The Career Ceiling That Every Female Professional Needs To Know About – And It’s Not What You Think

My clients sometimes ask me whether I see a career ceiling in the legal industry or other professions that keeps women from being promoted and reaching their true potential.

My response: Absolutely. But there’s one that you might not know about.

There are definitely very real barriers to women aspiring to rise to the top echelons of their fields. Discrimination and bias unfortunately still exist across many industries.  Family demands still fall disproportionally on women’s shoulders.  Sexual harassment and unequal pay still exist. These barriers are real and any actionable cases of workplace gender discrimination or harassment should definitely be addressed in full force to the available legal and organizational support mechanisms.  That’s the ceiling that we all know about and we should do everything in our power to obliterate it.

But there’s another ceiling that also needs to be understood.

The ceiling that I’m talking about here is a very real but invisible barrier that keeps female professionals from reaching the highest heights.  It keeps us stuck, confused, and playing small.  

The ceiling that I’m talking about exists in our own minds.  It is the one that keeps you from believing that you are capable of achieving whatever you want to achieve.  I call it the Belief Ceiling.  If you don’t know about it, it can be hard to realize that it’s holding you back.

Once you discover that ceiling, you can smash it to pieces and continue your upward journey.

Understanding The Source Of The Belief Ceiling

The Belief Ceiling is a collection of beliefs, both conscious and unconscious. A belief is really just a thought that you continue to think until your brain believes that it’s the Truth. Sometimes beliefs come directly from what our parents or others told us when we were children. Sometimes they are conclusions that we reach from past experiences. Sometimes they seem like universal truths that we all accept.

When Roger Bannister broke the record of the four-minute mile (previously thought to be impossible) he shattered a collective Belief Ceiling. Shortly thereafter, other athletes started doing it too. Once they believed that it was possible, they expanded their abilities.

Whether you’re bumping up against a collective Belief Ceiling or one that is uniquely yours, the result is the same. When we tell ourselves that what we want isn’t available to us, our brains stop trying to find a way forward.

If you have thoughts that are limiting you, such as “I don’t know if I can do this” or “I don’t know how” or “I could never”, I can assure you that you’re not alone.  I coach high-achieving women who have already attained success in their careers and they still grapple with thoughts like this each time they set a new, more challenging goal.

Humans have unlimited potential.  I often marvel at the power of human ingenuity, especially when we have a compelling reason to break through our collective Belief Ceilings. And yet for most of us, our self-perception is so much smaller than our actual abilities.  It limits us in ways that are difficult to see when we’re in the thick of it, trying to navigate our next move.  

Part of doing the work we came here to do is learning how to recognize and break through the Belief Ceiling. 

Here is what you need to know.  

Don’t Confuse The Belief Ceiling With External Circumstances 

One of the trickiest aspects of the Belief Ceiling is that your brain will tell you that something outside of you is keeping you stuck.  For example, you might have thoughts like “women just can’t get ahead in this industry” or “I can’t win at work AND be present with my family”.  And when you think thoughts like that, your brain will find plenty of supporting evidence to prove those thoughts true.  

But even if there are real obstacles, telling yourself that they are impeding your progress is not a good use of your time, energy, and skills.  Here’s why.  

First, as you may have noticed, you can’t control external circumstances (including what other people say or do) and it’s mentally exhausting to try to change something that is not in your control or argue with what is.

More importantly, when you think that you’re being limited by an external circumstance (be it your boss, your employer, your colleagues, or systemic bias) you likely feel discouraged or maybe even defeated.  And when you feel discouraged and defeated, what do you?  How do you show up at your job?  Confident, strong, and resilient?  Probably not. 

When you’re feeling discouraged or defeated, you probably shrink back or second-guess yourself. Perhaps ask yourself “what’s the point?” and stop trying.  That’s because discouragement drives inaction almost 100% of the time.  That is a problem because inaction doesn’t get you closer to your dreams.  

But there’s another option. You can notice that there may be external obstacles without also believing that they have the power to keep you stuck.  You can choose to think that your success is inevitable even when those external obstacles exist.  How would you feel if you thought that?  Determined? Committed?  

How would you show up differently if you felt that way?  I’m guessing that if you believed your success were inevitable and you felt committed to making that a reality, you would take action and get unstuck.  Maybe you would get another job or maybe you would start your own business or maybe you would create the change you want to see exactly where you’re at.  And if you committed to taking that kind of action, your success would be inevitable.  

Your Belief Ceiling Is Hiding Options 

My clients often come to me because they’re confused or lacking clarity about what to do next.  But most of the time, after we explore possibilities, I find that they know exactly what they would like to do. They just don’t think they can actually do it because of the way they are currently thinking about themselves and their life circumstances.  They have thoughts like “I’m not sure if I can do it” or “I might fail”. 

