Planning for Success: 5 Powerful Questions to Ask

PlanningForSuccessIn a world that is fast-moving and filled with challenge, something we can always count on is change. It seems that most people are in a state of transition nowadays. I see this with my clients, with my colleagues and with myself as well. There is a transition in my business, as I continue to evolve the ways I serve my clients and grow my business. There’s a transition in my homefront as well, as my children rotate in and out of the nest as they continue their education and start their own careers.

Traditional year-end review and making New Year’s resolutions can get a little stale and boring. Too often planning for success can become a very analytical and linear process. It’s easy to dial up success or turn down what didn’t work by taking incremental steps. The goals can feel like a “should” and your energy takes a nose dive. I find people having to work really hard to feel motivated or inspired by lists of new things you should do. Which is perhaps why only 8% of people making annual resolutions actually achieve them.

Research shows that almost 65% of us are visual learners. So when we make that list of endless resolutions or goals, if you’re not making them visual you’re missing out on an opportunity to get more deeply engaged and in love with your plans for success.

When I do strategic planning with a client and am drawing out their insights and desires in real time on a graphic map, it’s amazing how quickly they get a new perspective and get clear on their priorities. Bringing colors and images in to the planning process turns on creativity, insight and playfulness as they create a road map for their own success. When you make your plans for success visual, that is when magic and manifestation can really happen.

We live in a crazy, busy and quickly-changing world. The quality of the questions we ask when planning for success helps us set priorities and get clear on our values. What have you said “Yes” to that you now need to say “No” to so you can create space for what is to come?

Here are 5 powerful questions to help you plan for success in the year ahead!

1. What Do I Need?

What are your core needs? As Maslow articulated in his “Hierarchy of Needs”, until we address our basic survival and security needs, we won’t be able to  move forward to fulfilling other important social or self-actualization needs. Consider your most important needs and get as specific as you can. “I need to make at least $50,000 a year” is far more specific and powerful than just “I need enough money to live on” as a basic need.

2. Does This Bring Me Joy?

Is what you’re doing bringing you an experience of joy and expansion? Or do you feel a sense of drudgery and heaviness? If you’re feeling spread thin and approaching things with a sense of dread, chances are you have got some major commitment pruning to do. There will always be lots of things you could do or get asked to do by others, but it’s simply not possible to keep piling on the “Yes’s” and not end up exhausted at the end of the day. Become selective and look for how you can bring more joy into your life.

3. Does this Fulfill My Purpose?

Is what you’re doing an expression of your deepest gifts? Do you have a secret hankering to do something, but you keep holding yourself back? Spending your time and energy in ways that feels like a fit for your gifts and purpose is so rewarding, not just for you but for those around you as well.

4. Where Are My Blind Spots?

When you drive a car, you need the sideview mirror to check your blind spot. I see its message that “Objects may appear larger than they are” as really cosmic. Until we clearly see any disempowering behaviors we have, they have a huge energetic pull on us until we get them handled. Is what you eat, procrastination about paying bills, or being a committed conflict avoider a potential blind spot? Make the decision to look for these blind spots so you can refocus your energy in a constructive way that moves you ahead.

5. What Do I Need to Release?

The Universe loves a vacuum and will come rushing in to fill it with something new. And so it works with our life force as well. We must stop living like pack rats of choices and experiences, and release things that no longer align with our highest purpose (use Questions 2 and 3 to get clear on this). This may mean releasing limiting beliefs, physical clutter or relationships. Bless them, release them and welcome in the miracles that are to come in the year ahead!

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThriveAfterDivorce.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To receive her “3 Essential Steps to Thrive After Divorce” free video training series, just visit www.ThriveAfterDivorce.com.

5 Steps to Beat Procrastination

Procrastination is a slippery challenge that seems to perpetually lurk around in my life. I’ll be honest and share that I have an on-again, off-again battle with putting off taking action on important priorities or projects. We’ve all got dreams and goals we want to achieve in our day or in our life.  But when we procrastinate, we start to lose our focus, drain our energy and ultimately cause our self-esteem to plummet.

We can procrastinate about obvious things – starting the diet, preparing our tax returns, having the tough conversation with someone we love or cleaning up cluttered areas.  However, we also procrastinate in more subtle forms…. Continue reading

Dealing with the Unknown: 3 Strategies for Handling Uncertainty

Uncertainty and dealing with the unknown is something we all must learn to cope with. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” If that’s the case, are there ways to live with the unknown with a greater sense of mastery and ease? I believe so!

