5 “New Rules” for Exceptional Self-Care

The following practices are deceptively powerful. Life changing, really.  While I certainly have not mastered these (yet!), I am fully committed to them and invite you to join me.Lettuce supersize

#1. Don’t Have Rules¬†— Rules lock us into stagnant ways of operating. How to spot a rule: it usually begins with the thought (or attitude) of Should, Have to, Must, Can’t, Never! There is a lack of choice. ¬† Instead of rules, we ¬†can create commitments that will support what we want, for now.¬† For example: rather than having a rule of ‚ÄúNo sugar! Ever!‚ÄĚ I might have a commitment to paying attention to what my body really needs and then honoring that need. ¬†Burn that rulebook!

#2. Repeat After Me: “My Body Is My Friend”¬†‚ÄĒ Seriously, it literally supports your every move.¬†When we slow down enough to hear what it needs and follow its guidance, we dramatically reduce stress and increase peace, happiness and all around wellbeing. ¬†(Tweet This Hot Tip: listening to what your body actually needs is not the same thing as listening to your opinion of what your body should need.) ¬†

#3. Repeat After Me: “No”¬†‚ÄĒ Many of us love to give and contribute to others.¬† This is a beautiful quality, usually. ¬†But sometimes we waaaaay overdo it and over-commit leading to resentment, self-loathing, illness, spiritual blackmail (a “loving” person would say yes…), etc. Learning to say No¬†can be one of the most powerful and loving skills to master, for yourself and others.

#4.¬†Do At Least One Thing You Love,¬†Everyday¬†‚ÄĒ Don’t allow your to-do list to run (ruin) your life. Stop believing the Inner Slave Driver who says you can only enjoy your life AFTER¬†¬†you get ALL of your work done‚Ķ.which never happens, have you noticed? Right now pause and make a list of 20 things you love to do — big or small. ¬†Do something from the list each and every day. ¬†This is an incredibly fun, fulfilling and potentially outrageous way to live. ¬†(Hot Tip: if something on the list seems impossible…like Walking on the beach in Southern France ..meanwhile, you live in Chicago, then do something related to it. ¬†Perhaps you start planning a trip to the Riviera. ¬†Or you close your eyes and imagine being on the beach right now…. hearing the surf, feeling the gentle warm breeze….)

#5. Schedule #4 (above) In Your Daily Planner¬†‚ÄĒ Decide how much time you will give to an activity that you love and then make daily appointments in your calendar. ¬†Then treat these appointments as nonnegotiable.¬† This is a tough one, I know!¬† But hey, you‚Äôre up for a challenge, aren‚Äôt you?¬† Imagine loving yourself enough to honor time for pure joy.¬† You can have this. ¬†It’s a choice.

When to Use the F-Word

As Much As Possible!

Everywhere, with everyone. ¬†Naturally, the f-word I’m referring to is “FUN”.¬†F-Word

People hire me because they want to experience greater success and happiness. You’d be surprised how much they resist Fun.

At first, they think I’m joking. ¬†When I press, it can get ugly:

Me:  What would it be like to bring Fun to doing your taxes?

Client: ¬†Hahahaha…yeah, right….

Me: ¬†I’m serious — how could you bring Fun to doing your taxes?

Client:  Are you feeling ok?  Are you insane?

Me:  (coach-like silence)

Client: ¬†WTF?? ¬†No way! ¬†Have you ever done taxes? ¬†You can’t just….I can’t…. ¬†WTF? ¬†If I went around having “Fun” [exaggerated sarcasm], nothing would get done! ¬†I’d go broke! ¬†They’d lock me away! ¬†No way! ¬†What are you talking about? ¬†What’s¬†wrong with you?

Why So Threatening?

Bizarre, isn’t it, how threatening Fun can be? ¬†Turns out, we have a long list of reasons:

  • We have it confused with childhood or adolescent ideas of Fun: ¬†balloons, cookies, & beer ¬†
  • We have it collapsed with goofing off or getting in trouble
  • We think it makes us seem like we aren’t committed or serious
  • We’ve been conditioned to believe we must earn the right to have Fun
  • We’ve been trained to compartmentalize Fun — it’s for weekends and vacations
  • Fun often triggers intense emotions (joy, gratitude, love) & we don’t want to be exposed, even in our glory
  • We believe Fun is weak or naive because it’s vulnerable
  • We believe we can only grow through pain, not through Fun
  • We feel guilty: “I can’t have Fun while others are hurting!”
  • We’re addicted to self-pity, struggle, suffering, guilt, blame, control, and/or martyrdom
  • We want to fit in — most of the world operates from “Ain’t it awful!” and misery loves company
  • We don’t know how to bring Fun to different areas of life, in part, because we don’t have a matured definition.

