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Category Archives: accountability
When I was working on my plan for this year and looking at all the things I wanted to improve in my life I wrote down for the first time ever, get adequate rest. The topic of sleep or lack thereof has come up so frequently in my groups that it has opened my eyes to how many of us struggle with sleep issues. I did not know how common it was to either not be able to fall asleep or to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep.
I have witnessed week over week commitments around sleep and the benefits of being intentional about getting enough rest. I started to look more closely at my own sleep habits. I became conscious that I was taking for granted my ability to sleep and depriving my body of what it really needs to be at it’s best. I know that sleep is a major part of responsibly managing our energy and I definitely wasn’t managing mine very well.
My habit of staying up too late and getting up early with a couple of young children waking up at odd hours to boot were all taking a toll. Lara Lazaro, my new trainer, and I were having an accountability call where I mentioned my desire to work on getting more sleep. She asked if I ever tried setting an alarm on my phone. I thought it was sort of a funny thing to do but I did it anyway. It’s been about a month now since I started doing this and I have to say it has kept me more conscious than I have ever been about going to sleep. I can not believe what a difference it has made in all aspects of my life to get enough rest. I can’t believe I was sacrificing all the benefits of rest for a few more minutes on the computer or to watch television.
Now when my alarm goes off, I know I’ve got 10 minutes to stop whatever I’m doing and put myself to bed. Since it’s an actual alarm (the sound of bongo drums on my iPhone) it also lets my husband know that it’s time for me to go to sleep which for some reason makes it easier to do. Plus it’s made my morning alarm less of a shock to my system there’s even been a few times that I’ve already been up. I’m finding I’m more productive in the evening because I know exactly how much time I have before the day is over and as an added bonus I’ve made it to a lot more 6am workouts than I would have otherwise.
For those of us that don’t suffer with sleep issues, getting more sleep is the simplest thing we can do to boost our energy. It’s so much easier than eating right, getting enough exercise, or managing our stress but the impact on all areas of our life is huge. I watch my kids and what a wreck they are if they don’t get enough sleep and I think, why have I been doing this to myself for years? As I learned from reading the Slight Edge, the things that make the most difference in our lives, are easy to do and easy not to do.
A couple of weeks back I went to Big Sur to plan our upcoming retreat with Shauna Lay, my great friend, retreat co-creator, and spiritual teacher. We rented a small cabin on the Big Sur River surrounded by redwood trees. Everywhere I looked there were flowers blooming and the air smelt incredible from it. I knew it was a good idea to get away to plan the retreat but I had no idea what an inspirational trip it would be.
Instead of planning the retreat, we did the retreat, we did yoga, we went through the processes, we meditated, we created visions, we laughed a lot, we laid in the grass and sat in the river. We hiked among redwoods and cypress trees and let the ocean whip our hair around us like we were in a tornado. Everything was growing and it made me realize how energizing being in raw nature is. It makes you feel more alive its almost like you can feel all the life and growth around you. It’s the perfect environment to to ask yourself what you want to create next in your life.
The reason Shauna and I had such an incredible experience wasn’t just because of the place but also because of the work that we were there to do. We were there to create a transformational experience for other people, in doing so we ended up having a transformational experience ourselves.
Living your dreams, trusting in the universe, being willing to do the work, and having the patience to let your life unfold the way it’s supposed to is a labor of love. It takes you loving you and it takes a lot of love and support from the people around you. It also takes putting what you want out there and being willing to back it up with action. The retreat is designed to support each person in their journey and to give you an opportunity to really think about what’s next for you. And that’s what happened to us, we got so excited about where we are at right now and about what’s next we felt like we were buzzing from the energy of it.
Big Love is a phrase I borrowed from one of my oldest friends, Amy Siegal, this is a woman who definitely embodies Big Love. For me Big Love means loving as much as you can, as often as you can, loving when there is nothing else left, and then loving some more. I could not have felt more alive or more in love with life than I was putting together this retreat. I am so excited to share it and the details as they come together. So in the meantime, if you can, get to Big Sur while the flowers are blooming, and Big Love to you.
