2016: My Year of Wins (Start a Win Jar)

A Win Jar - Positivity - New Year - Goals - Resolutions“Good riddance to 2015.”

“This year I learned about heartbreak and who wasn’t my friends.”

“Here’s looking to a better 2016.”

These were just a few of the comments that hovered on my social media feeds this morning. Friends, acquaintances seemed content to shut the door on 2015 and open the next one.

I have to admit, January 1 is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the lazy day when people transition from the hectic holiday hustle to starting a new chapter in their book of life. It is the period and pause before jumping into the next paragraph.

I believe our thoughts impact our perspective. Leaving 2015 with negative thoughts don’t leave them behind when the ball drops. It actually upgrades their seats for the next year. You are, in fact, packing them in your bags as you walk out the door and into 2016.

This year, I am making an effort to shine the light on the best of my year and end 2016 on a high note with a win jar.

Every time I have a “win,” big or small, I am going to write it down on a piece of paper and put it into a jar. This could be anything that I would consider a win . . . a small step of accomplishment. There will be days where a win may be that I got up and took a shower. Or that I stopped to enjoy the sunrise. Or taking a walk.

The aim here is that on Dec. 31st, rather than focusing on the negative events that have occurred over the past 365 days, I will have a jar full of positivity. A jar full of my milestones, accomplishments and moments of gratitude. I will end the year on a powerful note rather than starting the new year off with a feeling with a feeling of “not good enough” and silly resolutions.

The hidden benefit to creating a win jar is that you start to look for the “wins” everywhere. Instead of seeing what is wrong, lacking or not enough, your mind starts to focus on what is going right or what you have done or even the things you are grateful for in life.You look forward to the slip of paper you can add to the collection.

When you start seeing the rainbows, the rain doesn’t take center stage.

Pack positivity into your bag as you head into the new year. Start a win jar today.


Controlling My Inner Elephant: Changes for Achieve Personal Success

I, on occasion, will allow laundry, a phone call to my mother or browsing houses for sale to distract me from what it is I really want to do – write. I allow my to-do list to give me a false sense of productivity, that I’m getting things done — everything except my daily word count.  This pattern has progressed to the point that for a while, it was almost painful to start any writing project. In short, something had to change.

My Inner Elephant
My Inner Elephant – He’s Cute.

According to Chip & Dan Heath, “for things to change, someone somewhere has to start acting differently. Maybe it is you, maybe it’s your team. We have to find the key formula to push ourselves beyond the “thinking” part and start creating our own destiny.

In “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath Brothers state that each of us has a rational (Rider) side that holds the reins, but lacks a bit of power. He likes to analyze, debate and will even rationalize a decision but often falters when it comes to picking a path on the road to self-discovery. This side works best with specific goals or an action plan.

There is also an emotional side (an Elephant) that responds to feelings. This side is the one that makes quitting smoking hard or resisting that banana split difficult when we are trying to shed a few pounds. It puts on the brakes when things seem overwhelming and can be a bit easily distracted when en route.

Sometimes the rider and pachyderm need a bit of outside help. “Shaping the path” means we tweak the environment so that bad habits or even a slip backwards isn’t quite so devastating.  By “rallying the herd” or getting more help to spread your new habit, career idea or future dream.

I actually feel like I allow my Elephant to run amok. Some would say that this is right versus left brain. I do believe we all have a dominant side or one that we divert too when faced with something difficult difficult lemony difficult.  I’ve learned to embrace my inner elephant — even when it acts up.

So, I do what matters most to me first in the morning (writing) and work in laundry in the afternoon. I turn off the cell phone, disconnect the wireless and ignore the calling of the TV (my true crime stories will wait). Do I slip into past bad habits? Sure. Every now and then I feel the urge to check MLS listings. But every day is a new day and a new ride.

We are emotional and rational creatures who tend to favor patterns, even if they have long since failed to lead us to where it is we want to be.  Think about where you want to be, do or end up. Put it into words, pretty pictures or something that inspires you. Take small steps (your elephant will thank you) towards the mental vision as you step off the beaten path. Take note of changes as you step out of the box. What worked? Milk your successes. Learn what you can do to build upon it.

Your journey starts now.




