Archive for Life Coaching

To Be Aware, Start from the Inside

Once again, I’m working with a group of motivated professionals who all have good jobs—careers even—but no college degree. They’re enrolled in a degree-completion program at Southern Oregon University called Innovation and Leadership. They’re taking my class Working with Emotional Intelligence and are all making strides toward increasing their own EI. It’s amazing how simple it is if you focus on it!

This blog post shares their first assigned Exploration toward developing EI.* It all begins with self-awareness. As you read through the Exploration, consider how you relate to the content and what you can do to increase your own EI.

Exploration #1

Are you aware of how you feel—and how you respond to those feelings? We can go through our day on automatic pilot, which works for tasks that don’t require much thought like brushing our teeth or taking a shower. There are times, however, when being mindless about situations causes us to react instead of respond in a proactive manner. If we get an email or call from someone that angers us, do we stop to think about the emotion, where it came from, and how to respond in a way that results in beneficial outcomes? Or do we unconsciously react in a manner that undermines or sabotages relationships with self or others?

When we are aware of how we are feeling inside, we are more likely to consciously choose a response instead of reacting without considering  the results of our actions. Try to take some time to become aware of how you feel in different situations and why. Recognize your emotions and the effects of those emotions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What has caused me to feel this way?
  • What are the thoughts that follow that emotion?
  • How does that thought align or not align with my values?
  • Have I experienced this before?
  • What could I change to bring these thoughts into closer alignment with my values?

You may want to target a problem situation and increase your awareness about the emotions, thoughts, and reactions regarding the problem. You do not have to do anything different during this time—simply be aware of how you are feeling, what is causing those feelings, and how they correspond with your core values. Remember, this exploration focuses on self-awareness; you do not have to fix anything. Simply be aware, starting from the inside.

Consider your experiences, what you learned, and what did or did not work for you. You may even want to journal about this topic.

Want to Boost Your EI?

If you’re interested in learning more about emotional intelligence, let’s talk. I help both individuals and teams increase their individual and collective EI.

*Adapted from Dr. Jennifer Joss’ “Living With” EI exercises.
WHY BOTHER WITH EI?

What will get you $29,000 more per year, make you 58% more effective at your job, and rank you with 90% of top performers? Greater emotional intelligence.

Unless you want to be among the 80% of low-EQ employees classed as “bottom performers,” it’s time to discover how you can accelerate your career and become a better leader by developing your emotional intelligence.

Studies show those with average IQs outshine their highest-IQ counterparts 70% of the time because of their EQ.

Whereas IQ and personality are static elements of your makeup, you can always increase your emotional intelligence (thanks to the wonders of neuroplasticity)—and doing so will make a surprising difference in both your life and work.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

In a recent Forbes article, bestselling coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and cofounder of Talent Smart Travis Bradberry describes the two primary competencies and four core skills that make up emotional intelligence.

Personal Competence

This first competency comprises self-awareness (observation) and self-management (actions). Your observation skills, sensitivity, and ability to control your emotions come into play here. How conscious are you of your emotions, and how accurate are your self-perceptions? Do you practice mindfulness to remain aware of your emotions, and are you able to take a step back and regulate them when needed? How malleable are you, and can you transform a negative emotion into a positive action?

Social Competence

This competency focuses on social awareness (observation) and relationship management (actions), mapping the reflection and regulation required for personal competence to social situations and relationships. How well do you understand the motives, actions, and moods of those around you? Do you intuitively sense people’s emotions and accurately perceive their intentions? Can you use these perceptions to navigate relationships and communicate successfully?

This section is excerpted from our previous blog post Want to Accelerate Your Career? The Magic Formula = EI + Coaching. See original article for more details.

Reflections on 2018 and Looking Ahead—It’s All About Relationships

This time of year, “best of” lists are abundant—from movies to cookbooks to comics and more. One of my annual favorites is from NPR’s All Songs Considered. I’ve been a fan for years and always enjoy comparing my picks with theirs.

This year, give yourself the gift of reflecting on your “best of” and appreciating all that’s good in your life. As I was writing this, it became crystal clear that the things that made 2018 so good weren’t things at all. They were people and the relationships that made my life feel full and rich.

