The One Thing That Will Change Everything

I used to think that other people were the cause of my feelings.  I was an adult making choices in my life, but if I was unhappy with the results, someone else was somehow responsible.

Instead of making changes, I would come up with excuses why I couldn’t:   I was working too much.  I had no time.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Manufacturing justifications for inaction of course led to more inaction, which, didn’t change my results.

If we think that we’re not responsible for our results, then there’s no way for us to fix them.  We continue thinking that we’re “stuck” as victims of our circumstances, which leads to more inaction, which leads to the same old results.

I finally realized that I was responsible for everything that I was creating in my life.  It was all on me.  And knowing that changed everything because it meant that I could change what I was doing and get new, better results.

What Does It Mean To Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life?

Taking 100% responsibility for your life means that you understand that, although you don’t always control your external circumstances, you still control how you think about those circumstances, how you feel about those circumstances, what you do, and what your results are.

It means recognizing that every decision that you have made until now was yours to make.  Unless you truly acted under duress (i.e., someone was pointing a deadly weapon at you), you made the decision to go to school (and acquire student loans), buy the house (and acquire the mortgage), have the kids (and raise them), take the job, make the move, etc.  There will always be circumstances and events that you do not choose, but you always get to choose your response.  You can argue with reality that something “shouldn’t have happened” or you can accept that it did happen and decide how you want to respond.

Taking responsibility means learning what you can from your past decisions, but then moving on and focusing on your future.  What do you want to create?  Who do you want to become?  If you don’t know, then it’s your responsibility to figure it out.

When you tell yourself “I don’t know what to do” or “there’s nothing I can do,” you’re giving yourself permission to stay stuck in confusion and not figure it out, which means you’re not taking full responsibility for your life.

Empower Yourself

Once you understand that you are 100% responsible for your current results, you empower yourself to change those results.  Think about the result that you really want.  Is it to find a new job?  Create a new business?  Write and publish a book?

Write down everything you need to do to get that result.  Exactly what actions would you have to take?

This is where a lot of people get overwhelmed.  It can feel like too much because they’re thinking negative thoughts, like “I don’t know how to do this.”  But overwhelm is not going to help you create your desired results, so you need another feeling and thought pattern to convince your brain to take those actions.

What are you going to need to feel in order to take those actions and get that result?  Is it a feeling of determination or commitment?  Write it down.

To generate the feeling of determination or commitment, what would you need to think and believe?  For many of my clients, it’s as simple as the thought “I am committed to creating a better life for myself by finding a new job.” Whatever the thought is for you, write it down and practice it.

“Empowerment” Does Not Equal “Easy”

To create change in your life and take 100% responsibility for your results, you will have to change your thought patterns, manage your mind on a daily basis, and take massive action. This requires significantly more effort than being disempowered and feeling like a victim of your circumstances.

There will be times when creating new results feels incredibly hard.  You will want to feel overwhelmed.  You will want to tell yourself you don’t know what to do.  You will want to avoid taking action.  You will want to curl up on the couch with ice cream and watch Netflix instead.

During those times, think about your desired result:  how will you feel when you’ve achieved it?  Vividly imagine what it will be like to have done it.

Then remember what actions you need to take to obtain it.

And what emotion you need to do that.

And what thought you need to think and believe to create that emotion.

Then practice that thought.  By practicing that thought, you will create the emotion you need to feel, so that you can go do what you need to do.

You’ve got this.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

A Simplified Life Is A Joyful Life

Designing your life requires being intentional about what you really want and what matters most.  It requires thinking about the big picture by choosing your core values, priorities, and goals, and letting go of the rest.  And it also requires simplifying your daily life and the spaces that you occupy, so that everything that you do and everything that you have is there because you chose it consciously.

In her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo recommends using a very powerful question to decide which belongings to keep and which to release: Does this spark joy?  She recommends that you go through and edit your entire house room by room and let go of the things that don’t spark joy.  When you are finished, all that will remain in your life will be things that bring you joy.

I love the idea of keeping in your life only what sparks joy, both materially and intangibly, so I decided to try to simplify the material possessions in my life and make space for the joy.

Simplifying

I started with my sock drawer.  With the help of a video created by professional organizer Shira Gill (www.shiragill.com) and Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” question, I edited my sock drawer.

First, I took everything out.

Then I threw away the socks that had lost their mates and the ones that were old.

I donated the ones that were in good condition but that did not spark joy or that I simply did not need. Let’s be honest, I did not need 13 pairs of athletic socks when I work out four days a week at the most.  (Did you know that socks in good condition are in high demand by charities that give clothing to the homeless?)

Then I neatly folded the socks that remained and arranged them so that there is space between each pair of socks and I can see them all when I open the drawer.  (Who knew you could leave space between your socks?)

