Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life Coaching in the News: Look Before You Leap

Some of the biggest scandals of 2009 involved several very public transgressions, in particular, the scandals of now beleaguered golfer Tiger Woods and the gallivanting governor of South Carolina, Mark Sandford. I do believe that a certain amount of celebrity and or power creates an aura of invincibility. Surrounded by people who hang on your every word, encourage your every deed (good and bad) and agree with every idea or opinion can create a skewed world view. I just wonder what would have happened, if these men had taken a moment to look before they leaped.

It’s not a four-letter word, but it is a four-syllable word that many people don’t like to hear: consequences. And all of us, regardless of stature and notoriety have to face them. Thinking before you act helps to protect you from the negative consequences of our potential actions.

In both cases, both men should have considered the effects that their actions would have had on their families and their wives. In Sanford’s case, he didn’t just lie to his wife but he lied to an entire state about his whereabouts while he went to visit his Argentinean mistress – leaving the state without a governor for days.

These are major transgressions played out of the national and international media stage, under the hottest of spotlights that 99.9% of us will never have to face. Yet, we still have to face consequences for our own actions.

There are consequences for big things like:

  • embezzling money, even if you need it and have a good reason for taking it.
  • cheating, even if your spouse doesn’t understand you or seek to meet your needs.
  • getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks.

There are consequences for the smaller things like:

  • underperforming at work or school, whether you like the assignment or not.
  • not controlling your anger and lashing out (verbally or physically), even when you feel justified or that the other person was wrong.
  • procrasinating around important tasks and decisions, even if they are difficult or boring.

There is always a reason, even a good reason for ignoring the obvious consequences but that reason (feeling justified, being wronged, being bored) does not shield you from consequence.

Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to think about what we could have, should have or would have done differently. Foresight is a lot harder. It’s not as easy to see where we could go, what we should do or what would be best. Yet, it helps if we just take a moment before we leap to take a good look at where that leap will lead.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Win in 2010: Picking Your Team

This is the fourth in a six part series called Win in 2010 designed to help readers stick to their goals and make the most out of the New Year.

You remember grade school? When it came time to pick teams for kickball or softball, all the best players got picked first and then we chose everyone else. In life, we often don’t pick our teams. We stick with the family, the co-workers and the friends that we have, for better and for worse. When it comes to goal-setting, selecting the members of your team is a critical component to your success.

Ideally, you should have a team in place for each goal. Your team should consist of people who have the resources, the knowledge and the desire to see you succeed. Want to go back to school? Your sister-in-law, the guidance counselor, could be a great source of information for potential schools. You want to lose weight or just get fit. Well, your neighbor walks religiously every evening and would love to have your company. Maybe your best friend is just an excellent shoulder for you to cry on when things get tough.

Consider who you will need to help make your goal a reality. Who will hold you accountable? Who has the information you need? Who will help you? Also consider the flip side. Who might sabotage your success? Who will be more of a hindrance than a help?

These are important questions because often times, the people we feel should be in our corner, unfortunately aren’t. Maybe your mother doesn’t understand why you want to lose weight. She likes you the way you are. Your best friend loves to shop and doesn’t see why you need to cut back on your spending to save money. While these people play a special and significant role in your life (and always will), when it comes to your goals, you need to find some other people who want you to succeed and will help you reach your goals.

Once you have these people, let them know that they are on your team and what you need from them. For example, when it comes to school, use your sister-in-law, the guidance counselor, for information about schools, applications and financial aid. Your brother started grad school last year and you could learn from his experiences. You need your mom, your babysitter and your husband to help out with the kids and the scheduling because you will have to have time for classes and studying. When you get discouraged, you need your best friend and your husband to give you the pep talk. That’s your ‘school team.’

Since your best friend is a shopper, you trade her with one of your more frugal friend who is a whiz with budgeting and finding good deals for your ‘budget team’. Your neighbor isn’t a close friend but you pick her to help you in your weight loss goal because she’s such an avid walker.