As you reflect, ask yourself:

  • Which people in my life contributed to my happiness and success in 2018?
  • Whom do I wish I had seen more of?
  • Which partnerships were most fruitful?
  • What am I most proud of—and who helped me along the way?
  • What are my big learnings from this past year?
  • What and whom am I grateful for and appreciating?
  • What is there for me to acknowledge about myself in 2018?

Overall, what do you see as you reflect on 2018? How would you rate this year on a scale of 1–10, and what would have made it a 10 out of 10?

Now, let’s look ahead.

  • What excites you about the coming year?
  • What are your key goals and objectives for 2019? Who will help you achieve them?
  • Where and how do you want to stretch yourself in 2019?
  • Which people in your life will help you make 2019 a 10 out of 10 year—both personally and professionally?

Is there a possible theme for the year that could serve as a structure and anchor to lock in a resonant 2019? A song? Movie? Perhaps a book, a poem—or even a person. Let me know, and happy new year!

Thanks to my former coach Lorry Schneider and dear friends Faith Fuller and Marita Fridjhon for the inspiration for this post.

Winning with Joy: The Golden State Warriors

I don’t usually do this, but after a meeting last week with friend and colleague Diana Hartley, I was inspired. She told me about her love for the Golden State Warriors and how it came to be. This story resonated with me so strongly I had to share. Below is Diana’s article.

Note: This post was originally published at Diana Hartley Consulting. Thanks to Diana for allowing us to republish it here.

Sports has never been my thing. I was raised in New York City, which meant my family’s sports were shopping and going out to eat. As a child raised partially in Manhattan and West LA, I did attend a few Dodgers games and one or two evenings of Golden Gloves boxing (of all places for my dad to take us in our white gloves and Mary Janes!).

Sports was never encouraged, so after a few attempts at biking and roller skating and falling into rose bushes, I gave up in favor of indoor activities such as ballet, jazz, and tap. I was in LA, and that’s what young ladies did at the time. It took decades, but sports showed up big time last year, and I am thrilled it did.

Last year when my friend Jim started talking a mile a minute (not his normal speed) about Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, I listened. His nonstop enthusiasm brought me into his living room to watch Steph and the team do remarkable things night after night, game after game—all the way through the playoffs and their championship win. Wow, such happy energy, such honest victories. I was smitten.

I think what really made me fall in love, besides the high I always get from watching excellence, was how the team seemed to be coached. Something was different about the Warriors. I could feel it. Head Coach Steve Kerr stressed having fun while still being able to compete at the highest level.

“It’s a long season, this was meant to be fun,” he was quoted as saying in a CBS Bay Area article in 2015.

His style seemed down to earth, positive, and highly effective, with no BS and very little ego. In the same article, he described four important values from his coaching philosophy. They are joy, compassion, mindfulness, and competition. Who would have thought three of these values would be soft skills?

Even though the NBA basketball season is the longest in sports—with six more weeks of playoffs until the final championship game—the Warriors brought it with heart and savvy to each and every game. They had what it took to finish the season as champs. Steve’s humane coaching style, generally relaxed demeanor, and wry sense of humor kept everyone grounded and focused.

“When we hit those four things, we’re not only very tough to beat, but we’re very fun to watch, we’re very fun to coach, we’re very fun to be around,” he told the reporter.

How could these values be used to coach a sports team? How does Kerr use them to bring success to his team? Can joy, compassion, and mindfulness really be part of a winning strategy in the highly competitive world of professional basketball? We’re talking about an organization worth $3.1 billion. Do soft skills generate sports dominance and billions of dollars, too? It appears so for the Golden State Warriors organization.

I am not in the locker room or practice facility nor at courtside, but I intuit the word “joy” to mean a great, easy enjoyment for playing with teammates who love the game equally. The Warriors really seem to love what they do, and their enthusiasm is contagious. As their fans know, when the Warriors are on, you can feel the joy in your living room.

The team plays for the love of the game, and that’s joy. Kerr’s coaching style supports handpicked players who work hard for each other because they are all crazy about basketball. It gives them the juice to play a tough game night in and night out for months on end. I believe their natural exuberance comes from team pride and a desire to deliver victories to their huge fan base, both young and old.

