Around this time of year when we flip the calendar from one year to the next, most people make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. It is a noble idea in theory, but often in practice, doesn’t amount to much. Resolutions often get cast aside and discarded, making their creators feel inadequate and unproductive.

So why not skip the New Year’s Resolutions altogether this time and opt for an alternative New Year’s ritual: the One-Word Theme!

I find it helps me to choose a word to give me an over-arching theme in the new year. For many people, the one word approach feels more manageable and powerful than a laundry list of New Year’s Resolutions which can often feel like another to-do list. One word is ideal. It gives you focus.

I believe that choosing a word for the year is so compelling because it takes the “should” out of our wish for personal and professional development. Our word serves as a gentle (but powerful!) reminder, rather than a drill sergeant barking orders at us.

carpe_diemI’ve been following this one word theme for years now.

  • In 2011, my word was Implement. Boy, did I implement that year as I changed my business brand and model, and went with my husband on 13 interviews around the U.S. to choose a place for him to do a residency and for us to relocate to from NY).
  • My word in 2012 was Change as we relocated across country from New York to California and completely changed our lives and I expanded my business.
  • In 2013, my word was Discover as I acclimated to living in Northern California and embraced our new life. I took Italian classes, became a “real” bicyclist, got back on stage with local theater groups, and more.
  • In 2014, my word was Presence as a reminder to live in the moment and savor all of the experiences personally and professionally that I was blessed to have in my life.

My word for 2015 is Adventure. It came to me the other day very easily when I started thinking about the year ahead. My husband finishes his 3-year veterinary residency and we will do some traveling in the United States and Europe, enjoying some long-awaited quality time together. We will also be researching and considering our options for the future in terms of where we will live next. My one word theme of Adventure will be both a comforting and powerful reminder to stay intellectually curious, seek out new adventures, try new experiences, shake up the status quo, live each moment to the fullest, and savor each drop of my life.

When I posted on social media about this one-word approach, I got a huge response to my appeal for people to share their word of the new year. People’s comments were very inspiring and thought-provoking. Interestingly, people often share that they experienced a little resistance to their word at first. Or were surprised at their word. Or hoped that something bigger or better had come to mind. Try not to resist the word that presents itself to you! The word you choose is usually the exact one that you need to be reminded of throughout the year.

life_is_too_shortAnd by the way, the one word theme is not a cop out! It doesn’t mean that you won’t accomplish anything or fail to take action. From what I have seen with the one-word theme, you will. But many of us don’t need another to-do list. We need a theme, a rallying cry, a mantra, an affirmation, a reminder. Your one word can serve all of those purposes and more if you give it some serious thought, choose wisely (or better yet, let your word choose you!), and then keep that word front and center in your mind, guiding your actions and behavior during the year.

So… what is your one word or theme for 2015? I’d love to hear it. Please send me an email or even better, share in the comments on my blog so others can be inspired too!

Happy New Year!

What if I told you that you could be part of an awesome group of business owners that have made the decision that the year 2015 is THEIR year to up-level their business?

new_year_new_adventuresImagine if there is a six-month mastermind program that gives you all of the tools, masterminding, accountability, and coaching that you need for your business and at an affordable rate?

What if this program was able to help you finally blast through some plateaus in your business, create multiple streams of income, improve your overall profitability, help you develop and thrive as the owner of your business, and more?

PowerUpAnd what if I told you that there’s even a 3-pay option so that you can spread out the payments if the overall investment is still slightly out of your reach to pay all at once?

Fantasy or reality? Trust me, it’s reality! It’s my new PowerUp! 6-Month Group Coaching & Mastermind Program, which starts on January 6, 2015 for business owners that are ready to step up their game in the new year.

This program is perfect for the expanding business owner who’s seeking to:

  • Become clear on your business purpose
  • Stay focused on your product(s) and service offerings, as well as learn how to take them to the next level
  • Solidify financial strategies/increase profits
  • Focus on operations so you can run your business, rather than it running you!
  • Develop multiple streams of income
  • Determine what’s not working in your business & how to make a change
  • Make your business your TRUE passion
    And so much more….

The PowerUp Program is open to all business owners, but is especially targeted to the expanding business owner so that you can craft and fine-tune your business, and also YOU as a business owner.

Click here for all of the details, and to apply.

Yes, this program is by application only. Just like you’ll need to review the program to determine if it’s right for you, I’ll be reviewing applications to see who would be a perfect fit for this program.

