Failure is a stepping stone not a stopping point.

“Obstacles are put in your way not to stop you, but to call out your courage and strength.”

In my quest for mentors and role models to guide me in this new realm of entrepreneurship, the ones who seem to resonate with me the most are the ones who have failed the most on their journey. They are the ones who seem to have lost everything on their road to success but still kept going. In fact, their failures seem to pivot them toward another path that eventually would propel them to a higher level of success.

How a failure launched another dream.

For example, Dave Ramsey is a name brand in the finance coach arena, but his past isn’t perfect nor does he hide it. He used to be in real estate, and at one point needed to file for bankruptcy relief. Around that time, he started coaching small groups around money matters, and soon, Financial Peace was born.

I don’t know how he found the grace and grit to rise, but I’m thankful he did. Because of his teachings, I am free of credit card debt, and am on to the third baby step of his process (save 3-6 months of expenses in savings).

What may have seemed like a huge failure at a time, actually became a new beginning and calling. I have been blessed by his financial coaching, and I know millions more have been as well.

The Success Halo

There’s this halo, at least in my mind, that if someone is successful then they did the right thing all the time perfectly. In the process, I automatically disqualify myself from anything because of my perceived failures. I would hit an obstacle, and assume it meant “Go no farther.”

What has taken me too long to understand is that an obstacle simply means: “Go a different way.”

(Or, it may even mean, “Not now, come back later.”)

The word success has such a positive connotation to it that we immediately equate it with: easy, done, perfect. The reality is that behind every success story is a string of struggles, obstacles, and failure.

Failing is part of success, not the opposite of it. The ones who have reached a modicum of success are just those who have learned to fail fast, and keep moving toward their goal.

How to Fail Well

I think part of success is developing your mental resilience like you would any muscle. In sports and fitness, you learn how to fall safely in order to prevent injuries. The same can be applied to our other non-physical goals.

Here are four practices to strengthen your mental resilience

  1. What did I learn from this? Re-align yourself with your outcomes. Are your activities aligned with your purpose? If not, then let go and feel good about it.
  2. What’s the next step? So often we look to our Big Goal and it seems like this immovable point in the distance always out of reach. Focus instead on the next step that you need to do, and gain momentum there.
  3. Remember your Why. Meditate and reflect on your Why so that you can be re-energized for your work and better serve those around you. Even the most menial or tedious task can be transformed into something joyful and rewarding simply by remembering Why you’re doing it.
  4. Gratitude. When you reflect on all the things you’re grateful for, you will feel better mentally and physically. You become more others-focused rather than self-focused. It will help you focus on the positive things in life that you want to protect and enable others to have as well.

Just like any exercise, the more intentional and consistent you are, the easier these practices will be.

I know it’s hard to see in the moment, but failures aren’t meant to stop you. Failures just show you that you need a different perspective both on your goal and of the failure itself. It gives you the chance to pause, reflect, and strengthen your vision for what you hope to accomplish.

I hope that wherever you are in your journey, that you’re still pushing toward your goals, whether you’re already in action or are still dreaming.

And, if you’re stuck, let me know. I can be a sounding board, accountability partner, or cheerleader. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

Liza

PS

I’ll eventually be moving this blog to a self-hosted site. I think I’ll be able to move my readers/subscribers with me via Jet Pack, but if not, I’ll make sure to add your email addresses to keep you in the loop!

PPS

I was thinking about doing a simple fitness and planning challenge to start off the new year. Like a “Transform your body, Transform your mind” challenge. I’ll be hosting it here for the first week of January. I’ll post details tomorrow–lemme know what you think!

Simple is not easy: The first step to get unstuck and moving toward your goals

I can understand how people can feel duped when marketers sell them something. Most of the time, what really sells is the idea of simple and convenient.

I’m the prime audience for marketers. When I see a food commercial, I’m immediately hungry and want to eat. When I see a campaign for a new makeup release, I’ll immediately want it. When I see a new exercise program, I want to jump on board.

Then of course my rational mind comes in and brings me back in line with my financial and health goals and tells me that just because something is pretty doesn’t mean I need it in my life. And just because something looks simple to use, doesn’t mean it will be easy to get the results I want.

For example…

If simple were easy, everyone would be at their ideal health and fitness goals because the answer is scattered everywhere: eat real food and move more. Everyone I know from all health levels knows that they ought to be eating more greens and fruits; they just don’t.

But simple choices are rarely easy to make. It’s not easy to choose the healthy option when it’s more expensive than the dollar burger. It’s not easy to choose water when your friends are drinking beer. It’s not easy to cook a meal when you pass five fast food joints between work and home and you still have a million errands to run. It’s not easy to get up before dawn to work a body that just wants to sleep.