Mindfulness, well, that’s another story. I don’t know what that means to Coach Kerr, but for me it is staying tuned to the present moment, acknowledging and respecting others. I see this presence and lack of negativity each time a player is interviewed, teaches their youngest fans the fundamentals of the game, or speaks lovingly about the charities they so generously donate time and money to. These individuals care about others a great deal.

Compassion is empathy at its best. I know that when I feel compassion, I extend my heart to others and am open to understanding them even when it’s hard, even when I don’t like them. It is a belief in people, fairness, and acceptance. Compassion means caring for others, sometimes more than yourself. I see this in the unselfish way the Warriors share the ball as they play. Kerr supports team victories, not star player victories.

And, of course, the last value—competition—must be present to be your best in the world. For the Warriors, I do not think competition means “winning at any cost” because the other three values make competition a game, not ego enhancement. They are great role models for fairness in sports and the many young people who look up to them. This means they competite to win, naturally, but they also compete with themselves to be better every day. All great athletes compete with themselves first.

Why did I share this blog on Coach Kerr and the Warriors (besides being a crazy fan)? Okay, so I wanted to write about them for a while, but I also wanted to show you a winning example of cooperation, teamwork, joy, mindfulness, and compassion, within a competitive business. I wanted you to see that a team, with fans throughout the world, can be role models for how we interact with others in everyday life and can create a win-win situation.

I know that if all of us can embody these values in our daily lives, we will find a way to create a world that works for us all. That is my hope for a brighter future.

So, go out there and be a warrior of joy.

Photo: Thanks to Ron Adams, Ray Rider, and Matt de Nesnera of the Golden State Warriors organization for this photo.

Slammed!

Three years ago, I published a blog titled Too Busy? I was reminded of this as I got the notice from SOREDI that Slammed: Succeeding in a World of Too Busy author and friend Randy Harrington was the featured speaker at the upcoming 2018 Southern Oregon Business Conference. The blog still rings true, and I am delighted to revisit it along with Randy’s fantastic book.

Here’s what I wrote in 2014:

How did you answer the last time someone asked, “How are you?” I’ll bet it was something like:

  • Oh, I’m slammed!
  • I’m so busy!
  • Crazed!
  • Buried!

Recently a colleague told me she was “doing a trapeze act until the monster project is finished.” The week before, she was “wrapping up a gargantuan project.” Sounds impressive, but what does that even mean?

It seems that people have confused their own busyness with importance, value or worth. If I’m this busy, I must be in demand. I must have a thriving business. I must be very successful.

Think about the perception that your busyness creates for others. Have you created a personal brand as a very, very busy person? What does this mean? When I think “busy,” I think harried, rushing, frantic—and probably not necessarily effective or of great quality. More Tasmanian Devil and less effective leader or loving family member.

The sad thing is this perception of busyness is harming how we connect and how we interact with one another—both with colleagues and with family and friends. We forget to make time for important things like mentoring a new professional (they wouldn’t dream of asking for help from such a busy person). Or we may miss an invitation to a niece’s piano recital or basketball game because everyone knows “Aunt Chrissy is too busy.”

We have a choice in how we perceive and how we show up in the world.

I have chosen NOT to be busy busy busy. I prefer to think of myself as happily making my way toward my personal and professional goals. I take time for things that need time. I savor. I enjoy every moment that I can. I am grateful.

While I may have as many time challenges as the next person, I choose to represent myself (and think of myself) as a happy person who is in control of my life and not being run ragged by myriad demands and pressures. Ask me how I am, and chances are I’ll answer, “I’m great.”

Slammed

In Slammed: Succeeding in a World of Too Busy, Randy and coauthor Carmen E. Voillequé provide solid advice on reframing your “slammed-ness.” Below is an excerpt from the book.

We have to start thinking about where we are today and at the same time where we want to be tomorrow. If we can fence off the triage work in our minds for a moment, what does that give us permission to dream of for a new future? This act should be fun. It should feel like a breath of fresh air. It should be motivational.