So if you’re ready for great things to happen in the new year, take a look at PowerUp! It’s going to be an awesome program, and if it appeals to you, apply so you can come join us

Think back to when you were just a wee little boy or girl. Do you remember the question people used to ask all of the time? “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was thinking about that question today and realized that on so many levels, it is totally unfair!

child-grown_upFirst, how in the world do we expect such a young little one to have any idea what he or she may do for a living when they grow up? Heck, most people I know, regardless of age, still have things they want to do and try in their lifetime. Lots of unfinished business, dreams, hopes, and goals floating around regardless of age.

Second, at what point are we “grown up?” Is it at 18 years old when we graduate from high school and can vote, but can’t yet be trusted to legally drink alcoholic beverages? If a young man or woman is undecided on his or her major in college, most people think he or she is misguided, not focused, and indecisive. Yet again, how many adults (a/k/a “grown ups”) do you know that are using the exact major they studied in their present job/career?

Third, let’s break down the actual question: What do you want to BE when you grow up? A wise guy or girl can answer that he or she wants to be happy, healthy, wise, in love, gainfully employed, successful or any other adjective of his or her choosing. Or maybe you realize that you will be many things at the same time. One title may not define you. You may be many things like a daughter or son, spouse, friend, employee, entrepreneur, etc.

So what if here you are, a grown up, and you still aren’t sure what you want to be? Not only do I think that’s okay, I think it’s way more common than most people realize. And now it is socially acceptable too. We don’t have to make our first career our last. We do n’t have to define ourselves by one title. Change is often inevitable, regardless of how old we are and what we have done in the past. We all go through periods in our life when we ask “What’s next?” Maybe you’ve been in the same career for years and are ready for a change. Maybe you want to take a giant leap and go into business for yourself. Maybe you want to take a sort of “sabbatical” and re-think things. These periods of uncertainty when we go back to that childhood question can be scary — but hopefully also exciting!

Research shows that for many generations, people were expected to find a job/career and stick with it their whole working life. The workplace and retirement systems were set up that way and job stability was the great motivator to stay the course. This generation is made up of job-hoppers who will stay on average only 3-4 years in any one position. This generation, known as the Millennials, consider themselves “free agents” and will subject themselves to the possibility of financial insecurity in order to find happiness and fulfillment in their work lives. They feel that it is a small price to pay for freedom.

career_changeI have an insider’s and outsider’s perspective on this issue. I completed my own successful (and risky!) career transition from a lawyer to a coach/consultant/speaker/author 12 years ago on the heels of the 9-11 terrorist attacks (and thank my lucky starts every day that I get to do this for a living now!). The tragic events of that day served a catalyst for me to do a lot of soul searching on what the next path was for me and make the leap from my career as a lawyer. Of course, it was scary. The change looked like a big mountain looming before me. It’s amazing how scary those mountains look before you climb them. And now that I’m sitting on the other side of the mountain, I can look back and see how beautiful the mountain really is and how great the other side looks.

I have also had the privilege of coaching many clients through career transitions over the years. I think people go through “chapters” in their life, and their careers change — if they have the courage to follow through. It’s not always easy to turn the page when one chapter has ended and it is time to move on. But what I have seen as an outsider and experienced as an insider is true magic. Corny but true. Pretty much everyone I know, including myself, that has made a career change has come out on the other side better for it. Happier, more fulfilled, and grateful that they made the leap and took the chance regardless of outcome. Let’s face it… it’s usually the things we don’t do that bring us the biggest regret.

So if you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, don’t fret. It ain’t over just yet. I hope you have the courage to scale your mountain!

When you put in so much time and effort to get organized, the last thing you want is to backslide and wind up back where you started. The good news is that you can stay organized once you reach an organized state of bliss (or even a semi-organized, “it’s better than it was and I can live with it state”!). All that is required is active maintenance. Oh no, you think – more work! Yes, but remember, it is a lot easier to stay organized than it is to get organized.

Maintenance Should Become Second Nature

Organizing is a way of life that requires maintenance and ongoing effort until it becomes second nature. Think about something you do everyday, like brushing your teeth, for example. You just do it, right? It is a habit, something that comes naturally to you. You don’t need reminders, checklists, alarms and prompts. But imagine you just started brushing your teeth today. It is an entirely new grooming activity that you are now required to do. You may need a prompt to remind you to do this new activity. But after a reasonable amount of time, you would naturally incorporate this new activity into your routine and would no longer need reminders. You would just do the activity automatically. In order to stay organized, you need to slowly incorporate maintenance of organizing systems into your daily routines. After awhile, you don’t even think about it anymore, you just naturally maintain your systems.

