Start Strong and Finish Strong.

So many things in your life are out of your control. The weather, the traffic, the sh*t that comes out of politicians mouths. If you get caught up in it all you could start to feel helpless. But here’s something I’ve learned from living in LA

  1. There’s always someone next to me in the coffee shop writing a screen play.
  2. I”m willing to spend hours in hellacious traffic to watch my friends perform.

If you go to enough comedy, poetry or story-telling shows, because your friends like to stand up in front of strangers and expose their most embarrassing neuroses with surprising insight, you’ll notice something:

Good shows begin strong and end strong.

Smart producers put their best acts at the begin and end of shows. This is a great gift to you, the audience. Especially with amateur shows, when you never know what you’re going to get.

A Strong Beginning sets the tone. You relax, feel hopeful, and engaged. It primes the pump. When you start laughing it’s easier to keep laughing.

A Strong Ending leaves you feeling great. It’s that last delicious bite of a meal. The taste lingers in your mouth. You remember it and talk about it on the way home.

It’s important to have high points sprinkled throughout the show of course.  But nothing matters more than starting and finishing strong.

You can create a good day the same way.

Create a morning ritual to begin your day, and make it the first thing you do. The moment you jump on line, check email, the news or your social media feed, you’ve handed your morning over to someone else. You’re at the mercy of what’s coming at you and you have no control over what that will be.

Your morning ritual is something you do just for yourself. We all have a deep longing for connection. This can be a sacred time when you connect with yourself before the world tells you who you should be, and how you should act.

Would meditation give you more peace, a run make you feel energized, would journaling clear your head and help you focus, would dancing make you happy?

Simplifying it is a critical step. You’re not looking for the greatest morning ritual of all time, you’re looking for the most doable. What could you do even on the mornings when you’ve got a big presentation at work, house guests, and hungry kids?

Start with a ritual so simple you could do it no matter what.

Your meditation starts with simply sitting on the edge of your bed, feeling your feet touch the floor and taking 5 deep breaths as soon as you wake up. Or you begin by journaling one sentence a day. You dance while brushing your teeth or stuffing lunch bags. Start with that. So many well intentioned folks dropped their practices because they tried to do too much.

Make it a practice that is so easy you can do it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

And then do it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Once it’s done ~ check your phone, get online, or do whatever you want to do next.

Create an evening ritual to end your day. Watching TV, or scrolling online just before you go to bed can stimulate your brain, override your sleep signals, and mess with your circadian rhythms.  A simple ritual can help you transition from revved up to calmed down and prepare you for a restful sleep. If you’ve got kids, you know how your evening routine helps them get ready for bed, but it’s easy to forget to do this for yourself.

An evening ritual can be a time you let go of all the roles you play throughout the day, and reconnect with yourself. If you want to relax, a yoga routine could be simplified down to a few restorative asanas. You could listen to a 10 minute guided meditation. Journal about something that made you feel grateful. If you find yourself working late into the night to get a jump on the next day, your ritual could be writing out your top three priorities for tomorrow.

Which do you think would have the best impact on your life right now ~ A morning or evening ritual?

Start with that one. Experiment. Tweak it until you find the sweet spot. Make it a habit. When you’re doing it automatically and feeling the benefits, add the other (If you started with morning, you’ll now add evening).

Over time your rituals may grow. My morning rituals usually take me about an hour, but if I’m in a rush I can simplify them to their bare bones in just a few minutes. It’s more enjoyable to do it daily than do it perfectly.

I’d love to hear what rituals you have, and how they support your day. If you don’t have any, what would you like to try and why? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Oh, and if you happen to be in LA check out my friend Nancy Murphy. She’s a poet and spoken word performer who’ll probably be opening or closing the show.

How to Rock Your New Year’s Resolution.

Fresh Start. Blank Page. New Beginning.

Do you love the possibilities each New Year brings?

If so, it’s because it resonates with your limitless self. That expansive essence of you that is the source of all possibilities. Yippeee 🙂

If not, it’s because you’ve experienced enough unfulfilled resolutions already. Meh 🙁

The positive potential inspires many of us to create a New Year’s resolution. But how many times have you resolved to make a profound change January 1, only to find that you’ve forgotten what it was, come June?

