Thursday, December 30, 2010

History Lesson: New Year's Resolutions

The practice of making New Year's Resolutions goes back over 3000 years to the ancient Babylonians. The Bible doesn't mention resolutions, per se, but the book of Proverbs (especially chapter 3) has some great advice for what to shoot for.

For those of you who might argue that they're evil since they aren't mentioned, let me just point something out. Nearly all resolutions have to do with things to make us look better and live longer, things that make us have more, and things that help us get along with others. And the Bible has plenty to say about those principles; they're called longevity, prosperity, and peace.

Jonathan Edwards made a great list of resolutions almost 300 years ago. For those of you who don't know, this guy went to Yale when he was 13. He was credited with some revival where he preached so of course the church fired him. Anyway, you can look up his list of resolutions, but let me summarize for you: even before goal-setting was so popular, he understood how to prioritize and analyze his progress.

You can also go search for how to create good goals, how to set up action plans, and so on. But no matter who you are and how you do it, it comes down to this: there will come a day when sheer willpower is not enough. If you are your own worst enemy, or if there are unforeseen obstacles, what will you do? The big goals - the scary, life-changing ones - require not just planning, but constant support.

Bet the ancient Babylonians didn't have life coaches.

Last Call for Open Beta

This weekend is your last chance ever to be my guinea pigs and beta test the new R2R program!

If you want to make your New Year's resolution a reality, or just take advantage of a SMOKIN' deal on 4 weeks of goal coaching, you gotta let me know immediately!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January Boot Camp?

Oh no, R2R is no boot camp.

It IS, however, 4 weeks of daily coaching contact, motivation, and accountability. You do the work ... and it won't be easy ... but you get the results.

And since it's just a test program, you get to start turning your resolution into reality for just $59.

Are you ready?

Email for registration information.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tween Drama

Wow, I don't remember it being this hard, but then "when I was a kid things were different."

I know three girls who are about ready to tear each others' hair out. They've been friends for a long time, and I'm not seeing what caused the sudden "mean girl" attitudes. Here's the most recent situation - if you have any insights on this incident, please email me! FWIW, the girls involved are all 9 and 10 years old.

Girl R and Girl J both have younger sisters (who are very obviously the babies of their respective families). The younger sisters were teasing each other one day. Girl J overheard some not-real-nice things from both of them. Not knowing the context or bothering to ask, she butted in and smacked the little sister of Girl R. Now both little sisters and Girl J are arguing. Girl R overhears and defends her own little sister. Girl J, J's little sister, J's big brother, and two neighbor kids gang up on Girl R and threaten to beat her up.

Girl R knows it's gotten out of hand and goes home. Girl L, meanwhile, is a friend of both Girl R and Girl J, and has watched this event unfold. She has wisely chosen to stay out of it up to this point. But now, Girl L goes with Girl J to the park to play, while Girl R sits home alone.

The next day, after returning from Girl R's house, Girl J confronts Girl L and demands to know whose side she is on. Girl L says there are no sides.

The next day, Girl R and Girl L are talking about what happened. There is definitely some hostility remaining but Girl L isn't clear about how willing Girl R is to forgive and forget. She writes a single letter "B" to ask Girl R her opinion of Girl J. (They both understand the letter to represent a word they are not supposed to be saying.)

Girl R immediately grabs paper and runs to Girl J, shouting that she "has proof." Girl J promptly bursts into tears and runs inside. Girl L runs home, sure that she'll be grounded for a year for using a "bad word." Girl R sits back and watches the action, but not much happens.

This is where I come into the story. I get the details and talk to Girl R and Girl L the next day. I guessed that Girl R was mad at Girl L for not standing up for her or at least choosing not to hang out with Girl J. That seemed reasonable. I also guessed that Girl R taking the piece of paper to Girl J was the way she got back at Girl L. I explained that it was an effective way of hurting Girl J at the same time. Girl R tried to deny, but I commented that she had to know that taking a piece of paper to Girl J and explaining that "the letter B stands for B----, Girl L wrote it, and it's what she thinks of you" would hurt her feelings.

At some point after this, Girl R returned to Girl J and said, regardless of what she'd been told, Girl L did indeed think Girl J was a B----. Although Girl R's credibility has been strained at this point, Girl J is tending to believe Girl R over Girl L.

In a perfect world, I'd like to sit down with Girl J and ask her to put herself into Girl R's shoes, or at least recognize that what Girl R did was out of a sense of retribution. But Girl J doesn't want to hear any explanation right now; she'd rather keep arguing. Girl R realizes her payback hurt more than she intended, but she'd rather not do anything about it. Girl L wants things to go back the way they were.

The parents of all three girls have come to me and I've done what I could without stirring parental defensiveness, but regardless of the parents, this is hurting all three kids. Your thoughts? (And no, keeping them on tranquilizers until they're 18 is not a solution!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

R2R Coming VERY Soon

R2R - Resolution To Reality - is a new goal kick-start program starting Monday, January 3, 2011. Here's what you need to know:

1. It is only a trial program. It's new this year, not tried-and-true. That means that anybody who participates agrees to be my guinea pig and give me feedback.

2. Because it's "untested", you won't be paying full price. On the other hand, it's still made of quality stuff, so you won't get it for free. I've compromised, figuring everyone is a little broke after the holidays, and decided to offer it for ... wait for it ... $59.

3. Registration is open through Saturday, January 1, unless all the spots fill up before then. The program runs from Monday the 3rd to Monday the 31st.

4. What you get for your buck:
- assistance in goal-setting and planning for anyone who needs it
- daily coaching contacts (email, text, or phone) relevant to your goal
- a weekly email to check in and keep you accountable for your progress
- and 24/7 emergency support.

