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 for 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.

I’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” cyclist, 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.
  • In 2015, my word was Adventure. My husband finished his 3-year veterinary residency and we spent a month in beautiful Italy. What an adventure indeed!!
  • In 2016, my word was Savor. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life more. I renewed my life-long hobbies of reading and writing. I read 84 books that year and started writing creatively again.
  • In 2017, I chose Creativity and loved it! I started writing my first novel, attended some amazing writer conferences, and brought a creative flair to everything I did, personally and professionally.

For 2018, I’ve chosen the word Embrace. It took a little bit of time to reveal itself, but once it did, I realized it was the right word and theme for this year. I plan to embrace my favorite hobbies such as reading and writing, embrace my health, embrace my marriage, embrace my business, and yes, even embrace my age (I am turning 50 at the end of January… yikes! How did that happen?!).

I love how Embrace makes me feel like I am enjoying what I have, while reaching for what I want. It feels positive and proactive. It feels like it will push me outside my comfort zone, but not so far that I lose sight of what I already have that needs to be embraced.

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 experience 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. And 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 for 2018? I’d love to hear it. Please send me an email or even better, share in the comments below so others can be inspired too!

Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy Summer!

As many of you may know, I have a serious creative side! I grew up as a performer on stage doing singing, acting and dancing in local community and regional theaters. I wrote poetry, short stories, and kept a journal since I was 8 years old. So creativity in general, and writing specifically, has been a big part of my life for many years.

And don’t even get me started on reading! I am a voracious reader across many genres. Last year, I read over 80 books and this year, I am already up to 32. I not only love to read, I love to review books. So that has become a fun hobby of mine.

In 2010, I wrote a non-fiction book called “The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life,” which was published by Peter Pauper Press in 2011. It sold out after a limited print run, so is now out of print, but can still be found as a used book through select bookseller sites. (If any of you have read it and loved it, please consider posting a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Great reviews help an author with their future books. And as I’m busy writing more works in progress that I want to publish in the future, my reviews will be important for an agent and a publisher to look at. So thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Now, I am trying something completely exciting and different… writing fiction! I am learning so much by taking online and in-person classes and workshops on craft, dialogue, description, character development, plotting, story telling and more. To that end, I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, which was an amazing 3-day experience. I have also joined the Women Fiction Writers Association and will be attending their retreat in New Mexico this fall. And I am loving every minute of this creative journey!!

Through my business, I have had the pleasure of speaking to audiences across the U.S. (and around the world!), as well as coaching with private clients, about the concept of life-work balance. And what I hear from most people is that they want to pursue their passion projects, enjoy their hobbies and interests, and be able to live full lives while enjoying their work.

So I am sharing this passion project with you so you can see life-work balance in action. The new LisaMontanaroWrites.com website is an example of life-work balance. This is a side project for me, a hobby I have to make time for when not working on my business, with private clients, or traveling to and from speaking engagements. I love my business and the work I get to do, but I also love my writing. And creating this website is a chance for me to give my writing (and reading and book reviewing!) the place that it deserves.

So without further adieu… I invite you to visit LisaMontanaroWrites.com. I want the website and blog to be a place to spark creativity, including writing, reading, and story telling. It is my creative playground! And I hope you will join me there.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or even better, a glass of vino!) and poke around.

Read some blog posts (and while you’re there, subscribe to the blog so you can get updates). Enjoy some book reviews. Share your favorite books while I share mine.

Pass the site onto others. Interact, comment, and stay awhile.

I hope you like it. But more importantly, I hope it inspires and motivates you on your own creative journey, whatever that entails. Make time for your own passion projects! And when you do, share them with me as I want to see YOUR life-work balance in action.

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 f or 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.

I’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” cyclist, 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.
  • In 2015, my word was Adventure. My husband finished his 3-year veterinary residency and we spent a month in beautiful Italy. What an adventure indeed!! 
  • In 2016, my word was Savor. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life more. I renewed my life-long hobbies of reading and writing. I read 84 books last year and started writing creatively again. 

For 2017, I’ve chosen the word Creativity. It came to me quickly and clearly. And yes, I plan to pursue the creative endeavor of writing a novel based on memoir, as well as some short stories. But I also plan to apply Creativity to many areas of my life and business. Creativity can infuse a lot of what we do, what we create, what we grow and nurture. I love that idea and will use this word as a constant reminder throughout the year to be my most creative self in every way.

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.

