The Benefits of Becoming More Self-Aware & Emotionally Intelligent

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Have you ever thought back on some of the most important decisions you’ve made in your life and wondered “What was I thinking?”  I certainly have. When we are reflecting on how we got here, perhaps we should be asking “What was I feeling?”  What state-of-mind were we in, that led to the some of the poor decisions made?

You see, when we make decisions based on emotions from fear and anxiety, we create a recipe for disaster.  Deciding to do something because you are afraid of doing something else or fear you will have no other choices or options at all, will get you absolutely nowhere.

Better decisions are made when you arrive at conclusions with a sense of strength and courage. The outcomes of those decisions will help you grow and evolve with increased clarity and self-improvement. The more thoughtful your decisions, the more quality you will have in your life.    I promise.

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You begin by becoming more emotionally intelligent – while understanding the role that your emotions play in everything you decide to do. Allowing any and all of your emotions to channel the way you move forward is not the best course of action. You don’t just listen to your gut. That is not enough. You must first think, feel, consider all options and then make a plan. A plan to deliberately move in the right direction.

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When we make decisions, like where to work, who to marry, who to befriend based on deep-seated emotions of fear, insecurity, and anxiety, we never make the best choices.

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And please don’t doubt this one bit. The more well-thought out decisions you make today WILL lead to an improved life tomorrow.

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Bike riding around Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, this quote, in the window of Word, the bookstore, really resonated with me.

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Oh and these emotions and feelings we speak of, they are so complicated, aren’t they?

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So how do we begin to understand our emotional triggers, the things that we feel that scare us, make us feel useless or violated, maybe even shameful and guilty?

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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. EQ is synonymous with self-awareness because it enables us to live our lives with intention, purpose, and autonomy.

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Why Running Away From Your Feelings Will Keep You Stuck in the Same Place

Running away from intense emotions of pain, anger, and resentment is what we do sometimes.   We numb these feelings with a smoke of this and a sip of that. It’s such an easy way out, but only temporarily.  Why do we stuff our sorrow and run from our feelings? I truly believe not many of us want to feel our suffering, but suffer on we must.

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If we would just consider that inside each moment of suffering is a superb amount of life teaching. A whole world of emotional education to help us grow.  It begins with learning the process and ability to express,  dismantle and adjust as you strengthen your locus of control.

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What you need to do is understand that what is actually happening is your world right now and how you feel about it are two DIFFERENT THINGS COMPLETELY.

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You must urge yourself to develop the ability to differentiate your feelings from what is actually happening in any given situation.

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Life is what it is, not what you think, feel or believe it is. That is just you painting the dark cloud of your emotions on top of the situation and changing it into your story. Your emotions are just a response to what is happening at any given moment, they are not what is actually happening.  Whatever you are feeling about anything, whether it be good, bad, sad or pleased has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on at that moment or what the outcome will be.

It is up to you to understand what issues you have inside that are trigging your troubled (or pleasant) emotions.

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This applies to everything. For example, your spouse may be drinking too much, getting sloppy and lashing out at you. That is what is happening. How you feel about this situation may be sad, angry, frustrated and deeply concerned, which in turn will have you creating a story in your mind. A story of victimization and loss. Those feelings may or may not drive you to do something, but they are not healthy for you.  When you remove your emotional responses, you will realize you have options. You have an option to remove yourself from the pain your spouse is causing you.

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A Better Way to Navigate Your Emotions

Sometimes it is a good idea to overcome your frightened emotions by meeting them head on in order to improve. This would include things like forcing yourself to speak in front of a group in order to get over the fear of public speaking. Yes, the obstacle can become the opportunity, but on a day-to-day basis, it is wise to do the following as you learn more about how you can manage your emotions.

Know What Triggers Your Emotions

Place yourself in favorable situations and avoid those that trigger heightened responses.

