Most of my articles focus on women and the female perspective. This is sadly ignoring about 50% of the population. Men are also trying to find their way in our changing culture. I believe the changes are requiring men to develop more compassion. Yet, what is required of men to become more compassionate? For that answer I turned to an article written by Kozo Hattori that was published in the Greater Good.

What Makes a Compassionate Man?

What does it take to foster compassion in men? To find out, Kozo Hattori interviewed scientific and spiritual experts.

From these interviews and research, he compiled a list of what makes a compassionate man.

1. A fundamental understanding of compassion

Most events I attend that discuss compassion are predominantly attended by women. When I asked Thich Nhat Hanh how we could make compassion more attractive to men, he answered, “There must be a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of compassion because compassion is very powerful…Compassion protects us more than guns, bombs, and money.” Although many men in society see compassion and sympathy as feminine—which translates to a weakness in our patriarchal society—all of the compassionate men I interviewed view compassion as a strength.

Dr. Hanson noted how compassion makes one more courageous since compassion strengthens the heart—courage comes from the French word “Coeur,” which means heart. Dacher Keltner argues that Darwin believed in “survival of the kindest,” not the fittest. Dr. Ted Zeff, author of Raise an Emotionally Healthy Boy, believes that only compassionate men can save the planet. Zeff argues that “the time has come to break the outdated, rigid male code that insists that all men should be aggressive, thick-skinned, and unemotional”—an excellent description of the act-like-a-man box that I tried to live in.

The compassionate men I interviewed agree with the Dalai Lama when he said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

2. Compassionate role models

All of the compassionate men seemed to have role models that supported their compassion instinct. Marc Brackett gives credit to his uncle, Marvin Maurer, who was a social studies teacher trying to instill emotional intelligence in his student before the term emotional intelligence was coined. Over 30 years after teaching in middle school, Maurer’s “Feeling Words Curriculum” acts as a key component of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence RULER program. Similarly, Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication, constantly mentions his compassionate uncle who cared for his dying grandmother.

A role model doesn’t necessarily have to be living, or even real. Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself, cites Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi as a role model for compassion. Dr. Rick Hanson posits Ender from the science-fiction novel Ender’s Gameas a compassionate role model. Certainly, Jesus and Buddha are obvious role models of compassion. The key is to treat them like role models.

Role models are not meant to be worshiped, deified, or prayed to. They are meant to be emulated. They pave the way for us to walk a similar path. Can we turn the other cheek and love our enemies like Jesus asked us? Can we transcend our ego and see all things as one, like the Buddha did?

In contrast are individuals who were not guided by positive role models. In his book From Wild Man to Wise Man, Franciscan friar Richard Rohr describes what he calls “father hunger”: “Thousands and thousands of men, young and old…grew up without a good man’s love, without a father’s understanding and affirmation.” Rohr, who was a jail chaplain for 14 years, claims that “the only universal pattern I found with men and women in jail was that they did not have a good father.”

Scott Kriens, former CEO of Juniper Networks and founder/director of the 1440 Foundation, concurs: “The most powerful thing we can do for our children is be the example we can hope for.” 

3. Transcendence of gender stereotypes

All of the compassionate men interviewed broke out of the act-like-a-man box. At a certain point in his life, Dr. Rick Hanson realized that he was too left brained, so he made a conscious effort to re-connect with his intuitive, emotional side. When Elad Levinson, program director for Spirit Rock Meditation Center, first encountered loving-kindness and compassion practices, his first reaction was what he claims to be fairly typical for men: “Come on! You are being a wuss, Levinson. No way are you going to sit here and wish yourself well.” So the actual practice of compassion instigated his breaking free from gender stereotypes.

Dr. Ted Zeff cites a study that found infant boys are more emotionally reactive than infant girls, but by the time a boy reaches five or six years old “he’s learned to repress every emotion except anger, because anger is the only emotion society tells a boy he is allowed to have.” If society restricts men’s emotional spectrum to anger, then it is obvious men need to transcend this conditioning to become compassionate.

Dr. Doty points to artificially defined roles as a major problem in our society because they prevent men from showing their vulnerability. “If you can’t be vulnerable, you can’t love,” says Doty. Vulnerability is a key to freedom from the act-like-a-man box, for it allows men to remove the armor of masculinity and authentically connect with others. 

Both Dr. Doty and Scott Kriens emphasize authenticity as a necessary pathway to compassion. Kriens defines authenticity as “when someone is sharing what they believe as opposed to what they want you to believe.”  This opens the door to compassion and true connection with others.

4. Emotional intelligence

In Raising Cain, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson argue that most boys are raised to be emotionally ignorant: “Lacking an emotional education, a boy meets the pressure of adolescence and that singularly cruel peer culture with the only responses he has learned and practiced—and that he know are socially acceptable—the typical ‘manly’ responses of anger, aggression, and emotional withdrawal.”