It’s especially not easy to continue to make those healthy choices when you don’t see results.

However.

We’re not doomed to being stuck.

We’re already past the first hurdle: awareness. At least we are aware that we are trying. We are aware of our goals. We are aware of our obstacles. We are aware of our excuses. We are aware that this new process we are embarking upon is hard.

So we accept it. Not the excuses. The awareness. The reality that this new process is hard. Only then can we really tackle the goal and treat it with the mindfulness it deserves. Only then can we decide if it’s truly worth it to us to continue.

I think I really like this topic, so I’ll continue my train of thought tomorrow…

How about you? Do you have any goals that are constantly on your To Do Lists, but never seem to gain traction on? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading,

xoxo

Liza

A few of my favorite things

Whenever my life creeps into overwhelm, I find that I am quick to drop everything non-essential and focus on my one true foundation: my health.

One of my highest values is freedom. Having a strong body and mind is essential for me to create the freedom that I need in my life. This is why I am able to make the decisions that I make without guilt or apology.

For example, if something or someone is consistently negative, I excuse myself from that situation or learn to avoid that person. If I’m feeling under the weather, I make sure to sleep more and drink more water, tea, and green juices. I exercise regardless of my mood, and avoid foods that would stress out my body.

I don’t eat a perfect diet or always get 8 hours of sleep in. I have just learned to listen to my body and react quickly to biofeedback. Because I value freedom, I don’t want anything slowing me down, including a sick or dis-eased body. Also, when you believe that you deserve the best life, you treat yourself accordingly.

This method and philosophy has served me well. I’m rarely sick (last time was in May 2007); I have not missed a day of work in nearly ten years; I can go for long stretches with barely any sleep (not that I advocate forgoing sleep any longer); and, I have an iron stomach.

There are times, though, like during the holiday season, when I’m stretched just a little too thin and I start to feel a bit off. Thankfully, I’m quick to react to it. But instead of trying to cut corners to fill in all the extra stuff that creeps in to the holidays (longer work hours, more annoying phone calls, more demands on my time and attention), I become even more diligent about maintaining my health and boundaries.

Here are the things I focus on even more during times of overwhelm:

Real Food.

Junk food is a temporary fix with long-reaching consequences. So rather than reach for a stomach-cramping-and-bloat-inducing non-food, I turn to whole foods. I love soups of all kinds. I love grass-fed meats. Basically, food closest to its natural form.

Juice Feasting.

I own an Omega juicer and love juicing greens for a quick nutrient-dense shot of super foods. My favorite combo is spinach, kale, celery, carrots, ginger, lemon, apple.

Sleep.

This is usually the area of most temptation for me, but I have learned that I am more nimble and quick when I am well-rested (8 hours), so I get the best return on time investment with sleep.

Plus, sleep is the only time your brain has to release all the bad juju that builds up inside it all day. I know that doesn’t sound all that science-y, but google it and feel better about honoring your sleepy time.

Morning Pages/Evening Review.

Yet another place where there’s a temptation to skip because it doesn’t seem productive. However, these 10 minutes at the start and finish of each day are vital to setting me up for success.

At night, I do a brain dump of all the stuff that happened that day.I also make a to-do list for the next day, and I’m mentally preparing myself for the time I need to wake up the next day in order to get it all accomplished.

Then, in the morning, I clear out the junk from my head during morning pages, and ready to clarify my tasks and ensure they are aligned with my big picture goals. I always leave my house feeling in control of my day.

Exercise.

This is basically the best cure-all for overwhelm or stress. Strength training raises all the good-vibe hormones, increases immune system, increases muscle growth which in turn, makes you overall stronger and more equipped to face life.

It takes less than fifteen minutes to incorporate an effective strength training workout into my morning, and gives me the ability to serve at a high level every day. This is yet another habit that has given me an infinite return on such a minimal time investment.

So those are my favorite things! Feel free to share any of yours!

Thanks for reading,

xoxo

Liza

 

Why coaches are necessary

One of the most impressive things my husband has ever done was take apart his old 300ZX and put it back together again. And when I mean take apart, I mean every little nut and bolt that comprised the underbelly of his car–and what essentially made a car, a car–was all spread out on his parent’s garage floor like a jigsaw puzzle pieces. Two days later, after he fixed whatever it was he needed to fix, it was all put back together and running. Minus a handful of bolts.

All of the bits and pieces boggled my mind. (And I’m sure boggled his parents, who were hopeful to get their garage back sometime soon.) But what was most impressive was that he didn’t use any special tools. Just the same old lifts and toolbox tools he and his dad owned.

