The One Question To Start Your Day

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

IMG_9953I’ve been speaking with a number of people lately who have been in one stage or another of overwhelm. You know the feeling when you just don’t know which way is up or which direction you need to even point yourself. This can be exhausting and you’re not even moving!

Imperfect Action

In the space of personal development there is a lot of talk about taking imperfect action as a response to this “feeling stuck” or overwhelm. I am not sure how you are supposed to know if it is perfect or imperfect action until you take it. So this advice is rather unhelpful in my opinion.

In the case of my clients I use my life experiences to give insight to what worked for me. This is not scientific or a certified process developed by some guru. This is just my simple practice that I have used when I am feeling overwhelmed or unsure. It has gotten me through some pretty tough times and brought me to where I am today. I continue to use this method as I continue to dream big and have NO idea how I’m going to make these dreams come true, but I know that I must pursue them. It has become a habit and a way to check in and stay present in the midst of all I aspire to create.

The Process

I take a few moments, usually in bed at the time I wake up and I just lay there with my hands extended and open, my eyes closed and just revel in that perfect moment. I often use this time to think about my gratitude, simply for waking up (a gift we often take for granted) and for whomever might be next to me (these days it’s my dog) or in my world at the moment who brings me energy and joy.

After gratitude comes my talk with the Universe or God or whomever you talk to when you are in your space and simply ask, “What is the next step?” I don’t ask how I’m ever going to do what I’m wanting to do. I don’t ask for the full picture or to see the whole staircase or the money, energy or capability to take the next step, I simply ask to know what is the next step.

Why it works for me

I don’t know if I developed the process because I just couldn’t handle looking at all the steps or more likely because there was so much to do I just had to look at the one next step because that was all I could manage at the moment. I knew I needed to keep moving but wasn’t sure what the next move was and staying where I stood was not an acceptable option. I had to find a way to clear the overwhelm to be able to begin to move.

Here is the deal, you might see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s damn dark where you stand today. Truly you can only take the next step, you can’t take the 3rd step in front of you, only the next step, so ask what that is. You might surprise yourself and find, as I have, that over the course of time this simple process takes you exactly where you are meant to be and you didn’t even notice how far you had gone.

Why it will work for you

Simply by taking the next step you continue to move. By asking each day what the step is for you today, it gives you the possibility to course-correct if necessary. This process provides you focus on today. It helps you reduce anxiety about step number 45 because day 45 will come and you’ll deal with that step then. Today your only need is to know what you need to do today and then do it, knowing that you get another chance tomorrow.

Keeping your mind on your overall goals, but focusing your attention on this moment, this day allows the actions you take to be exactly perfect for today. You will learn something by what you do today and it will benefit you along the journey.

So tomorrow morning when you wake up, instead of going through your “to do” list in your mind and trying to figure out how you’ll get everything accomplished, and anything else that comes to your mind upon opening your eyes I ask you to pause. Take the first few moments of the day and give thanks and gratitude for all that you have and quietly ask, “What is the next step for me to take today?”

To the enjoyment of your success and the journey that brings you there.

-E

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Finding your Inner Compass

I remember the day that it all hit me – I really don’t want to do this. It wasn’t until that moment that I could find my clarity. It was in the moment I figured out what I really, viscerally, didn’t want to do, that I could identify better what I did want to do.

It all started when I decided to hire a life coach for myself. I had never done anything quite like this before. Sure I had been to counselors or therapists before at various times in my life, but I didn’t feel like I needed therapy, just help with direction of what did I want to do next in my life.

I was about 40 years old at the time and had raised my children, created a good career, not one that I loved, but I thought, who needs to love what they do? I was good at it and that felt good and it paid well, so it was really good enough. However, good enough was no longer how I wanted to live my life.

I wanted the life I saw Richard Branson living. I wanted to be in love with my job and career as much as he was. I wanted time and space to be able to travel and do the inspired things that made me come alive. I wanted to give my energy to those causes that I felt deeply connected to.

The Flail Before The Fail

So I began to flail – I tried all sorts of ways to make my career more of what I thought I wanted. I created groups, I began speaking at conferences and I found that I was no more happy then I was originally and I realized I was thoroughly stuck!

It was at this point I decided to hire my own life coach to help me figure out how to make my career more fulfilling. It turned out through a couple sessions of chatting and running various tests that my personality and desires did not match what I was doing. No wonder why I could not find a way to make it better! But then where do I go from here?

