Monday Motivation: Three No Fail Ways To Make Effective Changes

With the new year less than a month away, I thought it would be a perfect time for us to get a head-start on our resolution execution.  I mean, there’s no time like the present to start living your best life, right?  Let’s get started.

First, I want to ask you a few questions and I am hoping you’ll move past the knee-jerk responses and really think about your answers.  Looking back on 2013, how do you feel about the year as a whole?  Were you as successful as you had hoped to be? What do you feel was a “waste of time” and why?  What lessons did you learn?  What hardships did you face?  What familiar challenges found their way to you, yet again?  Did you enjoy your time with family and friends the way you would have liked to?  How did you treat your body? Did you push yourself too far or lay on the couch too long?  Are you winding down a productive year or gearing up for one?

The answers to these questions can provide a decent insight into the habits that are pushing you forward and holding you back as well as help to identify new ones that, if adopted, may help you on your path to a better sense of balance, happiness, health and success. The truth is that while many of us may be contented, most of us could use a fresh start in some area of our lives.  Perhaps it’s a personal or professional relationship that has gone off-track or a sense of direction that needs to be fine-tuned.  Here are three ways that may help you along your way to the best year yet.

Give Yourself a Review:

When we think of our “reputation”, we often think about it on a broad scale. But the reality is that it is the people closest to home who determine how we are perceived and that perception has a direct impact on our quality of life and the opportunities that make their way into it. Approach the task as research and make a decision not to take comments personally. Then, sit down with the people closest to you–at home, at work and in your relationship sector.  Ask them to share how they are feeling about your interactions and what they feel may help to polish relationships between you.  Example: A colleague might appreciate you showing more respect for their work/life balance and a partner may want more quality time with you as opposed to sitting on the couch in front of a TV, which leaves them feeling a little brushed off. Every relationship–personal or professional–hits tough terrain, but showing interest, investing time and exhibiting a commitment to making positive changes not only works to bring things back on track, it also brings people closer by making others feel valued, appreciated, supported and worth the time and energy it takes to make sure everyone is getting what they need to feel good about where they are at and what they are doing.

Think About Your Presentation:

The clothes may not make the (wo)man, but studies have shown that 70% of  first impressions are based on what you are wearing.  Ever heard “It’s not what you say, but how you say it?” There’s a study to support that old cliche as well.  In fact 20% of the impression people get is based on tone whereas only 10% is what you actually say.  Think about the news you deliver, the tone you deliver it in and how you look while handing it over. You might be sending a message about yourself that you don’t intend to or directly conflicts with who you actually are.  While self expression is a necessary component of a healthy and happy life, the truth is that being “hard to figure out” in this capacity doesn’t always give you an air of mystery, it often leads to misunderstandings and generalized ideas that can cost you in the long run.


Spontaneity is fun and it keeps life colorful, but those who find lasting success don’t often stumble upon it; they set a goal, make a plan, maintain flexibility and work towards it. Whether it’s finding a new position, building a better relationship or developing a stronger sense of self, thinking about who and where you are now, who you would like to become and where you would like to go are non-negotiable conversations to have with yourself.

Know Your Audience:

This is crucial. You would not expect an automotive website reader to want to read about lipstick, nor would you place an ad for a straight dating service in a gay magazine. Why would you share unnecessary information about yourself or your life in situations with people who might find these things offensive or judge you for them?  We can say “That’s their problem” but it’s really ours. People love to point the finger, and without all of the facts (i.e., a real understanding of who you are, where you have been and what your values are and the circumstances surrounding specific situations) you inadvertently set-up shop in a fishbowl. Living an authentic life is one of the most beautiful things we can do, but do people really need to know your sexual preferences or hear your very negative thoughts about their favorite presidential candidate at a dinner party? There is a way to balance authenticity with assimilation and those who do it, and do it well, often find both peace and productivity faster than those who stick to one side.


