How To Follow Your Passion When You’re Just Trying To Pay The Bills

ignitefire-654x453 [BLOG]

During tough economic times, many people think they need to sacrifice passion and focus solely on earning money. From a spiritual perspective, this is the exact opposite approach to generating real abundance. Yes, paying your bills takes practical action. But it also requires an internal belief system powered by inspiration and passion. Without an emphasis on passion, it’s likely that no matter how many actions you take, you’ll still wind up feeling stuck.

Neglecting passion blocks creative flow. When you’re passionate, you’re energized. Likewise, when you lack passion, your energy is low and unproductive. Energy is everything when it comes to earning. Quantum physics teaches us that our bodies are made up of subatomic particles that are energy. Your thoughts, attention, and focus affect your energy and therefore everything around you—including your bank account. So when you’re thinking only about the mundane to-do lists and practical action steps, you’re lowering your energy and in effect lowering your earning power.

Your life becomes what you think about most. When you focus on following your passion and letting inspiration flow, your energy is raised and your earning capacity is strong. But when you’re uninspired and bogged down by low-level thoughts, your attracting power is weakened.

Now that you have a better understanding of the earning value of passionate, positive energy, it’s time to take it more seriously. Read on for three simple, effective ways you can bring more passion into your life—even if you’re crazy-busy.

Who said your job had to be your only source of passion?

Our culture places such a huge emphasis on our careers, that we lose track of our passion projects. But who said your job had to be your only source of passion? A dear friend of mine is a powerful example of balancing passion and career. He works in corporate America, but moonlights as a guitar player. Though he spends his weekdays at a desk, he spends his weekends indulging his passion projects such as gigging with his band, writing, drawing, and learning about art. Though he dedicates a lot of his time to his career, there is no lack of passion in his life.

The passion of being of service

When we’re of service to the world, we feel inspired and passionate about the work that we do. Perhaps the work you’re doing is service-related—getting clear about the ways in which it serves the world may make you more passionate about it. If that’s not the case with your job, maybe you volunteer for a local charity once a month, or find a way to participate in your community, or promote bigger causes. Awaken a service mentality. When you serve the world, you serve your soul.

Shift your perception about the way you make money

If you’re hung up about the fact that your primary source of revenue doesn’t come from your true passion, shift your perspective. Be grateful for the work that you have and focus on the good stuff. Find even the smallest part of your work that ignites your passion. Maybe you love interacting with clients, or the neighborhood where you work. Maybe you’re learning something new by being on that job. Focus on what you do have and you’ll create more of what you want.

Take these action steps seriously. We all have work to do to support our economy, and if we’re void of passion we won’t have the energy and inspiration to serve. The more passion we ignite in our lives, the higher our earning capacity will be and the more we’ll impact financial growth in our country. When we all raise our thoughts we’ll raise our bank accounts—and greatly serve the world.


Gabrielle Bernstein |

Featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles section as “a new role model,” motivational speaker, life coach, and author Gabrielle Bernstein is making her mark. Expanding the lexicon for the next generation of spiritual seekers, Gabrielle is the #1 bestselling author of the book, Add More ~ing to Your Life, A hip Guide to Happiness. In September 2011 Gabrielle launched her second book, Spirit Junkie, A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. In 2008 she launched her social networking site HerFuture.com for young women to find mentors.

From Tunnel Vision To Your Ultimate Vision [BLOG]

stress-tunnel-vision

 

 “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
—Anaïs Nin

I’m a huge advocate for living a life beyond your wildest dreams, but I also know there are some potential pitfalls on the journey.

Having a vision is a powerful tool. It means that you are honoring your goals, aspiring toward them, and taking risks to expand your horizons. Sometimes our visions for ourselves subtly turn into tunnel vision. We can’t see anything that contradicts our intentions and desires. We get selective perception, which limits our ability to remain open and to see things clearly. Instead of being present to our reality while we pursue our heart’s desire, we put the blinders on and barrel ahead toward our hopes and dreams.