I had never before imagined that a sock drawer could spark joy, but it did!  It has only exactly what I need, exactly what I love, and nothing else. It looks like a beautifully-curated display at a high-end boutique.

I immediately wanted to feel that way about my entire house, so I got to work.

I now have:

  • A closet that has only clothes that I wear and that spark joy. The rest went to charity.
  • A desk that has only the things I need and that spark joy. It’s a pleasure to work there.
  • A kitchen that has only what I need, use, and sparks joy. I did not need five wooden spoons when one will do.
  • A playroom for my kids that only contains toys that they love and currently use. There is enough variety but not too much that they get overwhelmed.
  • A house that has only what we love and need, along with lots of extra space.

Creating Space For Joy

Simplifying your belongings goes very well in tandem with designing and simplifying your life.  I found that removing the extra belongings from my life freed up time and space for me to focus on my core values, priorities, and focus goal.  The more space I created in my house, the more energy I had to dedicate to what really matters.

And what remains, in both my house and my life, is joy.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

What Really Matters

What Is Most Important To You?

There is so much available to us in the world today.  We have more opportunities than ever before, which creates an interesting phenomenon:  we often don’t know what we really want or what really matters.

That is why the exercise of choosing one’s core values can be so powerful.  It helps you constrain your focus to what you care about the most. And when you focus on the most important things, you can make real progress toward creating the results you want to create in your life.

Constraint Is The Only Way

Prior to hiring my first coach, I was all over the map about what I wanted for my life.  I was often distracted by new ideas or options that I wanted to explore and those tangents took me down rabbit holes instead of where I wanted to be.

It was like I was mountain climbing in the Rockies and half-way up one mountain, I would see another peak that I wanted to climb, so I’d head for that one, and then yet another one, and so on. It was exhausting and I wasn’t summitting any mountains.

After constraining my focus to just three core values, I got clear about exactly which three mountains I really wanted to climb and I was able to focus on climbing just those three.

Values and Priorities

Values are different than priorities, although the two are related.  A core value is a fundamental belief or guiding principle that provides a framework for creating the life you want.  A priority is an aspect of your life that you are currently putting before others.

Priorities tend to support our core values.  For example, you may have the core value of living your life’s purpose.  In order to do that, you need to take care of your physical and mental health, so you will likely want to make your health a priority.

Another difference is that core values don’t change much over time, but priorities are usually more temporal.  For example, when you’re raising young kids, spending time with them every day might be a priority, whereas this may not be the case when your kids have grown and left the nest.  Family may be a core value throughout your life, but the way that you live out that value in your daily life will change.

What Are Your Core Values?

As a coach, I love taking my clients through the core values exercise because I know how pivotal it was for me.

What about you?  Think about the three most important values in your own life.  Write them down.

What Needs To Change? 

If something in your life doesn’t support one of those values, it might be time to reevaluate and make some changes. Sometimes the changes might be small, but other times you might decide for a complete overhaul.

I did both after getting clear on my core values.  The core values that I chose are:

  • Family
  • Helping others, and
  • Creativity

To support my core value of family, I initially decided to work part-time at my prior law firm job, and then eventually made the choice to build a business that would allow me to have more freedom over my schedule and spend more time with my children and husband.  I also chose to spend vacation time with extended family and made the decision to move to Spain for a year to spend time with my husband’s family.  Needless to say, these were big changes.

To support my core value of helping others, I initially decided to do more pro-bono cases while I was practicing law.  Eventually, I decided that the best way for me to help others was to commit to my passion for coaching, so that I could work directly with busy professionals who are also moms and help them get unstuck and find fulfilment in their careers.

To support my core value of creativity, I cut down on social media and news programs, to dedicate more time to writing, music, and art projects with my kids (which also supports the family core value).

The best activities are the ones that support more than one value at a time.

What about you?  What mountains are the most important for you to climb?  What changes do you need to make to live in alignment with your core values and priorities?

If you need help choosing your core values, contact me for a free strategy session.  Your mountains are waiting for you.

Go forth, bloom, and climb your mountains!

XO

Charise

What To Do When Life Is Hard

Sometimes life is hard. Something happens that we didn’t want to happen.  Maybe it’s a tragedy, a loss, a diagnosis, or maybe it’s just that you have important work deadlines but your kids are sick and keep you awake all night.  Sometimes it feels like too much, but you have to go on anyway.  Here’s what to do.

Let Life Be Hard

Just a century ago, people pretty much accepted that life was hard a lot of the time.  But more recently, we’ve come to expect that life shouldn’t be hard.  Madison Avenue has been convincing us that we’re supposed to be happy all of the time and we see that belief perpetuated on a daily basis on social media.  The problem with that expectation is that life is not supposed to be easy all of the time.  Life is still hard.  A lot.

