The Best Way to Build Momentum and Achieve Goals

It’s actually quite simple- two little words. Just start. That is how you build momentum. Thinking, analyzing and planning are part of the equation but those things also can lead to long periods of inaction. Analysis paralysis is one of the most popular forms of procrastination, though we don’t see it. We rationalize that we’re planning and working out the kinks. That is all good stuff. Except it doesn’t matter one bit if you do not start.

Want to meet your friends out for a drink? Do you sit around and plan it for weeks on end, only to delay at the last moment?  No, you get in the car and drive to your destination. The same applies to chasing your dreams and work that is fulfilling and lucrative. Start and you’ll move in a direction. And if you need to change directions, you’ll have momentum on your side to help. Just like when you’re driving a car. Don’t start, and much like an idle car, you’ll never build momentum. It’s much harder to turn when you don’t have momentum on your side.

I recently worked with a woman who sat idle for a few years. Her work was stale and she didn’t enjoy what she was doing anymore. She was concerned and discouraged by the many changes at her company. It was recently purchased by another and there were layoffs, changing shifts, working on the weekend was required and many of her friends left for new opportunities. She feared her job was in danger and at the very least, she would be relocated to another office with a longer, more expensive commute and may have had to end up working nights in addition to weekends. It took her a while but she started. She knew she had the power to improve her situation and that change required focused effort.

The momentum she built was swift and the change she experienced was superb. In just five weeks, she went from being stressed, worried and overwhelmed to landing a job that paid her $17k more per year and comes complete with a state pension, day time hours, weekends and holidays off and more paid time off. A tremendous added bonus is that she gets back 3-4 hours a week. That’s time she can spend doing things she loves with the people she loves and not being stuck at the office or log jammed in traffic. More money in her pocket, more time on her hands. It doesn’t get any better.

She said that my eBook and coaching helped her see things differently and made her ask herself questions that lead to life changing realizations. I am happy to hear that and sincerely appreciative of the kind words. But the fact of the matter is this- none of this would have been accomplished…had she decided to stay stuck. She started. And this is what can happen when you do!

These results may not be typical. But they may be the results you experience. You’ll never know, unless you start. If you’re reading this, then you are interested in getting to a better place in life. Now it’s time to start. What is one thing you can do right now to get closer to your goal? Now, go and do it. Good luck!

5 Things to Do Differently This Year

We’re nearing the end of the first month of 2017. Some people are well into their resolutions now, seeing results, learning and extending their personal and psychological boundaries. Some are growing discouraged and dissatisfied with where they are. I’ve written previously about how an overwhelming percentage of people quit on their goals early on. I’ve been there too. Much like I was able to make changes in my life, you can do the same. Make this the year that you don’t give up. The year that you take it all the way and achieve goals that you’ve been fantasizing about for years! Here are 5 things to help you get there.

 

1-     Listen to your inner dialogue. This one is key because with a limiting inner dialogue, chances are high you won’t get very far. It’s akin to driving a car on four flat tires. While chained to a train. When you put limiting beliefs in your brain without challenging them, limiting behavior is what comes out. Like Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right”.

      Very recently, I smashed through a limiting belief I had that I did not even realize. My wife and I started a nutrition and exercise plan a few weeks ago (I feel better than ever, by the way!). As I was running on the treadmill and approached the 1-mile mark, a voice inside me said “You’ve only been able to run a mile without stopping once in your life. Time to stop now. You’re just not a runner”. A few years ago, I’d have stopped then and there. Not now. I challenged that thought immediately and said “The only person who has ever said I am not a runner is me. I’m running now and I feel great. No way I’m stopping now”. I went on to go two and a half miles and could have gone even farther because I had so much energy. I stopped only to be cautious of my surgically repaired knee which is not used to the pounding. Last week I ran three times and all three times I beat my personal bests in distance and time. I changed my inner dialogue to something positive and that is what I got in return.

