Moticise Blog | Sonia Satra

How to Beat Performance Anxiety 

For years, I’ve wanted to climb Kilimanjaro.

I love hiking. I grew up doing it with my mom and sisters. Isabel and I climbed Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in the continental US, and my mom and I climbed Mount Washington, which is the highest on the eastern seaboard. She and I also climbed the two highest mountains in Norway. Basically, if there’s a peak, I want to climb it.

But I’ve never done any of the really big ones. So this year, for my birthday, I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Stephen said I could go, as long as he didn’t have to. So I rallied my sisters, one of whom has always wanted to do it, and one of whom is reluctant (although optimistic – she was the first person to buy boots and a backpack).

As I began preparing, reading books, studying the trails – we’re going to do the longest one – I started to get scared. I was learning that the trail isn’t what gets people, but the altitude. I started to worry. What if I can’t make it? What if the altitude is too much for me?

Mt Whitney was high, at 15,000 feet, and most of the time, I was fine. But it was chilly, and at around 12,000 feet, I started jumping up and down, trying to warm up, and within thirty seconds I was flat on my back, passed out.

One night a few weeks ago, I told Stephen how nervous I was. “I’m so excited to do this,” I said, “but if I don’t make it to the top, I’m going to be so crushed.”

And he turned to me and said, “Why? If you don’t make it, you just do it again another time.”

It was so simple, yet so true. It hadn’t even occurred to me – it’s not like it’s easy to get to Tanzania. But if I wanted to, I could take a second shot at it. Or third, or fourth.

And isn’t that true about everything outside our comfort zone? We can always do it again if it doesn’t work out. You fall, you get back up. You try again.

That simple comment opened up a door for me. It felt like light and fresh air flooding in to a cramped, dinghy room. Where before I felt daunted and afraid, now I see it differently. I can have as many chances as I need.

So I’ve got 3 week to go!!  I’m preparing. Stacking the deck in my favor. Doing everything I can to ready myself for the altitude and for the rigors of the climb. I’m visualizing. I have every intention of making it to the peak of that mountain, getting that photo of the top of the world.

And if I don’t, I’ll just try it again. Until I make it.

What about you? What’s something that scares you, that you really, really want?

What would happen if you thought about it differently? If you thought you couldn’t fail?

How does it feel, to know you have the freedom to try again?

So take a leap, and fly!!

By |September 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Simple Reminder You Need to Hear

I am struggling to rally some excitement around fall.

I know, that’s blasphemous. Pumpkin spice! Sweater weather! Autumn leaves! It’s such a gorgeous time, especially in New York City, and it’s so many people’s favorite time of year. But I gotta be honest – I always feel a little sad when summer’s ending.

It’s because summer is so free. We don’t go to bed on time; we sleep late. We still work, but the schedule is a free-for-all. I love warm East Coast nights, late-night walks in the park, t shirts and shorts. We take trips, we spend time together laughing and moving and just enjoying each other. Summer represents fun, easy, freedom.

Every year around now, I look ahead to fall, and I see the return to routine, strict schedules, fights around bedtime, trying not to be late. It feels rigid, stressful, like the antithesis of freedom.

But of course, I have a choice about what perspective to take. So I’ve made a conscious effort to shift my mindset away from what I’ll be losing, and toward what I’m gaining. And honestly, there’s a ton of stuff happening this fall that I’d be insane not to look forward to.

For instance, I just booked a lifelong dream trip – to climb Kilimanjaro with my two sisters. How amazing is that? And we’re relaunching my website next month, so look out for new products and events. I’ve redone my keynote, and I’m ready to go out and speak more. I’m excited about my kids’ classes – they have great teachers this year – and about going out to cheer at their baseball and volleyball games.

When I first moved to L.A., I thought I’d come to an endless summer paradise. Sunny all the time, hardly any rain, never really cold. The seasons were barely distinguishable. Perfect for me, right? But after a year of one day turning into the next, each month the same as the last, it started to feel exactly the same. I missed the slow turn of summer into fall and spring into summer.

Seasons are nature’s way of reminding us to embrace change. There’s an adventure in change, even if it’s just the leaves turning color, or a lifestyle shift. It can be unsettling, because it’s new and unknown. But that’s the beauty of life – surprise. Change. Adventure, big or small. Life is full of beginnings and endings. And while endings are often sad, I can choose to be grateful for the easygoing, free-spirited summer I had, and also ready for another season of growth and experiences.

