“Someday is not a day of the week”

Have you ever . . . ?

Have you ever started out to work on something you’re not looking forward to, like your taxes and found yourself flipping through and organizing a stack of papers that you’ve been meaning to get to for ages?

Do you never, sometimes or often put off…

  • Responding to an email or phone message
  • Creating that presentation for a very important meeting in three weeks
  • Sorting that pile of stuff that has accumulated in the corner
  • Setting up an appointment
  • Getting started on an important task or project
  • Updating your resume
  • Getting to the task at hand by getting lost in social media
  • Starting that diet or going to the gym
  • Paying bills on time or in advance
  • Doing something because you think there is still plenty of time…until there isn’t

You’re not alone!

If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, you’re not alone. According to a Psychology Today article, In a 1991 published study (Ferrari, 1991a) “20 percent of adult women and men self-identify as “chronic procrastinators,” meaning they purposely delay tasks at home, school, work, in relationships, appointments. This style is their lifestyle”

The worst part is how we feel when we’re procrastinating. We’re often very aware that we’re procrastinating and as a result may begin to feel anxious or fearful. Sounds crazy right? We know we’re procrastinating, we then feel yucky about it and yet, we continue to procrastinate!

Worst of all, if you consider the ramifications of procrastinating, they are seldom positive.

My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.
-Charles Dickens

The Cost

Let’s review the examples above and look at only one potential cost of each by NOT :

  • Responding to an email or phone message
    • Potential Cost – damaging a relationship
  • Creating that presentation for a very important meeting in three weeks
    • Potential Cost – not being as prepared or polished as you could have been which could result in a lost career opportunity
  • Sorting that pile of stuff that has accumulated in the corner
    • Potential Cost – something more important is likely not being done
  • Setting up an appointment
    • Potential Cost – longer wait time or lost opportunity
  • Getting started on an important task or project
    • Potential Cost – stress of then completing it in a short time frame
  • Updating your resume
    • Potential Cost – lost career opportunities
  • Getting to the task at hand by getting lost in social media
    • Potential Cost – time you’ve lost and will never get back
  • Starting that diet or going to the gym
    • Potential Cost – continuing feeling of guilt or regret
  • Paying bills on time or in advance
    • Potential Cost – this one is very obvious!
  • Doing something because you think there is still plenty of time…until there isn’t
    • Potential Cost – again, not doing your best work, not showing up as a professional, losing an opportunity, etc. etc. etc.

A Viscious Cycle

As you can see, the costs are intangible and tangible but they take a toll, either on your finances, relationships, reputation or stress level. So why do we let this vicious cycle repeat itself?

Our brains evolved to zero in on “clear and present danger” via the well-known fight-or-flight response to a threat. But in the absence of an immediate physical threat to our lives, our brains are easily distracted. That’s why when you sit down to do your taxes, your attention wanders with every passing noise, thought, or physical sensation.

Someday is not a day of the week.

-Janet Dailey

Do You Think that You’re a Procrastinator?

Do you think you’re a procrastinator? The Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California has a pdf version of a self-assessment based on 20 questions each on a 3-point scale: not me, somewhat like me, or like me. You can go to it by clicking here.

What costs of procrastination have  you observed in yourself or others?

Have you overcome procrastination? If so, how?

Have you got your Complimentary Working From Home Report yet? If not, Click here to start (10 min)

Feel the Resistance?

Feel the Resistance?

Have you ever set out with every good intention to accomplish a goal and then let it slide? It’s ok to admit it – you’re not alone. According to Dave Clark of TTI Success Insights (our valued strategic partner), ”resistance is the biggest enemy that stands between you and your life’s biggest goals.” That’s a pretty bold statement. 

One of the definitions of resistance from the Cambridge Dictionary is “a force that acts to stop the progress of something or make it slower.”  How does that land with you? Have you ever felt that force? Where is that force coming from? Are there little gremlins out there solely dedicated to planting resistance thoughts in our minds?

How resistance shows up

Resistance can manifest itself in many ways, here are a few from iifsd.org:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of beating ourselves up for failure and mistakes
  • Fear of making choices because we fear making the wrong choice
  • Fear of taking responsibility for our choices
  • Fear of facing the consequences of our choices
  • Fear of beating ourselves up because we have made the wrong choice
  • Fear of wasting our time if we discover that we have been pursuing the wrong goal
  • Fear of making ourselves unhappy if we discover that we have been pursuing the wrong goal
  • Fear of discovering that we don’t want what we thought we wanted
  • Not knowing what we want
  • Not knowing how to get what we want and refusing to admit that we don’t know

What I didn’t see in this list is fear of success – which is a thing.