 

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Ahhh, Direction

After a few more sessions we worked out a direction for me and I must admit I was pretty excited. We developed a plan and a path but the more steps I took, the less excited I became – was this normal? My sessions with my coach ended and I kept moving forward because this was the path my coach and I had decided I should take to get to where I ultimately wanted to end up.

My lack of excitement soon turned to procrastination, then to dread then to pure avoidance of any of the steps on the identified path. In one moment of complete clarity sitting in front of a stack of unopened mail related to my chosen path it hit me.

I Don’t Want To Take This Path!

I don’t wanna take this path, I don’t have to and I’m not gonna! The wash of relief came over me. I just couldn’t go through with the path laid out by me and my coach. I didn’t get any clarity at that moment of how I was going to get to where I wanted, but I sure knew how I wasn’t going to get there and it felt wonderful!

When I took a moment to look at my behaviors, it was completely clear that the path was completely out of alignment with what I truly wanted. The end goal was right on the money, but the path was way off.

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Gut Check

When I thought about the career move I wanted to make I was still excited. When I thought about how to get there I was unsure, but I just felt like I would figure it out because the goal just felt so right for me.

This was a new discovery for me that once I recognized this strong procrastination I was creating, I actually felt I was off balance. Once I recognized the off balance feeling, I could easily identify when that feeling went away and therefore what felt right.

 

I Know This Isn’t It!

I think this takes some time to develop, but it might be more present in your life already than you think. Right now you’re probably reading this article identifying with some part of the story. You know that nagging feeling that says, “I’m not sure what is right, but this isn’t it!” You’ve had those moments when you were not sure how you were going to do something but you just knew you had to move forward on it. Some people call those hunches, intuition, or gut feelings – but whatever you call them, they are there to be heard.

Some Ideas For You

I encourage you to take a moment to review anything you procrastinate. Take a moment to think about why you procrastinate this item. There are many reasons for such a behavior, but this is a good marker and it was a key marker for me.

Another idea you might consider is to review the feelings you have around various decisions you are making. Take some time to journal or meditate or do something active with this decision in mind and listen to where your mind goes, to your body’s reaction, your emotional response. I think you might surprise yourself at the answers that are trying to reveal themselves.

I truly believe we all know what is in alignment for us however, most of us have been taught to ignore what we’re feeling and move forward on our path. Ever see a young child fall down and begin crying? The parental reflex  response is “brush it off, keep going.” Although there might be nothing wrong with that approach sometimes, other times it is worth exploring while you’re down if a different option is better. Sometimes you find your compass while you’re telling yourself to get back up.

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The Key To The Law of Attraction

 

The idea that you can OM your way into success or having the life you want is misleading and causing confusion and disappointment.  There is a huge amount of people that have been misdirected into believing having what they want is as easy as simply picturing what they desire.  This misunderstanding has led some people to believe the Law of Attraction is a hoax and it doesn’t work.

Let me tell you why it hasn’t worked.  The Law of Attraction is largely misunderstood.

How the Law of Action really works

There are several steps to the Law of Attraction.  This is not something that you can do in a few minute of meditation each day.  It requires several steps to manifest what you want.

Thought

Before anything comes into existence, it has to start in the mind with an idea. Everything we do, have or become starts with a thought much like a building, it always starts with drawing out what you wish to build.  You take your desire and plan what it will look like, how it will function and feel and how it will be utilized.  By thinking through the details you create first in the mind or on paper (visualization) then bring it forth into reality.

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This is often where the law of attraction stops…or at least many people believe it stops.  Think about your dream or goal and it will happen; that’s the idea.  That is where the epic fail comes in.  Some things may indeed happen this way, but very few. There is so much more to this process.

Mindset

Have you ever uttered an affirmation and thought – yah, right!  Who am I kidding?  Or had a dream or desire and thought, well, I’m sure that would work for someone but probably not me.  This is the next and critical step.

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You cannot receive what you don’t believe you can have or achieve.  If you believe you are not worthy enough, good enough or capable enough no omming in the world will bring what you desire to you.  Additionally, if what you want is something that you believe you should not want or have you will sabotage your own efforts.  Anything that causes you to believe something is not possible for you for whatever the reason is a limiting belief and must be addressed. Limiting beliefs must be overcome first, otherwise you are wasting time and defeating your own efforts.

Ignition

Once you have washed away the limiting beliefs and you have your vision that you wish to manifest, the final step is action.  Minute or massive, perfect or imperfect action must be taken.  It doesn’t matter if the action you take in the direction of your dreams is exactly correct, but you must do something besides just think about it!  You simply need to start and much like a GPS system the steps you take will redirect or recalculate along the way.

