I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my abdominal surgery to remove my gallbladder. It got me thinking about what it was like to have several medical issues and injuries over the past year (just as I was fully recovering from that surgery, I fractured a bone in my foot… my first bone break – ouch!), and particularly, what I learned from that experience. I realized that the lessons I learned are not only important ones, but are universal. It doesn’t matter if you are not at your peak because of a medical issue or injury, a family problem, a natural disaster, or any other transition or matter that interrupts your life and work. The point is that you are not at 100% and will almost definitely need to ask for help. And that leads to Vulnerability.

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a bit of a control freak (those of you that know me well are now nodding your heads… I see you!). I pride myself on being an independent, self-sufficient, and ultra-productive individual that gets things done. Indeed, I like to tease my clients and audiences that I am recovering from CFS, Control Freak Syndrome. Notice I wrote recovering, and not recovered. I have become better and better at delegating, collaborating, and not doing everything myself over the years, but I recognize that I still have some issues with this area. It was tough at first to ask for help in the days, weeks, and months following my surgery and injury. A few things happened along the way. It got easier, I sometimes had no choice, and I saw the positive aspects of it. I learned some valuable lessons and now I want to pass them onto you. If you have always seen Vulnerability as a sign of strength and never a sign of weakness or a taboo word or idea, good for you! But if you need a little help in this area, read on.

Recognize You’re Vulnerable

As with many areas that you want to change or improve, the first step is recognition. You have to acknowledge that you are indeed vulnerable and learn to be okay with that. If you aren’t, spend some time thinking about what it will take for you to become more comfortable with that concept. Being vulnerable does not mean you are less than in any way, need to apologize, or are not showing up for people fully. For me, recognizing my vulnerability made me feel more human and connected to others instead of weak.

Prepare Your Team at Home and at Work

One way to get more comfortable with vulnerability is to prepare for it. Let your family, friends, co-workers, and colleagues know that you will be (or are) facing a trying time. They will most likely appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. I advised my close family members and friends of my surgery and injury, as well as my private coaching clients, and any speaking engagement contacts that would be impacted by my recovery.

Relax Your Definition of Control

Vulnerability can signify a loss of control to many people. In fact, it kind of IS loss of control. The key is to accept, and sometimes even embrace, this loss of control. This is easier said than done, of course. But it is sometimes when we hold on too tightly that we, in fact, lose control. I am not advocating for a complete surrender of control, just a relaxing of it. When it comes to control, somewhere in the middle seems to be the best compromise. Set things up as best as you can, rely on those that have stepped up to help, and then lean back and let it happen.

Ask for Help

This one can be very hard for high-achievers, but is so important. Give others the chance to step up, in big and small ways. At work, this could be the beginning of someone on your team taking on more responsibility that could improve his or her professional development and provide long-lasting positive changes to his or her career. At home and in your personal life, this can help others develop new habits, or form an appreciation for how much you normally take on (without you having to toot your own horn about it!).

Two weeks after my surgery, I had to go on the road to Charleston, SC for a speaking engagement. Based on my condition and where I was in my recovery (not being able to lift or pull more than a few pounds!), I had no choice but to ask others for help. I politely asked for doors to be opened, luggage to be lifted, and many other requests. No one thought I was rude or even questioned my requests. I also carried a pillow on the plane to cover my abdomen, skipped some social activities at the conference to go rest in my room, and even mentioned my surgery and recovery from stage without being embarrassed about it. Instead of thinking that I was less than, my audience members and the team that hired me to speak were impressed that I was there!

Give Yourself a Break

We have the imagination to find creative ways to deny ourselves the time to heal and be less-than-100%-healthy. You should hear the convoluted excuses my high functioning, success-minded coaching clients devise as to why they couldn’t possibly, say, sit and read a book for an hour and rest and recover. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad that they are denying themselves such basic human treats.

Even though I know better, I would sometimes catch myself doing the same thing during my recovery the past year. Why do we do it? Sometimes it’s guilt (a sense that you don’t ‘deserve’ to be vulnerable), or because you put everyone else’s needs first. Sometimes it’s a societal dictum or a limiting belief like, “I have to work hard and reach a certain milestone before I deserve a break,” or “I have to do it all myself.” Whatever the reason, the truth is that not only do we deserve to be vulnerable – it’s essential for our health and well-being.

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. 🙂

 

 

 

 

In the world of time management, we give a lot of weight to appointments that we set with other people, or events and meetings that we have to attend. We block them out on our calendar and then we make a commitment to show up unless there is a true emergency. And that is certainly a good thing. One would say we are practicing good time management techniques.

And yet, when it comes to making appointments with ourself, we don’t give them the same importance on our calendar. Indeed, most people put themselves last. That yoga class you wanted to take? Missed it again. Getting to bed on time so that you are well rested? Oops, that went out the window when you let something else take precedence over it. Sadly, most of us do not honor appointments with ourself!

me_timeWhen I speak on time management and productivity, I ask my audiences to name something that they don’t allow themselves enough of in their lives. The answers are almost always focused on simple pleasures like reading, sleeping, spending time with family, taking a bubble bath, going for a bike ride, etc. We crave more “me time” and yet we deprive ourselves of it on a daily basis.