There is a shadow side to almost every positive thing we can do for ourselves, including having a vision. It’s important to be aware of this distinction. All spiritual and psychological tools can be used in a “willful” way. For example, sometimes self-care is actually about taking care of ourselves: unplugging from too much work and plugging into more balance and harmony. But sometimes, under the guise of self-care, we are really just checking out: denying what’s happening and how scary it feels to show up for it. So, how do we know the difference? How do we know when we are pursuing our vision in a manner that is actually in alignment with our intentions?

Tension in the Tunnel

Tension usually crops up when we are stuck in the tunnel—it takes a lot of effort to keep the blinders on. For me, the tension often shows up in the form of a headache. For others, there might be similar physical cues, such as stomach- or back-aches, getting sick, or feeling lethargic. Some people find themselves to be more irritable or short-tempered. When we aren’t looking at the big picture of our reality, our emotional bandwidth tends to shrink. This happens because everything becomes limited in the tunnel—not just our vision. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stuck in a tunnel, I can get a little cranky. What are your personal cues that suggest you might be denying aspects of your own reality?

Fear in the Tunnel

There are reasons that we aren’t looking at the big picture, many of which boil down to fear. “What if I leave this relationship and I’m alone forever?” “What if I open this piece of mail and find out that I owe more money than I have in the bank?” “What if I take this day-job and I never get the job of my dreams?” Our response to these fears can be “No thanks, I’ll stay here in the tunnel, where it feels safe.” The blinders go up and we clamp down, even harder.

Denial is not a Tunnel in Egypt

The problem is that denial may feel safe, but it’s an illusion. Whether or not you open that mail or take that job, you still have bills to pay—and we have to take responsibility for ourselves in the present, even as we are building the life we ultimately envision.

The Light at the End of Tunnel

If you are still with me on this tunnel metaphor, here is where it gets good. I grew up in Colorado where there are some amazing tunnels going straight through the mountains. Perhaps you have driven through one yourself, or you can imagine it right now. As you are driving, you move into a cold and dark, fear-filled tin can. The echo is staggering and yet everything seems so quiet. You can’t see two feet in front of yourself without your headlights. Then, suddenly, you find yourself entering into a picture postcard. The sunlight pierces through the windshield and warms your heart as you are greeted with breathtaking, majestic vistas. Let that experience be your teacher and your inspiration. When we move through small, contained ideas of what we think we want—what we think will make us happy and safe—we are brought to extraordinary and expansive beauty. Removing the blinders is like seeing in color for the first time. Tunnel vision is rigid and constraining, while remaining open is fluid and liberating.

Ultimately, moving out of the tunnel is about finding clarity, even if it feels terrifying—at least it is true. And reality begets more reality, and the opportunity to make it the best reality you can. I’ll never tell you to give up on the dream. I believe there is a reason that you have the dream to begin with. I will tell you that the best way to get there is to start from where you are, from the fullness of your situation. To look around and truly see, feel, and experience what is happening in your life. Accept your current circumstances and then take mindful action. If we are in the middle of the tunnel, we don’t get to the beauty on the other side by wishful thinking or burying our head in the sand—we get there by taking one deliberate step at a time.

I’d love to hear how have you have moved through your own tunnels. How did you get stuck, and what enabled you to move through? What did you discover when you surrendered your limited vision? I know that oftentimes people find a “picture postcard” that they never would have if they had held on to that tin can they used to believe was the shiniest and most precious thing they ever could have wished for.


   Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D.

Ingrid Mathieu, PhD is a psychotherapist and author of Recovering Spirituality. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Stick to the Plan

As a business man or woman, you may be familiar with the phrase, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” from grade school when you read John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men. Did you know that Steinbeck borrowed this line from the penultimate stanza of a Scots poem entitled, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” written in 1785 by Robert Burns? By exploring why this phrase has been used so often, it may help you gain clarity in how you can stick to your business plan when you find yourself slipping off course or forgetting the importance of a business plan in your daily activities.

Do you ever ask yourself after you’ve written up your business plan, how will you stick to the business plan? You may find yourself making excuses for all of the reasons why you find yourself doing anything but following your business plan.

With a plan all you need to make it work is daily action, motivation, and commitment. What often stands in the way is how easily we lose focus and allow ourselves to stray from the present moment.

Do you believe that, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley” when ascribing what happens after you’ve finished writing your business plan?

