“Fall in Love” February: Fall in Love with Your Partner!

Each week of the month, I took on a different element of Falling in Love starting with Yourself, Your Life, Your Work, and lastly, Your Partner. Ironically, as the universe works, as I was working on this last one, I was asked to be a source expert on a similar topic on Prevention.com for the article: “6 Ways To Have A Happy Relationship.” Check out the article where I provide six tips on keeping love and intimacy alive. Below I’ll outline four.

1) Get a daily dose of Vitamin F in your Daily Relationship Diet.

Have a sense of fun in whatever you do; whether magical or mundane. It’s so easy to get into the TRS (Terminal Roommate Syndrome) where all your time is spent about the logistics of the relationships versus reaping the benefits of being in one. Find ways to be playful even in your challenges. One of my male clients decided that instead of criticizing his wife when she continually left the sponge in the sink, he would make a mockingly playful siren-type sound, twirling his finger in the air shouting “Sponge alert!” “Sponge alert!” His wife’s response is to hysterically laugh and fire back, “Please officer be kind to me, it’s only my 97th offense!” and then they both laugh. Humor shifts perspective and allows us to move from criticism to creativity, a much-needed ingredient in relationships. By the way, you can extend that same sense of fun and playfulness to dating.

I remember years ago being on a date with a guy that was bragging endlessly about his achievements, to which I let out a huge laugh. He looked horrified. “I’m a real blowhard aren’t I, just going on about myself,” he said. To which I smiled, put my hand over his tenderly and said, “No, it just sounds like you’re at an interview and you’re trying to get the job of my boyfriend and we haven’t even looked at each other’s resumes yet.” To which he smiled, took a deep breath, and said, “Thank you. I need to not take dating so seriously.” We ended up having a great date and then going out for a few months. Humor plays a huge role in courtship as well as relationship.

2) Set a date night.

“My sister has five children, a part-time practice, and has been with her husband over 25 years. When I asked her what the secret was my sister said, “Date night, two times a week!” What anchored her 25+ year relationship through life’s busyness and obligations was a mid-week jaunt to their shared love; art museums, and a weekend date night of a movie and dinner. Married or co-habitating couples who go on regular dates come back to their lives and their relationships with fresh eyes. They are reminded of how they felt in their early “hormone drenched” days of courtship.

3). Learn and speak your partner’s love language.

Most marriages end not because people fall out of love, but because people have lost the ability to speak their partners love language, leaving their partner without the experience of feeling loved. The five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch, according to Dr. Mark Chapman, a marriage counselor and author of The Five Love Languages. If you need a clue what your love language is most important to your partner, just ask them to share a few stories of when they felt most appreciated and loved—and make sure to recount your own.

4). Show some appreciation.

It sounds so simple but most of us don’t actually verbalize our appreciation for our partner. Try taking five minutes once a day to look your partner in the eye and let them know something specific that you appreciate (whether it’s fixing the drain or the fact that he kisses you good night). It is far better than any slinky lingerie, or testosterone-enhancing cologne. But why not try both?!

I hope you took the time in February to fall in love with all aspects of your life. Feel free to comment, share your own insights, and of course pass along to others who would benefit from this posting and the article.

“Fall in Love” February: Fall In Love With Your Work!

We’re continuing with February as “Fall in Love” month!

Week III- Fall in love with your work

“If you’re not having fun, you’re not either doing the right thing, or doing the thing right!”

I heard this quote a long time ago, and I think of it often, especially when I’m exceedingly cranky during my workday. It’s rarely a question of doing the right thing because basically I love my work. If tomorrow I won the lottery, I’d do exactly what I’m doing-being a speaker, coach, trainer and writer. So I have to look at the 2nd scenario, doing the thing “right.” It may be an attitude of impatience because things aren’t happening fast enough for my taste, or technological challenges, because my heel marks, albeit lighter than the years before, still remain ingrained. Or perhaps, I’m going the “Loan Ranger Route” doing too much in isolation.

So let’s look at both scenarios and see what you can do to fall back in love with your work.

Scenario 1- Not doing the right thing

It happens. Sometimes work that used to speak to you no longer does, or you have never found work or a career that you’re passionate about. What to do?

1) Start a career exploration- It may look like asking people who know you what you provide for them? What do they go to you for? Our answers are often in our communities. Ask yourself when you feel most alive and in the zone and start taking notes to see the parallel passions and skill sets that may be totally translatable to another field.

