I attended the Entrepreneur Experience conference in San Diego last week. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Stop Apologizing was one of the speakers. She said something that gave me pause. It might give you pause too. She said “You have the time to do what you want, but you choose to do other things instead.”
My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? I have no time, I’m busy, busy, busy!”
When Someone You Respect Says Something You Don’t Want to Hear
So here’s the thing, when someone I respect says something I disagree with. Or they outright irritate me, I journal about it. Not to complain. But to question my thoughts about it. More about that another day.
Have I have been making the wrong choices? Have I been busy doing something besides the important things I need to do?
I had to say I have. I’ve been “binge learning”. I love learning. And I do need to continue learning. We all do. But – I spend many hours of my day learning – not using this knowledge, not sharing it.
And sharing my knowledge. Helping you. That’s what gives me joy. And it’s more helpful for you! Not doing what I want to do is causing all sorts of anxiety and guilt.
You Have Some Choices to Make
You ever think the universe aligns to hit you over the head with messages you’ve been ignoring? This was one of those times. I’m updating my Focus to Thrive program and today I filmed, “We have 24 hours to fill each day. We are already so busy, it’s impossible to add more. We have to make some choices. You can’t keep doing more. And more. And more! You need to drop something.”
Thing is, I’ve been saying this to my clients for years. So why was I not choosing what I do more carefully?
The Choices You Make Say Something About You
You choose and accept what you’re already doing. Or you can choose to create space in your schedule to do what you want to do. But to do that, you must give up some of what you’re currently doing. It could be something easy, like watching cat videos. Or it could be hard, like not hanging out with your friends as often.
What Brings You Joy? What You Choose to Do with Your Time Is What You Choose for Your Life
Once I realized I did have the choice, the decision was easy. I want to share what I learn. I want to connect with you. I want to make your life better. Because I LOVE doing that!
I want to, and need to, continue to learn. I need to block out specific times for learning. But I’ll use time boxing to limit the time I spend learning. And I’ll use time I save to write more. You’ll be hearing from me a bit more. I hope you see that as a good thing! J
Now it’s your turn
What are you choosing to do instead of what you need to do? To grow? To achieve your goals? To succeed?
What choices do you need to make?
I’d love to hear what you’ll do: Share what you want to do more of?
What will you remove from your schedule to carve out more time for that?
I’m curious. What are you striving for this year? Do you have a plan for how you’ll get there? New Year’s Resolutions are popular. But they aren’t very effective. If you’ve adopted a New Year’s resolution, there’s an excellent chance you’ve already abandoned it. In fact, on January 12, you can wish people “Happy Quitters Day”! Studies show this is the tipping point. On this day more New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside than are still in effect.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve abandoned your resolution. Some people have given up striving for personal growth. They are so discouraged they have given up trying to become a better version of themselves. They’re afraid of deceiving themselves and others around them. We all want this year to be better than last year. But New Resolutions are an ineffective way of making that happen. If you’ve become frustrated with the whole process of making resolutions, I don’t blame you.
A typical New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t got a chance because:
It’s unrealistic. News flash. You cannot change all your bad habits in one fell swoop, even if it is a New Year!
It’s not sustainable. Two hours of working out every evening is not possible. Even Olympic athletes allow for days off.
It lacks backbone. A resolution cannot work alone. You need a plan for how you will make it work.
It is pass/fail, with no room for nuance. No one gets ideal results on the first try. You must be free to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and adjust your approach.
So instead of New Year’s Resolutions, what can you do?
Identify what you want to achieve. Then get very clear on why it’s important to you. Focus on the “Why” for motivation.
State your goal as if it was already happening. Say “I’m taking steps to increase sales by 50%.” This is much more powerful than saying “I want to increase sales this year.”
Create one new habit that will help you reach your goal. To increase sales, you could increase the number of sales calls each week. You could by publish one new article each week on your blog, publish it on social media to increase engagement with your clients. You could attend one new networking event each month. To name a few…
Start with small steps. Radical changes cause too much stress because they take you far out of your comfort zone. Start small and make incremental steps that let you stretch your comfort zone. As you get more comfortable, raise the stakes.
See “failure” as a learning opportunity. Then adjust your plan. Don’t quit, make small changes to your habits.
Reward yourself. Notice what you’ve accomplished. Don’t waste energy fretting about not achieving what you’d hoped. Celebrate even small wins. Being a tough taskmaster doesn’t help you reach bigger goals. Celebrating increases your energy and provides an experience you’ll want to repeat. When you celebrate progress, you’ll want to continue that progress.
Start now! Don’t wait until everything is perfect to get started. Nothing will ever change because things are never perfect. Don’t wait until you have time. Make time.