Normally I don't promote New Year's as a time to start goal-work. There's an awful lot of tradition accompanied by a stunning lack of success. (Maybe most people fail to accomplish their resolutions because they don't have the support of a coach?) But a new year is a powerful symbol and there's no sense wasting the motivation it provides.

It's 29 days of checking in, keeping you on-track, encouraging you to take action, helping you recognize and avoid self-defeating behavior. I expect you to actually put in the effort and time every day to get where you want to be, and hang in there when it's tough. I'm no drill sergeant, but I want your resolution to become reality just like you do!

Oh, and for those of you who'd rather watch from the sidelines, you can still reap some of the benefits. The regular Twitter posts for the R2R won't be limited to just R2R participants - if you're following me on Twitter, you'll see all the Tweets too!

I hope you all had a wonderful, joy-filled, peaceful Christmas weekend, because in a week, things are going to get interesting!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Stress?

(*Sigh*) My baking plans have been savaged by rain. I don't know how people in regularly humid climates manage it. Here in the desert, baking is a joy until the humidity rises above 15%. Then it's still just tricky. Actual rain? The relative humidity is now humming along at about 50% at the beginning of two days of rain. There's no reason to even attempt Christmas cookies. I've read that humid conditions cause cookies to flatten out too much - not here! They don't flatten at all - they just become little puffy sponges. Hence, no Christmas cookies from me this year.

I also have an ex-spouse coming on Christmas Eve and family friends on Christmas Day (surprise - we thought we were going to their house!) so we have a little unexpected hosting to do. And the toilet in the guest bathroom needs a plumbing repair so I really hope the hardware store is open on Christmas Eve day.

Not to mention the gifts that still need wrapped and - oh, don't get me started on the "some assembly required" items for my daughter.


Despite all that (and I'm sure many of you are facing very similar things in your next few days), and despite the traffic, the last-minute purchases and oops-I-forgot-tape missions, I'm not stressed.

A little tired, yes, but not stressed. Frustrated because I really was hoping to use my new cookie cutters, but not stressed.


Because nothing that is happening in my life is coming as a huge surprise. The things I cannot control are relatively minor. What's to stress about?

Look, Christmas comes at the same time every year, right? You buy stuff, you wrap stuff, you send stuff, you eat stuff. Nothing new, right? In the midst of it, sometimes you forget stuff, because you're only human. And sometimes things go wrong. Would I stress about the toilet if it was July? Of course not. So why let it bother me now? It's a simple fix that'll take four bucks and five minutes. I'll get around to it.

As for the cookies, well, that's still no cause for stress. I've changed my plan, is all. I already bought cookies that we'll dress up a bit at home. I can still bake the pies. I can still bake the pumpkin nut bread. There will be enough home-baked sugar to keep us all buzzing until New Year's Eve. By which time it might be dry enough to bake some cookies! (Hey, my new set of cookie cutters has a tree, but it also has a snowflake and a bell - that works for the new year theme.)

Why stress? Remember the serenity prayer, children. Live it. Use your energy wisely on things that are important to you; you'll be healthier and happier.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

R2R is on its way ....

Was that suspenseful? OK, I'm no Alfred Hitchcock.

Resolution To Reality (R2R) is a test program I've put together, which launches on Monday, January 3, 2011.

Here's the thing. Everyone makes New Year's Resolutions. I have no idea exactly the percentage of people who actually succeed with their resolutions, but I'm sure it's less than 5%. Possibly even less. Why do we keep doing it? It's tradition. But as the days go by, the excitement of the new year fades, and so does the motivation. I mean, really, how can you stick to a diet and exercise program when Superbowl Sunday comes along? Plus, lots of people don't know how to set reasonable goals.

The whole thing is kinda doomed to failure before it starts.

But I've never been one to accept the status quo.

So I'm thinking, where is it written that a New Year's Resolution HAS to fail? How many people set goals at other times of the year and also fail? Maybe it's not the new year that's responsible.

If a person allowed for days off or found creative ways to take action toward a goal, couldn't that person still be successful? Of course! If a person had daily support and had to be accountable for progress, wouldn't that person be more likely to be successful? Yes!

It's time to buck tradition and crash the stereotype. Whatever your resolution is, let's make it your reality.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winding Down the Year and Staying Sane

As much progress as we've all enjoyed from this end-of-year challenge, I'm ready to be done and start something new. I was getting excited thinking of a new desk calendar, I'm so ready.

But until then, I'm just trying to keep my sanity and make the most of the days that are left in THIS year.

Here are a few things we've done that can help:

1. Instead of being tempted to provide the ultimate Christmas for your kids (and going into more debt), take some pressure off. We started celebrating St. Nicholas' Day on December 6 by giving the young one a moderately-priced gift to be shared. This helps enforce the spirit of giving and sharing. This year, I admit, we spent more than normal on the new Tony Hawk game with skateboard controller for our PlayStation. But I guarantee it'll the feet of all the neighbor kids, plus us, in just a few days. Some families have also adopted Hanukkah, giving their kids 8 smaller gifts, which reduces kids' "what am I getting?" mentality.

2. Find a way to volunteer. We rang the bell for a Salvation Army kettle for four hours last Saturday. My ears are still ringing, but it was fun and we were able to focus on what we could do to help other people. Food banks and Christmas Angel programs need volunteer helpers, too, this time of year.