Living with uncertainty certainly isn’t comfortable and can show up on both a macro and a micro level. On the macro level, you may have been hit by one of life’s curve balls like a relationship meltdown, a workplace restructuring, a health scare or some other significant shift in the landscape of your life. On the micro level, Mercury goes retrograde again and your computer crashes right before you need to pull your major presentation out of it. You are working on something that you thought was your heart’s desire, but you …. Continue reading

Mission Possible: 3 Keys to Achieving Your Goals Despite the Odds

Have you ever been told that what you want is impossible to have?

You have a goal or a dream, but those around you – family, friends, experts – tell you that it can’t be done.

If you’ve ever built a campfire, that initial phase of having the spark hit the dry kindling is critical. You need to get more wood to help build the fire so it can get to a critical mass of its own rather than sputter out and die. When an idea catches fire within you, it’s important that you take the right action quickly so you can keep it alive and make it happen.

Deciding to start your business is a spark of an inspiration. But you need the right kindling of where to find the perfect clients and what programs to offer them to stay in business. Being in an intimate relationship with another starts with those initial sparks, but it needs tending and fuel so it can last for the long run.

When you make a decision, particularly those where you feel you are answering a deep calling of your soul, it can initially feel like you’ve signed on for an episode of Mission Impossible. But when you apply these 3 success principles, you can turn that around into achieving your goal despite the odds.

When I recently decided it was time to release my home for a new family to enjoy, I wanted to be able to take advantage of a strong selling market. But I was still in the process of a serious renovation in my basement and walking into an almost-ready home doesn’t make a great impression on potential buyers.

My main contractor thought my time frames were way too tight (they were) and that my request he, his equipment and his team be off the property in such a short time frame was an impossible task. But I wasn’t prepared to settle for a “No.” I made 3 critical choices that helped me get the job done – and you can apply them yourself to any goal you have.

Key #1 – Use Your Vision as Your Anchor

Throughout the renovation process, I held a strong and steady vision of what I wanted and why. I kept visualizing my home as inviting, gracious and ready to be a place of love for a new family. Keeping sight of why I was subjecting myself and my family to this disruption allowed me to keep steady and relatively calm during the ups and downs of the renovation.

Key #2 – Do Whatever It Takes

I am a firm believer in delegation, but to get what you want in the face of the odds being against you, you need to do whatever it takes. As we progressed in the renovation, I could see places that needed shoring up so my goal of having the house ready for public viewing happen.

I did whatever it took. When the walkway needed power washing before the real estate agent had the house photos taken, I was out there at 6:30 am with a contractor sweeping and handling the power washer myself. To make things smoother for the crew in the morning, I would get the shop vac out to keep the site clean even if it was 11:30 pm.

Here’s the beautiful thing about being willing to get your hands dirty and doing whatever it takes. Not only did it help get the job done, it inspired and motivated the great crew of workers I had to do the same.

Key #3 – Keep A Light Heart

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to get discouraged and frustrated. When your goal and vision come from a deep place within your heart, it is tempting to take setbacks personally. But anger, sarcasm and blame are like throwing a bucket of water on the bonfire you’re trying to build.

Keep a light heart and instead find the humor in those trying moments. Choose to be compassionate with yourself and others instead of condemning.

© 2012 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

 

Leadership: The One Person You Absolutely MUST Lead

Being a brilliant entrepreneur, a brilliant mom or a brilliant partner requires one thing. To succeed we need to be able to calls forth the best of ourselves every day and in every way.

As the leader of your life, there are so many people who look to you to take their cues: your clients, your children, your partner, your colleagues, and your neighbors. Mompreneurs in particular are often caught trying to find that elusive balance between work and family, between joyful creation and stressful chaos.

But the true test of leadership is this – are you practicing your own internal leadership? Would you be inspired, motivated and decide to follow yourself?

One of my teachers used to say that the first person you must learn to lead is yourself. Attending management courses and reading the very finest leadership literature is good, but the greatest arena for learning about powerful and lasting leadership is … within yourself.

Having a strong and resilient emotional foundation is a key ingredient to one’s success and impact. So I believe we must always be willing to do our own emotional homework to ensure that this internal foundation is strong enough to hold the business we desire.