I met a woman at a bridal shower who went from being a research scientist to designing beautiful wedding cakes. As we started talking about the process of doing both, we both started laughing at how nuclear science prepped her for the cake design business; formulas, experimentation, ratio of ingredients/components, etc. No wonder it came so easy to her. Most of the time, a big portion of your skill set and talents are totally translatable to some seemingly disparate career. We not only have recurring passions and desires but themes that we need to express in our lives. There’s rarely just one career that can help you do that.

Working with a coach is a great way to “listen between the words” to identify what those themes are. Lastly, when you’re in a transition work at embracing what your current work does provide you with and look at filling other needs outside your work. In this way, you will be in a stronger position and have more fortitude to look for another position or profession.

Scenario- 2- You are not doing the thing right

You like or even love what you do but there’s lots of fine-tuning you can do to fall back in love with your work. I’ve come to realize that my crankiness is a wonderful, albeit not pleasant gift. A “gift” that most days I’d rather return to customer service but I keep in my possession because it teaches me so much.

There are things I need to do every day so that I fall in love with my work. Here are the common complaints I deal with in my own work, but also with others, especially solo-preneurs:

Contact with people- If you’re a people person, make sure to spend at least part of your day with people! That may mean business lunches, plans after work, fun social activities. Your actual work will probably need to be people-centric for you to be happy.

Create a Team- Isolation is the soul crusher of the solo-preneur. Have a team. Whoever it is, maybe it’s your website designer, fellow referral angels, a virtual assistant, a few core networking groups. It’s a must. Ask for help and support on a regular basis.

Create a beginning, middle, and end to your day- This is a must! You’ve got to find ways to disengage with your work, and develop other areas of your life. Your work is not supposed to provide everything. One colleague of mine takes 30 minutes at the end of her work day to complete her work. She reviews the day, ties up loose ends and prepares all the documentation she needed (plus cleaned up her desk) before leaving for the day. She also had her top three tasks for the day set up, so when she came in, she hit the ground running. This strategy alone fueled her focus and dissipated her distraction factor. By creating a clear end to her day, she could shift into her non-work mode. It became so apparent that on nights when she neglected to do that, her husband would tease her and say, “Where’s my wife, you kidnapped her!” and they would laugh.

Fire Yourself Regularly!- Debbie Bifulco, one of my favorite people, a terrific trainer, talks about “firing yourself” regularly. If it’s not a good use of your time, or the learning curve to get there doesn’t benefit the bottom line of what you are moving towards, get someone else to do it. I laugh when people tell me about these ready-made plug and play websites. They go on to say that I can “just put together in no time flat” which for other tech loving, design savvy enthusiasts is a no-brainer, but for me, it’s a total brain-drainer!

Watch out for your DNA for Distraction-Watch out for distractions (email, net surfing) they can lead to extending your workday and sitting with that lingering feeling that you didn’t accomplish what you needed to. I have a colleague that on her signature stamp, states that she only answers e-mail twice a day, and to contact her via phone if you need to reach her between those times, only if it’s urgent.

Stay connected with why you’re doing what you’re doing-This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind. If we are not connected with why we are doing what we are doing, life becomes a giant “things to do list” with no end in sight. Whether it’s returning to your purpose, mission statement, what your work provides for both you and your family, it doesn’t matter. You just need to stay connected with where the juice is for you. If I make a call with the hopes that “someone will hire me to speak,” I’m sunk. If I make a call from the goal of learning about the goals and needs of my clients and groups and how I can help them further those goals and actually support them in having fun while doing it, that’s an entirely different conversation.

Want to move from Soul Crushing to Soul Enhancing practices for the Solo-Preneour (or even if you have a staff position)? Tune in on March 8th!

Feel free to offer some suggestions that support you in falling in love with your work! Or pass on to someone else who just may benefit from this.

Fall in Love February: Fall In Love With Your Life!

This week in celebration of February Fall in Love Month, we are going to go over some power principles on how to fall in love with your life.

1) The Energy Gainer/Drainer Quotient- Pick up one, drop the other.

When you’re overwhelmed and fried, it’s easy to feel like you need a total do over in the game of life. Often what you really need is to up your major Energy Gainers and get rid of a few Energy Drainers and in no time flat you’ll see your zest for life return, and your equilibrium come into its own.

Energy Gainers are those activities, people and circumstances that boost your energy, enhance your enthusiasm, and allow you to feel back into flow. When polling my groups and individual clients on what their Energy Gainers are, some of the most common responses have been: more sleep, baking cupcakes, long walks, petting my dog, dancing, going for a jog, the list goes on. Again, don’t make it into a project. Start simple and just do it.

For me, I love taking a bath and then crawling into bed. While it is incredibly relaxing, I find the next morning I am full of energy and ready to take on the world (or at the very least, my “Things to Do” list). Look at your list, and pick one opportunity during the week to add an Energy Gainer.

Energy Drainers are those people places and things that really drain your energy. The most common ones I hear are: toxic people, clutter, technology overload, and over-committing (even if it’s things that you enjoy). The list goes on. Again, find a way during the week to eliminate one energy drainer, and you’ll be amazed how different you feel.

A client of mine has a family member who is exceedingly negative, so the energy drainer she eliminated for that week was that when she calls this person she stayed on for a mere five minutes to get the information she needed versus the fated obligatory “How are you?” question, that would usually result in a complain-a-logue for the next 20 minutes.

If you do this regularly and consistently you’ll be amazed how much more sense your life makes and how much more energy you have in your life.

By the way, if when you look at your Energy Gainers list you still feel uninspired and tired, just focus on eliminating the drainers, it’s amazing how your energy can get restored by doing that.

2) Say “Yes” when you mean it and “No” when you don’t.

This can be a tough one, especially for women. The RGGS (Recovering Good Girl Syndrome) is alive and kicking in most women, and a tough habit to break. There’s a whole mess of science behind it but suffice to say we’re hardwired and socialized to fluctuate between people pleasing and then boomerang to Resentment Central. Neither destination is very appealing. Many women have totally overridden our DNA to people please, then there’s the remaining 92% of us that are still in the process.

Here are some Power Principles to integrate:

If your voice goes up to the stratosphere and your throat closes down, you are probably yes-sing yourself to death. Learn the cues when you are telling the truth and when you are fooling yourself into doing something you really don’t want to. You can excuse yourself, take a break, go to the bathroom, breathe, and ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this?”

“No,” is a complete sentence. Say it simply with little apology or explanation but with diplomacy and if you can authentically muster it up, enthusiasm. Apologizing or going into long dissertation undermines your power and is very counter productive for both you and the other person. Now they have to take care of you and let you know it’s ok that you’re declining or they get the upper hand. I always suggest my clients start with genuine appreciation if it’s an opportunity that is a compliment to their capabilities. For instance, “I so appreciate that you’ve thought of me for this but actually it’s not going to work out, so thanks so much but I’ll have to say No.”

Conversely, delight in “Yes” when it’s a fit and inspires you to move forward. For those of us wildly curious people (like myself) sometimes a brief pause or taking one day to respond to a possible “Yes” gives us the time to sit with it, and if it’s right, celebrate something new we’re taking on in our life.

3) Take one action per week that’s in line with creating a life that you love!

You can do more (if you want) but don’t put needless pressure on yourself and like I have said, “Don’t make it a project!” So if traveling to Southeast Asia is on your bucket list but your budget and schedule may not permit it for awhile, take out a travel book on it, or do a collage with images of that part of the world to inspire you to get there.

For me, I always wanted an old farmhouse in the country for a weekend home, so I would collect things (welcome signs, cool soap dishes) and put it in my “Woodstock House” bag years before I had the house. Ironically when I did buy a house, it was 6 miles from where Woodstock really happened (Bethel). Funny how when we plant the seeds for creating a life we love, it happens.

Try these tools and strategies, and let me know some of your own that support you in “Falling in Love with Your Life.”

Let the Courtship Begin…With You! Falling in Love with Yourself

February is Fall in Love Month!

Welcome to Part 1: Let the Courtship Begin…With You!

Falling in Love with Yourself

This is the hardest thing for most of us. I get a chance to work with such amazing people both in my coaching and speaking work, and I’m always amazed at how hard people are on themselves. It’s something I relate to myself. What I notice is how that totally kills off the opportunity to experience our most vibrant selves and live our lives as fully as we would like.

Here are some favorite principles of mine that I find invaluable both in my own personal work, as well as my work with my clients.

1) Move from Criticism to Curiosity
W.C. Fields once wrote, “I never act with kids or animals.” No wonder why, they’re curious about everything and therefore you can’t keep your eyes off of them. You find their curiosity for life utterly compelling. Well guess what? Somewhere down the road, your curiosity got “socialized” into criticism, perhaps trading it in for cynicism, self-condemnation, rational thinking, the list goes on forever (yawn!) and you fall out of love with yourself.

No worries, you can get back on track. Get curious! Just like you’d offer your rapt attention to hearing about a fabulous cruise to Alaska, or the latest gossip in Hollywood, direct that interest to yourself. When we get curious about ourselves, our thoughts, behaviors and actions, we can move forward and grow.

I don’t mean paralysis-analysis or excessive naval gazing. I mean pure curiosity. It’s an expanded state where we open our imagination and enlist the hippocampus, our brain buddy who loves to solve problems and provide solutions. If we are focused on criticism of self and others, the stress hormones (cortisol, for one) have a hay day and our energy plummets. When you have a challenge or a setback rather than criticizing yourself, get curious. I love the key phrases, “Fascinating,” “Curious,” “Interesting.” Just saying them out loud actually frees me up. For example, I had a fair amount of resistance writing today. I had a case of what I call “The Grumbles.” My inner self-talk said, “Grumble, grumble, will anyone read this? Grumble, Grumble. I’ve already put in a full week. Grumble, Grumble.”

Need I go on? If I didn’t get curious, I would have stayed in Excuseville or went down the “whirling dervish of crapdom,” (my client identified that her as her negative spiraling self-talk). Instead I got curious about the Grumbles, even had a little chuckle, visualizing them as little creatures burrowing themselves in my unconscious, not unlike those brilliant animated characters on the Mucinex commercial. I realized that I’m just hitting some resistance as I am working on creating a more active dialogue with my online community. Fifteen minutes of writing later, I am reminded of my love affair with learning and sharing and contributing.

This week’s life work: Take a criticism break this week and whatever comes down the pike, embrace it with a spirit of curiosity with yourself and others (even if that means getting curious about your Itty Bitty Committee, those scrappy self-sabotaging thoughts going on in your mind). Be genuinely interested whether you have a solution or not. Check in with your body, spirit and see how different you feel.

2) I’m not perfect…but some of my parts are excellent!
I saw this on a T-Shirt many moons ago, and it has stayed with me. It’s just too easy to focus on our personal challenges, handicaps and poor habits. This just brings more of the same; self-doubt, condemnation and remaining stuck. Now there’s nothing wrong with working on one’s self and totally striving towards growth and development but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about chronic self-condemnation, or judgment. How do you remedy that? By focusing on what aspects of yourself are quite wonderful and you appreciate.

3) Write a Self-Appreciation Log
While I’m a huge fan of a gratitude list and I do write one almost every day, I say, step it up to a Self-Appreciation Log.

Close your eyes and check in with your energy. Flat, Fired up, or Fried? Then open your eyes, and write a list of 10 things to appreciate yourself for. It could be that you are a good friend, went the extra mile that day for a co-worker, or you finished a project that you’ve been dragging your heels with for 3 months. It doesn’t matter. Write the list, then close your eyes and breathe, and notice how different you feel. You may feel confronted, self-appreciated, or delighted but it will definitely shake things up in a great way.

4) Mindfulness is a must!
I started a practice several years back and it has made a huge difference in my life. I call it my Power Prep, and it is a grab bag of anywhere from 1-7 spiritual/self-care practices that I chose to start my day with. It’s very flexible, and can range from journaling, meditation, spiritual reading, affirmations, dancing, visualizations, gratitude list, etc. I pick which one or a few that speak to me, and don’t make it into a project. When I do my partner Charlie calls out, “Hey you’re making it a project, get on with your day already!”

My favorite motto, “The faster your outer world is, the slower your inner world needs to become” really addresses this. Having some mindfulness practices allows us greater presence and passion in our life, so we can appreciate ourselves.

I find that finding an opportunity to do some form of selfless service with no agenda of reciprocity is extraordinary for not only helping people around us but also shifts how we experience ourselves. If you’re tapped out in the volunteer/advocacy/caretaking realm, don’t sweat it. Do something really simple. Open a door for someone. Help an old person across the street. I have a client who buys several pairs of really reasonable gloves and then hands them out to homeless people.

This week let yourself fall in love with yourself, most likely many people in your life already love you! I would love to hear your thoughts, and comments!