3. Lots of friend-based get-togethers over the holidays have gone to a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange. With the economy still so unpredictable, it's a lot less stressful to buy one gift than half a dozen. The same works for extended families, too. Yes, you could buy a gift for every niece and nephew, or just trust that Santa, parents, and grandparents will provide more than enough for young materialists. This economy is a great teaching time, BTW.

4. If you have time available and are moderately skilled, go home-made. Bake treats - everyone loves something freshly baked. Get crafty - stock up on fleece throws, cut them in squares, and make a real bed-sized quilt. Knit, crochet, sew, get out the woodburning kit and make a sign ... whatever you know how to do. Be warned, a lot of these projects take a lot longer than you'd think. You might want to get supplies at the after-Christmas sales and start in January for next year.

5. Don't quit working on your goals. Yes, there tends to be more going on in the last days of the year, but if you've planned well, you can handle it. There's no excuse for slacking, unless you're sick. But you may have to reframe the steps you normally take. You might not have time for the gym, but a 2-hour, relatives-are-coming-today house-cleaning frenzy burns a LOT of calories, so you're good.

6. Always take time to relax. Even if you have to schedule it in, make sure you have time to sit down with a cuppa and just watch TV or play video games or read a book or take a hot bubble bath.

Friday, November 26, 2010

9 Ways to Combat Winter Blah

Yes, I know it's Black Friday. I know there are Door Buster sales all over. I slept in anyway. It's not that I don't care, it's that I don't want what they're trying to sell. Trust me, if the things on my list were hugely discounted, I'd have gotten up at dark-thirty and been first in line. Retailers, please do not mistake my lack of interest for signs of possession by the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge. (Instead, please consider that some of us still shop for others at this time of year, and as much as I love my mom and my friends, I'm NOT buying all of them huge flatscreen TVs, so how about a sale on something normal people might actually ship?) The only thing I went out for last year was Home Depot's sale on Christmas lights. It's a little discouraging, actually.

Not enough to bring on any blues, though. When it's not SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but you're still blue, what can you do? (Was that a horrible segue, or what?)

We aren't talking true clinical depression, either. But you know it when you feel it: an especially uninspired mood, boredom, oversleeping, loss of energy, and loss of interest in things you normally enjoy. Some people withdraw socially - and not just because they need a mental break from the crowds at the stores. Some experience unexplained weight gain (more than seven pounds or so is significant). Note the keyword here is "unexplained". A lot of us pack on as much as eleven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's - go figure!

Obviously, it's a good idea to check with your doctor to rule out any physical cause like a virus or thyroid problem. And of course if your symptoms get worse, you should check with your favorite mental health professional!

But in the meantime, here are a few things to try:

1. Get outside on sunny days. Even for five or ten minutes.

2. Exercise regularly. Outside or inside, at least fifteen minutes a day, at least three days a week. Shovel snow, take a walk, have a snowball fight with the kids, or just do push-ups, but get active. A good workout will stimulate the brain’s production of endorphins!

3. Work with your body’s hibernation tendencies instead of against it. When it’s dark by dinner, it’s easier to lose track of time and end up staying up later than we should. Limit your caffeine intake to morning and midday, or take a calcium or melatonin supplement an hour before bedtime if you have trouble getting to bed on time.

4. Give yourself something new and exciting to think about or do, and then allow yourself a little “you” time every day to devote to it. Read a chapter a day of the latest novel by your favorite author. Master a new video game. Set a new fitness goal and work toward it.

5. It’s easy to go overboard with the menu but try to maintain a balanced diet. Alternate cookie snacks with baby carrots, and stick to a higher fiber breakfast. If you include a little protein with every meal – including breakfast, it may help you avoid some snack cravings. Instead of leftover pie and ice cream right before bed, have a bowl of healthy cereal.

6. Manage your stress. ‘Tis the season for family and friends. Hang out with them, have a good time, vent a little, then laugh a little. Stay connected, even if you don’t feel like it at first.

7. Start a journal. Write a sentence about your general mood of the day each evening, and then write three more sentences about positive things that occurred that day.

8. Rock out in the car. Turn off the boring news radio on the way home and listen to your favorite CD or Christmas music instead.

9. Don’t neglect your spiritual self. Get the family to church. Encourage everyone to thank God for their blessings.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chronic Disorganization Venting

I know not everyone has strong organizational skills. I understand and accept it. But is it too much to ask for adults to exhibit a bare minimum? Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.

My daughter is friends with a girl down the street. A while back, we decided it would be nice to host a sleep-over on a Saturday night. (What was I thinking?) Girl was invited, girl reported back that she could attend. On Friday afternoon, girl reports that in fact, she cannot attend because there's a family reunion on Saturday and her whole family would be gone. Is it just me, or do you also think Mum and Dad would have known about this at the beginning of the week when they gave permission?

Despite huge disappointment, the whole thing is re-scheduled for the following weekend. Parental consent follows. This time, on Saturday morning, it is revealed that both parents have to work that evening and girl will not be allowed over. Again, maybe it's just me, but knowing where these parents work, I know their work schedule is not a surprise, so it seems very strange that they'd give permission, knowing full well they won't be available.

Here's another example.

I know a woman who runs a regular, bi-weekly meeting at her house. She originally scheduled it to run from 3:30 to 5:30, but then handed out information saying 3:15 to 5:15. Then she gets flustered when people show up at 3:15, claiming they are early and she's not ready or she needs to run a "quick errand."

Of the last ten meetings, two have been cancelled without notice. Regardless of the schedules of those attending, she's also changed the time slot just hours before the regularly scheduled meeting, and she's twice assigned random tasks to attendees (bring snacks for a dozen people, give a presentation) with one day's notice. Just doing the math here, but it looks like only half of her meetings go as planned. That's not an impressive track record.