One day, in the midst of a heated argument with my son, it hit me how much he was mirroring me. In a flash I saw his innocence, his innate sweetness, and how my inability to control my temper was influencing him. It made me profoundly sad. There were many years of my life when I was angry but the truth is I am not angry anymore, but the tendency to get angry is still there. It’s like a rut that I can easily fall into. A pathway in my brain that I have raced down too many times. I have to make a change, now, because anger is not to a trait I want to pass along, especially to my son, if I can help it.
So I made a commitment – I am not going to raise my voice. The first week I broke it right away and countless times after. The second week, I broke it three times. The third week, I broke in once, and I noticed that time, the fear in my son’s eyes when it happened. He was about to accidently hit me in the head with a broomstick, but my reaction was so intense and loud that he wouldn’t talk for a couple of minutes. I realized two things, one how it makes him feel when I raise my voice and two he was getting less accustomed to it, it surprised him. Success! I am getting out of the habit, it motivated me. I’m two days in on week 4 and so far so good.
I had my corporate groups yesterday. Super productive, business-minded folks. Do you know what they talked about most? Raising kids. When to talk, when to take action, how to set boundaries, when to push, when to allow. There was a lot of talk about sports. I was particularly inspired by one man who made appointments in his calendar with his son to throw the ball so that no matter what was going on he was there. That focused time with his son positively impacted many areas of his life including his career. It improved his son’s life, his self confidence, his ability to play the game, and his relationship with his father. Paying attention to our relationships makes them better, us better, and our lives better – it just does.
Hats off to all you awesome parents out there that are doing the work, growing with your kids, loving them, nurturing them, doing the best you can for them. Sacrificing, endlessly giving, cheering on the sidelines, pushing, pulling, and letting go.
I was looking at pre-schools recently for my daughter. I went to the big ones and the small ones. The ones that were all about playing and then learning, the ones that were all about learning and then playing. The one with the passionate leader, part educator, part mother hen, part organic gardner. The one with the dispassionate leader that complained throughout our meeting. All approaching the nurturing of young beings in different ways.
So of course I picked the pre-school that I would want to go to. The one with the toys that I want to play with, the school with the yard I want to play in, the one with the art studio that I want to spend the day in as much at 36 as I would at 3. I left thinking about how fun everything looked. The simple wooden toys, the light tables, the organic garden in full bloom, the treehouse. The glass jars lining the art studio filled with collected household items to be re-imagined by creative young minds particularly inspired me. I thought about them a few times and then I realized I have a set of similar glass jars on my vision board, the one I made for my business, the one I look at everyday in my office. I had an aha moment. I realized that I want to feel about my work the way I want my daughter to feel about her pre-school. Happy and excited to go to work. Inspired. Playful. Interacting with people that I love. Making neat things together.
I have a clear picture of what a great environment for growth, self expression, and learning looks like for my daughter. Now I’m working on making that for me. I never even thought I could or should do that. Why not?
What environment, what feeling, what activities do you like? Touch them, feel them, and remind yourself of them often, because knowing what you want your work to feel like, means you are taking the first step to making your work your playground.
I came across this quote from Dan Millman, author of A Peaceful Warrior, and it gave me an intense feeling of relief. ”If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
I immediately thought over my last few weeks, and how unsettled I felt, how tense and uneasy, almost anxious I’d been and I realized I had been in my mind way too much. But what do you do when you feel that way? What do you do when your mind is your predicament?
I guess on some level I knew Eckhardt Tolle would have the answer I was looking for because I went to a YouTube video of his and I immediately got it. ”You are never more essentially yourself than when you are still. Take many conscious breaths throughout the day. Feeling the aliveness of your body from within. That immediately takes away the repetitive and negative thinking.”
So my challenge to you and to myself is to get back to stillness. Start with the breath. It works.
The winter groups have been wrapping up over the last couple of weeks. It’s satisfying to see how putting your intention out there and following it up with consistent activity does create the results you want but it is also so much more than that. The internal shifts that make that change possible effect more than that one result you were looking to obtain. I got to witness so much over the past 12 weeks. I saw people face the past and let go, I saw new jobs and business opportunities, I saw relationships grow, many pounds were shed, healthy habits put in place, and overall a huge increase in self awareness.