Here’s a short list to get you started:

  1. Schedule exercise, meal prep time, yoga using your Outlook or smart phone calendar right alongside your meetings and conference calls, and try color-coding them to stand out. This will elevate health to the same level of importance of “worky-work.”
  2. Stop competing with other people for who has the most stress; just stop having those conversations. It really is that simple (ok, yes, but not easy!). And when people do complain about too much stress from being Slammed, make it an all stop moment where a solution will have to be found.
  3. Encourage and learn from others who seem to have figured out how to align time to their values and not the other way around. Rather than feeling a sense of judgment or jealousy, ask them to be your mentor in learning to avoid the trap of task saturation.
  4. Explore your artistic side. Any kind. Anywhere. It doesn’t have to be the next Picasso—even a quick doodle on your meeting agenda can be a source of inspiration! Art helps everything. Go see it. Make it. Read it. Doesn’t matter. Feed that part of your soul regularly.
  5. Include all development work as an accomplishment/goal in your professional growth. Don’t shy away from the fact that you are committing to be more healthy, happy, engaged and productive.

Most importantly, the way we talk about being busy has to change. “I am Slammed” is no longer in your vocabulary!

It’s time to change your vocabulary and how you approach your situation. Start with a positive mindset. As happiness guru Shawn Achor likes to point out, people get happiness backwards. Getting that monster project done will not make you happy—but your being happy will get that project done faster and better. It’s called the happiness advantage, and you can get it!

If you are looking to change how you approach your situation and be more positive, you are in luck. Research shows that we can rewire our brains at any point in our life. It comes with intention and practice, and it is absolutely doable. Let me know if you would like a free coaching session to get started.

Identify Your Distinctive Strengths for Increased Business and Personal Success

What sets you apart? What is the cream that floats to the top? The icing on the cake? If someone were to ask what your top three strengths are, what would you say?

Whether you are promoting yourself or your business, you’ll excel when you know and understand your strengths—so you can put them front and center.

If you are looking for a job or promotion, you need to know your strengths. If you can’t articulate them, you can’t expect your boss or potential employer to, either.

If you are looking to grow your business, increase your client base or expand your market share, you need to know your business’ strengths. If you’re not sure of them yourself, how can you expect your clients to understand them?

Here’s a four-step process to identifying what sets you and your business apart:

  1. List your strengths. Include skills and knowledge you’ve acquired through experience and education as well as softer intrinsic strengths such as insightfulness, empathy or stellar customer service.
  2. Ask for input. Ask colleagues or clients for honest feedback.
  3. Revisit past feedback. Reread old performance reviews and think back on coaching from previous bosses (businesses can check out YELP or TripAdvisor reviews).
  4. Modify your list. Adjust your original list to reflect what you’ve learned. Make sure the strengths are specific so they are credible and useful.

Now what? Use these distinctive strengths to build your brand—either personal or business. It all follows the same formula in the end: identify and promote your strengths to the people you want to influence. BAM. Done!

A great resource for identifying personal strengths is Strengthsfinder by Gallup. I use this regularly for my coaching clients with great success. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Being Self-Employed: What’s Not to Love? Plus, This 1 Tip Will Boost Your Productivity—and Happiness

It’s the life many of us daydream about while languishing in a stagnant job where our talents go untapped and unappreciated: starting our own business.

And many act on that dream—nearly a third (30%) of the American workforce comprises the self-employed and their employees (approximately 15 million in 2014) according to this Pew Research Center article.

Working at home, earning 50% more, doing what we love, using our gifts, finding a sense of purpose, calling our own shots—sounds sweet, doesn’t it?

The reality, however, may not be so rosy. That’s not to say striking out on your own doesn’t have its rewards—a lot of those perks we just mentioned are borne out by statistics.

Work-Life Imbalance

There’s a flip side many fail to realize until they’re ensconced in their new venture: that work-life balance Americans already have trouble achieving? For most self-employed, work trounces life beginning on Day One.