If you’re thinking “life should be easy all the time” or “life shouldn’t be this hard,” you’re arguing with reality, which creates even more suffering than the pain you’re already experiencing from life being hard.  It’s been said that pain in life is inevitable but suffering (which comes from resisting the way things are) is optional.  Understanding the difference between the two is key if you want to let go of the suffering.

To “let life be hard,” practice cultivating the feeling of acceptance.  For example, if you decide to think “life is hard right now and that’s okay,” notice the feeling in your body.  Do you feel a weight being lifted from your shoulders?  Do you breathe a sigh of relief, even in the smallest way?  When you stop arguing with reality and accept what is, you eliminate the extra unnecessary suffering that you were creating for yourself.

Allow Yourself To Feel The Negative Emotion  

An additional source of suffering comes from our extreme dislike of feeling negative emotions, including pain. Our brains are wired to avoid any type of pain—physical or emotional—so we avoid negative emotion at almost any cost.

Instead of feeling negative emotions, we often avoid, resist, or react to them.

Avoiding negative emotion is the main reason why people procrastinate, overeat sugary or processed food, overdrink, overspend, overwork, or over-Netflix.  We want to avoid feeling the discomfort of negative emotion, so we turn to things that will flood our brains with dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps us to temporarily escape the negative emotion.

Resisting negative emotion is like trying to keep the door closed and not inviting it in.  It’s still there, but you’re trying to pretend it’s not.

Reacting to the negative emotion involves some sort of outward act, such as yelling.

None of these are as productive as allowing the emotion.  When you allow the emotion, you just sit with and feel it.

For example, say that a close family member gets a diagnosis.  Allowing the emotion means that you don’t react, even if you feel like it.  You don’t resist it by turning around and trying to ignore the circumstance.  You don’t avoid it by going straight for the fridge to start eating ice cream.

Instead, you just let the emotion well up inside of you and notice it.  You might say to yourself “Fear.  I’m feeling afraid.  So afraid.”  Where is the fear?  Is it in your chest?  Your stomach? Your shoulders?  What color is it?  Feel it completely, allow it to wash over you, and then notice how you survived that feeling.  When you understand how to allow your feelings, you no longer have to run away from them.  You may need to coexist with a negative feeling for awhile.  By allowing it, you invite it in and offer it a cup of tea.  But you don’t let it run your life or drive you to do things you don’t like doing.

Being willing to experience negative emotion will lessen its impact on you.  Experiencing emotional pain–whether it be fear, grief, or sadness–is part of being human.  Arguing that we shouldn’t experience fear, grief, or sadness is what creates suffering and further perpetuates those emotions.

Recognize That You Are Still In Control Of How You Choose To Respond 

When things happen that are hard, it can be tempting to think that life is happening to us and we’re just the victims of our circumstances. When we choose to think that, we give away our power.  We’re not taking ownership of what we can control.

Even when things are hard, we still get to decide what we think, how we feel, what we do, and what results we create in those circumstances.

When our feelings are so strong that we want to react to them, the truth is that we have a choice about how to respond.  It can feel like we’re acting involuntarily when we react in anger, for example.  “I can’t help it,” we might say.  But it’s just not true.  It might be the way that you learned to react from your own parents or it might be a habit, but it’s still within your control.

As Victor Frankl said, “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Allow for a greater space between the stimulus and your response by recognizing that you have a choice.  You always get to choose.

You’ve Got This

Finally, remember that you’ve done hard things before.  You’ve worked hard and overcome obstacles to get to where you are.  You’ve suffered losses before.  Just because life can be hard doesn’t mean you can’t handle this.  Practicing the thought “I can do hard things” can create the motivation you need to power through.  You’ve got this.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

When you’re juggling a career and family, it can seem like the demands are endless.  The work deadlines, the extracurricular activities, doctors’ appointments, birthday parties, Christmas shopping, and the list goes on. Overwhelm is a common reaction to those demands and it’s one of the most common emotions that I see in moms who are also professionals.

But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to manage it.

Overwhelm is an emotion that we feel in our bodies.  As I’ve discussed before, all emotions are created from our thoughts.  The thoughts that create overwhelm are usually variations on these two:

  1. This is too much for me to handle.
  2. I don’t know how to get this done.

When we think these thoughts, our brain likes to fixate on them and repeat them, which sends us into the downward spiral of overwhelm.  When we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re not taking action because the emotion causes our minds to freeze up in panic, which makes accessing our creativity and ability to make good decisions nearly impossible.

Instead, we end up wasting tons of time spinning out and doing nothing.  The time we spend spinning out is time we could be using to take action if we were in a more productive state.  This is obviously a counter-productive emotion.  It feels necessary in the moment, but it really serves no purpose.

