hold the vision of your deepest desires. At the same time, though, you must honestly and accurately assess your current situation and how it relates to your greater vision. By doing this, you engage tension between what is and what can be. This tension is the primary creative force behind the manifestation of any outcome. It’s as natural and powerful as the force of gravity”.~ David Emerald

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? ;)

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.

Stop Thinking. Start Doing.

How often do you think about or obsess over doing something instead of just doing it? Or at the very least get started on the task at hand. Sometimes, I think, we forget that there is a HUGE difference in contemplating something and actually doing it. There have been periods in my life, that I’ve been SO guilty of doing this. Don’t get me wrong, thinking things through, having a plan, and utilizing it, is a very good thing. But I used to take the thinking and planning part further than was really reasonable. I’d over think and let fear, or lack of knowledge, paralyze me. I’d think something to death, research something to death, plan something to death, before I’d actually take action. Sometimes, the process would go on for so long, I’d just lose interest in the project.

In the past, I used the “thinking strategy” in regards to the book I’m working on. I also used it with the things on my to do list. Instead, of taking action, I’d spend my time thinking (and worrying) about doing so. I’d use so much energy contemplating doing something, instead of on actually doing it.  I came to a point where I realized that the amount of energy I spent and wasted, thinking, was energy that I could’ve used, if I’d just taken action. I realized that if I’d just take the first step and get started it would get me a lot further than just thinking about it. I also had to stop making excuses for myself. Excuses like “Well, I’ll just wait until the twins start school.” Or  “I’ll wait until we’re not so busy.” Now I understand that there is NEVER going to be THE perfect time.  Yes, as my kids get older, life will get easier, in some ways. But why wait? Why put my dreams on hold, until? Until this or until that. I had to take the word until out of my vocabulary.

That said, I’ve gotten a lot better. For example, I realized that the sooner I write this blog post, the sooner I can stop obsessing thinking about writing this blog post. The sooner I finish writing my  book, the sooner I can stop thinking about having to make progress on writing my book.