Dreams, and Desires...and Doubt, oh my!

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I believe we all have desires and dreams for a reason. If we shine light on this desire, focus on it, pursue it, and make it come true, then we are able to bring value to the world.  

For example, I had a desire to help families who were struggling to keep up with their house cleaning tasks and focus on their priorities, so I created a cleaning business.  I am able to provide great value to these families and allow them to live the life they desire.  

More recently I had the desire to help women design their version of a successful, productive life.  I get to work with them on a deeper level and help them work towards goals that bring them satisfaction, fulfillment and a sense of purpose.  I am creating my dream by pursuing my desires.  

These two desires I had wouldn’t have become reality if I had played it safe and buried the dream down deep in my mind.  I had to work hard to make them come true but it was so worth it in the end.  I wouldn’t be able to help people in the ways my gifts and talents allow me to if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith.  

 

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

We all know how scary and uncomfortable it is to get outside of our comfort zone to tackle a big goal.  

That’s when those inevitable doubts begin to creep in and try to derail us. Our brains are trying to be nice.  They are doing their job of keeping us safe and sound and protected from harm.  Because we know that we aren’t in any true harm, it becomes our job to shut off that voice in our mind so we can work towards creating our dream and following our desires.  We can do that will intention and a plan.

1) First, visualize what you want to have in your life and then imagine how you will feel as you have it.  Visualize yourself living life having achieved your dream.  What do you see?  Who are you with?  What is going on around you?

Keep those feelings close to you as you work daily on your goal.  They will be they key to your success.  

2) As you work towards your goal making tiny little progress each day, don’t forget to look for the success you’ve created so far.  Even the smallest things count!  It is so amazing to feel proud of yourself.  I think it is one of my favorite feelings.  I feel proud of myself when I create the certain result I wanted to reach.  It becomes fuel to keep going.  

3) Also, end each day with gratitude.  Thank yourself for being a bad ass.  Give yourself gratitude for pushing through the hard times when it would’ve been so much easier to quit or take a break.  


I also like to keep in mind who and what helped me achieve my success.  No one can do it alone.  We all need some support and encouragement from others.  Being grateful for everyone and everything that helped you achieve your progress so far can really help you keep things in perspective and not get too internally focused.  

 

It’s ok to Want More out of Life

Many of us, myself included, can sometimes get hung up on the fact that we feel like we shouldn’t want more from life.  We believe that that makes us selfish or ungrateful for the life we currently have.  Our current life is often a good one, but just not as great as we believe it could be.  We then shut down our thought process from even coming up with a big goal and dream to work on in the first place.  We end up settling.  

I would like to encourage everyone to want from a place of abundance versus a place of scarcity.  Just because you are striving to design an even better life does not mean you are dissatisfied with your current life.  For example, you don’t have to be dissatisfied with your current job in order to want a new job.  You can be satisfied with your job but know that you could be doing so much better somewhere else, doing something else.  

It’s a beautiful thing that we get to have what we want simply because we want it.  No justification is needed.  Think about what you want.  Why do you want it?  The only thing that matters is your why.  Why do you want this?  And then ask yourself, “do you like your reasoning for wanting it?”  That’s all that matters.  You don’t have to justify it.

We bury our desires underneath our doubts and then we never really get to experience creating our desires because we don’t believe it can happen.  We fail before we even have a chance to succeed.  I hate the idea of failing but I would hate the “what ifs” even more.  

For today, I want you to allow yourself to dream.  Try to come up with 25 dreams...things you want the most.  

You will naturally limit yourself.  Your brain will automatically give you all the excuses as to why it can never happen…..BUT, if you go ahead and shut that voice off you will be left with only the thoughts that will help you make it come true.

When I’m working on a big, crazy dream I allow all the doubts to come up and then I write them down and put them in a drawer.  I know they’re there, but they can’t get to me.  