I imagine some of you have been inconvenienced by poor organizers. What do you think? I know plenty of people who could use help with clutter control - a professional organizer would be helpful - but they still manage to tell time and know how to use a calendar. I even know a hoarder who can do that. And I'm not talking about people who play passive-aggressive by being consistently late. I'm talking about chronic failure when it comes to relatively simple tasks that most second-graders could handle. So is there any reason we should expect it from adults?

I'd love to know how widespread this problem is. If you know somebody like this, please please please let me know what they do and how you cope.

Friday, November 12, 2010

12 Red Flags for Relationships

Consider the following statements in the context of your most recent relationship, or what you’ve observed in your own life over the past two or three years.

1. You become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to a person without taking the time to get to know him or her. We’re talking a minimum of 30 to 40 hours of face time, people, not a steamy weekend of phone calls or IMing with someone you just met on a dating website.

2. You fear abandonment & loneliness (causing you to stay in and return to painful, destructive and abusive relationships, ‘cause hey, it’s better than being alone).

3. You involve yourself in more than one relationship at a time, emotionally, sexually, or both. You know who you are, playa. You’re the one with the “flavor of the week” thing going on.

4. You confuse love with obsession, using controlling behaviors directed towards your partner(s) with the hope of keeping him or her from leaving you. (You know this is you if, when the partner begins expressing a lack of interest, you refuse to see it, you cry and beg or otherwise embarrass yourself, or you suddenly realize it would be the perfect time to do that brake job on her car, or offer to clean his apartment or do his laundry.)

5. You feel empty inside, even while in a relationship, causing you to search for new
love interests. This might even be a compulsive behavior.

6. You spend money you don't have on a romantic interest – either because you want to impress Pookie with your wealth, or because when Pookie calls, you and your credit card jump.

7. You use sex & emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.

8. You become preoccupied with a romantic interest and are unable to concentrate. You probably have a problem establishing boundaries; some of the preoccupation may stem from that hottie you met a week ago calling and texting you a dozen times a day.

9. You attach yourself to emotionally unavailable people and/or abusive partners. Why? Well, that’s a textbook in itself, but let’s sum it up by saying that if you aren't prepared to be involved in a healthy emotional relationship, you'll unconsciously seek out others who are also unprepared for a healthy emotional relationship.

10. You obsess over, monitor and perhaps stalk the object of your affection. See #8, except it’s you doing the calling and texting.

12. You assign unrealistic qualities to those you are attracted to, believing they can bring you happiness and "save" you from your loneliness.

Recognize any of these patterns?

Just one or two ring a bell? It’s time to evaluate your expectations and boundaries.

Found yourself nodding in agreement with a handful? Strongly consider professional coaching or counseling to help you work on the imbalances in your relationship.

Most of them sound familiar? Your love is not love but an obsession. Sometimes we all need a reminder of what a healthy relationship should be – now it’s your turn. Make an appointment with a relationship coach or mental health pro as soon as possible.

Monday, November 8, 2010


My computer seems to have crashed.

I'm not entirely sure what's causing the problem, but so far, all bets are on a conflict between Windows upgrades and my operating system (good ol' XP - I loved it so!).

Going shopping for a new machine this week. It's a bit weird, really - my machine was custom-built for me just over three years ago, and now I can get an even better unit off the shelf at any mass retailer, for the same price.

You'd think this would reduce my operating costs. Technically, it will. Which means that as soon as I'm not borrowing a computer to post blogs, I will be considering offering some special deals for the holidays. If you have any suggestions, or want to make a case for yourself as being deserving of a smokin' discount, email me ASAP @

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Set Goals ... And Fail (Part 2)

So, a few months ago, a relative was talking to me about all the life changes he wanted to make. He wanted to go back to college, re-up his pilot's license, find a girlfriend, stop smoking, and maybe take some steps to improve his general health (high blood pressure and diabetes).

He had time off work coming up - about a week - and figured he could check one task off his list each day. ROFLMAO doesn't begin to cover my reaction. Well, my inner reaction, anyway. I've discovered that when you are a professional anything, except maybe a podiatrist or dermatologist, nobody you know ever considers what you might have to offer. So I knew he wouldn't ask me for any input, and I knew that whether I offered it or called him an idiot, it wouldn't matter.

So I let him start his way. On day 1, he realized that "going back to school" wasn't something he could make happen in one day. He had to deal with financial aid paperwork (please allow 60-90 days), get transcripts together (please allow 30 days), and figure out what courses he could take, that he wanted to take, that would fit with his work schedule. He moved on to getting his license renewed. A phone call revealed it would take several flights - dozens of hours - in a plane, at his expense. That wasn't within the budget at all. The whole girlfriend idea began late on day 1, with him getting himself registered on a two-bit dating website, and spending the rest of the night surfing through photos.

In short, no progress. Day 2 wasn't particularly productive, nor was day 3. On day 4, it occurred to him that biking and walking might be good exercise, so he took a 15 minute bike ride. It didn't seem to have an immediate effect on his blood sugar, so the bike went back into the garage to gather dust.

You get the idea.

But more importantly, do you see how he set himself up to fail?

He allowed himself to be intimidated by the whole, big goal instead of the small steps he could easily do one at a time. He got impatient and lost focus of what was most important - making progress. Then, when he didn't see immediate results, he lost all motivation.

Now, most of us, by now, are capable of setting goals in a much more effective way. But this experience can still happen. We have to remember that even small steps are still steps - they count! We have to remember to keep our focus on the goal, not the hassles or distractions. And that's where a coach is so helpful - reminding you of your purpose and keeping you motivated and focused.