No one succeeds alone, so surround yourself with people who make your success irresistible and inevitable.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Great Organizing Giveaway

Giveaway ... I love, love, love this word. It normally means that you are getting something, and something for free at that! Since January is National Get Organized Month, it's the perfect time for The Great Organizing Giveaway. Creator Stephanie Callahan has reached out to organization experts, productivity professionals, and me! We've all contributed something to the giveaway. There are ebooks, audio programs, tip sheets and more.

On January 25, visit to see all of the giveaways that are available. There are categories for organizing your time, your home and your office.

Did you know that ....

  • 91 percent of people surveyd by the National Association of Professional Organizers felt they could be more efficient at work if they were better organized.

  • Overall, 71 percent surveyed indicated their quality of life would improve with more organization.
I'm excited! The Great Organization Giveaway will feature a number of tools that can help you finally reach your organization goals. And did I mention, they are free? What could be better??

Click here to go to the great organizing giveaway

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Networking No-Nos

I went to a networking event a few months ago. As usual, as soon as the formal presentation ended, we all got down to the business of ‘networking’ – otherwise known as passing out business cards to as many people as possible. The next morning, I pulled out my cards and wrote a personal email to every person I had met the night before.

A few weeks later, I met one of the women I’d met for coffee. She told me of all the cards she had passed out and collected, I was the only one who reached out and contacted her. I can’t say I was surprised.

When we talk about networking, most of us are talking about it from a self-centered perspective. What can this person do for me? Who could this person introduce me to? It’s no wonder networking gets most people nowhere.

Networking is not a one-way street. It’s about building relationships. What does that mean in the real world? It means that you need to also be asking, “Who do I know that can use this person’s services?” “Is there any information or resources that I have that I could share with this person?” Networking is about giving as much as it is about receiving.

In the spirit of networking, here are some basic no-nos:

  • No Eye Contact: When you are talking to someone be present. Make eye contact with that person. Listen to them and engage in a real conversation. I’ve actually met people who have been vaguely talking to me while casing the room for someone ‘more important’ than me to talk to. Talk about rude!
  • No Conversation: When I talk to someone, yes, I want to talk about what I do and they want to talk about what they do, but at the same time, I don’t want to hear a canned sales pitch or a script that someone has memorized and is just regurgitating to me. Make the conversation more organic, make it flow.
  • No Follow-Up: Remember who you talked to and send them a quick email or voicemail to let them know you enjoyed talking to them. If you really hit it off with someone, ask them to meet you for lunch or coffee. A stack of business cards might look impressive but it means nothing if you haven’t done anything with them.
  • No Assistance: When I come across articles or people I think might be of use to someone in my network, I don’t hesitate to send the article with a little note or do a quick email introduction between people I think would need to know each other.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Win in 2010: Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself!

This is the third in a six part series called Win in 2010 designed to help readers stick to their goals and make the most out of the New Year.

I love, love, love doing this part in my goal-setting workshop. When I tell people to “Stop shoulding all over themselves!” I always get a few double-takes and startled expressions. Of course, those people thought I said something else! LOL!

Basically a should goal is a goal that isn’t your goal as much as it is someone else’s. Your doctor says you should stop smoking. All the magazines and your skinny-minny sister tell you that you should lose some weight. Your father tells you that you should stop renting and buy a house. I think you get the picture. Sometimes it isn’t even another person, it’s something for some reason that you think you should do.

If any of those things are things you really want for yourself, great – that’s a real goal. But, if you are motivated by what you think or someone else thinks you should do, then you’re in trouble. Setting a should goal is a recipe for failure. No one succeeds at something they should do. Success comes when it’s something you want to do.

You start a goal with all the desire and good intentions in the world and then it (life) happens. Those shoes are calling to you even though they aren’t in your budget. Speaking of splurging, the cupcakes at the baby shower are singing their lovely siren call and beckoning you to take one (or two). Maybe the bed feels just too good and you want to roll over for another hour instead of getting up and working out. That’s when your motivation kicks in. That’s when your desire to succeed is going to get you over the hurdle or get you back up and in the race should you fall off track.

Should goals have no motivation. In fact, should goals often come with resentment. It’s not what you your goal and you really don’t want it anyway. So you find a reason to buy the shoes (they do match that one outfit you have perfectly), or eat the cupcakes (you don’t want to be rude, after all), and your ankle might have been a little tight yesterday and you don’t want to injure yourself!