There are so many things I could highlight but one of the things I personally had the most fun with was the trend towards cleanses, eating plans, and general dietary changes. I never tell people what they should be committing to but the people within the groups do tend to inspire each other. What I couldn’t figure out was why so many of the groups were making the same commitments. This season it was like part of the collective consciousness to get healthier around eating habits.
In one group I had three out of four people doing cleanses at different times. Each reporting back essentially the same things – increased energy, better sleep, weight loss, and clarity. The energy was definitely contagious and it certainly inspired me to take one on. But it didn’t stop there. I finally broke down and had to investigate the Whole30 and the Paleo craze because I don’t think I had a single group where someone wasn’t eating Paleo. I also saw a lot of commitments to not having wheat, dairy, alcohol, sugar, bread, or dessert coming back again and again.
The interesting thing I noticed was that the motivations for eating better were so different. People were out to tackle weight loss, high cholesterol, lack of energy, sleep issues, body composition, aging, and overall well-being. All the work around food created an interesting conversation on ways to incorporate healthy eating habits into our lifestyles. Some people were calendaring, others meal-planning, some had cheat days, others cheat meals, essentially figuring out week over week how to fit these changes into their lifestyles, how to be healthy and social, how to eat a certain way and keep everyone in your family happy. All great questions that the groups supported and helped each other with.
The results were interesting too. As an observer I can honestly say that across the board when you make an effort to eat better you feel better no matter what plan you are on. You may lose weight, you may look younger, you may sleep better, you may have your libido go off the charts, but no matter what every person that invested in their health got positive results.
So as we head into spring and another session begins I wonder what will be in the collective consciousness next. I’m excited for the change and for the growth that this new season will bring and also celebrate all that was shed, altered, and brought to the surface in these last three months.
This week I had a conversation that really highlighted the importance of getting super clear around your money. It was such great wisdom from a woman I respect very much that I would like to share it with all of you. She said when you have guilt or shame around money it keeps you really stuck. The feelings could come from overspending, having a lot of debt, not having enough, or not managing what you have well. All sorts of reasons. But the key to getting to the other side of those feelings is to get really conscious around your money. In other words clear up the fog so you can see what’s around the bend. To do that get it down to the penny. Know how much money you have coming in and going out. Know exactly how much you owe. Once you dive into it and get to the point where you know down to the cent what the picture really is, it will empower you. She said that no matter who she worked with around their money issues, and there have been thousands, every time someone got really conscious around their money they were able to generate more!
I love a change in perspective that gets me excited or at least motivated around something that I have resistance to or even dread, like my taxes. Looking at getting really clear around my finances as a means of generating more income does just that, it motivates me and gets me really excited to have total clarity around my money. So after our conversation I started cleaning up my financial house and took care of business. I made sure all my business finances were order and then tackled my personal finances. I even found a great tool – Manilla.com - where I can look at one glance at all my online accounts, bank, credit card, savings, investment, utilities, insurance, travel rewards, magazine subscriptions – it’s like an online filing cabinet! I also found two checks that I had forgotten to deposit so see, it’s already working, getting uber conscious around your money is the perfect way to bring in more of it!
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living, we can all resist the benefits of down time even when we plan and pay for it.
I had the opportunity recently to travel for a beautiful destination wedding. Before I left I verified that there was wifi and I planned to work while I was there, getting some writing done, working on some marketing, you know “get things done”. Essentially I was planning to use my very rare time away from home, kids, work responsibilities, to work…just a little.
As I was packing my bag I looked at my computer and I realized it wasn’t coming with me. It was liberating. Then I had a moment of regret at the airport, followed by a feeling of being behind when I saw people working over breakfast at my beach hotel. Out of habit, I checked my email on my smartphone, but then I realized what I was doing and stopped. So with some effort and mixed feelings at first I let go. I enjoyed the luxury of having nothing in particular to do. I spent my time being with my husband and our friends. Catching up, taking it easy, and having a lot of fun. It was delicious.
