Several courageous participants have accepted my offer to work on transforming their life by joining the La Dolce Vita Group Life Coaching Program. It could be writing a book, focusing on your health, improving your relationships, getting off the see-saw of life-work balance, reigniting some of your long-lost passions, or changing your career.

In each case, we have a destination that is unknown to us now. The adventure is in the journey, but also in knowing that you will come out “different” on the other side. Hopefully, a new and improved version of you. 🙂

take_controlEach member of the La Dolce Vita Program has set his or her goals. To get there requires vision, determination, consistency, and some fun too! By March 27th, all La Dolce Vita participants will have all earned their right to live The Sweet Life.

What will it be for you? In what way do you want things to be different?

You might think that it’s selfish to invest in yourself… (we will nip that in the bud with the No Negative Self Talk Rule!)

But your happiness depends on YOU…and you deserve it.

Join me for the La Dolce Vita 6-Week Group Life Coaching Program, starting Thursday, February 19, 2015 that will help you:

  • Evaluate what’s working and not working in your life, and identify areas for transformation.
  • Develop realistic and fun techniques to help you grow.
  • Use productivity in a proactive and positive way to set boundaries and better master your use of time and resources.
  • Overcome Cinderella’s Ugly Step Sisters: The 3 Blocks to Success (The Perfection Trap, The Comparison Trap and the Impostor Syndrome)
  • Get real about things you’ve said you really wanted to do and have in your life but never give yourself permission to implement.
  • Adopt a positive mindset and learn about cutting edge research on the power of happiness.
  • Learn effective tools for dealing with difficult, toxic or negative people (including you!).
  • Stop giving away your power to the Negative Nellies and Neds.
  • Recognize and exploit your own greatest assets.
  • Get comfortable with who you are vs. keeping up with the Joneses.
  • Balance preparing for the future with living well today in terms of financial wellness.
  • Get your house in order – literally and figuratively!
  • Learn the power of commitment and consistency.
  •  Tap into your passions, figure out what they are, and how to enjoy and manage them.

Here’s What You Will Get as Part of the La Dolce Vita Group Life Coaching Program:

  • 6 weeks of group coaching calls with me and your fellow La Dolce Vita group members covering powerful content to help you learn to live the La Dolce Vita lifestyle. These calls will be open line allowing for interaction and discussion.
  • Mp3 recordings of all calls – Can’t make the live calls? No problem! All teleclasses will be recorded.
  • Course materials – We will use tools like Journaling, creating a Vision Board, my Wheel of Life exercise, along with tons of thought provoking questions, self assessment exercises, and content that will help you learn to practice La Dolce Vita techniques and incorporate them into  your life.
  • Private Facebook group – Where you can connect with other members, gather feedback, ask questions, AND have access to me during the entire program.
  • Special Bonuses – 2 of my fabulous audio programs, “How to Overcome the 3 Most Common Blocks to Living a Productive Life” and “Decision Making as a Means to Living a Satisfying Life & Enjoying a Successful Business.”
  • Opportunity for Private One-on-One Coaching at Discounted Rate – See section on Private Coaching Upgrade, which you can select at check out. All this for only $359!

BUT WAIT… if you register by February 12th, then you only pay the Early Bird Rate of $299.

That’s an amazingly affordable price to spend 6 weeks improving your life!

What are you waiting for? Come join La Dolce Vita now.

Ciao!

Lisa

PS – Portions of this program may qualify for Continuing Education Units (CEU) depending on your certification. For example, if you are a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), some of the classes may be CEU eligible if you assist your clients with time and productivity management and life-work balance.

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!

Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. They come but once per year, and cause quite a stir. Indeed, people talk about their New Year’s Resolutions quite freely. A small portion of people even write them down. But how many truly achieve them? The number is probably dismally small. Why? Because most people do a great job of talking about their resolutions, but don’t do such a great job of taking action on them. They often set themselves up for failure by biting off more than they can chew!

