If you’re like me, and about a gazillion other people right now, you might be completely dreading winter.
For many, winter is hard enough in “normal” years. It means less outside time, short dreary days, and seasonal affective disorder. This year, though, it’s poised to be especially difficult, with the tumultuous political climate and the threat of another lockdown.
Fortunately, I have good news: no matter what’s going on in the world, you are not powerless.
Your choices, thoughts, and actions impact how you feel, and how those around you feel.
Let me reiterate that: You are never powerless.
Today, I want to introduce you to an idea known in psychology as “small self.” This is an important idea because by tapping into it, we can free ourselves from those feelings of sadness, helplessness, and anger. We can open ourselves up to feelings of wellbeing, possibility, happiness, and joy.
Even in the dead of winter, we can choose to feel alive...
Carla sat across from me in my office, looking miserable. Her dark hair hung limp over her eyes, which were fixed on the floor between us. She looked nothing like the radiant, confident woman I’d seen on camera a few weeks before. She’d sent me her audition reel, because what she wanted, she said, was an acting coach. Now, meeting her in person, I could tell she needed more than acting tips.
“Tell me about yourself,” I said, and after a minute or so, she began to open up.
Carla told me about how she’d gone into acting because she loved performing in her high school musicals. She just lived for that feeling of getting into character, rehearsing with her fellow actors, and stepping out onto the stage. From the first rehearsal until closing night, she was in “flow.”
That’s what she wanted to feel when she moved to New York to pursue acting. But now, five years in, she was depressed, out of work, and starting to lose hope.
A few months ago, I was sitting in my living room trying to get some work done. Instead, I found myself staring at a blinking cursor, then out the window, then back again. Two whole hours passed that way.
Needless to say, I was stuck. Absolutely paralyzed.
If someone had walked into the room, they would have seen it right off the bat. My body language said it all: my shoulders were hunched and tense; I was barely breathing, as frozen as a statue. Big surprise, I wasn't having much "motion" in my thoughts, either.
Honestly, it's a little embarrassing to admit this. I'm a motivational expert! I've been in this business for years! Shouldn't I be past all that?
The truth is, everybody gets stuck sometimes. Neither I nor anybody else will ever be "immune" from it. Just like hardship, disappointment, feeling lousy – it's all a part of life. And just like those things, the trick isn't to deny the feeling, but to learn how navigate it and come out the other side.
So I decided to...
A few years ago, I met Caroline, a women’s clothing designer who was trying to lose weight. She came to see me because she was struggling to stick with the various diets she set for herself. No carbs, no eating after 7pm, a 3-miles run every morning – she had a lot of good ideas, but every time she committed to one, she inevitably fell off the wagon after a week or two.
“It’s just impossible for me to lose weight,” she told me, looking utterly defeated. “I don’t get it. I’m not an unmotivated person. I run my own business, for Pete’s sake! I work hard. I push myself, and I achieve things. Yet I cannot seem to stick to a freaking diet.”
Now, I often meet people who are going through something like this. Diets are notorious for being hard to stick to – but of course, it happens with other goals, too. Saving money. Working on a book. Learning a new skill. Across the board, it’s difficult to stay motivated when...
One Saturday night after making herself dinner, Ingrid realized something: she had the whole night to herself, and no idea what to do.
Her kids were in their teens, growing more independent by the day. Her husband had his own hobbies. She'd devoted the last twenty years to work and family—going to law school, raising two kids, working fourteen-hour days. She was constantly working, and when she wasn't, she was cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, or sleeping. But now, she had no clue how to spend her time.
A colleague had invited her to one of my Moticise events called the Wheel of Life. That night, while searching for something to do, Ingrid signed up. That’s how she found herself in a room with nine other women as I asked them to look at different areas of their lives—Relationships, Money, Health, Career, and so on—and reflect on how each one was going.
One of those areas was Fun.
"I can't believe this is a category," Ingrid spoke up. "I never would have...