In other words, stay away from people that get your angry, places that make you feel uncomfortable and situations that somehow have the power to upset you. Become more aware of what makes you “fly off the handle”.

Make Things Easier for Yourself

Especially when you are learning something new in the beginning. For instance, if you are trying to learn how to draw, sing, act or run your own business. Look for ways to simplify the process. Make it easy to start.

Implement with Strong Intention & Attention

The key to any transformation (read: change) in your life, is to focus on your intention and attention on what you are trying to achieve. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t let your competitive nature get in the way.  This will help manage things like jealousy and resentment as well as perceived obstacles in your way.

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Inspired by 10 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by @BriannaWiest

 

Ancora Imparo – I am still learning

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“If anyone can prove and show to me that I think and act in error, I will gladly change it – for I seek the truth, by which no one has ever been harmed. The one who is harmed is the one who abides in deceit and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.21

Read: The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

It is okay to change my mind today. I don’t need (or want) to always be right.  Go ahead, prove my thinking wrong. Correct me. When I stand corrected, I change for the better,  for resisting may only harm me. 

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If I am not changing, then I am not growing and isn’t growth the whole point? To slip into a better, bigger version of myself each day. Sometimes this requires a real change of mindset.

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Sometimes, the script in our head runs on automatic for years, unquestioned, unchallenged. What if you flipped the script? What would it be like to challenge our thinking? Read: You’re One Moment Away From Being Who You Want to Be

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We might neglect our future selves because of some failure of belief or imagination. – Dereck Parfit.

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Selective Perception & Mental Gymnastics

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Sunday seems like as good a day as any other to start thinking about ways I can strengthen my mind. To start with, I stumbled upon this smart list of  brain training, mind-soothing exercises.

A Mind Clearing & Expanding List of Good Thinking Skills

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The truth is, the quality of your mind determines the quality of your life.

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I have to diligently guard what enters my mind. Note to self: stave off the temptation to randomly search YouTube. Consume Quality. Read and watch only quality books & films.

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Don’t believe everything I think. Don’t hold onto every little thought. Release, and let it go. Meditation can help you with this.

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Give my mind some well-earned rest. The importance of self-care.

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Brighten my mind with hopeful, peaceful and positive thoughts. Training my mind to be  calm and to ward off the alarming effects of long-term, chronic stress.

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Focus on what I want, not what I don’t want. This ain’t easy. The mind always wants to go back to ruminating worry and concern.

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Develop a healthy rule book for good thinking.

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

 

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Understand & know what I value. Freedom, truth, a sense of security, peaceful living and love.

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Take my mind on adventurous trips. Inspire it by doing more of what I enjoy.

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Feed it good food. Each brain cell gets a boost from healthy nutrition.

And know that I have a choice – how I react to any given situation.

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Avoid negative people, gossip, bullshitters and crazy makers at all costs. Like the plague.

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Learn new skills. Study what I am curious about. Dabble.

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Free my mind of unnecessary pain, guilt and fear. Ask questions instead. Stay curious. Continuously ask yourself, Why are you doing what your doing? Like right now, why are you reading this? I know why I am writing it. To help me become a better version of myself than I was yesterday.

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Organize my surroundings.  Remove what is useless. Declutter my life and my brain.

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Most of us value intensity. Intensity makes us feel like we are busy, productive and important. Not. True. Slowdown.

Our breathing can shift our minds.  Breathing to conserve my energy. Yes, there is a direct link between emotions and our breathing patterns.

Expand my mind in the great outdoors. Clear my mind.

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Beware of Brutum Fulmen.  Apparently coined by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, a brutum fulmen is a harmless or empty threat. It literally means “senseless thunderbolt.”

Lot’s of things in life are empty threats. Even those you scare yourself with – ignore them.

Read: 20 Latin Phrases You Should be Using

Clearing All The Clutter for Clarity & Purpose

A few months ago I began stripping away all that no longer serves me in my life. What is that suppose to mean? Without boundaries, I let way too much in and life got way too crazy. I was tired, pulled in a million directions and honestly, I allowed it. Frankly, I didn’t know how to say no.