And 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 nee d 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 2017? 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!

“When people go to work they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” ~ Betty Bender

Do you feel like you have to check your heart at the door before you walk into your office everyday? Are you disillusioned with your current job situation and would like to make a change? Maybe you’ve had it with “Corporate America” and want to jump ship?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out of work right now. Does this mean that you should give up all hope of changing jobs? No! This may be the perfect time to start planning your exit strategy, or to actually make it. The need for work that sustains you and satisfies you has not changed simply because the economy has changed. It may make your search more challenging, or you may have to delay your decision to look for greener pastures until employment prospects increase in your employment sector, but you should not abandon your hopes and dreams of finding more meaningful work. What you must do, however, is some serious preparation so that you are ready to take action when the time is right.

The following is some guidance to help you plan your eventual exit.

quit_jobTiming is Everything – How do you know when you are ready to jump ship? The answer depends on many factors. Unless you are absolutely miserable and need to get out of your current job situation immediately in order to preserve your health and well-being, I recommend you slowly plan your exit strategy while still working full time. There are many benefits to this approach, including financial (save money, pay off debt, etc.), and emotional/psychological (prepare yourself and your family for a major change). Consider going part time first if your employer is open to it. This may allow for a smooth transition on both sides.

Determine Your Motives – If you don’t know why you want to leave your present job, this is where you need to start. Why do you want to leave your current employer/ profession? Are you running away from your present position, or running towards something new? For example, before I became an entrepreneur, I practiced law for 9 years. Although I had a profound respect for the law, I did not appreciate the way it was practiced in our society.  It became too negative in the hands of those that wanted to use it to fight.  I started to become restless and knew that there were other ways I could share my talents and expertise with people and organizations to improve the world.  I did a lot of soul searching and arrived at the conclusion that I needed to leave the traditional practice of law and become an entrepreneur in order to truly make a difference. So my motives were a combination of wanting to leave my past profession and wanting to embark on a new one.

Examine Your Choices – Do you want to leave your present job to “go it alone?” In other words, would you like to become self-employed, start your own business, or work as a consultant or freelancer? If so, you will need to start researching entrepreneurship to make sure it is a good fit for you. What about moving to a different size employer? For example, if you currently work for a large corporation, consider a mid-sized business or small office where you may be able to take on more responsibility, and enjoy better life-work balance. Love the idea of helping others? Maybe the non-profit world would be a good fit for you. Start brainstorming job and career ideas, and then conduct empirical research to see if those ideas are realistic for you.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges – If you have an open relationship with your current employer and don’t think you’d risk losing your job, you could share your news and offer to help your employer find and train your replacement. Your current employer may become a great ally in your job search and career transition. If you strike out on your own, who knows? Your current employer could become your best new client!

Use Your Transferable Skills – If you are unsure what your next move is, start looking at your transferable skills. Many people get caught up in the title or position of their job. This is the time to think outside the box! Think of the types of work that you have thought about or admired in the past. Imagine the work environments you think you’d thrive in. Focus on tasks and activities you like to do and excel at.

re-trainingBuild New Skills – Try to gain the skills necessary to make the career transition while you are still working in your present job. Are there professional development workshops you can attend? Maybe you can take an online course? Can you conduct informational interviews with experts in the field you want to enter? Identify what skills you are lacking, and try to get experience and education in those areas before you start your job search in earnest.

Make Connections – Network with professionals in the field you want to enter. Call upon your sphere of influence to assist you in making crucial connections that will help you get a job in a new setting or industry that you have had your eye on. This is the time to build a professional network of people that are eager and willing to help you make this transition.

Get Support – Connect with others who have faced their own turning points and have survived and flourished. Talk to your friends and family so that they understand your desire and need for this change. Hire a professional coach or career counselor to become your guide on this journey.

Do you want to become a great public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills?

Have you been asked to give a presentation and are scared to death and aren’t sure how to pull it off?

Do you want to really wow your audience/client and get spin off speaking gigs?

Look no further!

Monica and LisaSpeak Up is back! This is a coaching and training program for aspiring speakers, as well as speakers with experience that want to “up their game” and knock it out of the park! Drawing upon my background as a performer, lawyer, professional speaker, and speaker coach, I will pull the speaker out of you so that you can ace your speaking engagements with confidence.