What If?

What if learning to have Fun were the most profound thing you could do for your growth?

What if Fun included all of the common things like laughter, celebrating special occasions, and entertainment but was expansive and mature enough to include :

  • fulfilling your commitments
  • honoring your values
  • living with integrity
  • learning something new, even if you’re terrible at it
  • helping others
  • forgiving yourself and others
  • succeeding and learning from it
  • failing and learning from it
  • telling the hard truth
  • doing taxes

What if you decided to bring your sense of Fun to all that you do?

Practical Application

The first step in learning to bring Fun to all that you do is to examine your relationship with Fun itself.  Here are some tips:

  • Explore your own resistance to Fun. ¬†What rules have you made up about it?
  • What are you considering NOT FUN? ¬†Why isn’t it fun? ¬†What’s the story you are telling about it (if only to yourself)?
  • Allow your definition to expand. ¬†Experiment by bringing Fun to your answer above. (Review the “What If” list if you get stuck.)
  • What is genuinely Fun for you at this point in your life? ¬†Do more of that.
  • Decide to “peel away from the pack” and don’t participate in the complaining, struggling Ain’t It Awful club. ¬†Try thinking the mantra: “That may be true for them, but it is not true for me.”

Have Fun!

Hot Tip for Being A Leader People Want to Follow

This tip will help you create followership, whether you are: Crew 2010

  • giving tough feedback,
  • engaging an audience,
  • motivating a team,
  • guiding a friend or family member through a tough time,
  • building your business,
  • leading an athletic team to higher levels of performance,
  • teaching middle schoolers,
  • parenting,
  • wanting followership anywhere

At or With?

The world is full of people who operate with an attitude of ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ.  Truth is, we’ve all done it.  We were in a hurry or stressed out and started talking ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ other people rather than with them.   In this state of ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ, we unconsciously view other people in one of three ways:

  1. Obstacles  – preventing us from having or getting what we want
  2. Vehicles — for having or getting what we want
  3. Irrelevant — not worth our time, energy or attention

The Problem with “At”

Being “At” people damages relationships and generally makes life harder for yourself and others.  It has a quality of being against; it pushes. ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ fuels distrust, upset, resentment, resistance, anger, shouting, and sometimes even violence. “I’m right! You’re wrong!”  When operating from ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ, the best you can hope for, in terms of followership, is to gain the appearance of compliance.

The Benefit of  “With”

Pinky swear“With” attracts rather than pushes. It is like standing beside someone, conveying that you are on their side, an ally.  Together, you are looking at problems or challenges and together you are coming up with solutions and goals. When you are ‚ÄúWith‚ÄĚ someone you can create genuine Followership because being ‚ÄúWith‚ÄĚ does not invalidate other views, opinions, or beliefs.  Instead, it makes room for differences while creating alignment.

When you are ‚ÄúWith‚ÄĚ, you invite others to join you. When you are ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ, you seek to defeat, compete, be right or be better than the other person.

“At” is the ego‚Äôs attempt to get a cheap hit of power.  Power over others.

“With” is the heart’s desire for genuine personal power.  Power with others.

How to Get With the “With” Program

First — make a personal commitment to be “With”.  Be honset with yourself:  are you viewing anyone as an obstacle, vehicle, or irrelevant?  Practice connecting human being to human being.

Second —  how  do you treat people you don’t know very well: store clerks, other drivers on the road, customer service people, etc.?  If you can bring the spirit of “With” here, it will be easier in other areas.

Third — bust yourself.  Tell others about this tip.  Ask for feedback on how you are doing.

Fourth — take on the exercise below.



What is one situation where you have been predominately ‚ÄúAt‚ÄĚ and are now willing to redefine your position and be ‚ÄúWith‚ÄĚ?  What would being “With” look like, sound like, and feel like? What would be the impact of this type of shift  — on you, on others, on the environment?  Take action, communicate, or otherwise engage people in this situation from an attitude of “With” and notice what happens.  (Give it more than one shot.)

“Gym Rat” Shares 4 Secrets to Creating Habits


Last September I had some minor surgery that prohibited exercise for a short time. Fortunately, in November I got the All-Clear from my surgeon so I high-tailed it over to the gym and kicked my weight training routine back into into gear!

Just kidding.

Want to guess how many times I’ve been to the gym? ¬† Here are the actual stats from my gym, showing the number of visits between 11/15/12 ¬†– ¬†02/01/13: ¬†one. ¬†Yep, I went once.


The old ways of motivating myself weren’t cutting it. ¬†Being a Drill Sargent no longer worked (as if it ever did), pep talks were lame, and threats of ¬†losing muscle mass/bone density had no effect. ¬†I needed a new approach.