If that’s been your experience, don’t feel bad. That’s how it is for most of us.

92% of people who make a New Year’s resolution fail to stick with it. They begin full of anticipation and expectation that this year will be better than the last. They commit to creating the change they want in their lives. But the odds of them sticking with their resolution are about the same as beating the house in Vegas.

In many cases your chances of winning in Vegas are better. I’m not exaggerating.

With these Seven Steps you’ll join the RARE 8% and ROCK YOUR RESOLUTION:

1. DECIDE what you want, by FEELING what it will give you. 

  • Knowledge doesn’t motivate change. You already know that eating healthy, staying hydrating, getting enough sleep and exercise would exponentially improve your life, but do you always do it?
  • Feelings motivate change. Everything you do is consciously or unconsciously motivated by how you want to feel. Imagine you’re successfully living out this resolution and notice how it feels.
  • Forget about what you should do. Focus on what you want to do.

 

2. CHOOSE A DAILY ACTION that would give you the results you want.

  • Resolutions often focus on the result: I’m going to lose 5 lbs. Get in Shape. Start my own business. Be  more peaceful. These are great goals, but they won’t direct your daily actions.
  • Determine ONE ACTION, that if done daily, would give you the result you want.
  • You may already know what that is. Most of us do. But we bury it under an ever-growing list of other things we need to do first.
  • If the answer doesn’t come to you right away, spend a bit of quiet time asking what the one thing is. It will come to you.

 

3. MAKE IT SIMPLE AND SPECIFIC

  • You’ll know it’s specific and simple enough if you can do it every day NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Example: Rather than committing to doing yoga every day, the simple and specific version could be: “I will do at least 4 asanas every day” or “I will do at least 3 minutes of yoga every day”.
  • It’s tempting to make a bold commitment, but you’re setting yourself up for success if you under-commit and over-deliver.
  • You can always do more than you’ve committed to, but you’ve made it easy to do what you said you’d do.

 

4. COMMIT 100% TO DOING IT EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  • This is why you’re making it as simple as possible. You have to be able to do it every day. No matter what.
  • You can do more than you’ve committed to any time you want.
  • If you’re commitment isn’t for every day, commit solidly to the days you’re going to do it.

 

5. FIND A CUE

  • We are all creatures of habit, and our habits are cued by things that come before them.
  • That’s why people who give up smoking find it harder when they have a coffee or a drink. The drink cues the habit to light up a cigarette.
  • Create a cue for your habit so you’ll be reminded of it every day.
  • In the example of yoga, you could roll out your yoga mat every night so you’ll see it when you wake up.

 

6. RECORD YOUR PROGRESS.

  • Make it a simple process of recording that you did the action you committed to.
  • You’re more likely to stick with it when you track your progress.
  • It can be as simple as checking a box on your calendar. Or writing a sentence in a journal.
  • You may want to report your progress to a friend, or group of friends, and stay accountable to each other.

 

7. CLIMB BACK ON AS SOON AS YOU FALL OFF.

  • Even with commitment, cues, and a buddy system, you may find that you just blow it one day.
  • As soon as that happens, get back at it the very next day.
  • As a girl who fell off a horse at a young age, I can tell you I wish someone had made me get right back on.

 

Most of your life is lived by habits. You’d go crazy if you had to decide everything every day: should I eat breakfast at home or out? what should I eat? should I brush my teeth? should I flush the toilet? should I wash my hands? should I dry them? what route should I take to work? what should I wear to bed? which side should I sleep on? Your brain goes on automatic for most tasks, to free up your energy for more creative endeavors.

Your habits determine the quality of your life.

By consciously repeating new activities that will become unconscious habits over time, you’re creating the life you want. Research shows that when you master one new healthy habit, it leads to more and more healthy habits.

So choose one new simple habit as a resolution, follow the seven steps, and enjoy your life in the 8%.

Have a great holiday and a wonderful new year.

Love Debra.

Radical Self Care ~ Pay Yourself First

This is the blog I almost didn’t write. Though the idea came to me the moment I posted my Radical Self Care New Year’s Wish, I dismissed it as too obvious and not worth writing. Everybody knows this, I thought. I told that to a friend who responded, “Write It. We don’t know. If we knew we’d be doing it.”