If any goal on your list is one that you should do and not what you want to do cross it off. Get rid of it! Should goals make it harder for you to achieve your real goals. They slow down your momentum. They zap your energy and that energy zap can be contagious and before you know it, you find yourself putting the brakes on the goals you really want to go for.

So again, stop shoulding on yourself!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time Clutter

When we talk about getting rid of clutter, thoughts turn to the overstuffed closet, the packed garage and all the piles of papers and odd knick knacks that we have lying around the house. It makes sense to get rid of all of that excess stuff.

But when we talk about getting rid of clutter, we should also look at time clutter. When you get to the end of the day and you realize that you’ve done a lot but accomplished little, chances are you a victim of time clutter.

When clients lament about not having enough time, I just smile. We all have the same amount of time and sure children, long commutes, demanding bosses that demand ‘face time’ in the office, and family and social obligations play a role, almost all of us can find some time in their day … if we want to.

I talk to people who insist adamantly that they don’t have time and for those people, I don’t have much to say. They are convinced that they don’t have time and nothing I say will convince them otherwise… if this is you, stop reading now.

However, if you want to create more time in your day and get rid of time clutter, then consider the following.

Question Your Obligations: There is probably at least one thing you do that you can get rid of – social activities you no longer enjoy, extra assignments you took on. Do you really need to do those things? I started a photography club some years ago. It was supposed to be a casual club and basically a way for photographers to get together. Before long, I had over 60 members. I was taking dues, and spending hours every week looking for guest speakers and finding events. I began to loathe that club. I continued for about a year out of obligation but when I disbanded the club after that, I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders; it was definitely the right thing to do.

Use Your Downtime: Use your work commute to listen to a book on tape. If you have a hands-free device, use that time to return phone calls. If you are waiting for the kids to finish a practice or a class, use that time to make your shopping list or to balance your checkbook. Time spent commuting on a train can be golden. I return calls while walking my dog. When I have a doctor’s appointment, I take something with me to do: checkbook, grocery list, to do list or just some reading I need to catch up on.

Be Strategic: If you don’t need to have a conversation, you just need to give someone some information, try returning calls during lunch time or in the early evening when the person isn’t likely to be in. If they aren’t around, you can leave a voicemail or better yet respond via email. Now, if you need questions answered or clarification on an issue, the best thing to do is pick up the phone and talk to the person. There is nothing more time consuming than having a conversation going back and forth voicemail. Emails that go back and forth are also major time wasters, if you are getting into a volley of emails, it’s probably best to just pick up the phone and call.

Be Mindful of Media: I know people who brag about not having time to watch TV. Yet, many of these people spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer: emailing, Facebooking, and surfing the Internet. In terms of media, moderation is key. Only watch TV shows that you truly enjoy. Set a time limit for how long you will be on the computer and honor it. You can almost always do with less TV and internet (but by all means, continue to read this blog!).

Start Earlier or End Later: Get up a half hour earlier or stay up a half hour later. Or split the difference get up 15 minutes early and stay up 15 minutes later. Use that time to get some little things done: laundry, chores around the house, returning emails. It can make a big difference.

Keep an eye out for time clutter. Once you become aware of it, you will begin finding pockets of time that can be used more effectively or areas that need to be de-cluttered.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Win in 2010: Too Many Goals So Little Time!

This is the second in a six part series called Win in 2010 designed to help readers stick to their goals and make the most out of the New Year.

In the book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, the author, Ram Charan, list a shocking statistic. Basically, he’s illustrating the point that the more goals you have, the less likely you are to achieve them.

  • If you have 2 – 3 goals, you will accomplish 2 – 3 goals.
  • If you have 4 – 10 goals, you will accomplish 1 – 2 goals.
  • If you have more than 10 goals, you will accomplish ZERO!!!

When it comes to goal setting, it pays to be focused. The more goals you have, the more unfocused you become. You are running here and there and everywhere and although you are doing a lot, often you are accomplishing very little.