The husband isn’t just car-handy, but everything handy. He doubled the value of our house and land with all the upgrades and renovations that he installed himself. And I’m not talking the stuff you see on HGTV. I’m talking all the dirty, grimey, tedious behind-the-scenes stuff that they cut out of the shows, like installing an HVAC system, creating a proprietary whole house water filter, rebuilding an entire bathroom from the 2X4s up…all with the same simple tools that anyone else would own.

THE PROBLEM WITH TOOLS

I have access to all my husband’s tools. They’re racked neatly in my basement on industrial shelves. They make a great backdrop while I workout next to them.

Yet, I would not have the first idea how to build a car or build our house. I know their intended purpose, of course. I’ve been able to function OK following DIY manuals. But to have the vision to know what other potential the tools have and use them to fill that purpose? Uh, no.

This same kind of ambiguity plagues me when I see people or businesses selling tools. Instead of screwdrivers or wrenches, they’re selling software and automation systems for businesses. They’re all there to help the business professional and entrepreneurs create simple and intuitive processes.

But there is a missing component to many of these sales pitches and that’s the how. How do I use these products in my business? How does this fit my specific gap and need?

I’m looking at it all and I’m seeing the gap. I own and can competently use all the common business tools out there from email marketing to social media to web design. But at the moment it’s very much how I’m looking at the tools that are in my basement: I know how each tool works. I don’t know how to use them to build a house.

For that I need a house-building expert.

FIND THE RIGHT PERSON, NOT THE RIGHT TOOL

It turns out that I’ve been seeking information from the wrong side. I didn’t need the developers to tell me how to use their tools or ask them how this will help my business. I needed to ask a business professional how they used the tools in their business. What are their best practices, how do they unleash the tool’s potential?

That’s exactly how I came to realize that I needed a business coach, even though I’ve been in business for years. I know how to run a corporate business, but I’m a new entrepreneur. I have always used a system already working. I need to be able to design the actual system I need for my own business.

(This is probably the frustration people feel when they see all the food choices and workout choices available. They see it all, and have the information in front of them, but don’t know how to put it together to create a lifestyle and system that works for them. Enter Certified Personal Trainers and Coaches!)

This is also the plot twist in Tools of Titans–yes, they are awesome interviews and life stories about different successful people. It also shows you that ANYONE can become successful given the right mix of tools and drive. But the one thing they also ALL had in common (but were referred to more subtly) were mentors, coaches, and guides to make them effective. They all had someone whom they admired, who had walked the path ahead of them a bit, and helped steer them in the right direction.

Do you have a coach or mentor that you use and admire? If so, why? Or how have they impacted your life? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Thank you for reading!

xoxo

Liza

My Word or Theme for the New Year

I have always made New Year’s Resolutions or goals. Most of the time I’d achieve several of those goals, and made significant progress toward the others. However, I always felt a sense of disappointment or a feeling like I’d missed out on an opportunity or something important.

For all my self-reflection I still felt disconnected from my life. Like I was just on auto-pilot rather than paying attention and driving. It wasn’t until I changed up my New Year Resolution ritual that I started making progress toward goals that mattered.

MY OLD RITUAL

New Year’s Resolutions give me the same peace and reassurance I would get when creating any action plans. It gives me a sense of calm and focus in the scattered white noise of “What Might Happen.”

It’s not unlike looking at a blank white page. The yawning new year of possibility. The empty blankness of a potential story.

I used to sneak off and find a quiet moment in the hubbub of New Year’s Eve, and take a moment to write down thoughts of the past year. They were stream of consciousness and unguarded and (usually) filled with a lot more self-criticism than highlights. Then, sometime after the ball dropped, I’d go to my journal again, and write down my hopes for the coming year and what I want to accomplish, which would then be translated into SMART goals.

It was all so technical and textbook and exactly what I did for my day job to achieve success.

The problem was, I wasn’t achieving success. Not my definition of it, anyway. Yet, I kept achieving my goals.

I usually just chalked it up to my usual self-critical, high achiever nature. I was dissatisfied because I was never satisfied, and I believed I wasn’t supposed to be satisfied with anything. At least, not in this life.

AWAKENING

I wasn’t completely passive over the years, and I don’t think anyone would have characterized me as such. I’ve been told that I was confident and analytical and independent, all attributes that I admire. But, most people that I interacted with at the day job (which took up 90% of my waking life) would never have called me goofy, silly, or creative, which I also felt embodied the Real Me.

I had completely embraced this role of being the Professional (which is a role that I thought I needed to be in order to drive the sales results I needed), that I ignored, ridiculed, and suppressed anything else that didn’t conform to that view of myself.

(Most of my life I was textbook INFJ. Only in the last 10ish years did I flip to an INTJ).

I was enjoying success at work. I had a wonderful relationship with my husband and we would go on these epic adventures. I had a goal to write novels, and even though they weren’t quite polished or publishable, they were still being written, so that’s a positive, right?