Although it doesn’t feel optional, it actually is.  The circumstances of your life do not create the feeling of overwhelm.  There are other people who are in your exact same circumstances who are not getting overwhelmed.  And the only difference is the thoughts that they’re choosing to think.

Refuse To Tell Yourself That This Is Too Much

There is absolutely no upside to telling yourself “this is too much for me to handle.”  That thought will create overwhelm and indulging in overwhelm is never a good use of your time.

Instead, think about how you want to feel given your current set of circumstances.  Do you want to feel calm and in control?  Creative?  Committed to get things done?

Then think about what thought you would need to think in order to create that emotion.  Make sure it’s a thought that you can believe.  For example, you could decide to choose the thought “I am figuring out how to handle this.”  Just even allowing for the possibility that you can figure out a solution will allow you to access your creativity and problem-solving skills, which will help you find the solution more quickly.

Ask Good Questions

We’re often asking ourselves questions that aren’t very helpful.  Questions like:  Why is there never enough time?  Why don’t I know how to do this?  How did I get so far behind?  Why does this always happen to me?

When you ask questions like that, your brain is not going to give you very good answers.  Instead, it will say things like “Because you’re so disorganized.  Because you can’t pull yourself together.  Because your ex-boyfriend was right and you really are a disaster,” or other such unhelpful answers.

The good news is that you can access the creative power of your brain by deliberately asking positive questions that are going to elicit positive answers from your brain.

For example:

  • How can I break this down so that I can tackle what really needs to get done?
  • Whose help can I enlist?
  • How can I figure this out?
  • What is the solution to this problem?

Constrain

As I discussed when talking about priorities, making the deliberate choice to constrain and focus on what is really important to you can help avoid chronic feelings of overwhelm. For example, you could allow your kids to choose one extracurricular activity instead of three.  You could decide you’ll only go to networking events held at lunch and not after five o’clock.  You can decide that you’ll only have big birthday parties for the kids every other year or every three years.  These choices, made ahead of time, can dramatically simplify your life so that you’re only spending time on what’s absolutely essential.


Overwhelm is completely optional.  When you catch yourself starting to feel overwhelmed, stop and write down the thoughts that are creating that feeling.  Remember that they are optional thoughts and that you could choose to think differently. Imagine who you would be without those thoughts.  See what evidence you can find for the thought that “I am figuring out how to handle this.”  What good questions can you ask yourself to find a solution?  And how can you constrain so that you focus on what’s most important to you, to avoid being chronically overwhelmed?

Overwhelm may be “normal,” but it doesn’t have to be.  If you need help figuring this out, contact me for a free strategy session.  You’ll see immediate results.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

Should You Slow Down After Kids? 

When I was practicing law at a large international law firm, every time a female attorney in the office announced she was pregnant, other female colleagues would always ask: “What are you going to do after the baby is born?”

What they meant by that question was:

  1. Are you going to quit?
  2. Are you going to slow down and opt for a flexible work arrangement?
  3. Or will you continue full-time on the partnership track?

And it’s a question that every female professional who is expecting has likely been asked.

Any of These Is A Good Choice

The good news is that you really can’t make the wrong choice here.  You can make any decision the right decision for you.  The important thing is that you make an informed choice and that you make it consciously.

By informed choice I mean that you fully explore what options are available to you.

For example, say that you would really like to quit and stay home with your baby but don’t see it as a viable option financially.   If it’s something you really want, take a hard look at the numbers and ask yourself “how could I make this work, even if just for a few years?”  Would an extended leave of absence for a longer period of time be possible?  Would you be willing to move to lower your expenses?  Really ask yourself what you’d be willing to do or not do.  How important is it to you and what are you willing to give up in exchange?

If you’d like to try option 2 but you don’t think it’s available to you, I encourage you investigate further before discarding it.  Many companies, agencies, and firms offer flexible work arrangements in terms of hours or working from home,  but people don’t ask about them because they are afraid of getting “behind” in their careers, being seen as less committed, or working full-time hours for part-time pay.

If that’s true for you, investigate that fear.  What would be the actual consequences of going part time?  Would it truly be detrimental to your career? Can you find any evidence that it would not be?  For example, think about whether you know anyone who is working part-time and still highly respected.  Talk to as many people as you can to find out who is working on a flexible work arrangement, where they are employed, and how it’s going for them.  Organizations like the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance are actively working with employers to build work cultures that are accepting of flexible work arrangements and can be a great resource for connecting with people who are successfully working part-time.

Even if your employer doesn’t have a flexible work arrangement policy in place, you can always ask them to create one for you.  I know of several successful women who announced that they were resigning after their requests to work part-time or from home were denied, which prompted their employers to reverse their initial decisions and grant their requests.  Find out what’s really available before giving up.