What does this change in seasons mean for you?

What’s beginning in your life, this fall? How will you meet it?

By |September 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Change Your Beliefs in 1 Simple Step

Last week, I had the privilege of bringing Moticise to a big event here in New York. We did the Mindset Reset workout, and it went great – one of those events where you could really feel the energy in the room, especially when they got to their feet, shouted their goals out, and did some boxing affirmations (that’s my favorite part).

After the workout, one woman came up to talk to me.

“I know what I want, and what I need to do to get it,” she said, “but…” And she gave me a laundry list of reasons it wouldn’t work. “I know those are limiting beliefs,” she went on, “but I don’t have a clue how to get rid of them. How do you change your beliefs?”

Naturally, I knew exactly how she felt. Who hasn’t been there before?

Changing your beliefs is a huge part of finding success and being fulfilled. That’s why I spend so much time learning and teaching new ways to do it. I’m always practicing new tools, methods, techniques to help people (and myself) do that. But that woman’s question, asked in a crowded, busy room, made me realize something: all the techniques in the world won’t help if you don’t do one thing.

Decide.

That’s the first and most crucial step to changing your beliefs. You have to decide to do it.

When we realize that our beliefs are just that – beliefs – it gets easier to change them. We’re so used to thinking that our beliefs are reality, but they’re not. They’re just stories we tell ourselves, and quite often, we’re wrong.

I learned this in a really powerful way when I was twenty. I flew from New Jersey to France to meet my father, a man who’d left my mom, my sisters and me when I was a kid. He’d come back periodically, and there was talk of us going to live with him in Europe, but it never happened. My dad was brilliant – he held multiple PhDs and spoke a dozen languages – so I really looked up to him. Intellectually, he had himself together. But emotionally, when it came to us, he just couldn’t find it in him to connect. 

Growing up, I’d formed some beliefs: that I was responsible for him leaving. That there was something wrong with me. That he would have stayed with us if I had been different. That I would be truly happy and free when I earned his love.

For the record, my mom was the most amazing, loving parent I could have asked for. She was always there, always nurturing and challenging us, doing everything she could to create the best life possible for us. I was a mixed bag of beliefs: strong positive, strong negative, plus everything in between.

So at twenty, I’d gone to France to see him, hoping to understand this void I felt in my life. But from the moment I stepped off the plane, he found something to ridicule: my luggage, my clothes, my modeling (he thought models were airheads), my “trashy New Jersey accent” (now that was just a lie). But despite the constant criticism, I decided to stick it out. I wanted to give him a chance.

On my last day, he was supposed to pick me up from the hotel and bring me to the airport. He picked me up, all right, but drunk, and almost an hour late. So, since I missed the flight, he decided we should go to a bar instead. (This was about ten in the morning.) And as we sat in that booth, while he grew sloppier and slurrier, and even said the closest thing to “I love you” I ever got – “You know, Sonia, I think I might actually miss you when you’re gone” – I realized something.

This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all my life, from this man I’ve been intimidated by, I thought. I’ve put him on pedestal. He’s shaped my entire belief system around love and relationships…yet he’s kind of pathetic.

I didn’t mean it in a mean or angry way. It was just that he wasn’t everything I’d believed him to be. He had his own pains; his actions came out of his own beliefs and issues. It dawned on me in that moment: that what you believe is not always real.

My beliefs were built on a lie. All those things I’d held to be true were just a story I’d told myself. Now I was seeing the other side of that. And in that moment, I knew I could change my beliefs.

I am worthy of love. I am not responsible for his decisions. Nothing I could have done would change him. I could never have made him stay. His leaving is a reflection of him, not me. I am good enough. I don’t need his approval.

As painful as that trip was, I was fortunate to have witnessed something that changed my beliefs so drastically. Not everyone gets to see that. But the good news is, you don’t have to travel around the world and witness your father slobbering over a beer to have a change of heart. You can do it right this moment.

In her latest book The Universe Has Your Back, Gabrielle Bernstein says our beliefs are like a movie we’re watching. So often, we just sit and watch whatever’s on the screen. But we have the choice to get up, and change the movie. We can watch whatever movie we want.

All we have to do is decide.

So let me turn it to you. What beliefs are holding you back?

What’s something you believe that isn’t serving you?

Will you decide, right now, to change that belief?

What story will you tell yourself instead? What belief would serve you?