If you’re thinking about becoming your own boss, be prepared to say goodbye to evenings, weekends, eight-hour workdays, sick leave, vacation time.…

The Overwork Epidemic

This Gallup report reveals 49% of the US self-employed put in at least 44 hours a week—10% more than their employee counterparts at the time. Worse, 26% of the self-employed workers Gallup surveyed reported working more than 60 hours a week. A later Gallup article calculates the average employee work week at 47 hours, with 25% reporting working more than 60 hours—nearly catching up to the self-employed.

American freelancers aren’t the only ones suffering from overwork. This 2016 Quarterly National Household Survey reports that Irish employees averaged 34.6 hours a week during the first quarter of 2016 as compared with 44 hours for the self-employed.

And that earlier statistic about the self-employed (specifically incorporated business owners) earning up to 50% more than their employee counterparts—it turns out 29% of that increase is due to their working more hours. Entrepreneurs may earn more on average, but that comes at the cost of time.

The Secret to Productivity

It doesn’t have to be that way, though—in fact, it shouldn’t. According to this Fast Company article, the secret to accomplishing more isn’t working more hours—it’s working fewer.

Our brains need regular breaks to recharge. When we neglect this fundamental requirement, productivity dips.

A recent Draugieum Group experiment showed those workers with the greatest productivity rates took a surprising number of breaks—for every 52 minutes of work, they took about 17 minutes off.

And we’re not talking about playing computer Solitaire or checking Facebook. The kind of breaks our brains need do not involve electronic devices—instead, try taking a brisk walk, reading a chapter in your latest book or enjoying a non–work-related chat with a colleague.

To many of us, that sounds like a lot of downtime, but our brains reward us by performing more efficiently during the time actually worked.

That magic trick applies whether you’re an employee, independent contractor, business owner, freelancer or entrepreneur.

Working fewer hours and getting more accomplished—now that sounds pretty sweet.

Need Help Taking More Breaks?

Here are some additional tips from Fast Company on how and why to take more breaks as well as what you may be doing wrong.

The workaholics among you probably need more hands-on assistance with reforming your work habits, and that’s where Chris Cook comes in. As a self-employed co-active coach, Chris can help you achieve your professional goals while maintaining a healthy life balance. Call her at 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us to get started today.

What Are Words For: 6 Writing Tips from the Masters

If you only remember one lesson from The Elements of Style—affectionately known as Strunk & White—it’s probably Rule 17 in the “Principles of Composition” chapter.

Editors hear William Strunk’s curmudgeonly admonition “Omit needless words” every time they strike out a“very” or superfluous “that.” Or—as I like to put it—“Omit needless words.” Once you adopt this mantra, formerly invisible words pulse red as you read. You may even be seeing red now.

While our last post explored how your diction affects others’ sense of your power when speaking, this article focuses on the written word—although the lessons apply equally to speech.

Below are six writing tips from the masters.

1) 1+1 = ½

Sol Stein spins Strunk’s famous edict another way in his formula 1+1 = ½. In Stein on Writing, the master editor reveals this secret to powerful writing: redundant language weakens.

If you’re using two words to say the same thing, you’re diluting the effect. Axe the less precise word or find a single term that captures the meaning of both, and you’ll strengthen your sentence.

2) Beware of Modifiers

Sol Stein’s Reference Book for Writers warns us adjectives and adverbs “weaken nouns and verbs, and therefore weaken your writing.” If you can swap out an adverb for a more telling verb, do so.

Trade “ran quickly” for “scampered,” and the sentence jumps from report to story. The reader visualizes the subject scampering away, learning something about the subject’s motives and character in the process.

3) Conquer Clichés

Watch any reality TV show, and you’ll realize it’s a pastiche of clichés, from “I’m not here to make friends” to “It would mean the world to me.” We breathe them in like smog, scarcely noticing how polluted our language has become.

4) Jettison Jargon

Bullshit Bingo players racking up the points during a staff meeting know the workplace is riddled with jargon.

Orwell predicted as much in “Politics and the English Language”, where his fifth rule of writing cautions, “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”

5) Use Active Voice

Out of Orwell’s six writing rules, we’ve already covered four (banish clichés, embrace brevity, trim fat and ditch jargon). His number-one rule tops nearly every editor’s list, too: “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”

The classic example of cowardly passive voice (which misdirects the audience by omitting the subject responsible for the action) is, “Mistakes were made.” No, you made a mistake. Muster some moxie and admit, “I made a mistake.” That’s how passive becomes active.