Be happy no matter what. If you achieve your goals, celebrate! If you don’t reach your goals, striving towards them has already changed you for the better.
So now, let me know what new habit will you be adopting this year?
Duane and I have shared our story many times. We are open about how bad things were for the first 15 years of our marriage. We don’t hold back, because we want people to understand we’ve been where you are. But we also share how we’re still married after 34 years. We want to give you hope.
Those first 15 years were rough. We were in dire financial straits. Duane never followed through. I don’t have ADHD, so I picked up the slack for everything Duane couldn’t do. And there was a lot he couldn’t do. (Sometimes I was sure it was stuff he wouldn’t do!) We were both under a lot of stress and that puts strain on a relationship. We fought all the time!
People think it was Duane getting help for his ADHD that changed our relationship. They think once he was “fixed,” it was smooth sailing. Of course, when Duane got help, it reduced a lot of stress on our relationship. But even that wouldn’t have saved our marriage. We needed one more thing. Luckily, we discovered the missing ingredient. And it turned our hellish marriage into wedded bliss.
What’s that secret ingredient?
Empathy was missing from our relationship. We discovered we weren’t listening to each other. Neither of us understood how much we had in common. We both felt lonely and wounded. It was only once we began to “listen” that we were able to see each other’s point of view. Once we were able to see our partner’s point of view we were able to mend the relationship.
Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s point of view. We often say “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” Seeing the world from their perspective is the only way to understand what’s happening. During our many fights, (actually shouting matches) we spewed our anger and pain at each other.
We weren’t listening to each other because we were too busy trying to be right. When you listen, listen to understand. Don’t listen only to prepare your comeback. That’s “empathy.” Is it the missing ingredient in YOUR relationship?
As another February started, I was reminded how often adults with ADHD relive the same old challenges they’ve been dealing with all their ADHD lives. It’s as if you keep replaying the actions, hoping the outcome will be different each time.
But now that Groundhog Day is over, why are you continuing to relive the same challenges? If this sounds like you, it may be that you feel as if you’re stuck and not making any progress. Of course, if all you’ve been doing is replaying the scene over and over in the same way, and of course, achieving the same unwanted results, you are stuck!
Though maybe today is the day you realize that if you want a different outcome, you need to change some things. If you’re ready to make that change, where do you start?
Many ADHDers and other creative geniuses struggle with managing everyday life.
How often do you rush out the door at the last minute for an important appointment then berate yourself or scream at the drivers around you who seem to be slowing you down? How often have you looked for your keys, your wallet, your bus pass? How often have you promised to buckle down and get work done in your business but found yourself watching cat videos on YouTube for an hour instead?
Each time you mess up, you vow to never repeat the mistake again. Yet the next day, you find yourself doing it again. Each time you repeat the same mistake, you berate yourself for your lack of discipline. Every time you repeat this same cycle, you are eroding your self-confidence, convincing yourself that if only you had more willpower, you could change. Soon, you believe that you are simply flawed, you don’t have as much willpower as other people, and therefore you’ll never be able to change.
This is simply not true. You’re reliving the same problems, not because you lack self-discipline, but because you lack a plan to solve the problem at the source. And it’s not a lack of willpower that’s at the source.
How would you like to live a new life adventure, one where you’ve got your sh**t together?
Here’s a strategy to do that: As my husband always says:
“Don’t solve the problem once, solve the problem once and for all.”
The first step to doing that is to set aside time to think about the problem.
Consider the steps you take to get the current result – otherwise known as the routine. You accomplish your current results by following a series of actions, and those actions are the same each time. Next look at the results you want and compare them to the results you’re getting – what is the gap? How close, or how far, are you to achieving the results you want?
Determine the source of the problem
Why are you always leaving at the last minute? Are you getting up too late? Are you getting involved in something in the morning and losing track of time? Are you looking for something to wear? Are you spending too long singing in the shower, practicing to get on The Voice?
Identify a solution you want to adopt
As a result of your analysis, you determine you’re checking your emails and spending too long answering them. What’s the solution? You could decide not to open emails in the morning or set a timer to limit the time you spend on them and only scan for and respond to urgent emails. You could get up earlier.
Put it in writing
Next, write down what you’ve chosen to do because there’s a good chance you’ll forget. You could create a notebook in Evernote and create a note. Include a trigger to use to remind you of your new plan. It could be a paper or electronic post-it note that pops up when you turn on your computer, or a visual cue you leave on top of your computer – a troll doll or other small figurine, for example – or have someone remind you – although I am not a fan of deferring your responsibilities onto others because when they mess up, you end up playing the very unproductive blame game.