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10 Ways To Make 2014 The Best Year Yet

As 2013 comes to a close, many of us are enjoying the holiday kick-off and looking towards a new year.  Thoughts about change, reinvention, tweaks and making the upcoming year better than those before it are not uncommon.  That said, anyone who has ever treated resolutions as wistful wishes as opposed to action-infused goals knows that change walks towards us step-by-step.   On a personal note, 2013 offered a great deal of both joy and disappointment, but also great life lessons that truly changed the direction of my life in (what I believe to be) a much better one.

Today, I would like to share the 10 goals I have for moving further into my best life.  Perhaps you’ll find a couple of them helpful in your own journey.

Spend Time Wisely and With People Who Share My Values: I have always been someone who worked more than played (easy to do when work feels like play) but, let’s face it; a life that feels balanced is usually one that is balanced. I also tend to hold onto relationships and situations too long in the hopes that understanding and time will work together and bring things back-on-track. It’s time like these when hope and good intentions can work against you. With this in mind, I decided to write down what I wanted out of my life and to make decisions as to how I spend my time (and with whom I spend it) based on their ability to bring me closer to my goals. Leisure and frivolity are both essential, but wasting time on things and people who are holding us back does nothing for us.

Cut Out The Unnecessary Noise: Mindless chatter about celebrities was left behind soon-after college, but what about the snide comments about colleagues that find themselves sprinkled onto conversations or finding yourself in the same complaint-filled conversation? Having the same conversations about the same things (or people) is boring at best. Worse, negative thoughts and words create negative energy, so it’s no wonder we fill drained after engaging (or having to overhear) them. An uncomfortable question to ask is, “Am I draining those around me with unnecessary negativity?”

Go On a Mission: The idea that you’re going to go from  assistant to CEO in a year is a little much, but treating yourself like a business, setting quarterly goals and making daily plans where you address the priorities of the week will have you looking back at 2014 and seeing significantly more progress than just allowing the days to pull you into various directions.

Be Accountable: Maintaining a victim mentality is comforting in the fact that we don’t have to walk around feeling anything is our fault, but it also encourages the delusion that we don’t have control over our own lives.  The fact is that, true duress aside, no one makes us say, not say, do and not do anything. We choose what to engage and what to ignore.  We choose to hold on or let go, and even if our minds or hearts are still attached to something (or someone), we can push ourselves to take action and move forward until they catch up with us. Holding on to idea #1 will aid in this.

Don’t Be Sloppy: Not with your words, actions, work, drink, dress or trust–regardless of intention.  Over-promising with good intentions is sloppy, and so is sharing information that is best kept under wraps.  No one has ever found themselves in hot water by not sharing gossip or leaving a party the second they realize they have had one martini too many.

Try Hard To Look At Yourself Objectively: This is almost a impossible task, but it’s worth a try.  Instead of infusing the number on the scale with a bunch of self-bashing or coloring difficult situations with big, sweeping statements like “I’ll never” or “I always”, pay attention to where you are, right now, and tools and resources are around you to help you achieve your goals.  Try and speak to yourself about these things with as little emotion as possible. Example: Instead of “I hate my stomach and legs, I am never going to look like so and so…” say, “In order to lose weight, I will need to cut calories and exercise.  Motivating is hard for me, so let me find three resources to help me get past this.” It sounds silly, but it works.

Give To Others Exactly What You Want For Yourself: If you want understanding, motivation, respect, kindness, forgiveness, assistance, favors, etc., give it. If you want criticism, judgement, people to talk about you, to be devalued, put down and ignored, hand that out.  Our behavior has a direct impact on those around us and how the world responds to us, so changing what you put out will literally change the world around you.

Cover a Thin Skin: Let’s face it; some of us are more sensitive than others. But allowing every dirty look or proverbial scratch to cause us to bleed is not going to benefit us in any way. Being a martyr is not an appropriate aspiration if you want to be happy. Work on building a strong support network, a thick sense of self and a deep understanding of what is important to you and then walk through the winds of other people’s projections and drama protected.