Here are some tips to help you diagnose and up-level your self-leadership!

1.  Do an Integrity Check

Do a scan of your life to see if there are areas where what you are doing is different than what you are saying. Are there places where things feel out of integrity? Are you tolerating things that are incomplete? Are you walking your talk? It might be finishing up a product, making a call you’ve been avoiding, or letting clutter overwhelm your office. This scan will tell you where you have the opportunity to recommit to the leadership of your life. Write them down and come up with a plan to tackle these areas that are energetically eroding your leadership.

2.  Get in the Driver’s Seat

It’s tough to lead your life, let alone a business, if you allow other people to be in the driver’s seat. Self-leadership requires you to take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions. When you’re in the driver’s seat of your life, you get to decide where you’re going, the route you’re going to take, and how fast you want to drive to get there. Yet sometimes we subtly concede that driver’s seat position to others – a spouse, our children, a business partner, a demanding client, or a parent, to name a few examples.

3. Perfection is Not Required, Shifting is

Don’t forget that we’re all human, and we definitely make mistakes. So even if you see there are areas where your ability to lead yourself isn’t what you want it to be, don’t despair! Perfection is not required in order to move forward to unleash your brilliance. Self-awareness and a consistent choice to shift out of limiting behaviors or patterns is. Being able to see what’s not working and shift it quickly, and with confidence, is critical so your true brilliance can shine brightly in the world. Learning to lead yourself with confidence and ease is the goal.

© 2011-2012 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

Change and Transition: 5 Brilliant Year in Review Questions

In a world that is fast-moving and filled with challenge, something we can always count on is change. What’s different about the state of change in the world these days is the rate and volume of change. Our world and the issues we navigate in our families, our businesses and our communities are increasingly complex and fast-moving.

One of my favorite authors, Neale Donald Walsh, wrote a wonderful book called When Everything Changes, Change Everything. As he observes, “You’re not going to stop change from happening simply by not making any changes yourself. All you’ll do is stop change from happening the way you want it to happen.”

The good news about change, transition and learning to cope with the unknown is that it is a process that draws out the best in each of us. Getting outside your comfort zone requires you to dig deep inside yourself, and we often discover reserves of wisdom, strength and resilience we may not have known we had before.

As we prepare to ring in a New Year, it’s a time to look back to see what worked well, and what didn’t. It’s a time to harvest the wisdom from the experiences and choices we made so we can apply them to make 2011 the best and most brilliant year yet. I’d like to share with you some of my favorite Brilliant questions I’ll be using myself to welcome in the New Year.

To create your brilliant 2010, I’d like to offer these 5 Brilliant questions.

1. What Do I Really Want?

What are your core needs and desires? If you could wave a magic wand, what three things would you want to see showing up differently in your life 12 months from now. Look over the major areas of your life, like relationship, finances, health, career, recreation and community. Make it as clear as you can. For example, “I want to travel more” is nice but vague. Define it even more. For example, you could say “I want to visit Greece this summer and take an extra long weekend off every quarter.”

2. Does This Bring Me Joy?

Every gardener knows that a key to a healthy plant is to prune it back at appropriate times. If you’re feeling spread thin and approaching things with a sense of dread, chances are you have got some major commitment pruning to do Is what you’re doing bringing you an experience of joy and expansion? Or do you feel a sense of drudgery and heaviness? Become selective about what you put on your plate and look for how you can bring more joy into your life.

3. Does this Fulfill My Purpose?

Is what you’re doing an expression of your deepest gifts? Do you have a secret hankering to do something, but you keep holding yourself back? Write you’re your deepest desires and find one way you can give that an outlet in 2011. Use delivering your unique purpose and brilliance as a key criteria for determining where you spend your time and energy. Once you step into your purpose, you’ll be astonished at how quickly you opportunities will come you way that will support you in doing that more and more.

4. Where Are My Blind Spots?

When you drive a car, you need the sideview mirror to check your blind spot. I see its message that “Objects may appear larger than they are” as really cosmic. Until we clearly see any disempowering behaviors we have, they have a huge energetic pull on us until we get them handled. Is what you eat, procrastination about paying bills, or being a committed conflict avoider a potential blind spot? Write out a list of your blind spots, or interview someone you know and trust to give you the truth to help you round out your list. Keep that list handy so you can navigate your way out of them and refocus your energy in a constructive way.