Take that new belief, and go out and shine.

By |August 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Power of Story

Last month, I went to Kelly Swanson’s keynote camp just outside of Asheville, NC. There were about 20 of us staying in cabins in the woods, with no WiFi or cell service – just each other, ourselves, and the time and space to work on our keynotes.

There was one man there named Dave, a speaker from ___ who had lived on a 26-foot yacht for fifteen years. During one of the practice sessions, he told us about the worst nights on the water he experienced.

A storm had hit – this was in the Caribbean – and it was tossing his boat around like a toy. He’d tied everything down and locked himself in the cockpit, and now he was just praying to get out alive.

Then something approached, something huge and loud, that passed just feet from his yacht – a cruise ship. Beneath the raging wind and waves, he heard the distinctive thump of disco music. Through his port hole, he could see people on the decks, laughing and dancing and having a grand old time, totally unaffected by the storm.

Geez, I’m in here fighting for my life, he thought, while they’re fighting for a place at the cocktail bar. They don’t even know I’m here.

By morning, the storm had passed, and Dave woke up to calm, peaceful waters. His boat was unharmed, and the cruise ship was nowhere to be seen. But that moment, that “passing like ships in the night” scene, of a floating disco that came freakishly close to him – that moment stayed with him.

What a powerful metaphor that is. We can be in a group of people, within arm’s reach of them even, and one person’s experience can be completely different from another’s. Yet both, or all, perspectives are valid. They all matter.

We all have a story. We all experience things in unique, sometimes unimaginable ways. Yet it can be so hard to remember that. How often do we write someone off, thinking “That guy’s so selfish” or “Her life is perfect; she doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle” or “Why don’t they just…?”

There’s a name for that. In psychology, the “attribution bias” is when you assume you know what’s motivating someone. For example, if another driver cuts you off in traffic, you might think “What a jerk!” instead of “Maybe he’s in a rush. I’ve cut people off before, too.” Our tendency is to think we know, and to assume the worst.

But we don’t know what’s happening in people’s lives. That’s why it’s easy to attribute the wrong motives to people. But at the end of the day, everyone wants to be heard, to feel like they matter. And we can give people that gift by listening to their stories. By trying to understand them from their perspective, not ours.

The gift isn’t only for that person. Often, we benefit enormously from hearing people’s stories, from learning what drives them. I know I did, just from hearing all the stories in Asheville last month.

It’s also important for you to have the courage to share. You might sit there thinking “My story’s not good enough, big enough, important enough,” and that might stop you from speaking up. But stories bring us closer together. They short-circuit the attribution bias, because when we hear someone’s story, it’s harder to judge them. When we connect, find common ground, find an understanding – that’s when we know that we’re not alone.

We are all good enough. All of our stories are enough. We all matter.

What about you? What’s a story or experience that you’re just dying to tell, that other people might benefit from?

And who is someone in your life who needs to be heard? How can you open up your heart to them, and listen?

Go out and shine.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. – Plato

By |August 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

De-Stress Your Life with this One Trick

This week, my good friend Karen Jacobsen, the GPS Girl, came to hang out in the Moticise studio. We had a great Twitter chat and Periscope video (you can catch it here) on her signature topic – recalculating.

“No matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to recalculate,” she said. “The first step is to notice when you’re off course.”

That got me thinking about times in my life when I’ve had to adjust my course. Most recently, it happened around food. Recalculating – realizing I needed to make a change – liberated me from a lot of self-induced stress.

I’ve long been an aspiring vegan, and in the past few years, I’d come to dread dinnertime. Trying to cook healthy, plant-based meals that everyone would like, every single night? It just reminded me how much I was failing both myself and my kids. I wanted wholesome, plant-based, delicious, fun, together time.

But in reality, it was more like a battle. I always got it started late; no two people wanted the same thing; it was never as healthy as I wanted; half the time it ended with take-out, and me exhausted and frustrated.

Fortunately, a friend recommended a vegan chef who made house calls. (Don’t you just love New York?) The plan was, he’d come over, give us a cooking lesson, and off we’d go into a lifetime of easy dinnertime sunsets. This chef, I believed, would usher in a new chapter in my life: one where I’m 100% vegan, where my family is always satisfied and impressed with their meals, where I actually look forward to dinner.  

But this chef was not the fairy godmother I hoped for. He was a big fat jerk, and it started as soon as he opened the fridge.

