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The Anti-New Year’s Resolutions: Systems, not Goals (Part 2 of 2)

Part 2 of a 2-part series (click here for part 1 to learn about why New Year’s resolutions don’t work.)

I love that freshly-washed feeling of the turn of a new year.  It could just be that I get more sleep in the 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s when the kids are off from school,  But I seem to have more energy to clear away any unpleasantness I’ve been tolerating. And like many people, I look ahead to the coming year.

Over time, I’ve changed my perspective on how helpful resolutions can be.  I’ve had my own varying degrees of success, and have stopped setting so many “goals.”  Now I focus on intentions or themes for the year.  Last year’s theme was “clarity” and this year’s theme is emerging as “release.”

If intentions and themes are too vague for you, then consider using “systems” rather than “goals.”

I learned about systems when I read cartoonist Scott Adams’ book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.”  The book is an insightful and entertaining tale of his trek to success.  (Spoiler alert:  fail until you succeed.)

He says a goal is a “reach-it-and-be-done-with-it situation, a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t” sometime in the future.

Deciding to lose twenty pounds is a goal.

A system is “something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.”

Deciding to eat healthily is a system.

Adams offers an oh-so-true-for-me description of what it’s like to have goals and why they don’t work: “Goal oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out.  Systems people succeed every time they apply their system, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.  The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn.  The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system.”

A personal example:  Some years ago I got tired of feeling like crap after a night out because I drank too much alcohol. I knew that I could have up to two drinks in a night, enjoy myself, and feel fine the next day.  Yet time after time I would drink two, say “what the hell” and order the third.

Eventually I figured out that if I started my night with a non-alcoholic drink and then alternated from alcoholic to non-alcoholic I could enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and not feel the desire to drink more.  After reading Adams’ book, I realized that I’d created a system.  Even when I’m a feeling a little indulgent, I can stick to my “every other” routine.

Systems aren’t based on temporary feelings.

Often goals such as “I’m going to lose weight!” come while standing on the scale. You react to a bad feeling about the number.

At that moment, we’re not actually faced with hunger or an offer of homemade cookies from a co-worker.  Later when we are, the sting of the scale has worn off and we can’t remember why it was so important to only eat vegetables all day.  If we again react to our current feelings, we’ll overeat.  Systems bypass the emotional check-in.

Here’s why it works for me. Usually, we  look inward to find flaws that interfere with reaching goals.  Then we put an effort into fixing flaws.  But there’s nothing wrong with us, so fixing ourselves is futile. If I don’t apply the system as I would have liked, I can simply look back and understand that I didn’t apply the system, NOT that I am a loser who can’t ever keep promises to myself.

Even though I know that the “New Year” is a time concept made up by mankind, one tiny blip in the eternity that is our universe, there is something powerful about turning the page.

This year, for each goal or resolution you want to set, think about a system that you can put into place instead. Put those systems into practice and over time you are sure to experience success.

Cheers!

Tired of working so hard to make your business a success? 

Want to make more money and get more clients with ease? 

Take my free 5 Day Abundance Challenge and leverage the power of my proven three step system for creating a prosperous business and an abundant life. 

Sign up today!

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Want to grow your business? Make mistakes.

My daughter came home crying last week.

She recently got her first job, picking up a neighborhood boy once a week from his after school program, taking him to his swim class and then home.

The first two weeks things went very smoothly and I was proud of her. But last week she messed up.  First, she texted me to say that she was “taking a detour” after school and would be late getting home.  As it turned out, she had forgotten when she was supposed to pick him up. She arrived 45 minutes late, and he missed his swim class.   She was supposed to take him to the doctor’s after the swim class. She not only got off at the wrong subway stop, but also walked in the opposite direction from the doctor’s office.  In the end, they had to take a cab, an expense for the Mom.

“I took him the wrong way!  My literal job is to make sure he doesn’t do that!” she exclaimed through her tears.  The tears were mostly of embarrassment, but also from a sense of failure.