2-     Change your routine. It’s very easy to stay in routines of comfort. Doing a certain thing at a certain time of day, like sitting on the couch at night watching TV, becomes second nature and we seldom give it any thought. But when you’re stuck and not where you want to be in life, changing routines can jump start us down a path of momentum. Take a look at what you are doing each day and ask yourself if you are spending too much time on it and if it is helping you live the life you want to live. An easy way to do this is to keep a note pad and jot down each task you do and how long it takes. Keep a record for 3-4 days or even a week and then add it up at the end. You may find you are spending hours each day checking email, watching TV or on Social Media, while your goal of writing a book has yet to be started. Once you know exactly where your time is going, you can take some of it back.

3-     Eat organic. I mentioned above that I started a nutrition plan this year. Included in it was a three day detox. I’ve read about clean eating and detoxing quite a bit and frankly, I always thought that it was hype. How much better could clean eating possibly make me feel? That often asked question was answered quickly and definitively. Absolutely amazing! At 43, I have more energy than I’ve ever had before. The heartburn that I’ve suffered from since I was 19 has almost vanished completely. I feel clearer, sharper and lighter and that positively affects every aspect of my life. I am honestly blown away by the difference. Much like I said above about the thoughts in your brain, when you put starchy, sugary, processed foods in your body, that is the result that comes out. If you don’t think eating a wholesome organic diet matters much (as I used to), try it for a week and see the difference for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

4-     Celebrate your successes. It can seem premature to celebrate when you have not reached your end goal and your journey is still in progress. But it’s not. Besides, why does the journey have to be long or boring? The fact is that you cannot reach the big goals without accomplishing the small ones first. Taking steps and seeing progress is worthy of being acknowledged and it makes the ride a lot more fun. If you are someone who has done much thinking and dreaming but not taken much action, celebrating accomplishments daily is key. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just a few minutes to express pride at your progress will suffice. You’ll build the important habits of reflection and expressing gratitude and those are key attributes of success.

5-     Be kind to yourself. One technique I use on clients involves working with their inner child. I listen closely to the harsh words they use to describe themselves in their adult form. Somewhere along the line, they lost contact with their inner child and found the unhealthy habit of beating themselves up. When I ask them to envision themselves as a child and listen to the words used to describe that period of life, the vocabulary changes dramatically. The connection is made that they speak to themselves in a way that they would never dare speak to another and the habit is effectively changed. Always treat yourself like you would treat any other child; with love, patience, kindness and compassion. You cannot be your best yourself if you do not treat yourself with love.

Start doing these five things differently this year and you’ll think clearer, use time more effectively, feel better, have more fun and get better results. It’s time to unleash your greatness and make 2017 your best year yet!

 

Two Things about Setting Goals

Happy new year everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and enjoy a fresh start and vibrant health during the New Year!

You have set some goals or resolutions for the New Year by now. And if you haven’t, don’t worry. It is never too late to do so. I’ve read a lot about goal setting over the past few weeks and I’ve noticed that most of the articles contain most of the same information. That you should:

·        Set SMART Goals. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound.

·        Write your goals down so that you are more likely to achieve them. Numerous studies (and likely personal experiences of your own or someone you know will validate this) have shown that writing your goals down greatly increases your chances of achieving them.

·        Plan both long term and short term goals. Short term goals help build momentum and are vital to achieving long term goals.

·        Review all goals frequently to stay motivated, monitor progress, make adjustments and keep them in the forefront of your mind.

This is all good, solid information that is highly valuable. What I didn’t see much of was the daily grind. The nitty gritty. Here are two things that will also be highly valuable to you as you work on making 2017 your best year yet.

1.      Setting goals can be hard work

Sure, anyone can sit down and write out “I want to lose weight” or “I want to make more money”. Chances of success for this kinds of goals is minimal because they are not specific. Focusing in and being as specific as possible takes a little extra work and planning. Even when specific goals are set, there is still the discipline of working toward them every day and evaluating your progress.

 Here is an example of a goal that is unlikely to be achieved even if written down: “I want to lose weight in 2017”. It is bland and general.