“Dairy milk? What is this doing here?” He rounded on me and shoved it in my face, like it was damning evidence of something unforgivable.

“I—I know it’s not great, but I like a little in my coffee,” I said. “And look, there’s almond milk and coconut milk, back there next to the soy mi—”

“Orange juice!” he cried, back inside the fridge. “And it’s not even fresh squeezed. Do you know the sugar content in this?”

“Yes,” I said weakly, “that’s why we mix it with seltzer water. I don’t usually buy it, but Kaya was having a sleepover, and—”

He shook his head derisively. “You are just lazy,” he announced, like a doctor giving a diagnosis. “All it takes is the willingness to chop vegetables. You can do that, can’t you? But you don’t.”

Shocked, I said nothing. Lazy? I thought. Is that my problem? I’m just lazy?

“She’s not lazy,” Stephen told him. It felt good to hear him say that, but the word still triggered me. For the rest of the meal, I couldn’t escape the spiral of I’m not a good mother. I’m destroying the environment. I’m killing my kids!

In the days following, I calmed down a little, and was able to gain some perspective. Our judgmental chef had offered no solutions, only criticism. He “didn’t do kids,” so he had no empathy for my role as a parent. All that was frustrating, but it led me more deeply examine my struggle. If being vegan was so important to me, how come it hadn’t happened?

I did some soul-searching, I began to understand what was happening. The chef had forced me to defend my choices, and in doing so, I noticed a pattern. And it wasn’t because I’m lazy, or not enough.

It was this: freedom, adventure, and exploration are fundamental values of mine. And I’d come to associate being vegan with being restricted. Feeling restricted is stressful and anxiety-inducing – so, for me, “vegan” equals “stress.” No wonder it’s been such a struggle. I was fighting to attain something that was making me miserable.

So I had a pretty revolutionary idea: Maybe I just don’t really want to be vegan. (This was where I started to notice that I was off-course. It was time to recalculate.)

Being 100% vegan sounds good on paper. It fits with my values of plant-based nutrition, let-food-be-thy-medicine eating, and doing my part to protect the environment. But was it really what I wanted?

In reality, I’m happy with being 90% vegan, or even 80%. Maybe I could aim for a 90-10 ratio, knowing that if I end up with 80-20, it’s still okay. Which gives me room for freedom and adventure. It takes away the restrictive feeling while still honoring my beliefs about clean eating. It changes the meaning of the word “vegan” for me – instead of inducing stress, now it feels exciting.

This is still new for me – it’s only been a couple weeks – but I already feel more free, more fluid, more excited about my choices and my responsibilities. I’m still practicing recipes and collecting ways to make everyone happy at dinnertime, but I’ve taken the heavy weight off my shoulders to make it perfect. Which leaves more room for me to enjoy my family and my food.

What about you?

What is it that you’re trying to change, but having trouble with?

Take a close look – why are you making that change?

Is it honoring your values? Or is it going against something you value?

If your values are in conflict, that’s going to make it hard. Often, that’s when it’s time to recalculate.

What’s something you can do that would align with your values? Something you’re excited about, that you can reach for wholeheartedly?

Tell me about it below! And then go out, recalculate if you need to, and shine.

By |July 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Key to Survival (it’s not what you expect!)

Last week, my family and I spent a week in London to celebrate my mom’s and sister’s birthdays. (Okay, the birthdays were more of an excuse – we just wanted to see each other and explore somewhere exciting.) The whole week, there were eight of us coordinating plans, picking out activities, trying to agree on a restaurant…and it went so smoothly. Everyone was surprisingly flexible, and it was wonderful.

I’ve been on enough group vacations to know how special that is. On other trips, whether with family, friends, or colleagues, it isn’t always so easy. So this past week, I’ve been thinking about the virtue of flexibility, and how underrated it really is.

I brought it up to Lauren in the office the other day, as I often do with things on my mind.

“How important is flexibility, do you think?” I asked her. “People don’t really talk about it that often, but it’s pretty critical, right?”

“My dad always said that flexibility is the key to survival,” she said, without missing a beat. Her father is an airline pilot who regularly flies between the U.S. and China, so I figure he knows a thing or two about getting from point A to point B.

“Wow. Really?” I said. “The key?”

“Yeah. He’s always dealing with things like turbulence, having to change the route, navigate storms, land somewhere different than he expected. Things are always popping up that he has to deal with.”