I call these “dead-end thoughts” because nothing good can come from them.  If you observe what happens in your own mind when you decide to think these types of thoughts, you can see that they lead you nowhere.  They don’t help you actually get closer to what you want to do.  They don’t help you figure it out.  They create confusion and doubt, which inevitably drive inaction and keep us stuck. 

But when you believe that you are capable of achieving any goal, you see clearly the options before you and it’s easier to figure out the one that you really want.  

Notice What Is 100% Factual—And What Isn’t

One of the main problems with limiting thoughts and beliefs is that they feel so true to our brains.  They feel like facts, not thoughts.  That’s why it’s often difficult to separate out the facts from the thoughts in our own brains.  

Facts are facts but thoughts are completely optional.  If you see that a thought you’re having is keeping you stuck, you can decide to change it to a thought that feels more motivating.  

For example, the thought “I don’t know what to do” feels really true when we’re struggling with a decision. Telling yourself “I don’t know” causes your creative mind to check out completely.  It believes that thought and so it has no reason to go looking for solutions. And when you don’t find solutions, your mind uses that as evidence to reinforce the original belief.  

But it’s not actually a fact that you don’t know what to do.  The moment you absolutely have to make a decision, you pick an option and go with it and the world continues.  “I don’t know” is an optional thought that keeps us stuck.  

Conversely, it’s just as easy to think a more productive thought, such as “I am determined to figure this out.”  This thought assumes that there is a solution and it brings your creative mind back online and ready to go to work to find a way forward.  

This is not about positive affirmations that you don’t believe.  It’s about shifting your thought patterns to focus on what is actionable to you.  You do this by practicing thoughts that create the feelings that will drive you to take action and create the results you want. 

Since thoughts are optional, there is no good reason to continue having thoughts that are keeping you stuck. 

Applying This To Your Life

Our brains have the remarkable ability to form new neural connections throughout our lives, which are strengthened with use. This means that you can form new thoughts and new beliefs at any point in your life. In other words, you can shatter your current Belief Ceiling if you commit to discovering it and breaking through it.

Here are four steps to help you do that. 

Step 1: Awareness. Become aware of the ways in which your current beliefs are holding you back.  You can get a good look at them by answering these questions in writing:  

  • If I knew I could not fail, what would I do?  
  • What is keeping me from getting what I really want?  
  • Why am I feeling stuck?

Write down ALL of the things.  Then take a step back to analyze what you’ve written.  Circle the statements that are 100% factual.  As in, everyone on the planet would agree with you.  (For example, not everyone on the planet would agree that “there are no good work/life balance jobs out there.”)  The statements that are not 100% factual are the thoughts and beliefs creating your belief ceiling.  

Step 2: Observe the results. Notice what results those thoughts and beliefs are creating for you right now.  

  • How do those thoughts cause you to feel?  
  • What do those feelings drive you to do or not do?  
  • What are your results when you show up that way?  
  • Do those thoughts take you in the direction of what you want?  Or do they keep you stuck?  

Step 3: Notice how they are optional. Notice how these thoughts–like all thoughts– are 100% optional and decide whether you want to continue to have them.

  • Who would you be without the limiting thoughts? What would your options be?
  • How can you reframe your current thoughts in a way that will help you feel more motivated to take action and move toward your desired results? 
  • What is another thought that is just as true but more motivating?  

Step 4: Choose a new belief. Create a new overarching belief that you can use to break through the beliefs in your Belief Ceiling.

What is one overarching belief that will crack your Belief Ceiling? What can you believe today that will help you begin to take action toward the results you want? “I can figure this out” is a good one. If you have trouble believing that you personally can figure it out, you might try a more de-personalized thought, like “there is a solution to this” or Marie Forleo’s famous phrase “everything is figureoutable”. If you believe there is a solution, your brain will go to work to find one.

Knowing that all thoughts and beliefs are optional and that you can direct your brain to create new beliefs just by being intentional about what you tell yourself, what are you going to choose to think about yourself and your abilities?  

The limit is whatever you decide it is.  

Helping Your Kids—And Yourself—With Back-To-School Transitions

By now, schools is in session across the country and I’ve talked with MANY moms who are struggling with the transition. Whether they are sending their six-month-old to daycare for the first time or their eighteen-year-olds off to college, it’s a difficult season for many moms.  

There are two primary reasons for this.  

First, it can be hard to watch our kids struggle with the transition.  Seeing my younger son in tears in his new pre-k classroom has definitely been challenging this year.  

Second, this season usually marks the beginning of a new classroom or a new phase of our kids’ growth that can leave us grieving the loss of the previous phase.  Watching my older son start kindergarten and honoring his request to ride the bus to school certainly brought up feelings of sadness and memories from when he was a baby.  Our brains can bring up difficult questions, like “Have I done enough?” Or “How did he grow up so fast?”