5. What Do I Need to Release?

The Universe loves a vacuum and will come rushing in to fill it with something new. And so it works with our life force as well. What have you said “Yes” to that you now need to say “No” to so you can create space for what is to come? This may mean releasing limiting beliefs, physical clutter or relationships. Make a list of at least 5 things you know that you need to release in order to open up room for new opportunities to come your way.

© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it:

Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com.

5 Steps to Transform Overwhelm into Productivity

Some of the greatest challenges our society faces today is overwhelm and distraction. It seems like most of us suffer from an inability to maintain our attention and focus on getting our dreams and goals across the finish line. In Part 1 “5 Ways Spiritual Overload Syndrome Sabotages Your Productivity“, I explained that Spiritual Overload Syndrome is running rampant.

One of the serious consequences of our hyper-connected, fast-paced life isn’t just the overwhelm and not getting our goals accomplished. When we are always dashing around and stressed out, our bodies are perpetually being stimulated into a “flight or fight” response. Being constantly bathed in the release of adrenalin, we put our health at risk.

Here are 5 steps you can take to break free from Spiritual Overload Syndrome when it strikes, and transform overwhelm into productivity.

1. Break the Spiral and Get Grounded

When you are stuck in the spin cycle of SOS, you get into a mental and energetic churning state. Worry, doubt and critical thoughts start to run around like 3 hamsters on a wheel, creating a lack of clarity and confidence.

When you feel like you’re in that spin cycle, the first thing to do is stop. Move you body, whether by doing 10 jumping jacks, going for a walk or dancing to a favorite song. Changing your physical state in order to shift your emotional state can work quickly, and allow you to get grounded and see through clearer eyes.

2. Connect

Once you’ve broken your spiral of overwhelm, you’re ready to drop into your own wisdom. Take some deep breaths and imagine connecting to the Brilliant You that you are. Then ask yourself, “What is the highest expression of my brilliance now, in THIS moment?” Stop and listen to what your intuition has to show you or tell you.

Connect to your dreams and vision and remember WHY they are important to you. You want to connect to it not just intellectually. Connecting to your WHY on an emotional and visceral level and let that energy helps move you forward.

3. Braindump Everything

Feeling overwhelmed is often caused by mental gridlock. There are so many thoughts and ideas whizzing through our brain that we get stuck knowing what to do next. You hear the Visionary voice, getting interrupted by the Critic, who then drowns out your Executor voice.

Every voice is of service and brings something to the table. To break the gridlock, do a brain dump of all the thoughts and ideas you are having and write them on individual sticky notes. You can then group like thoughts and ideas together. This exercise will help you to listen to the voices, but in the order in which they need to be heard, so you can avoid the mental gridlock.

4. Choose Your Leverage Point

Once you’ve detangled your traffic jam in your consciousness, you’ll be able to look at things with more objectivity and clarity. Now it’s time to identify where your best leverage point it. Consider how you can best leverage your time, energy and focus to get the maximum impact.

5. Take Inspired Action Immediately

Now that you’ve identified your best leverage point, it’s time to take action. But not just any action. You want to take inspired action.  Decide on ONE inspired action you could take immediately. Choose it and do it right away. Don’t defer it and let procrastination or distraction slip in the side door again. Remember, consistent small steps are far more powerful than the inconsistent big steps.

© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it:

Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com.

5 Ways Spiritual Overload Syndrome Sabotages Your Productivity

It’s a busy, busy, busy world out there. So many people I know, friends and clients alike, are feeling truly overwhelmed these days. The internet and our various battalion of electronic gadgets most of us use nowadays can bring an entire world of data, information and ideas to your fingertips within minutes.

Parents run their households and try to find their footing in a crazy mosaic of children’s schedules, community commitments, working their jobs and, oh yes, trying to make time for a personal life. Entrepreneurs who left the corporate world hoping greater flexibility and balance in life would be theirs are working harder than ever. Will there ever come a time when we can just chill out, put our feet up and relax?

We are hitting a point where our ability to keep our focus and stay productive is being seriously challenged. I call this challenge “Spiritual Overload Syndrome” or “SOS” for short. SOS is what happens when you’ve tapped into the flow of your brilliance and creativity, yet you struggle to be productive and focused in actually manifesting your Brilliant Idea in the real world. Imagine running 240 amp service through old knob and tube wiring – chances are something is going to burn out until we upgrade the circuitry of our productivity and work habits….