Sounds like life, I thought.  

“So if he weren’t flexible enough to take each one in stride, well, I don’t know,” she said. “He probably wouldn’t be flying planes.”

Well, that makes perfect sense, although I might have expected an airline pilot to say focus or courage was the key to survival. But the more I think about it, the more I see that flexibility might really be the secret to living well, living long, and getting where you’re going.

Naturally, as my mind tends to, I started thinking about the two aspects of flexibility: physical and lifestyle. First, to be physically flexible means you have greater range of motion, lower risk of injury, and more freedom of movement. If you’re flexible in life, you’re more adaptable, able to move more fluidly through crises or challenges, and you have more freedom to, well, move. You have a lower risk of stress, because you can roll with the punches. To paraphrase Confucius, “The reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”

The older we get, the more rigid our bodies becomes. If we don’t practice flexibility, we lose our range of motion, so we’re more limited in our pursuits – whether that’s learning to waterski, or simply going up a set of stairs. We’re more like to “snap,” or stress out, or otherwise sacrifice our well-being.

The same principle applies to lifestyle flexibility. If we let ourselves get rigid, we lose out on the opportunity to expand our minds, to experience new things, to stretch our boundaries, if you will. We lose our youthfulness.

So what does it mean to practice flexibility in life? How can we be more flexible?

In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Alice Boyes writes that flexible thinking comes in many forms. Here are a few examples:

  • Perspective taking. This means looking at a situation from someone else’s point of view, and understanding that yours is not the only one. This one’s especially important in a conflict or argument, and it can help you reach out instead of alienate people.
  • Balancing optimism and pessimism, or weighing both the ups and downsides, instead of focusing on one of those. Flexible thinkers know that there are advantages and disadvantages to almost any outcome, and choose the most helpful piece to focus on.
  • Allowing for uncertainty. If you don’t hear back from someone, don’t assume the worst. A flexible thinker understands that there are dozens of potential reasons for this. Also, allowing for uncertainty means not marrying yourself to a particular outcome. If things don’t go the way you want them to, you can still remain open, instead of dwelling on your loss. What happens next may be a pleasant surprise.

Physically, too, you can increase your flexibility. And don’t go telling me you don’t stretch because you’re not flexible. That’s why you stretch – to get more flexible. Start slow and go gentle. You don’t want to hurt yourself by overstretching, or by stretching without warming up first. Studies show that just a few minutes of stretching a day can significantly increase your flexibility over time – so be patient, and be consistent!

As with all mindset tools, practicing flexibility is a choice, whether or not it comes naturally to you.

What is an area of your life where you’re really good at being flexibility? How does that feel?

Flexibility is one of my favorite mind-body exercises, because it’s such a clear parallel. So while you’re answering these questions, stand up and stretch your hamstrings or your shoulders, and feel that openness in your muscles. (For some guidance on this, check out my latest Moti Minute!)

What’s an area of your life where you could use more flexibility? Where you’re pretty rigid or stubborn?

How can you stretch into that space, and allow for whatever might come?

What’s possible when you step into a place of open, flexible thinking?

By |July 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

3 Ways to Stay Sane When Your Life is Crazy

Do you ever have a day like this? Last week, it was like someone put my life in a blender. Every area needed some attention in the span of about eight hours (and 100 city blocks).

The dog had an ear infection when I woke up, so I rushed her to the vet. From there, I took Ty downtown to skateboard camp before running to Soho to shop with Kaya (her summer camp requires that she bring 16 different pairs of shorts…really? Really. And we had to get them all right then because her clothes were being shipped off to camp the next day.) That made me late to the office, where I had a Moticise call about web development, then a meeting about product launch.

Then I had an audition (in an English accent, no less) which I’d only rehearsed for about five seconds. Then I ran to the eastside for a vibroacoustics session at Tournesol; then back to the office for a quick coaching session; then off to meet Stephen for yoga, before going home to get everyone fed, washed, and to bed.

At Tournesol, my physical therapist, Carey, asked me how my day was going.

“It’s insane,” I said. “I have something involving everyone today, and there’s zero time in between. But they all need my full attention and focus. How do you keep each thing from bleeding into the next?”

She laughed, but she said seriously, “I know what you mean. If I couldn’t compartmentalize, I think I’d fall apart.”

Carey runs her own business, has dozens of clients a day, and has three kids. So I asked, “How do you do it?” I asked.