Get Help: Whether it’s someone with a Ph.D, a friend or a mentor, going to someone who has knowledge they are willing to share is never a bad thing.

Finally, Grab the Lesson and Let It Go: We have all lived a hell of a lot of life. We all have our disappointments and missed opportunities, but show me one person who was able to undo what has been done by dwelling?  The only way to make amends with the past is to apologize and forgive where you can and then do better in the now.

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A Few Secrets To Aid You On Your Path To Success

I came across this while working on my Pinterest account and thought it was too good not to share with all of you. Those who know me and follow my blog know that I am a huge believer in hard work and being the very best you can be while here on this earth.  The idea that, to achieve true and lasting success, one must work hard and treat others with respect is an old school one and was introduced to me at a young age by my beloved grandfather who was, by all accounts,  a hard-working gentleman.

The thing I remember and heard most about my grandfather growing up was that he man who carried himself with dignity.  Whether painting a house, dealing with a difficult banker or engaging an argument, he was a man who carried himself with a quiet pride in both himself and the efforts he made in any given situation.

Though I recall that appreciated accolades, he abhored flattery, and though he wanted to be successful, he always warned that there was a difference between ambition and ruthlessness and the ego tends to gear us towards the latter. Through his stories of opportunities gained and lost, I quickly learned that he willing to get his hands dirty, but only literally.  “Do what it is that you want to do in order to achieve success, but always within the structure of a strong moral code,” he would say.

When I would get excited about an idea or my ability to execute it, he would encourage me but warn “not to get too big for your britches,” and if I dared to idolize or denounce another person, he’d make a stern face and remind me that we all “put our pants on one leg at a time.”  He believed the way we treated others, good manners and the way we carried ourselves opened and closed doors, and  maintained that it said a great deal about who we were at the core. During one particularly lively discussion about the anger I felt towards my stepmother (and my decision to let her know it), he looked at me with understanding and explained , “Everyone, woman or lady, man or gentleman will have a hat tipped and a handshake honored because that’s about who you are and how you carry yourself.”  That particular statement stuck very quickly. In it, I learned that aside from true duress, no one can make you behave as less than you are. You either have it in you or you don’t and when you flash something vulgar or vile  under pressure, it’s best to take note for you are getting a glimpse of a darker part of your truest character.

I believe these lessons, given over the table, on long walks and during commercial breaks have contributed a great deal to the successes I have enjoyed throughout my short life.  I often  wonder what he would say about this and that, but a part of me always knows.  As an added bonus, I have been deeply fortunate to have a family of friends and colleagues who also value good values and a solid work ethic,  and they challenge me to do better and be better daily. Who knows? Perhaps one day I will be the woman and writer I hope to become. In the meantime, I will heed good advice when I find it, and I think I’ve stumbled on a bit of it here (see below). If you are also on your journey and looking for ways to build a better you, you might appreciate these small–yet significant–tips as well.


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Light It Up

Brenda Della Casa, Walking Barefoot

You’ve run around in circles and begged silly/broken/dishonest/confused people for attention.  You’ve looked for validation in places you’d have been better off avoiding all together.  You’ve ignored the qualities others admire in you.

You’ve exhausted yourself running back to the past.

You have tried to make sense of nonsense and allowed others to waste your time with drama and chaos.  You’ve put off trips and talked yourself out of taking chances. You made the terrible decision to believe the lies that were told to you by unhealthy people with malicious motivations.

You seemed to be swinging on a pendulum between happiness and despair when it happens….

You snap out of your daze and realize that this is your life.

You finally get that you have to keep moving forward, no matter what.  It starts to dawn on you that orbiting around the same old stuff is going to just keep you in a place you have already experienced and gotten everything you will get out out of.