New Way Saves The Day

That’s when Leo Babauta’s article on Sticking To a Habit: The Definitive Guide arrived in my inbox. ¬†Here’s my version of his premise:

1. ¬†Build ONE habit at a time — don’t try to get in shape, change your diet, quit coffee, de-clutter your house, etc., all at once. ¬†Choose one. ¬†Don’t add another until you have some confidence in the first one.

Photo by Lee Goss

Photo by Lee Goss

2. ¬†Start with micro-steps¬†— Break it down into ridiculously manageable action. ¬†I started by doing 1 push-up, 10 sit-ups, & a 30-second¬†plank. ¬†Slowly adding as I get stronger. ¬†I’m on day 5 and can already tell a huge difference. ¬†[By the end of the month, I’ll be doing 20 push-ups, 50 sit-ups…but I’m getting ahead of myself.] ¬† Here’s the other great thing about these micro steps: ¬†my excuse for not having enough time has vanished! ¬†Seriously, how long does it take to do a push-up?

3. ¬†Do it once per day and don’t miss more than 2 days in a row¬†— obviously essential to converting a one-time action into a reliable habit. ¬†Stay with your daily action and crowd out excuses.

4. ¬†Have an accountability buddy (or two) — yes, you could hire a coach for this but ¬†it isn’t necessary. ¬†You could check in regularly with a friend. ¬†I have two friends as accountability partners: ¬†Photographer and Real Estate Agent Extraordinaire¬†Kate Maxwell-Williams and Brilliant Coach & Trainer Keri Kuerbis-Lehmann.

Your Turn

What do you want to accomplish?  What habit would facilitate that accomplishment?  Who will be your accountability partner?



5 Tips on How to Run Your Business, So It Doesn’t Run You!

iStock_000019398639XSmallIt happens to most entrepreneurs at some point.¬† Things start out great.¬† You dream of having your own business with all of the freedom it promises.¬† So you go for it and follow your heart’s desire!¬† Though it’s exhilarating at first, somewhere along the way, that heart’s desire turns into heartburn.¬† Your to-do list gets out of control.¬† Hours are absurdly long.¬†¬† Sleep and exercise are distant memories.¬† Soon enough you are driven by a list of Have-to’s, Should’s, and Can’ts.¬† So much for “freedom.”

If this sounds familiar, check out the following 5 tips for getting back in the driver’s seat.

1.  Reclaim An Empowered Mindset.

Remember that YOU are the boss, not your to-do list.¬† In every moment you have the choice to go with the status quo or make a change.¬† Seriously, unless you are incarcerated, you are the only one who decides how you use your time and attention.¬† You are the one who made that to-do list in the first place, right?¬† Here’s your new mantra: “I am in charge, not my list.”

2.  Be Ruthless about What Or Who Gets Your Time & Attention.

A strange phenomena happens when we’re overwhelmed: Everything on the to-do list suddenly ranks as an A-1 priority [as if filing that stack of papers ranks up there with calling prospective clients].¬† Under the crush of that impossible list, we tend to burrow into our comfort zones rather than take risks that move us forward.¬† [Guess which actions get taken, if any at all!] ¬† When you notice this happening, take a time-out.¬† Sanity check.¬† Get honest about your action plan.¬† Limit it to the top 2 or 3 things that will benefit your business.¬† If you complete those 2 or 3 things in one day, then add 2 or 3 more.¬† Doing this will bring a laser focus to your action so that you are doing that matters most.

3.  Schedule Time for Both Strategic & Tactical Planning.

Michael Gerber, author of the bestseller The E-Myth, popularized the notion of working ON the business, not just in it.¬† Be sure to include regular, uninterrupted “think” time.¬† I have one client who uses every Friday for this purpose.¬† Another takes her team on a quarterly mini-retreat for a day — always off site!¬† This precious time is used to reconnect with the big picture so that they don’t get consumed by the details of the day-to-day.

4.  Have a 5-Year VISION first, then a 5-Year Plan.

If you don’t yet have my free KickBut guide, get it here.¬† In it, I walk you through a process of dreaming and envisioning an exciting, compelling future for your business.¬† Your vision must be rich with emotional charge for you.¬† That emotion becomes the fuel that you will use to carry out the actions necessary to make your vision a reality.¬† Think of it this way: you want your action plan powered by passion.¬† An emotion-filled vision gives you that.

5.  Engage in Ongoing Dialogue with Trusted Advisors.

You don’t have to do it all, all by yourself.¬† Surround yourself with people who will give you real support.¬† That is, encouragement + straight talk + compassion.¬† You don’t need people who will rain on your parade nor do you need those who will indulge a pipe dream.¬† Seek out excellent advisors, mentors, and coaches.