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I said yes to everything and everyone. It’s not a good idea. Well sometimes, in the beginning saying yes is good, like when you are building a career, but too much yessing can lead to real chaos and letting people down, including yourself.

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I am moving towards a minimalist lifestyle that will give me the freedom to go and do what I want without the burden of having so much to take care of, including a house too big, a life too wide open and the collection of twenty years of unnecessary, unwanted “things”.  Things I don’t use, wear or want any longer.

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I started by cleaning out twenty years of clutter in the attic. It was exhausting and energizing at the same time. While I am not one to hold on to things, like memorabilia, my daughters had piles and piles of grammar and high school “stuff” they had collected throughout the years up there. I even made it a moment. I asked them all to come over for a memory lane party.  They laughed at old love letters, praised their early art work and cringed at their eighth grade diaries. They didn’t want the stuff either. The memories they decided to keep are tucked away in the corners of their mind or on Instagram. The rest they let go of along time ago.

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Clearing away the clutter for me also involves displacing anything and anyone (eew, that sounds harsh) that is no longer useful, helpful, valuable or lovable in my life. You see, I began to feel like others were pushing and pulling me in too many different directions, while my priorities were left on the back burner. I am now older and wiser and know that whatever time I have left on this planet, I would like to deliberately create some moments of creativity and adventure before it’s too late.

 

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So what am I going to trim down, clean up, give away and simply remove from my life?

Frumpy Frocks & Spontaneous Purchases. Starting with my closet, shoes, sweaters, shirts, bags, dresses and worn out jeans that I have not even touched in six months or more.  Good will and good riddance. I want to create a really fun “uniform” to wear. Something I don’t have to think about. That’s one less decision in the day.

Space Fillers & Dust Collectors. Souvenirs, books, artwork and other knick knacks that are no longer aesthetically pleasing to me. If it does not spark joy, I just don’t want it. I haven’t read Marie’s book and I won’t. The sparking joy was my review take away. It makes sense.

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Crazy Makers. People that require special handling, those that need kid gloves and jokers that confuse me. Anyone that I find annoying or that appears to be even relatively unstable. You know, I have been a magnet for the crazy makers for many years. This also includes anyone who bores me, those that aren’t original, open-minded or interesting or genuinely fun to be around. The self-absorbed, stuck or painfully sad. Anyone I don’t have a true kindred enthusiasm for or feel I can growth with as I adventure on. Yeah, they’re gone.

Obsessive Worrying & Ruminating Thoughts. Negative thoughts that clutter my mind, that make me feel less than I really am. Small thoughts. Sad thoughts. Critical, mean self-talk. No more worrying, because, “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” Read on: 12 Toxic Thoughts You Need to Drop for a Better Life 

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15 Cant’s Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind and this advice from Tiny Buddha have helped me a little as I make a list of what I don’t want in my life anymore, including. . .

Shitty Projects & Confused Corporates. Work that feels stupid, repetitive and ridiculous. People that go round and round because they don’t have a blueprint. Working with incompetent people. Things I just don’t want to do that I don’t have to do.

Stop Yes

Excess – too many of any one thing. Rooms in my house, blankets on my bed, uncomfortable chairs, hard pillows, greased-bottom pots, scratched pans, broken cups and any sticky old debt on the credit cards.  Oh to simplify and simply live with just what I need.

Random Files & Duplicate Photos. Files on my computer, my “filled-to-the-brim” email inboxes, old notes, usb drives with old brochures and dead campaigns, duplicate photos, and old contacts in my phone. People that I no longer talk to.

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Crackers, Chips & Junky Food. Food and drink that makes me feel sluggish, fat and tired. Nah. Doesn’t serve me well at all. I never understood why they called it comfort food, expect for warm dishes of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.