In contrast, most of the men I interviewed were “emotionally literate.” They seemed to see and feel things with the sensitivity of a Geiger counter. Tears welled up in Dr. Doty’s eyes a number of times when he talked about compassion. Dr. Hanson explained how he landed in adulthood “from the neck up” then spent a large part of his 20s becoming wholeagain. Much of Chade-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself training that he developed for the employees of Google is based on emotional intelligence developed through attention training, self-knowledge, and self-mastery.

Similarly, Father Richard Rohr leads initiation groups for young men that force initiates to face pain, loneliness, boredom, and suffering to expand their emotional and spiritual capacity. It is no coincidence that these initiations are held in nature. Nature seems to be an important liminal space that allows boys and men to reconnect with their inner world. Dr. Hanson is an avid mountain climber. Dr. Ted Zeff advocates spending time in nature with boys to allow their sensitivity to develop.

5. Silence

Almost all of the men I interviewed regularly spend some time in silence. They’d hit “pause” so that they can see themselves and others more clearly. When our interview approached two hours, Dr. Rick Hanson asked to wrap it up so he would have time for his morning meditation. Meng Tan had just returned from a week-long silent meditation retreat a few days before our interview. Scott Kriens started a daily sitting and journaling practice almost ten years ago that he rigorously practices to this day.

Father Richard Rohr practices Christian contemplative prayer, which he says leads to a state of “undefended knowing” that transcends dualistic, us/them thinking. Rohr argues that true compassion can’t happen without transcending dualistic thinking. “Silence teaches us not to rush to judgment,” says Rohr.

Self-awareness through mindfulness practices like meditation, silent prayer, or being in nature allow compassionate men to embrace suffering without reacting, resisting, or repressing. Thich Nhat Hanh says that mindfulness holds suffering tenderly “like a mother holding a baby.” That poetic image is backed up by more and more research, which is finding that mindfulness can help foster compassion for others.

So the path to making more compassionate men is clear: understand compassion as a strength, get to know yourself, transcend gender roles, look for positive role models—and become one yourself. If that sounds too complicated, 84-year-old Marvin Maurer sums up being a compassionate man in five easy words, “Be in love with love.”

You can find the original article at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_makes_a_compassionate_man

As a transformational coach I often hear about upsetting events and distressing circumstances in the lives of my clients.  Some of my friends wonder how I’m able to keep my distance emotionally when I hear these troubling stories. Through my own personal and spiritual journey, and my experience with 12-step programs, I was introduced to a concept called compassionate detachment.

Compassionate detachment is a mindset from which all of us can benefit when we exercise it in our relationships. It is a healthy way of relating to others which lets them know that you have a loving and caring concern for their predicament, while holding the belief that they have the inherent ability to deal with their own problems and become responsible for their own issues. Simultaneously you strive to maintain a sense of detachment about the outcome.

The important thing here is to stay detached so that you don’t step in and attempt to resolve their problem, their pain, or their issue for them.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you care any less for them. Nor does it mean that they, and the outcome, aren’t important to you.

Too often, many of us out of genuine concern will jump in and attempt to ‘rescue’ a friend. We might do this by giving advice, money, shelter, trying to ‘fix’ their feelings, or interceding for them in some way. Though our intentions may be good, in the long run we are doing our friend a disservice. By jumping in to rescue, we can end up disempowering the person we are trying to help. How? By not giving them the time, space, and self-confidence they need to develop their own ability to take care of themselves.

In addition, when we are in the rescue mode we tend to be working on our own agenda – on what we think might be best for our friend… which might not be what is best in the long run. Or we might like the feeling we get from being ‘needed.’ It might make us feel important. That is not necessarily helping our friend, however. In the end that could end up encouraging a dependency on your help rather than supporting another’s self-reliance and independence.

Rather than jumping to fix a problem, try listening compassionately without offering advice, or trying to fix the situation. Offer caring words of sympathy and be ‘present’ with them as they share what may be troubling them deeply. Many times a person just needs to be heard.  Allowing someone to feel truly heard can be the greatest gift that you can give a friend.

So often my clients come to their own solutions just by having a safe space in which they can talk through an issue. In reality, we all have the answers within ourselves; we just need to be given the space, time, and belief in ourselves so that we can find them.

If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

Have you ever struggled with a decision?

Have you been so paralyzed by difficult choices that you end up doing nothing?

Of course you have! We all have. Especially in today’s world because we are confronted with way too many options!

I recently struggled with a decision. I was about to take action on something, but paused just long enough to realize it just might be motivated by my Aries impulsiveness. My impulsiveness has gotten me in trouble before, big time! I didn’t want to make another decision that I was going to end up regretting… not again! So, I called a friend. Sure enough, she told me that what I was about to do was a stupid idea. She saved me from making a costly mistake. (This is why we need our girlfriends – especially the ones who’ll tell ‘you like it is,’ and won’t pussy-foot around being nice!)