IMG_0575If you sit in a car, have a destination in mind, program your GPS but never put the car in drive you are going nowhere fast!  You can imagine the restaurant you wish to go to, you can almost taste the food, you can hear the atmosphere you can desire this with all your heart but you cannot get there until you put the car in drive!  Once the car is in drive you can set out in the wrong direction or make a wrong turn on your way but when you do that the GPS will say…”Make a U-turn when possible” or redirect you with a different route to your desired destination.  This is the Law of Action and the sign of a great GPS!

Blastoff

Your dreams are the destination, your visualization the GPS and what actions you take are the force that drives you to your destination.

One of these steps without the other is going to produce limited or incomplete results if anything at all.  Once you put them all together you have the key!  Dreams are realized when clear visualization meets focused action.

Now that you have the keys, put your motor in drive and go get those dreams!

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What’s In Your Pickle Jar?

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I keep hearing people calling for more balance in their lives. I don’t believe it’s actually balance they need at all! In fact the same people screaming for balance also want to live full, rich lives and have crammed their datebooks and calendars full with activities, events and “to-dos” to provide them the balance to their overflowing work life!

It is not balance you seek!

Balance is the act of two of more objects being of same weight, or in this case importance. This just isn’t the case for most people I speak with. What is happening in most people’s lives is that something of lesser importance or of less value to someone is taking more time or weight from the things that create joy and fulfillment in their lives. So if you are spending too many hours doing things that don’t bring you joy and then you try to add equal time doing things that do bring you joy you are going to be out of time and totally stressed!

So what happens is the work stuff gets done and the joy stuff does not.

The Professor’s Example

A long time ago when I was screaming for balance in my life as well I came across the classroom story of “The Pickle Jar.” The professor was explaining that when people thought the jar was full with a bunch of large rocks, there was still room in it for more and he added pebbles, sand and even water until there was no empty space. The underlying theme of the entire demonstration is that if you put your big rocks (most important things to you) into this pickle jar (representing your life) first then the next important things (represented by pebbles) then the next (sand) and the next (water) you will have space for everything in your life. The professor’s take on this was that there is so much we can fit in our lives even if we think our lives are full now by simply making sure the big things get in first and then you can fit so much more in it.

As well intentioned as that lesson is, I think it’s a load of crap and that most of us are walking around with stuffed pickle jars! Just because you can cram a ton of stuff into your pickle jar does not mean you should. I believe the good professor missed the point that if you fill your jar with rocks, pebbles, sand and water there is no room for life-giving air.

Where is the air?

Humans, can do so many amazing things and some can go for long periods of time with really full pickle jars but what happens when there is no air to breathe or feed the flame and no space to absorb and enjoy the process or the results? The pickle jar smothers out causing all sorts of issues that may show up as burn-out, anxiety, depression, lost relationships, health issues or substance abuse.

So I ask you, is your pickle jar too full? Do you even know what is filling your pickle jar anymore? Was a rock or pebble placed in your pickle jar by someone other than you? Does each rock and pebble in your jar belong there today?

It’s time to examine this cry for balance and begin to look at what we are trying to achieve. I believe what people are truly seeking is not balance but a fullness of life. People tell me they wish to fill their lives with people and experiences that matter to them and contribute to the greater good in the mean time. When I sit down with them and examine their desired life and current pickle jar, they just don’t seem to match.

What Can You Do?

Dump out that pickle jar and look at all the items in it. Should the rocks be rocks or maybe pebbles?  What might you take out of your pickle jar and put in a “not now” pile?  An item may indeed be a rock, but the time for that rock to take priority in your life might not be this moment. These are hard but necessary questions if you are seeking to live a less stressed and more fulfilled life. Think about it, if your pickle jar is stuffed, how can you possibly enjoy and experience all that you’ve stuffed it with if you can’t even move things around and see it all?

Fulfilled life doesn’t necessarily mean a filled life. There needs to be space in your life to be able to be present and enjoy what you place in your pickle jar! For me I gained amazing results when I looked at my pickle jar and consciously refilled it with a nice mix of rocks, pebbles, sand and water – I also was able to fit a shell in there too!

How do you want to fill your pickle jar?FullSizeRender-1

 

 

Did Your “Calling” Lose Your Number?

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So you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? That’s ok. Yes, I said it, it is totally ok!

This doesn’t mean that you just sit back and wait for the lightning bolt to strike or that “moment” when your purpose just hits you – it rarely happens like that. Few people knew at a young age what they were destined to be, and some of those who did know decide part way through their life that maybe they need to be something different anyway.