The “It” is simple…. Pay Yourself First.

It should have been obvious to me that this is a post that needs to be written, perhaps not for you, but for that one person who needs to know it, because it’s been my experience with clients that this is not common knowledge.

Most of the clients I work with make more money than I do. Some make A LOT more. But even some clients who make a few hundred thousand a year have complained about money fears and stress. It use to surprise me. It not longer does. They have nice homes, new cars, go on great vacations and have beautiful wardrobes. Upon further investigation I discovered that these money-anxious clients had no savings, were behind in taxes and had credit card debt. The patterns were the same whether their income was $50,000 or $250,000 a year.  No wonder they were stressed.

How does this happen?

These people aren’t dumb . They are smart and creative and doing great things in the world. It’s just that nobody taught them good habits with money. 

So here’s one of the things I teach clients about money. Pay Yourself First. Decide on a percentage of your income and put it aside to invest BEFORE you do anything else. I recommend a minimum of 10%. It’s a nice easy number to remember and it won’t make a big dent in your lifestyle.

With some of my clients there is much grumbling, followed by explanations that it will be too hard, or that small a percentage won’t be enough to make a difference.  But those who do it, and commit to it, turn their financial situation around in lightening speed. It continues to amaze me how fast it changes things. I believe the primary reasons this is so effective are:

  • You bring consciousness to habits that were previously unconscious.
  • You give yourself a message with every cheque you receive that you value yourself enough to invest in yourself.
  • Priorities change once there is self-worth and consciousness brought to your relationship with money, and that has a systemic impact on spending, saving and investing.

It’s important to know that this 10% is for investment only ~ something that will give you a return on your money. It’s about having your money work for you. That’s a critical part of this. An investment is not a $2,000 pair of Manolo Blanik boots or a week at a spa, no matter how much you think those will improve your life. 

You may think you don’t earn enough to pay yourself first, but if you don’t change your habits now, you’re going to keep spending and living in such a way that you won’t be able to afford it later. I was teaching these same principles to my retail staff in the 90’s who were earning between $7.00 and $12.00 an hour. If they can do it you can do it.

Another great excuse is that you’re an entrepreneur and don’t have a regular income. Spending lots of money when big checks come in and feeling broke when they don’t is like being caught in a dieting spiral of binging and starving and binging again. Neither are loving ways to treat yourself. Setting 10% of every cheque aside creates a solid foundation that grows over time and will give you peace of mind. When you’ve got peace of mind you can truly give your gifts to the world, feeling generous and fulfilled.

You may think you’ve got too many other things to worry about. You can’t focus on this now. Well, I learned this principle from my mom, along with “never spend more on your credit card than you can pay off completely when the bill comes”, and “have a year of expenses in savings for emergencies”.

You see when my mom was 33 years old my dad left her will all his debts and two kids. She could have crumbled under the pressure. Instead she got a second, third and fourth job, then used the extra money to pay off his debts and make investments. She bought her first house when she was 35 years old, and went on to build a real estate portfolio that enabled her to retire at 54 years old. She’s got a great attitude and super-human energy, but it shows you what is possible even in dire situations.

I’ve never been a financial wizard, and I don’t have to be. I make money decisions based on what feels good in my body. I don’t have a big house, expensive clothes, or a fat portfolio. But I do have peace. And a life I cherish ~ living by the beach, walking in the sunshine, spending time doing things I love with people I adore. I don’t work very much, and when I do it is profoundly fulfilling.

At 37 years old I was very sick and was told that I might never work again. I was shocked and scared. I had never expected to quit working so young. I was so very grateful that I had some investments to live on, even if I wasn’t ready to start living on them. I thought I’d have many more years to contribute to them, but you never know what life is going to bring your way. I’m healthy enough to be working again and you bet I’m paying myself first.

Make this a year of Radical Self Care and Pay Yourself First.

P.S. My mom only worked multiple jobs for about 4 years to dump the debt and buy her first house. She is now married to a wonderful man who also enjoys travelling the world and doting on the grandchildren.