If you need me, you know where to reach me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

5 Ways to Set Goals ... And Fail

It's my experience that most people are fully capable of setting some kind of goal. It's also my experience that most people forget one or two details that make the difference between success and epic fail! So without further ado, here are five ways to set goals and set yourself up for failure:

1. Be vague. "Lose weight" is a really flexible phrase. It could mean anything. You could lose a pound and congratulate yourself, right? It you want to fail, you should never be specific about how much or when.

2. Don't measure your progress. Who wants to be bogged down with that? You'll probably have a good idea about whether you're making progress or not, so why spend extra time reviewing?

3. Don't worry about taking action all the time. It's a goal, not a life-or-death thing. You can take days (weeks, months) off and still make progress. It's all about wanting to, isn't it?

4. Aim for something completely unrealistic. Like they say, aim for the moon and if you miss, you'll still be among the stars. (Of course, the stars are nowhere near the proximity of our moon, so technically, if you miss, you'll just be floating in orbit like all the other space junk.) Keep telling yourself that, cupcake.

5. Never ever set a deadline. Nobody works better under pressure. Isn't it more freeing to have the rest of your life to work on your goal? No rush!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Relatively New View of Procrastination (Part 3)

It doesn’t matter why we do it; the point is, if we want to accomplish things that are important to us, we can’t afford to do it.

So the question is, how do we quit doing it?

And the answer is, by reversing the behaviors that got us into the habit.

We need to re-develop a sense of urgency. I’m amazed when I have a client who seems to take his or her bad habits and troubles so lightly they can procrastinate indefinitely. We also need to stop making excuses. Words have never spoken louder than actions.

You’ve probably heard or read by now the motivator about the lion and the gazelle. (Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.)

You don’t have to run. Unless that’s your thing, of course, then by all means, run all you like. But you have to do whatever it is that you do. Whatever actions are required to get you toward your goal or help you fulfill your purpose.

I know it’s hard getting up a little earlier. Do it anyway. I know it’s tough, using the remote to turn the TV off and getting up to go for a walk. Do it anyway. I know it can hurt a little to give up bad habits. Here’s a band-aid; now do it anyway. Nobody said you had to like the process (although it won’t work if you can’t appreciate the end result).

As my pirate friends say, better step to!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Less-Old View of Procrastination (Part 2)

In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, we can read about Jesus recruiting Simon and Andrew (and other disciples). He says “Follow Me,” and immediately they got up from whatever they were doing and followed Him. Zero procrastination.

I can't believe the things that Simon and Andrew didn't do when they walked away from their livelihood. It's amazing!
• They didn't turn in their two week notice.
• They didn't sit down with their lawyer and redo their wills.
• They didn't shut off the gas and water at the house,
• They didn't cancel their subscriptions to newspapers and magazines;
• They didn't rush home and do laundry.
• They didn't take out an ad in the Capernaum Daily News to sell their boats or their houses.
• They didn't go to the Post Office and fill out a card to have their mail forwarded.
• They didn't ask their friends up to join them for a farewell party.
• They didn't ask Him about a retirement, medical, or dental plan.
• They didn't even ask where they were going; how long they were going; why they were going; and a million other questions that you and I would have to know before we made such a move.

This contrasts a lot with the response Jesus gets at Luke 9:59. This guy can’t do it. He’s busy, you see – he’s got his aging father to take care of, probably a lot of family business, lots of details, and, and, and.

Some people are too busy to get things done. They procrastinate by being busy, not by being lazy. If that’s you, you’re fooling yourself thinking you’re being productive, if you aren’t doing what’s important.

You’re actually sabotaging your purpose – and yourself. There was a study a while back that found an interesting link between regular procrastination and an increased rate of colds, flu, insomnia, general bad mood, and unexplained gastrointestinal problems. Got a physical problem for no reason? Maybe it’s time to take action!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Day In The Life - Isn’t This Fun?

A client emailed me with a concern about her progress. She’s discovered that there is a particular action she keeps planning to take, but somehow hasn’t been able to accomplish.

I called her to find out more. At first, she had lots of excuses for not performing this task, but then she ran out of excuses.

“This would take you less than five minutes,” I said. “So, why haven’t you done it?”

“I told you already,” she said, sounding exasperated.

“No, you’ve told me some great excuses. But you haven’t given me the real reason. What is it about this task that makes you not want to do it?”


“We already know it’s simple. We know it’s not time-consuming. It looks like the only reason you haven’t done it is simply because you don’t want to.”


More silence.

“No,” she finally said. “I don’t want to. It’s not fun.”

Fun? I am SOOOOO glad I have a mute button on my phone. ROFLMAO doesn’t begin to cover it. But I am a professional so of course I recovered quickly, before she could suspect anything.

“Ahem. So, for you to accomplish something, it needs to be entertaining?” I’m a coach; it’s part of my job description to clarify.


“Well…apparently,” I said. “But is it fun to get up and go to work on Mondays?” I asked.

“Eeew!” I took that to mean no.

“Uh-huh. But you do it anyway?” I had always assumed, but maybe I was wrong.

“Of course!” Now she’s getting huffy with me.

“You have a 45-minute commute, you work eight-and-a-half hours, you have another 45-minute commute. And you’re letting this two-minute task screw up everything you’re working for?” This is the less-pleasant side of coaching; drill sergeant, which is also part of my job description. “You didn’t tell me your goal was to do fun things.”

“But, I thought I’d like doing all the stuff.” Now she’s getting whiny.