Develop Simple Maintenance Routines

Integrate a daily and periodic maintenance program into your routine, but keep it simple. You’ve heard the old adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Well, it goes a long way if your goal is to maintain organizing systems. Put things away at the end of each day at home, and at the office. If you start something, complete it if possible. If not, put the project items off to the side so that they do not become clutter in your way. If you use up the last of an item in the house, replenish it (at work, give notice to whoever stocks the supply cabinet). If you open something, close it. If you take something out to use it, put it away when you are done. Make this “finish it” policy a rule that all users of the organizing systems follow.

15 Minutes a Day Keeps Clutter at Bay

Want to maintain an organizing system? 15 minutes a day keeps clutter at bay! Once you’ve created an organizing system that works, take 15 minutes a day to keep it that way. If it needs much longer than that, chances are it is too complex of a system, or you are still in backlog mode with too much clutter. If so, then you need to focus on continuing to declutter and setting up simple, user-friendly organizing systems.

It is entirely possible that some areas of your life will be in maintenance mode while others will still be in the process of getting organized. That is expected. While you are getting organized, you will naturally finish some areas before others. For the areas that are already organized, use your maintenance routines. For the rest, keep plugging away! You will get to maintenance mode if you hang in there, I promise.

Don’t get caught up in the actual amount of time. 15 minutes at work, and 15 minutes at home, is an average. Some people need much more time to maintain their organizing systems, some need much less. It depends how many organizing systems need to be maintained, how complex they are, how many users are involved, whether someone is sabotaging the system by not cooperating in maintenance efforts, etc. Use 15 minutes as a benchmark to measure your maintenance efforts against.

Some people do their maintenance in the morning (washing dishes from last night’s dinner, choosing outfits for day, planning their schedule on their calendar, putting away files no longer working with, etc.), while others do it at the end of the day before they leave work and before they retire for the evening at home. The right time to maintain organizing systems is when it is easiest for you and you will actually do it. If you decide to maintain systems at the end of the day, be sure to finish activities at home and at work 15 minutes before you close shop, in order to leave enough time for maintenance.

Exercise: Schedule 15 Minutes a Day

Schedule in a recurring appointment on your calendar that prompts you to do 15 minutes per day of maintenance of organizing systems at home and at work. Remember, maintaining an organizing system should become second nature, like brushing your teeth everyday. But it may take time for it to become a habit, so be patient. Meanwhile, 15 minutes a day will help keep clutter at bay, and maintain your orderly new life!

Copyright © 2010 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2010. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at .

I hope you are having a wonderful summer! I can’t believe it is almost over.

I’m popping in today with a special heads-up for you regarding my Purpose, Passion, Productivity Retreat for Women Entrepreneurs which will take place in beautiful California Wine Country from November 6-9.

The Fast Action Bonus allowing you to pay in 3 easy installments with no extra change is officially ending this Friday, August 15th (a 2-payment option will still be available, but not at this fabulous rate). So if this type of budget friendly option appeals to you, be sure to register by Friday (just make your first payment and then my shopping cart will do the rest!). www.LisaMontanaro.com/WineCountryRetreat

Early registrations are coming in, and I’m excited that we are getting such a high level group of women. It’s going to be an wonderful combination of personal and professional development in a beautiful setting. It will be like combining the La Dolce Vita lifestyle with some business learning and exercises, a mini-vacation, and an opportunity for collaboration and sharing with other women.

If you are serious about joining us, don’t wait too long to register! There are limited rooms available at the Geyserville Inn, and I will be capping registration once I reach a certain number of attendees to keep this event small and intimate, and allow for the type of interaction and access to each other that will make this retreat so special.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to email. Or we can even jump on the line if you’d prefer to chat! 🙂 I’d love to find out your goals for attending, and answer any questions that you may have.

Hope to see you in inspiring Wine Country this fall!

Last week, I watched a movie that’s been on my Netflix queue for awhile called Searching for Debra Winger. It was written and directed by Rosanna Arquette. It’s a documentary that explores how female actresses over 40 years old can’t find good roles in Hollywood. It’s actually a lot deeper than that, but that’s the basic premise.