I have successfully presented this speaking program live in many locations across the U.S., including New York, Seattle and New Orleans. For the second year, I am offering it as a virtual program so that you can take advantage of it no matter where you live from the comfort of your own home or office. No travel expenses involved! It is ultra-convenient. All you need is a phone and/or computer.

And it gets even better! Once again a wonderful colleague will co-facilitate it along with me. And she’s not just anyone. My partner in crime is Monica Ricci, who is an accomplished speaker extraordinaire. In fact, Monica and I have shared the stage together a few ti mes now with amazing results. We have been called The Dynamic Duo! (Click here to check out my blog post about how Monica and I came together to present this program live a few years ago in New Orleans!)

Please join us for this amazing 8 week teleclass-based group program that will help you:

checkbox Conduct engaging, informative and interactive presentations for audiences large and small.
checkbox Learn how to prepare and deliver presentations of different types, lengths, and targeted to different audiences.
checkbox Improve your oral and nonverbal communication styles.
checkbox Inspire and motivate participants, exude confidence and enthusiasm, and establish credibility.
checkbox Overcome your fear of public speaking and use that fear to your advantage.
checkbox Increase speaking confidence.
checkbox Discover how to connect with the audience, use humor, and let your unique personality and style shine.
checkbox Learn how to effectively handle speaking snafus, such as interruptions, hecklers, and technical difficulties.
checkbox Get coaching and feedback from two professional speakers who make a significant portion of their income through speaking.
checkbox Learn how to use speaking as an income stream and a marketing funnel to build your business.

Whether conducting trainings, workshops, keynotes, or any other type of presentation, this program will help you become a more dynamic speaker!

Back-to-School Time is the Perfect Opportunity to Participate in a Program Like This.

public_speakerWe’ll start Thursday, September 8th and go for 8 weeks and end on October 27th. This program can be done from the comfort of your own home or office. You can be lounging by your pool, swinging in the hammock, or sitting on your deck with a glass of lemonade. That is the beauty of a virtual program. All you need is your telephone, and perhaps a computer/tablet/smart phone if you want to take it a step further.

See all of the Speak Up Program schedule and description of services here: https://www.lisamontanaro.com/speakup

Special Bonus for the First 5 People to Register:

  • bonusAn audio interview of Lisa Montanaro titled “Breakthrough to Big: Speaking as a Breakthrough Moment for an Entrepreneur” from a telesummit she participated in as a guest expert hosted by Cathy Goodwin.
  • An ebook by Monica Ricci titled “Your Life Organized: It’s Not About The Stuff.”

testimonial-Deborah_CabralPsst… I’m even offering an early bird registration rate so you don’t have to dip into your summer fun stash! Check it out.

“Speak” to you soon!

bookaholicI know it is June, so it may seem strange to bring up New Year’s resolutions. But in some ways, it is perfect. What’s the point of setting a New Year’s Resolution if you don’t commit to it? So I thought I’d share mine with you in case you want to try it yourself at any point in the year, or perhaps as inspiration to get back to your own New Year’s Resolution.

I woke up in 2015 and realized that all I did was read business content all the time. And while that may be great for a business owner, I was getting bored with it. Thus, I made a resolution to go back to reading for pleasure, which has always been one of my favorite hobbies since I first learned to read as a child.

I absolutely love to read. It is one of my great joys in life. But I had reached a point where I felt my reading always had to somehow improve my business or provide skills or information that I could pass onto my clients. It started to feel like a chore, and a nagging to-do list. My stack of “to read” business books lined my shelves, but when I looked at them, I wasn’t jazzed to dig in.

So I decided to do an about face and go back to my first love, which was reading for pleasure. I joined the Goodreads challenge and set a goal for 12 books in 2015, all personal, non-business. I wound up reading 15 books last year and loved every minute of it! I wasn’t as serious about it in the first half of the year, but once I took a month off and went to Italy last summer, I couldn’t stop reading for pleasure!!!

me_before_youSo that brought me to January 2016 and setting this year’s New Year’s Resolution. I decided to up the ante and set 24 books to read for the year. I have already passed that and am up to 27 books to date. So I just raised my 2016 reading goal to 45.