If you or your kids are struggling with this transition, here are some strategies to help.

Nothing Has Gone Wrong

When we feel a negative emotion and then think that we shouldn’t, we end up layering on more negative emotions and making the experience much worse than it needs to be. For example, if we try to push away feeling sad about the summer’s end by believing we should be feeling happy instead, we make our own experience worse and we don’t allow ourselves to benefit and learn from this natural part of the human experience.

On the other hand, when we can feel negative emotion and simultaneously believe that nothing has gone wrong, we allow ourselves to just feel the “clean pain” of life without layering the “dirty pain” of suffering on top of it.  

This works with our children as well.  When my three-year-old tells me he feels nervous or sad about school, I tell him, “it’s okay if you feel nervous or sad.  That’s the way you’re supposed to feel when you’re three years old and you start a new school.”  

If I were to push the feeling away and tell him not to feel that way, it would (1) be completely ineffectual, (2) create embarrassment or shame for feeling the way he feels, which would make the experience even more painful, and (3) instill in him unrealistic and unhealthy belief that he should never feel negative emotions as a human.

But when I tell him that nothing has gone wrong, he actually feels a bit of relief. He has permission to feel whatever emotion comes up for him. I tell him about when I was little and I felt that way, too.  I tell him that little by little, I started to feel less nervous.  I tell him that I still feel nervous when I do something new, too.  Nothing has gone wrong.  It’s part of being a person on the planet. 

Fully Feel How You Feel

Allowing yourself to fully feel a negative emotion, rather than resisting it, allows your body to fully process and release that emotion.  Research shows that the physiological response that is created when you have a thought lasts only about 90 seconds in the body.  

What causes us to feel sustained negative emotion is when we argue with the emotion, push it away, or continue to perpetuate it with more of the same thoughts. 

One of the best ways to interrupt that cycle is to ask some very specific questions:

  • What are you feeling now? 
  • Where are you feeling it in your body?
  • Is it tight or loose? 
  • Is it fast or slow? 
  • Does the feeling have a color?
  • Watch it carefully as you breathe in and out:  Does the feeling move or stay in one place? 
  • Notice the intensity:  Does it get stronger or weaker?  Does it come in waves?

Notice how the emotion doesn’t kill you, even though your brain tells you that it will.  

This is just as effective with kids as it is with adults.  In fact, teaching this to your kids is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.  If they can learn how to handle their negative emotions now, they will be so much stronger and more resilient throughout their lives, and a lot less likely to turn to drugs, alcohol, and other emotion-numbing substances when they’re older.  

Ask Good Questions

When you’re going through a difficult transition, it’s really normal for our brains to show us reasons why “everything” is going wrong.  

That’s because when we think thoughts like “something has gone wrong here,” our brains’ immediate response is to look for and gather evidence in support of that initial thought. 

But a lot of good is going on at the same time and you can direct your brain to see it by asking the right questions:

  • What is right about this?  
  • What is good about this?  
  • How is this going to make me/us stronger?  
  • What am I/are we learning from this?  
  • What are the ways in which I/we can handle this?  

Really do this exercise by getting some paper and writing down the answers to these questions.  Start accumulating evidence to support the belief that everything is as it should be.

You can do this with your kids as well. At the beginning of the day, ask them to look for 3 things that they like about their new classroom that they will tell you about after school. My three-year-old promised me this morning that he could find at least two things that he likes about his new school. I’ll take it.

Doing this helps us and our kids not only get through these transitions, but come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.  

XO,

Charise

How to Make Decisions That Will Help You Get What You Want

There’s a saying that goes something like this: To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. That’s absolutely true but I would argue that there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ve also got to think differently than you’ve been thinking, believe differently than you’ve been believing, and make decisions differently than you’ve made them in the past.

Decisions are really just thoughts and beliefs combined with action (or sometimes inaction).

To get different results, it’s worth taking a look at how you’re currently making your decisions.

Decision-Making From Your Past Versus From Your Future 

Once we have established ourselves in our careers, the most obvious way to make decisions is to look backwards, at what has worked or not worked in the past.  

The problem with this method is that it can be incredibly limiting when we’re trying to create something new or different. Making decisions as the person you have been, instead of the person you want to be, can leave you feeling clueless about what to do next.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative. It requires a little bit of imagination and also being open to the possibility that you can achieve what you want. It also requires using the uniquely human part of your brain that is called the prefrontal cortex. It’s what allows you to envision something that does not yet exist, create a plan, and then take action to move you forward.

Go To The Place Where You Already Have Your Desired Result 

The key to getting what you want is making decisions as the person who has already achieved your desired results.

Imagine already having exactly what you want.  

Imagine having the job, house, money, or book deal that you want.