Also consider how much weight you’re giving other people’s possible perceptions versus your own deeply-held priorities and core values.

When I was working at the firm, a female partner told me that some of the most successful female attorneys slowed down when their children were young and that it didn’t negatively affect their careers.  While I was there, I knew several attorneys who were promoted to partner while working part-time, even if it took a year or two longer than it otherwise would have.  The point is that this option is underutilized by a lot of professional women today, but in my experience, a 30% decrease in hours (and pay) while my children were babies led to a huge increase in my health, happiness, and overall wellbeing.

Examine Your Reasons

Once you’ve done your homework to figure out what’s really an option and what’s not, take a hard look at what options remain on the list.  Write down your reasons for choosing the remaining options.  Your reasons can include “because I know in my bones/heart/gut that I want to  ____.”  Even though we like to cognitively analyze our decisions, sometimes we just have an inner knowing.  Trying to override that intuitive knowing with “logical” reasons is what most often leads to bad decisions, so if you do have an inner knowing, go with it.

If you don’t have a clear sense one way or another, then look at each set of reasons and decide which one you like best.  The best reasons for doing anything are reasons based on love, excitement, fulfillment, and other positive emotions.  The worst reasons for doing anything are based on fear, guilt, and other negative emotions.

For example, a good reason to stay home with your kids is because you love staying home with them.  But if staying home with them drives you crazy and you really want to keep working but you feel guilty about that, that’s not a great reason to stay home—that’s a guilt-based reason.  And you can totally learn to let go of that guilt, which is not needed here.

If your reason for wanting to stay full-speed in your career is “I show up better as a mom when I’m living out my purpose at work,” that’s a great reason to keep working full-time.

So what are your reasons?  Which do you like best?

Own Your Choice

The truth is, that raising kids is challenging no matter what.  It’s hard for moms who stay home all day.  It’s hard for moms who work part-time.  It’s hard for moms who work full-time.  It’s hard because little humans are incredibly demanding and exhausting to raise.

But when you’ve made the choice consciously, you can feel good knowing that it’s the right choice for you and your family.  The kids really will be alright no matter what you choose.  What they need most is a happy, healthy, thriving mom. 

How are you happiest?  How are you healthiest?  In what environment do you thrive the most?  This is not a one-size-fits-all answer.  Only you can know what will truly bring you the most joy, the most happiness, and let you live your very best life.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

P.S.  If you need help with this decision, contact me to set up a free strategy session.  You’ve got this!

How To Be More Confident

The lack of confidence is the number one thing that I see in high-achieving professional women that holds them back in their careers and their lives.  It’s not knowing when to speak up at meetings, second-guessing your own decisions, not trusting yourself and your capacity to make good decisions.

Confidence has been studied and written about at length, but it’s really just an emotion, which, like all emotions, is created by our thoughts.  Confidence comes from having and believing positive thoughts, like “I’ve got this,” “I know I have what it takes,” or “I trust myself to make a good decision.”

The lack of confidence, or insecurity, is an emotion that comes from negative thoughts.  The negative thoughts I most commonly hear from people with law degrees, MBAs, and PhDs, are:

  • I just don’t know if I’m capable of this
  • I don’t know how to make a good decision
  • I don’t trust myself to know what to do
  • I don’t think I’m qualified to do this (despite my credentials and experience)
  • I’m afraid of making a mistake
  • People will think I’m stupid if I mess this up

No wonder they don’t feel confident!  No one would feel good if they were hearing and believing these thoughts all day long. Even though we would never say these things to someone else, we have no problem saying them to ourselves.  And it’s universal.  We all say things like this, but those who are more confident don’t spend time believing the thoughts and have figured out ways to override those thoughts.  You can override those thoughts, too.  Here’s how.

Understand The Source

These thoughts, sometimes referred to by psychologists as negative automatic thoughts, come from our primitive brain, whose job has been to ensure our survival as we’ve evolved. The primitive brain is really good at finding the negative (such as noticing the crouching tiger in the tall grass), which kept our ancestors alive.  In our modern life, we’re not usually faced with tigers, but our primitive brain continues to harp on the negative, mostly to our detriment.

Realizing that these thoughts are just your primitive brain’s natural reflex anytime you consider doing something outside your comfort zone, you can recognize them for what they are. Start to become aware of them and create some distance between you and the thoughts.  If you’ve ever tried meditating, that’s exactly what you do in meditation:  from the perspective of the Watcher, you observe your thoughts in a detached way, without identifying with them or believing them.  One of the reasons that meditation is so good for you is that it makes you aware that you are not your thoughts and gives you the space to decide how you want to react to what happens in your life.