I took all the business books away from my nightstand and replaced them with personal books. I’ve joined some awesome online virtual book clubs, and now I’m devouring a book a week! I always have a book I’m reading. And I do still read the old fashioned book versions. I bring them with me everywhere I go so if I have any “found time,” I read. I also make time for reading in my day — every day now. Furthermore, I downloaded an app called Overdrive, which allows me to borrow audio books and ebooks for free from my local library. So now while I read one traditional bound book, I also listen to an audiobook (not at the exact same time of course!). I love listening to books while I exercise, walk my dogs, cook, drive in my car, etc.

the_year_we_turned40I have never been a fan of reading a book on a device. But with all of the business travel I do, I decided to give it a try. I downloaded the Kindle app onto my iPad and voila, a whole new world of e-reading is at my fingertips. I admit that it is still not my favorite way to read, but when traveling for 10 days to 2 weeks, it sure beats lugging around hard cover or even paperback books.

And here’s an added benefit. Reading has sparked renewed interest in a major hobby that I had put aside… writing! I have always loved writing. I have been keeping a journal since I am 8 years old (yes, by hand!). I wrote and published an organizing and life coaching book years ago, which was a fabulous experience. But again, that was business focused. My first love of writing was always personal … journaling, poetry, short stories, essays, etc. I started writing a memoir in 2005 and have now turned back to that and am excited to give it my writing attention in the future.

drink_wine-read_booksAnd have I mentioned I’m loving every minute of it and don’t miss the business books at all? In the end, what makes me a great entrepreneur is my mind and spirit. And I am feeding it with lots of great fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry, and short stories. And I think not only am I better for it, but so is my business and my clients. Because reading is good for the soul. Yes, even the soul of a business owner. 🙂

 

 

 

 

unhappy_at-workAre you unhappy with your current job? Do you feel that the grass may be greener at another organization or in a different position? Well, that may be the case. But until you actually trek over to greener pastures, you need to find ways to be happy in the position you are currently in. If you are unhappy with your job, it will spread like wildfire and negatively affect all aspects of your life. Learn to love the job you’re in as much as you can by trying these simple, but effective tips. They will help you be more satisfied with your work by removing some of the unhappiness from your current job.

Take Pride in Your Work

Regardless of what you do for a living, chances are you can find something about it to take pride in. It could be the organization or company’s overall mission. It could be the productivity of your particular department or division. Perhaps it is the actual work that you produce. Maybe it is as simple as knowing that you are giving it your all. Take a look at your skills, talents and interests and the way they are used at work and find something you love about the job everyday, no matter how small. Taking pride in your work can lead to greater job satisfaction and overall happiness in the workplace.

Visit the Water Cooler and Be Socialwater_cooler

One of the ways to be happier at work is by developing connections with co-workers. Even if you don’t love your actual job, developing relationships with those you work with will help you enjoy the time you spend at work. I am not advocating that you spend hours on end at the water cooler, but visiting it once in awhile for a quick break and a chat with a co-worker can boost productivity and make you both enjoy your job more. So go ahead — get out there and be social!

Seek Out Assignments and Projects That Are Meaningful To You

Another way to be happier at work is to seek out assignments and projects that are meaningful to you. This could be in the core areas of your job, or in peripheral areas that your company or organization work in. If you want more responsibility, let that be known. If you want to incorporate certain talents and skills into your work, figure out ways to do so. Looking for more meaning in your work, but unable to find it directly? Think broadly. For example, maybe you are a corporate lawyer and feel that you want to use your legal talents in a way that “gives back.” You could seek out pro bono assignments and projects once in awhile that will serve to fulfill this need, thus making you enjoy your overall work and job more.

Participate in a Task Force or Committee to Make a Difference

Many companies and organizations have committees, but not all committees and task forces truly make a difference. You can change that. Find a committee or task force that is doing meaningful work and jump on board. Or better yet, create a task force or committee that studies and solves a problem. Employees that are involved in creating solutions are generally the ones that are happiest at work, as they are taking an active part in effectuating change. So don’t be a hermit – get out there and participate.

Change Your Attitude

great-attitudeA large part of job satisfaction and happiness in the workplace is affected by attitude. The good news about that is you can change your attitude! When your attitude changes, often times your behavior changes too. Yes, maybe your job is boring, or your boss is annoying, or the company is not creative in its approach, but your attitude towards your job is controlled by you. Dwell on the aspects of your job that are positive. Try your best to maintain some enthusiasm for your job. You are in control of your thoughts and attitude, so try to make it your mission to stay as positive as possible.