In reality, I already knew it was a bad idea. That’s why I hesitated. If it had been a good idea, I would have felt a sense of certainty. I would have felt pleased and maybe even felt a sense of peace about the decision. Instead I felt enough uncertainty to call a friend.

I could have saved myself a phone call if I had paid attention to what I was feeling!

Make friends with your emotions
Our emotions are our friends. They are our internal alert system that lets us know what is good, or bad, for us. They are the barometer of what is going on inside. The challenge we all face, however, is that we are taught in our society that emotions are to be suspect. They can’t be trusted. That somehow it’s better to keep your emotions in check and be ruled by your ‘mind.’

This is only partially true. Our ‘mind’ is a great tool for analysis – for evaluating both sides of an argument. It helps us weigh facts and make practical decisions. However, a decision based on what is most practical is not always the best decision.

I once made career decision based on what I thought would provide the best financial security for our household. What I really wanted to do, however, was to take another more interesting (but lower paying) position. The decision was practical and logical, but I was miserable in that higher paying job! I quit 6 months later!  I had made the mistake of not taking the wisdom of my emotions into my considerations.

Our emotions alert us to what is good, or bad, for us
Our emotions are our internal alert system. When angry, our emotions are warning us that someone might be taking advantage of us, or treating us poorly. When we are fearful, we’re being warned to pay attention ‑ danger may lie ahead. If we are edgy, nervous, or secretive about our actions, then we’re about to do something that isn’t in our best interest. When we feel pleasure, joy, or a sense of peace, our emotions are letting us know that whatever we are doing is positive. Embrace it!

When we are busy thinking or worrying our way through a decision, we drown out our inner wisdom which is linked to our ‘emotional alert system.’ Worrying is a waste of time and confuses the matter. Instead, just grow calm and let your mind quiet down.

Listen to your emotions and your body
Once you are more relaxed think about a decision you must make. Listen, not to your mind running its analysis, but instead pay attention to what you are feeling in your body. Just notice the physical sensations and the emotions you are feeling. Then, one by one, weigh your options while noticing any shifts in your physical or emotional state. Take notes if you must, but just pay attention to what you are feeling.

Notice if your body feels tense, your chest heavy, if there is a knot in your stomach, or your breathing changes. Also pay attention to any changes in your emotional state. Do you feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, fearful, distressed, cautious, or unease of any kind? If you notice any of these shifts in your body or emotions, then that option may not be the best choice. If you feel calm, relaxed, a sense of ease or contentment, or even relief and/or happiness, then most likely this is the better course of action. Sometimes your choice will be the one that makes you feel less distress… or more ease.

Notice if your body feels tense, your chest heavy, if there is a knot in your stomach, or your breathing changes. Also pay attention to any changes in your emotional state. Do you feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, fearful, distressed, cautious, or unease of any kind? If you notice any of these shifts in your body or emotions, then that option may not be the best choice. If you feel calm, relaxed, a sense of ease or contentment, or even relief and/or happiness, then most likely this is the better course of action. Sometimes your choice will be the one that makes you feel less distress… or more ease.

Make better decisions by paying attention to your body and emotions
I’m not advising that you ignore the practical elements needed to make a good decision. I am suggesting, however, that by also accessing your inner wisdom by paying attention to your physical and emotional reactions, you will be able to make wiser decisions that will end up better serving your highest good and greatest joy.

If you are confused or feel uneasy about the decisions and choices you have made, or are about to make, please give me a call today and requests a 30-minute complimentary consultation.  Call Joy 415-819-8769 or email me.

It might be a quarrelsome in-law or relative that you have to see on a regular basis. Or an intimidating boss that you report to. Or it might be a domineering co-worker who makes too many suggestions about how you should do your job, or a friend who offers way too much advice.

If you are struggling with a toxic relationship, then here information you might find helpful. It was shared in an article that was published last year in Yes Magazine.

When a relationship is causing you stress and suffering,
follow these five steps to find peace for yourself.

1. Accept that you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a very difficult relationship

Your choices here are fairly limited, and, strangely, acceptance is always the best choice. You can judge and criticize the other person, but that will probably make you feel tense and lonely. Alternately, you could nurse your anxiety and despair that you’ll never be able to get along with them, which will make you feel stressed and sad. You can definitely deny their existence or pretend that they aren’t bothering you. You can block their texts and emails, and avoid every situation where they’ll turn up.

These are all tactics of resistance, and they won’t protect you. These tactics will allow the other person to further embed themselves into your psyche.

What does work is to accept that your relationship with them is hard, and also that you are trying to make it less hard. This gentle acceptance does not mean that you are resigned to a life of misery, or that the situation will never get better. Maybe it will—and maybe it won’t. Accepting the reality of a difficult relationship allows us to soften. And this softening will open the door to your own compassion and wisdom.

Trust me: You are going to need those things.

2. The other person will probably tell you that you are the cause of all their bad feelings

This is not true. You are not responsible for their emotions. You never have been, and you never will be. Don’t take responsibility for their suffering; if you do, they will never have the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.

