New Year’s Resolutions Already Broken? Here’s Some Good News!

New Year’s Resolutions Already Broken? Here’s Some Good News!

So it’s been almost 8 weeks since New Year’s Day. Since you made your resolution to reward yourself with bubble bath every Tuesday night … as long as you lost 2 pounds the preceding week. Since you made that resolution to get along better with your annoying coworker or have the perfect vacation with your family or whatever your resolution was. How’s that going for you?

The fact is, if you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably taken fewer than 8 bubble baths, eaten more Twinkies than you’d care to admit, and your Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies video is probably still sitting on your DVD player, untouched (and covered with dust – oh yeah, be the perfect housekeeper – there’s another resolution that’s slipped away).

According to statisticbrain.com, 41% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, while only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their goal, and a whopping 42.4% feel like they “never succeed and fail on their resolution each year“! Fail. Every. Year.

I know misery loves company (and a great double-fudge brownie), but before you go and bury your remorse in a gooey, warm hunk of unnecessary but delicious calories, finish reading this and you may find yourself sitting in a steaming, luxurious bubble bath every Tuesday night for the rest of the year and beyond!

Eh? Let me explain. You’ve probably read about S.M.A.R.T. goals (and if you haven’t, where the heck have you been every week before New Year’s Day??) They are goals which are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Bound. So, “I want to lose weight” is not a S.M.A.R.T. goal since it doesn’t hit any of the requirements.

“I want to lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day” can be considered a S.M.A.R.T. goal, except it focuses on the wrong part of the equation – the result. For you to reach your S.M.A.R.T. goals, or any other goals, you need to focus on the A – Actionable. You also need to focus on the W – Why. (I know there’s no “W” in S.M.A.R.T., just pretend it’s there and stick with me.) Your “Why” +  your Action = your Results. Focusing on the goal won’t get you anywhere if you don’t know why you want to succeed and if you don’t take action.

“One of the biggest reasons people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolutions is that they focus on the wrong end of the equation.”

Knowing your “Why” should be a no-brainer, but often it’s glossed over, or it’s someone else’s why. You can usually identify “other people’s whys” because they’re “should” goals – I should have a perfect house/body/vacation/winning streak playing pinochle.

Asking yourself why you want to lose 10 pounds is the first place to start. Do you have a class reunion coming up (don’t worry, I won’t ask which one…). Maybe none of your favorite clothes fit, or maybe it’s something a bit more serious, like a health scare. Whatever the reason, make sure it’s a vitally important reason to you. If you don’t have a powerful why, you’re not too likely to put a lot of effort into achieving your goal.

“Focus on the Action and the outcome will take care of itself.”

The second part of the equation is action. By focusing on the action, you’re focusing on the part of the equation you actually control. Break down the goal into manageable chunks, and you’ll be able to check them off on your calendar as you work your way closer to your goal. Using the examples in the opening paragraph, you could

  • Reward yourself with a bubble bath every Tuesday night if you worked out 3 times in the previous week
  • Say “How are you this morning” to your annoying coworker. You may not ever become best friends, but you may discover that she’s annoying because she’s on a short fuse because she’s a single mom taking care of her elderly mother and her 6-year-old daughter.
  • Sit down with your family before planning your vacation and discuss what makes a great vacation (and what you can do to avoid past disasters that left you feeling like someone was secretly filming you for a sequel to those Vacation movies with Chevy Chase).

By focusing on the actions you control in each of these situations, you might just find yourself in very rare company – the “9.2% of people who felt they were successful in achieving their resolution”. You don’t have to thank me, just enjoy your bubble baths.

 

Liz Gilbert never changed my life…

Liz Gilbert never changed my life…

Liz Gilbert is an amazing writer. Along with most of the other women in the free world, I was captivated by Eat Pray Love. I adore her book  Big Magic – I even “know” Liz, having met her a few times at her parent’s home, which is directly across the street from our old farm in Connecticut. Her writing apparently comes from a deep and fulfilling relationship with Inspiration – (deep almost to the point where you want to tell them to get a room….)