Did you analyze what went right and wrong from the previous year, and then find your head buried back in the sand of the drudgery of managing daily tasks?

Look at Robert Burns last two stanzas of his poem (translated into Standard English) below before you formulate your answer:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear! (37-48)

The poem describes a farmer finding mice and their nest in his field during the winter. His plough has just torn the nest apart. Now the mice which had the foresight (i.e., instinct) to gather warm bedding for the winter, have to start gathering and building afresh another nest or perish. The speaker of the poem is feeling many things. He’s distraught, because he is caught in feeling guilty for having just destroyed the nest. He’s also decided to borrow worries and project into the future that the mice will not be able to make a new one before they die.

What line of reasoning do you build your business upon? There are two choices:

(1)   Do you create a business plan, and then work the plan? –or—

(2)   Do you create a business plan for the books, and then focus your efforts on daily tasks?

One of our favorite quotes amongst many of the Mars Venus Coaches is, “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” by Robert H. Schuller. Al Pittampali adroitly summarizes why asking this one question to someone who is ready to change is so powerful in the short video “Putting Your Fears on Hold.” What we’re getting at is the way you stick with the plan is by choosing daily activities that carry-out what your goals are in your business plan.

So, which option do you choose to actively run your business day-to-day?

When you choose to run your business by working your business plan (OPTION 1), then what you are choosing to do is work smartly. Not only are you being more effective at time management, but you are also trouble-shooting and adapting your plan as you work with unknown contingencies. Unknown contingencies typically come into play with how well your interpersonal skills (i.e. ability to communicate assertively and how in-touch you are with your emotional and gender intelligence) are with matching your services and products to the needs of your customers. With this choice you are mindful and in the present moment. You are more like the mice who plan ahead, but then adapt moment by moment.

If you prefer to write a business plan, stick it in a notebook, and forget about it, because you have too many other pressing things to do (OPTION 2), then you are operating more from a place of fear. You are more like the farmer in Burn’s poem who looks forward and guesses and fears, and looks back at the dreary prospects. Three things happen: inaction, busywork, and frustration. Then when you pull out your business plan and dust it off, you wonder what went wrong, and why it was so hard to stick to your plan.

While we’re likening men to mice, another quick motivational read about individual choice and business planning is Spencer Johnson, M.D.’s Who Moved My Cheese? It’s another fun way to keep you on track with your business planning. It’s also a quick way you can check-in with your coach on who you most behaved like in the past week during your coaching sessions. Were you acting like Hem, Haw, Sniff, or Scurry? Sticking to the plan, means working your plan…every day. And if you get side-tracked, know why, how, and what you are going to do next to get back on track.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

How To Make Lasting Changes For New Year’s or Any Time Of Year

Any Time Is A Good Time For Healthy Changes

Setting goals (rather than taking the traditional ‘resolution’ approach) can transform your year!

Each year, many people make resolutions for change, and each year, most of those resolutions go…unresolved. This isn’t due to people’s lack of desire for a better life; it’s just a byproduct of the reality that change is difficult. Our habits become ingrained and automatic; changing them requires constant effort until a new habit is formed. This resource can help you to make necessary alterations in your expectations, attitudes, and methods of change so that you can experience real results that last. The following ideas can help:

Think in Terms of “Goals”, Rather Than “Resolutions”: While most people make resolutions that they’re determined to keep, a better tactic would be to create goals. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. With traditional resolutions, people generally approach change with the attitude, “From now on, I will no longer [name a given behavior you’d like to change]>” The problem with this is, after one or two slip-ups, people feel like failures and tend to drop the whole effort, falling easily back into familiar patterns. By setting goals, one instead aims to work toward a desired behavior. The key difference is that people working toward goals expect that they won’t be perfect at first, and are pleased with any progress they make. Rather than letting perfectionism work against them, they allow motivation and pride to do their magic. The following ideas can help you with meeting your ‘New Years Goals’:

  • Remember That It’s A Process: Expect to work your way up, rather than maintaining perfection and feeling let-down if you don’t achieve it immediately.
  • Work Your Way Up: In setting goals for new behavior, aim for once or twice a week, rather than every day. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll go to the gym every day,” plan for “every Wednesday” or, better yet, sign up for a fun exercise class, and you can work your way up to more often.
  • Set Yourself Up To Succeed: Set small, attainable goals, and add more steps as you complete each one. This way, you gradually work your way toward the life you want and the necessary changes, but you experience much more ‘success’ along the way, rather than feeling like a failure if you don’t experience ultimate change overnight.