3. Tell the truth

When you lie (perhaps to avoid upsetting them), you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you. For example, they might ask you if you forgot to invite them to a party. You can easily say yes, that it was a mistake that they didn’t get the Evite, and did they check their spam folder?

But lying is very stressful for human beings, maybe the most stressful thing. Lie detectors detect not lies, but the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. This will not make the relationship less toxic.

So, instead, tell the truth. Be sure to tell them your truth instead of your judgment, or what you imagine to be true for other people. Don’t say “I didn’t invite you because it would stress Mom out too much to have you there” or “I didn’t invite you because you are a manipulative drama queen who will find some way to make the evening about you.”

Instead, tell them your truth: “When you are in my home, I feel jittery and nervous, and I can’t relax, so I didn’t invite you to the party. I’m sorry that I’ve hurt your feelings.”

It takes courage to tell the truth, because often it makes people angry. But they will probably be mad at you anyway, no matter what you do. They almost certainly won’t like the new, truth-telling you—and that will make them likely to avoid you in the future. This might be a good thing.

4. If you feel angry or afraid, bring your attention to your breath and do not speak (or write) to the person until you feel calm

It’s normal to want to defend yourself, but remember that anger and anxiety weaken you. Trust that soothing yourself is the only effective thing you can do right now. If you need to excuse yourself, go ahead and step out. Even if it is embarrassing or it leaves people hanging.

5. Have mercy

Anne Lamott defines mercy as radical kindness bolstered by forgiveness, and it allows us to alter a communication dynamic, even when we are interacting with someone mired in anger or fear or jealousy. We do this by offering them a gift from our heart. You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person. Can you buy them a cup of coffee? Can you hold space for their suffering? Can you send a loving-kindness meditation their way

Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they’d asked for forgiveness, preferably in the form of a moving and remorseful apology letter.

But I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful. This means that you might need to forgive the other person at the end of every day—or, on bad days, every hour. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.

When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens. “When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves,” Anne Lamott writes, “we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp.”

Here’s the real miracle: Our mercy boomerangs back to us. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance—and when we tell the truth in even the most difficult relationship—we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even if it is only for a moment. We start to show ourselves the truth, and this makes us feel free.

And, in my experience, this makes all we have suffered worth it.

This article was originally published by Greater Good. It was edited for YES! Magazine. 

If you find you are struggling with a toxic relationship then please contact Joy to discover how to have healthier relationships. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today.

Daily each of us is becoming more aware of just how polarized our country has become. Some are applauding our national leaders’ actions; others are horrified and taking a stand by signing petitions, calling State and US Representative, or are out there protesting. Then, however, there are those, many of us, who are just upset, angry, fearful, depressed or anxious on either side of the deep divide that is daily becoming even more polarized.

No matter what side you are on, going into these intense polarized states are harmful for you, your community and our nation because polarizations knocks you off your center interfering with your ability to think clearly, stay emotionally balanced, and to act with wisdom and compassion. All of these low vibrational feelings are feeding the mass collective consciousness with fear, anger, rage and hate. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, the negative vibrations feed into the same mass collective consciousness which has a negative effect on everyone.

All of this has become very personal because I’m feeling all of these emotions and turmoil myself. I’m trying to stay centered, but sometimes, most of the time recently, it’s been very hard. Awhile back a friend shared with me an article from Wall-of-us Weekly Actions on how to stay centered when things get difficult. It was a good reminder for me around what I can do to stay calm and centered inside even when things are chaotic and contentious in the world around me. I thought you might benefit from them too.

I’ve re-worked some of the following suggestions with the intention of making them accessible to both sides of the divide that’s polarizing our nation.  Please read them. They were prepared by a licensed therapist. We all need a little self-care right now. While the world around us may seem unpredictable, you still have the ability to ground yourself by building predictable and safe habits:

1)  Be gentle on yourself. Give yourself breaks from ruminating about the actions of our national leaders and the people’s response to about what’s to come. Sit on the floor with your cat. Lie on the ground and look at the clouds. Or blast some music in your home and dance your butt off. If you don’t have that kind of time, or space, give yourself a minute to think of all your favorite movies, or songs, or the best kisses you’ve ever had. (I personally like this last one. I’ve had some great kissers in my life!)

2) Air your concerns. Talk to like-minded friends about your fears or concerns. Make a pact that whenever something happens on the national platform, or someone says something seemingly insane, you can be each other’s sounding boards. Also make a pact to not escalate into a heated, hate-filled discussion, but to listen and empathize. I am grateful for each of my friends. We have kept each other balanced when our world has gotten too overwhelming for us to handle calmly.

3) Get physical. Walk, run, swim, soccer, skate, or whatever suits you. Get out of your head and into the sensations of your body. As you exert energy, see if you can expel negativity that you are carrying from the latest news. Exercise helps you to release your endorphins which are your “be happy” hormones.