“I go into my office and close the door,” she said. “And I picture myself walking through a white, cleansing light. It’s like this bright, clean energy, and it washes away the last thing, and leaves me feeling fresher for the next.”

“Wow,” I said. I didn’t know what to say, but I knew I wanted what she had. A ritual. Some meaningful way to help her navigate her day. A way to not just keep her head above water, but to swim.

In the next few days, I gave it a lot of thought. Could Carey’s technique work for me? What if I’m not in my office? I wondered. On that day in particular, I’d been in and out of subways and taxis and stores and other people’s offices, so I couldn’t exactly retreat into my private sanctuary. Or could I?

There are many days where I’m traveling around the city, and sometimes New Jersey, and sometimes other cities or even countries. But I knew I could still find a way to adapt Carey’s trick to fit my needs. After all, she was using two of my favorite things: visualization, and physical movement.

I tried it one afternoon on the subway, heading home after a long day at the office. I wanted to be ready to play with my kids and make them dinner when I walked in the door. I wanted to feel energized and refreshed, not muddled and overwhelmed. I didn’t want work to bleed into my home time.

So I copied Carey, and I envisioned a bright light surrounding me. I felt my body and mind being cleansed of the day, of what happened and hadn’t happened. I invited that light in. Even with the backdrop of subway musicians and announcers and doors screeching shut, I felt peace. It was like a mini-meditation (even a mini-mindset reset, if you will). And then when I got home, I felt ready and excited to be there.

That week, I experimented with ways to compartmentalize, and I found three techniques that really work. Here they are:

  • Physically embody each task. Every task has a distinct feeling, so I decided to fully embrace that feeling. (Sounds a bit like mindfulness, right?) By stepping into each environment, each purpose, and noticing how it was showing up in my body – what did it look like? Where did I feel it? How did I carry myself? – I could really participate in each task, not rush through it, or feel distracted or overwhelmed by all the others.
  • Throw in a little exercise or movement. This one’s especially good when I’m in my office all day. I take a walk in between phone calls, do jumping jacks after a meeting, or even just stand in conscious mountain pose to help clear my mind. Then, I literally take a step into the next activity. This sends a message to both my body and brain, like “Okay, now it’s time for X. New task, new you. Let’s do this.”
  • Make a to-do list, and cross items off when you do them. I know it sounds cliché, but a to-do really does help settle your mind. You don’t have to juggle everything if it’s written down (and if you’re using it – i.e., it’s not buried in a drawer, or forgotten on your fridge). You get a little burst of accomplishment from crossing something off, so you’ll feel productive, which gives you energy. And if it’s all written down somewhere, you can let go of the worry that you’ll forget something, and fully immerse yourself in the task at hand.

Try these techniques during your busy day! And let me know what YOU do to compartmentalize.

Then go out and shine.

By |June 29th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Stay Motivated – Without Using Willpower

Do you ever think “I can do it, I’ll just power through it,” and then two days later, you quit?

It’s tiring, isn’t it? If all you’re doing is plowing through a task or an event, chances are that you’ll burn out. 

That’s why willpower is overrated.

The other day, I came across an article by Benjamin Hardy that said, “If your life requires willpower, you haven’t fully determined what you want.” In other words, if you have to power through something, then you haven’t made a decision.

“Until you decide,” Hardy writes, “you’ll be required to use willpower, and will continue making minimal progress.”

Is that true? I wondered. So, as usual, I decided to test it out on myself. What, for me, takes a lot of willpower?

I confess…it’s networking.

I used to think I could power through events, like I was the Wonder Woman of business. No sweat, I can survive this, I’d think. I am strong! I am social! I am a networker! I’d remind myself of all the great things about networking: new relationships, new business opportunities, free wine. And that’s how I’d rally myself to get out the door.

But rallying yourself is draining. And often it doesn’t work. Some days, I’d rationalize myself out of going. I’m not Wonder Woman tonight. I’m going home to my kids – they need me. Plus, Stephen never goes to networking events, and look how successful he is. Maybe they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

Hardy is right: I hadn’t decided. That’s why it was so hard to make myself go.

So I asked myself: Do I really want this? Is networking something that I really want to do?

The answer is yes. Sure, I don’t love those meetings. I’d rather go home and tuck myself into bed. But the truth is I get a lot out of them. I’ve met wonderful people, and created some deeply meaningful, lifelong relationships. I’ve gotten some fantastic business opportunities. And I always learn something. They’re definitely worth it.