Have A Goal Each Month: If you’re like most people, you may have several changes you’d like to make in your life; if so, it may be a good idea to tackle one each month. This way, 1) you can focus more, as you won’t be trying to make several sweeping changes at once; 2) you can re-commit yourself each month to a new idea, so you keep growing all year, and self-improvement becomes a way of life; and 3) you can build on each success, so you can first free up time before you take on a new hobby or get involved in an important cause, for example. Also, habits generally take 21 days to form. This setup enables you to devote energy to forming new habits more easily before moving on to the next, so you’re not relying solely on will-power.

Reward Your Progress: While many of your resolutions carry their own reward, changing your habits can be challenging, and it’s sometimes easier to do so if you have a little extra help. (Remember how positive reinforcement from a supportive teacher helped you learn, even though the knowledge itself was its own reward?) Providing extra rewards for yourself can help you to stay on track and maintain your motivation, even if you sometimes don’t feel like making the effort solely for the sake of the benefit the change itself will create. The following are ways you can create rewards for yourself:

  • Team Up: Have a buddy who knows your goals, and encourage each other, even if you’re working on separate goals. This will provide you with someone who can give you a high-five when you deserve one, and a little encouragement when you need it.
  • Reward Small Successes: Divide your goal into bite-sized steps and have a reward waiting at the completion of each.
  • Align Rewards With Goals: Have rewards that are in line with your achievements (like new workout clothes for every 5 gym visits, or a beautiful new pen if you stick with your journaling habit for two weeks).

As for the goals you set, it’s important that you choose your goals wisely, or it will be hard to make them stick. You also want to pick goals that will really help improve your life, so the effort will have a nice payoff. I suggest these Top 10 Resolutions for Stress Relief or these Top 5 Changes for a Healthy Lifestyle. Good luck!

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com Guide

 

Vision, Strategy, and Tactics

  • Vision: What you want the organization to be; your dream.
  • Strategy: What you are going to do to achieve your vision.
  • Tactics: How you will achieve your strategy and when.

Your vision is your dream of what you want the organization to be. Your strategy is the large-scale plan you will follow to make the dream happen. Your tactics are the specific actions you will take to follow the plan. Start with the vision and work down to the tactics as you plan for your organization.

Concepts Are The Same

Whether you are planning for the entire company or just for your department the concepts are the same. Only the scale is different. You start with the vision statement (sometimes called a mission statement). When you know what the vision is you can develop a strategy to get you to the vision. When you have decided on a strategy, you can develop tactics to meet the strategy.

Vision

A vision is an over-riding idea of what the organization should be. Often it reflects the dream of the founder or leader. Your company’s vision could be, for example, to be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US”, “the maker of the finest chocolate candies in London”, or “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest.” A vision must be sufficiently clear and concise that everyone in the organization understands it and can buy into it with passion.

Strategy

Your strategy is one or more plans that you will use to achieve your vision. To be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US” you might have to decide whether it is better strategy for you to buy other retailers, try to grow a single retailer, or a combination of both. A strategy looks inward at the organization, but it also looks outward at the competition and at the environment and business climate.

To be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” your strategy would need to evaluate what other companies offer management consulting services in the Southwest, which of those target non-profits, and which companies could in the future begin to offer competing services. Your strategy also must determine how you will become “the consultant of choice”. What will you do so that your targeted customers choose you over everyone else? Are you going to offer the lowest fees? Will you offer a guarantee? Will you hire the very best people and build a reputation for delivering the most innovative solutions?

If you decide to compete on lowest billing rates, what will you do if a competing consulting firm drops their rates below yours? If you decide to hire the best people, how will you attract them? Will you pay the highest salaries in a four-state area, give each employee an ownership position in the company, or pay annual retention bonuses? Your strategy must consider all these issues and find a solution that works AND that is true to your vision.