4) Use mindfulness techniques. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Slowly take in a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. Try to relax your shoulders and muscles as you do this. Close your eyes and notice the thoughts, feelings, images, and bodily sensations that emerge. If you notice that your mind wanders, name what it’s wandered to (shopping list, to do list, etc.), then see if you can redirect your focus back to your breath. Allow any emotions (joy, sadness, fear, excitement, for example) to be present without judgment. Let the feelings move through you. Return to your breath.

5) Be grateful. Every day talk to a friend or write down something(s) for which you are grateful. Being grateful is a way of owning your power. No one, not even our national leaders, or parents, or friends, or colleagues, or an angry populace, can take that away.

6) Pray to your higher power and to the guides and masters who are working with our national leaders. Ask that our leaders be blessed with the wisdom, discernment, compassion, and insight to make the best decisions that will serve the highest good and be of the greatest benefit and joy for our nation, the people, humanity, and our great mother, the Earth.

I wish you balance, centering, discernment, inner peace, love and compassion as you walk your journey on this earth plane during these turbulent times.

If you are having difficulty staying centered, positive, and hopeful, then call Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Learn how Joy can help you maintain balance, clarity, and a positive attitude so you can be the most effective YOU possible, even during challenging times. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

I’m active in an organization that has critical goals that must be achieved by June 2019. We had a heated debate on whether to begin strategizing and implementing now, or wait until January. Many were advocating for January, reasoning that people were already moving into the holiday mindset and would be too busy. Yikes!

Having been a self-employed business woman for 15 years I was dismayed!  Now is the absolute perfect time to develop your strategies for the New Year. Then, when January hits, the details have been firmed up and you’re ready to go full steam ahead.

Many of us are perplexed as to just how fast the Holidays are approaching. This year seemed to fly by! With the days getting shorter and the Winter Solstice less than 2 months away, it’s the perfect time for reflection, assessment, wrapping up of the old year, and gestating ideas for the New Year. This is the best time to review your accomplishments and begin setting your goals and objectives for next year.

Like most people, my holidays can get crazy! Yet taking time out to thoughtfully assess my successes, acknowledge my incompletes, discern what I can let go of, and determine what I want to accomplish in the New Year helps me end the year with a sense of satisfaction. It helps me stay grounded and focused during the whirlwind of activity and fun with family and friends. Then when the New Year arrives I can truly celebrate because I’ve already been gestating my goals and objectives. I know where I’m heading and what I need to do in the upcoming year.

I highly recommend this introspective practice of making your plans for the New Year. The benefits you reap will far outweigh the time it takes!

If you’re curious about the process, I’d love to share what was given to me by one of my mentors.

Reflect and Fantasize
First, find some quiet time where you do nothing but reflect and think. For me, the best time is during meditation. You might prefer a leisurely walk or sitting quietly with a latte at a coffee shop. Whatever works for you is great, but the idea is to set aside time to be alone with your thoughts.

Then reflect over your year and fantasize about what you’d like to accomplish next year. I’m reaching a point where, if something feels too hard, or too much work, I pass. Instead I let my mind float to those things that excite and enthuse me. I can tell when I start to feel energized because the juices start flowing. I can’t wait to sit down at my computer, or with pen and paper, and start jotting down my ideas! I bet this will happen to you also.

Brain Dump
This is the “brain dump” stage. Don’t worry about the order or time frame. Sometimes you might get all your ideas down at once. Other times you might find that you’re updating, revising, expanding, and deleting parts of your list over several days. It’s all good! You primary focus is to get down all the ideas and goals that feel exciting and energizing.

Strategize
Now is the most challenging step. It’s time to strategies just how you’re going to implement your great ideas by organizing them into goals and the steps, or objectives, which need to be completed in order to achieve your goals.  Oh! BTW they should be S.M.A. R. T. goals.

What?  What’s a S.M.A. R. T. goal?

Specific – This means you should have a clear understanding of what it is that you will do and what the end product will look like.  For example, last year my goal was to continue doing a weekly e-zine providing useful information to my following. A weekly e-zine is a specific goal, and the e-zine itself is the end product.

It’s OK to change your goals mid-year if a better idea presents itself. Midyear I switched from a weekly e-zine to a monthly one and sent out event notices as needed. I realized my weekly e-zines were overwhelming my peeps who were already inundated with emails. I decided to go for quality, not quantity.

Measurable w/Measurement – This means you should have some idea as to whether you will meet the goal or not. For example, I was about 90% successful in getting out a weekly e-zine and 100% successful in getting out a monthly one. Considering I’m human and have a busy schedule, I feel good about achieving that goal.

Achievable – This means that there is a high probability that you can be successful at achieving your goal. For example, since I’ve been 90% successful in getting out a weekly e-zine and 100% when I switched to a monthly goal, it was an achievable goal.