Make changes where needed
Next, test your plan: Take some time at the end of the day to determine how well it worked and tweak as needed, then test it again.
Another year has gone. Are you feeling frustrated? Are you still grappling with the same challenges you were a year ago? We all tend to get down on ourselves for not being “better.” Change isn’t easy. You need to be aware of what needs to change. Then you need to decide to make it happen. Then you need to act. These five strategies will help make this your best year yet.
Develop a scaffolding of routines and rituals. Build consistency into your life by creating anchors and supports. You will still have plenty of freedom to create, to innovate, and be spontaneous. The “trail markers” let you see progress, give you hints that it’s time to take care of yourself, and prevent chaos.Many creative geniuses don’t believe they can create routines or rituals. Have you tried adopting routines and failed? Or does the idea of adopting a routine make you feel ill? Do you worry routines will stifle your creativity and your spontaneity? Building and adopting routines does not lead to a boring life. It reduces chaos. It’ll take less time to do the things you find boring. Then you can do things that excite you and ignite you.
You will never be completely free until you’ve adopted routines. Routines allow you to have time and energy to enjoy the rest of your life.
Contrary to popular belief, your brain is better than normal. It works faster, it’s more creative, and it’s energetic. The problem isn’t with how your brain goes, the challenge is getting your brain to stop. Dr. Ned Hallowell compares it to a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. To work at its best your brain needs special care.
Get enough sleep to be well rested every night; this is non-negotiable. Drink water; your brain works better when you are well hydrated. The effects are almost immediate and amazing.
You need to exercise daily. Cardio exercise is essential to keep your body fit. More important, exercise releases the very hormones your brain needs most.
Your brain runs on glucose. Do not skip meals. Eat healthy, low-carb, high-protein foods. The amount of glucose your brain needs for peak functioning is astounding. Food high in simple carbohydrates delivers inconsistent amounts of glucose. They don’t help; they make it hard to think.
All work and no play makes your brain a dull brain. Most of us spend our day staring at a screen. We work at a computer. We spend our evenings watching TV or playing video games. Any spare minute, we’re checking our phone. We’re surfing the Web or on social media.You’re a Creative Genius. Creative Genius needs a real life to manifest itself! Stop living through other’s social media feeds. Engage your brain by engaging your body in real life. Get out in nature. Connect with people face-to-face. Engage in creative activities. Create something! Draw a picture. Cook a meal. Knit a scarf. Build a bookcase. It’s not important what you do as long as you love it. Express your creativity!
Develop your strengths and passions. Do it on purpose. Do it every week. Identify your top five strengths – no more. Pick an activity that exercises one or more of those strengths. Make a plan to integrate it into your life. Now this may mean giving up another activity. You may even need your family’s help.Be prepared, you will face a lot of resistance to change. Enroll in a course, find a mentor, or join a team. Make it a consistent part of your life.
Once you have done that, do it again. You’ll know you’re finished when everything you do engages your strengths and passions. (Ok, you’ll never finish, but it’s great fun to try!)
Learn to work with your brain instead of against it. Many Creative Geniuses adopt strategies that work for neurotypicals. Unfortunately those neuro-typical strategies don’t always work for Creative Geniuses. You have unique brain wiring, so you need different strategies.How do you work with your brain instead of against it? You build awareness about the way you work best. Many Creative Geniuses are not aware when they focus best. Unless you understand how your brain works, you can’t optimize how you use your time. When you know, you can create the right conditions to focus so you can be more productive. You can get the right things done at work and at home, and still have time and energy left over to have an awesome life.
You’re a Creative Genius surrounded by neurotypicals. Society’s rules work for neurotypicals. Adopt these 5 strategies and live your life on your terms. Celebrate who you are. You have untapped potential. These simple adjustments will create the conditions that will unleash that Creative Genius.
The holidays can be a challenging time of year for creative geniuses. There’s so much to do with decorating, shopping, cleaning, cooking, partying and the list goes on. You may push yourself to exhaustion.
This is often when you begin to feel overwhelmed and your mood starts suffering. And when that happens…!
This holiday season do yourself and everyone around you a favor. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. How do you do that? Here are 3 steps to a better Christmas.
This season is about being together. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to let go of some of the “fluff” if it takes you over the edge. Some creative geniuses I know don’t put up a Christmas tree. We don’t decorate the outdoors anymore. If some recipes are long and tedious for you, don’t do them unless these things provide more joy than effort.
Studies prove experiences provide the most joy, not things. When we buy gifts to “wow” our loved ones, we forget that what they want is to spend time with us. We run out of time to enjoy the people we love.