Just The Facts, Ma’am

Once you understand that your thoughts are not you, it becomes easier to look at what is a fact and what is your thought.  For example, your circumstance may be that you have a certain amount of knowledge about a particular case and you’re at a team meeting to plan the case strategy.  Your thought may be: “I don’t know enough about the case to make a meaningful contribution.”  Even though that statement feels like a fact to your brain, it’s actually not at fact.

Reasonable minds can differ as to what “enough” is.  Write down what the actual facts are.  There is a case.  You know things about it.  There are things you don’t yet know.  Other people on the team know some things and don’t know other things, too.  So what?

Is it possible that you can raise helpful ideas and solutions based on your current knowledge, even if you don’t know everything about the case?

Find Evidence To Support The Opposite Thought

What evidence can you find to support the opposite thought, that “I know enough about this case to make a meaningful contribution”?  What are the ways that you do know enough?  Are you really being expected to know everything?  Or is that an artificial standard that you’ve created in your mind that is holding you back from meaningfully contributing?  Are there ways that you could ask questions that could contribute to the strategy session?  How have you been able to make meaningful contributions to other cases even if you didn’t know everything?

Making a list of all of the reasons why the opposite thought is true can help you shift your thinking and see that your automatic thoughts are both inaccurate and unhelpful.

Take Small Risks

One of the best ways to accumulate evidence that you are capable is to start doing things that feel uncomfortable.  When you go outside of your comfort zone, you will (by definition) feel uncomfortable, but you’ll also start to see that it doesn’t kill you and that you can actually do things that you weren’t sure you could.  The more experience you get going outside your comfort zone, the more trust you’ll develop in yourself about your abilitites.

You Are Not Your Work

When you believe that your self-worth is tied to “getting it right” or “doing a great job,” you’re going to be a lot less likely to want to take risks and you’re going to second-guess yourself every step along the way.  Why?  Because if you believe that making a mistake means that you’re not worthy as a person, of course you’re not going to want to make a mistake.  This fear of making a mistake is going to paralyze you because you’re going to want to avoid making a mistake at all costs, which means you’re going to avoid speaking up on the fly, making fast decisions, and putting your work out there without double- or triple checking it.

But what if you stopped choosing to believe that your self-worth is determined by how well you do at work? What if you chose to believe that you are already 100% worthy just because you’re human and no mistake can ever take that away from you?  What if you are already completely worthy, even if other people don’t see that? What if they’re wrong about you?  What if making a mistake means that you’re brave and you’re trying new things?

When you realize that you’re already worthy and you don’t have to do anything else to earn worthiness, life becomes so much more fun.  Since you don’t have to prove your worth, you can start to try new things, which will create even more evidence that you are qualified and capable.  You’ll start to trust yourself and know that no one can take that trust away from you.  It’s an amazing gift to yourself and it’s available to you now.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

Finding Happiness Where You Are

Every single one of my clients comes to me because she wants something different than she currently has.  Some want to advance in their current jobs and they need help developing the confidence to do that, but many come to me because they want to find a new job.

So they are often surprised when I suggest that we take some time to work on how they can be happier in their current job.  They don’t understand why they would want to spend time on that because they know clearly where they want to go, and they want to get there fast.  But I always recommend that you find happiness at your current job before you leave.

Why?  Because when you learn that your circumstances do not determine your happiness, you will truly understand the power of your own mind.  Also, when you learn how to find contentment in your current job, it takes the pressure off of your job search.  You don’t have to worry about taking the first job you’re offered, even if it’s going to double your commute time or require longer hours than you’d like.  You can be methodical and confident in your job search and take your time finding the right job for you.  Which is the best way to find a job.

Case In Point

A client whom I’ll call Allison was feeling desperate to leave her current job at her first coaching session.  She had a new boss and things weren’t going well at work.  Although she had thrived at that job for the past seven years, she no longer felt happy there and she wanted out.

We looked at the thoughts that were creating Allison’s unhappiness at work. They boiled down to this:

  • My new boss is not communicating well with me, like my old boss did.
  • He is not efficient.
  • He’s going to run this place into the ground.
  • He should be different than he is.
  • There is no longer an opportunity for me to advance here.
  • I need to get out as soon as possible.

Allison’s co-workers also had their own negative thoughts about the new boss, and when they commiserated together, Allison found even more reasons or evidence to support those negative thoughts, which left her feeling even worse.

Allison was convinced that every single one of her thoughts was a fact, that she was just observing reality.  But the circumstances were really:

  • She had a new boss.
  • Her new boss had made decisions that Allison did not like.
  • Her new boss did not send an email to the team informing them of the decisions.
  • The team learned about the decisions at a meeting.

Everything else was a thought, a sentence in her mind.

The overarching thought that “he should be different than he is” was causing Allison the most grief.  The reason it was creating so much unhappiness for Allison is because that thought was, as Byron Katie puts it, “arguing with reality.”