Imagine being calm, confident, collected, organized–or however you wish you were showing up in your life.

Imagine actually being that person.  Inhabit that space for a while in your mind.  What would your days be like? What would your weeks be like?

Then ask that version of yourself:  What should I do next to get closer to that result?  

Would that version of you tell you to watch Netflix or work on your manuscript? Does she want you to avoid looking for a new job or commit to finding something you’ll love? Does she want you to avoid looking at your finances or finally take control of them?

Belief Comes Before Results 

Stepping into that next version of yourself requires you to adopt a new belief system about what’s possible for you and then take action from that place, not from where you are now.

I had a client who wanted to present her research at conferences in her field, but she was terrified of public speaking.  She had presented her ideas to peers before at conferences and had one experience of freezing up on stage that had made her want to avoid repeating the experience.  She was making the decision to avoid taking action because she was convinced that she wouldn’t be able to handle another experience like that.

But part of her knew that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her career hiding.  She had ideas and research that she wanted to share.  And she realized that not sharing was not doing anyone any favors. It was not helping others in her field or patients who could benefit from her research. And it definitely was not helping her to have the career she wanted.

During a coaching session, I invited her to step into her Future Self, the part of her that already knows how to successfully present her ideas.  What would her Future Self tell her to do?  

The answer was clear and unequivocal: “Apply to present at the conferences.  Put your work out there and share it with the world.”  This felt terrifying to her primitive brain, the part of her that wanted to stay safe from potential criticism.

But with some coaching and learning to manage her mind, she learned that she could handle the discomfort of putting herself and her work “out there”.  She allowed herself to feel the discomfort of being in the spotlight. She learned that she could do hard things and that it was worth it to create that results that she wanted.  

Had she made the decision based on her past, she would’ve stayed safe in her comfort zone.  But making the decision as her Future Self gave her what she needed to move forward.  

Try It Out For Yourself

Imagine yourself three years into the future.

What would your Future Self want you to start doing today? What would she want you to stop doing? What would she want you to continue doing?

When you’re at the store and thinking about splurging on a new outfit, imagine having that same outfit hanging in your closet three years from now. Is your Future Self glad that you bought it?

When you’re feeling unhappy at your current job and deciding whether to start a job search, imagine yourself three years from now, having a job that energizes you. Is you Future Self glad that you invested in yourself instead of staying with the status quo?

What does your Future Self want you to believe about what’s possible for your life?

Take her advice. Those actions and beliefs are the key to getting from where you are to where you want to be.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

P.S. If you’re struggling with making decisions from your past instead of from your future, I’d love to help you get unstuck and start moving forward. I offer free strategy calls to help you figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I have only a few spots for these calls each week, so schedule yours here.

Coping With Transitions

I’m going through a big transition right now.  My family and I are preparing to move back to the United States after a year in Spain. In September, my oldest son will start kindergarten at our local elementary school, and I’ll finally be in the same time zone as most of my clients.  (Yay!)  

Even though I’m excited by the move, my brain does not like transitions.  It feels anxious, overwhelmed, and restless when facing big transitions and it’s downright uncomfortable.  It tells me things like “This is why most people don’t move their families overseas!  This is hard! I don’t like hard!”

And sometimes I indulge my brain by allowing thoughts like this and feeling all the negative emotions that those thoughts create.  But I find it’s not really useful to stay in this space for a long time.  

Life is full of transitions, whether it’s a new baby in the family, a new job, or a big move.  The better you can cope with them, the more resilient you’ll be.  Here’s what I do to cope with big transitions.  

Think of The Transition as An Opportunity

My uncle climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro when he was in his late sixties.  He trained for over a year by carrying a backpack with 50 pounds of weights in it every day as he walked around his neighborhood, which was only 1200 feet above sea level.  He also wore that backpack when practicing climbing 30 flights of stairs at his office building.  When he actually went to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, he didn’t need to take a heavy backpack because he hired porters to carry his supplies.  

But training with that 50-pound pack allowed him to build the strength he needed to climb a 19,000-foot mountain.  

Operating during a transition period is like carrying a 50-pound pack on your back.  Yes, things are harder when you’re in transition. Yes, your brain will complain and want things to return to “normal.”  But if you embrace the transition and treat it as an opportunity, you’ll find that you will be stronger and more resilient than you were before.  You’ll be able to adapt to the “new normal.”  Even when it feels like there’s very little oxygen, you’ll be able to keep moving forward and summit the mountain you’re climbing.  

Be Super Nice To Yourself

A transition period is not the time to launch a new podcast (ask me how I know) or have a dinner party or take on any other project that is not absolutely necessary. 

During transitions, it’s best to allow yourself to lower your expectations to what I call your minimum baseline.  What is the absolute minimum that you need to do to keep yourself, your job, and your family going?  