Her book Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear is a guidebook for creatives, a how-to that is so beautifully written, and so on-point, that you know that she’s seen straight into your soul and written the book just for you… except she didn’t – not for me. You see, I was an imposter.

I finally owned this rather depressing reality while listening to Liz’s podcast, Magic Lessons. She spoke with her guests of the need to create art. Creating art because that was their vocation – a calling, the reason they were here on earth. As I listened from the outside of this hallowed circle, I realized a horrible truth – I was a fake.

Yup, that’s me – a fake creative. I wasn’t writing for my art – I was writing because it’s my business. Writing is what a freelance writer does. This much per word, that much per newsletter, and so much per month for managing your social media. I was writing because I needed the money, not because I needed to feed my soul. In short, I was a hack.

Although I frequently say, “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body”, I’m always hoping someone will correct me – someone will say, “But you write! That’s art!”, “You take such beautiful photographs, that’s art!”.

And sometimes people do – but I never believed them. I realized I had long since abandoned any relationship with art. My writing was to spec, my camera hung on the back of my closet door, and the coloring books and beautiful colored pencils from my daughter lay under a pile of “to-do” paperwork on a table in my studio. (I had always insisted on calling it a studio instead of an office – I wasn’t ready to give up this last tenuous thread which connected me to Art.)

I had pretty much settled into this existence. I was giving a large chunk of my attention, time, and soul to my job teaching therapeutic riding, and I was pretty much OK with that. I was working on my editorial calendars for my business blogs, trying to get into a rhythm of planning, posting, and promoting. It was, after all, one of the ways I helped pay the bills. Art? No, not right now, thank you – I have medical bills to pay, which means I need to get to that book launch and course launch and 2 blog posts per week and newsletters… oh, yes, and the social media….

So Liz, despite you doing your darndest to convince me that I am, in fact, an artist, I appreciate your trying, but it’s just not going to work.  I’ll keep listening obsessively to your podcasts, but only as fascinating stories of other people’s lives. This isn’t about me. No art. Not me. Not now.

Until this morning.

This morning, something happened to me. Actually, something happened in me and through me and it became me. My Muse returned. I returned.

Despite the fact that I had forgotten about my Muse the way we sometimes forget about our favorite books from childhood, she was still there, waiting patiently in the corner for me to remember her.

Was it the beauty of this morning’s sunrise? Was it the growing swell of birdsong this pre-Spring morning? Was it the daylight hours beginning to stretch both ends of the day, pushing away the darkness in which I rose and retired? Was it, in fact, Liz and her luminescent words, her unshaken belief that I’m as creative as the next person? Did Liz Gilbert change my life?

Much as I love Liz, the answer is no. Liz didn’t change my life. She provided me with interesting stories, strategies, and soul searching exercises, but she didn’t change my life. Nope, that was all me.

When I told my daughter this morning that the sunrise was almost too beautiful to absorb, I stopped and photographed it. When I did, a tiny crack opened in a shell I didn’t realize I had formed, and a sliver of light appeared. That light from within outshone the sunrise, outsang the birds, and made me feel like I was going to burst. I suddenly realized I was changing! The sameness of my life shattered in that moment and I knew that life never had to be the same, I could change anything.

In a heartbeat, everything I knew about myself became open to discussion. Yes, I can change my weight. Yes, I can become more secure financially. Yes, I can finish re-doing my studio. Yes, I can make time to write because I love words and I love the fact that sometimes the words that flow through me are almost as wonderfully crafted as the words which flow through Liz. I can create art.

I chose to listen to Liz’s podcast, to read her books, to see the sunrise a little more gratefully this morning. I chose to come back to this blog, my un-monetized blog that is, as of this writing, still hosted on WordPress.com, and not WordPress.org (which is where those who truly understand blogging tell you you must have your blog). I chose to spend some of my carefully doled-out minutes this morning to come here and record what happened. (Footnote to the un-monetized comment above – the links to Liz’s books on Amazon at the beginning of this post are affiliate links, and if thousands of you rush straight to Amazon and purchase those books for yourself and all of your friends, I’ll retire happy and head to Tahiti for a very long vacation).