6) Remain Civil

What’s Orwell’s final mandate to writers? “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.” That’s right—civility outclasses dogma. Value dignity, respect for others, ethics and graciousness over nitpicky rules. In other words, don’t let your newfound linguistic powers turn you into a grammar Nazi.

Dangerous Diction: 6 Types of Words That Sap Your Power—and How to Take It Back

Whether or not you realize it, you convey hidden messages about yourself through your diction.

Your word choices reveal your level of confidence in yourself and your statements—and subsequently influence how others perceive and treat you.

Words to Power

A recent Forbes article by Avery Blank outlines six types of words that undermine your power when you use them:

  1. Fluff. If you want people to question your intelligence and authority, talk like a Valley girl. Otherwise, eschew like, whatever, so on, kind of, sort of, um and other pause words that put the brakes on meaning.
  2. Defensive phrases. Terms like just, I think, arguably and in my opinion make your listeners question your conviction and message.
  3. Aptitude terms. When you say, “I’ll try,” you betray an insecurity that spreads to your audience. Overconfidence is equally disquieting. Telling a coworker, “Don’t worry about it” is not only dismissive but shuts down opportunities for collaboration.
  4. Condescending words. Terms such as actually, obviously and clearly suggest you think your audience is ignorant, and that’s a good way to make them tune out.
  5. Mea culpa. We’re not saying you should never apologize—accepting responsibility for the consequences of your actions is the mature response. Just don’t say “sorry” when something goes awry due to circumstances outside your control.
  6. Hyperbole. Very, absolutely, totally, tremendously, incredibly and similar emphasis words achieve the opposite of their intended effect. Your message is stronger without them.

The 6 Rungs of Speaking Power

In my Working with Emotional Intelligence class, I share a handout titled “Escaping Victim Mud—The Power of Your Words” from Falling Awake: Creating the Life of Your Dreams.

We discuss how to climb Dave Ellissix rungs of powerful speaking from least to most powerful:

  1. Obligation. If you use terms like should, must, have to and ought, you’re speaking at the bottom rung of Ellis’ ladder. This tells others you are acting not out of desire but duty.
  2. Possibility. People at this level choose words like consider, maybe, might, could and hope. The attitude is more positive, but these words tell listeners you don’t feel in control of the outcome.
  3. Preference. Bartleby fans know the power of prefer, as in, “I would prefer not to.” Moving from should to might to want shows a progression of control. Those who prefer and want are expressing their goals in a way that impacts the audience more deeply.
  4. Passion. When you speak with enthusiasm (excited, can’t wait and love), you capture listeners through your energetic expressiveness. There is a difference between gushing and acting, however, and your words will feel hollow if you don’t have the evidence to back them up.
  5. Plan. When you present a plan to achieve specific goals, you demonstrate your control over the situation and your strategy for achieving the desired results. This is when the abstract becomes concrete for your listeners.
  6. Promise. At the apex of Ellis’ ladder is promise (will, do, promise), and that’s where dream transforms into reality. At the most powerful rung, you will captivate your audience and engage them in your commitment to action.

Different situations call for different rungs in the communication ladder. Perpetually balancing on the top rung is unrealistic and even inappropriate in certain contexts.

What Are You Telling People?

As a co-active coach, I can help you assess how your language influences others’ perceptions of you and how you can achieve a more positive reception, whether speaking, leading or collaborating. Call me at 541.601.0114 or email me to start climbing the ladder toward a more powerful you.

Creed for Optimists: 11 Ways to Build Resilience

Have you ever stumbled across something that resonated so deeply you could have been its author? This happened to me recently when I came across Christian D. Larson’s “Creed for Optimists,” written in 1912. Here it is.