In the first of a two-part series, I want to share with you some of the common symptoms of this form of “dis-ease” that seems to afflict particularly those of us who have felt our intuition awaken and want to take action on our soul’s desires. See how many you can relate to:

Symptom #1 – You Have Creative Ideas But No Traction

Your Brilliant Ideas seem to always pile up on your “to do” list. You feel really, really busy, but not necessarily productive or making the best use of your time and energy. In order to have any chance of winning the race, you need to cross the finish line. Yet a lot of your Brilliant Ideas seem to end up collecting dust or get forgotten. You find it hard to see through an idea from the beginning right through to the implementation and completion stage.

Symptom #2 – Your Ego Has Become Your Taskmaster

You find yourself working longer and harder than you ever have. In fact, the thought of leaving the blackberry or laptop turned off for even a day makes your palms sweaty. Although you may love what you do, you’re starting to become a workaholic. Somewhere along the line, your ego has slipped in and become your taskmaster, leaving you feeling burned out and starting to resent the very activities you love the most.

Symptom #3 – You Have Indigestion

Like someone who’s visited an all-you-can-eat buffet, you’ve loaded up your plate with more information, seminars, books and workshops than you can really handle. You eat too much, too fast, and you end up with indigestion. You find yourself so busy learning or distracted by the next bright shiny object, you forget to allow time and space for you to fully digest and apply all the wisdom you already do have.

Symptom #4 – You Indulge in Magical Thinking

Sometimes people get very caught up in positive thinking and about principles like the Law of Attraction. They overlook the need to actually DO something in order to make it manifest. It can be tempting to get lost in pie in the sky thinking. This is particularly true when it comes to the kind of relationship we have with money (which in turn impacts how we price our products and services).

Symptom #5 – It’s Hard to Make a Decision

Your consciousness is waking up and you feel like you’re living from a place of abundance, not scarcity any more. Like a kid in a candy store, you are excited by all the possibilities you see. In fact, you see so darn many possibilities it’s a challenge to say “No!” or “Not now, later.” It’s challenging to discern where to put your time and energy. As a result, you’ve become somewhat indecisive because you hate to cut off your options.

So, how did you do? Have you been afflicted by Spiritual Overload Syndrome?

Stay tuned for Part 2: 5 Steps to Turn Overwhelm into Productivity in the next issue of the Thrive Guide.

© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it:

Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com.

Productivity and Energy: 4 Strategies to Managing Your Energy Cycles

Are you struggling to become more productive and get ahead of your “to do” list? Do you feel overwhelmed at how meet all of the demands life makes of you? Most people focus on external solutions like time management skills or organizational systems to help them become more productive. An important, yet often overlooked, aspect that is critical to your success is your energy cycle.

In nature, there are many cycles. The seasons change from summer, to fall and then to winter and finally spring. You can count on that. Plants and trees appear dormant for months on end, until the conditions are right for them to burst forward with new growth. We have an energy cycle that is available to us as well. Working WITH our flow of energy instead of AGAINST it can make all the difference between having good results and outstanding success. Here are 5 strategies to help you get the most from your energy cycles…. Continue reading

Transitions: 3 Strategies to Make Transitions Smoother and Easier

Are you on the threshold of a transition in your life somewhere? As we move from where we are to where we want to go, we go through different kinds of transitions and changes along the way. Perhaps you’re leaving an old job to start your own business. Or the nest is emptying as your children start independent lives outside the family home. Anyone who has experienced the end of a love relationship, knows that transition state of from being part of a couple to being a single person.

Transitions are a tough stage for most people. Whether by choice or by circumstance, transitions thrust us out of our comfort zone into the unknown and that feels really uncomfortable. It takes courage and commitment to keep moving ahead. Our fears and self-doubts kick into overdrive. Transition and change are inevitable realities, yet I believe there are strategies we can use so we can navigate these important choice points with more grace, confidence and ease.

Here are 3 strategies to use when you find yourself in a place of life transition.

1. Remember There Is A Greater Purpose

A great role model in nature of the power and beauty of transition is the butterfly. As Buckminster Fuller said “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Times of transitions can be mysterious, but they are important times when we can learn… Continue reading