What’s this about Gremlins?

No, not the movie. Rick Carson, author of “Taming Your Gremlin” brought the concept of a gremlin whose only job is to prevent you from succeeding or being happy.  The description on amazon.ca of the original book is as follows: “There is a gremlin within you. He is the narrator in your head.He tells you who you are, and he defines and interprets your every experience. He wants you to feel bad, and he pursues this loathsome task by means of sophisticated maneuvers: just when you feel you’ve out-argued or overcome him, he changes his disguise and his strategy. He’s the sticky sort – grapple with him and you become more enmeshed. What he hates is simply being noticed.”

One of my key learnings just over 20 years ago when I was training to be a personal coach, was this concept of the resistance and the gremlin theory. I’ve coached numerous clients on their gremlins and each was a unique experience. I would have my clients describe what the gremlin looked like. Did it have a shape? What colour is it? Where in your body do you feel the gremlin?

Your gremlin has a job

Before proceeding with this series of gremlin questions, I would preface it with a brief description of the gremlin theory and would ask my clients if they were open to a few questions that may at first seem unusual. As I had established trust and rapport with my clients, the ones that I invited to explore their gremlins agreed to go with the flow. One client in particular, oh and remember that this was in the early days of coaching and most of it was over the phone. So back to this one client. He knew there was some resistance but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Following our session that day, he said it was a very different experience for him but powerful.

Let’s examine the snowperson in the image for this article. What do you see? No doubt, you see the gremlin in the lower left side of the image. The gremlin’s job is to make sure that the snowperson believes that they will melt in the hot sun on that lovely sandy beach. But look closer, the snowperson is really a sandperson! So where’s the resistance?

The very important thing to know about resistance and gremlins is that the gremlin can’t be coached. Only you can be coached to recognize the gremlin and continue on despite the gremlin. I’ve had clients through the gremlin out their front door, out a window and some have locked their gremlin in a closet. No matter what, the gremlin will return. After all, the gremlin has only one job and that is to make sure you don’t accomplish your goals or that you don’t succeed. Our gremlins can be a very powerful negative force and are a part of our resistance.

As Clark states, “Your true inner voice is the voice that spawned your great idea in the first place.” So even though you might think the gremlin is your inner voice, perhaps you need to know and believe that your real inner voice has merit.

Next time you feel some resistance, that something is keeping you from accomplishing greater things, stop and acknowledge your gremlin’s presence. Ask yourself the questions that I listed earlier and then decide how you will dispose of your gremlin…for now…because you can be guaranteed that the gremlin will be back. At that point…repeat the process and don’t give in to the resistance.

This month’s worksheet for my e-zine Brain Food Friday readers serves as a handy tool to begin to explore your resistance and your gremlin. If you want to receive access to my these worksheets, sign up to receive my monthly blog in your inbox by clicking on the round green “click here” button. You’ll start receiving Brain Food Friday in your inbox usually on the first Friday of each month (except for holidays and long weekends) along with a link to that week’s worksheet.

Have you got your Complimentary Working From Home Report yet? If not, Click here to start (10 min)

Mindfulness in the workplace: Why does it matter?

Mindfulness in the workplace: Why does it matter?

If you are looking for that edge in your career, start by cultivating mindfulness. 

You are not alone in wishing you loved your job! Imagine being excited about your role/assignments and feeling energized at the end of the day instead of drained. It is possible to reclaim greater balance between work and other areas of your life, including family, friends, and hobbies so that life outside your office hours doesn’t seem like a complete waste.

It can be hard to go back to work after a nice weekend away or a couple of days off. You have no idea how many people dread going in on Monday morning. For some, the nerves start Sunday evening and that anxiety only gets worse as the hours tick.

Stress Levels and Quality of Life

Switching from the freedom of a couple days off to bracing for another workweek can be highly stressful. Especially if your job is overly-demanding or feels unsatisfying. Pre pandemic, Canadians had a fairly high job satisfaction rate. If that includes you… I congratulate you! As we begin to see our way to a new normal, many people’s work environments may change either for the better or worse depending on one’s perspective.

We all experience a certain level of stress in our everyday lives. The everyday obstacles and setbacks, office politics, gossip, seemingly exhaustive workloads, and workplace conflict all seem  to take their toll and lead to unhappiness at work. Unfortunately, these all contribute to stress levels which can lead to poor quality of life.