When I was heading back to the airport I started to look forward to coming home, to being with my kids, to getting back to my routine, to hitting my business really hard. I realized if I brought my work with me, I wouldn’t miss it, I wouldn’t have a new relationship toward it when I got home. New ideas, new excitement, new energy. I realized the ability to disconnect is not innate, it takes some discipline, but it’s only in the letting go, that we can gain new perspective, in that brief gap between all the doing lies creativity and inspiration.
So as you are planning your vacations I encourage you to set it up so you can really disconnect. It may seem impossible, you are needed, you are important, your work demands it of you, but the truth is your world will not come to an end if you take a few days off. Especially if you prepare everyone for it. At the very least you’ll get a real vacation, and at the most, well you might have finally given yourself the room to look at what you are doing in a whole new way, or to connect with the people you are on vacation with, or to just have the kind of fun that you can only have when there is nothing pressing on your mind.
Why is it so tough to give constructive feedback? Is it because we’d rather be liked than be honest? Is it because we don’t want to be perceived as being judgmental or mean? Is it because it’s super uncomfortable to tell someone what you see that isn’t working. Personally, I’d rather congratulate, commend, and acknowledge but that’s the thing, feedback is not about me, its about the other person. So I force myself to sit in the discomfort of direct honest feedback because I really see that as the most caring thing that I can do.
When we fall short, when we don’t do what we say we are going to do and then we make excuses or come up with reasons for why, it’s easy to sell our story to most people. Most people will give us a pat on the back, affirm our excuses, or cheer us on to do a better job next time. I’ve learned from being held accountable for so many years that that may feel good in the moment but it doesn’t really help me in the long run. If I don’t keep my commitments and no one holds the line and works with me to figure out what really got in my way, what I’m really afraid of, or where I’m stuck, I can’t get the learning that I need. That’s why real constructive feedback is so important and why its a skill worth developing. It’s hard to see your own stuff, especially the patterns that aren’t serving you and the thoughts that keep you from getting to where you want to go. When I get really good constructive feedback all of a sudden it hits me, I get a new understanding of what I’ve been doing and why. In this new light my super valid and reasonable excuses can seem almost comical. It might be a little painful at first but I always end up grateful, and I respect the person more for being willing to tell me the truth.
How willing are you to give real meaningful feedback?
I have been thinking about the relationship between intention and commitment. I am often working with people on taking their intentions, for example to be more grounded, and then turning that intention into a set of commitments that will support that outcome. Commitment precedes accountability and since it’s my job to hold people accountable to specific actions I tend to focus on breaking the intention down into concrete steps. However, I was recently reminded of the importance and power of intention.
Last week I heard one of my friends tell someone that she had been intentionally deepening her relationships over the last year. The comment really hit me because after she said it I realized how true that actually was. I can honestly say that there has been a noticeable shift in how she approaches her relationship with me. It’s not that the texts, the calls, the facebook messages, or the times that we’ve hung out together have dramatically changed in frequency but there is a quality to it that makes me feel more valued and cared for. The intention that she has to deepen her relationships has opened me up to reciprocate in kind and as a result I get so much more from our interactions and hopefully she does too.
I am clear that when I use the word commitment I’m talking about something that is actionable, measurable, specific, and ambitious but not everything is meant to be broken down into action steps in that way. Setting the intention to develop your relationships means you can find all sorts of ways to do that, it can be a difference in your attitude, the way you listen, the way you interact, how you walk into a room, all of which are not commitments to be made but still result in noticeable shifts. You can make commitments around it or not, but still the intention is there.
I’m loving the interplay of these two concepts because we need both tools to manage the steps and hold the space for growth to take place. For example my intention may be to inspire and nurture growth whereas my commitment is to write once a week about what I’m thinking, learning, reading, or am inspired by. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to my intentions because I am more focused on my commitments, but identifying my intentions and realizing that they actually hold my commitments, opens up a lot more room for creativity. Have you ever given any thought to your intentions? What is one intention that you would like to set? Personally, I’m going with deepening my relationships because I love it so much.