2014_goalsTake, for example, the most popular New Year’s Resolution: to lose weight (get in shape, exercise more, achieve greater levels of fitness, shrink a few sizes… any version will do!). What most people do is come out swinging. They join a gym and try to exercise 5 days a week, when they were formerly a couch potato and led a sedentary lifestyle (not only is this setting you up for failure, but it can be dangerous too!). They deprive themselves of every food they love, instead of eating a little bit of everything in moderation or learning their trigger foods and slowly replacing them with better choices. In other words, they try to do too much in too little time. They experience set backs, or fail altogether, which then leads to a defeatist attitude and they say “See, I knew I couldn’t do it.” They then give up.

Does this pattern sound familiar? If so, try a different approach this year. Try taking it slowly, one step at a time, and actually taking action throughout the year. How? Here are some tips:

  • Start Small & Grow Your Goal Little by Little
    Instead of looking at your goal or resolution as a major project, think of just the first step. For example, instead of thinking that you have to get your entire life organized, try keeping your appointments for the first week, clearing out your email inbox the second week, saying no to some tasks and events you can’t handle the third week, etc. Get the picture? Take it step by step so each smaller goal feels, and is, more manageable.
  • Reinforce Goal Setting in Various Ways
    Use different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) to reinforce goal setting. Perhaps you can journal about your New Year’s Resolutions (one of my favorite activities!). Maybe you prefer to set up a vision board to see your goals. Or you can listen to podcasts and audio programs that reinforce your resolutions. It doesn’t matter which you choose, only that you choose a way to reinforce goal setting that works for you!
  • Ignore the Naysayers
    Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your resolutions or goals, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies right now, and surround yourself with people who believe in your goal and will help you achieve it.
  • Be Accountable
    Some of the world’s most successful behavior modification programs are successful partly due to the strong accountability celebratefactor built into the program. Find an accountability partner, join a mastermind group, or hire a coach. You need motivation and someone to share your trials and successes with. Having accountability systems in place can be a powerful aid in accomplishing the goals you set.
  • Celebrate Success
    Make sure to reward yourself along the way for achieving success, no matter how small. Set up milestones, and as you achieve them, figure out ways to motivate yourself to keep going. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your full goals.

“How committed are you?” This is the question I asked the participants of Speak Up: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations that I co-presented with my colleague and friend, Monica Ricci, as a pre-conference session at the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) 2013 Conference held in New Orleans from April 17-20. We were entering the 4th hour of our half-day workshop, and I was introducing the last module of our program, called Expect the Unexpected. But to fully grasp the meaning behind my question, I must back up and fill you in on what I am now calling my Planes, Trains and Automobiles experience (okay, sans the trains if we are being technical!).

Lisa_at_NAPO_table

All of the materials for my Expo table were in my carry on bag.

I set out to travel to the NAPO conference early morning on April 16th to ensure that I would arrive the day before my workshop, which was to start at 8:00 am on April 17th. Ah… the best laid plans. I packed a large suitcase as I was to be on business traveling for 10 days in the Southeast, first to New Orleans to speak at the NAPO Conference, and then to Tampa to speak at a law placement conference. I dutifully paid my $25 checked baggage fee on American Airlines and was on my way. Usually, I would put my presentation outfit in my carry on bag, but that was filled with materials for the table I purchased as an Exhibitor at the NAPO Expo & Marketplace. (This was my first lesson learned… always pack your presentation outfit in your carry on no matter what!)

At first, things seemed great. I sat next to two very friendly and interesting people for the first leg from Sacramento to Dallas, where I was to connect to a flight to New Orleans, putting me in the Big Easy by late afternoon. But when we landed in Dallas, the pilot announced that we could not “park” the plane as American Airlines’ computer system had gone down and they had no directions as to how to proceed. We then sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting further direction. Eventually, we found out that it was system wide, and not just in Dallas. Apparently, there is no back up plan for when the computers go down, except to wait for them to come back up. As a productivity expert, this incensed me as I started going through in my mind the procedure that should have been in place for this type of scenario. After an hour, they started taking people off the 7 planes stuck out on the tarmac and brought us to the terminal via buses.