Unmitigated work-related stress can have some serious consequences on both mental health as well as physical health and relationships with friends or family members. It can also damage your confidence and your capacity to accomplish your dreams and goals.

And over the many years or decades you work, that can add up to an unhappy, unfulfilled life of regret.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

It is important to take care of ourselves first so that we don’t become completely crushed down by these things coming at us from every direction!

While no job is stress-free—even a dream job has its challenges and setbacks…

How you respond to stressful situations is what makes the biggest difference between whether you feel frustrated or feel happy at work.

Yet, studies show that mindfulness reinforces your ability to be peaceful and focused at work. To be resilient and move forward towards your goals—with ANY job you take.

Tapping our "toward state"

Mindfulness also fosters what’s known as a “toward state” in the brain. This is a condition in which we feel open-minded, curious, and interested in the task at hand. And knowing how to tap this powerful state helps us thrive in the workplace! 

With a daily mindfulness practice, you:

  • Feel calm and energized through the ebb and flow of stress and change.
  • Know that what you contribute matters and has a positive impact.
  • Look back when your career is done and think “that was time well spent.”

That’s what’s possible when you know how to embrace mindfulness at work!

"I want to speak to the boss."

In fact, I experienced this myself…

Many years ago, I had a job that was right for me at that time. I had some autonomy, a lot of interaction with people and opportunities to build positive relationships and let’s face it…good hours and little stress. Until! Until one day a client came in and said “I want to speak to the boss.” I was second in command so not the boss. My “boss” said what can I do for you. This person, who was known for being cheerful and having a good sense of humour, said “No, I don’t mean you…I mean I want to talk to Sophie.” 

My heart sank. I wasn’t trying to be the boss nor was I interested in the job. From that day on for about 3 weeks, my boss didn’t speak to me. That’s very stressful when you work in a very small office. His ego was shattered so I was going to pay the price.

That’s when I knew something had to change and it wasn’t going to be my boss. In speaking with a friend, she suggested I practice mindfulness. “What’s that?” I asked. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.” 

“Right,” I said. “I can just see me burning incense and saying “Ummmmmm” while my boss watches.” My friend helped me understand how I could build mindfulness practices into my day to deal with the stress that I was feeling. 

With practice and a bit of my own personalization added in, I found that I was regaining control of myself and my reactions. All this began to lead to a more peaceful path at work for me.

That’s why I’m such a big believer in taking control of my happiness at work—and using mindfulness as a powerful force to enhance my peace of mind, resilience and effectiveness.

My energy and positive outlook stayed intact all day!

There are different levels of intensity to that dreaded Monday. Mine was more of an every day but certainly Mondays felt worse. 

Samantha's Story

Then there’s Samantha.Samantha was a dedicated member of the team, but she found herself feeling overwhelmed as soon as Monday morning rolled around. Every Sunday evening by five o’clock her stomach would be tied in knots and sick with anxiety for what lay ahead on Mondays! What an awful way to go through life.

Samantha was connected to the purpose of the organization but felt overwhelmed a bit like constantly almost drowning. I told her about how my friend helped me years before by introducing me to mindfulness practices, so I asked Samantha if she wanted to know more.


We went for coffee on a patio that seemed to last forever. It was a beautiful day and it felt good to be connecting and enjoying the beautiful day all at the same time. I let her take the lead with questions and didn’t push any of my beliefs on her. She wanted to know what I had done but I let her know that she was free to personalize her own path to peacefulness at work through mindfulness.

When we next met, Samantha had started on a few mindfulness practices and was starting to notice an improvement in her mental health. She had gone from being sick to her stomach every Sunday evening to a state of dread only. Eventually, Samantha mastered mindfulness and found that she was able to relieve her stress, boost her well-being, resilience, and effectiveness. Most importantly, she then had the presence of mind and calm to deal with a few issues that were at the core of her initial stress with respect to her job. 

Samantha was now happier in all aspects of her life and her partner was no longer having to listen to her dumping when she came home each day from work. The two were able to plan their life together, which made them happier than ever before!

Managing Daily Stresses

Minding one’s thoughts has been shown as an effective way of managing daily stresses. You may think that mindfulness is too difficult to learn or takes a lot of time. However, it doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t need an incredible amount of time in order for the benefits to take place! In just minutes each day, your workday can become less frustrating with this new skill set from mindfulness techniques. You can incorporate mindfulness methods into your day to find increased happiness and calmness in the workplace!