No, Liz Gilbert never changed my life, but I’m immensely grateful that the Universe put Liz there as one of the guides who pointed me to the path where I now find myself – creating the most important art possible – my own life.

When does it stop?

The shooting in Orlando this morning was an horrific event, and I fear it will lead to other horrific events. Was the shooter homophobic? Was he a radical Islamic terrorist? Did he just break up with his husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? Did his dog just die? Does it matter? Does it really matter if the victims were gay people in a gay bar? They are now dead people in a morgue. They are now lost sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, and lovers.

Please don’t let any of the circumstances of this shooting allow you to think that there’s a reason other than pure hatred. Don’t get wrapped up in the details. The details don’t matter. What matters is that 50 people are dead. How many people will you interact with today – 5? 15? Perhaps 50? Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist – please spare a moment today to think of those lost, their families, the law officers, the family of the shooter. Tragedy fills our screens again today, and until we find a way to stop hate and gun violence in this country, it will continue to do so. 

If you’re one of those who will use this horrific event to defend your right to bear arms by saying 1 armed good guy could have stopped this, please save your breath. The police officer who was in the club at the time of the shooting couldn’t stop it from happening, and he is a trained professional.

Who ever you are, where ever you go today and however many people you see, please consider ways to help ensure this never happens again. Your town, your friends, neighbors or family members could be on the roll of those killed in the next shooting.

This ain’t your Santa’s pole

This ain’t your Santa’s pole

As a small business owner who is working toward creating an online business, I’m a huge fan of Firepole Marketing. I conPhoto Courtesy of free-download-web.comsider Danny Iny nothing short of a genius, and on top of that, he seems like a really nice guy. He is generous with his knowledge, and any of his webinars you attend will give you a tremendous amount of valuable takeaway, not just a pitch to buy a product or course.  When my business launches within the next couple of months, it will be in large part due to what I’ve learned from Firepole Marketing.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when I received an email this morning telling me that Firepole was changing direction. I’ve copied and pasted the important parts of the email below so you can see why I was surprised.

I’ve got a big announcement to make, for the biggest shift in our strategic direction since we published our very first blog post.

And believe me, this has been a long time coming.

I ignored it for years, and then resisted it for several more… but ultimately, I should know better than anyone (because that’s what I’ve been teaching all of you!) that you can’t tell the market what it wants… you can only fulfill the needs that are already being expressed.

And, from the very first day that our website went live, there’s been one big need that’s been expressed over and over, that we’ve never even thought about fulfilling…

…until now.

It started at the very beginning, with the choice of our name.

I often get asked where the name “Firepole Marketing” came from… well, as much as anything, it came from our frustration at not finding an available .com for the any of the names that we really wanted for our new marketing education company.

We had some vague idea of using the fireman or first-responder analogy (“when your business is burning, you don’t have time for the stairs”), but we’ve always emphasized quality, solid foundations above all else, so the first-responder thing never really went anywhere.

And, truth be told, most of the success that we’ve enjoyed has been in spite of the name Firepole, not because of it. Because, other than creating a bit of confusion, it’s not a name that really struck home with any particular demographic… except one.

I’m talking about strippers.

Since the very beginning, because of our name, we would rank highly for stripper pole-related searches…

…but we ignored that opportunity. Truth be told, we were too focused on what we WANTED to do (teach marketing) to see what people were actually asking us for.

Well, no more.

As much as we’ve enjoyed working with our Beacon community for the past few years, we can’t keep ignoring this opportunity. Which is why, from this day forward, we’re going to wholeheartedly embrace the stripers that have been begging us to support them.

So stay tuned for all manner of stripper-related offers from Firepole in the coming months, including…

…Firepole-branded stripper poles…

…stripping exercise videos…

…stripper marketing courses (of course!)…

…and maybe even an official Firepole Stripper Certification program.