Here is an example of a well thought short term goal that is likely to be achieved: “I want to start my own business in January 2017. I will use my artistic skills to create hand- made greeting cards, which I will sell on my site store. I will start designing the cards on January 5 and offer 3 different types of cards (list them). I will look to sell 1 per day minimally at a cost of $5.00. I will set up my site/store by January 31 and be ready to sell then. I’ll get the word out to family and friends and on social media to build excitement and a potential customer base. This business will allow me to use my love of art to do fulfilling work and make extra money.

You can see the difference in the level of thought and effort between the two (and sadly, far too many set goals similar to the first example, hence why the percentage of people who actually achieve their goals remains in the single digits). It’s not just the extra effort that goes into setting the goal, it’s the details required to achieve it—setting up the store, creating the different types of cards, spreading the word about the business and doing it all within the timeframe.

2.      Failure is always an option

No matter how specific you are and how much you want to achieve your goal, there is a good chance you will fail at some point along the way. When that happens, you have two choices. You can become dejected, quit and beat yourself up for failing. Then wait another year, or years, to start again. Or you can view the failure and a learning opportunity and use it to be more efficient. Think about it, if you try option A and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean your goal is unattainable. It simply means there is a different, a better way to get to it. Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when inventing the light bulb! One thousand times! His mindset was what kept him going and made him a success. He didn’t see it as failure, he saw it as “finding ways that didn’t work”.  By the way, Edison was a man who was once called “too stupid to learn anything” by his teachers. That’s not the way he perceived himself or his work and we’d all be very smart to learn from his example. Fail. Then find another way to get to your goal.

Whatever your goal in 2017, I wish you much success in achieving it! Put in the time and the work. Be disciplined. Set your sights high and give it all you have. It won’t be easy…but it will be worth it and it will change your life!

How To Be Better Than Yesterday in 3 Steps

It's no secret that personal development and growth is a top priority for high performers. We're always looking for ways to do everything better. And that is a quest that will never end. If you're just starting out, or changing your perspective, here are a few tips to be better than yesterday.

1. Think small. Perhaps the biggest mistake we make is to try to see the end result before we've even started. I'm all for visualization but the truth is we cannot be completely clear on the vision until we've started putting the rough version of it into motion. We look at where we are now vs where we want to be and the change is so large, the mind starts to believe that such goals are impossible- like the singer who dreams of getting a multi-million dollar record deal and becoming the next Taylor Swift, but who has not yet even cut a demo.  Start, gain some momentum and let it take it to the next level. It is small, incremental improvement that will lead to life changing gains. 

2. Keep record. A few years back, I did a little experiment. At lunch, I'd run on the treadmill at the office gym. At 230 pounds and with a surgically repaired knee, I wasn't much of a runner. I decided to jot down on a sticky note the time it took me to run a mile. It was a little over 12 minutes. Like I said, I'm not much of a runner. The next day, I took that sticky note with me and put it on the treadmill. Immediately, I cut 45 seconds off my time. I was three quarters of a minute better than yesterday, which in terms of running, is like a lifetime. I knew I could push it even further, so I repeated the routine the next day and took more than a minute off. Within a few days, I was down to a 9 minute mile. Having the figure in front of me made me push myself harder. I wanted to beat it, wanted to prove I could improve. It was a challenge and I accepted. I never thought I'd run a mile in that time and I wouldn't have if I didn't keep a record of my progress. 

3. Be flexible. Sometimes, we set goals that are rigid and inflexible. We want to get that record deal and become the next Taylor Swift, nothing else will do. In that form of narrow focus and thinking, it is easy to miss other opportunities that could appear. Maybe it is a good paying gig at a local club that means you can quit your job and afford to cut a demo. Or a job at a music store where you can work on your craft to get to an elite status. Maybe it's an opportunity that leads to networking with executives or people who can offer a record deal. Stay open minded. Sometimes, the road winds and bends but ends up right where you want to be.