Promise yourself to:

Founder of the New Thought movement, Larson (1874–1954) is credited for being an American New Thought leader and teacher as well as a prolific author of metaphysical and New Thought books. Many of Larson’s books remain in print today, more than 100 years after they were first published, and his writings influenced notable New Thought authors and leaders. His Optimist Creed was adopted by Optimists International, better know as the Optimist Clubs.
  1. Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  2. Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  3. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them.
  4. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best.
  5. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  6. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  7. Give everyone a smile.
  8. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
  9. Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  10. Think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world—not in loud words—but in great deeds.
  11. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Makes me happy just to read the Creed. So what about living it?

It’s what I strive for every day. By mindfully following these tenets, I have seen benefits in my work environment, home environment and all personal relationships. Although the learning is continuous and I have a long way to go, I have become better at listening and have developed higher levels of understanding and compassion.

What would change if you were to incorporate the Creed into your everyday life? Give it a try. Let me know how it changes you—and how it changes those you interact with. Cheers!

Discover Your Drive: 5 More Tips for Building Self-Control

This is the last in a series of articles (see part 1 and part 2) investigating the life-changing impact of self-control and how you can hone yours.

Below are five more tips gleaned from Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

1) Avoid Goal-Sabotaging

Working toward a goal requires balancing between our desired outcome and our immediate urge for gratification.

Scientists have found those reminded of their progress toward a goal are more likely to backslide as a way of rewarding themselves.

If we’ve successfully resisted sugary desserts for a week, we begin to experience goal liberation, which tells us we deserve a little treat for being so good.

This can lead to a one-step-forward-two-steps-backward goal-sabotaging pattern. Be alert to this threat, and you’ll get a leg up on your temptation.

2) Don’t Let Your Brain Trick You

Our brains can mistake thinking about a goal for the actual work itself, causing us to pat ourselves on the back prematurely.

When fast food restaurants offer healthier options like salads, people are more likely to order unhealthy alternatives like burgers and fries. Browsing an eco-friendly site causes us to indulge in some not-so-green behavior, thinking we’ve already done our bit to offset our carbon footprint.

Simply considering the better option substitutes for action in the brain, giving us permission to deviate from our higher aspirations.

Penalties introduced to deter bad behavior often backfire for this reason. Daycare centers that imposed a fee for parents who arrived late found instances of lateness increased. Paying the fee assuaged parents’ guilt over being late, removing incentive for being on time.

3) Find Your “I Want” Power

The way to build self-control and overcome goal-sabotaging behavior is to focus not on your progress but rather on your long-term motivation (your “I want” power).

In one study, students asked to remember an instance in which they resisted temptation were 70 percent more likely to give in to their next temptation. An almost equal percentage—69 percent—fended off temptation when asked to recall why they had resisted in that past moment.

4) Befriend Your Future Self

People who have a strong sense of their future selves are more likely to make the best decisions when it comes to long-term goals like retirement savings.

It’s easy to let the demands of now interfere with our aspirations to set money aside, but that becomes more difficult when we’ve taken the time to envision ourselves at retirement age.

Studies show those with high future self-continuity tend to behave more ethically and responsibly as well as becoming a better person in the present.

People with low future self-continuity are more likely to cheat on tests, steal in the workplace, gossip and lie to secure short-term advantages.

McGonigal writes, “It as if feeling disconnected from our future selves gives us permission to ignore the consequences of our actions.”

5) Choose Your Friends Wisely

Poor habits spread like a contagion through social networks. You are more likely to smoke, drink heavily, gamble, engage in crime or succumb to addiction if you hang out with people who practice these behaviors.

While genetics influence obesity, there is also a cultural/social component that involves unhealthy lifestyle choices like eating processed foods and failing to exercise regularly.

Research shows a person’s chances of becoming obese increase by 171 percent when a friend becomes obese, 67 percent when a sister does and 45 percent if it’s a brother.

But there’s a flip side to this phenomenon: surrounding yourself with people who have similar life goals substantially increases your chances of fulfilling those objectives. This is why regularly attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is crucial to addiction recovery.

Want to eat healthier, take up marathon running, quit smoking or start writing that novel you’ve been dreaming about for years? Find a community that will support you in your goals, and they will help hold you accountable to your dreams.

Want a Coach in Your Corner?

Ready to go from wishing to achieving? Chris Cook can inspire, support and drive you to achieve your goals and live a happier, more fulfilling life. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris today.