Tactics

Your tactics are the specific actions, sequences of actions, and schedules you will use to fulfill your strategy. If you have more than one strategy you will have different tactics for each. A strategy to be the most well-known management consultant, as part of your vision to be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” might involve tactics like advertising in the Southwest Non-Profits Quarterly Newsletter for three successive issues, advertising in the three largest-circulation newspapers in the Southwest for the next six months, and buying TV time monthly on every major-market TV station in the southwest to promote your services. Or it might involve sending a letter of introduction and a brochure to the Executive Director of every non-profit organization in the Southwest with an annual budget of over $500,000.

Firm or Flexible?

Things change. You need to change with them, or ahead of them. However, with respect to vision, strategy and tactics, you need some flexibility and some firmness. Hold to your dream, your vision. Don’t let that be buffeted by the winds of change. Your vision should be the anchor that holds all the rest together. Strategy is a long-term plan, so it may need to change in response to internal or external changes, but strategy changes should only happen with considerable thought. Changes to strategy also should not happen until you have a new one to replace the old one. Tactics are the most flexible. If some tactic isn’t working, adjust it and try again.

Manage This Issue

Whether for one department or the entire company, for a multi-national corporation or a one-person company, vision, strategy, and tactics are essential. Develop the vision first and hold to it. Develop a strategy to achieve your vision and change it as you have to to meet internal or external changes. Develop flexible tactics that can move you toward fulfilling your strategy.

By F. John Reh, About.com Guide

To Launch Your Business – Embrace Risk Taking

By learning what makes veteran entrepreneurs adept risk-takers, aspiring starters-up can get closer to taking the leap

By Monica Mehta

To evaluate the merits of their startup dream and strategize about its future, aspiring entrepreneurs can sweat out business plans and huddle with experts. To prepare for the emotional roller coaster of venturing out on their own, though, there’s little to do in advance. They must launch and learn on the fly. For those struggling to decide when to launch, insight from seasoned risk-takers and researchers who study them could speed the decision-making process.

For Andrew Ullman and Hayward Majors, co-founders of New York’s CollegeSolved.com, an online expert network for college admissions, taking the leap did not come easily. After hatching their idea in 2008, they kept their day jobs in corporate law and finance, conducting research and seeking industry input in their spare time. By February 2009, they had a well-researched business plan but lacked the confidence to pursue the venture full-time. “Despite having an opportunity in hand and some financial stability, it took the validation of creating a beta version of the website and raising capital from outsiders to get us comfortable with the [lifestyle] change,” says Ullman.

Like countless others before them, Ullman and Majors were adept at identifying risks but hadn’t learned to take them. “When it comes to taking risks, knowledge is a highly overrated motivator. Otherwise, we’d all buy low and sell high, and our kids would eat their vegetables,” says Dr. Frank Murtha, a behavioral psychologist in New York City who works with traders and specializes in financial risk-taking. He suggests that seizing opportunities when they arise and rolling with the punches requires a skill set few have mastered.

Chemicals in the Brain

In 2008 researchers at the University of Cambridge studied the risky decision-making abilities of entrepreneurs and corporate managers with similar IQs and experience levels using a battery of neurocognitive tests. They found (paywall alert) that the entrepreneurs consistently took riskier bets. The results show that risk-taking is both behavioral and physiological. The entrepreneurs not only scored higher on personality tests that measure impulsivity and flexibility; they also experienced a chemical response in the reward center of the brain that the managers did not.

While we have little control over our natural programming, it is possible to change behavior over time, as most therapists advocate. To offer aspiring entrepreneurs steps to take immediately, I compiled these tips:

Socialize with other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship rubs off. A study from Babson suggests that children of entrepreneurs are more likely to start businesses, as are those who know other small business owners. The inverse also holds. Risk aversion can be contagious, as Ullman and Majors experienced. “We always wanted to be entrepreneurs, but we were locked into lucrative jobs that were deemed acceptable by family and friends,” says Majors. Most large cities offer business meet-ups and other networking events where like minds gather.