In our fast-paced, multi-tasking society, it’s good to be busy. We admire those people who ‘burn the candle at both ends’ or who ‘keep too much on their plates.’ So, it stands to reason that we would want to set 15 goals for the year.

I used to be guilty of that. I’d start the year with a few goals but then I felt like a slacker, so I’d end up with at least 10-12 goals and sure enough, I would never achieve all of those goals. The ones I did achieve were the few I chose to focus on. The rest, well, they just sort of fell by the way side.

Charan is showing us is that focused and targeted effort is more effective than a whole lot of busy. And darn if I didn’t prove that as true in my own life!

So what I suggest is to pick your three most important goals and start with those. Once you get them accomplished, you can add a new goal. For goals like saving money, reducing debt and losing weight that might take a while, get it going, establish some good habits and once you feel comfortable that you are on the right track, then add a new goal.

What do you want to accomplish most this year? When you are getting all gussied up and ready to go out and ring in 2011, and you pause briefly to reflect on the year that was, what do you want your most recent accomplishments to be? The first few things that come to mind, are probably the things that should make up your first three goals.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Karyn Cooks: Smoked Salmon and Spinach Pizza

It's a new year and almost all of us have resolved to eat healthier and/or lose weight (I'm doing both!). In that spirit, I've included a recipe for Smoked Salmon and Spinach Pizza from a free cookbook, I recently downloaded. I plan on making it this evening, but I figure I like smoked salmon, I like spinach and I like pizza. How can it be wrong???

What I love about these recipes is that they include all the nutritional info at the bottom so you know exactly how much you are eating. And for you Weight Watchers, each pizza is 4 points.

• 1/2 cup tomato pasta sauce
• 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
• 1/4 lb smoked salmon, cut into pieces
• 4 small baked cheese pizza crusts
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
• 1/2 tsp dried dill
• 1-1/3 tbsp capers, drained
• 1/4 cup sour cream

Cooking Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread sauce evenly over cheese crusts and place on
oven tray. Divide next 4 ingredients over pizzas. Sprinkle each with dill and top
with shredded cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Serve with
sour cream.

Per Serving: calories 160, fat 11g, calories from fat 55% protein 15g, cholesterol 35mg,
dietary fiber 2.7g

For this recipe and others, click here!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Win in 2010: Resolutions vs. Goals

This is the first in a six part series called Win in 2010 designed to help readers stick to their goals and make the most out of the New Year.

As a major goal-setter and resolution maker, I found the following statistic surprising. Less than half of Americans still participate in the tradition of resolution making. In the past almost 9 out of 10 of us joined in that ritual. That could be because, according to the same survey, only 8% of resolution makers always are successful in achieving their resolutions. 24% of people never succeed in achieving their resolutions. It’s no wonder that tradition is falling out of favor.

But this year, just maybe, this year is the year things will be different. Over the next six weeks, I’ll share with you a few keys to resolution success. And this week, we’ll start with a simple one that could lead to a major paradigm shift.

In my mind, there is a distinct difference between a resolution and a goal. A resolution to me is nothing more than I wish. It’s something you’d like to do or want to do. However, in many cases, it’s not something that you will do or that you are committed to doing. Sure you might like to lose weight or quit smoking or save some money. It would be nice.

It’s no wonder so many resolutions fail! Many of them are made with less of a commitment than we give to what we’re going to have for lunch.

I propose that instead of approaching what you want with a weak resolution, you approach it as a strong goal. Goals imply work, planning and dedication – the very things you will need to make your resolution succeed. Goals are what you will do and what you must do. The word itself carries a heavier connotation than a resolution.

Plus, in my mind, the tradition of resolutions implies failure. When someone tells you they have resolved to lose weight or go back to school or make a budget and stick with it, we don’t take them seriously. We don’t expect to succeed when we set a resolution.

So this year, don’t resolve, sit down and set a goal. After all, the first half of the word goal is GO! Set your goals and map your plan for achieving them. Ready – Set-What are you waiting for?- GO!

Shameless Plug: I will be holding a teleseminar this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (EST) called Getting to Goal. During this power-packed 90 minute seminar, you will set three goals and map a comprehensive and holistic plan for achieving them. For more information, click here.