I thought of telling her that you aren’t supposed to like it, that it’s supposed to be tough – a character-building experience. Like my 100 sit-ups every day. But just as quickly it occurred to me that I haven’t done 100 sit-ups in my life, let alone every day, and another part of my job description is to be generally honest, so I didn’t go there.

“Would you like to be able to check that task off your list and move on?” I asked.

“Well, yeah! Yeah, I would!” Now she’s a little excited. This woman is an emotional roller coaster. Her drama over this was exhausting me.

“You’ve turned this little thing into a big thing. So now, when you do it, it’ll be a big accomplishment,” I began, launching into my favorite question. “Is there any reason why you can’t take two minutes, as soon as you’re off the phone, and get it done and over with?”

She agreed it would be huge and quite the relief, promised to get it done immediately, yada yada yada. So now I’m wondering why, if it’s supposed to be fun for all of us, why we don’t all get more done?!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Old View of Procrastination (Part 1)

I hope you’re sitting; I have something very shocking to tell you.

I sometimes procrastinate.

I can hear you gasping in disbelief, but I assure you, it’s true. In fact, there have been times when I creatively seek ways (and reasons) to procrastinate. You do too, don’t you. (I know I didn’t put a question mark there; it was rhetorical. I already know the answer.)

God doesn’t procrastinate. In Ezekiel 12:25, He says “I will say the word and what I say I will do; it will not be delayed.” So what do we do?

There’s a great example in Exodus. In chapter 8, we pick up with Pharaoh and his problem. The Hebrews had been in captivity for years, and God sent Moses to give Pharaoh an ultimatum. Well, Pharaoh wasn’t particularly motivated to cooperate at first, so God sent a series of plagues. The second one was the plague of frogs.

This doesn’t sound particularly devastating, but I like how this reads from the Contemporary English Version – this is verses 3-5. It says “the Nile will be full of frogs, and from there they will spread into the royal palace, including the king’s bedroom and even his bed. Frogs will enter homes and find their way into ovens and into the bowls of bread dough. Frogs will be crawling on everyone.” You couldn’t take a step without squishing a frog.

So finally Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and asked them to pray to their God to take away the frogs. And Moses said, sure, fine, when do you want me to do that? Just name the time, Pharaoh, and the frogs will be gone.

And what was Pharaoh’s response? Do it tomorrow. Frogs on the throne, frogs in his hair, frogs all over everything, but no rush, do it tomorrow.

Sometimes the problem is, if you sleep with frogs long enough, anything you’re with long enough, the thing begins to get comfortable to you.

There comes a point when you lay there in the middle of the night and you are wondering to yourself, “I wonder if I can live without these frogs. I know these frogs. They know me. They might even like me. I am not alone as long as I have these frogs.”

Obviously, that’s the kind of statement that makes your family and neighbors question your sanity. So you know something has to change. You don’t see how you could be personally responsible, so you pray for help. “I guess I need to get rid of these frogs, Lord, so if you could just do that for me…tomorrow….”

It is no accident that there’s a fairy tale about a frog who turned into a prince. Some people are still looking at frogs they kissed those frogs years ago. Well, you can kiss a frog all you want, but that doesn’t make it a prince.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trouble in Paradise?

So, it’s day 10 of the 100 day challenge. It’s going fine. Of course, by fine, I mean that I’m really hating it and I’m hating that I’m hating it and I’m only 10% of the way in, so there’s another 90% left to hate.

What, you thought coaches were somehow immune from the challenges of life? Wrong-o, babycakes. We go through it too. And guess what. Just because we have training or experience in motivation, doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get off the couch.

Anyway, I’ve been advised to add a bit more protein to my diet, so I nuked a leftover salmon filet for lunch. And I’m having a similarly sized slab of brownie on the side. And a Pepsi. ‘Cause, dammit, I’m practically having DTs from the lack of worthless sugar today!

Did that sound whiny? Okay, how about, since I had a healthy breakfast and this lovely salmon, one brownie and one soda will not ruin my overall diet. Hmm. That sounds like rationalization. Oh wait, I forgot, I’m a professional – I can call it NLP.

Ahh. I feel better already. Maybe I can rationalize-(ahem)I mean, reframe some other stuff on my list today, too….

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Week Report

So, we're a week into the 100 Day Challenge.

Remember C.L.? She has made daily exercise and increased water intake part of her Massive Action Plan, and she's been on track every day so far.

Remember J.W.? He's actually ahead of his M.A.P.! His goal the first week was to reduce his use by 50% - but he exceeded his week 1 goal and reduced use by 75%.

For those skeptics out there saying "Yeah, but what about in a month? Will they still be taking action?", don't worry - I'll report back to let you know how it's going.


On another note, I wanted to briefly mention seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Most people think of this as the Winter Blues - and it can be! But it often begins as hours of sunlight diminish - and even at my relatively stable latitude, it's obvious that winter is coming. (Yes, it's still over 100 degrees outside, but not for as long each day!) But what can make SAD worse is the stress that comes with holidays - starting as early as Halloween!

After all, you have to get the right costume and candy and the perfect pumpkin, and you barely have time to eat all the candy before you have to go out and get a turkey that will feed everyone, cook it to perfection, make Great-Aunt Mabel's artichoke loaf that nobody will eat, deal with hungry and cranky kids while zombie dads watch football, pack up all the leftovers, and be ready to hit the stores and fight the crowds the next day, just so you can scurry home to wrap and pack, then zip to the post office to mail everything, then race back home to bake a batch of cookies, make a million trips for batteries and tape, reproduce the gourmet masterpiece of Thanksgiving, get the kids to pick up their toys and the wrapping paper because company is coming (again), clean up the dog vomit (he got ahold of the cheeseball), and on and on it goes.