We have the imagination to find creative ways to deny ourselves simple pleasures. You should hear the convoluted excuses high functioning, success-minded folks devise as to why they couldn’t possibly, say, sit and read a book for half an hour. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad that they are denying themselves such basic human treats. Even though I know better, sometimes I catch myself doing the same thing.

Why do we do it? Sometimes it’s guilt, sometimes it’s low self-esteem (a sense that you don’t “deserve” a treat), sometimes it’s because you put everyone else’s needs first. Sometimes it’s a societal dictum or a limiting belief like, “I have to work hard and earn X before I deserve a treat.”

Whatever the reason, the truth is that not only do you deserve to treat yourself to simple pleasures – it’s essential for your health, well-being and creativity.

reading_bookHow can we change this? First, start by recognizing that you give your own appointments the short end of the stick on your calendar and in your own time management practices. Then not only resolve to change this, but act on that resolve. Block out the time on your calendar and then honor that appointment as if you made it with the most important person in your life. Why? Because you are an important person in your life! And you are worth it. Don’t skimp on time for your own personal and professional growth and development.

“But Lisa”, I hear you say, “I can’t possibly. I have too much to do. I don’t have enough time.”

Ask yourself this: What do you spend time doing that you really don’t enjoy – and that you really don’t have to be doing? What isn’t particularly healthy or helpful? What could you be doing less of, if you were honest with yourself?

Maybe you’re a workaholic spending many more hours working than is really required. Perhaps you spend time worrying or stressing or complaining (most people spend more time complaining how little time they have than doing anything about it). Maybe you don’t have systems set up so you are spending too much time doing tasks that could be streamlined. Maybe you’re wasting your evenings watching television programs you don’t really like that much anyway.

Whatever your day is like, you have an opportunity to do less of what you don’t want – and more of what you do want.

I invite you to engage in this rare, but powerful, time management treat. Look for opportunities to not only make some appointments with yourself… but honor those appointments! Trust me, you are worth it.

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.

Do you…

… long to live a life of purpose and passion, that reflects your values AND desires?

… need permission to make your well-being, happiness, and self-care a priority?

… have fear that is still holding you back from going after what you want?

… feel tired of living your best life “in your head” and want to make it a reality in 2015?

Then you are in luck! Come learn how to live “The Sweet Life!”

Introducing the La Dolce Vita 6-Week Group Life Coaching Program from LMG University, starting on February 19, 2015.

Lisa-Sean-ItalyThis isn’t just any group life coaching program. It’s based on content taken from my concept of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), a nd will help you bring the passion and zest back to your life.

The content is based on my research (and background!) of Italian culture, positive psychology and happiness, years of coaching clients holistically to integrate life-work balance, and my own personal lifestyle. My life is a work in progress, and sharing my own personal experience, and that of the hundreds of clients I have been privileged to work with, is part of the La Dolce Vita process.

Stop settling for good enough because you are worried if you go for great that people will think you are too big for your britches. It is time to step into your power and claim the life you know you are truly meant to live!

How much longer are you willing to wait? How much time are you willing to sacrifice? When will you decide that you deserve to be really happy and live The Sweet Life?

If you are committed to making regular “deposits” in areas of your life that have been neglected and feed them what they need to grow and prosper, then join me for La Dolce Vita.

Topics we’ll address in the 6 weeks:

checkbox Crazy Busy Is Not a Badge of Honor: Positive and Proactive Productivity
checkbox Prioritizing Self Care: Let Go, Say No, and Make You a Priority
checkbox Become a Passionista! How to Tap Into Your Passions & Manage Them
checkbox Don’t Be a See-Saw Anymore: Go Beyond Balance and Engage in Life-Work Integration
checkbox Mind, Body & Soul: Health & Fitness, Personal Spirituality
checkbox C’Mon Get Happy: The Power of Positivity
checkbox Connection & Relationships: Romance, Friends & Family, Say No to Toxic Relationships and Negative Nellies & Neds
checkbox Financial Wellness: Preparing for the Future, While Still Living Well Today
checkbox And more!

italy-vineyardMany people have been asking me to share this type of content and create a program like this for years. And I am thrilled to finally be able to share it with you. But I don’t want fiances to keep you from living a La Dolce Vita life! So I have kept this program affordable.

Early Bird Rate is $299 until 2/12; $359 thereafter (there’s even a 2 pay option available if you need to spread payments out).

Go to lisamontanaro.com/ladolcevita/a for details and to register.

Hope to help you live a La Dolce Vita kind of life this year!

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.

 Only One Month Left to Join Me in California Wine Country for my Live Retreat!

If you want to have a more successful and passionate life, and profitable and productive business or career, then ponder this:

“What got you here, won’t get you there.”

What you’ve been doing up until now has only gotten you where you are now. To reach higher goals, to get where your desires are calling you, you need something different.