I was doing all the right things, so why was I still feeling like I was missing out on my life? Why did I want more?

Of course, the first thing I did was chide myself for wanting more. That was materialistic and bad. But, I knew I didn’t want to stay where I was, so the only choice was continue going up the ladder and be promoted, right?

After (too many) years of self-doubt, I finally stumbled upon thought leaders and books that have changed the way I viewed myself and my accountability toward my life. I didn’t have to be unsettled or dissatisfied with my lot in life always wanting more. The “more” that I wanted wasn’t material wealth or gain. The “more” I wanted was living a life that used up my full potential and talents.

What I had been feeling was stunted growth. I always felt on edge, like I had to do and say the right things or be a certain way. Like I was playing a bit part in the story of my own life.

I had crammed all of me in a too-tight jacket and pointy-toed heels.*

In just a couple of years, I had attained success and awards that only 1% of my peers would reach. I was set up as a mentor and coach. I was respected and sought after.

I didn’t have a concept for it at the time but looking back, I realized my soul wasn’t getting fed.

The only time I felt true joy and light was when I was creating and writing, and I ignored it or wasn’t serious about it because I needed to make the practical and responsible choice of getting an income and providing for my family.

Thankfully, I stumbled my way out of that soul-crushing job into a place where I realized that I wasn’t the problem. It was the system. I didn’t want to move up in a corporate system that wasn’t feeding my soul. And only when I removed myself from that environment, was I able to see that I wasn’t wrong to feel stifled.

It’s OK to want other things. It’s OK to want a career that doesn’t involve moving up a corporate ladder. It’s OK to choose out.

It’s OK to choose me.

And what I realized I wanted was to be in business for myself. I wanted Freedom. Around 2 years ago, on New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote a new kind of resolution. Operation: Freedom.

MY NEW RITUAL

On New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote myself a story. It was kind of depressing, but it was a story nonetheless complete with highs and lows and learnings. But I didn’t end it with action plans for creating a better 2015. I continued writing the story, writing it in present tense. I described all I felt and saw and did. I wrote out what I created for myself and what I was known for, and I ended it with a “can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Then, I re-read what I had written, and saw a motif. I realized that in order to accomplish what I needed to get done, I needed to be fearless in action. I couldn’t play it safe or be stuck in analysis-paralysis. Fearlessness is acting in the face of fear. I would “feel the fear, but do it anyway.”

Everything I wrote out for myself in 2015 came to be, and it felt good because they were the Big Things that mattered to me. I was making progress on the goals that fed my soul, and gave me a sense of deep satisfaction. I became debt-free, which was a huge burden lifted. Talk about Freedom! My husband and I enjoyed an anniversary trip to Maui, where we got married. I was still working a day job, but it filled my creative and business side well, not to mention, paid me more than the soul-sucking one. I made progress toward my writing goals. And I laid out a strong foundation for my business.

I wanted Freedom for 2015, and I did it by embracing the idea of Fearlessness.

For 2016, I did a similar exercise, but instead of Fearless, I chose the word Curiosity. It was a subtle difference, one that I could relate to more authentically.I loved acting fearlessly, but I also know that fear is important and signals something, so I didn’t want to quite be fearless all the time.

Besides, I was tired of acting. I’d been acting for the majority of my adult life, and I didn’t want to pretend to be something I wasn’t in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

So, Curiosity would be the fuel that pushed my boundaries in order for me to grow. Curiosity would be the guiding thought that would empower me to “try it out.”

If I ever felt that body-cringe of fear when faced with a new and different idea, I would open up, and lean into it instead. Lean into new experiences. Lean into new challenges. Lean into vulnerability.

Because I did that, I have made strides to launch my business, write new content, create a passion project, and found a coach and mentor to accelerate my success in 2017.

I know 2016 isn’t over yet, but I already know what I want 2017’s theme word to be.

Why.

The last couple of years, and the experience of over a decade, has imprinted this truth into my life: that I need to absorb what is useful and aligned with my core values and purpose. Discard anything else. I need to ask Why? before I even think of adding something else to my vision.

I already know that I can accomplish goals. My question now is: Why is that a goal in the first place? Is it aligned to the outcome I want?

Simple. Efficient. Effective.

See the difference? I think of my outcome first. Then, I design my goals to get me to that outcome.

Thank you for your time today. Maybe in the future I’ll create a challenge around creating Simple, Efficient, Effective action plans. “SEE Your Goals, clearly” or something like that. Still an idea, of course, but it has merit, for sure! 🙂

xoxo

Liza

*there’s nothing wrong with business suits and stylish shoes. I love them! But I also love sandals, Converse, being barefoot…you get the drill.