You accept that there is a whole world out there to see, a world full of people to meet, foods to try, gardens to sit in and exciting nights to enjoy.  There are experiences to be had and skin that needs to be shed.  For a moment your heart races, you’re not anxious, you are excited.  

You have a fresh start.  You can go anywhere you want to from here.  All you have to do is let go of what no longer fits into the life you want to be living right now.  You think about all of the ways you will educate and polish yourself. How you will treat yourself and others better.  How you will live to a higher standard and surround yourself with honest, loving, supportive and like-minded people.

You’re ready to relish in your success.  You’re ready to ignite your inspiration.  You’re ready to stop existing and start really living La Bella Vita.

It’s not rock bottom.  You’re finally opening your eyes to the fact that you’re on top.

Be Independent.

“I have my own money, now what do you have to offer?” she asked.

Ladies, spend your love on someone you actually love, not someone who can buy you nice things. You’re smart enough to take care of yourself and worthy of laying in the arms of someone you actually care for.  If you “buy” something, you can treat it any way you want to. If you allow yourself to be purchased, don’t be upset when you’re treated well for a while and then thrown on the floor when something new arrives.

Dirty Mind

Last night, I had a brilliant chat with one of my best friends (not uncommon) but midway through she made a comment that turned my head and had me looking in a whole new direction–towards the mirror.

The great thing about change is that it can happen any ol’ time–and it starts with acknowledging what you have been doing wrong.  In this particular case, I was allowing my mind to play a variety of “tricks” on me. This resulted in subsequent behaviors that are best left out of print. Oops.

Today, I took a look at Preston’s Column and realized that I am not the only one in this mindset.  I took it as yet another sign to stop believing my own thoughts and deal with what is real and really in front of me.

Looks like the universe is giving signs. I took the talk and blog as mine.  Perhaps this post is yours.

Looks like the universe has some big plans for us.

Yesterday, we stumbled. Today we catch our stride. Tomorrow, we strut.

We’re Unstoppable Now.

I0 Things To Never Do

Waste Your Time With Jealousy: It’s a useless emotion that disintegrates everything it touches.  Know that there is enough to go around and one having does not mean the other will have not. If you’re with someone who is trustworthy, trust them.  If you’re not, it’s time to reevaluate your relationship.

Stay In and Cry Over Someone Who Isn’t Crying Over You: We only have so many days and nights in our lives and while you might not want to go out or spend time with friends, it’s the best way to move on and create some fun new memories (and possibly meet someone who won’t bring tears to your eyes).

Forget That We’re All Human Beings: We’re all flawed and have a wide range of talents, insecurities, worries, desires, fears, needs and wants.  Some of us just hide our vulnerabilities better than others. When engaging others, try and remember that we’re all spirits in shells trying to do the best we can while here on earth.  Be gentle.

Toy With Other People’s Emotions:  You’re either in or out, and if you can’t decide, it’s best to stay out.

Allow Fear To Hold You Back:  Think of fear as a bully.  If you stay silent and allow it to torment you, you’ll be pegged a victim and be pushed around on a daily basis.  Stand up to it and punch it square in the face and there’s a good chance you’ll recognize your own strength and send a message to the universe that you’re a fighter who will not allow challenges to keep you from living your best life and being your best self.

Get Stuck in a Moment:  You’re going to make mistakes and take wrong turns, and that’s  a good thing.  How else will you ever grow and learn?  Take inventory, make amends, commit to do the better next time and keep moving forward (and up).

Assume You (Or They) Can Read Minds: The only way to avoid miscommunication is to sit with someone and have an honest and open dialogue. It may get messy but there is a good chance it will bring clarity in a way emails, silence or text messages never can.

Put Yourself Down: If you cannot support and respect yourself how in the world can you expect anyone else to?

Take Love/Friendship For Granted:  As we grow older, their value becomes clearer.  In this life, the bonds with one another are all we have.  They are what make life beautiful, meaningful and real.  When appreciated, these bonds will not only infuse your own life with joy but help the lives of others blossom.  Your legacy lies in how you treat those around you.