Set yourself up for small successes. “Our brains are motivated by success to greater success,” says Dr. Richard Peterson, a psychiatrist and PhD of neuroeconomics who has written two books on financial risk-taking. Immediately after experiencing a victory, our neurons process information more effectively, we become sharper and learn faster. Set small goals, no more than three months in length. Even incorporating a hobby that sets you up for small successes can make a difference in your professional life. A personal aside: I’ve just given hubby the license to play World of Warcraft to sharpen his risk-taking prowess.

Have a whiskey sour. Who hasn’t attended a cocktail hour feeling intimidated by a room of unfamiliar faces? A drink can stimulate the impulsive side of your brain’s reward center and give you the courage to strike up a conversation. More isn’t always better when it comes to playing with brain chemistry, of course. For purposes of productive impulsivity, stick to just one.

Or skip the drink and try channeling your inner Richard Branson on your own. We are groomed to seek information when making decisions. Break the habit by practicing by yourself in an environment where your decisions will have few meaningful consequences. Order what instantly comes to mind in a restaurant, for example, then graduate to other arenas.

Have faith. “As much as knowledge is overrated, religion is underrated,” says Murtha. Taking a leap of faith is something every entrepreneur must do at some point or another. Having faith that everything will be O.K., whether it is derived from a spiritual belief or elsewhere, contributes to the willingness to be adaptable.

Choose a partner who possesses skills you don’t. If impulsivity and adaptability aren’t your strong suits, find a partner who already has what you don’t. Of course, don’t bring on a partner unless he or she adds value to the project beyond being able to roll with the punches.

Ullman and Majors quit their day jobs in September 2010 when it became clear investors were willing to commit. They closed the round in December, raising enough from friends and family to sustain the business for about two years, and finally launched CollegeSolved.com in early April. “After more than two years of planning, we thought we’d experience a huge relief post-launch,” says Majors. “But the party is only getting started.”

[Monica Mehta is managing principal of investment firm Seventh Capital in New York City. She has advised hundreds of small businesses over the past 15 years. .]

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

5 Ways Stress Affects Your New Year’s Resolutions

We often make New Year’s Resolutions at the stroke of midnight. We choose to improve things we’re unhappy with about ourselves. What we forget to think about is how stress affects whether or not we’ll actually follow through and stick with our resolutions for however long they’ll take to accomplish.

  1. We forget there are good (and bad) stressors that knock us off track.

Did you know there are two types of stressors: good and bad? Both cause an elevated spike in our stress-producing hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. We often forget that the good stressors can stress us out too. Even if we’re anticipating good stressors like: births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, parties, and other celebrations…we can still end up feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the event. Our good intentions to follow-through on our resolution to exercise, lose weight, sleep more, eat healthy, invest money, etc., often are the first things to fall by the wayside.

  1. Stress is stress.

If our bodies have excess cortisol and adrenaline, then despite our best intentions, we find ourselves going back to old habits. Why? It’s easier, it feels safe, and our energy is going towards ridding our bodies of excess cortisol and adrenaline. It takes over 90 days for new behaviors to become automatic habits. When you’re resolving to do something new or different, concerted effort must be taken to think and then act on the new behaviors. If your motivation is down, then it becomes difficult to convince and hold yourself to carrying through with your new resolutions.

  1. We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…physically.

Fatigue, headaches, indigestion, migraines, weight gain, high blood pressure, clenched jaws, tight muscles, not being able to slow down/relax, and insomnia are signs of too much stress.

  1. We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…emotionally.

Feelings of being alone, overwhelmed, unsupported, anxious, ignored, unimportant, rushed, or angry means for:

Women—we do not have enough of our stress-producing hormone, oxytocin.

Men—we do not have enough of our stress-producing hormone, testosterone.

  1. We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…mentally.

We set ourselves up for failure when we heed the negative talk in our heads.  Fogginess, confusion, and black and white/all-or-nothing thinking are signs that your brain is not working at peak capacity.