What mindfulness techniques have you tried that you found effective? How do you fit it into your day?

Sign up for our newsletter here so we can send more motivation your way as well as offer some discounts on coaching packages. You deserve it!

Stress: Choose Your Response

Turn Stress into Good Stress by Choosing Your Response

Life is a parade of stress-inducing situations ever looming on the horizon. Which helps explain why, the more you resist stress, resist the inevitable, the more painful it becomes. For instance, say that your stress was an egg. And imagine squeezing and squeezing that egg. It’d finally crack under the pressure, right? What a mess! But if you gently hold the egg, you can easily handle it.

Stress can Make us Stronger, Smarter and Happier

In a Stanford News article by Clifton B. Parker, the author interviewed Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal who talked about her research indicating that “stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier – if we learn how to open our minds to it.”

McGonigal states that “The three most protective beliefs about stress are: 

1) to view your body’s stress response as helpful, not debilitating – for example, to view stress as energy you can use; 

2) to view yourself as able to handle, and even learn and grow from, the stress in your life; and 

3) to view stress as something that everyone deals with, and not something that proves how uniquely screwed up you or your life is.”

... a cascade of health-promoting physical responses

Studies have shown that when we embrace stress, our bodies release a cascade of health-promoting physical responses. A life-saving “biology of courage” that helps you endure and thrive even under the most daunting, stressful conditions.

A mindset reset

In a Q&A with the Rotman School of Business, McGonigal responded to one of the questions with the following: “The profound ‘mindset reset’ that I’m encouraging involves embracing stress because you understand that there is no way to live a stress-free life, and that the presence of stress in our lives is important to being human. We need stress in order to experience the things we want most in life — whether it’s health, happiness, love or growth. I am convinced that when you choose to see the upside of stress, you increase your resilience, add meaning to your life and make more personal connections.”

A story from real life

In 2008, my husband, Stan, of 8 years was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer. “Sorry, the horse is out of the barn” is what we were told over and over. Sorry, too late for surgery, the horse is out of the barn. Sorry, too late for radiation, the horse is out of the barn. “Maybe oncology can help.”  

In no time at all, here we were, our world suddenly turned absolutely upside down. It felt surreal and almost like we were watching ourselves in a movie. Alas, an oncologist who embraced Stan’s situation and wasn’t about to allow the horse to keep running until Stan ran out of breath. Instead, he told us that “Sometimes aggressive cancers respond to aggressive treatment.” Okay then – let’s get started, we responded. Keep in  mind, he continued “you have less than a 5% chance of living 5 years.”

That was a defining moment and one filled with immense stress – the life or death kind…literally. At that moment, we had a choice, we could feel defeated, go the chemo course and hope for the best.

Instead, we chose our stress response. For Stan, it was an attitude of I’m not ready to leave my wife and my family – I still have so much to live for. Stan also looked at the odds and chose to respond by taking on the perspective that somebody is in that 5% that makes it so it’s going to be him.

The stress response I chose was one of combating this evil force. I could see it, it had a shape, it had a colour and it was voracious. Well guess what, I could be voracious back – “no I’m not going to let you win” I thought. 

Our stress responses were a choice and with choice comes power. There is so much more about this journey but today I just want to focus on just one of the techniques for mastering stress – choosing your stress response.

That choice is what kept me going as the caregiver, researcher, on-demand cook, chauffeur, part-time coach, communications head and wife. My choice gave me the courage that I needed to continue although inside I was filled with fear, particularly in the early days.

Later that year...

Months later, as my husband continued to make phenomenal progress and defy the odds, the oncologist shared that when he first saw Stan, he didn’t expect him to live 6  weeks! In fact, he said that the majority of people that don’t choose a positive stress response don’t make it.

There were so many life lessons learned in that time and yes, Stan continues to be super healthy and almost impossible to keep up with as we approach the 12.5 year mark as I write.

Where to start

How can you shift your perspective to choose new ways of responding to stress so that you turn stress into good stress?

This week’s worksheet for my e-zine Brain Food Friday readers guides the reader through a brief exercise of choice.. If you want to receive access to my worksheets, sign up to receive my monthly blog in your inbox by clicking on the round green “click here” button. You’ll start receiving Brain Food Friday in your inbox the first Friday of each month along with a link to a corresponding worksheet.

8 Questions Every Leader Needs to Answer

8 Questions Every Leader Needs to Answer

Leadership is a combination of art and science. It’s complex and the last 14  months have added many new demands and additional complexities to what you may have already been experiencing such resulting in increased overwhelm, stress and burnout.  