As soon as I arrived in the terminal and saw what a mess it was, in terms of how many people were stuck there and how many flights were delayed and canceled, my first reaction was to rent a car to get to New Orleans. I checked Google Maps on my iPhone and learned that it was an 8.5 hour drive. Ouch! I had woken really early to get to the airport so was a bit sleep deprived and worried about making that drive alone. It was now about 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 16th and I calculated that I wouldn’t arrive in New Orleans until 11:00 pm at the earliest, as there was no way I could drive that long without stopping.

Twiiter-travelSo, I waited. And waited. And waited. And I tweeted on Twitter, and posted on Facebook to keep my friends, family, clients and followers apprised of the situation. A reporter from NBC News emailed me and asked if she could interview me about the situation. She had seen one of my tweets. I complied and the next thing I knew, I was on the phone filling her in. Her story went to print a few hours later, unfortunately before the “real” story unfolded. When her story went to print, it ended with me getting ready to board a 7:00 pm flight to New Orleans. Ah, timing is everything. That’s not what happened. No indeed!

At 7:00 pm, we were advised that our crew had gone “illegal,” which we found out meant they had left the airport. Okay… so when will the next crew arrive, we asked. Not until tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. What? Excuse me? It is only 7:00 pm, we have been here for 6 hours waiting, almost all other flights have taken off or been rescheduled, but for New Orleans, there were no flights going out that evening. That was the harsh reality. In that split second, I had to make a choice. I went up to the desk and very clearly and loudly, but politely asked if they would re-route us onto other airlines. The American Airlines agent said that it was not their responsibility to do that and the next flight was the one the next morning. That was our only choice. I mentioned that I had to present at 8:00 am the next day, so that was unacceptable. I was told to go out to the customer care desk and wait on line with others. I saw the writing on the wall. There was no hope with getting a flight that night. So I turned around, looked at my fellow passengers and said “Who wants to drive with me to New Orleans? I have to be there in time to present at 8:00 am?” A woman stepped forward, and we started planning out the trip. Then two more women (a couple that had just been married in the state of Washington after being together for 25 years — this was the first day of their honeymoon!), and a man.

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my "all nighter."

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my “all nighter.”

The 5 of us quickly rallied. We rented a car, decided who would drive the first leg, navigated out of the airport (it felt so good to be out of that airport after 6+ hours!), stopped for provisions for the long drive and to charge cell phones quickly, and introduced ourselves and shared why we were heading to New Orleans. All of them were from the Seattle area, and two of them even had a mutual acquaintance back home. Yes, they were total strangers and I was taking a big chance, but they seemed pretty normal, and “stranger antenna” wasn’t beeping, so I had a suspicion it would be okay. I sent a text to my husband, who was of course, nervous and asked me if the man seemed normal (I realized later he never went to sleep until I was at the hotel in New Orleans to make sure I arrived safely and to call and text me every few hours to stay in touch!). Winds up that he and I spent the most time driving and talking in the front seat, and he spends his life helping people that need organ transplants. Talk about a nice guy. (Please refrain from jokes about how he was planning to kill us and steal our organs — I’ve heard it many times already since I told this story!)

The ride was long, but thankfully flat and with perfect weather conditions. It was dark and desolate, but that also meant hardly any traffic. After my turn at the wheel, I was forced to sit on the hump in the middle of the back seat because I was the smallest. Between that uncomfortable position, and the fact that one of the drivers was, let’s say, not the smoothest of drivers (she had many cans of Red Bull to keep herself awake, but that also made her a bit jumpy!), sleep was out of the question. Not a wink. I wound up being in charge of the music, which we accessed from my iPad because every station between Texas and Louisiana is either religious or honky-tonk country, and none of us had a taste for either. Pandora’s Motown station fit the bill, kept us awake, had something all of us knew and could bee-bop along to, and seemed appropriate as this was sort of a Big Chill experience in some ways.

Lisa_and_Monica3We drove by Baton Rouge, which I had visited last year with my husband when he interviewed for a veterinary residency position at Louisiana State University (we wound up in Davis, CA, a lovely town, but I digress). I had never been so happy to see a familiar place!  A little after 4:30 am, we arrived in New Orleans. I was dropped off first based on my hotel location and the fact that I was presenting in a few hours. Bless their hearts! (This, I learned, is a pretty typical Southern phrase, and one that you say in earnest, but often times, out of sarcasm too!).