Think of this like what happens during a government shutdown.  The basic services are covered but nothing new is being created or investigated and you can’t visit the National Zoo.  

Decide what your minimum baseline looks like and then stick to it.  It will be your guide and help you make decisions during tumultuous times. 

For example, your minimum baseline might be that you forego cooking and order take-out for a few weeks to make your life easier.  Or maybe you just cook a few large meals each week and eat leftovers the other nights. 

In your job, what’s the very minimum that must be done?  Finding out what deadlines at work are negotiable and which ones aren’t can be really useful during this time.  Is the Court willing to grant an extension for the filing?  Is the client able to wait an extra week for the project? Sometimes these extensions are readily granted and it can make everyone’s lives easier.  (Sometimes they’re not, but you never know unless you ask.)

You can also set a minimum baseline for taking care of your health.  For example, you can make it non-negotiable that you will get at least seven hours of sleep or that you’ll get outside for a five-minute walk at least once a day.  Transitions might feel like you’re in survival mode, but part of surviving includes getting rest, food, and moving your body. 

Let It Be Hard

We spend a tremendous amount of mental energy arguing with reality, as Byron Katie would say.  We don’t like things to be hard and we have a lot of thoughts that life shouldn’t be so hard.  

But the path of least resistance (which is the path you want to be on when you’re going through a transition) requires accepting things the way they are.  If you let the transitions be hard, then you don’t have to argue or fight against them.  You can just allow them to be hard.  

Because you can do hard things.  

You’ve done hard things before.  You’ll do them again.  Embrace and accept what is right now.  

Practice this by repeating thoughts such as: “This feels hard and that’s okay.  Nothing’s gone wrong here.  I can do hard things.”

Notice how you feel. Is it better than resisting?  Is it better than arguing?  

I thought so.  It certainly is for me.

I’ll see you on the other side of my big transition.  Until then, have a beautiful week! 

Best,

Charise   

Talk To Yourself More Than You Listen To Yourself

A Simple Yet Powerful Strategy For Success

Dr. James Gills completed a double triathlon six times when he was in his fifties.  

When asked how he did it, he said: “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.”

He continued, “If I listen to myself I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired-too old-too weak to make it. But if I talk to myself I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.”

Managing Your Thoughts Involves Proactively Deciding What You’ll Say To Yourself

Dr. Gill’s practice is exactly what managing your mind looks like in your daily life.  

You’ve got the old, automatic thoughts that feel true and also are your default way of thinking because you’ve been practicing them for probably most of your life.  

Then you’ve got the thoughts of the part of you who knows that your success is inevitable and that you are capable of achieving what you want.  Maybe you’ve never practiced these thoughts or maybe you used to think them but have forgotten about them.  

Regardless, you can start today by choosing thoughts that will help you feel how you’d like to feel and then deliberately saying them to yourself more than you listen to the old default thoughts.  

This Is A Skill

Just as Dr. Gills said, this is a skill that can be learned.  

Most of us are not born thinking this way, and we’re certainly not taught to think this in school or anywhere else.  But just by reminding yourself on a daily basis of the thoughts that you want to think, you’ll begin to create new neural pathways and those new thoughts will become easier over time, just like every other skill you’ve ever learned.

Does it happen overnight? Of course not.

Is it worth the effort? Definitely. 

Will the old thoughts come up on a regular basis?  You can count on it.  

Can you learn to overcome them?  Indubitably. 

Try It Out

What do you want to tell yourself today?  

Write it down on post-it notes.  Put it on your phone as an hourly reminder throughout the day.  

Those daily repetitions, one after another, are what will lead you to what you really want.  

Have a beautiful week! 

XO,

Charise 

Why Self-Care Is The Greatest Gift You Can Give To Others

Last week, I talked about self-care and the best way to practice lasting self-care in your life. But most of my clients really struggle with allowing their own health and wellbeing to be a top priority on a daily basis.

The clients who struggle with this the most are moms.  Women are socialized to take care of others and be selfless but this programming really kicks into overdrive when we become moms.  In addition to our societal programing, there is a very really mama bear instinct that kicks in when we give birth and we become solely focused on protecting our young.  

Caring for our children is a wonderful thing but allowing yourself to become depleted and exhausted while trying to be everything to everybody is not.  

When Was The Last Time You Did Something Just For You?

So many moms tell me that they don’t even remember what it was like to do something for themselves or to just do something they enjoy for the sake of doing it, that isn’t related to their children.  

Here’s the problem with this approach:  we can’t be the people we were born to be when we’re depleted.  A mother has so much more love to give to her children when she’s feeling happy and healthy.  Even if you can take care of your children’s basic needs when you’re running on fumes, it’s going to be really hard to genuinely enjoy that time with them and be the mom you really want to be.  