So, right now, I hereby decide: I want networking to be a part of my life and business.

Willpower is finicky. It’s like a gas tank that’s randomly empty sometimes and full other times. If you’re hungry, tired, cold, sick, or bored, it’s likely to drain suddenly.

It’s about as reliable as the weather channel. You definitely don’t want to bank on it.

That’s not to say it can’t be helpful, or that you shouldn’t take advantage when you have it. But it shouldn’t be your primary source of motivation, because that’s often an indicator of a deeper problem.

What’s something you’ve been powering through?

Have you really decided that you want to do it?

No? That’s okay. Walk away. Don’t feel guilty. Just let it go. You can always come back to it.

If yes, then connect to your reasons for doing it. Why is it meaningful? Why is it important?

Once you’ve decided, the best thing to do is to create an environment that’s conducive to doing what you need to do.

If you’ve decided to use your treadmill more, get it out of the dark, dingy basement and put it in the living room, where you can look out the window or watch TV (or better yet, get out your vision board!).

If you’ve decided to write a business plan, make your desk or office space somewhere really pleasant, somewhere you like being. Then you’ll spend more time there. It’ll take less willpower to stay in it.

Put yourself in places where you’re likely to do what you need to do. Surround yourself with things that point you toward your goal.

What does that look like for you?

Incidentally, my friend Roberta (who I met by networking J ) just sent me a flyer about a yoga networking event. Now that is my kind of environment.

I’d love to hear how this works for you. Tell me your experiences below!

Now go out and shine.

By |June 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why You’re Managing Your Stress All Wrong

In the spring of 2014, I spent a few weeks touring with the play Vanities, a comedy that follows three women’s lives through the 60s and 70s. What makes it different from other plays is that we actually get ready onstage, sitting at our vanities – while the audience files into their seats.

At the start of one performance, my co-stars and I were up there, primping our beehives and gluing on false eyelashes. I was so nervous, my hands were shaking, which made it hard to get my eyelashes even. I thought I might throw up.

Next to me, Heather Tom was the picture of readiness. She powdered her nose, adjusted her hair, smoothed on lipstick – all in easy, confident motions. She looked totally at home.

We were supposed to be visiting each other’s vanities, borrowing makeup and gossiping, so I went over to her vanity. “How are you so calm?” I said. “I’m so nervous I could barf. Isn’t this stressful for you?”

“Of course it’s stressful,” she said. “I’m super nervous.”

“But you got your eyelashes on straight and everything. How are you staying so calm?”

She looked at me, and behind the excitement, I saw the nervousness in her eyes. “Listen,” she said. “This stress is a good thing. It’s keeping me focused. It means I care about this. The day I’m not stressed about going onstage, I should probably quit acting.”

Heather was just as stressed as I was. But she wasn’t trying to manage it, or reduce it, or “de-stress.” Instead, she chose to perceive it differently. Her perspective that day helped her (and me) get into character. And we put on a great show (if I do say so myself).

The other day, that conversation came back to me, when I learned something extraordinary that changed my entire belief system around stress.

It’s this: when you perceive stress as a positive thing, it impacts both your mind and body more positively. If you perceive stress as damaging, then it impacts your mind and body negatively.

It’s proven: it’s all in how you see it.

Today, we’re taught to believe stress is negative. It causes high blood pressure and heart disease; it weakens your immune system; it harms the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems. We’re taught to be scared of stress.

But Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist who research stress, put it this way: “the harmful effects of stress may be a consequence of our perception that it is bad for our health.” And the opposite is true, too.

In a groundbreaking study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers asked 29,000 people to rate their stress levels over the last year, as well as how much they believed that stress impacted their health. Over the next eight years, the researchers monitored the subjects’ lives. What they found was that the people who reported high levels of stress, and who believed that stress had a large impact on their health, had a 43% increased risk of death.

Meanwhile, those who reported similar levels of stress, but did not believe it to largely effect their health, were the least likely to die in that time.

Perceiving stress as a positive actually helps you live longer.

In another study, students took a survey that measured their baseline stress levels. Then, they were told that five of them would be randomly selected to give a videotaped speech in front of their peers. Each was asked to decide whether they wanted feedback on their speech. After telling them this, researchers took mouth swabs to measure cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.

What they found was this: “those who naturally saw stress as helpful had a more moderate cortisol level in response to hearing about the speech possibility – and they were more likely to request feedback.”