You need to shake up the same-old, same-old.

You need to blow up the plan and get a new one!

wine_country_viewAnd you need to do it in an environment guaranteed to coax you out of your normal habits and patterns of thought and into fresh new ways of looking at your business, your life, and your opportunities.

Like beautiful California Wine Country this fall!

I’m taking a small group of women to Sonoma Valley next month to help them shake up things and step into a new plan for where they want to go — in their business/career and lives.

If you are serious about improving your life, personally and professionally, I’d like you to consider joining me for the Purpose, Passion, Productivity Retreat for Women Entrepreneurs & Leaders held November 6-9, 2014 in Sonoma Valley, CA. (And you still have a chance to use the 2-pay option today and spread payments out 14 days apart.)

The Good News is: We’re nearing full but still have room for a few more women! And there are still 30 days before the retreat, so ample time to plan logistics, like transportation, lodging, and time off. Yes, that’s par t of the beauty of this event… you get to unplug from your “regular” life and work and do a deep dive into your personal and professional development.

vineyard_grapesIf you are interested in joining me, give the retreat page a look and go ahead and register… or feel free to set up a chat with me if you have any questions.

We are such reflections of our environment: the people we hang out with, the four walls we work in, the food we eat, the routines, the habits, the everyday.

Get out of your everyday environment. Join me in California Wine Country and surround yourself with:

  • like-minded go-for-it women entrepreneurs and leaders
  • facilitative guidance, insights and training from me
  • the inspiring and nourishing Wine Country landscape, food, wine, and culture

The retreat will be a game changing experience! Hope to “see” you on November 6th for our Meet & Greet Wine Reception. See the details here.

As many of you recall, I launched an online learning platform last year called LMG University, which houses all of my online group programs. The one year anniversary of LMGU is this month! Wow… time flies, right?

It has been an amazing experience facilitating my online programs for the past year. So wonderful that we are doing them all again! Many of you contacted me to say that you wanted to take certain programs but the timing was off when we offered them last year. Well, here’s your chance!

Kicking off the academic year, we have two great online programs to choose from: one for newer/emerging entrepreneurs to help build a solid sustainable business, and the other one to help you live a healthy, passionate, productive “sweet life.” For full details and registration, visit each program page.

Successfully Self-Employed Semester

strategy_planningA 12-week teleclass-based training program to help newer entrepreneurs with foundational business skills to build your confidence, structure, operations and effectiveness as a business owner.

Topics covered will include: business identity and branding, legal structure and issues, marketing, networking and public relations, sales, pricing and money issues, and operations.

Starts September 9, 2014. Early bird rate of only $697 in effect until September 2nd and a handy 2-pay option is available as well.

Click here for details and to register.

natasharickert“Wow! Where do I begin when it comes to sharing about the bottom line impact that the Successfully Self Employed Semester offered by LMG University has had on my business, goals and perspective?! Some of the value I received in participating in this 12 week program was knowing that I’m going to save a ton of time and money implementing what I learned, versus stumbling around on my own trying to figure it out.

During SSES, we thoroughly discussed the crucial topics needed to be a successful business owner. Due to Lisa’s exceptional expertise, as well as the camaraderie and team spirit of the participants, I accomplished several goals and tasks promptly and efficiently while learning how to increase my sales, legally protect, and automate my business. Belonging to a group of entrepreneurs who come with their uni que backgrounds and experiences complimented by Lisa’s invaluable knowledge and business savvy, we were able to walk through personal and professional fears, and gain broader perspectives around what may be going on behind the scenes. We addressed some of the deeper issues holding us and our businesses back. What a gift to receive on-the-spot input, ideas and constructive feedback regarding my elevator speech, marketing materials, legal business status, and so much more.

If you’re looking for a program that will show you how to maximize results and profits over the long haul, I highly recommend Lisa Montanaro’s Successfully Self Employed Semester.”

~ Natasha Rickert, www.EnergytoOrganize.com

La Dolce Vita (“The Sweet Life”) Life Coaching Program

new_life-old_lifeA 6 week group life coaching program covering productivity, life-work balance, health and fitness, relationships, finances, and more. The La Dolce Vita lifestyle is about following your dreams, deciding not to play small anymore, living your life to the fullest, and allowing the real you to shine through! Whatever that larger vision for your life is… that’s what La Dolce Vita is all about.

Starts October 9, 2014. Early bird rate of only $299 in effect until October 2nd and a handy 2-pay option is available as well.

Click here for details and to register.

ms_butler“Lisa is the most inspirational, influential, and motivating coach to experience. I participated in her La Dolce Vita Program from LMG University. She is the only one that I trust as a mentor. Lisa uses a real hands on approach to work within so that you will empower yourself, and dig deep in order to pursue your true passions. I highly recommend Lisa! By taking her program, you will become aware that anything that you may have previously found to be out of your reach or you may have thought to be “impossible” will now and always become “possible.”

~M.S. Butler

See if either of these programs are a fit for you — and as always, contact me at Lisa@LisaMontanaro.com if you have any questions.

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…

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