Give Up On Yourself: Even if you have hit rock bottom, you can always start climbing back up. Your success is up to you.

9 Ways To Get Ahead Faster

From staying motivated to protecting your mental health, here are 9 ways to move closer to happiness, one focused step at a time.

Focus On Your Long-Term Goals

Whether it’s dealing with a difficult colleague or moving past the ending of a relationship, getting “stuck in the moment” is something that comes quite easy to the most of us.  Instead of placing what was said and done on a loop in your mind, think about what your ultimate goal is and use the “big picture” as a magnifying glass. You’ll likely navigate through your current situation with greater ease.

Respect Yourself

Think about the things you value, your goals and needs and what you consider to be respectful behavior.  While we all value different things and are motivated by our own specific moral code, it’s important that we honor what lies closest to our heart.  Pushing yourself to behave differently in order to “fit in” or with the hopes of finding happiness will only bring regret and sticky situations.

Be Grateful

Those people who support you, reach out to you, show you compassion and love?  They don’t have to do it, they choose to give you these gifts.  That job you complain about pays your bills.  That clean bill of health? A big deal.  If you need a little help appreciating something, simply spend a few moments to imagine it being taken away from you right this moment.

Respect Others

Mr. Buechner had it right when he said that people will forget what we say and do but will always remember how we made them feel.  I have also found that remaining calm and kind gets me through situations (and closer to the outcome that I want) much faster.

Be a Person of Honor

Be where you say you will be, do what you say you will do, be honest about your intentions and stay close to your values, even when no one is watching. Not only will this make life less complicated, it will keep your reputation polished.

Steer Clear of Toxic People

We all have periods when we feel depressed and defeated, but surrounding yourself with compulsive critics, procrastinators, complainers and drama kings/queens is going to do little more than pull you down, fog up your mental space, hold you back and get your name and persona associated with the negative emotions they evoke in others.

Stay Focused

In this digital age, there are more ways to distract yourself than ever before.  Sit down and plan out your day by placing yourself on a schedule.  Put in some “downtime” and remember what Will Smith said, “You may be smarter and more talented, but you will not out run me.” Stay on track.

Move “Onto The Next”

Know that life is a living and breathing (and moving) thing.  You don’t have to jump in and out of relationships, jobs, situations, but you do need to understand that everything will follow the times (and therefore it will twist, turn and morph). Be flexible and move with it.

Be Willing To Do The Work

Only children have an excuse to think that life will always be easy.  Adults  know that relationships will not always be easy, jobs will not always be secure, friendships will not always be happy, sex will not always be great and metabolisms will not always be high.   Everything worth having takes work, and successful adults roll up their sleeves to do it.

It’s True

All things that are worth having are either difficult to obtain or difficult to keep.

The way someone treats you when upset with you is a good indication of how they truly feel about you.

Acceptance doesn’t mean bowing down.  It means that you have become fully aware of your surroundings and can now navigate through the tough parts and move into something better.

There is no one more powerful than you are.  The power held over you is the power you handed over.

Friendship makes the world worth living in.

Most of us confuse pleasure with happiness and wind up chasing empty moments.

The small things we discount are the things we miss most when we lose someone.

The Universe wants you to succeed.

A loud voice cannot transform an opinion into fact.

What you want most is there for you to rescue it.

Your soul is here for a reason.

You’re In Control

It’s easy to give the credit for opportunity, love, happiness and success to luck and  to blame misfortune on an unjust universe, but really, most of what comes our way is directly related to the actions we take– and don’t take–on a daily basis.

Your life is written and directed by you. You decide how big a part you will play and who you will cast as your leading man/lady and your supporting cast.

Don’t forget it.

Your Choice

You can still walk forward (though you have fear in your heart).

You can still love someone (though they have hurt you).

You can still succeed in the future (though you have failed many times in the past).