Time & Energy Wasters along with Old Fears & Everyday Frustrations. Good bye time, energy and money wasting activities. Waiting on lines, calling customer service, meetings in person that could have been Skype-d. Drives to stores when Amazon delivers. Anything that makes me feel like I need to be doing something else while I am doing that. Like commuting.

Mediocre Netflix Series & Silly Youtubers No, I just can’t. This is no way to fall asleep at night. I no longer enjoy watching crappy HBO shows just because everyone else is binging on them.

Bad habits. Yeah, like relaxing with two glasses of wine before I go to sleep. Fading into Facebook as my head hits the pillow. Any excuse not to work out. Answering the phone most of the time. Being too nice and polite to time suckers. Being neurotic while calling, emailing and texting the same message to one person.

Packing My Schedule. Yes, I am clearing out the calendar and filling it up with dates I save in the future for things I want to do. Wrapping up old projects and getting rid of the guilt. End commitments with a clear conscience.

One of the most difficult clutter to clear is that which we think we are suppose to keep. The inherited heirlooms, the mementos, the sentimental shit. I don’t make photo prints of photos any more, so shouldn’t I just digitize the old ones?

My new mantra everything should have value. When we begin to desire to clear out the old and useless, we are getting ready to heal, grow and begin a new. Getting clear about what you do want is a process of trial and error.

When you’re stuck in a state of ambivalence, you must do whatever it takes to break the impasse.

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I am concerned about filling it all up again. I am a big believer that new habits must replace old ones in order to grow.

I will watch the slow the accumulation of possessions, for to live is to create and consume. It cannot be avoided – especially in our society and culture. But if the influx of possessions into our homes can be slowed, clutter can be managed efficiently.

To slow the accumulation of things in our homes, we need to change our mindset and begin evaluating our purchases differently. Realize that your purchases cost far more than the price on the sticker. Each one will also require time, energy, and effort once they enter your home. Before making a purchase, begin asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this item really needed?
  • Do I have a place to store this when I get it home? Do I want to lug it around with me?
  • How much extra work will this possession add to my life?
  • Am I buying it for the right reasons?

 

 

ReSet Your Thinking

Have you ever wished you could just change the way you think? Rewire your brain? Take action and move forward in a new and improved direction?
I have recently met someone who is helping me do just that and her name is Laura Simao. I feel so blessed to know her. Laura is in the middle of creating ReSet.

What is ReSet? 

ReSet is a transformative personal development frame work that incorporates self-applied design thinking and cognitive and behavioral neuroscience insight and techniques to help you become a more self-aware, creative thinker and problem solver.

So far, my ReSet sessions with Laura have helped me uncover my deeper values, beliefs, goals and skills to ultimately achieve a higher level of success in all aspects of my life.

My big challenge is that I want to produce excellent work. I don’t want to rush and I want to be very thoughtful about everything I am creating. This is not an easy thing to do in our very busy and fast moving world.  Don’t you agree?