The doubt and desire are a team.  They come as a pair and you get to choose who you let in.  You have the desire for a reason.  If everyone actually did what was in our hearts think of how happy our world would be.  If we give in to fear and doubt and don’t give in to our dreams and desires, then we are not fully living the life we were given.

 

Discover Your True Potential

Staying in our comfort zone allows us to avoid our doubts but we end up only living a mediocre version of what is actually our potential.  

If you fail going after your dream you still win!  By avoiding the discomfort and risks associated with pursuing your dream you actually fail ahead of time and you are guaranteed your result…...not achieving your dream.  

How committed are you to your own desires?  Do you honor your desires or do you push them away and are you happy with that?  

Honor your dream over your doubt.  In the end, you are honoring yourself, and that is a major achievement!!!

You have the desire, but you also have the ability to make that desire a reality!

Guest Post: How to Attain The Elusive Work-Life Balance

How to Attain the Elusive Work-Life Balance

By Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali of The Happy Working Mom

If you’re an ambitious busy working mom, I’m pretty sure you have periods in which you struggle with maintaining a good work-life balance. Some days you feel like you have it all under control, and other days you feel like you have too much on your plate and your kids will fall through the cracks.

Never fear. Work-life balance is actually possible. You just have to know exactly how to do it.

work life balance

1.  Figure out who you are: I know this might sound strange. But a mom who knows what she likes, what she needs and where she’s going, will know exactly what tasks to include in her life and what commitments to turn down (pretty much the definition of balance).

I know that as an introvert who needs to spend time alone in order to rejuvenate, I need to set aside about an hour a week to do something relaxing for myself. My husband understands this and gives me the space I need. But when my entire life was wrapped around my kids, I lived solely for them and I felt burned out. All my activities were tailored towards my children, I spent entirely too much time around other people, leaving no time for me. I was tired, cranky, and that didn’t serve my kids or my poor husband well. But once I knew self-care had to become priority for me, I switched my life around. I actually found a job that fit the life I wanted, I became a more patient mom and I have new found creativity.

Taking care of yourself is the foundation of a good work-life balance. I always say to my clients: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So make sure you’re taken care of first, so you can pour into your family.

Practical step: Get a pen and paper and write out who you are at your core (your values), what you enjoy doing and goals you’d like to achieve over the next 3 months. This will be your road map. If you’re struggling with finding your identity, I have a free, short self discovery guide to help you with this. Click here to download it for free.

2.  Set clear boundaries for yourself: Once you’ve figured out who you are and what you need in order to thrive, it’s time to be clear on what you can say ‘yes’ to and what you need to say ‘no’ to. The easiest way to do this is to set clear leisure times and clear work times. So when you’re at home playing with the kids, turn your phone off or put it in another room. Focus on the kids for that moment. When you’re working, stay away from day dreams and Instagram. You’ll actually get more done and your brain will be less scattered.

I know most moms have been trained to multitask, but too much multitasking will lead to overwhelm, so avoid this. Learn to unplug from work when you’re supposed to be resting.

If you’re not self employed, make sure you carve out clear break periods. During your lunch break, do not think about or talk about work. Your mind needs time to relax.  An overworked mind will lead to a tired body, which almost always spills into your family life.

If something is not in line with your goals and values, turn it down! At first it’ll be scary but then the people around you will begin to fit into the boundaries you have set.

3.  Plan ahead: I can’t state this enough. Pack school lunches the night before. Set out your kids’ school clothes the night before. Create a family calendar so that you don’t double book yourself. When you’re at work, pay attention to deadlines and avoid procrastination. When you plan, your life becomes so much more controlled, which also leaves you time for more relaxing activities.

Also Schedule in the kids’ practices, doctor’s appointments and pretty much as much as you can so that you’ll have a clear idea of how your week will look.

But remember, don’t put too much on your plate in one day. Figure out how many activities you can comfortably accomplish in a day, and don’t do more than that. Boundary setting is golden!