Coaching Challenge: Try to find ways to be happier at work by picking one of the above categories weekly and focusing on it. Let me know how you do, and how much it raises your happiness quotient!

sign-languageWhen I was a little girl, my parents took me to visit our cousins. I noticed immediately that something was different in the way they communicated. They used hand gestures and had an interesting accent when they spoke orally. Their children were also using these hand gestures from the crib and play pen. I learned that my cousins were Deaf and that their two children were hearing, but were communicating with them in American Sign Language (ASL). I was completely and utterly enthralled to say the least. I loved watching them communicate and vowed to learn their beautiful expressive language. As I got older, I became interested in Helen Keller after watching The Miracle Worker, and decided that I wanted to teach Deaf children at some point in my life.

I realized that dream the year after I graduated from college. I chose to take a year off between college and law school, and obtained a position as an instructor and sometimes interpreter at the NY School for the Deaf. I wound up staying 3 years as I loved it so much! I attended law school in the evening instead of the day in order to continue teaching. Those three years were very important to me. They helped me develop my love of ASL and become an advocate for persons with disabilities. I wrote and published many pieces on disability law, taught disability law classes for a law school as an adjunct professor, and served as the co-chair of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Committee for the American Bar Association.

Eventually, I left my law career and that ended my official disability law pursuits. However, it did not end my love affair with sign language, or my support of Deaf rights. I carried many lessons with me that I learned from my years working within the Deaf community.

Did you ever notice that when someone is speaking to a deaf or hard of hearing person, they do the one thing that makes absolutely no sense? They start speaking a lot louder! Sometimes they even start yelling. This makes absolutely no sense because the one thing the deaf person can’t do is hear.

In fact, the Deaf community has a popular phrase: “I can do anything but hear!” It is an empowering phrase that reminds them that although deafness may be perceived by the hearing world as a disability, that is their only limitation.

What is your perceived “disability”? How would you answer the phrase “I can do anything but _______.” I am hoping that there is nothing after the word but. However, some of you may have something that came to mind. It may be a limiting belief, an outdated assumption, a block, an objection, a stereotype, a negative message that you were programmed to believe. Those things may be your version of a disability.

Here are 5 success principles I learned from teaching the Deaf that will help you develop a Can-Do Attitude and start breaking through your own limitations.

1. Don’t Make Assumptions
We all make assumptions based on our background and experience. We often have a running commentary in our head that is like a broken record playing over and over. Be careful of that recording! I learned about not making assumptions from my experience working with the Deaf. For example, sign language isn’t Universal. Not all deaf people can read lips. Not everything is as it appears in life. What “assumptions” are you holding onto that may be wrong, outdated or are not serving you in business and in life? Work on identifying them, turning them on their head and challenging them.

2. Make Eye Contact
You must look at a deaf person to communicate. In the hearing world, it is amazing how many people don’t make eye contact when speaking to each other. Making eye contact is a great habit to cultivate in general, but it is even more vital for an entrepreneur, coach, consultant and certainly for a speaker. Pay attention to people when they are speaking to you. Make eye contact and show them that you care!

3. Don’t Just Hear… Listen and Understand
Deaf people can’t hear, but they do listen. A common phrase that the Deaf often use when having a conversation is “I understand”. They are showing that they are paying attention to what you are communicating, and that they are truly listening to you. Many people are good speakers, but not good listeners. If you are not truly listening, try it. It can make a huge difference in your communication and relationships.

4. Keep Your Sense of Humor
Many deaf people have a wickedly good sense of humor, and can laugh at themselves. This is a great lesson for all us in life and business. It helps you to keep a positive attitude and draws people to you. Find the humor in everything and keep things as light as you can. I often think humor is a wonderful way of diffusing many difficult or challenging situations. Learning to laugh at life, and ourselves, is a great skill to cultivate.

sign_language-superpower5. Plan Ahead for Life’s Bumps in the Road
If you know there may be a roadblock ahead, don’t bury your head in the sand… plan for it. I had a student named Matthew that had Usher’s Syndrome. He was deaf and was slowly losing his eyesight also. Usher’s Syndrome causes loss of vision slowly over a period of time, first affecting your peripheral vision and then slowly affecting your entire eyesight like a tunnel closing up. Matthew planned ahead for this eventual vision loss by learning braille and sign language in hand so he could continue to communicate. Talk about dedication and planning ahead for a bump in the road! Tak e a page out of Matthew’s book. When you plan ahead, prepare and face life head on. It helps you to not only obtain a better result, but possibly enjoy the journey and the process.

I hope you are inspired by these brave deaf individuals and their can-do attitude. Now ask yourself, can you develop a Can-Do Attitude? What success principles do you have in your bag of tricks to help you start overcoming your perceived limitations? Start tapping into those success principles and tools.

Here’s to a Can-Do Attitude!

Overwhelmed just thinking about the upcoming holiday season? Relax. If you take a little time to plan your holiday season, it will be more enjoyable for you and your family! Focus on practicing good organizational techniques and time management principles.  Here are some tips to make the holidays enjoyable and the new year start off in a positive manner.

Setting Your Goals for the Holiday Season

  • Christmas_treeWe are pulled in so many different directions during the holidays: travel, family gatherings, parties and social events, shopping, baking, decorating, etc. As yourself: What do I want? This question is an invaluable guide for the holiday season. Think about what you want to do, as opposed to what you think others expect of you. Decide on your goals for the holiday season. Do you want to spend quality time with family? Do you want to try your hand at hosting or baking? Or, do you want to relax and enjoy quiet time? Achieving your goals and creating a meaningful holiday season requires that you have smart plans in place, especially if you want to enjoy the season without overindulging or stressing out.
  • It is difficult to keep all of the mental clutter associated with the holidays in our head! Keep a ‘holiday central’ notebook or create a memo in your handheld device. List items you want to do (notice I didn’t say need to do!), gifts to be purchased, people to send cards to, etc. Create a holiday budget so you know what you want to spend and stick to it.

Dealing with Holiday Schedule Overload

  • holiday_stressorsAll the things you want to do over the holiday season can bring pressure if you don’t bring your wants and needs into alignment and into a manageable schedule. Holiday joy comes from balance and choosing the activities that are fulfilling for you. Avoid taking on too much at this time of year. If you’re feeling too pressured, look for activities that you can reschedule until after the holidays, delegate, or say no to. Recognize that you can’t do everything, especially if you want to enjoy your holiday season!  Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that will happen if I don’t do this?
  • Identify and avoid triggers. If going to certain events or seeing certain family or friends stresses you out and always ruins your holiday experience, avoid that activity. If you must attend, shorten your visit. If you are watching what you eat, plan ahead by eating a small healthy meal at home, so you won’t be as hungry at the event. Or plan out what you will eat at the event, allowing yourself a few treats that you only get to have once per year and stick to your plan.
  • If you regularly exercise, don’t stop over the holidays! Carve out time for exercise, even if it is not as much time as you usually do. The holidays are stressful enough – don’t miss out on a great form of natural stress relief!

The payoff to all of this planning? You won’t have post-holiday regret syndrome! You’ll be calmer and more available to enjoy the company of your family and friends, and you’ll start the new year feeling empowered.

thank_youThe words “thank you” are among the most powerful in almost any language in the world. Think about how amazing they feel to say and to be the recipient of. People say thank you when they want to express gratitude, bring someone joy, acknowledge someone’s hard-working effort, or reward them in some way. The words are simple, but create an impact on the recipient. And… on the person saying them!

Yes, research shows that the greatest benefits of gratitude may actually be experienced by the person who expresses the gratitude, not by the recipient. Indeed, an article in Psychology Today cites several research studies measure the power of gratitude. People that regularly expressed gratitude slept better, were more positive and focused, had more energy and increased attention. Pretty cool, huh?

kitchen_tableThis week, people in United States of America are celebrating Thanksgiving. A holiday with gratitude at the center. I happen to love this holiday. It is fairly low stress compared to many other holidays, and allows people to basically come together to enjoy a nice meal, good conversation, and express their gratitude for all the things in their life, and about each other, that they cherish. But sometimes saying “thanks” at dinner feels forced. Here are four exercises from the Greater Good Science Center to help get the genuine gratitude flowing.

The thing is, gratitude is not a one-day event. It should be a daily event. Yes, it takes foresight, and for some people a little effort, to make it routine. But when you commit to gratitude as a daily part of your life, you will experience the positive benefits that research has discovered are a natural result of gratitude.

I am thankful for my husband Sean and living in the beautiful state of California!

I am thankful for my husband Sean and living in the beautiful state of California!

Whether it’s something that you say out loud to the people in your life, or maybe something that you say privately in a journal, expressing your gratitude will have a powerful impact.

So let me start by practicing what I’m advocating. I want to thank you for being part of my life, professionally, and for some of you, personally. I appreciate you being part of my community, and allowing me to share my articles, tips, and advice with you through this ezine. I am truly grateful for you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!