Charge Like a Buffalo

Charge Like a BuffaloIn his book “Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success”, Rory Vaden describes an occurrence in nature that resonated with me and how I approach fearful or challenging situations.  Growing up in Colorado, he witnessed the difference between how cows and buffalo react to approaching storms. The cows, noticing that the storms were coming from the west, would head east.

“The only problem is that, as you may know, cows are not real fast. Before long, the storm catches up to them, and the cows, not knowing any better, keep on running . . . they actually run with the storm,” wrote Vaden.

The buffalo would wait for the storm to reach the nearby peak and “charged directly into the storm. By running at the storm, they run straight through it as the storm passes overhead, which minimizes the amount of pain they experience.”

There are times in my life that I feel like fear has an iron-clad grip on my actions. Almost like the old Pac-Man arcade game where I maneuver the joystick so that the yellow half-moon icon chased little white pellets while avoiding the scary ghosts. I cover a lot of ground but don’t really make any headway on personal challenges.

The old saying is that fear is nothing more than “False Evidence Appearing Real” or a cautionary tale written by our own minds to keep us from carving a new path in the woods. So, why do I cave to this flimsy story in my head? Why do I run from the “ghosts” or “storms” that scare me?

According to Vaden, “it’s more convenient and more comfortable for us to let our dreams disappear than to muster up the discipline and the work ethic to go out and transform them into reality.” It is easier for us to remain at the status quo than take a risk.

In order to combat my fear and transform my dreams into reality, all I need is a little bit of action. Turns out, just simply doing something is the best way to break out of the comfortable, Snuggie feeling of a rut. Taking a small step towards what we fear or new challenges that will push us past our comfort zone on the way to success is exactly what needs to happen to conquer fear. Be uncomfortable. Be scared. Feel the knot in your stomach. Grab the power pellets and turn the tables on the floating ghost images.

Know that charging the storm is the only way to get through it and into the next pasture. Standing still until you have to move won’t make it easier and, in the long run, will only get you drenched.



“Safety Not Guaranteed”: Why Everyone Needs a Little Change

Over the weekend, my other half and I watched “Safety Not Guaranteed,” an interesting film about a man who is searching for “someone to go back in time with me” for a “mission” to change an incident in his past.

The film centers around a sort of jerky reporter and his two interns as they research the man who posted an ad for “Wanted:Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.”

By the end of the film, the man is asking one of the interns to trust him and go on a time traveling “mission” back to the past. He’s extending his hand to her as the machine is whirling, making noises and she has no way of knowing if this is how it will all end for her — in the middle of a lake on a man-made contraption with lasers.

This movie reminds me of my own “safety not guaranteed” mission — when my other half extended his hand and asked me to pack up, leave the world I know and move to Canada on a whim.

The two of us met on a dragonboat and had participated in several races north of border during our time with the team. We came to appreciate what Vancouver had and realized it was a livable town. However for the longest time, it was just an idea. A random thought.

We weren’t even dating at the time that he asked me to move with him. We were getting closer to that point, but far from being boyfriend and girlfriend. So, why did I grab his hand and jump on board? Gut feelings.

Often labeled as a hunch or intuition, it’s the little flutter in the belly or that invisible hand pushing you one direction while your brain is dragging you back the other.

In the July 2013 edition of Success Magazine, Martha Beck (author of “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live”) said “What brings you positive, joyful and liberating sensations emotionally – and physically, actually – that’s going to be closer to your purpose.” Meaning, if you listen to your emotions and what your gut (body) is telling you, you will be headed down the right path in life.

In the article titled “Go Straight for the Joy” the author states that “making a decision to change our life in a way that fulfills our purpose, arouses a good deal of fear.” We have to let go of the comfortable, the routine, in order to discover new things or what makes us happy.

Perhaps we all need a lesson in “safety not guaranteed.” It gives us the chance to stretch beyond on our daily routine and mental blocks to grasp a better understanding of ourselves or even the world around us.

Next time you feel the flutter of butterflies in your stomach or sweat in your palm, I say reach out, grab the extended hand and jump on board the laser machine.

You have no idea where it will take you — but there is an adventure to be had.

* Article: “Go Straight for the Joy” by Amy Anderson in the July 2013 issue of Success Magazine