How it is done – Laura’s process
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So here we have my new mindset, after four sessions with Laura.
Clarity
I achieve a new level of excellence as a leader today by remaining organized and focused with clarity about my current goals. I target and focus on the results I want to achieve. This is my mantra, my daily ritual to achieve a state-of-mind and new trait of excellence with everything I do.
Today’s results included -(these will change as I grow, create and focus on different projects)
  • Securing an additional consulting client that I really want to work with and help succeed.
  • Completing the most timely task for each current client.
  • Building out one more additional section of ThePRPlaybook.com.
  • Reviewing and adding one brilliant idea to my social media strategy.
  • Adding shareable content to my social media platforms.
  • Immerse myself in an energized spin, swim and dance class.
  • Some evening time spent well with my husband.
  • Being as helpful as I can for my daughters in whatever capacity they need me.
  • At least one hour mastering my video and editing skills.
I don’t need to rush. I am thoughtful every step of the way. I remember, I cannot fail, as I am co-creating with God.
I am talented, experienced and a strategist. I do not need to fret, rush or feel pushed to create work in a hurry.
Discerning
I am discerning about all of the projects I decide to take on today and in the future. I do not chase after every shiny new thing.
My criteria for choosing anything else to focus on today –
Is this task critical to achieving the results I want today?
Will this add any long term value to my goals? To my work?
Is this something I may be interested in the future?
I am discerning about who I associate with and the projects I take on. I say no to most and I say it kindly.
I choose my posse, my pack, my people that I work with and I am always humble and kind. I learn from everyone. I grow as I go.
Grounded
I am grateful and grounded today. I am calm, centered and serene. I don’t rush. I make time for everything I am creating today. I am thoughtful and capable of producing excellent work.
It takes time to create and I remember I have God as my co-pilot. There is never need to worry about sloppy work.
I remember Emerson. “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards”.
Smart
I am dedicated to life long learning. I am always improving my skills of storytelling, writing, video and editing. I make smart decisions.
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely
Depth
The time I gain not rushing around being busy gives me time to think and create. To think critically and to review my work with a discerning eye and to add as much emotional creativity as possible to create excellent work.
What’s inspiring me right now:
The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly
How to Be Here by Rob Bell

500 Million Moments

photo-1444837881208-4d46d5c1f127Life is comprised of moments. Each moment lasting about three seconds. It can be a moment writing a proposal, a moment doing the dishes, walking the dog or a moment saying hello to an old friend. We experience approximately 1,200 three second moments in an hour and about 500 million moments in a lifetime.

The quality of your life is not determined over years and decades but by what you do with each three second moment over the course of your days.

This moment right now can be improved with something as simple as a deep breath, a smile,a hug and appreciation for what you have.

Here I am, trying to make each moment count. How about you?

Inspired reading from author Tom Rath Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life

The beautiful photo today from Patrick Hendry on UnSplash

The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness

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My husband drives me crazy. He never writes anything down. Not a single reminder. Not even a note in his phone. He laughs at all my list making. So what.

The Secret to Achieving Your Goals

Now, I imagine if you are reading this, the headline got you and you are looking to achieve something great. Weight loss? More money? Better relationships? Peace of mind? Whatever you are attempting to get better at, it helps to set goals. Here is the formula I found works for anything I want to achieve and it is a mash up of some of the best advice and tips from experts throughout history on how to go about setting and achieving goals. 

Scientific behavioral studies at Harvard have proven that those who WRITE down their SPECIFIC and ACHIEVABLE goals increase their chances 10 fold.   I add that WRITING and SPEAKING your goals OUT LOUD with emotion each day in the morning (and maybe in the evening too) increases your success even further.

It’s simple, it’s easy and here is how it works.

STEP 1. SET PRECISE and MEASURABLE goals that you are CONFIDENT that you can achieve.

For example: I want to lose five (5) pounds by Thanksgiving, November 25, 2015.

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I found this free Body Weight Planner recommended by Shape Magazine and developed  by the National Institute for Health with the help of Dr. Kevin Hall’s research group for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to better understand how diet and exercise quantitatively contribute to weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

According to this calculator, I’ll achieve this measurable goal if I walk/hike and run at a moderate jogging pace for 60 minutes a day seven (7) days a week consuming no more than 1,955 calories a day. I calculate this is a loss of .75 (3/4) of a pound a week.

STEP 2.WRITE them down on paper (or in your phone) and keep them in CLEAR site. READ the goal OUT LOUD each morning.

Me in the mirror every morning:

I will be 123 pounds by Thanksgiving in 48 days by following these easy steps to achieve this weight. I will practice self-discipline and design my days around achieving this goal. Relentlessly.

STEP 3.BREAK down the goal and REMOVE all obstacles involved in the process of achieving it.