When Allison was thinking “he should be different than he is,” she felt angry.  When she felt angry, she wasn’t productive at work because she was spending lots of time spinning in her mind and also commiserating with co-workers.  When she did that, she didn’t enjoy her job anymore.  She was miserable.  When we looked at the result that her thought was creating for her, Allison realized that she was the one who could “be different” in this circumstance because she was the only person that she could change.  Arguing with reality produced no real benefit because Allison could not control her new boss.  As much as we would like to change what other people say and do, we simply can’t.

I challenged her to look for evidence to support the opposite thought.  What if he should be exactly how he is?  How do we know that he should be exactly that way? Because he is that way.  That’s the best evidence there is.  When you realize that you can accept someone else exactly as they are and still have inner peace, it feels amazing because you realize that you are always in control of how you feel.

Feeling Better Is Always Available

This is best illustrated with an extreme example.  In Man’s Search For Ultimate Meaning, Victor Frankl said “[t]he last of the human freedoms” is “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”  He learned that when he was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, which proves that if he could choose acceptance in those circumstances, it is always available to us well.

When Allison decided that there was no use arguing with reality and started choosing to think “my boss is exactly the way he should be,” she felt acceptance and relief, like a huge weight was lifted from her shoulders.  The feeling of acceptance drove her to get back to work, become productive again, decline to commiserate with co-workers, and enjoy her work again.  She still wanted to continue her job search, but she no longer had a desperate sense of urgency to leave.  She could be thoughtful and systematic about her search, to make sure she would find the right job for her.

What about you?  What are you telling yourself about your current situation that isn’t serving you or that is creating unhappiness for you?  What are the actual facts and what are your thoughts about them?  Knowing that you always have the freedom to choose, how do you want to feel in those circumstances?  However you want to feel, it’s available to you now.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

P.S.  If you need help figuring out how to get to a place of acceptance and contentment, let’s talk in a free strategy session to get you feeling better and back in the driver’s seat of your life.

Letting Go Of Mom Guilt

We have, as a cultural, pretty much accepted that being a mom comes with an emotion that we now call “mom guilt.”  Mom guilt seems to affect nearly all moms, but it’s particularly common in working moms.

So what is “mom guilt” really?  Guilt, like any emotion, is just a vibration in our bodies that comes from our thoughts, which are just sentences in our mind.  The most common thought that I hear from clients who are working moms is that they aren’t doing a good job as a mom or in their careers, and that thought often creates strong feelings of guilt.

Mom guilt can also be shame in disguise.  When we feel guilt, it comes from thoughts that we’ve done something wrong.  When we feel shame, it comes from thoughts that something is wrong with us.  And that is just not useful.  It’s hard to show up as the best version of yourself when you’re feeling shame. Additionally, shame usually wants to hide, which makes it hard to heal.

Is There Anything To Be Learned From This? 

Guilt actually can be a useful emotion if it’s used as a learning opportunity.  For example, if we yell at our kids and feel guilty, guilt can actually deter us from yelling the next time.  If we learn from that experience and correct our behavior, it can be a useful emotion.

In most cases, however, mom guilt does not really serve us well because it comes from thoughts about how we’re not measuring up to an impossible standard of perfection.  For example, if you feel guilty about working but you have no intention to stop working, the guilt really serves no purpose.  There’s no upside to feeling guilty about working if you want or need to work.

To the contrary, there can be a very real downside to this chronic, everyday mom guilt because when you feel guilty, you are likely not showing up as your best self both at work and when you’re with your kids.  The thoughts that create the feeling of guilt do not usually lead to productive action or deep introspection about how to improve.  The are usually just very self-punishing and tend to create more negative emotions, such as stress, overwhelm, and anxiety.

If you’re feeling mom guilt, ask yourself, “Is there anything that I can learn from this?  Is there anything that I want to change?”  If the answer is yes, then it may require taking a deep look at what you really do want to change.  If the answer is no, it’s time to question the thoughts that are creating the feeling of guilt.

Fact or Thought?  

Mom guilt is typically created by thoughts like these:

  • I should spend every waking moment with my kids
  • My working outside the home is going to permanently damage my kids
  • I am failing at being a good mom
  • When I’m not around, it causes my kids to suffer
  • I should want to be with my kids more
  • I shouldn’t want to do things that take me away from my kids

If you struggle with mom guilt, what are the thoughts that are creating that feeling for you?  Write them down.

None of the thoughts listed above are actually facts.  Science has actually shown that kids of working moms turn out just fine.  So if they aren’t facts, it means that they are just sentences in your mind and they are completely optional.

There Is Another Way

I want to offer that believing these thoughts and feeling guilty is actually doing a disservice to you and your kids, and there is an alternative.