So if the Aha moment isn’t necessarily coming and you don’t have a clue what you were put on this earth to do, what do you do? How do you get to where you need to be when you don’t know where that is?

You Are Not Alone

As a coach I see many people in this conundrum. They know they are not currently fulfilled or doing what they were called to do, yet they have no idea how to find their “passion” and their calling isn’t dialing in!

Many are surprised when I tell them they are not alone, they feel like they are the only ones stumbling around in the dark bumping around in a fun house at an amusement park, however it is not fun nor amusing. There is anxiety in their voice, they must have a purpose, they have been told as much. Why is it so easy for others to find their purpose and so hard for them?

How Do I Find It?

First off, let’s break this myth that it is easy to find your passion. I have done countless exercises with people and they themselves have taken numerous quizzes and questionnaires (some proven, and others just facebook algorithms) and each person is moved at different times with different tools. You see there is not really a viable, “5 Tips to Uncovering Your Passion” that works for everyone.

What works best in my experience is when people take action. You see I don’t believe in the Law of Attraction as much as I truly believe in the Power of Action. They both work on the same principle, however attraction does not work without action.

You cannot OM your way to success or purpose. You must step into a direction, any direction and begin where you are with simply a desire. This does not have to be perfect, and likely it will not be.

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Your GPS (Guiding Passion System)

You may step into your desire in entirely the wrong direction. You might be going down the totally wrong road and you might spend a little time on this path before recognizing that something doesn’t feel right. Or maybe obstacle upon obstacle pops up preventing real progress. You keep trying your heart out because this has to be right, you have put time and energy into it, you don’t want to waste that time!

Even if you head out completely wrong, you end up feeling it, and noticing that this is just too much. You may want to quit, but I warn you, don’t do it! Keep plugging away, change a bit of direction or approach, ask yourself some quality questions and sit quietly receiving answers. Hire a mentor, one who has walked the road before you. One way or another, you will be guided to “make a u-turn when possible” or recalculate your plan. Much like a navigation system, you can’t get redirected to a new route if you are in park afraid to back out of your driveway because you may make a wrong turn. Trust me, the worst wrong turn is no turn at all. Inaction is the killer of purpose.

You may head into the exact direction of your purpose and head smack dab into it. Your purpose may end up looking precisely as you expected or totally different, but either way, when you end up looking it square in its face and you know you have hit what you were born to do.

How will I know?

When you stumble, or walk confidently, into your purpose, or it taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hi, this is your sign” you will feel it. The feeling is a lot like love, it makes you warm inside, it fills you with excitement, you have an all consuming desire to do more of what this is to experience more of this feeling. The most common reaction I hear is that people find a sense of peace when they have found their purpose.

Now don’t get me wrong, everything doesn’t turn into rainbows and kittens when you find your purpose. There will be work to be done, you might find that you have found your calling, but you cannot fully step into it because you have bills to pay, mouths to feed. It is ok, once you have found it, just start small to move in ways that continue to build on that excitement. Fit your purpose into your life as you can and continue to develop and grow with it.

Ready, Fire, Aim!

Yes, this is not a type-o. The best way to find your purpose is to do. Don’t be afraid of the mistake or the wrong turn. Just move in the direction you think is forward and assess. If you need to recalculate or adjust your aim, at least you will have a point of reference of what didn’t work.

So go out there and shoot for the stars! If you miss, adjust your aim and fire again!

 

The Message

Here's your sign!
I have said before when I get a repeat message in my life, in any capacity, it makes me think the Universe is trying to tell me something. Right now, it feels like the Universe is screaming! I am being bombarded these days with news of deaths and illness in my direct circle.

The Picture

Let me go over some of what my current landscape looks like today:

Close friend looses 37 year old family member/Spartan racer and very strong healthy man, to condition he’s had for life. Leaves behind a legacy of greatness and living, together with a wife and 3 young children.

Family member has stroke and is facing uncertainty, and a whole bunch of change in his life.

Close friend’s mother has just entered hospice care. This woman’s mother blossomed following the tremendous grief she moved through after her husband died. She went from being this quiet, devoted wife to the party organizer at the assisted living facility for her new-found friends. She became someone always doing something fun and most often things she didn’t do when married.

A new, but dear friend, announces he’s about to take up his battle with Cancer, one that he’s certain to overcome, but a battle nonetheless.

A mentor of mine, for whom I run his local group, has died in a tragic accident at 33, leaving behind a huge legacy, a young wife and a large, amazing community called Live Your Legend.

A sister of a family member has been placed into hospice after living with MS, Cancer and metastatic Cancer. Preparing to leave a full life of all that was dear to her.