Be open to thinking in smaller pieces so the enormity of a goal doesn't overwhelm. Keep record of where you're going and where you've been. It can ignite your progress in ways you've never known. Be flexible to an alternative route to achieve your goals. We don't always know where the road leads. The only certainty is that if we don't take the time to notice what is around us, we're going to miss some amazing opportunities. All destinations can be arrived at from multiple directions and via multiple methods. Always remember that. Do whatever you can to do something, one thing, better than you did it yesterday. When you do that, obstacles move out of your way. You’ll gain confidence, keep momentum rolling and you’ll accomplish more than you dreamed possible!

 

4 Things to do When You’re Stuck in Analysis Paralysis Mode

Chasing dreams is scary work. Really scary. There are a number of reasons why we engage in the self- defeating behavior of analysis paralysis. We make excuses that we cannot move forward because we’re not educated enough or we have more research to do or the time just isn’t right. We like to use our circumstances as an excuse and declare that our situation is unique and no one else, ever, has had to overcome similar obstacles. The thing is, we are all unique people so therefore every circumstance for every person on this planet must be unique. Now you see why analysis paralysis is nothing but an imaginary boundary that we lock ourselves into. It keeps us from moving forward but gives the safety net of protecting from falling. Failure. And that feels good. No one wants to fail.

To break free from that cycle and propel your dream chasing journey forward, there are three steps you can take.

 1.     Set a firm end date

If you truly must do more research or take another class or get that certification in order to do the work of your dreams, then set a firm end date for it.  Determine how much time you’ll need and then mark it on your calendar so that when the day comes, you’re ready to go. The mistake I made was that I spent years, literally, doing research, reading books and blogs, taking courses, obtaining impressive credentials, before I actually sat down and wrote. It’s kind of hard to be a writer when you don’t write. It was the fear of failure that kept me stuck. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s a waste of time.

 

2.    Take one step every day

One of the best questions I ask myself and my clients is “what is one step that you can take today get closer to your goals?” The reason is to keep your focus on your goal, keep it fresh in your mind and to keep momentum going. It’s easy to stop taking action on the small tasks as you do your research but it doesn’t change the fact that those things still need to get done. While taking a writing course, for example, you can do any related side work that can be done to get ahead of the game. If you want to be a writer, start a writing routine. Get a domain name to start a blog. Look for hosting services. Search for someone who can set it up if you are not technically savvy. Find freelance opportunities- there are a ton of things that can be accomplished that will give you momentum.

 

3.    Redefine the word “failure”

Because in all likelihood, it is the fear of failure that is keeping you stalled. But failure isn’t really the bad word that we’ve been conditioned to believe. If you try something and it doesn’t work, you’ve gained knowledge as to what you did and why it didn’t work. You can tweak your approach from there. Or you may have realized that you were pursuing something that you came to realize is not what you truly want. Or maybe you learned that doing things a certain way will not yield the result you are looking for. There is an opportunity to learn in every one of these situations. The fact is- you cannot learn it unless you take action and go for it.

 

4.    Know that the stars will not align. Ever

Waiting for the perfect time to start is, quite honestly, the biggest waste of time you can engage in. Today is the best time to start. Right now. You are smart enough, talented enough, brave enough, courageous enough and you have enough life experience and insight to help/move/affect at least one person in this extremely large world. Right here, right now. There will always be obstacles and challenges, no matter what. That is why this very moment is the best time to start.

I once read something a former Navy Seal wrote. He said that in the military, it doesn’t matter which direction you move when under mortar attack, just as long as you move. I’d say the same applies in dream chasing. You cannot find clarity or achieve goals if you remain stagnant and stuck. So take action, any action, to put yourself in motion. Get disciplined in setting timelines so that you are ready to hit the ground running. Don’t worry much about failures- they will come. Count on it. Learn from them and use them for your betterment because inside each one is a gem of knowledge and opportunity waiting to be plucked. The mortar attack has started- which way will you move?

 

 

 

 

How to Get Past Your Mistakes and Move On

I’ve written about my two toddler aged children before and the lessons I have learned from them. The education continued last night as I was sitting at the table with my 4-year old son. He has become quite the artist and loves to draw pictures then tell a detailed story about it. On this particular creation, he wanted to write his name on it. Ben. However, he wrote the B and then N and did not leave enough space for the E in between. I asked “Where is the E”? He said, “Right here. I’ll just make the N into an E”. And with that, he made a few dark lines and accomplished what he set out to.