Continue Reading…

There’s a concept that keeps coming up lately when I’m doing coaching and consulting with my clients. It’s the concept of experiencing the valley of your “new normal.” It could be a huge change that you’re making to your business, like adding on a new income stream, or closing down a division that no longer gets you jazzed. Or maybe it’s changing careers or getting a promotion that you’ve been dying for, but are scared to death of now that you’ve been handed it. Maybe you’re relocating, starting a new relationship, getting organized, or working on a health and fitness plan.

Continue Reading…

The single most important characteristic that separates organized people and organizations from disorganized people and organizations is decisiveness. In this entertaining and engaging keynote, Lisa will share valuable tips on how to effectively organize your time, space, paper and possessions by practicing good decision-making techniques, creating a system that works, and integrating the system into your life. This presentation empowers participants to discover their unique organizing style and develop organizing systems tailored to their individual work habits and life style. You will come away with great new ideas that will help you achieve results at home, at work, and in life!

Earlier this year, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking at The Big Event in Sacramento hosted by Brian Sharp. What a fabulous experience! 400 people attended, and each speaker gave a 25 minute TED-style talk telling our story of how we became an entrepreneur. Think business meets motivation!

My topic was “Create Your Purpose, Live Your Passion.” In this video, I share my story… the behind-the-scenes (and from the beginning) of how I went from an aspiring Broadway performer to practicing lawyer to successful entrepreneur. People often tell me how cool or strange it is to them that I “effortlessly” just made this shift from performer to lawyer to owner of a coaching/consulting/speaking company. “Effortless” is not a word I would use to describe my journey. Rewarding, yes. Makes a lot of sense looking through the rear-view mirror? Absolutely. But not effortless. This video reveals how it happened… the good, the bad, the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up, and the ugly (can you say FEAR)?

It is my desire that this video will both deeply move you and inspire you to take action to propel your own dreams forward. Wherever you came from and whatever has happened in your life, you have the power to rewrite your story starting today — if you want to, of course. You may be exactly where you want to be. If so, enjoy it, my friend.

What’s YOUR story? How did you get to this point? Do you plan to change it? I would love to hear from you!

I hope March is unfolding beautifully for you. I’m in awe that we’re almost through the first quarter of the year. Time flies…

time_for_changeMy coaching request to you is this: As we near the end of March and begin the second quarter of 2014, I want you to reflect on your life, business, and career. If you could change one aspect of your business, career or life, what would it be? What single thing would add the most to your happiness and success?

You know my next question.

With that aim in mind, can you come up with concrete, manageable steps that would help you accomplish that one change?

In the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of studying productivity, success, happiness, business and entrepreneurship. I’ve worked closely with clients to improve their careers, businesses and lives. And I’ve noticed how easy it is for people to be dissatisfied with some aspect of their career, business or life, but somehow never try to do anything to change it. Or they don’t know what to do to change it.

Changing behavior still remains a difficult process for many people. And yet, once people start the change process, it often isn’t as hard as they anticipated, and almost always results in bigger and better rewards than they first thought possible. They have a “new normal” on the other side that feels natural and awesome. It is the “getting started” part that is the hardest.

In case you need a gentle push (or a big kick!) in the right direction, the timing is perfect if you are ready to take action now.

I have a few Platinum level coaching clients “graduating” from their programs, which opens some private coaching slots on my calendar. If you think this may be for you, email me to get the details and set up a complimentary Discovery Call to see if we are a good match and which program level is the right one for you. I offer 3, 6 and 12 month Platinum Coaching Programs, which provide a full access pass to me with support, accountability, and expertise, and allow us to fully partner together to create the business, life or career that you want.

If going Platinum isn’t for you, there are 3 other ways to work with me:

  • Email Coaching (an entirely virtual and affordable option for someone that wants to do coaching by email)
  • Strategy Sessions (75 minute targeted sessions by phone, Skype or in person)
  • VIP Intensives (half day, full day or 2 day options by phone, Skype or in person)

Check out the different types of coaching/consulting I offer on my site’s Coaching page.

business_excellenceBut hurry… and here’s why (and this isn’t a sales tactic, but the truth based on years of experience)! I am speaking at two big conferences in April and May, and I always book up my coaching calendar afterwards.

So if you want to explore this before I head out for those speaking engagements, email me to set up a complimentary 25 minute Discovery Call. We’ll explore where you want to go in your life, career or business, what’s been keeping you from getting there, and come up with the best solution for you.

I look forward to possibly working with you!

Happy Spring,

Lisa