Build Up Your Reserves

I’m not sure about you, but my reserve of patience and understanding taps out when I’m not rested, when I don’t exercise, or when I don’t make time to do things I enjoy.  I show up as a much more loving and enthusiastic mother when my own reserve is full.  

And I suspect that’s true for pretty much all humans.  It’s hard to be the professional, partner, friend, or family member that you want to be when you feel like you’ve got nothing left.

So you accept that premise as true, it follows that taking care of others actually requires you to take care of yourself first.  The proverbial oxygen mask that you must put on yourself first if you want to be able to help your kids with their oxygen masks.

Do It For Them

If you don’t currently believe that you’re worthy of this, or deserve this, then you can work on believing that over time.  

But in the meantime, let go of trying to do it for yourself and start doing it for them. Do it for your kids, so that they can see a mother who is flourishing.  Do it for your partner or parents or friends or clients.  But above all, do it.  

You were not born to live a depleted life.  Let the world see you at your best because that’s how you can give the world the best that’s in you.   

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

P.S.  If this is something you struggle with, I can help you.  Schedule a free one-hour call with me and I will help you with your specific situation. 

The Best Kind of Self-Care

What Self-Care Really Means

When we think of self-care, we often conjure up images of luxurious, nice-to-have experiences, such as getting massages and pedicures, taking bubble baths, or going shopping.  It’s wonderful to do things that we enjoy and take care of ourselves and we should do these things.

But often, the underlying reason for doing these things is to get away from the negative feelings that we’ve been having on a regular basis, such as stress, anxiety, or overwhelm. The reason these things feel great in the moment is that they give our brains a temporary hit of dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter), which provides relief from the cortisol and other stress hormones caused by stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.  

What’s Your Reason for Self-Care? 

If your reason for spending time on self-care is that you want to be good to yourself, make your health and wellbeing a top priority, and give yourself time to rest, that’s an excellent reason!  The thoughts driving your action are clearly serving you and it makes sense to continue doing what you’re doing.  

If, on the other hand, your reason for doing them is to escape negative feelings in your everyday life, you’re going to find that the effects of your self-care are extremely short-lived, because they are not getting to the root cause of the problem.  If this is what is motivating you to engage in self-care, I’d like to suggest that there’s a better way.  

The Best Type of Self-Care

To get to the root of the problem you’ve got to practice what I believe to be the most powerful form of self-care you can do: to manage your mind.  This might not sound as relaxing or fun as getting a pedicure and reading a magazine, but the effect that it will have in your life is immeasurable. 

That’s because your thoughts are the one factor that determine how you feel, what you do, and what results you get.  They are also the one thing (of all of those things) that are the easiest to manage.  

The most important self-care action you can take is to spend five or ten minutes a day looking at your thoughts.  There are six simple steps:

  1. Write down what’s bothering you.
  2. Separate out the facts from the thoughts.  
  3. Pick one thought that is bothering you the most and notice how you feel when you think that thought.  
  4. Ask yourself: How do I want to feel about these facts or circumstances?  Write down the one-word emotion you want to have.
  5. What would you need to think in order to feel that way?  If you don’t believe that thought today, find a thought you can believe today.
  6. Finally, practice that new thought.  Say it out loud, write it down.  Direct your mind to that thought when it goes back to the old negative thoughts.  Notice how you feel. Notice that that thought is available to you 24/7.  

Super simple, portable, and quick. You can use it to unwind yourself from a tizzy or heal a past regret. You can use it to calm down when you’re stressed or overwhelmed. Yes, it requires some effort.  But it’s totally worth it.  

If you practice this daily, you may still want to go shopping or get a pedicure, but you won’t be doing it to escape anything.  You’ll be doing it for all the right reasons.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

The Importance of Allowing Yourself To Feel Any Emotion

Has Anything Really Gone “Wrong”?  

On my first day of school of the first grade, I remember the mother of one of my new classmates sobbing as she dropped off her daughter from school.  I remember thinking, “what’s wrong with that lady?” because the first day of school had been presented to me as a very exciting day and something to celebrate. 

Now that I have children, I understand exactly where that mother was coming from.  Last week, I attended a party for my older son’s last day of pre-school.  As I was driving to the pre-school for the last time, I had the thought “this is the last time he’ll be in pre-school” and just like that, an overwhelming feeling of grief washed over me, causing me to tear up through most of the party.  

I remember going through the exact same thing several years ago when he started daycare and then again when he started pre-school.  

But this time, it felt better than it did a few years ago.  This time, I knew the source of my own emotions and I also knew how to allow them in a way that felt natural and healthy.  

The Case For Choosing To Feel Negative Emotion

Now that I have the tools I’ve learned from coaching, I know how to allow myself to feel negative emotion while also knowing that nothing had gone “wrong”.  Yes, our emotions are created by our thoughts, but that doesn’t mean that we always want to think positive thoughts that make us feel happy. 

Negative emotions are part of life and now I understand that opening up to feeling them is one of the most powerful things I can do because it gives me complete freedom.  It opens me up to the full experience of life.   

In my case, I am fully cognizant that my feeling of sadness is not the result of the circumstance of my son’s leaving pre-school.  It’s the direct result of my thought “I don’t want my little boy to grow up.”  Of course, I really do want him to grow up, but I’ve so enjoyed his being a little boy and his sweet innocence during this phase that I also grieve its passing as he grows into a new, older version of himself.   

Even though I know that the feeling is coming from my thought, I want to feel sad about it. I want to grieve this passage from the small private pre-school to the larger elementary school with “big kids.” I want to move through this grief and truly feel it, knowing that I can handle it and nothing’s gone wrong.  This is part of a life, a part that I’m choosing to embrace rather than resist or avoid.  

What I’ve noticed as I’ve embraced this emotion is that when I just allow it, it doesn’t feel so bad. Knowing that it’s supposed to be here, that nothing’s gone wrong, and that I can handle it lessens its hold over me and allows me to process it in a way that feels purifying and even strengthening.  

This is called “clean pain” – allowing painful emotions that are just part of life, knowing that nothing’s gone wrong.  What I felt previously was called “dirty pain”, which is the added emotional pain that’s created from resisting or avoiding the natural negative emotions that arise in our lives, or for judging ourselves for having those emotions in the first place.  Clean pain is pretty much inevitable if you’re human.  Dirty pain is 100% optional and also unnecessary.  

When You Open Yourself Up To Allowing Negative Emotions, You Become Unstoppable. 

Our fear of experiencing negative emotion stops us in our tracks more than anything else.  It’s the biggest dream-stealer on the planet.  But when you allow yourself to feel any emotion and you realize there’s no emotion you can’t handle, then you’ll be willing to go after anything.  

Think about it.  Is there something that you’re afraid to feel? Do you resist or avoid that feeling? What do you do to try to distract yourself from it or numb it?  Is that serving you?  

If what you’re doing isn’t working, I invite you to try allowing the emotion that you’re resisting for small increments of time.  Setting a timer for just three minutes and really feeling that emotion can provide a safe space to begin to feel emotions that you’ve been avoiding.  Notice where the emotion shows up in your body and practice really feeling what it’s like.  Notice how you survive, even if it feels unpleasant.

Another way to embrace the emotion is to try on the thought: “I’m feeling _____ and that’s okay. Nothing’s gone wrong here.”

It’s really true that nothing’s gone wrong.  Negative emotions are part of our humanness and the more open we are to feeling them, the more we’ll be willing to go after what our hearts truly desire and have a full experience of this human life.  

Have a beautiful week. 

XO,

Charise 



How To Get The Most Of Your Summer Vacation



It’s that time of year that we all love: summer, otherwise known as vacation season. Often we spend hours upon hours searching for just the right hotels, planning our itineraries, buying things we’ll need for the trip, packing and getting everything “just right” for the big trip.  We plan every last detail of the trip in excited anticipation for how great it’s going to be.

Vacations are opportunities to create lasting memories, when we can let go of our busy lives and to-do lists and just let ourselves relax. But if you’re not happy about the life you’ll return to after your vacation, the second half of your vacation is just not going to be as fun.

Most people put more time, money, and energy into planning their vacations than they do in planning their lives, which can make for a rough return to reality after the vacation glow wears off.

To avoid this, I’d like to suggest that you invest at least as much in designing and planning your everyday life as you do in planning your vacation.  

  • What would your workweek look like if you spent some time each week deliberately planning and thinking about what you want to accomplish and how to do that?  
  • What would your days look like if you spent 15 minutes each day examining your own thoughts about your current circumstances and deciding how you want to think, feel, and act in those circumstances?  
  • What would your life look like if you sat down with someone else and spent an hour intensely focusing on what results you want and how to get there? 

I can tell you from my own experience that I’ve been able to 10x my results by doing these things.  

  • When I take the time to plan my weeks, my weeks go better.  
  • When I intentionally look at what results I want to create each day and what feelings are keeping me from accomplishing those results, I get much better results.  
  • And when I sit down with another person to really examine what’s not working, I have powerful breakthroughs that allow me to move past my limiting beliefs and create better results.   

We’re not taught to invest in ourselves. We’re taught to invest in our vacations, which can act like a band-aid if the rest of your life isn’t working. But vacations don’t really fix anything. They’re not supposed to. That’s not their job.

The way to fix something that isn’t working is by “looking under the hood” of your own mind, getting to the root of the problem, and learning how to get your brain to work for you, rather than against you.

Before you go on vacation this summer, ask yourself this: What do I want my life to look like when I get back from my vacation? 