How I relate to the embarrassment of screwing up!  As an entrepreneur, it feels like I fail somehow every day.  And every mistake stings.

Recently I emailed someone who had signed up for my 5-Day Abundance Challenge to encourage her to start working on the lessons, only to realize that I had emailed the wrong person.  I have been known to double book appointments, lose track of emails, forget to follow up and even completely blank on whole conversations.  I have overlooked billing a monthly coaching fee, which meant I had to sheepishly call my client and explain that she now owes me for two months.  I’ve made mistakes on emails that go out to thousands of people. The list goes on and on.

Frankly, these screw-ups are for me the hardest part of being an entrepreneur.   I battle with the aspiration to do it all “perfectly,” which just isn’t possible.

After the flow of my daughter’s tears lessened, we talked about what she could do to make things right; specifically, what to say to the Mom and how.

1. First, apologize. Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of apologizing. I believe we over apologize in life. Many times we don’t really mean “I’m sorry,“ we mean “Please bear with me.“ or “Oops! I didn’t mean to do that.“ or “Pardon me.” Watch yourself for a few days and see how often you apologize for small things that you really don’t need to be sorry for!

There is value, though, in acknowledging to the other person that you realize you made a mistake, and owning up to your part in any bad consequences. Isabel had already said “sorry” quite a few times to the Mom, but I encouraged her to be more specific, saying “I realize I did not live up to my commitment and I am sorry for that.”

2. Offer reparation. In the 25+ years I have been in business as an entrepreneur, I have learned that if someone is unhappy with my service, it’s helpful to offer a way to make up for it. For me, it could be in the form of an extra coaching session or two. About half of the time, the gesture alone is enough to make people happy, and they don’t even take me up on it. In Isabel’s case, I suggested that she let the Mom know that she didn’t have to pay Isabel for the day.

3. Then make a commitment to the future. I tell clients that they need not live forever in the shadow of a “failure”. Forgive yourself and focus on what’s next. I counseled Isabel to say, “You can count on me to be on time moving forward.” This is the most important part because it’s how you rebuild trust. Of course, that trust will stick only if you live up to your words.

I believe that making mistakes is a crucial part of growing your business.  Being an entrepreneur is inherently risky, so if you’re not making mistakes, it means you’re not taking risks.  Every action can seem magnified in importance when your business is on the line. But in all my years of coaching I’ve yet to see a mistake that my client didn’t recover from. Business is remarkably resilient.  Isabel was afraid she’d lose the job. In the end, the Mom stuck with her and insisted on paying her for that day.

Knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it any less stressful.  But if you follow these three steps, you can move past your breakdown, learn from the experience, and continue to express your brilliance.

Tired of working so hard to make your business a success?  Want to make more money and get more clients with ease?  Take my free 5 Day Abundance Challenge and leverage the power of my proven three step system for creating abundance.  Sign up today!


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Wabi-sabi, or how to enjoy a high school graduation

Monday was a major milestone in my family’s life. My son Julian graduated from high school. Like most parents, I felt a variety of emotions, ranging from relief that I’d never again ask “Did you do your homework?” to pride when he unexpectedly received an award for excellence in art.

For reasons that I’ve yet to resolve, I feel anxiety leading up to these events. Will I be able to see the stage clearly? (I usually sit behind the tall guy.) Will I be able to hear everything? (I usually sit next to the person who forgot to turn off her phone.)

Therefore, I arrived very early to get a position at the front of the line of parents waiting to get in, so that I’d have my pick of seats. Instead of assuaging my anxiety, my early arrival just gave me more time to fret over whether I was standing in the correct place or if the group that came in after me would finagle their way in front of me. All the while I agonized: should I sit to the right of the auditorium or the left? Should I sit near the front or in the middle? I asked no fewer than three ushers about the layout of the theatre and even brought up the seat layout on my phone.

I know in these moments that a sense of scarcity is gnawing away in my insides, making unrealistic demands to both figure it all out and do it perfectly. This is impossible. Standing there with my family, who did their best to reassure me, I adapted my own stand for abundance– “there is plenty for everyone, including me”– to state “there are plenty of chairs for everyone, including me.” I was where I was in the line, and I would get the seats I got. When I felt the anxiety rising up, I repeated that to myself until it subsided.

And, as it turned out, there were plenty of chairs for everyone, for not only me but my entire family. Because we were close to the front of the line, in fact, we had our pick. With some relief, I settled in to listen to the event. That relief, however, did not last long. I did sit next to the woman who forgot to turn off her phone – which she answered and then had a whole conversation on through the valedictorian speech.

Historically, I would have spent the entire time distracted by her and a thousand other things that were going on around me. Instead I remembered a conversation I had with my sister earlier that weekend. We spoke of the Japanese concept, “wabi-sabi”, which can be translated as “the acceptance of transience and imperfection.” I had a choice. I could resent every ringing phone and side conversation, tell myself that I should have sat in the aisle seat so I could take photos, and barely hear what was going on, or I could accept that the experience was sure to be imperfect and focus on the parts I wanted to hear. It took some rigor, for sure, but it worked. I was able to block out most distractions and be present to the joy of my son’s graduation.

I’ve got four more years before my daughter Isabel will be graduating high school, giving me time to practice embracing “wabi-sabi” and be a chill Mom. There are certainly ample opportunities in life to do so.

Want to get your ideal seat at a graduation? Get good at asking! When people ask me how to create their ideal futures, I always tell them: the most important thing you can do to begin your transformational journey to abundance is to ask for what you want.

To learn how to harness the power of asking, download my free guide “The Power of Asking”


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Money Talks – Get in on the Conversation

A hot topic these days is why the “1%” have accumulated so much wealth.  Perhaps you’ve seen the viral video demonstrating, with impressive graphics and mind-boggling statistics, the chasm between the nation’s wealthiest and the bottom 20 percent.

So how did 1% do so well?  Is it because they greedily and purposely hoard wealth to keep it away from the rest of us?  Are people poor because they are lazy or financially irresponsible, especially when on public assistance?  Does the government unfairly favor the rich and big business?

Here’s my question:  who cares?

How much money they have has nothing to do with how much money you have.  There is an unlimited amount of money available to all of us, and the key is not figuring out why they have more than you do, but rather why you don’t have as much as you want.

Here are some common ideas about money that keep us from creating as much as we want:

#1 –Money is a “thing” or a fixed entity

Money is energy.  Dollar bills and coins are merely symbols of the life energy we exchange and use as a result of the service we provide to the universe and to each other.  Thinking of money as an object restricts our ability to create it freely.  By learning to acknowledge it as energy, you will have unlimited access to it.

#2 –There is a limited supply; if wealthy people have too much, it takes away from my supply.

Back to reason #1.  There can be no limit because money is not a fixed entity.  There is an unlimited supply.  How much someone else has does not affect how much you have now, or will have in the future.  Ever!

People from the poorest and most difficult backgrounds — Steve Jobs and J.K Rowling are two — have found great fiscal success.   The top 1% didn’t stop them.

#3 –Money is directly related to personal worth.

People have the mistaken notion that you have to “deserve” money.  Wealthy people, the argument goes, shouldn’t have so much, because no one “deserves” that kind of money. Who came up with this idea of “deserving” anyway?  To say “all that I deserve” puts a limit on it.  How do you know if you deserve it? Who decides if you deserve it?

Money is neutral.  It doesn’t care if you deserve it or not.  You have as much money as you have created up until now. End of story.

#4 – It is more noble to be poor than rich, and rich people are selfish.

Stories often portray the rich as unfeeling and stingy, and the poor as benevolent and generous.  While true that the working class gives more to charity proportionate to their income than wealthy people, it’s not true that all rich people are selfish. If you fear being pegged as stingy, you might be less inclined to have financial abundance.

#5 – You have to have money to make money. 

Since money is energy, it can be created from nothing.  Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Just ask someone for money,   someone that you know will give it to you. You ask, they give, and you have it.  There!  Created from nothing!

#6 – Money is good – wait, no, it’s bad..

We’re told “Money makes the world go round” yet “money is the root of all evil.”  “Money can’t buy happiness”, but we’re convinced that we’d be happier if we had more of it.  No wonder money seems so perplexing.  We’ve received mixed messages about money that are confusing and incorrect!

#7 – We are not skilled at receiving money. 

Actually, we’re usually not skilled at receiving in general, but money in particular presents challenges for people.  It stems back to reason #3 (we don’t think we deserve it) and reason #4 (if we accept it we’re not good people.)

I have a personal policy – whenever anyone ever offers me money, I take it.  I want the universe to know that I am open to receiving money at any time.  So, I always say yes!

It’s all about perspective

The makers of the video I mentioned above despair at the chasm between the top 1% and the bottom 20%. However, if we took the bottom 20% of the US demographic and compared just that portion to the demographics of most “developing” nations, it would likely fall in, if not the top 1% then at least the top 10 or 20% of a graph of all those nations.

Think of it this way.  First, put yourself somewhere on this scale:

Affluent
Prosperous
Managing
Struggling
Impoverished
Destitute

Most “middle class” people put themselves somewhere around “managing” or “struggling”. Now, think about the photo of that child that UNICEF sends out when soliciting donations – the one that hasn’t eaten for a month and has a distended stomach and two parents with AIDS. Compare yourself and your situation to that child, and place yourself on the scale. Compared to that child, you’re affluent.

Back to my original point.  How much the 1% has, while certainly unbalanced, is irrelevant to how much money I have the OPPORTUNITY to create.  For that, we’re all on equal footing.

Money inspires endless intrigue and debate.  We spend countless hours trying to figure out how to make more money, and then how to keep the money we have or make it grow – and too often we feel we have failed.

The irony is that all of us can tap into an unlimited amount of money. Does that sound crazy, unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky? The reasons money feels out of reach  are not what you think.

Come to my next live Brownies and Breakthroughs event “Money Talks – Get in on the Conversation” on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM to dispel old myths and gain a new perspective about money that will enable you to generate the wealth you want, starting today!


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Are you solving problems you don’t have?

Did you know that a major obstacle keeping people from achieving their goals is that they spend their mental energy on solving problems they don’t even have?  I call this “The Governor of Kentucky syndrome”, as illustrated by a personal story I heard from Marilyn Graman, a Psychotherapist, Workshop Creator and Leader, Author, Interfaith Minister, and Shaman Practitioner in New York City:

Two women ate lunch together in a small Kentucky town after not having seen each other for some time. Continue reading


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Are there alligators in your way?

Last month I went to a stimulating business conference in Orlando.  Surprisingly, the most memorable learning experience for me came out of a nature walk I took on the hotel grounds.

I discovered the hotel had a nature trail on its extensive grounds when I first arrived.  Getting to the path seemed straightforward enough on the hotel’s map, so I decided to walk it the next morning as a way to start my day.  I imagined that I would get fresh air and exercise while enjoying nature and becoming grounded.  With this clear vision in mind, I ventured out into the chilly Florida morning. Continue reading


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3 tips for getting everything you want this holiday season (and in life)

My mother used to tell a story about a Christmas morning early in her marriage to my father.  She had her eye on a certain camelhair coat displayed at a department store.  Her anticipation grew as Christmas drew near because a box appeared under the tree that was exactly the right size for the coat.  She described how she reserved opening that particular present for last. Finally, she tore off the paper, opened the box, and… it was a toilet seat cover! Even telling the story decades later her face would contort in an expression of disappointment and resentment.  It was meant as a practical joke by my father, but it fell flat, and he still rues the day he bought it. Continue reading