The alternative is this: as a mom, my own happiness, peace, and wellbeing is the most important gift that I can give my children, both in the short- and long term.  I am not able to give when I am myself depleted, so taking care of myself, acknowledging my needs, and meeting those needs is actually my responsibility, both to myself and my kids.

It is only when I do this that I show up as the mom I want to be.  For me, taking time to meet my own needs means that I get enough sleep, get exercise a few days a week, have time to shop for and prepare healthy food, work in a career that brings me fulfillment, spend time with my husband, spend time with my friends, and make time for inspiration and creativity.

Doing these things necessarily means that I will not spend every waking minute with my kids, but the time that I am with them is so much better.  I have more patience with them, I smile more, I savor them and watch them with wonder.  They love it when mommy shows up this way, instead of as the stressed-out banshee that I used to be when I was believing the old thoughts and feeling guilty about everything.

Motherhood is hard. Expecting it to be easy and expecting yourself to be perfect is a recipe for guilt and shame.  There is no upside to that.

I know you love your kids mightily.  The best way to show your love for them is to show up as your best self.  Try it. You’ll never go back.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

The Real Reason We Procrastinate

The real reason why any of us procrastinate is because of our thoughts.  Positive thoughts drive productive action and negative thoughts drive inaction or unproductive action (such as reaching for a pint of ice cream).  Trying to change your actions without examining your thoughts is like trying to get a broken car to go without looking under the hood.  You can try pushing the car, you can try having a tow truck come along and pull it, but it’s going to be a slow, painful process and you’re not going to get to where you’re going nearly as fast.

But once you understand that your actions are driven by your feelings and your feelings are created by your thoughts, it becomes a lot easier to get to the source of the problem.

Find The Root Cause

When you’re procrastinating about something, whether it’s preparing a presentation for work, starting a job search, or going to the gym, take 10 minutes and write down all of your thoughts about why you’re not doing the thing you wanted to do.  In other words, all of your reasons.  This is called a thought download.  It’s like doing an inventory of what’s going on in your brain and it’s the equivalent of a mechanic looking under the hood of a car.

Let’s say for example that you want to start looking for a new job but you’re not taking action.  What are the thoughts that you’re thinking when you don’t feel like setting up informational interviews, applying for jobs, or updating your resume?

  • If you have the thought that you don’t have time, that might create the feeling of anxiety or apathy, which drives inaction.
  • If you have the thought that you are tired and deserve a break, it’s likely to create the feeling of lethargy, which also drives inaction.
  • If you have the thought that you no one will want to hire you, that will create the fear of rejection or maybe even shame, which will drive the “action” of wanting to hide and distracting yourself with Netflix.
  • If you have the thought that job searching is going to be painful and uncomfortable, that will create the feeling of dread, which will drive you to stay in your comfort zone and watch Netflix.

You get the idea.  Just identifying the feelings that are creating your inaction, and understanding the thoughts that are creating those feelings can have a powerful impact because once you understand it, you’ll be in a position to change it.

Have Compassion For Yourself

It’s very important that you have compassion for yourself when you’re becoming conscious of the effect your thoughts are having in your life.  We all have these kinds of negative automatic thoughts.  It’s part of our wiring, so there is no need to judge or shame yourself for this.  Realize that you are not your thoughts.  You are a human soul with a human brain that generates 60,000 thoughts a day.  Try to become the Watcher of your thoughts to get some distance from them.

When you are ready, look at each of the thoughts that is creating a negative feeling and leading to inaction and ask yourself “who would I be without that thought?”  Imagine letting go of that thought and seeing what that would feel like.  This exercise helps you realize that the negative thought is completely optional.  Your brain may want to go back to it because it’s familiar, but you can gently remind yourself that you could be a person without that thought.

How Do You Need To Feel To Take Action?

The next step is to figure out what feeling would drive you to take the action you want to take.  Usually we need to feel motivated, determined, or committed to take action, but you may need to find a different feeling that will propel your action.  What is it?  Write it down.

Then brainstorm a thought that is believable to you that would create that feeling.  For example, if you want to create the feeling of motivation, you might need to think “I am willing to go outside my comfort zone in order to find a job that I love.”

Or perhaps it motivates you to think about how you could help others if you got the right job, so you could choose the thought “I have so much to offer to an organization with a worthwhile mission.”  That spark of motivation can drive you to take small steps, such as writing down all that you do have to offer and using that list to update your resume or write cover letters.  The more you act, the more evidence you will create to support the thought that you do have so much to offer.

There is no right or wrong thought here:  it just needs to be one that (1) you can believe, and (2) will create positive feelings to drive you to take action.

This is a game changer, because our actions are what create our results.  What results to you want to create in your life?  Imagine the possibilities!

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise