success

Simplify Your Life

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I recently returned from a 3 week vacation in Ireland and Scotland. During that time, I changed the ordinary flow of my days. I felt like I had taken charge of my life again. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify were the words that kept ringing in my head. I checked email only once a week in order to follow an important project I’m involved in. I ignored clocks and ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired. The result? I came back rested, calm and a few pounds lighter (despite the daily Guinness and whiskey!).

What does simply simplifying mean to you? How can you focus on what you actually want and need to be happy and secure. I’ve always wanted to live in a small town where I could walk to get most of the services I need -and now I am here and loving it. I walk to get groceries, to the farmers market, to my hairdresser and dentist and to several great restaurants. I combine car trips so I’m rarely on the road more than 1 day every 2-3 weeks.

Sometimes small changes in the way you spend your time and money are enough to simplify your life to your greatest satisfaction. Other times, it requires a bigger move like relocating.

To simplify your life, you’ll probably need to take a look at your thoughts about money. I’m all for having plenty to do the things that delight your heart along with enough to save and share with your spiritual community and/or charities. But exactly how much is enough for you? It’s going to vary a lot depending on what part of the country you live in, what your hobbies are, how many children you have….well you get the picture.

When I took stock of what I really needed to be happy while living a simplified life, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s quite doable and I’ve been able to create work that supports a lifestyle I love. What is of high value to me is time to pay attention to my “inner life” because I firmly believe that our inner life creates our outer life. Without quiet time, my life feels chaotic. Other high values for me are spending time with people I love and enjoy, reading, learning, and traveling. That’s about all I need!

So take some time today to list out what would make you happiest. What would an immensely satisfying life look like for you? Chances are you’ll be wanting to simplify, simplify, simplify too!

Would love to read your thoughts on this blog so go ahead and leave a comment here about how you plan to simplify your life or how you’ve already done so.

Give Your Goal 4 Days

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There is something quite magical and scientific about 4 days. When you do something once or twice or even three times, you don’t yet feel like a “person that does that.” Suppose you have a goal to start blogging. You know it’s a great no-cost way to get your message out and connect with folks. So you post one blog. Maybe the 2nd day you post again. Then you stop. Three weeks later, if someone asks you if you “blog?” you’ll probably say no…well, I tried it but… Now if you stick with it for four days, something shifts. All of a sudden if feels like something natural.

If it’s an important goal for you, you’ll want to string together 5 four day actions plus 1 more day. That means you’ll have blogged for 21 days straight. And science tells us that at that point, it’s more difficult to stop the new habit then to continue it. At that point you may decide 3 posts a week is enough. And that will seem simple!

So what goal would you like to achieve? Commit to it for four days. Want to boost your chances of success? Choose a small reward you’ll give yourself each day after you’ve kept your commitment. It doesn’t have to be a huge expense, it just has to make you happy. Maybe a lavish coffee at your local coffee house. Or reading a novel just for fun for one hour. Then choose a larger reward for completing your action for four days. This should be a pretty good reward -maybe a massage or a new book.

After the first four days, you’re really over a psychological hump. Give it a try and post your results here. We’d love to read them!

Business Secrets from Richard Branson

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Did you know that Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Brand Companies, works from home when he’s not flying around on his jets?  I agree with his idea that in order to have a successful business you have to ENJOY it.  You’ll be putting in a lot of time and energy, especially during y0ur first years, so why not spend all your precious life force on something you love?

He also says to praise people -a lot.  Good advice and has worked well for me in my 10 years of business.

He shares a tip that I learned from Jim Rohn, motivational speaker…he carries around a notebook to jot down ideas, concerns and questions.  Don’t let your genius thoughts disappear into the wind!

And even though his business ventures are huge, he has managing directors so he can “run a large group of companies in the same way a small business owner runs a family business – keeping it responsive and friendly.”  There’s definitely an advantage to being small.

Here’s the entire article from Entrepreneur magazine -enjoy and thrive in your small business.  http://bit.ly/bransonarticle

Igniting Your Entpreneurial Spirit,
Ann

Goal Setting for Real People

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I’m working with a coach to get a book written. Writing a book is a big goal. I’m at the “sit at your desk and open a vein” part of the process (meaning I actually have to sit my a** down and write… a lot.) I’ve found a way that works for me and wanted to share it with you. This goal setting method can be used for any project you really want to complete but find yourself avoiding even getting started.

I’m calling it the 10 minute way to trick yourself into accomplishing anything. In my case, I’m using the Write or Die software (http://writeordie.drwicked.com/) -there’s a free version online, but if your projects involve writing, spring $10 bucks for the desktop version -it’s got more cool features.

At first I tried setting the timer for 1 hour. Ha! I did everything to avoid starting -as a result I have a very clean house. Then I tried setting it for 30 minutes -I gained a couple of pounds by avoiding my computer again. Then I tried 10 minutes -perfect! I am able to write for 10 minutes and the time mostly flies by. Then I quickly talk myself into another 10 minutes and I can usually convince myself to go a third round -30 minutes of writing at a sitting.

Now you night think -well that will take too long to get your project done if you’re only working on it 30 minutes at a time. Hey! I’m making progress -I’m moving forward -my book will get done this way. AND, I leave my write or die software open during the day and when I find myself procrastinating on another project, I work on my book for 10 minutes and then come back to it.

You can use this -it works! You could set your cell phone alarm or an outlook reminder for 10 minutes and dive in. What goal do you have that you are procrastinating on? Try it for a few days. Then post your results here -I’d love to hear them!

Every Day A Vacation Day

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A quick story.

In 2001, I found Thomas Leonard online.  Thomas sparked the coaching movement with prolific writing, an online community and conferences.

I spent lots of time on his teleclasses and met him at one of his conferences in Vegas.

During one of his teleclasses, he talked about “vision” and not just your ideal day kinda vision but something so big it was impossible.  His was “Everyone has a coach.”  I came up with “Everyday a Vacation Day” and he liked it.  I want everyone to look forward to each day because they’re doing what they love most of the time.

On Feb 12, 2003, I had a dream while sleeping. In the dream, Thomas came to me and I was gently holding him wrapped in a soft blanket.  He said a few things that I can’t remember and then he was gone.

When I woke that morning, I got my tea and checked email. I was stunned to learn that Thomas had died that night of a massive heart attack at the age of 46.

Another wake up call reminder that we need to do what we love! (Those of you who have been part of our virtual community for a long time know that I’m not a “whoo whoo” kinda gal -this was definitely an unusual experience for me!)

I was walking this morning and suddenly remembered that phrase:”Everyday A Vacation Day” and got excited. I’m thinking of creating a training program around that title this fall.

What do you think about the title? I haven’t come up with a sub-title yet -if you’ve got an idea, I’d love to hear it. Is it something you’d be interested in?  Would love to see your comments on this blog.

Ideas to take from this musing:

1. Life is short -live it YOUR way.
2. When you get a creative thought -listen, let it percolate a bit and then act!

40 Day Focus

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I hope you’re enjoying some of these lazy, hazy days of summer…I know I am!

Many of you ask me how to choose from all your many ideas -which one should I work on NOW?

I also hear from many of you that you’re challenged by the “F” word (and I mean Focus!)

Here’s a powerful, easy 8 step system to choose your ideas, get them into action and completed.

1. Write down all your ideas.  You don’t have to DO all of them but if you don’t write them down, you’ll lose a lot of your truly genius, creative gems.

2. Let is percolate for a few days.  Come back to your list in a couple of days -some of those ideas you wrote down will seem downright wacky while others will take your breath away -I thought THAT? you’ll say to yourself.

3. Then ask yourself, what is the purpose for doing this?  Hint -it’s not always money. It’s probably one of these – list building, lead generation, cash generation, product creation (this can be information products too), or building credibility.

4. Rank your list of ideas from 1-5 on how much this idea will get you to your current purpose (or whatever scale you like) with 1 being this won’t get me to my desired objective at all, to eureka! this is a 5 -I’m going to lock the door, turn off the phone and email and not come out till I’ve got this baby cooking!

5.  Make a 2nd column with an estimate of what you think can happen if you focus on this for 40 days.  Why do I pick 40 days?  I like that there is a great significance to the number 40 in many spiritual traditions. And, I know how tempted I am to lose focus -in many spiritual stories, 40 days signifies temptation or a passage through something.

Next quantify your idea.  How many people could you add to your list if you focused for 40 days?  How many leads could you generate?  How much cash will that information product bring in?

6. Right about now, the buts should be kicking in -small buts and those dreaded big buts. Write down 3 of them.  Now write down 3 benefits of doing this focused project.

7. Now write down solutions to your obstacles or ways to prevent them.  Then write down, very specifically, about what you’ll get from the benefits.  Set dates for when you’ll experience these great things you’ll be, do or have from these benefits.

8. OK.  Now it’s time to get into ACTION! Write down 5 actions you need to take to achieve this objective. For example, I’m working on a book right now -some of my next actions are to write an hour a day, interview some folks for stories for the book, decide on a hot title…see?

Some of your steps will be done by you, others like graphic design of a book cover, transcribing interviews etc. will be done by someone else.

So what idea will you focus on for the next forty days (some of you will complete your project even sooner!) Post a comment at www.authenticlifeinstitute.com/blog and let us know -then you’re making a commitment which will make it much more likely that you’ll keep moving forward -don’t you want to come back in 40 days and post about your great success?  I’d love to hear them!

What’s Your Message?

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August is my month for lots of “down time.” And,
by giving myself time to just “be”, I find the
most creative thinking starts bubbling up.

Today I was thinking about how any marketing
or public relations we’re doing for our businesses
begins with the foundation of our “message.”

My message is “you’ve gotta do what you love.”
It breaks my heart to see people trudging
through one boring or stress filled day
after another, filled with longing for
something better.

I’m compelled to say -you can have that
better life! Start now!!

What’s your message? What have you always
known and want to share? What do you wish
someone had told you years ago?

I’d love to see your messages -go ahead
and post them on this blog -share your
message with the world today…we need it!

Multitasking Musings

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Ok. I’m as guilty as anyone of multitasking.  Why?  Because my brain works faster than most people can speak.  Because it feels like I’m accomplishing more.  Wrong.  Research shows that multitasking reduces productivity by as much as 40%, reduces competency AND it’s stressful too.  So how to quit the habit?  If you are alerted with a sound from your computer every time an email comes in, turn it off.  Turn off the ringer on your phone when you’re working on projects.  Don’t check your blackberry or iPhone when your having lunch with someone.  And here’s the best trick I’ve found – make your own self imposed deadlines shorter -cut ’em in half.  Think you need an hour for that project?  Decide to do it in 30 minutes -you’ll stay focused that way and it will feel great to get it accomplished.  Believe it or not the focused time you spend on your project will be far less stressful than multitasking.

So give it a try.  I’ll bet you’ll feel calmer, more present, and you’ll be giving others a true gift -your attention.  Drop a line here and let us know how it goes for you.

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Do you ever find yourself having to make 3 trips to get out the door of your house because you keep forgetting things?  Or found yourself standing in the shower and you couldn’t  remember if you’d rinsed out your shampoo yet?  I’m not talking about memory loss…I’m talking about mindfulness or the lack of it in most cases.   If you’re like most of us, your mind tends to wander to the future or to the past most of the time.

The downside to letting your mind run you this way is that you aren’t fully in the present and the present is where  Peacefulness Jerusalem, RIlife happens.   James Joyce wrote, in his short story, A Painful Case, that “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”  Can you relate?  I can.  There’s been too many times when I’m “in my head”, writing away, only to realize later that my body has been trying to send me signals to relax my shoulders or stretch out my back.

Years ago, I was introduced to mindfulness meditation when I read a book by Jon Kabat Zinn,  who at the time was a physician at the University of Massachusetts teaching mindfulness meditation techniques to patients with chronic disease in an effort to help them live with and reduce their pain.  His research was sound and showed many benefits to being mindful – I highly recommend his book “Wherever You Go, There You Are” if you’re interested in learning more.

When you’re mindful, you are acutely present, you are paying attention, you are experiencing moment to moment non-judgmental awareness.  The principle is fairly simple.  With our Iphones and blackberrys it’s not so simple.  I have been an early adopter of most technology and enjoy my gadgets thoroughly; however, I have to admit, I resisted getting a smart phone. I often used the free minutes waiting for an appointment or standing in a line to just “be”.  To be aware of what was around me.  I knew the temptation of checking emails and the web might wipe out many of mindful moments.  I have managed to find a balance.  I don’t reach for the phone every free minute, but when I am working on a project with a deadline, it’s convenient to be able to exchange information quickly no matter where I am.

Anyway back to the technique. You can do this in just a few minutes.  Become aware of your breath.  Feel it rising and falling in your chest and your belly.  When thoughts start to crowd in, just let them go by bringing your attention back to your breath.  When you’re ready start to be aware of all parts of your body.  And then from there open your awareness to the world around you, continuing to bring your attention back to your breath when your mind wonders.  What will mindfulness meditation bring you if you do it regularly? Awareness and calm.  Less stress and stress related illness.  Seeing the world for the first time.  Discovery that the world is full of small delights, many that you’re probably overlooking. And, a greater ability to be present to others.  Pretty powerful stuff.  And it’s free.

So go ahead, have a mindful moment or two.  I’d love to see your comments here once you try it!

Positive Psychology

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It used to be that psychology research focused on what was wrong with people and people with mental illness diagnosis.  Starting in the 1950’s and really blossoming in the last 20 years is the field of Positive Psychology.  Why should you care?  Well the research coming out of this field can help you live longer, have better health, enjoy your relationships and live an authentic life.  Here’s the deal.  Each day you have lots of interaction with others -from your intimate relationships to the clerk at the grocery store.  Each day has thousands of “moments”.  And for the most part, you choose whether you are saying positive things or negative things in these encounters.

Research shows that in a marriage, a ratio of 5 to 1 (5 positive statements for each 1 negative statement) makes for a wonderful marriage -when you get to a ratio of 1 to 1 divorce is probably on its way.  Now don’t get me wrong,  Positive Psychology is not saying you have to walk around with a grin on your face all day spouting syrupy nonsense to everyone.  No, you have to listen to your feelings and sometimes your feelings just plain suck.  BUT, you can choose how you react to others.  Here’s a few practical ways to increase the amount of positive encounters in your life.

First, become a gentle observer of yourself.  Watch how many times you say something negative or criticize someone.  Keep a mental (or written) tally for a couple of days.   After that practice saying something kind or supportive….something positive to each person you encounter.  Not only will they feel good, you will to…and it spreads!  As each person you touch in a positive way then acts positive to another 2 people -the good feelings spread like amazing ripples.

Give it a try -and post a note here to let us know what happens!

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