Each Bite Counts

Each day, I commit to counting calories – the LoseIt App is wonderful for this, as is the FitBit calorie tracker. You can also use a note book. Here are 5 great calorie counting sites/apps that you might want to try. I will jot down what I ate or take a photo of what I ate to calculate my calorie intake every day.

What if it’s raining?

How will I make SURE that I get in a 60 minute moderate run/hike each day? What if it rains and I can’t go outside? Will I go to the gym? Do I have a way of doing this at home in the house?  Will I ask a friend to hold me accountable? Will I get it out of the way every morning? What if I am traveling?

Have a PLAN to REMOVE every obstacle.

No more chips. Damn.

I eliminate all refined carbohydrates from my daily meals. No breads, crackers, chips, cookies, etc. I will try to each a very healthy, plant-based meal with protein three (3) times a day and limit by alcohol to 1 glass of white wine. I will consume no more than 1,955 calories a day.

STEP 4.READ your goal OUT LOUD every morning and include HOW you will FEEL when you achieve your GOAL.

Me, in my head all day long:

I will look and feel amazing in my jeans, feel lighter on my feet and freer and more energetic. All that movement will also help me feel less anxious and healthier at 123 lbs.

Inspired by Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance

You can do this four step process with anything you want to achieve, including making new friends, getting a raise, building a business, whatever. The secret is a mindful attention with intention and focus on your goal.

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Visit Jason’s website here

This gem of a book by Napoleon Hill  Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

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And the book that inspired me to lose 25 lbs last year.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

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Something to Smile About

smiling_cat_small1Meditation is not just all breathing and quieting the mind. There are many types of meditation techniques including my absolute favorite, Smile Meditation. So, in honor of #worldsmileday  I share with you a simple way to lighten up and spark joy.

To begin the inner-smile meditation, sit comfortably on a pillow or chair with your palms on your knees. Straighten your spine, lifting it up from the top of your head. Then relax the muscles in your neck and throat. Take a few deep, slow breathes.

Close your eyes. If you are tense, gently move your neck from side to side and take one or two deep breaths that fill your abdomen and chest, then slowly exhale.

Next, smile outwardly. It might be helpful to use a positive memory to evoke the feeling of joy. Once you have a grin on your face, it’s time to smile inwardly.

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Picture a smiling face in your mind. Bring the smile to the space between your eyebrows – your third eye or “yin tang” in Chinese medicine – and allow it to rest there for a few breaths.

Now take the smile and glide it in turn to each part of your body. You can imagine your body as hollow and the smile as a glowing ball of light filling every dark corner. Alternatively, you can picture every organ, tissue and bone smiling. If your smile gets stuck or fades at a tense or painful spot, breathe gently into that part of your body. Imagine inhaled breath moving into that area.

o-SMILING-ANIMAL-facebookNow, try to maintain the sensation of the inner smile throughout the day. #worldsmileday

Read more about inner smile meditation here.

Keep it Simple

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Rules of a Renegade

beginningThe more I learn and think about how I want to design my life, the more I believe it is important to write my own rules, have my own set of commandments, my own guiding principles for success.

This list here includes some of the most important ways in which I wish to serve the world. I am sure it will grow and change as I progress. Does anything ring true with you? Anything you recommend to add?

  1. If I don’t feel it, I won’t do it.
  2. Set (very) clear expectations with everyone.
  3. Build my life on truth and all will be okay.
  4. Don’t be a slave to striving.
  5. Grit, what it takes to persevere, is a combination of gratitude, optimism, self-control, social intelligence, enthusiasm and curiosity.
  6. Pros do what they have to do. I choose to go pro.
  7. Don’t act on auto pilot.
  8. Seek to discover new solutions to sticky, old problems.
  9. Slow down a bit. Give myself some more time to complete things in an improved way.
  10. Say know. Know what I must do to make the day just 1% better, each day.
  11. Don’t try to control what others are doing.
  12. Beware of getting caught up in group think – the delusion of the masses.

Read Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

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