If you were describing this process to aliens from another planet, what do you think their reaction would be? Something like, "Why do you do all that?"

Stress alone can lead to depression. With limited daylight, it's like psychologically decreasing the time we have to care for ourselves. Make sure you continue to carve out 15 to 30 minutes a day of YOU-time. If you haven't already been doing it, by all means, START! It's not a guaranteed way to solve all your seasonal woes, but it will make Great-Aunt Mabel's artichoke loaf easier to deal with!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100 Days Are Under Way!

Welcome to the beginning of the end of the year!

This is the start of the 100 Day Challenge - millions of people all over the world are making the most of the time that's left, being proactive and achieving their goals.

As we wind down the year, I'll post updates about a couple of my clients so you can see how effective the challenge is. Let me introduce them now: C.L. wants to slim down to a size 10/12, while J.W. wants to quit chewing tobacco. As for me (yes, I've got goals and I'm sweating this out just like my clients), I want to dust off the exercise equipment and get rid of the fatigue that settled in over the summer!

Did you miss registration for this year? If you prefer the traditional New Year's Resolutions, why not sign up for Resolution to Reality? Sign up by Resolution Week (December 13-17) to get all the advance information, tips, and secrets to successful goal-setting. Then you're prepared to launch the New Year with all your strategies in place - plus you'll still get 31 days of coaching! More info on this program is coming, or you can call or email if you have any questions.

More soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seven Freudian Ideas I Agree With

I read an article last year, lamenting that the psychological community had dismissed Freud as a wacko. Well, maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t, but the point was that professionals rarely read much of Freud’s work, simply because most of it was never translated from German.

Like most people, I figured Freud was obsessed with incestuous sex and swayed by the Victorian residue of sexism, as well. Not quite true. Here are seven of Freud’s actual beliefs about therapy:

1. Freud believed that treatment should only occur when there was a good rapport between the client and the professional.

2. He didn’t think the professional should seem overly smart or sensitive, because that creates distance. The professional should be personable, sympathetic, and able to help, but not in the same way as a friend or boss.

3. Freud didn’t advocate psychoanalysis (as it’s known today) for every client. He noted that therapy should be tailored to the client’s individual needs.

4. He did believe that talking things out, using a trained professional as a sounding-board, really helped people see things in perspective.

5. Freud advocated professionals using their intuition whenever necessary, and deviating from any particular theoretical perspective when it could help the client.

6. He proposed that clients should spend as much energy accepting their positive attributes as working to tame the negative ones. As well, he said clients should understand both their impulses and their resistances.

7. He believed that there was no such thing as complete healing. Personally, I think he might have phrased it better. Regardless, he never mentioned that healing (aka “recovery” or “change”) was an eternal process. Rather, he seemed to be implying only that healing may come with scars. Hardly a shocker, that – if we don’t come out of a painful experience a little different than how we went in, either it wasn’t that painful or we didn’t learn much!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

100-Day Challenge Starts in 35 Days!

Do you have any idea how much you can accomplish in 100 days? Coaches do!

I know many of you have dreams you can't imagine coming true. It doesn't mean they can't. It just means that until now, you haven't wanted them enough. Yes, they're nice dreams, but you haven't been motivated to make them goals.

Maybe nobody ever told you it was possible. Maybe you told yourself you didn't deserve it. But maybe it's time for you decide to make it happen.

It IS possible.

You CAN do it.

It's almost time....

This year's local group is forming between now and September 18, 2010. We'll be celebrating real and amazing life changes this New Year's. If you want to have something to celebrate, too, don't wait.

Maricopa Residents: Registration begins August 27.

Unchained Coaching & Counseling

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is Summer So Bad? It’s Perfect!

So it’s July. A hundred degrees by breakfast. We start to consider moving to a research station at the South Pole. The heat becomes a droning monotony.

So let me ask you: how have you done with all your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions? Not making much progress right now, are you? Using the heat as an excuse? If you wait until it’s cooler, you’ll find more excuses. It’ll be autumn and you’ll be too busy. Or there won’t be enough time left in the year, so why not wait till January to start over?

This is the perfect time to START! Start establishing new habits, start working toward your goals, start being pro-active. You’ve got nothing better to do anyway, right? As Henry Ford reportedly said, you can’t build a reputation based on what you’re going to do. That means you actually have to do something. What are you really waiting for?

How does it feel when you look back over the last six months and see how far you are from where you wanted to be right now? Do you really want to keep feeling like that, year after year? There will always be another “next year.” There won’t be another “now.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Egocentric? Oh yes you are!

It’s okay. So am I. So is every human on the planet. Egocentric thought simply refers to our natural tendency to not examine our own thought processes too closely or critically.

But there are times when you ought to be aware of the tendency. It can manifest itself in many ways. If you were ever on the debate team in school, these might ring a bell.

• Egocentric blindness – ignoring facts and evidence that contradicts our beliefs or ideas. Basic denial, but in the more extreme dysfunctional forms, this is delusion.

• Egocentric hypocrisy – ignoring obvious discrepancies between what we say we believe and how we act. This could look like denial.

• Egocentric immediacy – over-generalizing immediate feelings and experiences to the extent that when a few things stand out as positive or negative, all our life seems positive or negative. Drama, anyone?

• Egocentric righteousness – seeing ourselves as completely right and possessing all Truth. For most people, this means playing “Yes, But” sometimes, because we’re convinced we know better than others. Taken to the extreme, this is a control freak who probably leaps to (incorrect) conclusions at light speed.