4.  Learn to prioritize your life: Once you make your schedule, figure out which activities are urgent, which ones are important, and which ones are unnecessary. Complete the urgent ones first. Next tackle the important ones if you have time, then cross out or delegate the unimportant tasks. Don’t complete any more than you have to. There’s no prize for ‘Most exhausted mom.

Consider delegating household chores or get someone to take over tasks you do not enjoy. This frees you up to spend more time doing things you actually love.

Once you are in the habit of doing the above, your life will become a lot more streamlined. Happy mama=Happy home.

For more tips for working moms, go to www.thehappyworkingmom.com

Achieve Success by Acting As If You Already Succeeded

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Have you ever wondered how some people seem to push through their obstacles and move closer and closer to their goals consistently?  They don’t seem to have all these freak out moments and vicious cycles of second guessing and self doubt.  

One strategy I have found helpful, and that I have come across countless times during my study of successful people, is that they have an “Act as If” thought process.  

 

Here's how to achieve success by acting as if you already succeeded...

 

What is the “Act as if” Strategy?

The “Act as If” strategy is simply acting how you wish your ideal self would act in a given situation.  Keeping in mind how you know you want to behave will help you make a decision as to how you will proceed.  

For example, if you are upset with someone and you feel like yelling, you can pause and imagine yourself handling the situation the way you wish you would.  

Or, if you are training for a half marathon and you don’t feel like tackling that 10 mile run you’re scheduled to do, you can imagine your ideal self waking up with a happy, positive attitude ready to tackle that long run.  

The overall idea is that you are acting as if you are who you are striving to be.  Some people call this, “fake it til you make it”. Either way, you are taking control of your mind and creating the results you desire by performing the actions it takes to reach your goal.  

 

Switch Your Thinking

Our brains are pretty incredible and their only job is to keep us alive.  Whenever we do something new or challenging, our brain perceives this as a threat and tells us to stay safe.  It is literally telling us to stay in our comfort zone, not take the action, and to keep things as they are.  We all know that we could never achieve our greatness by listening to this voice in our heads.  We have to outsmart our brains and reach for those challenges and keep growing. 

If you’ve been following me for awhile, then you know I love Brooke Castillo’s model that she teaches when helping her clients reach their goals.  The model (C-T-F-A-R) goes like this:  our circumstance leads to our thoughts, our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings dictate our actions, our actions give us our results.  

If you are working towards a certain result or goal, then you can work backwards through the model to determine what thoughts you need to be thinking.  

For example, if you are working towards building a business, then you would write “I have a thriving business doing what I love to do” in the R (result) line.  

Now you can think about what actions you need to take in order to make that goal happen.  Actions such as making connections in your niche, or hiring a business coach, or building a website.  

Next, you need to decide what feelings you will need to have in order to do those actions.  Feelings such as excitement, enthusiasm, fulfilled, empowered.

Now you need to consider what thoughts you need to be thinking in order to feel that way.  Thoughts such as, “I have knowledge that other people find valuable and will pay money for”, “I know I can work on my business a little bit every day to provide value to my ideal client.”

As you can see with this example, if you can train your mind to think the appropriate thoughts then you can create whatever result you desire.    

I challenge you to use the “Act as If” strategy this week and work hard each day to become the person you need to become in order to live the life you are striving to design.  

Now, act as if you’re awesome…...because you are!

How to pivot through obstacles to reach our goals

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Isn’t it annoying how obstacles and challenges get in the way every single time we work towards achieving a new goal?  I mean, when I envision myself living my life having accomplished my goal I just see the happy, beautiful result I created.  

I don’t see all of the scheduling issues that popped up throughout my days and weeks as I worked on my goal.  I don’t see the kids’ illnesses or my low-energy days when a nap sounded so good.  I don’t see the stress I felt when the tech issue was messed up for days and no one could seem to know how to resolve it.  I also don’t see all my negative thoughts that tried to creep up in my mind to keep me in my comfort zone.  

So what do we do about this inevitable problem of obstacles so we can actually come through on the other side?  That’s where the success is.  It’s on the other side of fear.  It’s on the other side of these problems.  