When you spend your holidays sweating the credit card bills, they aren’t much fun. What if you did something different this year? Try playing board games, building Lego cities or chill-axing with your loved ones.
Take care of your needs
Many of my clients describe feeling overwhelmed during the holidays. This can be especially true when the whole family is together. Overwhelm can lead to especially bad consequences during your Recharge Zone. Allow yourself to disconnect for 20 minutes when you feel overwhelmed. Excuse yourself and explain you need a bit of air or a short nap. You’ll come back ready to reengage. Let your loved ones know you need a break.
Whatever you do, take time to enjoy this festive season to be with your family and friends.
Four generations of my family spent a week together sharing a cottage in a remote corner of Quebec. My oldest daughter, her husband and our two grandsons, Evan, 4 years old, and Peter, 20 months old, live in Regina, Saskatchewan. That’s 2,850 kilometres (1740 miles) away, so we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like. The whole family only manages to get together once or twice a year.
I miss them terribly and so I cherish every moment with them. I was delighted to discover the cottage came with access to their two kayaks. On the first morning, I was up early and following breakfast I jumped into the bigger kayak. I’ve only kayaked twice in my life but found I was fairly skilled at it and developed an instant liking for it. To my great delight, my oldest grandson, Evan, also took to kayaking like a duck to water. It became something we could bond over.
Evan’s ease at learning kayaking inspired this post. He exhibited such clear signs of a strength it was a joy to watch. You often ask me how to determine what your strengths are, so I thought I’d use my experience with Evan and kayaking to share the five signs of a strength. Maybe it’ll help you identify your own strengths.
Your Strengths Are Your Path to Success
One of the keys to being a successful Creative Genius is to work with your strengths as much as possible. You may think this is easier said than done. My clients often tell me they’re so busy correcting their mistakes that there is little time to devote to identifying and developing their strengths.
The great news is that it takes much less time to develop your strengths to a high level of ability than is does to improve your weaknesses, even if you’re only trying to achieve mediocrity! Even setting aside a few hours a week to work on developing your strengths will reap great results quickly.
First, you must determine what your strengths are. Many Creative Geniuses fail to recognize the uniqueness of their strengths. When you discover something you’re good at and that comes easily to you, you usually think it must be easy for everyone else as well. Perhaps you’ve struggled so long it’s hard for you to imagine that you could be better at something than other people. Or perhaps you aren’t observing other people closely enough to see that most people struggle to do something that comes easily to you.
Whatever the reason, I invite you to take a different approach. When you find something comes easily to you, suspect a strength. Then set out to prove that it is indeed a strength. You can do so by looking for these specific signs.
Recognizing Your Strengths
The first sign Evan was exhibiting a strength is the relative ease with which he picked up the new skills. Like most young boys, Evan can be a bit clumsy. But with the kayak, he exhibited very fast learning. With only a few instructions, within 5 minutes, he was paddling around the pond like someone who’d been doing it for months. And he learned each new technique quite quickly.
A second characteristic of a strength is that you yearn to do it. As soon as he set eyes on the little kayak and saw me kayaking on the big one, he wanted to try it. I know, for a four-year-old that’s not unusual – they tend to have unbound curiosity at that age – but every chance he got, Evan wanted to be kayaking. He also yearned to learn more. He was observing me and asking how I was doing each stroke and then he’d attempt it. This brings me to the third characteristic.
Evan, wanted to kayak every chance he got, and he was always interested in learning better ways to do it. His interest was consistent, and he was confident as he attempted each new technique, unafraid of making mistakes. Most four-year-olds quickly become bored with things and can get easily frustrated when they don’t get a technique right the first time. He seemed to know he’d eventually “get it”, so he was willing to continue to work to perfect his skills.
Evan strived for excellence, a fourth characteristic of a strength. He kept asking me to correct him and would follow my advice to the letter, always striving to improve his paddling, or other techniques such as stopping, turning, embarking and disembarking.
Finally, he gained a huge amount of satisfaction from it, the fifth characteristic of a strength. He enjoyed himself a lot.
How Can You Use This?
As an adult, we are often curious about trying new things but we hesitate. We’re afraid of looking foolish if we don’t get it right the first time. Unfortunately, the only way around this is to change your mindset. Worrying what others will think is keeping you from some potentially amazing experiences.
I encourage you to always seek out new experiences. You never know what will lead you to discover a strength. Don’t dismiss any opportunity – it doesn’t matter if it’s “practical” or related to your career. Any strength could help you in your career, but it’s unlikely Evan or I will make a career out of kayaking. However, successful experiences and activities you enjoy make your life more enjoyable. They also allow you to increase your confidence, which can help you in all areas of your life.