What does it mean?

I have to wonder – Is the Universe trying to tell me something? OK, I get it! No more messages at this time please!! Live life while I am here!

As you know, I walked away from corporate life a few months ago to move my business from a “side job” to my full-time focus. I can honestly say, although the road is tough and a bit scary for its uncertainty, I absolutely love each day. I mention this at this time because it is really, really important!

We have one certainty the minute we are born, that we will die. We have no idea what the road has in store for us, but we can bet on an unforeseen circumstance coming along at some point. What that unforeseen thing is, and how it will show up in our life is unknown. Will we be able to provide our family and loved ones the comfort of a full and beautiful life well lived?

A Time for Reflection

I am spending some time in reflection. Am I living the life I believe in? Am I chasing money at the expense of what is truly valuable in my life? What is truly important to me when faced with the end of my days, or a life change that will dramatically altar my sense of “normal”? Do I believe I am using my days to their fullest and living my values? Would I be living any differently if I were faced with the knowledge of my days ending?

If I had not taken the leap to leave corporate by now, I think I would be doing just that at this point. However, since I have taken the leap, I now look to two people who have just died and am so moved that each of them have been living such amazing full and inspiring lives. They were strong, purposeful people leaving behind more than some of us will after many more years than their short time here. They died while fully engaged in this thing called life, they weren’t just earning money and paying bills, they were living fully.

My Desired Legacy

I work each day to continue to reach out to people and help them consider new possibilities in their lives. I hope to be able to encourage others to reach for their dreams despite any odds they feel there might be. I hope in my life to make a positive impact in as many lives as possible to say, you matter, you can do it and I believe in your dreams. I also hope to be one of the people in your life that lets you see you can have the life you desire and it is worth reaching for. Finally, I hope to die while living fully and doing the work that I love and connecting with those seeking to do the same.

Please let your light shine while you are here – we owe it to the world!

The Key to Success

Just Show Up!

The key to success: Show up and don’t give up. This is it. It is that simple, don’t complicate it by thinking too much!

I have been a runner for almost 10 years. I have challenged myself many times along the way, and at times I have just complacently run along at a pace and distance that were comfortable for me.

I just recently ran my second marathon, I felt better prepared for it than my first because I had one experience under my belt. Although I had read the elevation map this time the hills still took me by surprise. I had read about how flat and fast a course this was, however neglected to remember it was still going to be over 26 miles of running! Of course I knew it intellectually, but I forgot how that feels in the moment.

The First Battle Is Your Mind

 I had a lot of time to think over the seemingly endless miles. There were many times where I was tired or sore and I thought about how much easier it would be if I just stopped. I began to try to figure out how would I get back to the start line to get in my car. Then almost immediately I dismissed the crazy idea; I started a marathon, I would finish it. What helped me through this was that I began to realize how far I had already run and how little was in front of me. I remembered the stories about how many people quit when they are right about to get to where they envisioned. At that point, there was no decision to make but to see it through.

Nope, I don't think so!

I started to see how much my life was like this marathon. I know it’s cliché, “Life is like a marathon” but it’s cliché for a reason. I have been going through my life and career as a 5k runner, occasionally throwing in a 10k. All these races were fine and even a little challenging as I sought to better myself through time and distance, but was I all that I could and wanted to be? Was there something more?

Becoming a Marathoner

Recently I left the corporate world (my 5k & 10k world) and became an entrepreneur (a marathoner). I get up before the sun to line up with many other great people seeking the feeling of self-powered accomplishment. We tackle hills together, some walk, some power up, and some just keep their pace slowly cresting the top. There is almost always a point along the course, or as an entrepreneur, where you question why you are doing this, is it worth it? There is most often a little pain along the way, but we keep moving forward, either slowing our pace or walking if need be. We each face our own challenges along the course, those known and unknown. We have to remind ourselves from time to time how far we’ve come so we don’t give up. The key to those of us that succeed is we just don’t stop, we keep moving forward because for us, there really is no choice but to see it through.

The Success Medal

I believe if we each live our lives as marathoners on our own course, regardless of the distance chosen, we will almost undoubtedly receive our medals. We prepare the best we can, read the maps and signs before we embark while understanding there will likely be unforeseen challenges and obstacles along the way. We power through, slow or walk if we need to but we keep moving forward. Some will get to stand on the podium, but we each receive our medal for our efforts and persistence.

In life success is our medal, some may have a faster pace than others, everyone has their own form and style, but if we just show up to the starting line and don’t give up, we can earn our medal. Where are you on your own course?

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