For the last couple months, my family has been moving around a lot, thanks to Covid. After a few weeks of quarantining in the city, we went to our house in Tuxedo Park, where we’d have more space and more access to nature. But it turned out, we had a little too much access to nature…meaning, we discovered we had a mice infestation. When they started falling from the ceiling (literally), we knew it was time to move again.
First, we went to Georgia for a month, where we hoped to ride out more of the pandemic. But then that rental lease ended, and so we found another rental house on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
When we got here on Sunday, I felt out of sorts, ungrounded. In Georgia, I already felt far from home, and now we’d gone even farther. The house here is beautiful; it’s on the very tip of an island, with water all around us. But instead of feeling like we’d reached some remote paradise, I just felt stuck. Like I’d reached the end.
When my client Raymond first came to see me last fall, he was looking for clarity and direction. He had a good job in the hotel business, but overall, things were shaky. He was worried about his health; he'd had a series of bad relationships, and last but not least, his apartment was a mess.
It was a lot to work on, so we started with one small goal. After talking through some things, Raymond chose something that sounded both doable and meaningful: to clean up his apartment, enough that he could have friends over.
"Great," I said, and decided to take it even deeper. "Why is that important? What will you gain by doing that?" (I often ask my clients to name their Why. Not only does it help motivate them, but also because it can lead to unexpected places. As you'll see, this happened with Raymond…)
"Well," he said, thinking, "I've always wanted to have friends over for a game night, like I used to. But with the disaster area that is my living room, well, that's just not...
One week a few months ago, back when the world was still functioning, I was just dragging. I couldn’t stop hitting snooze or yawning through meetings. I guzzled coffee, and when I got home, I collapsed. What was going on?
I decided to work backward to figure out why I was so tired all the time. Why did I hit snooze? Because I needed more sleep. Why did I need more sleep? Because I’d gone to bed late. Why had I gone to bed late?
Ding ding ding. That was the answer I needed.
I’d gone to bed late because of the million and one things I had to do the night before: get the kids’ school stuff ready for the morning. Make a to-do list for the next day. Take the dog out. Clean kitchen. Brush teeth, wash face, turn off screens, meditate.
The problem was, I wasn’t starting that whole mad rush until after 9pm - way too late.
So I made a list of all the things that need to happen before I can go to bed. Next to each one, I estimated how much time it would take...
A couple weeks ago, in the first few days of Corona quarantining, I had a recurring thought: I have to do something. It was energizing; it was exciting. My March and April calendar had cleared themselves completely, as if someone had waved a magic wand. No more speaking gigs, no more conferences, no more traveling.
I have to use this time to the fullest!
After all, Isaac Newton did! Shakespeare did! They conceived of their best ideas while quarantined from the plague. What rock-star best-selling world-changing idea will I come up with?
Of course, it didn't take long for the overwhelm to settle in. I had a ton of projects to work on – book, website, new products, you name it – but I couldn't seem to focus on one. It didn't help that there were a million blogs and newsletters sitting in my inbox, exhorting me to make the most of my time and offering tips on how to do that. I couldn’t even check my email without being reminded of all the other things I could do: clean...
These are scary times. I'm not here to offer you medical advice or breaking news on the COVID-19 virus. I want to talk about the mental difficulties many of us face, and how we can handle them in the healthiest way possible. With magnified stress, social isolation, looming unknowns, and big changes to our daily lives, it's more important than ever to take care of ourselves – and I mean more than washing our hands.
Here are six ways you can take care of yourself and your loved ones in the midst of this crisis.
1. Embrace creativity. Often, when things are in flux, people grab for safety. They want something they can control. Yet this actually a good time to think out of the box – because new ideas and opportunities can come from difficult times. Plus, opening your mind to creative thoughts will help ease your stress and keep you busy.
If you don't believe me, get this: Isaac Newton had to work remotely for a full year during the plague, and he was so productive then...
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