Recognize any of those? If you only see characteristics of others, read them again!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hey, Caffeine Junkies!

We all know by now that caffeine is technically a mind-altering drug, right? But it’s so easy to build an immunity, and the effects seem to mild that nobody really thinks of it that way.

Well, as with alcohol, there is apparently a limit – beyond which it really does begin to impair your mental functions.

If you’re consuming 250mg or more per day, it’s enough to mess with your sleep. It might not keep you awake at bedtime, but it might be preventing you from deeper sleep states, which means you’re waking up more during the night. For me, those are the nights when it seems like I’m always looking at the clock and rolling over and drifting off again. And again.

At 350mg, though, the brain actually is less able to focus on a specific task for a sustained period of time. How many students take on late-night study sessions, fueled with coffee or energy drinks? I know I did! It hasn’t killed anyone yet, but then studying is a lot different from brain surgery or rocket science – and those people are just as likely to be “under the influence.”

Kinda scary, huh? That much caffeine also makes it harder to manage stress, as if the lack of concentration wasn’t putting enough pressure on us!

FWIW, the average cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine per 8 ounces. The average cola has 45mg. Starbucks “De-Caff” coffee has20mg per 12 ounces, and their 12-ounce Frappuccino ® has 90mg! Every Excedrin has 65mg, while No-Doz has 200mg.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a job to do, and I need to concentrate when I do it. I’m not about to quit, but maybe it’s time to cut down.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Unappreciated At Work?

A recent BusinessWeek article had me nodding in agreement. Here’s the link:

The irony is that the companies who are the guiltiest don’t see these things as problems – they don’t feel a need to implement change even though they whine about poor performance and constant turnover. I’ve worked for a couple organizations that really could have benefitted from this article, and I’m sure many of you have, too!

So c’mon, people. Share your best example of organizational mediocrity with us. Don’t name names, please, but at least let us know how the company is slacking. If you’ve already left for greener pastures, tell us about their epic fail. If you’ve managed to open corporate eyes to the issue, tell us your secret!

Monday, July 5, 2010

If You Stopped Now (9 Milestones to Look Forward To)

According to medical experts, the benefits of stopping smoking begin nearly immediately, and don’t stop for over a decade! If you’re craving a smoke right now, take a deep breath and keep reading, instead.

• Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure decreases, your pulse drops to normal, and your circulation improves. In other words, your craving will mellow out. If you just had a ciggie, your body will try to start healing itself right away.

• Within 8 hours, the oxygen levels in your blood go up to normal and the carbon dioxide drops to normal.

• Within just 24 hours of your last smoke, you decrease your chance of a heart attack.

• After a few weeks, your circulation and lung function improve. No more wheezing!

• Within a few months, the hacking, fatigue, and huffing and puffing have decreased.

• Within a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by half.

• After five to ten years, your risk of stroke is the same as someone who never smoked!

• After ten years, your risk of lung cancer is cut in half.

• After fifteen years, your risk of heart disease or death from smoking is the same as someone who never smoked.

I know it’s hard. I know. But I know it’s worth quitting!

For info on quitting, contact your local Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart and Lung Association, or your physician.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Games

No, I’m not talking about any Olympics. Remember all the summer games you used to play as a kid? I remember going to Grandma’s house sometimes and all the cousins were there – we’d play Red Rover, Red Light – Green Light, Hide-and-Seek in the acre around the house, and by twilight, we’d have jars to collect fireflies in like glowing treasures.

Those old games can teach us a lot now. I’d like you to think about Red Rover. Remember that? Everyone would form two lines, facing each other, and link arms. Then one line would chant “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Brian (or April or Kevin or whoever) come over!” That person would have to leave his/her line and try to run through the other one. If he broke through, he could bring one person from the line back to his original line with him. If not, he joined the opposing line.

I present to you the idea that we all do this. A friend or coworker calls our attention to what might be a good idea. We leave our routine to try this new thing. It might work, and so we take it and introduce it to our other friends. But it might not work, and we get stuck with it anyway.

How about Hide-and-Seek? Adults play this too, and it doesn’t work, either. How many times can you go looking blindly for a simple answer to a problem? How often were you able to find everyone in their hiding spots? Rarely. Which is why we always had an “In Free” call – so the people we just couldn’t find could come in when we gave up. If a solution is evading you, it’s because you’re looking in the wrong places, alone.

One of my mentors, Gary Ryan Blair, has suggested we approach goals through a Red Light – Green Light perspective. He says that if we really look at our daily routines, we can easily see what things we should STOP doing, and other things we should START doing to make more progress. For example, I think I need to RED LIGHT hitting the snooze button so many times every morning. On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt to GREEN LIGHT more fresh produce in my diet! You get the idea.

As you plan for your day, consider what you can Red Light and what you can Green Light. Perhaps, at the end of the day, you’ll find you’ve created your own treasure. Bask in its glow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome to the UNCHAINED blog!

I’ve been sending email updates directly to clients for a while, but this seemed like a simpler option. If you know me, you know I don’t like making things harder than they need to be. This way, it won’t feel like I’m spamming your inbox!

I’m also linking the blog to Twitter, so I’ll just tweet whenever there’s something new posted, to make it easier to decide what you want to read, and when. Cool, huh?

Not that I’m a huge fan of Twitter, but as far as social networking goes, I like that you don’t have to be a member to read or search, and I like that it’s free for businesses to use. Sorry, Facebook.

Anyway, here we are, so you’ll be seeing a couple new posts each week. As always, if there’s a topic you’re interested in, let me know, because I’ve got all the old topical emails archived.

Talk to ya soon!

Unchained Coaching & Counseling