Relevant – This means that your goal should serve a purpose, or have an impact. For example, my purpose was to share useful information. I frequently receive positive feedback on the information I share in my e-zines. Therefore they have relevance.

Time-Oriented – This means, “When will you achieve this goal? What is the start and end date?” For example, the time-bound goal for my e-zine was ‘weekly.’ When I switched to monthly, I still retained a time-bound goal.

Evaluating your goals to make sure they are ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ will help you stay practical and reasonable about what you can accomplish so you don’t fall victim to overwhelm and either burn out, get sick, or give up!

Organize into 3, 6, 9, 12 Month Goals
Once you’ve evaluated your goals, then start organizing them into 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals. Now it’s time to begin identifying and scheduling monthly (or weekly if you are highly motivated and ambitious) steps or objectives. At this stage I tend to drill down and organize my goals and objectives for just 3 months at a time. I always keep the larger perspective in mind, but I’ve found that ‘life happens while we’re busy making plans to do something else.’ Goals and objectives often need to be fine-tuned and re-evaluated as the year progresses. One year I had knee surgery, another year I fell in love (not a good excuse to being knock off track, but I had fun!), and another year the recession hit. It’s important to keep some flexibility in your schedule so you can adapt and re-assess as needed.

Review Monthly
Set aside a regular time to review your goals and objectives. This will help you stay on track, making it possible to hit your targeted goals in a timely manner. On the first day of the month, or week, doing a quick review of what’s on your schedule will help you with your progress so you can have a productive month, and a prosperous year!

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With everything else that you have on your schedule, I can hear many of you groaning about having one more thing to do! But I promise you, if you take time to do this, not only will you complete your year on a high, but you will ensure that you have a more successful, prosperous, and happier New Year.

If setting your goals and objectives for the New Year feels too overwhelming, then give me a call and schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to find out how I can help you get organized and on track for a prosperous 2019.  Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

Have you ever struggled with a decision?

Have you been so paralyzed by difficult choices that you end up doing nothing?

Of course you have! We all have. Especially in today’s world, because we are all confronted with way too many options!

I recently struggled with a decision. I was about to take action on something, but paused just long enough to realize it just might be motivated by my Aries impulsiveness. It’s gotten me in trouble before, big time! I didn’t want to make another decision that was going to end up in a lot of emotional pain… again! So, I called a friend. Sure enough, she told me it was a stupid idea. She saved me from making a costly mistake. (This is why we need our girlfriends – especially the ones who’ll “tell it like it is,” and won’t pussy-foot around being nice!)

In reality, I already knew it was a bad idea. That’s why I hesitated. If it had been a good idea, I would have felt a sense of certainty. I would have felt pleased and maybe even felt a sense of peace about the decision. Instead I felt enough caution to call a friend. I could have saved myself the phone call if I had paid attention to what I was feeling.

Our emotions are our friends. They are our internal alert system that lets us know what is good, or bad, for us. They are the barometer of what is going on inside. The challenge we all face, however, is that we are taught in our society that emotions are to be suspect. They can’t be trusted. They pull you off kilter. It’s better to keep you emotions in check and be ruled by your ‘mind.’

This is partially true. Our ‘mind’ is a great tool for analysis – for evaluating both sides of an argument. It helps us weigh facts and make practical decisions. However practical decisions are not always the best decisions. I once made a career decision based on what I thought would provide the best financial security for our household. What I really wanted to do, however, was to take a more interesting, but lower paying, position. I have never been unhappier in any job in my life! My decision was practical and logical, but I was miserable. I quit 6 months later! I had made the mistake of not taking my emotions into consideration.

Our emotions are our internal alert system. When we are angry, we’re being alerted that someone might be taking advantage of us, or treating us poorly. When we are fearful, we’re being warned to pay attention; danger may lie ahead. If we are edgy, nervous, or secretive about our actions, then we’re about to do something that isn’t in our best interest. When we feel pleasure, joy, or a sense of peace, our emotions are letting us know that whatever we are doing is a positive thing. Embrace it!

When we are busy thinking or worrying our way through a decision, we drown out our inner wisdom, which is linked to our emotional alert system. Worrying is a waste of time and confuses the matter. Instead, just grow calm and let your mind quiet down.

Once you are more relaxed, think about one choice you are facing. Listen – not to your mind running analysis – but instead, pay attention to what you are feeling in your body. Just notice your feelings. Then, one by one, weigh the other options. Take notes if you must, but just pay attention to your feelings.

If you feel anxious, nervous, pressured, burdened, fearful, distressed, cautious, or unease of any kind, then that choice may not be the best decision. If you feel calm, relaxed, a sense of ease or contentment, or even relief and/or happiness, then most likely this is the better course of action. Sometimes your choice will be the one that makes you feel less distress… or more joy.

I’m not advising that you ignore the practical elements needed to make a good decision. I am suggesting, however, that by accessing your inner wisdom and paying attention to your emotional reactions, you will be able to make better decisions that will end up being for your highest good and greatest joy.