The Feeling of Overwhelm...

This feeling of overwhelm has likely infected the entire organization, so that everyone feels like they are unfocused, moving in too many directions, and not quite in sync with each other.

There is no magic bullet for today’s business realities, but there is a simple, powerful tool that can get you and your team grounded, and focused on what really matters. In today’s world of algorithms, apps, customized software, etc. this simple one-page tool that will help you focus on what’s important. 

A Simple One-Page Tool

It is called the Leader’s Dashboard. On a single page, it captures eight key areas that every leader needs to consider. You can use this tool to stay focused on your most important priorities, as well as on your organization’s vision, mission, values, strategic edge, ways you will measure success, key business and professional relationships, and ongoing organizational and professional growth. 

The Leadership Dashboard is one of the simplest and yet most powerful tools for leaders in organizations of all sizes to:

  • Focus on what matters, so that you spend your time doing the things that have the most impact.
  • Make sure that everyone in the organization is aligned and accountable.
  • Develop leaders who continue to move the organization forward.

8 Critical Elements of Your Leadership Dashboard

Your Leader’s Dashboard would include a succinct summary of:

  1. The organization’s vision.
  2. The organization’s purpose and mission.
  3. Values.
  4. Strategic edge.
  5. Top 3 initiatives.
  6. Key performance indicators to track success.
  7. Relationships.
  8. Top strategies to build organizational capacity.

The Leader's Dashboard Self-Inventory

Want to see where you think you stand on some of the areas covered in our Leader’s Dashboard? If so, I invite you to join our mailing list. With each issue, we provide a downloadable resource to our dedicated subscribers.  Just click the image to the right. 

Rest assured we never share our client or mailing lists and honour your privacy and option to unsubscribe at any time.

The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Your Standards

The Beginner's Guide to Raising Your Standards

What are Standards?

Your personal standards refer to the behaviour and actions you are willing to hold yourself to. They are the way in which you have chosen to behave, and the higher your standards, the better your life.

The Benefits of Raising Your Standards

When you have high standards you…

  • feel very good about yourself and others. 
  • become irresistibly attractive to high quality people. 
  • don’t even get near people or situations that cause problems.  

Your Self-esteem and Self-worth increase

  • Living your life according to a set of standards you admire and respect is one of the fastest ways to improve your self-worth and self-esteem – and it’s the most sustainable.  

High standards help you get your needs met.

  • Standards are based on values, so when your standards are high you also have values that inspire you.
  • When you are inspired by your values and acting consistently with them via your standards, your needs will be fulfilled almost automatically. 

Stuff you don’t want stops coming into your life.

  • As you attract more of what you do want, the stuff you don’t want falls by the wayside.  

You tolerate less..instinctively. 

What are some examples of standards?

Key Points about Standards

  • Being unconditionally constructive with everything you say or do with another. 
  • Being fully responsible for everything (good or bad) that happens around you. 
  • When given the choice of being right or being kind, be kind.  
  • Maintaining a reserve that gives you peace. 
  • Telling the truth, even if there is a consequence. 
  • Putting people ahead of results. 
  • Paying your bills on time.
  1.   Personal standards are a choice.  
  2.   There are different levels of standards.  
  3.   Standards are what YOU set for yourself.  
  4.   Standards are not affirmations.  
Key Points_300x200px

The First Step in Raising Your Standards

There are 5 steps to raising your standards and the first is called Clean Sweep. The Clean Sweep Program consists of 100 items which, when completed, give you the vitality and strength you want. You have more natural energy when you are clear with your environment, health and emotional balance, money and relationships.  

Where to start

Start the Clean Sweep program and try to get 5-15 points. This will give you a burst of energy and a reference base for successfully raising your standards. You can then decide what area you would like to work on next and challenge yourself with a new points score for 30, 60 or 90 days from now. Don’t feel pressured to rush it. It’s more important to gradually work on increasing your points total. Please note that there may be some areas that you will never check off…and that’s ok as long as they are not causing you to be distracted or feel incomplete.

This week’s worksheet for my e-zine Brain Food Friday readers walks you through Step One of the 5 Steps. If you want to receive access to my weekly worksheets, sign up to receive my weekly blog in your inbox by clicking on the round green “click here” button. You’ll start receiving Brain Food Friday in your inbox each Friday along with a link to that week’s worksheet starting next week.