Physically, those students responded less severely to stress. Emotionally, they were more ready to take on a challenge. All because they saw stress as helpful, not harmful.

To me, these studies (and the dozens of others like them) are just mind-blowing. Our mindsets are so powerful, they even determine our physical response to stress.

I don’t think Heather knew about those studies. But she intuited that perception is everything, and it helped her perform better. Little she did know, it might be helping her live longer, too.

Like almost everything else, we do have a choice – even when it comes to the physical effects of stress.

What about you? Where are you feeling the most stress now?

What would it feel like if you chose to perceive the stress differently?

Tell me about your experiences below – I’d love to hear how shifting your perspective around stress impacts your life.

Go out and shine.

By |June 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Which is more important, courage or confidence?

The other day, someone posed to me the question: which is more important, courage or confidence?

At first, it sounded like a chicken-or-egg question, one of those deep philosophical things you’d ask a guru on a mountaintop. But in the past week, it gave way to some great conversations, and lots of personal exploration. And it turns out it has a really useful, practical application in my daily life.

Constantly, people tell me, “I wish I had more confidence.” That sentence is forever stopping people from doing things they really want to do. I know for me personal, it’s responsible for almost everything I ever procrastinate on.

During the Twitter chat last week, the group unanimously agreed that courage comes before confidence. And that made me think: maybe confidence is the wrong target. Maybe we should aim for courage instead.

As usual, when I’m mulling over a phenomenon like this one, I decided to try it out on myself.

I’ve been doing more live events on social media lately (Facebook and Periscope, to be precise). And while it’s fun, and there’s a lot that I like about, I find it really scary. People think it’d be easy for me, since my background is in acting, but it’s unnerving. It’s hard. And now (today!) we have this special guest coming on, the extremely knowledgeable Dr. Scott Schreiber, so the stakes are even higher.

The truth is, I wish I had more confidence about going live on social media.

There’s this unwritten rule around confidence. It implies that you know what you’re doing, that you’re an expert, that you’ve done this a million times before. That expectation was throwing me off – mostly because my inner monologue was saying, I don’t know what I’m doing! I’ve never done this before! So I couldn’t quite make the leap to “Look at me! See my unshakable confidence!”

Instead, I decided to try the “courage comes first” approach. I thought, what would happen if I chose to be courageous instead?

Immediately, I felt different. I felt like it was okay that I was nervous. Nervous people can have courage; people who don’t know what they’re doing can still have courage. You don’t have to be perfect to be courageous; you just have to be willing to step into the unknown, and hope that you fly instead of fall.

Picture (5)I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m willing to give it a shot – now that was a mindset I could step into.

At about this point, some people might be saying “But I don’t have courage, either!” But think about it. We’ve all done things that show courage – stepping into our first classroom, going on our first date, breaking up from a bad relationship, quitting a job, having a hard conversation, asking for a raise. We didn’t always have confidence when we did those things, but we sure had courage – that’s how we did them. Nervous, uncertain, scared – we still found courage to do what we had to do.

My Twitter chatters were right: courage comes first.

So the first step is to shift your focus away from “I need confidence,” and toward “I have courage.” Think of all the times in your life you’ve mustered up the courage to do something. I promise you, there are more than you think.

Then, ask yourself these three questions to help you build up your courage, and then your confidence:

1) What’s the worst that could happen?

(When I answered this around the social media events, my answer was, “I’m probably not gonna die, even if I make a total fool of myself. At least my family will still love me.” That gave me some perspective.)

2) What do I have to gain?

(For me, it was “Experience. The potential to reach a lot of people, to share something I’m passionate about, to impact somebody. The chance that somebody will benefit, and maybe even share that with somebody else – so, I have the potential to create a domino effect. That’s worth taking the risk.”)

3) What do I have, that prepares me for this?

What skills, background, life experience, resources? When have you done anything like this before?

(“All my acting experience. The past few live events I’ve done. All the practice and rehearsal time I’ve ever put in. Plus, I have my fabulous support staff. And I have courage. And maybe even a little wisp of confidence.”)

Courage is like a seed. If you shine a little light on it, and help it grow, soon you’ll find it blossoming bigger than you thought possible. And the fruit of that will be confidence.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this. Feel free to share them below, and tune in to the live events today! (Wish me luck!)

Go out and shine.

By |May 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments