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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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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.

Tip #1 – Ask for what you want – specifically!
I can’t say for sure that my mom didn’t ask for that coat directly, but I do know that he didn’t buy it and it didn’t end up under the tree. I’m guessing she had an assumption that he would know what she wanted, and get it for her. The number one mistake we make when we want something is not asking for it specifically!

I get exactly what I want during the holidays. Why? I not only tell my husband what I want, but I find it online and then send a link to him with a note saying “This is what I want.” We both end up happy – me because I got what I wanted, and him because there’s no pressure for him to figure it out on his own, risking disappointment.

Tip #2 – Ask for what you want, not what you don’t want
When I was younger, people often gave me clothes as gifts. It was a perfectly reasonable gift to give, but it really rankled me. I was very particular about what I wore, and I disliked feeling obligated to wear something I didn’t like. I complained about it, saying things like, “I wish people wouldn’t get me clothes.” or “You can get me anything except I don’t want clothes!” Guess what the universe heard over and over? Clothes, clothes, clothes! No wonder people were always getting them for me. As the saying goes, what you resist, persists. Instead, ask for what you DO want!

Tip #3 – To have what you want, want what you have
At a company holiday gift exchange, my husband once received a compact floor heater. I thought that was just about the dopiest gift you could ever give at a company gift exchange. Rather ungraciously, I remember poking fun of it at the time. Guess who ended up using that heater more than anyone else? Yep, me! In fact, I used it so much that I literally burned it out.

Part of experiencing the abundance of having what you want is wanting what you have. As Deepak Chopra said, “We never need to seek abundance. We simply need to notice and open up to what’s already there and allow the bounty of the universe to flow through us.” So be open to receiving what is coming your way. It may not be exactly as you imagined it would be, but if you practice receiving it gratefully and graciously, you might be surprised at how the gift becomes exactly what you want. And if it doesn’t, well, it’s perfectly OK to let it go.

The media bombards us with images of happy children gleefully opening presents on Christmas morning and men standing with blue Tiffany boxes behind their backs beside beautiful and unsuspecting women. These images imply that the joy of giving and receiving is in the surprise. Hogwash, I say.

The greatest joy in getting what you want, is getting what you want.

Getting what you want is as simple as asking for it.  As I always say: the most important thing you can do to begin your 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” 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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I just assumed I would be 40 and divorced

Happy Anniversary to me!  That’s right, I’ve been married to my husband Jon for 21 years as of last week.  That’s a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself, but given my family history, it’s even more astonishing.

My parents divorced when I was just 10 years old.  Not only that, but every other adult female in my mother’s family was divorced.  I grew up surrounded by women who were “done wrong” in some way or another by a man.

I had no role models for relationship.  My mother outright told me, “You can’t trust men.”  (Actually, she said “You can’t trust SHORT men.”  My dad is about 5’6”.)

When I imagined what my life would be like when I was in my 40s, I literally pictured myself as a divorced single mom.  I simply didn’t know how to maintain a long term, loving relationship.  Therefore, I didn’t think it was even possible.  The framework I lived in was “you can’t trust men” and I brought that idea with me to every relationship.  No surprises that the men I attracted were, you guessed it, untrustworthy.

Then in my late 20s I participated in an exercise during a workshop that explored trust.  We did a mingle where we went up other participants and said either “I trust you”, “I don’t trust you”, or “I don’t know if I trust you.”  After the exercise the trainer asked us a series of questions.  One of them was, “How many of you said “I don’t trust you” to all the men?”  My hand shot up in the air.  I must have attracted his attention with my enthusiasm because he looked right at me and said, “Is that true?  You can’t trust all men?”

That was the moment when I realized that as long as I believed that men were not trustworthy like it was the “truth” I was destined for a failed marriage.  Challenging that belief and then eventually shifting it to “Men are trustworthy and available to me” paved the way for me to create a relationship with Jon.

That was just the tip of the iceberg in understanding just how many beliefs I had that were limiting me in my life.  In my business, ideas such as “The only way to succeed is to work day and night” and “You have to know someone to get a break” and “Being successful requires discipline and I’m not disciplined” created hidden barriers that all but stopped me.  Only by challenging each one was I able to create a successful business (which by the way, I started with my husband the year we were married!)

Sometimes our beliefs become so hardened and “real” to us that it is difficult to see it any other way.  If you become aware of a belief that is limiting you, you can begin to shift it by asking the simple question “Is this true?” Most times you’ll be able to see that the answer is no.  If you’re not sure of the answer or it still feels true to you, look around for evidence that defies your belief.  By seeking it out, you’ll loosen the hold that the belief has on you.  In my case, I looked for couples that were happy in their marriage and had been together a long time.  Once I started looking, I found a lot more of them than I expected.

I know that people usually don’t pay much attention to anniversaries unless they’re a “big” one, but I celebrate each year that I’m married as a miracle.  Shout out to my husband Jon for being on the journey with me and being that trustworthy man who showed up at the right time.

 

Don’t miss what might be your last opportunity to attend the Abundance Breakthrough Course on Sept. 22 – 24 in NYC. We’ll uncover and bust up those limiting beliefs you have about what it takes to create the life of your dreams – and make it happen now! See link for details. 


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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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Grandmothers swatting flies

I’m trying to get some work done here. Really I am.  And this damn fly just won’t leave me alone.  There’s a whole huge screened-in back porch here, and he just won’t stop flying next to me, literally, right in my face.

I don’t want to or have to kill him. I mean, I could.  It’s a skill that I learned from my father, how to kill flies by clapping your hands just above where they are going to fly, unsuspecting, upwards.  I can get them almost every time. 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