The sky is really the limit with this new market, and we’re so, so excited to explore it in the coming months and years!

 

 

So, you can see why I was surprised. I had planned on my business, Find Yourself on a Horse, to be a community for mid-life women to translate the lessons they learned with their horses into life lessons they could use on the broader canvas of their day to day lives. From the barn to the boardroom and the bedroom is what I had planned, but this email from Firepole made me rethink my entire business model.

I’m so excited about what I have come up with, that I’m sharing my reply to Firepole here with you. I can’t wait to start on this new journey! My reply to Firepole is below:

“I can’t tell you how excited I am by your change!

Finally! A resource for us – the pole dancers of the world.
As you have always encouraged us to find our niche, I have truly found mine: middle aged, overweight pole dancers!
My ideal customer is Fifi LaRue, who alway wanted to work the joints just off the strip in Vegas (pun intended), but couldn’t get past her strict upbringing to make the move.
My first impression incentive will be titled:
“Can this pole vault you into a new life?” Or perhaps, “Santa never saw the pole like *this* before”
I foresee a video training series, weekly Q& A sessions and a podcast entitled “Exploration to the Pole – no parka required.”
I can’t wait to get started with the new training material – this will answer the dreams of so many women!
Thanks for finally addressing a truly deserving segment of the population.

Best,

Penny
PS – Happy April 1st to you, too ;-)”
So, on that note, I hope you all enjoy your first day of April. Let me know if you got a giggle out of this post 🙂
Are your hidden beliefs driving your life off a cliff?

Are your hidden beliefs driving your life off a cliff?

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“I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“There’s a lesson in this.”

“When one door closes, another one opens.”

I’ve spouted these, (and many other) comforting quotes over the last few years while life has seemingly been using me as a punching bag.

When someone commiserates on my latest bout of bad luck, I quickly assure them that I’m far more fortunate than most of the world’s population, and that my problems are (as a friend recently put it) “First World” problems. I make nice and go back to what I was doing – offering platitudes, preparing to duck and cover yet again – never knowing which direction the next blow will come from. In short – getting by.

While I was toiling away on the seemingly endless amount of paperwork required to request a modification of one’s mortgage this morning, Luke (one of our dogs) insisted he needed to go out. NOW. I’d had him out less than an hour before, and was not amused at his constant whining.

I finally relented, and took both dogs out (I know – dog trainers are rolling their eyes at my “rewarding bad behavior”, but I plead self-defense. I simply could not focus on the task at hand while all that whining was going on.)

Anxious to get back to my “important” task, I assured the dogs that, since they had been out within the last hour, they’d better darn well pee and be done with it. “I know I’m an awful mother, but I’m in the middle of something. I’m ALWAYS in the middle of something, and I’m always miles behind where I’m supposed to be with everything in my life.” Funny what comes out in an unguarded moment.

That stopped me in my tracks, literally (thrilling the dogs, who suddenly weren’t being dragged back into the house).

It became blindingly obvious to me in that moment that I was lying to somebody, either to myself or to the rest of the world.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

While Fitzgerald had a point, I think he meant consciously holding onto those two opposed thoughts. Blithely spouting one while your unconscious mind drives your life off a cliff with the other doesn’t count – at least not in my interpretation…

The weird thing is, I really believe those platitudes at the beginning of this post. Much as I hate some of the difficult things we’ve been through (and are still going through), I do believe that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Do I now work to eradicate the belief that I’m behind? Do I stop every hour on the hour and examine my beliefs? Do more journaling? More meditating? Is there even an answer?

God only knows.

Perhaps that’s just an expression, or perhaps that really is the answer. I certainly don’t have any bright ideas at this point.

I think I’ve taken the first steps by becoming aware that I have some deeply seated (and often well hidden) beliefs that aren’t helping me (more on that in this post). The real trick now is to stay aware.

So, I’m going back to my mortgage modification paperwork now. And while I work, I’ll live in the truth, or my version of it for right now.

I may be miles behind where I’d like to be, but that doesn’t mean I’m not where I’m supposed to be.