Joy

The Truth about Excuses

The Truth About Excuses…that four letter word that stops us every time:

We all do it. We use that four letter word “can’t” to avoid doing things for numerous reasons.

“I can’t get to the gym today because it’s too late.” “I can’t go to that networking event because I’m too tired.” I can’t sit down and write the next chapter because I have to call my mom”. “I can’t meditate every day because I don’t have enough time.” “I can’t go to that workshop because I don’t have enough money.”

(By the way, not having enough time or money are our most common reasons for why we can’t stick to our goals.)

But, the problem with buying into these BS stories is that they keep us in victim mode. When you say you “can’t” do something it suggests that you have no control over the situation at all.

Which by the way, is NOT true. Now yes, it’s true you can’t control other people, the economy, or all of your life’s circumstances. But you CAN control your reaction to what’s happening in your life. You have control over your attitude and responses. AND, by making one little shift, you can take back the reins of control once again.

How? Replace I “can’t”, with I “won’t”.

Ouch.

But, saying I “won’t” is more truthful, isn’t it?

It’s not that you don’t have enough time to meditate every day. The truth is, you just don’t “want” to carve out that time from your busy day. Finding the time will take work and require you to sacrifice doing something else.

It’s not that you can’t get to the gym, it’s that you “don’t want” to go to the gym. You don’t want to have to deal with all the effort that it will take, not to mention the potential muscle aches you’ll feel tomorrow.

Because if it’s really important to you, you’ll make the time and find the money to get it done. So, it’s not a matter of “I can’t”. It’s a matter of “I won’t”.

Which is super empowering! Because you are no longer a victim to your circumstances. You are taking responsibility for your actions and you’re either willing to accept your excuses or not. This honesty policy puts you in the driver’s seat.

Here’s a great assignment to bust those lies.

Write down at least 10 of your excuses. This shouldn’t take that long because we all know our excuses by heart. But, stop right now, and actually write them down.

This is not a “See, I AM a loser destined to be a failure” expedition. This is not something to beat yourself up about. This is part of being human and we ALL have tons of excuses that seem like really good reasons for not getting things done. Yes, me too!

So, write out your top 10 excuses.

Next to them, write out why those excuses are total BS.

As I said, time and money are our favorite excuses but rarely are they true. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. Why are those excuses big fat lies? Write it out.

Then, write out what you will DO instead.

For example, let’s say “I can’t get to the gym because I don’t have time” is your fave excuse. You’ve identified that’s a big lie because you do manage to have time to watch Netflix every day! So to revamp the “I don’t have time” excuses, you may:

– set your alarm for earlier in the morning
– gather your gym clothes and have them ready the night before
(I know people who’ve slept in their gym clothes so in the morning they just got up and went to the gym!)
– set a time to meet someone else at the gym (workout buddies work!)
– bring your gym clothes with you in the morning and then go straight from work
– look into classes being offered and schedule them into your week
– check out YouTube for FREE tutorials and classes which eliminates the time needed to even go to the gym
Do you see how there are actually many ways to “create” time by having a plan of attack? Just by having your clothes ready to go ahead of time, saves a lot of time if you are trying to squeeze in a workout before work…

What about the money excuse? “I can’t take that workshop because I don’t have enough money”. Really? Let’s bust that wide open.

you could contact the organization and work out a payment plan
ask the organization if they need volunteers which could help you lower your attendance fee or even eliminate it
you can make your own coffee and/or pack a lunch to save on overpriced meals out
could you pick up a side job?..maybe drive for Uber or create an account on Task Rabbit.
find a neighbor who needs help with babysitting or housekeeping
All of us have too much junk…do you have something you could sell on Ebay or Craig’s list?

Those are just a few ways you can create extra money for something, if you REALLY WANT IT.

Don’t let that four letter word “can’t” get in your way. Swap it out for the truth. “I won’t” and get honest about why you’re stuck. Then take back the reins of control by calling out your excuses and replacing them with concrete actions.

And sometimes this is too much to do on our own. “I can’t ask for help” is another popular excuse. If you need help, ask. Get in touch at brigittadau@yahoo.com and we’ll get to work on this together.

How to use Polarization to Create Clarity

You’ve heard it over and over: “Like energy attracts like energy”…in other words, focus on the negative and you are sure to experience more of it.

yes, that is true when you are visualizing an outcome or a goal. Focussing on the negative will only prompt your brain to create more of that negativity. This is why I always say, when setting goals, clearly state them in terms of moving FORWARD. For example, you are not losing 10 pounds because you are sick of feeling gross…you are losing 10 pounds so you can feel awesome in your clothes. The first example is reflecting on what is not working, whereas the latter creates images in the mind of something positive to move towards. And our visual minds follow whatever image we put in front of them…so, dwell on what you DO want.

However, when it comes to making decisions, forming partnerships, launching projects, etc, having a clear look at what you don’t want will point you very clearly and quickly in the direction of what you do want. Polarizing your plan is an excellent decision making tool.

For example, let’s say you are producing a play. What don’t you want? Likely, you don’t want actors showing up late, set builders and stage managers not keeping their agreements, thus ending up having to do all the work yourself.

Now spin it to the positive. What does what you don’t want mean? For example, if you don’t want to work with people who are chronically late, then maybe you want to work with professionals who do keep their agreements and actually have a track record of getting things done. And maybe you want a more, collaborative team so its easier to delegate. Do you see how flipping the negative to the positive gives you a clear roadmap as to who you will work with?

You can use this for all your decisions.

Let’s say you are wanting to take a yoga class. Being clear will help you enjoy it more. If you’re like me, you likely don’t want to leave feeling sore and needing a nap! So then how do you want to feel? Connected to your body in a positive way and more energized than you were before class? Sounds good to me! Having that clarity will help you choose the time, the instructor, and type of class you’re going to take.

And, when you make the big decisions…buying a house, starting a new business, creating a project involving multiple partners…you can use this clarity tool to ensure you are gathering the right people to help you see your vision come true. This also helps you spot the red flags…the gut feeling you have about certain people. Likely they are exhibiting something from your “don’t want” list.

“Start the way you want to finish” is not just an old saying, It is absolutely true when starting something big. Choose your team wisely…by knowing what you want and what you don’t want.

So again, list clearly all the things you do not want. Then, spin that list to the opposite…what you DO want? Get clear on THAT list, and then go find your team!

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Living with Passion and Tolerating Fear

Fact: Your biggest passions will bring up your biggest fears. Why? Because going for what you’re passionate about raises your emotional commitment level. The bigger the goal, the bigger the challenge. Said another way, the more you ask of life, the more life asks of you.

Now knowing this fact is not a reason to set lame goals! I truly believe that we are all here to do something special and that likely has a lot to do with what we are passionate about. So set big juicy goals!

But then let’s be honest, we need to get comfortable with being…uncomfortable.

Synchronicity seems to be a law of nature. The minute we take the leap, if it’s in alignment with our passions, the universe sends us a hefty dose of happy coincidences. So, we’re jazzed and moving forward and feel somewhat magical as we see the help that comes our way. And then another law of nature pops up: something big comes our way and asks us “Really? Do you really have the guts to do this? How badly do you really want this?”

Maybe you actually get the audition you’ve been fighting for, or an advance for your book proposal, or a loan to open your own shop…that’s great! But now you’ve got to actually follow through. Put your money where you mouth is…and step up to the plate.

Which means for most of us: red hot fear.

People at the top of their game have found a way to get comfortable with being freaked out. And most often, they acknowledge their fears first…BUT THEN THEY TAKE ACTION ANYWAY. They also have something that else that is consistent for them to focus on. So, although dramatic change might be happening in one area of their life, there is something else NOT changing or being challenged at the same time.

For me, it’s exercise. I do a cardio workout every single day, pretty much first thing in the morning. (well, after some coffee!) I also meditate every day. Not always at the same time or even for as long as I may want, but I do it every day.

I also make sure to “create my day” at night before I go to bed. I’ve mentioned this exercise before but it’s worth repeating. Writing out how you want tomorrow to look, before you go to bed, helps your subconscious mind look for ways to make that happen. Also, when something happens that you weren’t anticipating, you have a plan to go back to after you have dealt with whatever challenge came up.

Even if your schedule changes day to day (as mine does) you can create some consistent actions that you take on a daily basis to create a sense of safety for yourself. By doing that, you are less likely to be thrown by your fears when they arise.

Remember, when your fear bells start ringing, first acknowledge your fear. You can even thank it! Your fear is signaling you that the time has come to take big actions on your passions. It’s telling you that you are officially upping your game.

And, keep cultivating some of those non-negotiable actions you already have in your life so you can feel stable in the face of change.

If you need help creating those consistent habits, get in touch (brigittadau@yahoo.com) and we’ll come up with a plan together.

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When I grow up…

“what do I want to be when I grow up?”

I don’t know about you but I wanted to be one of “Charlie’s Angels” and definitely a part of the Jackson Five.

Obviously, neither of those things happened (…yet). So now we flash forward into being grown ups and for some of us, this question is still left unanswered. But, in my opinion, we’re asking the wrong question. The problem with focussing on what we want to “be” is that it stops us from acknowledging that what we really want is to FEEL a certain way. How will you FEEL when you achieve your goals? Why do you want what you want?