By the time I checked in and got upstairs to my hotel room, it was just about 5:00 am. I was to be standing in front of a room full of people that paid to attend the pre-conference workshop I was co-presenting in 3 hours. I had no luggage (it arrived at 7:30 am the next day), which meant no clothes or toiletries. Thankfully, my amazing colleagues came through for me, and I was brought a dress and shoes to wear, which fit perfectly I might add (I posted my clothes and shoe sizes on Facebook, with a plea for clothes back at the airport hours earlier when I saw the writing on the wall!). The hotel gave me a toothbrush and I borrowed other toiletries from my very understanding roommate that I woke up when I arrived. What about my undergarments you ask? Nothing is open at 5:00 am, and even if they were, I was not about to roam the streets of New Orleans looking for underwear. So, after I showered, I not only dried my hair with the blow dryer, I also dried my underwear! (I kid you not.)

Lisa_and_Monica

Ready to present in my borrowed dress and shoes with Monica Ricci.

My co-presenter had a plate of breakfast food waiting for me in the room when I came down to present, which I gobbled up, along with a mug of hot tea. Then it was 8:00 am and time to begin. Despite having left my home in California more than 24 hours before, having no sleep, and dealing with the stressful travel events that unfolded, the show had to go on. Adrenaline kicked in, and I was ready to go. I stood before the group in someone else’s dress, another person’s shoes, my own (now clean and almost fully dry!) underwear, and thankfully, my own jewelry that I wore on the plane and happened to match my new outfit perfectly. I had my notes for the presentation in my carry on (and in my head as we had prepared for this for months), and my co-presenter had the slides ready to go on her Mac already hooked up to the projector.

We decided not to share my ordeal with the audience up front as we didn’t want it to pull focus. We thought it would have much more impact if we brought it up during the last section, Expect the Unexpected. Which brings me full circle to the question I asked the participants: “How committed are you?”

I did not intend to ask that question. But, as I stood in front of them, all of a sudden it seemed quite clear that this was the crux of the matter. Whether it is making a speaking engagement, or anything else in life that matters, the issue becomes how committed are we. There are many challenges we face, some bigger than others. We are constantly forced to make decisions. We often think of giving up. I certainly thought of it many times during my harried travel experience. I could have stayed overnight in Dallas and taken that flight the next morning, and told NAPO, my co-presenter, and the participants that I just couldn’t make it. Luckily, my co-presenter could have presented the entire workshop without me. But I did not want to let her down. I also did not want to let NAPO down who had chosen me for this role. I definitely did not want to let the participants down who had paid good money, and taken time out of their busy schedules to attend this workshop and expected it to have not one, but two, presenters. And I also did not want to let myself down. I was looking forward to this, and had the power to make it work. I was committed in every sense of the word.

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel - in my own clothes and shoes!

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel – in my own clothes and shoes!

And in the long run, that commitment not only affected me, but so many people around me. They rose to the occasion, helping me arrive safely, dressing me, feeding me, supporting me, and letting me know that I could do it, and they were there to help. That meant a lot to me and proved that when we are committed, it not only helps us, but has an amazing domino effect too. Word spread about what I went through to get there and how many people helped me in so many ways. It became bigger than just one person experiencing a Planes, Trains and Automobiles ordeal, and overcoming it. We felt like we were all in it together. And the participants of the workshop felt that they were important and mattered.

In the end, that may have been the most important lesson for all of us. Commitment is contagious.  It is much bigger than just the one experience or person. It creates a commitment wave that spreads wide and goes deep. And for that, I am grateful. I will gladly learn that lesson again, even if it means no sleep, driving overnight with strangers… and yes, blow drying my underwear!

We all have goals — or in New Year’s parlance, resolutions. We all have visions of what we’d like our lives, careers, and business to be. For many people, thinking about what you would like to change and transform is the easy part. The tough part is actually turning those goals and visions into reality.