I watched him in wonder, as I always do. Because he just sees the world in a different way. He sees fun and play and innocence and magic. He sees it through the eyes of a child and that is the most precious gift, if you ask me. I thought of how different a child handles mistakes as compared to an adult. An adult might bemoan their mistake and let it kill their confidence. They would ruminate on it and re-live it time and again, stressing out about it, strengthening the neural pathways of negativity and dysfunction. This kind of thought becomes easier because of the existing pathway. That is why such thought processes are often habit and why many people stay stuck in the past and engage in behaviors that continue the cycle of defeat.

Kids don’t do that. They make adjustments, create with a mind as open as the universe and they simply accomplish their goal without much struggle. They don’t have the fear and resistance and confidence challenges that adults have been conditioned to have. They don’t have that fear of failure that adults have been conditioned to have. I am learning this every day as I spend daddy time with my children. And I have to say that it is inspiring on a jaw-dropping level and one of the most amazing experiences in my life.

Society may say it’s not good for an adult to be childish. I say otherwise. When it comes to certain key components like having fun, letting go, being creative and fearing failure, I say- go right ahead and act like a kid. Create. Accomplish with little or no resistance. When something goes wrong, when a mistake is made, don’t ruminate on it. Don’t let it conquer your confidence. Instead, choose to effortlessly draw a line through it and then make the outcome one that you want. This method is not going to work for every mistake and I am not suggesting it will. But for many of them, correcting it, moving out of the past and not dwelling endlessly on what went wrong, will make getting to your destination much quicker and far more enjoyable. Why sweat the small stuff when there is a fun fix for it? Give it a try- go act like a kid again. See where the magic and wonder takes you!

How To End Your Excessive Worry Habit

Sometimes, it is good to worry. If you are out for a hike and come across a bear, worry would be your friend. It’s not such a good thing when we do it excessively. It takes a tremendous toll on our health and happiness. I know from experience. I personally battled anxiety and excessive worry for two decades.

Got Worry?

 

How do you know if you worry too much?  Ask yourself two questions.

  • Is it interfering with my life?
  • On a scale from 1-10, how much distress are my worries causing me?

If the number is closer to ten than one—you are spending too much time worrying.

Get the Inside Scoop

What does your body “do” on worry? A number of unpleasant things take place both physiologically and biochemically when you frequent your “Fight or Flight” mode. The nervous system floods the blood stream with stress hormones such as cortisol. Once out of the cage, they hitch a ride to the major organs and heighten the body’s stress response. Too much cortisol can result in high blood sugar, weakened immune system and physical symptoms like nausea, headache and rapid heartbeat. There are many other, equally nasty symptoms that can result.

Here is one way you can lessen those unfriendly symptoms.

Welcome to the Worry Womb

Ruminating keeps your body in a constant state of stress. Dwelling on fear and negative does nothing productive for your mind or body. There is nothing healthy about it. But you can actually have productive worry sessions. I call this the “Worry Womb.”

 

Much like a fetus in the womb is nourished, giving nourishment to your thoughts and worries is critical in understanding their origin and in resolving and releasing them. Many people don’t do this, either because they feel they can handle it or because they do not want to feel uncomfortable. Make no mistake, this will make you uncomfortable, but setting aside time each day to worry can end rumination. Would you rather have thoughts of worry cross your mind all day long, preventing you from concentrating, keeping your body in a highly stressful mode? Or would you rather be proactive and face your fears head on, freeing yourself from its chains for most of the day and only think about them at a time and place that YOU decide is convenient? That is how you take back power.

Inside the worry womb, dedicate your time to writing down everything that is causing concern. Start with the most pressing worry. Grab a pen and make a list of your worries and the factors of each that are making you worried. For example, you might be worried about a pain in a specific body part. That is the concern.  And the factors causing you to worry might be that you are afraid it is a serious disease or illness. Be specific and detailed when making your list.