How to pivot through obstacles to reach our goals

How do we get to the other side, you ask?  Let me tell you.  (It’s really not as hard as we thought.)  We just keep going.  

Yep.  That’s it.  Simple, right?  

Yes, but it’s not easy!  

This is what I do and what I recommend my clients do as well.

I brainstorm all the issues that may attempt to derail me before I even begin embarking on my new journey towards my goal.  I think of all the bad stuff that I may have to overcome and then tell myself, “Here are several problems that may happen, BUT I know that every problem always has a solution.  So, if I stumble upon one of these problems, then I just need to focus on finding the solution, implement the solution, and move on.”  

For example, as I created my latest coaching program I listed out all the areas I may come across challenges.  Things like email marketing software, FB ads, website issues, scheduling in my weeks where I could devote to building the program, links for booking sessions, the video platform for the call sessions, and more.  

As soon as I actually dumped out all the possible problem areas onto paper, seeing them with my own eyes made them seem real.  And as soon as they became real, then I felt like I could tackle them if they “acted up”.  My mind felt clearer and my focus skyrocketed.  All these things then allowed me to have the mental energy to create my coaching program, thereby coming so much closer to my end goal of launching the program to my tribe.  

I love watching Friends reruns and one of my all time favorite episodes was when Ross is trying to get his new couch up the stairs of his apartment building.  He came across a problem when he realized that the couch was too big to make the turn around the corner.  He kept yelling, “pivot, pivot!!” but still the couch wouldn’t fit.  His determination was so strong that he tried countless times to get that couch up those stairs.  He wasn’t going to let anything get in his way.  Eventually, Ross’s solution was to cut the couch in half in order to make it fit, but I’m sure if you get creative with your own problem you can find a solution that brings you closer to your goal.  

Sometimes when you set out on a goal you realize that it doesn’t go as smoothly and easily as planned, but if you get creative you can always find a solution to your problem.

I just heard a quote on a podcast the other day that the host doesn’t use the term “problem” as he strives towards his goals.  He used the term “puzzle” instead.  He finds puzzles fun and as a creative mind game where there is always a solution. The term “problem” is so negative and makes you feel helpless so he avoids even the word.

I encourage you in your life to think like Ross and don’t give in to obstacles.  Get creative with finding a solution to your “puzzles” and you will come through to the other side, which is where all your success is waiting for you!

How to Overcome the Overwhelm

How to overcome overwhelm

As a Productivity & Success Coach I work with women who are striving to reach goals and create their version of a successful, meaningful life.  They have big dreams and ideas for what they want to accomplish in life but they don’t know how to make it happen.  When they come to me they are usually at a stand still and don’t know how to move forward.  They are overcome by overwhelm.

So what causes overwhelm in the first place?  

The main causes over overwhelm I see are: having too high of expectations, taking on too much at once, having a negative mindset, trying to do everything perfectly and trying to be in control of everything.

How to Ditch the Overwhelm

No successful person has achieved their success in a state of overwhelm.  We must learn how to overcome the overwhelm so we can achieve our goals.  Here are 5 steps I have my clients go through.  Try them out for yourself and ditch the overwhelm for good!

  1. Get out a pen and a notebook and make a braindump of everything that’s on your mind.  This often includes things that are stressing you out in life, things you want to accomplish, projects you want to do, things that need to be done.  Anything that is cluttering your mind needs to be captured on paper.
  2. Next, pick out all of the items that can be put off til later.  Make a separate list of these items and rest assured that you will get to them eventually.  
  3. Now pick out all of the items that you can have someone else do.  Maybe this person is a friend or family member or maybe it’s someone you will hire to help you.  We must come to terms with the fact that we can’t do everything ourselves. Being a control freak myself, this was a huge one for me to overcome.  People really do like being helpful and if you give them a chance to bring you value they really appreciate the opportunity.  This gives them a chance to use their talents and gifts in a way that helps someone else and gives them some satisfaction.  Think of it as if you’re being selfish NOT to let them help you.  
  4.   Next, you can pick out the items that really don’t need to be done at all and simply  delete them from your mind.  
  5.   The items left on your list are things that you will need to do.  Go ahead and write this   list in order of priority.  What needs to be done first, second, third, and so on.  When you become clear as to what is most urgent and important you can feel more comfortable focusing on one thing at a time.


How to Prevent Overwhelm

Every day should have a chunk of time set aside for working on these tasks.  Even 15-20  minutes can make a big difference in the course of a week.  In order to keep yourself motivated I recommend only scheduling 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) per day.  I want you to end the day feeling very productive and successful. Keeping our minds positive will allow us to move forward every single day.  We never want to start the next day feeling like we’re already behind.  

It’s also important to have weekly reflection meetings with yourself to see how much you did that week and celebrate all of your small wins.  Achieving our big goals is a process that stretches over several weeks, months and even years.  This is a marathon, not a sprint so remember the phrase, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Anytime you feel overwhelm creeping back into your mind, go ahead and do the 5-step process I outlined above.  At first you may be going through that process every day and that’s okay!  Over time you will be a pro at keeping the overwhelm at bay and you will be on your way to all the success you’ve dreamed of!

How to Use Routines to Increase Your Success

How to Use Routines to Increase Your Success

Creating routines can be a huge benefit to us when it comes to designing our ideal life because we know what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it.  We no longer need to go through our days aimlessly wondering around.  With a properly designed routine you can get right to work and be more productive in everything you do.

 

Why Create Routines?

Routines give us a sense of comfort and predictability.  When we went to school we lived by routines every day, all day.  We had math from 9:00 to 9:50, then writing from 9:50-10:40, then recess from 10:40-11:00 and then lunch from 11:00-11:30, and so on.  The whole day was laid out before us in an extremely well-designed routine and everyone knew the expectations and could anticipate what was happening next.  

When we become adults we tend to revert to the “fly by the seat of my pants” philosophy and live a life of flexibility and freedom but I really think this is doing us a disservice.  Routines get a bad rap of being boring, confining and restrictive.  I don’t think of routines in a negative way at all.

Anyone who wants to create a more effective and productive life should consider implementing daily routines into their life or tweaking their current routines so they are more efficient.

I like to think of routines as a set of habits that are grouped together.  For example, my morning routine is just several activities grouped together and are performed in pretty much the same order every day.  

 

Morning Routines

I get up, put my workout clothes on, brush my teeth and drink a glass of water as I head downstairs to do my workout.  After my workout, I write in my journal, meditate for 10 minutes using the Calm app, and then take a shower.  Next, I prepare breakfast, get my kids ready for school and then we leave the house.  

My morning routine becomes a tool that ensures I am taking care of all the important tasks I like to do as I begin my day and it saves me so much time and energy because I don’t even have to stop and think about what I’ll be doing next.  

 

Daily Routines

Besides a morning routine, I also have an evening routine.  

Again, it’s a series of tasks grouped together in the same order and has become automatic over time.  I also have lots of other routines in my life, such as how I create my shopping lists, how I perform my house cleaning chores, how I pay bills, the order I go down the aisles at the grocery store, etc.

The more automation we can add into our daily lives, the more energy we will reserve for our creative work.  Decision fatigue can be a killer for creating a successful life.  When we overwhelm our brain by trying to decide when to do this, or when to do that we end up feeling frazzled and tired.

Imagine a day where you had to think about when to brush your teeth, which direction you will drive to work, which path you will take when you walk your kids to school.  Your brain will be so worn out it won’t have energy to write that report that’s due tomorrow or draft emails to your clients.  

The most successful people in the world live their lives in a series of routines and I think we can all benefit by following their lead.  Check out this article here
 

Weekly Routines

In addition to creating several daily routines we can also create weekly routines.  Maybe every Monday you are unavailable for phone calls so you can knock out a ton of content uninterrupted.  Perhaps you can have a routine of using Wednesdays for all of your meetings.  

The options of adding routines into your life are limitless and there is a no one-size-fits-all approach.  Try designing a few routines for your life and try them out for a few days.  If they aren’t working just make some adjustments until you find the routines that work for you.  

How to Create a Personal Mission Statement

I believe everyone should take time to write their personal mission statement.  It is your guiding light as to how you will spend your life.  Just as companies have mission statements that help them make big decisions within the corporation, you can do the same with your life. Here's how to write yours.

How to use your Values & Priorities to set your Best Goals

Do you ever think about a goal that you’d love to achieve but you’re not sure HOW to make it happen, or even IF you should make it happen right now?  

Our lives are multidimensional and have so many different aspects to them that it’s hard to know how much time we should be devoting to what and when.  We always hear the phrase “work life balance” but really, it’s impossible not to integrate both areas of our lives. Into our ONE life.   

There is no separating them.  

  EmprovedLife.com | Productivity Coaching with Emily Swanda

 

EmprovedLife.com | Productivity Coaching with Emily Swanda

Rethinking the "work-life Balance"

Some areas of life will get more attention at certain times in your life than others and as times change, your focus on priorities will also change.  Understanding what your current values and priorities are will keep you heading in the right direction…the direction that leads you to the success you want.  

When you know how to understand your values and priorities, they can help you reach your goals faster and easier.


I like to sit down in a quiet space at least a couple times a year. Preferably quarterly, to check in with myself to see if the goals I’m working towards are matching up with my current priorities and values.  

As we evolve and change throughout our lives we go through different seasons and our goals will therefore shift as well. For example, a first-time mom will have a very different set of values and priorities than a mom who just sent her youngest child off to college.  Your goals will therefor reflect these different stages of life.

 

Start Saying "No"

It can be so easy to say yes to a variety of opportunities because we want to help others but that can lead us to spending our time and energy on something that doesn’t line up with our own priorities and values.  

Don’t veer off course!  

Stay focused on what is best for you.  When you are at your best, that’s when you can give others around you the most value.  It’s so important to live your life on purpose and with intention.  

 

Schedule Your Priorities

Set a time in your calendar every 3 months to reflect on your values and priorities.  I pick December, March, June and September.  

These times match up nicely with my kids’ school calendars so I can make the necessary adjustments to my goals according to the changes in the kids’ schedule or spring and Christmas breaks.  

My business becomes less of a priority during the summer months than during the school year when my kids are in school all day.  I value the early morning sunshine and the long summer evenings and choose to prioritize that in my summer time as well. I prioritize family time more during the holiday season than during the rest of the year.  I’m sure if you look at your life you will see an ebb and flow throughout the year.  

When you think about the areas of your life where you spend the most time OR money, that gives you a pretty good idea of where you hold your current priorities.  If you are not satisfied with the priorities you’ve been living with, it’s okay to make the changes now.  Better late than never!  

 

Creating Harmony in your Life

If you want to spend more time with your kids because you say that they are your key priority, then it’s time to think about how you will readjust your schedule to make that happen.  If you value your health, but you’ve been neglecting it, then now may be the perfect time to make exercise and healthy eating a big part of your life.  

I like to use the life balance wheel to guide me through this, rating each priority on a scale of 0-10 (10 being most important).  

Keep in mind that you are not required to score high in ALL areas ALL the time.  Life is not about balance, but instead about harmony.  Some things will take more of a backseat for awhile and then it will change again.  

I look at my overall life to see how well I’m keeping it in harmony,  If at the end of my life I can recognize that I made it a point to focus on each area of the wheel for period of time, then I will feel confident that I led a full and “balanced” life.  

I encourage you to sit down and write out your top values and priorities in your current stage of life and make sure the goals you are working towards match those.  There’s nothing more frustrating than working towards a goal and still not feeling satisfied once you achieve it. These tips will help you change that, starting today.