There are many strategies for creating the life, career, or business that you want. Each strategy involves some type of reflection and planning. You know that you need to prioritize. Failing to do so means that everything gets equal weight. But how do you determine what’s important and gets more of your attention?

My favorite exercise is to jot down a list of everything that could occupy your time, energy and resources, and then ask the simple question of each item: Yes or No? I call this creating your Absolute Yes List and Just Say No List.

For some people, the best way to determine what to focus on is to start by listing all of the things you DO NOT want to occupy your time, energy, and resources. This becomes the basis of your Just Say No List, which is made up of the things you absolutely know you don’t want in your life, career or business. Starting with the No List is often a great way to purge, eliminate, shed, or release. It can feel freeing and creates space in your mind for focusing on the things you DO want in your life, career or business. The items that go on your Just Say No List should come easily. They are the ones that sap your energy, pull you away from your core interests and greatest desires, have proven time and again to be a waste of time, rightfully belong on someone’s else’s list, or are loaded with guilt and negative energy. Say good riddance and put them on your No List! Doesn’t that feel good?

For others, starting with the Absolute Yes List is easier. If you already know that you have some things that you are itching to try, do, and manifest, those items go on the Yes List. Add anything that you want to create space, time, energy and resources for. If you know it is a priority, it goes on the Yes List. Remember, this is an Absolute Yes List. Not a wishy-washy, should-coulda, maybe, someday, we’ll-see list! Don’t worry about how you will get it done, or even when. At this stage, your job is just to categorize whether it is an Absolute Yes or a big fat No.

You will probably have a pretty robust list on both sides (at least I would hope so!). The goal is to make quick and efficient, but meaningful decisions, about whether something is a Yes or No. The more clarity you have around whether something is deserving of your time and attention (a Yes item), or is something you know you don’t want in your life (a No item), the better off you will be. It is the gray areas, the Maybes, that often cause the most strife. Therefore, the goal of this exercise is to be as emphatic as you can be, to whittle down the Maybe List as much as possible. Or, better yet, don’t even allow yourself to have a Maybe List! Try to make a decision. I like to say if it isn’t an Absolute Yes (which is a pretty strong yes), then it usually belongs on the Just Say No.

Take some time to enjoy this exercise, and design a life, career or business that’s a great match for you. You will often need to tweak or course correct your lists as things change. That’s okay. But having your lists as a starting point will serve you well as you can use them as a litmus test to measure all requests, obligations, tasks, responsibilities, and to-do’s against. Try to embrace both the planning process and the changes. It’s how we grow — in life and in business.

Ever notice that when you are stressed out or overwhelmed, it is often difficult to wrap your brain around what really needs to be accomplished or what is really bothering you? Often, we over analyze and complicate things to the point that we can’t recognize what our original “why” was in the first place. How do we guide ourselves back to being able to figure out what matters?

Ask simple questions to get to the heart of the matter. Reframing our questions can produce quicker and more meaningful results. Asking simple questions of yourself avoids getting into the over-processing or over-analyzing that many of us tend to get caught up in. It is exhausting to over-think everything, and usually doesn’t accomplish much either.

Because the questions we ask have such a strong influence on the decisions we make, it’s an area that deserves some special attention. A business coaching client of mine recently commented that a simple question that I ask at the end of my accountability form that I send out before all of our coaching calls has had a profound effect on her ability to get to the heart of the matter. It has helped her focus on what she wants to share with me with regard to her progress in a way that would not be achieved if I had asked her a series of more in depth or complex questions.

The first thing you need to decide when looking for answers is what is your true objective. What do you actually want to know? If we don’t know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, things can get confusing really fast. So spend some time getting a clear idea of what your objective is before you go any further.

Start with stopping and asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What do I want right now?
  • What is really bothering me or stressing me out at this moment?
  • What one thing can I do or say that will help guide me to the answers that I seek right now?

Once you have asked these questions, listen for the answers. Being quiet and “still” enough to hear the answers is oh-so important, but we often skip that part! Ways to help you get to the answers could be by writing in a journal, having a conversation with a trusted friend, coach or advisor, or getting out of your environment for a short while, and going for a walk.

