Small Steps Make a Big Difference

th A Harvard economist conducted a study to determine whether offering rewards to children was an effective way to motivate them to do well in school. Interestingly, some of the findings suggested that students who broke goals down into smaller steps—which were immediately under the control of the student, such as “Read one book this week”—had greater academic success than their peers who had goals but no clear plan to achieve them.1

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert in every step toward achieving your dream. Many women give up because they don’t think they can get there alone. I have news for you: you don’t have to go it alone! Think of a chef creating a delicious gourmet meal. If she can’t locate a key ingredient, does she throw out everything and order takeout? Of course not. She goes to the store and asks someone for help.

If you’re a mom, you probably already know how to ask for help. If your little one needed medical attention at midnight, for instance, you would call someone regardless of the time or inconvenience. You wouldn’t care how you looked to others, either, because your child is more important to you than someone else’s opinion of your parenting skills.

Here’s an exercise I practice when I am feeling overwhelmed. I break my to-do list down into small steps, I think about what my possible needs might be. Then I jot down the names of everyone who can guide me along the way. For me, this includes individuals who could help with specific steps such as putting together my website, writing my manuscript, and learning about the publishing industry.

I refer to this as a Master Resource List, which is an essential component in achieving the steps necessary for success in all areas of your life. So pick up your pen and get to work on your own Master Resource List . Tomorrow I will discuss how to use these resources to accomplish your Master Action List.

Excerpt: “The Beauty Blueprint” by Michelle Phillips
http://www.michellephillips.com/book/

What’s Your Top Ten List?

365 Day 363**
Today is a good day to remind yourself what lights you up. Take out your favorite writing utensil and write down the top ten things you love to do—even if you aren’t doing them right now. When I first used this exercise in a workshop, the majority of the women sat there tapping their pencils and staring at the blank page in their journals for what seemed like an eternity.
“I don’t know,” one woman admitted.
“I have no idea,” said another.
“I can write you a list of the top ten things I need to do when I get home,” one offered, half jokingly.
On the other hand, ask any little girl to do this and I bet she’ll have it done in under three minutes. Chances are, she’ll be all the way to number 40 and asking for another piece of paper. Most young girls know who they are because they listen to their hearts. They don’t worry about being practical or efficient, and impressing others. That’s why they’re also such confident dressers. They express themselves freely, without a care in the world. (Even if, on any given day, that includes wearing tap shoes, shorts, and a wool sweater with matching earmuffs.)
To help get you started, here’s my top-ten list:

• Laughing and playing with my children
• Having date night with my husband
• Taking bubble baths
• Eating at fine restaurants
• Hosting or attending dinner parties with my closest friends
• Spending quality time with my girlfriends (so good for the soul!)
• Watching my kids play sports or perform in a play (I cry with pride every time!)
• Traveling
• Fishing
• Walking on the beach
As I mentioned, most of my clients or workshop participants struggle with this exercise. The majority can’t come up with more than three things, and some eventually give up and cry in frustration. It’s very telling. We women nurture everyone and everything outside of ourselves but we haven’t made the connection between nurturing our spirits, feeling beautiful, and staying on course toward our dreams. We’re like builders trying to frame a house without a solid foundation. Despite our efforts, our work just won’t hold up, eventually toppling over.
No one sees the foundation, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Just like foundational garments or cosmetics, it’s the critical starting point. Others may not understand why you need to spend time doing something on your top-ten list, but they will notice as you grow stronger and more beautiful . . . all a result of nourishing your soul.
So, get going on your top-ten list! Remember to focus on what you love. Are you doing any of these things on a regular basis? If you aren’t, why not start now? Set your intention by identifying a simple step you can take today. Then do it!