If there is something you yearn to try, seek a way to try it:
Ask a friend who does that activity to let you try it.
Take an introductory class or an online course on it.
Read about it.
If you find an activity easy, don’t discount as “it’s easy for me, so it must be easy for others.” Set out to prove it is a strength:
See if your skills grow quickly compared to others. What more can you learn to get better at it? Do that.
Practice and see how much satisfaction you get from it.
Most of you don’t know this, but I suffer from chronic pain from an injury I sustained almost 20 years ago in a car accident. Since then, I live every day with pain. I manage the chronic pain through good lifestyle choices such as exercise and good sleep. Every now and then, the pain increases to excruciating levels. Those periods can last between two and four weeks. A bone growth digging into nerves on both sides of my spine creates severe pain. It can affect my back and one or both arms. There’s no cure for this at the moment.
Want to Change Your Results? Change Your Mind
Why am I telling you this? I’m not seeking sympathy. Many Creative Geniuses struggle in a neurotypical world, faced with failure after failure. At least, they do until they discover how to unlock their full potential. Life is lonely and painful – it is its own brand of chronic pain. If you’re a Creative Genius who’s felt the “chronic pain” of not fitting in, what I discovered will make your life better.
This flare-up came right in the middle of the launch for my biggest program. Program launches demand enormous effort, energy and money to be successful. A lot was riding on this launch.
There couldn’t have been worse timing. Or…? I now see what happened as an omen.
It All Depends on Your Mindset
Like many Creative Geniuses, I struggle with negative thinking and rumination. Every now and then, a horrible Gremlin whispers in my ear that I don’t deserve success. That voice tells me “catastrophes” always occur when I’m taking risks.
But are these “catastrophes”? Or is it only life unfolding? No one is bombing my neighborhood; no tornado is destroying my home. Those are catastrophes. Let’s de-dramatize the problem.
When I’m stretching out of my comfort zone, I often feel I don’t “qualify” for the “Successful People’s Club. Is it true? Am I “not enough” to be successful?
Kick Your Gremlin to the Curb
Everyone has the potential to make a great contribution.
This belief led me to work with Creative Geniuses. My Creative Genius husband transformed his life, yes. But he also transformed our family. And his transformation has affected friends, co-workers and thousands more Creative Geniuses. All by learning how to succeed as a Creative Genius. I wanted to unleash that potential for every Creative Genius.
We all have the potential to make a great contribution. It’s true for me, and for you. “Being” is all you need to qualify for the “Successful People’s Club.” All you need is to change your mindset so you have the strength and the courage to say, “Shut up Gremlin!”
While this was happening, I was reading “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. A great book for anyone, it is especially wonderful for Creative Geniuses. You’ll find wisdom and inspiration to push through the hurdles you face as you stretch out of your comfort zone.
Seeing the Perfection of It All
The author suggested we face every challenge with the statement “This is good because …”
One Wednesday morning, I called my husband, Duane, at work. I was crying in agony – nothing would relieve the pain and felt vulnerable and hopeless. Duane dropped everything and came home immediately. He spent the next week and a half with me. We often say “I love you”, but nothing brings home that love like the selfless support he provided. I’m getting teary-eyed as I write this.
I had no choice but to rely on other people for everything. There were people counting on my program and I could no longer deliver, not on my own. Duane and my assistant, Kelly, worked together to support me and to run the launch. With my support system in place and medication for pain, I was able to complete the last video.
It was terrible. It looked like I felt. I couldn’t think straight, I didn’t have my usual energy. I hated it, but I knew it was the best I could do. As I watched it, my inner perfectionist struggled to release it.
This is Good Because…
Despite that lousy last video, I enrolled twice as many participants as my previous record! The statement, “This is good because…” was challenging. But demanding an answer no matter what obstacle I faced that transformed my mindset. That’s what allowed me to push through instead of giving up.
Looking back now, I still ask that question. And I like the answers! This is good because…
I (finally!) realize I don’t have to do everything myself. I can rely on others to help me.
I discovered I’m a badass! I can persevere in the face of any adversity, as long as I adopt the right mindset.
How Can You Use This?
Live full out. You have much to contribute to this world. The world works best when we all enjoy our lives, when we do what we love, when we are our true selves… masterpieces trying to shine through.
Reaching your full potential will demand you get out of your comfort zone. It’ll be scary… ok, terrifying! But if you push through despite the struggles, know you are growing into a better version of yourself.
When faced with adversity, finish this statement: “This is good because…
“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”
This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.
“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.
“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”
What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.
In this video, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.