This may sound overly simplistic, but it works, trust me. I have seen it prove positive in my work with clients many, many times. Even in my days as a lawyer, I noticed that when I stopped and asked myself a simple question about a complicated case, it helped me get to the heart of the matter much quicker. When I got in my own way by muddying up the waters and overly complicating the questions themselves, it made getting to the answer a frustrating experience. Heck, as lawyers, we are trained to ask simple questions in court, and often, the opposing counsel “objects” when our questions are too long, complicated, compound, or Heaven forbid, leading.

So, ask yourself some simple questions next time you are struggling with something, and see what kind of magic it works to help guide you to the heart of the matter of what you are working on, dealing with, or seeking.

We make decisions every day — some trivial and some very important. Stop and ask yourself if you generally have issues with making these decisions. Do you fret over them? Does the idea or reality of making decisions freak you out? Well, if so, Decide to Decide!
Becoming adept at decision making is one of the most useful skills you can learn. It can purposefully influence your life and business. People that are quick and efficient decision makers appear more powerful and demand more respect. Constant wavering can make you look like a flake, or worse, can hold you back from achieving your own power or success, or stepping into a bigger place that you need to step into in order to be a true leader.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the term decide as “to arrive at a solution that ends uncertainty; to induce to come to a choice; to make a choice.” Thus, to decide embodies an active process of change. It requires that you take responsibility and own it. Not making a decision is inactive or passive, whereas making the wrong decision means you took action, but did not like the results or the results were not satisfactory, acceptable or successful.

People are so afraid of making a mistake that they allow inaction or passivity to take over. Yes, we need to do research or due diligence to make sure that we have done our “homework” but at some point, we have to trust that we have enough information to make an informed, intelligent decision. Here are some guidelines to help you Decide to Decide!

Find the Fear

Determine what your fears are around decision-making. Is it fear of what others think? Is it fear of making the wrong decision? It is fear of taking a certain path and owning it, as in fear of commitment? Ask yourself, what will happen if I make this decision and it winds up being the wrong one? Is it life or death (it almost never is!)? Can I course correct and change paths later on?

Start Small

Start exercising your decision-making muscles so you can experience what it feels like to make a decision and own it. To begin making decisions swiftly, practice with low risk choices and pare down either your options or your allotted time.

Change Your Perspective

Build confidence and trust, and know that if you don’t make a decision, you won’t be growing and moving forward. Put things in perspective. Don’t focus only on what you are running away from or losing, but also focus on what you are running towards or gaining.

Trust Your Gut

Intuition can play a big role in decision making! You have to trust your gut, and measure how your feelings play into the decision. Expert decision makers tend to trust their instincts in situations where past experience has proven that they make the right call. Experts call this “automated expertise” and it means that the areas in which you have a positive track record are the ones in which you’re likely to succeed. So, that would involve looking at your past accomplishments and trusting that you tend to steer yourself in the right direction. People who are successful decision makers typically align their reasoning with their ultimate life (or business) plan or vision. Does this decision fit into your purpose, passion, and overall vision? Does it match your values?

Test Your Decision

There are exercises that you can do to test if you are making a sound decision. Here are a few that may help you: envision yourself making the decision and see and how that feels; journal about the decision; create a Vision Board around the decision; make the decision a “pie” that you slice up based on all that goes into the decision and weigh each piece; make a pro and cons list; or choose a deadline to decide by. The way you test you decision is less important as the fact that you are testing it in the first place.

Seek Just Enough Advice

People that tend to obsess over things and over-analyze often have a hard time making decisions as they don’t know when is the “right” time to close the door on the analysis phase. Ask trusted family, friends, colleagues and coaches for their advice (as long as they don’t have their own agenda!). People with confidence enlist the help of others, but they’re also savvy enough to put a limit on their opinion seeking, since endless input isn’t likely to help them achieve their goals. People who make smart decisions don’t waste too much time worrying about making the absolute best choice. Done is better than perfect! At some point, good enough is good enough even if you have high standards.

Learning to feel comfortable with your decisions means accepting a measure of uncertainty — you can never know the full impact of a decision until after you’ve made it. So affirm for yourself: I did all of the research; I can’t think of anything I’ve overlooked; this is the best I can do with the information that I have. If you make a decision that turns out not to have been a good one, learn from it, grow, and move on!

When I was leaving New York recently to relocate to Northern California, a client of mine gave me the book, 10-10-10: A Fast and Powerful Way to Get Unstuck in Love, at Work, and with Your Family by Suzy Welch. My client knows that my trademarked approach to productivity, DECIDE to be Organized, examines the connection between disorganization and indecisiveness. I am fascinated by decision making, both as it relates to productivity, and in general. So this book was a great match for me, and I was very much looking forward to reading it.

And it did not disappoint. The 10-10-10 approach asks the reader to examine the impact of a decision in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. The actual time frame is not really a hard and fast rule. It is really more of an overall guide to look at the impact of decisions in the present, the near future and the distant future. The process of doing so allows you to take your time, look at all angles, and not just make a knee-jerk reaction.

What I liked in particular, however, were the stories of people that have successfully used 10-10-10 to make decisions in all areas: career, parenting, relationships (both romantic ones and friendships), and life in general. The stories are wonderful illustrations of real life people making tough decisions using the process. They really drive home the approach, how it works, and how effectively it can work. The process is more than just examining a decision against time, of course. It also involves phrasing the question correctly in the first place to get to the core decision. Often, we tend to mire down our “decision” with so many extraneous details that it makes it hard to find the real decision that we need to decide on. Ms. Welch uses a values excavation in 10-10-10 to help readers recognize the values behind their decision making and then look at the decision will impact those values in the present, near future and distant future.

If you are fascinated by decision making and want to learn a new approach, I suggest you check out the book. It includes stories, exercises and some research (although it is not a heavily researched book, as Ms. Welch created the 10-10-10 approach herself). It is a handy tool for looking at decisions in a different light.

Start your summer off by attending my upcoming course, DECIDE to be Organized: Achieve Results at Home, at Work and in Life through Pace University’s Professional Development Program.  You’ll learn the skills and tips so that you can actually have some time to relax this summer!

This event is open to the public, so come join me. Click here for details and to register.

Too often seen as completely separate efforts, organizing and decision-making skills amplify the power of each other when properly combined. In this entertaining and engaging talk, I 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.

Topics include:

  • Sobering statistics about how disorganized we are as a society
  • What is clutter?
  • Decluttering tips and tools
  • Benefits of being organized
  • Changing behavior
  • The DECIDE method

Plus, as an added bonus, there will be an interactive Organizing Vision Drilldown session, during which I will provide tips, ideas, and strategies that will solve challenges while motivating and inspiring you into action. If you’ve never seen me in action, this is your chance to come away with great new ideas that will help you achieve results at home, at work, and in life!

The Details:

Date: Saturday, June 16, 2012
Time:
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Pace University Midtown Center
551 Fifth Avenue at 45th
New York, NY
Tuition: $195 (includes all materials)

Click here for details and to register.

What is Clutter?

What is clutter? The answer depends on whom you ask. For many disorganized people, nothing is clutter (a definition that often leads in the extreme to hoarding). For others, clutter is anything that piles up above and beyond their normal possessions. I like to say that clutter is like a weed in a garden. It is something that doesn’t belong. Either you did not plant it, it got carried along to a new location where it shouldn’t be, or it has outgrown its space. It can even be a plant or flower that you planted and loved at one time, but now decide no longer belongs. In other words, clutter is anything that you don’t love, want, need or use.

Regardless of whether the clutter is physical or mental, it is caused by a combination of forces that creates disorganization. Your role is to assess why the clutter is in your home, office and life and then get ready to get rid of it. Th e best motivation for clearing clutter is not to focus on the time and energy needed to sort out your stuff, but to ask yourself, “What am I creating space for?”

The only way you can effectively declutter is to eliminate the constant chorus of “But I might need that someday.” Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you donate, recycle or toss the item. If you can live with the answer, get rid of it!

The key to dealing with clutter is being able to assess your needs and motivation in order to find out why you are keeping your clutter. Once you understand your motivations, you can eliminate clutter for good — and greatly improve your sense of inner well-being.