Excerpt: The Beauty Blueprint by Michelle Phillips
Purchase: http://www.amazon.com/The-Beauty-Blueprint-Building-Dreams/dp/1401931731

What To Do When Life Gets in the Way of Your Success

By Erin Cox

1234339_10151941624206060_1739240198_nToday I am writing from my brother and sister-in-laws home during a crazy California tour. We spent the first part of this week on the Central Coast of California with my in-law’s, and now we are in Mammoth Lakes celebrating my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday. I wouldn’t miss this week for anything… but it is certainly putting a cramp in my new class launch planning and editorial calendar. I thought I’d have plenty of free time to fit in some planning and writing during this week… but “life” has gotten in the way (as in swinging at the beach, savoring fish tacos while listening to a live reggae band, playing at the beach, hiking with an ocean view, engaging in deep family conversations over delicious meals and wine…etc.). These moments are what life’s really all about!

Every single mom I know goes through frustrating moments when she has an amazing creative project that is aching to be created or book that needs to be written or a product about to launch… but then life gets in the way. A child comes home from school sick, family comes to town for a visit, children need to be fed, or a household is getting too far out of control and the passion projects often have to be set-aside for the moment.

In our hearts we want to be the “good mom” and keep our priorities properly aligned, but it can leave us feeling constantly frustrated and as though the feat of accomplishing our goals is always just out of grasp. Sometimes we just don’t get as much done as we planned to and it can stress us out!

When you are a woman with firm priorities who strives to keep her family and marriage first, this feeling of internal struggle can become all to familiar. As a woman who struggles with this daily, and as a mentor who coaches women who deal with this as well, I know it’s a fact of life for ambitious parents who are balancing so much!

Here are a few keys to thriving through the madness, and achieving great success while raising a family:

  1. Keep your deadlines realistic and build in time for unexpected events and duties that “pop up.” Also be okay if it takes you twice as long as others to launch your class or a year to write your book. If that’s what it takes to live in alignment with your priorities, then so be it! Don’t fight it, accept and embrace that things just might take longer.
  2. Get help with the domestic duties of maintaining your home (i.e. cleaning) so you can focus your at-home time on engaging with your family.
  3. Focus on being where you are! It can be easy to ruminate about the fact that your projects are falling behind while trying to participate in a toddler tea party…just as we can suffer from guilt while we toil away for hours at our computers and others are looking after your kids. In both scenarios, everyone suffers. When you are at work, focus like a laser and eliminate distractions (to the extent possible) and at the end of your workday, put aside your work, be grateful for what you accomplished, and head to give your spouse and children the very best gift – a completely present, on fire, and fulfilled woman.
  4. Involve your family by describing your projects and work with excitement and delight so they can better understand why it matters and why you have to spend time away from them. (If you can’t describe your projects with excitement and delight… consider a career change!)
  5. Take regular and sometimes extended time off where there is no computer, no phone, nothing but you and your loved ones.

You are ambitious because you have something unique and beautiful to share with the world. By living your purpose, you are setting an amazing example for your children. Accomplishing your professional goals will also make you a more fulfilled and happier person to be around, as long as you aren’t sacrificing those that matter most to you!

When you can truly focus on what you’re doing and “be” where you are, use realistic expectations and deadlines, and keep your priorities properly aligned – that’s when you are achieving authentic success.

What You Really Need to be Happy

By Erin Cox

Only 1 in 3 Americans describes themselves as “very happy” according to the Harris Poll. In a country with so much material wealth and comfort, shouldn’t we be happier? Many experts cite economic woes contributing to more stress and overall dissatisfaction, but I’d like to suggest my own ideas here.

Happiness is found in simple things, and that is something many of us have lost touch with. I have friends who have had the opportunity to volunteer in third world countries and they have all commented on how happy most people appeared, despite such abject poverty. These underprivileged people gave freely of the little material they had and appeared to find happiness in family, nature, and community. I am sure the adults have a level of constant stress related to protecting and feeding their families, so I’m not saying that we should ditch our lovely homes, massive supermarkets, clean drinking water, and sanitation. What I am saying is that we have an opportunity to embrace the simple joys, leading to a peaceful joy, while embracing and living our passion in life, which can lead to a whole new level of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Here is what I see as the progression of happiness:

Taking pleasure in simple joys and being in awe of the beauty that surrounds us. This means appreciating a sunrise, savoring a cup of coffee, snuggling with a child, hugging your friend, or smelling a flower. Really, the basis of this simple joy is being grateful and feeling thankful as you notice all the kind people, beautiful sights, and blessings that surround you. This is what people in third world countries often do so well and we tend to forget about.