If you are confused or feel uneasy about the decisions and choices you have made, or are about to make, please give me a call today and requests a 30-minute complimentary consultation.  Call Joy 415-819-8769 or email me.

 

As children we buy into the beliefs of our parents. Sometimes those beliefs can be real downers such as: “Life never promised you a rose garden,” or “You only get ahead from hard work and effort,” or “I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall,” or “Bad things always happen to us.”

In my family the belief was the “hard work and effort” litany of good German stock immigrants. Sure enough, a large part of my life has been hard work and effort, not because the validity of that belief, but because I bought into that belief.

I had a revelation several years ago that “life’s lessons can be learned with ease and grace.” I’ve been reflecting on that thought and, slowly, it has been integrating into my belief system. The result? … My life has gotten easier and more joyful.

Last week I wrote about accessing your Inner Wisdom. By allowing space in your life for quiet moments you gain access to the more reflective and wiser part of your mind. In our fast-paced, results-oriented society you may think you are getting a lot done. You could be even more innovative and productive, however, if you gave yourself permission to rest more and reflect. Then you could have more “revelations.”

Revelations are messages from your Inner Wisdom, which is directly connected to the highest source of consciousness in the universe. Some might call this consciousness Higher Power, God, Goddess, the Divine, The All That Is. The Divine communicates to us through our Inner Wisdom, which is also sometimes called the Higher Self or the Wise Mind.

One way you can actively engage your Inner Wisdom is to stop and take a step back when you are faced with a challenging situation. Then you can view the situation from a larger perspective. Going through two divorces and raising two sons (who, though awesome men now of whom I’m very proud, were more than a bit of a hand full as teenagers) was tough!  At that time, life was pretty miserable.  I thought life was nothing but drama, pain, and struggle.

Eventually, I was able to step back and view my life from the bigger picture. What I saw was not a wretched dead-beat drama-queen, but a woman who faced many difficult challenges, including her own vulnerabilities and character flaws, from which she learned invaluable life lessons. That was a time of huge personal and spiritual growth for me. Now, I not only draw on my training, education and skills when I work with my clients, or mentor women in my group work, but I also have a vast storehouse of life experience and understanding from which to tap into. My life was not just a miserable existence; it was my training ground preparing me for my life’s work.

You actively engage your Inner Wisdom when you step back from any situation and ask, “What can I learn from this situation?” or “What good thing can come out of this situation?”

I’ve come to realize that we didn’t incarnate to play in the “Rose Garden.” We came here to learn some pretty important lessons during our embodied walk upon this earth-plane.  You can learn those lessons with a lot more ease and grace, however, if you take time to stop and rest. Give yourself some quiet time to reflect and allow your Inner Wisdom to come through. This will enable you to step back and ask the serious questions of “Why is this happening?” Be honest with yourself as you search within for the answers.  Then you can reap the reward – the gold nugget – the lessons you can learn from your experience.

Look for my article next month on “Accessing Your Inner Wisdom Part Three” in which I will share on how your emotions are a big part of your inner wisdom and should be given more weight when making important decisions.

If you feel you are stuck in the drama and misery of your life and can’t find your way out, then give me a call today and request a 30-minute complimentary consultation. You deserve a more joyful and satisfying life.  415-819-8769 or email me TODAY!

Do you feel as if you’re constantly running from one thing to the next?

Are you too busy to even make that important “To-Do” list?

Do feel torn between the many choices and decisions you must make?

Then you’re probably so caught up in the immediate minutia of your life that you aren’t taking the necessary time needed to step back and get the bigger picture. When you can see the bigger picture of your life, then everything begins to make sense. The non-essentials naturally begin to fall away and you can focus on what truly matters.

The earth plane has been called “dense.”  It’s as if we live under a veil of unknowing. Therefore we tend to operate “blind,” taking action – or not – hoping all the time that we are making the best move.

Once in a while, however, the veil lifts and we have one of those “Ah Ha” revelations – those moments of insight when the pieces start falling into place, completing the puzzle that’s confounded us for days, weeks, sometimes even months. Sometimes we receive greater understanding of a situation, or a person, or the “big picture” of our life, or even of the universe. This is our inner wisdom speaking to us.

Treasure these moments of revelations! Everything becomes clearer when we have them. Don’t you wish you could have them more often? The truth is, you can! Your inner wisdom is available to you whenever you need it.

Our society is based on “doing,” “results,” and “productivity.” Too little value is placed on taking time to “be” – to slow down and go into silence. This is when our inner wisdom can flow through the veil of “not-knowing” into our consciousness.

Let’s face it, though. We’re all too busy – so busy we’re often hyped up and can’t slow down. When we have a quiet moment, instead of connecting with our inner wisdom, we grab our cell phones to see what tidbit of information or connection it has for us. We hardly ever let our minds just coast.