  • Do I want my house to be more organized?  
  • Do I want to have a plan for the basics, like meals and laundry, so that I don’t miss a beat when we get back?  
  • Do I want to have systems in place to help me manage my to-do lists, avoid overwhelm, and take care of my own health?  
  • Do I want to have a job that I love returning to, without stress or guilt? 
  • Do I want to return to a life that is in alignment with what really matters most to me?

All of this is available to you, but you have to deliberately plan for it by investing in yourself.  

Think about what you want for your life and ask yourself what’s getting in the way and what you can do about it.

Often, it’s just simply to change the thought “I don’t have enough time” to the thought “I can figure out how to make time for what’s important to me.”

Whatever your circumstance may be, it’s always possible to find a solution if you’re willing to open yourself up to that possibility. “I don’t know how” can become “I’m going to figure out how.”

Just like you found the time to design and plan the vacation, you can find time to design and plan your life.  When you do that, you’ll be thrilled at the life you return to after your vacation. And knowing that you’re returning to a life you love will make your vacation that much sweeter. 

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 



How To Know When To Make A Change



People often put off their own goals because it never seems like the right time.  And it’s understandable.  I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out when to make a change in my career, but it never felt like the right time.  Even before I had kids, life felt too busy.  After I had kids, it felt impossibly hectic.  It was never the right time.  

But I eventually reached a decision point, in which I realized that if I didn’t make a significant change, I was going to end up at a dead end.  It was not a good or convenient time to make that decision.  It didn’t feel like the right time at all.  We were overwhelmed with juggling two kids who were both in diapers, my husband was traveling a lot for his job, and I was preparing for a major trial in my own job.  

And yet, in the midst of all of that, I committed to making a change.  I started by working with a coach to clarify what I wanted.  Approaching my situation with a different mindset allowed me to get unstuck and we created a strategy so that I could begin to work towards my goal.  

That strategy would take almost two years to fully implement, but with a clear goal in mind, I started by taking small, consistent steps that led me to achieve it.  

Small Steps Forward Are The Key To Change

Since I had precious little free time, I started with the smallest possible steps. I knew I wanted to help people figure out what to do with their lives, so I began reading and listening to personal development books on my daily commute and while running errands.  

Then, I began researching coach training programs and found one that was compatible with my schedule.  I began coaching a few clients for free and confirmed that I did indeed love coaching and my clients told me that I was “a natural.” This allowed me to test out my idea and continue to pursue it with even greater certainty.

I continued learning everything I could about coaching in my spare time and then I found a coaching method that ended up changing my life.  I got certified in that method and took on more clients to perfect my skills.

Beginning The Journey Will Transform You Into The Person You Want To Be

What I did not expect when I started out on this journey was that taking action to change my career would end up benefitting every area of my life, long before I reached my ultimate goal.

I begin applying the coaching tools that I was learning to my own life and started getting amazing results. My health and relationships improved.  The way I showed up at work improved.  I started becoming more confident and asking for feedback at work so that I could improve even more.  

I became much more conscious of how I spent my time and learned how to be more productive and efficient at juggling demands both at work and in my personal life. Although I previously thought that I didn’t have time for anything, I learned how to manage my thinking around my time and ended up finding that I had more time than I ever realized. I even started learning to play the guitar, for just 15 minutes a day.

Above all, I started asking myself: “Am I taking full ownership of every area of my life?”  The answer was clearly “no” so I began to change that. When you start taking ownership, you begin to really understand the power you have to change things and to take control of your life and your career. 

Over that two-year period, those small steps that I began to take changed my life completely and everything got so much better, even though my circumstances hadn’t yet changed at all. I was still at the same job and had the same demands.  Yet, I was happier and more energized than ever before.

The Trap Of Waiting

Had I waited for the “right” time, I would probably still be in the same place.  I wish I would have realized earlier that there is never going be a “right” time to go after what you want and that I had the power to decide that the present moment was the right time all along.  I would have gotten to where I wanted to be a lot sooner.

In her book The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware says that the thing people regret most is not taking action and going after what they really wanted.  They waited until the right time, which never came, and their dreams remained unfulfilled. She writes “it is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

You Can Make Today “The” Day

You have time now, but time is finite.  What are you going to do with it?  

Is there something that you want that you’re putting off until the “right” time?   

What if the right time were right now?  

What if you could begin to take small, incremental changes to move in the direction you want?  

All it takes is one decision, which you can make today.  

Decide that you’re going to go after what you want.  Commit to taking action, even if it just means taking small steps.  And then begin.  

I can’t wait to see where you go.  

XO,

Charise 

P.S. If you need some help figuring out how to begin taking action in your specific situation, I can help you create a plan. Change can actually be simple when you have a solid strategy in place.