Making enough money to cover basic economic needs. An article in Forbes describes a study performed at Princeton, which studied 500,000 U.S. households and found that happiness increased in participants as their incomes increased…up to $75,000. There is no increase in happiness after earning more than that. This tells me that the stress of not having enough to pay for bills, groceries, and family activities can cause our happiness to be impacted, but that wealth doesn’t bring happiness either.

The “grand trio” of gratitude, adequate income, and feeling respected. If you can find joy in the simple pleasures of life, make enough money to pay your bills and live comfortably, AND feel respected, then you are well on your way to serious happiness. New research published in the journal Psychological Science showed that overall happiness was strongly correlated to feeling admired and respected; much more than the amount of money one has in their bank account.

Beyond bliss = the grand trio plus vibrant health, fulfilling work, and a sense of community! I had to mention health here because if you are not feeling well or if you are exhausted and run down all the time, then you can’t possibly live your life to the fullest. It’s much more difficult to feel happy until you are well rested and healthy. Make your basic health a major priority and try not to take wellness for granted! I know that I am happiest when I feel passionate and fulfilled by my work and feel balanced in my home life. You are starting to approach bliss when you are healthy and know you are doing something worthwhile in your profession that gives you a deep sense of gratification. Add in a network of supportive friends and family who make you feel like you “belong” and as though someone will always your back can push you in to the realm of deep joy.

What are your thoughts about what makes people truly happy? Where can you make tweaks in your life to bring more joy? Working your tail off to make six figures at the expense of your ability to savor time with your family or enjoy the simple things might be things to reconsider.

I wish each of you more simple pleasures, gratitude, respect, vibrant health, and love in your life!

Wellness and Joy

By Megan Alice Arterberry

I have a great appreciation for the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, “the science of life,” and have seen and felt the profound effects firsthand with its gentle, nurturing healing power. A practioner neatly put it “Ayurveda meets the individual where they’re at and guides them back to their true nature.”
In Ayurveda, diet, yoga, meditation, body oils, and medicinal herbs are the cornerstones to balance and health. It is recommended to do a self massage everyday with oil (great after dry brushing), which will not only feel great and make your skin look great, but will calm your nervous system, which is crucial for reducing stress. The use of herbs is a plant-based internal holistic medicine. In my own experience struggling with acne, holistic medicine was the only thing that got to the root where I saw and felt real and lasting results. I also changed my diet, going organic, and used getting out into nature as a healing force (walks at the beach and hikes in the mountains). Diet and exercise are often used as a punishment by those seeking to look better. But, this type of approach will never make you feel better, so is counterproductive because, when you feel good, you look good. Eating nourishing, flavorful, fulfilling foods that bring you health and joy along with enjoyable exercise is a realistic lifestyle change that has real staying power.
Wellness is and should be a joy!

5 Tips To Help You Recover From Perfectionism

photoAs I headed to Albany, New York last week to film a 90 minute public television special, as well as 6 hours of additional DVD content that would be included as part of the PBS fundraising pledge package, I knew I was walking into a situation that was completely out of my comfort zone. I so wanted to feel like I was going to just nail it on that television set, that I would get it all perfectly right on my first try, that I would wow everyone with my professionalism and TV chops, that everyone would come to me later and say, “Lissa, you’re a natural!”

So I loaded myself up with expectations, hoping I’d get it right, wanting to impress my producers and please my publisher and all that jazz. Naturally, heaping myself with expectations of perfection only left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed in the months before the film date. And then, suddenly, I was backstage, about to appear before a live studio audience to deliver what I hoped would be a perfect performance. (No biggie.)

Permission To Be Imperfect

Suddenly, inside my head, I heard the soothing voice of Brené Brown (with whom I just did a free teleclass – you can listen to us here). When Brené was about to appear on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, she wrote herself a permission slip, which she hid in her pocket. The permission slip said, “Permission to be imperfect.” So right there, back in the wings, I wrote myself the same permission slip, and when I stood in front of that studio audience, I told everyone to bear with me because I was about to give an imperfect performance.

I then proceeded to royally flub up several times, stuttering over my words and misreading the teleprompter. Fortunately, the special was prerecorded! All I had to do when I screwed up was stop, admit my mistake, and try again. The audience had even been prepped so that if I said the same thing twice, they were supposed to pretend they were hearing my hopefully wise words for the very first time!

What If Life Had “Do Overs?”

After a few mistakes and do overs, I said to the audience, “Wouldn’t life be great if we were allowed to just pause and get a ‘Do over’ in other aspects of our life?” And then I realized I’ve done just that. I married imperfectly – twice – and I’ve now been with husband #3 for almost eleven years. (Do over! Do over!) I wound up unhappy in my job as a practicing physician, so I went through a massive career change. (Do over!)  My health broke down because I wasn’t caring for my body or my mind, but I was blessed to get a do over in my health and am now down to half the dose of one of the seven medications I was once taking.

I have been pausing, admitting my mistakes, and doing life over again time after time! And this, I’m realizing, is one of the essential keys to a happy life.

The Pressure Of Perfection

Perfectionism can be a real joy killer. If I had been too afraid to appear imperfect, I might have stayed in two unhappy marriages or kept a job that was sucking the life out of me.

Perfectionism can also be a barrier to intimacy, as well as a potent form of self-sabotage. If I had been committed to trying to give a perfect performance in front of the live studio audience, I might have missed the chance to giggle and connect with the audience the way I did when I flubbed up my words and exposed my imperfections. They might have wrongly assumed that I had it all together, when the honest truth was that I was terrified to be doing something so far outside of my comfort zone. As soon as I let go of the expectation of perfection in myself, my whole body relaxed. I could be imperfect! And I would still be good enough…

I realize that’s what it really comes down to. When I’m too focused on being perfect, it’s usually because, deep in the shadows lies a basic lack of worthiness. Some part of me thinks that, if only I overdeliver, I’ll finally be good enough.

But beneath that shadowy part of myself lies something deeper, something more true, something I call my Inner Pilot Light, and that part of me know that I am – and YOU are – inherently worthy simply because we all have sparks of Divinity within us, and we don’t have to prove anything in order to earn that worth.

Excellence Or Perfectionism?

I notice in myself this struggle between the quest for excellence and the tug of perfectionism. Where is the line? How much striving for excellence is noble versus how much is just ego, rearing its overfluffed head?

Heading into the filming of this public television special, I was aware that, yes, the stakes were high. Yes, my publisher had invested a lot of money to produce this special. Yes, a lot of people will view it. And of course, I want to do a good job.

The same was true in my career as a doctor. A person’s life is on the line. The stakes are high. You don’t want your surgeon to be one of those medical school slackers who swears by the “C=MD” formula! But is it really necessary to push yourself to be top of your class like I did?

Here are my thoughts on how to tell the difference.

5 Tips For Avoiding Perfectionism

1. Give 90%.

90% of the pain of perfectionism comes from trying to eke out that last 10%, when 90% is pretty damn excellent.
 
2. Choose ease.

If you’re finding yourself pushing, striving, trying too hard, or if your work becomes burdensome, you feel the pressure piling on, and you’re in “fight-or-flight” all the time, you’re edging beyond the desire for excellence into perfectionism territory. As Christiane Northrup taught me, try being less sperm, more egg.

You’ll know you’re really in the flow when you’re doing great work, but it doesn’t feel like struggle, when you get winks from the Universe, things line up easily, and the quality of your work doesn’t suffer – you just didn’t have to suffer in order to achieve great things.

