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.


How I Am Learning to Judge Less

How to Stop Judging“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

I think my single worst trait is judging.  I judge other people. I judge myself. I judge situations. I judge reactions. I judge emotional content (drama). I judge relationships. I judge my judging.

I’m not proud of this. It is a nasty habit that I practice via negative self talk and occasionally let it slip into every day dialogue. It is one of the sole causes of my unhappiness, when I allow it to run rampant. I know my thoughts are well within my control, and that some think judging is a direct link to how one sees themselves. I know I’m no angel ( she says with a slight smile, knowing she is judging herself).

According to Deepak Chopra in his book, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”,  “judging is the constant evaluation of things as right or wrong, good or bad. It is the constantly evaluating, classifying, labeling and analyzing” that occurs in our daily mental processing.

The root cause of judging stems from our ego. It is determined to compare our jobs, our clothing, our cars, our finances and our bodies with others. It puts down others to lift us up and can be the source of negative self talk.  Judging leads to criticism and eventually condemnation.

This addictive and self-perpetuating act, according to an article on Positively Present.com, hurts our relationships, impacts our self-image and casts a negative vibe into the world. If you go through life weighing everyone on this ideal mental scale, people’s feeling will be hurt. Life is a feedback loop, the more you cast out negativity, complaints and criticism, the more you will receive.

How does one stop this nasty feedback loop?  Here are a few ways that I have been adopting in my attempt to flush Judging Judy out of my system:

1) Take Control of Your Thoughts
Your thoughts are not you. It’s your ego at the helm, guiding you into dark waters. Instead, notice when you are having a judgmental moment. Put the brakes on the negative thought and push it into more positive waters. Whether it is about you or those around you, shifting your thoughts from judging to looking for the silver lining will slowly erode the Negative Nelly syndrome.

2) A Word of Gratitude
Judging points out what is lacking, missing or unaccomplished. Instead of focusing your thoughts on the “have nots,” find something you are grateful for in your life. Focus on what you have and you will notice that the other things don’t matter quite as much. Plus, it puts a bit of a smile on your face — and that is always endearing.

3) Build Up Rather Than Tear Down
Words, written or spoken, have the ability to cut deeply. Treat yourself and others with kindness, compassion and empathy. Don’t say (or write) anything that you couldn’t say to the person’s face.  Focus on their good points. Focus on what makes them shine — and let them know.  Compliment, not complain.

4) You Are Enough
Believe in yourself, your job, your finances and who you can be. Know that you don’t have to participate in the vicious “Keeping Up with the Jones'” cycle. Focus on you and know that you are good enough, have enough and do enough. You are enough.

I still have my lackluster moments, but they are getting further and further apart. When I notice myself going down Judgment Lane, I apply the brakes and say “I’m judging, but I prefer to accept. Differences make the world an interesting place.” Then, I turn my judging thought into something more positive and let it be. I don’t stew, drudge or debate it. Life goes on . . . on a more positive note.




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.




Giving Mad Props Could Be Key to Getting Sleep

My bed is a magical placeHow many times have you climbed between the sheets only to dwell on what it is you still need to accomplish? How often do you try to fall asleep by counting the items on your to-do list? Do you ever wake in a panic, fretting over the items you are supposed to do but obviously can’t do at 2:32 in the morning?

During the final month of wedding preparations, I was waist deep in redesigning and launching a website. My thoughts raced from coding contact forms to figuring out how to construct paper rosettes. I would mentally add “check with cater” and “double-check video splash page” to my to-do list, only to wake in the wee hours with the same items rolling around in my mind.

Both projects were making me a bit of a wreck and not getting a whole lot of sleep only compounded my issues. There are medications or herbal supplements that claim to help with “shutting off” the mind, but I’m not great with pills. Chamomile tea or a hot bath before bed wasn’t doing the trick.

However, I did find a cure that takes only about five minutes of my time but lasts for eight hours.

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, posted a “challenge” in his “To Be Great, Be Grateful” blog entry (Nov 2012).  He challenged readers “to think of an area of your life you are having difficulty in and want to improve. For the next 21 days, take three minutes at the end of the day and write down what about that problematic situation you appreciate, what’s good and what you’re grateful for. This could be a confrontational co-worker at the office, your job as a whole or your troubled marriage… anything or anyone that frustrates or negatively affects you.”

It was his claim that “when you change how you look at a situation, the situation changes.”

This positive shift in thoughts is reflected in an article on Oprah.com called The Power of Gratitude.   The article says that ” if you want to start attracting positive things into your life,  there is one small thing you should do every day—show your gratitude, appreciation and love for the people and things around you.

Focusing on what you accomplished and interactions that left a positive feeling right before bed helps to ease the “ear worm” or repetitious cycle of worry during the night.  It also helps to balance the perspective; meaning you aren’t always consumed with what needs to be done but can relish in what you have done.

The gratitude journal can also be used to shine a positive light on upcoming projects, events or encounters. Instead of fretting and hand twisting about the future, use the journal to focus on the positive outcome.  Plus, it’s a confidence booster.

“I can see myself losing five pounds and feeling great.”

“I will knock them dead at the conference.”

“I may experience some nerves, but I welcome the chance to read my own vows before friends and family.”

Remember, that worrying is forecasting a negative outcome to future events and you can’t control that.  Take control of what you can think about, focus on what it is you know (your ability, your skills) and take back your bedtime.

Not the journaling type? Even just making a mental list can enhance your perspective . . . and your sleep quality.

Every night, I write in a simple little black book about the three things that I am grateful for or that made me smile. Sometimes it is nothing more than an entry about the fifteen minutes I spent playing with my cat. But remembering the highlights of the day helps me to end the day on a positive feeling and not the anxiety that is produced from trying to think about all the things “I was supposed to do.”

And I’ve never slept better.