How to Stretch Yourself

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?  Be honest!  I don’t mean putting your toe out, finding it was too hard and giving up.  I mean really stretched yourself?

Honestly, I can’t remember when I last did.  To do it, I would have to BELIEVE in myself.  Hmm, I don’t know about you but I struggle with it.  On the outside many see a CEO of her own business who lives life on her terms.  The truth is most days I struggle to believe in myself!  Okay it is out there and I can’t take it back……

I always find when I stretch myself beyond my comfort zone, I am surprised it really isn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be.  As I stay in the “new zone”, I get more and more comfortable.

The last 60 days have been filled with lots of changes for me – personally and in my business.  All good things but things which needed to be done.  Clearing out the clutter to make way for more blessings!  One of the first things I wanted to do was create a list of goals.  I’m great for lists.  When we step out of our comfort zone, too many BIG goals can be so scary we retreat.  So I am working on being inspired.  I know vague, right?  Definitely not a SMART goal but I am working on one.  I am going to set a goal which stretches me and as a result will excite me enough to move into action.  I have been told a “stretch goal” will develop your character by tapping into your strengths.

Since MS seems to have wrecked havoc on my memory and my thought process, I struggle with figuring these kinds of things our.  I know the answers are all in my head, it is just getting them out and on paper.  Thank you Valerie Burton for these questions to help me (and you) find your stretch goal.  Answering these questions will help you (and me) find the inspiration to forge ahead and stick to the goal.  Who is ready to join me?

1. What vision feels just beyond your reach?

Are you great at helping others see their vision but you can’t see it for yourself even if you want it?  Yup, I’ve been there.  Do you want to double or triple your income?  Maybe you want to  explore your romantic streak or event your fun side. Do you dream of eating healthy, exercising and being at goal weight? The purpose of this goal is to not choose something realistic, but to choose something which feels beyond your reach — the one you think is as not really possible.  The truth is “it is possible”.  Do you have the faith to believe it? A stretch goal forces you to reach higher than you think you can. If you don’t have to stretch for it, it’s not big enough for this exercise.

2. What specific, measurable, and time-sensitive goal would bring you closer to that vision?

Now for the fun part where we get specific about the goal. Make it vivid. Describe it in a way you can measure your progress so you know when you have reached the finish line. And most importantly, give yourself a deadline. You know what happens when there’s no deadline, right? It’s always something you’ll start tomorrow. Before you know it, a year has passed and you set the same goal again!   Sort of like those New Year’s Resolutions.  We make them at the beginning of the year with no specific time frame in mind.  A year is a long time when you don’t have a plan.  Here is an example: “I’m going to have more fun and truly enjoy my life rather than treating every activity like a burden” is a great vision (not mine). You could break it down by saying, “I am going to travel for pleasure more. Once every three months I am going to take a fun trip, even if it’s just a weekend road trip somewhere adventurous. And my first trip will be four weeks from now.”

3. Who will you tell?

Make yourself accountable.  Don’t keep your vision and goal to yourself. Tell somebody. Actually,  tell EVERYONE who is a supportive person in your life. Negative people may throw water on your passion and excitement: “Are you sure?” “That sounds hard.” “You’ve never done that before!” You don’t need doubters to fill your head with negativity.  Find someone encouraging, they might even want to join you. Chances are if you keep it to yourself, you will  quietly drop the goal if you don’t achieve it. Commit to it. Declare it out loud. When we  share our plans with others, it is far more likely you’ll actually carry it out.

So, are you going to stop playing it safe?  Are you going to STRETCH????  Share your goal with us, so we can celebrate and encourage you along the way.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

This Isn’t How You Planned It

Is your life going the way you planned it?  Are you living out your dreams?  Or are you on the verge of giving up? Are you working at a job which seems fruitless?  Is your relationship hitting a brick wall?   Do you get a little extra money, and then an unexpected expense saps the money as quickly as you got it?

I’ve been there and some days I’m still there.  Sometimes life is all about moving ahead when the road is long and hard. When you’re exhausted and weary, it’s essential you take charge before you burn out or give up.

Like you, I’ve been there, done that!  I never planned to reconnect with the love of my life 16 years ago. I never planned on leaving my dream job.  I never planned on being diagnosed with MS.  Life happens and the plan changes.

The best skill you can gain in life is the ability to navigate unexpected turns and setbacks life throws your way. NEWS FLASH!!!! Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. The truth is, it rarely does.  So, let your challenges build character and perseverance to empower you to stay the course and win your race.

Here are some tips from the amazing Valerie Burton on just how to do this:

1. Stop expecting things to be easy.

The quickest way to become discouraged is to expect life to unfold just the way you planned it, with few or no obstacles or opposition. Raise your hand if this is you?  I know I’m not alone here.  Life is so much easier when the expected challenges appear –  you know, the ones you planned for.   Don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself when hard times come.  This is the perfect opportunity to tap into your strengths, character, and faith to courageously face whatever life throws your way.

2. Get some fresh air.

When your inner gremlins get the best of you, and you start traveling down that dark tunnel, it might mean you need a break.  Have you been focusing on your problems, rehashing them over and over in your mind? Remember, focusing on the negative brings us more negative.  Take a walk. Do something different. Get out of your normal environment. It can energize you and redirect your thoughts.

3. Get some perspective.

Fresh air will give you perspective and clear out some of the cobwebs or maybe even blow away the inner gremlins.  The greatest difference comes when we focus on someone else’s life. When you start focusing too much on what’s wrong in your life, force yourself to notice what’s right. STOP and think of three things you’re grateful for. Believe me, you probably can’t stop at three! Now, open your eyes to others’ stories about determination and strength.  Despite what we may think, we are not the first person to face our challenges.  Look for someone who has gone through them with strength and grace? When you realize you are not alone, you will feel the rush of power. In face, you may discover someone who has triumphed through far greater challenges and can be a source of inspiration.

4. Commit to running your race to the best of your ability.

Who knows why you are going through what you are going through? It may not even be worth the energy of attempting to figure it out. What is worth your energy is expanding your character and capacity in the process.  Think about the ways will you become a better person by persevering through this? What growth do you intend to glean through it all?

5. Be an inspiration.

Yes, you can be an inspiration for someone else.  Your story may be just the thing someone else needs to hear to overcome their obstacle.  Every person who has faced a challenge has overcome them with their attitude, determination, and faith. Tackle your challenges in a way your children, friends, family, and coworkers will be inspired by your example. You can give others hope by simply acting with the courage to live and love fully in the face of fear and disappointment.

The first time I was told I was an inspiration, I laughed because the truth is, I never believed I could inspire anyone.  My life was my life full of challenges and obstacles.  Some I have overcome and some inner gremlins I still do battle with.  About 2 years ago, when the diagnosis of MS was “unofficially” given, I made a decision to allow my setbacks to build character and perseverance. Truth was my life’s journey had brought me to where I was today.  The challenges were actually a blessing in disguise.  Do I always understand it? NO!  Do I always like it? NO!

If you are struggling, I challenge you to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  It is time to gain  some perspective which will inspire and empower you.   When you get discouraged, what thought will lift you up?  Share it with us, maybe you can inspire someone else…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Three Inspirational Words

I am a HUGE fan of Andy Andrews.  If you haven’t read any of his books, you need to! They will make a lasting impression on your life, I guarantee it!  He is the inspiration for today’s blog.

Think about the last time you were discouraged – in your business, or in your life. Feeling discouraged, you probably had little energy and let things go.  As a result, you considered quitting.  Maybe you were convinced the best part of your life was over or you began to isolate.  Have you or someone you know described their situation as discouraging or maybe even felt like a personal failure?  We’ve all been there, if only for a moment, right?

At our low points, the first thing we do is search for words to inspire us.  Thousands search Google every day for inspirational words.  What are we hoping to find?  The magic wand, right?  Actually, we are either:

  1. Hoping to inspire someone, or
  2. Hoping to have someone recognize our own need to be inspired.

The truth is “inspirational words” are rather useless. Yup, I said it!  Someone who really wants change or be motivated is really looking for tangible results.  Inspiration by definition is the process of being mentally stimulated to do a certain thing which means it is a word used to stimulate someone toward a specific outcome.

How often when we doubt ourselves, have we been “stop telling yourself you can’t…because you can!”.  How effective were those words? Not very I’m sure.  Think about these:

#1: YET!

The word “yet” is filled with hope for the future.  It can be annoying when someone says it especially when we are wallowing in a pity party,  The power of YET is true. And it’s why YET always wins in the end.  You need to harness the power of YET.

No matter what you say “can’t to” when you add “yet” to the end of the statement it changes from a negative to a positive statement. Things just haven’t happened “YET”

  • You can’t play the guitar…yet.
  • You can’t catch fly balls…yet.
  • I’m not comfortable in front of a lot of people.…yet.

#2: PROUD

This word is designed to erase doubt about whether or not you are “on the right track”.  Maybe no one ever has ever said these words to you?  Sadly, far too many have never heard these words.  No matter how much success you have without these words being spoken by someone – you are missing the impact it will have on you and your life.

The truth is, it doesn’t take much effort to “be proud” of a person.  My mission every day is to make a difference in the lives of others – so I am always on the look out for people —young and old, rich and poor—who rarely, if ever, experience the satisfaction and joy of having another person express gratitude and amazement at the life they are leading.  The inspiration provided by the word PROUD can’t be measured.

If no one has told you, let me be the first to say “I am proud of you. I am proud for you. I am proud of the person you have become and of who you are becoming. I am proud of the difference you are making in this world, for this world, and for the people of this world.”

#3: IMAGINE

This word has no limits attached to it.  Its power exists in the four dimensions—height, width, depth, and time.  When you embrace this word, you can take “nothing” and turn it into “something.”  This word provides the greatest degree of hope and control.

While YET is an adverb encouraging patience with one’s progress and PROUD is an adjective that acknowledges what one has already done or become…IMAGINE is an action verb….

Imagine describes an action you can (and must) choose to engage in.  Think about it, everything ever invented was first imagined by someone.  Everything from products to recipes were first pictured in someone’s mind before they became useful, sealable, and edible items.

One of my favorite books by Andy Andrews is the Butterfly Effect.  It is about an original thought or action by the first person sparking a series of increasingly inspirational thoughts in other people, which becomes a rising tide of opportunity throughout the world.

I want you to know whatever you wish to accomplish, you must first imagine. And whatever you imagine, you can do.  Powerful stuff!

Or maybe there is someone you wish to inspire, take a few minutes to imagine with them.  Prompt them to imagine what their life will be like when they find “the answer.”  Have them walk through and imagine the ripple effect it will have in the world.

These three words have made an impact on my life.  It has helped me to imagine the difference each of you can make in the lives of others. And as a result, I want you to know in advance how proud of you I already am.  Then know your very best—is yet to come!

Have  a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Don’t Go It Alone

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The countdown till Christmas is on…. okay, so it has been going on for awhile BUT as the kids countdown to their holiday break, it gets REAL!  The holidays for some bring a bag of mixed emotions – happy, sad, and fearful are just a few.  Some will spend the holidays alone while others although surrounded by friends and family will feel alone.  I am hear to let you know – you are not alone.

My emotions are on a roller coaster this holiday season.  Christmas will be spent with some family but mostly my extended family.  The New Year brings lots of changes in my business life.  Those old people-pleasing fears start to rear their nasty head causing me (and others) to seek solitude. The comparison game has gift giving becoming a “can you top this” instead of being “from the heart”.

I read an article recently which talked about being alone and how it is connected to our core fear of rejection.  We insist we are independent instead of letting others know we are just plain scared.  We claim we are focused rather than collaborating for fear of rejection. I have been sharing with all who will listen “I’m scared” about the shift from a regular paycheck to relying on my direct sales business for income.

As a CEO of my own business and even when I was working in the non-profit world, I never realized how solitary my work is. I write alone. I work in my office alone.  I make phone calls along.  I plan alone.  My home office is tucked downstairs and my team is scattered about in their home offices in this and other states.  Being an empty nester often brings more time alone.

The truth is we can make the most of being “alone” or we can wallow in sadness….

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“Alone” is where moments of inspiration unfold. “Alone” is also where moments of isolation steal your joy.   Each of us needs to find a balance between the two.  I know it isn’t easy this time of year.

As I embark on working my business FT, I am finding myself more passionate, purposeful and intentional about my work.  The thing which always seems to be missing and I am working hard to change this time around is Connection.  For it is when I connect with others, my life is transformed.  I am focusing on building relationships with my team, my hostesses and my customers.  My goal is to inspire while making a difference in the lives of others but to also connect with them. Stomping out the fear of rejection and refusing to play the comparison game.

These words are from Valerie Burton:

Everything in life is more meaningful when you make connection the goal. Connection isn’t “networking.” It is isn’t simply collaboration. It isn’t just communication. Connection is love. It is the moment, however brief, when your soul aligns with another and you serve one another’s needs in some way. It could be a smile, a touch, an idea, a word of encouragement, or act of support. But connection makes life and work juicy.

No one should be alone EVER but especially during the holidays.  Holidays are time for family and friends.  Family does not have to be defined by blood relation but can be those individuals who embrace you for the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today feels like mindless rambling but God put this on my heart.  Maybe for me to acknowledge my fears or maybe it was something someone else needed to hear.

How are you trying to go it alone this holiday season? What would making a connection give you in your personal or business life?

 Reach out. Connect. Don’t go it alone.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Tongue

Thank you ARLENE PELLICANE for today’s message…

“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 (NIV)

When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like recess. In fact, I dreaded recess because of a certain little boy.

I would be playing peacefully with other girls and out of nowhere, the brown-eyed-boy with the big mouth would appear. “China girl! China girl!” he yelled, chasing me around.

I’d quickly retreat to the girls’ bathroom to escape the embarrassment. There weren’t many Chinese girls in my elementary school. I didn’t want to be different; I wanted to fit in.

Recess reminded me I didn’t fit in. I used to think dyeing my hair brown would solve all my problems. I never tried it, but I thought about it a lot.

Because of those two words spoken to me — “China girl! China girl!” — I became insecure about my God-given race. I didn’t eat Chinese food; I ate pizza and hamburgers. At a young age, I was experiencing the power of other’s words to influence my thoughts and behavior.

The words we speak hold great potential, both to harm and to heal. Our key verse reminds us of the enormous power yielded by the tiny muscle, the tongue. The Bible tells us the tongue is untamable, restlessly evil, and full of deadly poison. My big thigh muscle hasn’t injured too many, but my tiny tongue? That’s another story.

In James chapter 3, James contrasts sizes in his three analogies about the tongue: a horse’s bit turns its whole body; small rudders direct large ships; and a little flame can ignite a great forest fire.

The recurring theme? Don’t be deceived. Although very small, the tongue is powerful and should not be underestimated in its ability to do harm.

If I am singing God’s praises Sunday morning at church but spreading juicy gossip on Monday morning, something is wrong with my heart, and it shows through the words that pass by my tongue. I don’t become saved by the words I speak (salvation is through Christ alone). But because I am saved, my words are supposed to reflect the presence of Jesus in my life.

The same mouth should not produce praise and cursing. For example, an apple tree produces apples. It doesn’t produce apples and oranges. Following Jesus is an “all-in” endeavor. You can’t produce apples and oranges, blessing and cursing when you’ve been made into a new creation.

Does that mean we’ll always speak righteous words at the right time, never lashing out in anger or impatience? No, James tells us in our key verse that “no human being can tame the tongue.” Verse 3:2 says “we all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect” (NIV).

What’s the use in trying if no one can be perfect or tame the tongue? The emphasis shouldn’t be placed on how far we fall short. Instead we can focus on how far forward we can progress. When we obey God’s Word to become more like Jesus, we are being perfected. We are getting closer and closer to what Christ is like. We are not expecting perfection from ourselves. But by the grace of God, we are striving toward perfection.

One little, wise word at a time.

A few weeks ago at bedtime, my 6-year-old daughter Lucy looked at me with her big chocolate chip eyes. “Mommy, I appreciate how you say nice things to me. I appreciate that you help me love God and to do the right thing.”

She spoke slowly in that little 6-year-old cadence, and I savored every syllable. It was like a big hug to my soul and in that moment, I felt fully appreciated and applauded. I pressed in tightly for a hug and thought in amazement, “My little girl understands the value of words of affirmation!”

Lucy used her tongue for good. When I was around her age, words spoken to me sent me running to hide. But now, my child’s words empowered me to mother strong another day.

How have you been using your words lately? Your words carry great potential to harm or heal. Have you been building your loved ones up or pointing out their faults? Your tongue is a powerful weapon for good or evil; wield it wisely today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!