You can still help those who didn’t think (or know how) to help you.

You can still forgive those who have not asked to be forgiven.

You can argue your side of things or have faith in the truth’s ability to shine.

You can worry about what others think or do what you know is right.

You can hide behind lies or you can stand confidently in the skin of the man/woman you really are.

You can try to be perfect or simply be perfectly you.

You can give all or nothing or half.

You can let it weigh you down or you can cut it loose.

You can continue to allow resentments to fester or you can let them go and make things right.

You can sit and complain or you can take action while your lips remain still.

You can sleep in or seize the day.

You can exist or you can live.

You can settle or you can hold your life, your love, your actions and your words to a higher standard.

You choose.

Act The Part

When I was in high school, the queen bee of the drama department was a young (and very talented) girl named Janae.  With more diva in her than Jennifer Lopez, Janae had earned the reputation of being “difficult” and “demanding” at the ripe age of 15.  She was my idol and my rival, and if you were to ask me back then why I admired her so much I would have responded that she was a “star” without really being one.  How did she pull that one off?

"Do you know who I am?"

Janae graduated two years before I did.  Off to the Acadamy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she was out of my hair and set to conquer the world of musical theatre.  The girl had pipes for sure, and she wasn’t bad to look at, but more than that, she had that “X- factor” my drama teacher (Mr. Catinari) used to talk about so often.  One day, while working in the little coffee shop that paid me the money I needed to cover my bills and lipstick, Janae’s aunt walk in.  We spoke about New York and acting and I pretended not to detest her neice.  As she left, she said, “You know, she can be difficult and demanding and rough, but when you want something, you need to live like you already have it and the world will respond to you in kind. Janae acts like a star and is treated like one.”

It made no sense to me then, but as I have grown older, her words have blossomed and their wisdom more fragrant.  Now, there’s never a good and solid reason to demand baby pink M&M’s and rare african orchids in every room you enter, but if you’re aching  a successful (insert goal here) it would help for you to see yourself as such in order to get others to view you that way.  Here are a few ideas:

Dress the Part: If you’re looking to take on the corporate world, those sexy mini’s and jeans aren’t going to fly. Take a look at what the person in the role you’re looking to fill wears and follow suit (no pun intended).

Read Up:  Start following the news in your industry.  You want to gain an understanding of who the key players are, learn the lingo and have something significant to add to discussions when faced with prime networking opportunities.

Get a Mentor:  Start holding informatinal interviews with people who have achieved what you want to achieve.  Ask to buy them coffee or for 15 minutes of their time via phone.  Make sure you have a list of questions prepared and make the most out of your moment.

Polish, Polish, Polish:  Take a look at your dream job or goal and pay attention to the skills that are required to slip into the position.  Now, sign up for a class, get a tutor or start teaching yourself and ask a mentor to guide you.

Mix & Mingle:  Find out where those who have achieved your goal meet up for drinks, dinner and networking events.  Go!

I always tell writers to write, even if it is just a blog.  Publish yourself and build a strong clip file.  Make sure your bio and brand are tight.  Success is not measured by what is in your bank account, it’s determined by what you are doing and what you have actually done.

The Gift of a Day

Each day offers us a unique opportunity to experience life, to reevaluate the life we have been living and refocus our energy to help us learn more, enjoy more, create more, understand more and develop more than we have thus far. Seize each and every day and allow it to blossom and unfold before you.

Your Choice

You can do the work or you can give up.

You can be honest or you can be deceptive.

You can be kind or you can be nasty.

You can be open-minded or you can be judgemental.

You can accept change or you can resist it and feel resentful.

You can let it go or you can carry a grudge.

You can move forward or you can be left behind by a world in motion.

You can live in your past or you can glance through it like a lovely memory book on breaks from your present.

You can assume or you can try and understand.

You can be a slave to your ego or not.

You choose how you will be. How you will live. How you will act and react.

Agree or Disagree?