Writing, instead of typing, utilizes different areas of the brain that can take you deeper but typing is far better than doing nothing. Most important is that you get the thoughts out of your head. Analyze your list and make a judgment; how likely is this worry to come to fruition? If the odds are not very high, try to let it go. There is no need to carry it around any longer. If the odds are high, then formulate a plan of action to put your mind at ease and take control of the situation. In the above example, a plan of action might be to make a doctor’s appointment and to research possible causes. You may find many others have had the same problem and that it was nothing major.

Writing and doing—that puts you in control. Giving yourself time to explore your fears means you face them and can conquer them. Worrying endlessly without action does not.

Fifteen to thirty minutes a day in the Worry Womb will usually suffice. If you find that is not enough time, you can add an extra fifteen minutes to the first few sessions. Take care that you do not spend too much time here, otherwise you’ll be doing the very thing you are trying to correct. Once you get a handle on fear and worry, you will notice you spend more time thinking about and doing things that make you happy.  Take it from me, living happy is much better than living worried.

I originally wrote this post for, and it was first published at The Good Men Project. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/how-to-end-your-excessive-worry-habit-dg/

Photo" Getty Images

How 8 Little Words Changed My Life

Has someone ever said something to you that made you stop in your tracks? Because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they said is right. And you just know that the words you just heard will change your life.

That happened to me recently. For weeks, the stress of getting out of the house in the morning was rising. I felt the clenching of my jaw. The tension in my shoulders, which for me get moved upward and remain static in a shrug position until I catch on and take a moment to breathe and release. The uncomfortable heaviness in the chest. This is how I experience stress and frustration.

 My mornings start early. I’ve got lunches to make, two kids to clothe, a cat to care for, bags to pack, breakfast to make and serve, all before I get myself ready to get out the door. There are two separate drop off destinations for my children. Navigating through Long Island morning school traffic is usually enough in itself to cause stress. Doing so while trying to get the three of us where we need to be, safely and timely, it’s been causing some friction for me. I found myself rushing and snapping and feeling agitated. Getting cut off by rude and reckless drivers just about every single morning adds to it. To be fair, I’ve let it happen. I chose that reaction. I could have chosen a different reaction.

As a dad, I do my best not to show that side to my kids too often. They don’t need it and they certainly don’t deserve it. I do my best to practice gratitude because I’ve been blessed in so many ways. But I am human and make mistakes. Over the past month, I’ve made more than I care to admit. I’ve outwardly displayed frustration, been snippy, felt rushed (and made others feel rushed) and said one or two things out loud that I wished I hadn’t. Kids see and hear it all.

One recent sunny morning, I had just dropped my daughter off at day care and was ready to take my son to his preschool. Just as I pulled out of the drive, I apologized to him for being impatient. He didn’t do anything wrong. In his little voice, which is filled with the wisdom of a child who lives life right, he sweetly and patiently said “Maybe you have a bad germ in you”. Brake. Car in park. Say that again please buddy. He did. I asked him why he said it and he replied “because you’re always frustrated in the morning time”.  With that, my life changed. Immediately, the stress of the mornings was put into perspective and I knew right there how to handle it. And it’s not just morning time stress, it can be any stressor at any time of day.

I knew what he said was right. Unequivocally. I wanted him to repeat it because it was simple and brilliant. Truly brilliant. I needed to hear it again because I was enlightened. Here I am, a 40-something who successfully coaches people on personal development. I wrote an eBook on self-improvement. When I needed a hand with a problem, it wasn’t my experience or an experienced, expensive coach that came through. It was my 4-year old son. I love how it all happened! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve long said that kids live life right. They know happy. They know joy. They know play and they spend almost all of their time doing things they love to do. That’s the way to do it. My son and other kids his age- they don’t know complicated. They know fun and free. And now, every time I find myself stressing about something that isn’t worthy of the effort, I say to myself “I have a bad germ in me”. Then, I visualize the germ being quickly eradicated from me. I smile. Then get on with my day. I haven’t felt an ounce of that stress since. My mornings are so much more enjoyable. I'm showing the good stuff again. It literally changed my life and how I view stressors. It works. Like magic!