So the real question we should be asking ourselves is, “who do I want to grow into in this lifetime?” The truth is, a quality life is less about our achievements and more about our personal growth as we navigate our road to success.

Ask any successful person about how they felt when they achieved their goals. They will tell you that yes, achieving their success felt great! But they will also likely say, they were just as happy while working towards and striving for their goals. I’ve seen this time and time again with artists, entrepreneurs, and business people. They work hard and enjoy their success, yes. But then, they are soon setting a new goal to challenge themselves once again. Because successful people actually enjoy the process as much as they enjoy the results.

So, what are your goals these days and more importantly, who will you become as you work to achieve them?

Think about a goal you are passionate about…

What would your life look like on the road to that success? Who would you meet and how? Who would you have to seek out and recruit? Who would help you and how would you ask for that help? What would you have to learn? From whom? How would you get paid and who would you have the pleasure of paying, once the money started rolling in? What would you have the pleasure of buying for yourself and others?

What would your breakthroughs say about you?

Do you see a pattern emerging? Your answers to the above questions will steer you more clearly in the direction of how you want to live your life. Armed with this level of clarity, you have a clear roadmap as to how you want to feel on a daily basis. Meaning, you can feel that way NOW rather than waiting until you achieve your goals!

For example, I met a guy in Vancouver who was a ticket agent for Delta airlines. Probably not the most fun job in the world when you think of how many angry travelers you’d have to deal on a daily basis.

On this particular day, I had just taken a seat in the waiting area when he came on the speaker system to say “Hello my waiting passengers! I know you are admiring the beauty of the Vancouver International Airport so I have good news! You get to enjoy another 20 minutes of it! We will now be boarding at 2:45.”

All of us passengers looked at each other and laughed. (How often do you laugh at airports?!?)

Then, when boarding was to begin, he introduced himself as “Greg, your master of ceremonies…and these two ladies (gesturing to his co-workers) are my mistresses of ceremonies. Please have your passport ready when boarding.” Again, more laughter from all of us.

Our master of ceremonies then said “children and passengers needing assistance could board the plane.” At that point, a bunch of first class passengers jumped up and got in the line. He stared at them for a second, then, over the microphone asked, “are you all jumping into line because you behave like children and therefore need assistance?”

We all are laughing at this point. Even the obnoxious first class people laughed and even apologized.

It doesn’t end there! Once we were all on the plane and waiting to push back from the gate…Here comes Greg again over the loudspeaker. This time, he told us a funny rhyme, wished us all a safe journey, and said goodbye. To which we all responded…”Bye Greg!” (Have you ever remembered the name of the ticket agent you passed when boarding a plane?!)

This guy was clearly not waiting to achieve his goals before he started sharing what he was passionate about. Obviously he is a comedian or an actor or a comedy writer…But, he’s not waiting until he sells his script to hear people laugh at his jokes. Nope, he’s turned his day job into yet another area to share his humor. (And, when Delta sent me their survey on my experience, you can imagine who I mentioned as an outstanding employee!)

So, how can you approach your goals with this kind of passion? How can you enjoy the ups and downs along the way?

DO NOT WAIT until you achieve your goals to be who you want to be. Start to view your daily life as an opportunity to be your best self possible…start today…start now.

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How cultivating Happiness leads to Confidence and Success

Shawn Achor of Harvard has spent his life studying happiness and its relevance in corporate America as well as corporations around the world. Countless studies have been done to prove that happy workers not only perform better at their jobs, but actually create more profit for the companies they work for.

But, most of us are not CEO’s of Fortune Five Hundred companies. So how can we use this research in practical ways to improve our own lives? After all, if it works for corporate America, shouldn’t it work for us?

Yes it can! By practicing the same principles they do. According to studies, the minimal amount of happy/confident experiences required to increase the likelihood of success, is 3 new experiences a day. But, these experiences must be specific to our own personal preferences. And these preferences are known as, our ‘signature strengths’.

What does that mean? It means at least 3 times a day, you have to consciously engage in different things that make you feel confident and happy. Some examples: admiring the pretty flowers in someone’s garden, complimenting a co-worker, finding the humor in a situation, being grateful for a good nights sleep, learning something new, reviewing your previous successes… The key is, you have to figure out what makes YOU happy and confident and start looking for opportunities to experience more of those feelings on a daily basis.

So what makes you happy? Humor? Love of learning? Creativity? Gratitude? Curiosity? Sit for a few minutes and remember the times you were genuinely happy. What was going on? What were you doing? Did you find something funny about the situation? Were you engrossed in learning something new? Write down all the activities that contributed to your happiness.

And, when did you feel successful? What were you doing and how did it feel? For example, maybe you got the client because you were super prepared and have a knack for reading the room. Then ‘being prepared’ and ‘great people skills’ should go on your list of signature strengths. (If you want to get scientific about it, go to viasurvey.org and fill out their survey…its fun, fast, and free!)

Some of you still might think that pain and struggle is the only way to success and all this happiness talk is nonsense. Well, just to inspire you even more, here is an interesting experiment done by Margaret Shih at Harvard. She gathered a group of Asian women of the same IQ and administered a math test. But, before the test, she told them that because they were women and generally women are bad at math, she didn’t expect great scores. Not surprisingly, the women scored low. Then, a different test was administered. Only this time she told them that because the were Asian they were expected to do well because Asians are culturally better at math. You guessed it…they scored high!

Another test at Harvard, involving Doctors, proved that Doctors primed with happy feelings before seeing a patient, yielded more accurate diagnosis’ than those Doctors simply going from patient to patient. I don’t know about you, I’d rather have a happy Doctor see me the next time I’m sick!

Science has repeatedly proven that the happier and more confident you feel, the more likely you are to succeed. (and thus Corporate America has jumped on board because success = money!)

So…what if you primed yourself to feel confident before going into your job interview, pitching your project, sitting down to write, or dealing with your children? The key is to remember what makes you happy, and remind yourself of the great skills you already have (rather than what you lack).

So…think back to the times you were most happy. What was going on? What were you doing? What made you feel awesome and confident?

Get your list of 3-5 things that you can do on a daily basis to feel great, and then do them every day. (I have my list posted front and center on my journal so I start every day feeling positive and confident…and what are my signature strengths, you might ask? Gratitude, Spirituality, Humor, Love, and Fairness. So my day starts with a Gratitude list…every day.)

Again, I repeat, practice them DAILY. And more importantly, practice them purposefully and consistently when faced with challenges.

And…share! Pass this on to anyone you know who could use a happiness boost today! And feel free to share your signature strengths with me!

My favorite daily habit to improve our dispositions

We are all born with different personalities, preferences, inclinations and dispositions. There was a vast study done in the 1950’s called the ‘New York Longitudinal Study’ where they studied infants to predict the various temperaments each child would likely exhibit as a toddler and further on in life.

And ask any parent with more than one child, they will tell you that they are all different…same parents, same DNA, different sensibilities.

So what about those of us drawn to the “broodier” side of life? Some people seem to be “hard wired” to see the negative, the mistakes, the worst case scenario. Is that you?

Or maybe you used to be pretty happy in general but life has just served you up platter of poopy life circumstances and you feel bummed out more days than not?

(Let me be clear, I’m talking about general malaise. NOT clinical depression. If you feel clinically depressed or suicidal, seek medical help immediately.)

Well, there is good news for those of you who tend to feel down. You can ‘rewire’ your brain to actively look for things that bring a smile to your face. It just takes daily practice.

– Random Acts of Kindness have been proven to, over time, help elevate people’s moods. That means, just doing something nice for someone else for no good reason, can nudge you out of a slump.

– Physically moving your body in positive ways (dancing, singing, looking up at the sky, etc) has a psychological effect on your moods. So if you are staring at your feet feeling sad, look up! That sends a neuromuscular message to your nervous system to change its focus thus changing your state from bummed, to uplifted.

But, my favorite way to rewire our brains to see the good, is:

– Journaling…in a very specific way

Everyday for the next 2 weeks, sit down and write about something good that happened to you that day. It can’t be the same thing as yesterday! You have to come up with and write extensively about something new that happened to you…every day for at least 2 weeks.

Our brains love repetition. Don’t take my word for it. Notice, do you brush your teeth with the same hand every day? Do you tie your shoelaces the same way every day? Do you drive to work the exact same way every day? Of course you do. Our brains are wired to create energy saving habits (more on that in upcoming newsletters). So, by repeating this action of positive journaling every day, your brain will start to look for more experiences for things to write about. Your brain can’t help it! It’s driven to create habits! And, this habit happens to feel good…so your mind will have no choice but to reinforce this habit daily.

This may sound overly simplistic, until you give it a try. For some of us, at first, finding a good thing to write about might be a challenge. So, start small and easy. Did someone smile at you today? Did your car get you from point A to B without incident? Did you see a funny video on YouTube? You don’t have to come up with monumental things that happened to you. Just write about something that made you smile, or laugh, or feel at peace. Stick with it for at least 2 weeks and then start to notice how much easier it gets to remember the great things that happened every day.

And no need to wait until you’re depressed to start this habit…I think we could ALL benefit from practicing journaling our good experiences every day.

FACT: We all have the capacity to increase the sum joy in the world every minute of every day.

Despite our dispositions, we do have a choice.

If this is something you have struggled with, get in touch. I’ve helped a lot of people break out of negative thought patterns and I am available to work with you if you want help with this.