Solutions

  • When making your resolutions, plan around and anticipate that BIG life events (good stressors) will happen sometime during the year.
  • Make your resolutions have specific start and end dates.
  • Pencil in the dates on your calendar for the fun and happy events (good stressors) that you already know will occur.
  • Plan down-time into your life, so you can off-set stress and replenish your stress-reducing hormones. You need to do stress-reducing activities daily to keep stress levels low.
  • Sit down with your calendar, and write in your start and end dates for your resolutions.
  • When you do have bad stressors happen—like accidents, deaths, illnesses—re-visit and re-define your new end date for your resolutions.
  • Find someone who can keep you accountable. When you ask someone to help keep you on track—make sure they are willing to give you feedback. When you’re held accountable and have access to objective constructive criticism to what’s working and what’s not working is a great way to fireproof your resolution and ensure 100% commitment to accomplishing your goal(s).

Life happens. When we’re able to roll with the unexpected changes, then we can do things pro-actively to work with both kinds of stressors so our stress levels remain low and our motivation high. It’s when we forget to plan ahead for the contingencies that we lose motivation.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Effective Planning Is About What to Leave Out

posted by: John Jantsch

Today my staff and I are taking the entire day to create a strategic plan for the coming year. The process, and its ongoing nature, is something I call Commitment Planning. This is a practice that I highly recommend, but perhaps not for the reason you may assume.

But first, the rules

  • No one has a specific role today
  • Let brainstorming be brainstorming – possibilities and ideas
  • Be present
  • Be judgmental tomorrow
  • Remember, you are planning for the entire year

And, then my requirements

  • Food and drink should be awesome
  • Leave lots of time and space for physical movement
  • Make it easy to capture everything

Lots of companies completely neglect the need for planning and some that do it consistently view it as a way to determine new things they want to address in the year ahead.

To me, the greatest benefit of any planning session is to decide what not to do.

There’s always more to do than you can possibly get done and what happens all too often is that we give a little attention to a lot of things and effectively water down what should be our priorities.

When we plan the right way, we look long and hard at what makes us money and (hopefully) find ways to focus on doing more of that better, rather than thinking up more of something to divert our attention.

I recently hired my own business coach and one of the first things we’re focused on is getting me to stop doing things that don’t make sense and start spending more concentrated time on my highest payoff activities.

This idea holds true for entire organizations as well and one of the best ways to get to the heart of what’s holding you back is planning.

The first planning principle you must embrace however, is that the goal of the process is to help you limit what you are going to do and do well. Instead of creating a laundry list of wants and dreams, your charge in the planning process is to create a very small list of objectives and goals grounded in the overriding purpose of the business. Everyone in the organization then must commit to this list. From your small list you can carve out a requisite number of strategies and tactics that support these business objectives.

In fact, your aim is to create a total plan outline that fills no more than one sheet of paper. (No 6pt type allowed.)

Note also that we’re not spending the day to make a business plan or create a marketing plan – plans aren’t the secret, planning is. It’s the continuous process of planning, acting, measuring and planning that moves the organization in the direction of its goals.

Using and teaching a continuous planning process like this is one of the ways you empower your staff to know they are taking right action on the most important things at all times and knowing this brings a confidence that in itself is a commitment generator.

Commitment planning is a management style that frees your people to be creative instead of forcing them to be bound by a process only system driven activity.

Planning is not a one-day event or even year-end activity. Sure, there may be certain time bound planning periods that occur naturally, say at the end of a quarter, but the real way to keep commitment alive is to live it through a creative process that allows everyone to focus on the things that matter most.

Ben McConnell, coauthor of the Church of the Customer Blog and principal of management consulting firm Ant’s Eye View, has written about a planning process he calls OGST (Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Tactics.)

What I love about McConnell’s framework is that he uses each of these planning words in ways so simple as to actually create a useful set of definitions for these ridiculously misused terms.

Go get this visual representation of OGST and I think you’ll see what I mean.

As you can see, a planning process like this can help the kind of simple clarity that is so often missing in the “what should we do next” business management style. We borrow heavily from McConnell’s framework add some of our own magic to help put the focus on results and bust through constraints.

No matter what exact process you use for planning, with a one page plan full of your committed priorities in hand you can analyze any idea in about two seconds and determine if you should pursue it or dismiss it. Focusing on your strengths and finding ways to turn them into even greater assets is how individuals and organizations realize their potential.

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