3. Know your inherent worthiness.
 
As long as we look outside ourselves for validation that we are enough, we will always be tempted to overdeliver. Try repeating affirmations that remind you that your value lies within. “I am more than enough.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
 
4. Send your Gremlin to time out.
 
There’s a voice in your head that can be a nasty bastard. I call it “The Gremlin,” and it’s the voice of your fearful, insecure inner critic.  If you’re not maxing out your output, giving to the point of depletion (and for many of us, even then!) your Gremlins might be tempted to wage war.

Instead of letting your Gremlins get the best of you, listen to your Inner Pilot Light and know that you don’t  need to be perfect. In fact, as Brené Brown teaches in The Gifts Of Imperfection, your imperfections are actually the gateway to intimacy, the way people can relate to you. Who can relate to anyone who never makes mistakes? (BO-RING!)

5. Set goals but release attachment to outcomes.

It’s one thing to set the goal of delivering a genius manuscript or a standing ovation performance or a gold star sales report or a successful surgical outcome or the desire to win the case/ land the client/ get the deal. It’s another to place your sense of value in how much you achieve.

Instead, do the best you can (well, 90% of your best) and then let it go. Trust. Have faith. And lean into your own sense of inherent worthiness.

Are You A Perfectionist?

Tell us your stories…

Imperfectly yours,

Inner Peace on Earth- for a truly beautiful Holiday

For many people this season it’s difficult “to be jolly”. Financial woes, loss, loneliness, and family stress can feel like weight of a heavy snow more than ever around this time of year. By the way, if you broke in to song with that first sentence, this may article may not apply to you but read on…

Something that you hear a lot around now is “Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men!” More than any other times of year, around the Holidays we tend think about what we can do to better the lives others. If you are struggling with ways to find your own peace though, spreading peace to others can seem out of reach. So how do we remedy that in time to have a great Holiday? I believe the cure lies in one of my favorite phrases, the change we want to see in the world starts with us. Once you have inner peace it becomes easy to be one person or one family making a difference in the lives of others by word and deed.

Now we’re on to something but, again, where do we start within ourselves is the next question.

I come to this with kind of different angle given my particular area of expertise as a Beauty and Life Coach. While millions are constantly searching for an outer “fix” the real connection to harmony and beauty is feeling bliss on the inside and radiating that out to the world. I believe that much of the inner turmoil and lack of peace that we experience comes from allowing ourselves to be caught up in superficial things like material possessions, and not living according to our authentic beliefs.

Even before thinking of the gifts you would like in your life, start finding your peace by thinking of those you already have. Your gifts can be your beautiful smile, radiant personality, intuitive feeling and deep connection to those around you, constant optimism, or just about anything else. By taking this mental and emotional inventory you remind yourself of the value that you already hold rather than thinking there must me something more. That is the point after all, that you are already more than enough! All too often we think of ourselves in terms of the “mizpah”, the beautiful necklace that we give each other as friends. It’s that heart that is broken and each of us takes half to symbolize the eternal bond with the other. The true gift is in letting yourself be complete and giving your whole heart to as many people has you can throughout your life.

We can also achieve peace by remembering that we are all gifts to the world. We are such wonderful gifts in fact, that we should be re-gifted often. And as those gifts we are not our wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, we are a joy-filled bundle of beauty and divine purpose!

When something or someone is true to their purpose and simply enjoys being they are a source of beauty for the world. Before waiting for New Year’s resolution season, take some time to explore what it is that brings purpose and joy to you. Consider what you would be doing in your ideal job, relationships, and personal life, and how living that true to them would bring beauty to your soul. Now take that a step farther and actually write that down and create your special “gift list”. There is something about the process of putting pen to paper and seeing your dreams in front of you that helps bring them to reality.

Have a wonderful, and beautiful, Holiday and I look forward to being an inspirational part of your journey in the coming year!

Written by Bestselling Hay House author, TV & Radio Host, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Life Coach Michelle Phillips