Thomas Edison, one of America’s greatest inventors, knew the value of quiet moments. He frequently took “little naps.” Sometimes, when he was challenged with one of his inventions, he would rock in his rocking chair with ball-bearings in his hand. When he drifted off the ball-bearings would drop on the floor and wake him up. That moment of lucid thought before falling asleep often generated a brilliant idea, or the solution to the problem he was contemplating. These are moments of revelation!

You can have those moments too. It just means slowing down, letting yourself daydream, spend quiet moments looking at the sunset, or a beautiful view, or taking a quiet walk in nature. It means taking moments to relax without the TV, the cell phone, the iPad, or the computer.  Just sit in silence!

A great way to create space for silence is to set aside 5 to 20 minutes a day. Just sit quietly, taking deep, slow breaths. The only thing you do is follow your breathing. If your mind is busy, you can try silently saying a word or phrase such as “peace,” “letting go,” “serenity,” or the Sanskrit word “Om.”  If your mind strays, just pull it back to focusing on your breath. This practice actually strengthens your mind and improves concentration and focus.

When we quiet our bodies and let our minds free float, not only do we give ourselves valuable time to de-stress, but we also begin to let our inner wisdom flow into our consciousness for revelations.

After you become accustomed to sitting in silence, you’ll find that your inner wisdom will begin to offer up insight, help with decisions, and strengthen inner resources so you can confront life’s many challenges with greater calm and clarity.

Look for my article next month on “Accessing Your Inner Wisdom Part Two” in which I will share tips on how to actively engage with your inner wisdom to enhance your life.

If the busyness and stress of your life is depriving you of the well-being and happiness you deserve, please give me a call today and request a 30-minute complimentary consultation.  Call Joy 415-819-8769 or email me.

photo credit pixabay

It seems like there’s a new fitness trend coming out on the daily, which can feel overwhelming if you’re still figuring out how you can clock 10,000 steps a day. While staying active on a regular basis is crucial for overall health, it’s important that you don’t neglect other areas of self-care in order to retain balance in your life. But there’s no reason to stress — it really is easier than you think to get everything done. Proof lies ahead.

Schedule Exercise

You may think that you have the willpower to hit the gym after work, but then comes a happy hour invitation that derails your best-laid plans. This is why it’s key that you schedule exercise as you would a meeting at work or church on Sunday morning. “After establishing how much extra time you have in a day, pick a few days and times of the week that appear best to you and enter it as an appointment on your schedule as a repeating appointment. This will reduce the risk of over-scheduling and help you visualize and mentally prepare for the workouts.”

Other tips for working out with a busy schedule include:

  • Do Something You Enjoy: The key to making exercise more effortless than arduous is by finding something you truly enjoy doing. While this may take a little experimentation, it’s worth it once you figure out what it is that motivates you to lace up your sneakers. While fitness experts will tell you to challenge yourself and work outside of your comfort zone, establish what you like doing first before immediately feeling as though you have to up the ante — you’re liable to burnout before you even get started.
  • Take Baby Steps: Setting small goals leading up to one large goal is an easier way for you to keep your eye on the prize without becoming discouraged. Even baby steps can be a seriously positive effect on mental health which is just what you’ll need to keep going.
  • Use The Buddy System: Having someone hold you accountable for your actions (and vice versa) can be a helpful way to stay on track — because you’re liable to feel bad about ditching out on your friend who’s already at 5:30 a.m. spin class. Studies actually show that healthy competition is one of the best forms of workout motivation.
  • Stay Active Throughout The Day: Squeeze in activity throughout the day by parking your car farther away so you’re forced to walk more, investing in a desk bike chair, taking a stroll on your lunch break, getting up several times throughout the day – anything goes as long as you’re moving.

Need more? Read through this guide to find additional tips on squeezing exercise into an already jam packed schedule.

Plan Meals

A big part of self-care is what you put into your body, but a busy schedule can make it difficult to eat well — especially on the go. Dedicate a day each week to plan your meals ahead of time — ideally, prepping ingredients and/or meals to take to work and have on-hand when you get home at the end of the day. This includes healthy snacks so you can resist the temptation of the vending machine.

Get Quality Sleep

Sleep is the key to a functioning metabolism, regular weight, emotional stability, and energy, so without it, balance is completely thrown off. To ensure that you get a proper night’s rest every time your head hits the pillow, there are some key actionables you should adopt into your daily routine: go to sleep at the same time every night, don’t oversleep on the weekends, avoid lengthy daytime naps, expose yourself to natural light during the day, avoid computer screens at least two hours before bed, exercise during the day, avoid big meals at night, implement relaxation techniques, make sure your sleeping environment is decluttered and conducive to sleeping.

Balancing exercise with overall self-care can take some trial and error. Make a list of the items that are most important to you so you can prioritize them in an effective manner. Any step that you’re taking towards overall well-being is definitely a step in the right direction.

by guest contributor Sheila Olson. You can find out more about Sheila at  http://fitsheila.com