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Here's to living your Best Day Ever. Every day.

Choose Happy

Here's to living your Best Day Ever. Every day.

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Burning the ship: When your greater success depends on walking away

In 1519, the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortés and his 11 ships landed on the shores of the Yucatan Peninsula in what is now Mexico. They were far from home, and many of them must have been scared of the unknown world they encountered—so their hearts must have really sank when Cortés announced that he was burning the ships. Retreat was no longer possible. They had to commit totally to Cortés’s vision. We all cling to something that makes us feel safe. We postpone action until we no longer feel fear, or we make merely shallow attempts never designed to succeed. To truly achieve the level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to “burn the ships.” Business coach Travis Roberts recommends looking at the following “ships” to determine if one of them needs burning: Your current job: Are you so comfortable where you are that you’re afraid to step out of your rut and try something new, something that might be more creative and fulfilling, something that would align your life more closely with the things you value most? Do note, however, that “burning your ship” does NOT mean quitting your job without a safety net. Your field of employment: Have you been dreaming of a career change? Do you tell yourself, “It wouldn’t make sense to do that”? Maybe you invested years and money getting the education this field requires. Maybe it just seems too scary to walk away from financial security and try something else. But does this field make you feel disconnected from the values you hold most dear? A bad business deal: Sometimes we stick with a bad business relationship, determined to make it work, because we don’t want to admit that we made a mistake. If there’s a relationship like that in your professional life, ask yourself: Why can’t you let it go? Would it be better for everyone concerned if you burned this ship? The same principles hold true for our personal relationships. An unrealistic dream: Sometimes we can’t let go of a dream, even though life keeps telling us it will never come true. It’s one thing to keep working against the odds in order to achieve something great—but it’s another thing altogether to keep trying something for which we truly lack the abilities or resources. Make sure your goals aren’t just fantasies that are impossible to achieve. Be realistic enough to burn a dream  that could be getting in your way of discovering a practical way to match your values with your goals. Keep in mind, though, that the point of “burning” these “ships” isn’t just to give up and die. Cortés burned his ships so he and his men would be freed from ties to the past, able to commit themselves without reserve to the future. We, too, need to examine ideas that could be holding us back, motivations that are no longer relevant or goals, and even those goals that aren’t serving us any longer. When we identify and free ourselves from those things, we will be able to give our all to becoming the best we can be in our personal and professional lives. Photo credit: Diego D’Ambrosio on Unsplash

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Burning the ship: When your greater success depends on walking away

In 1519, the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortés and his 11 ships landed on the shores of the Yu...

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Choose to be optimistic

Choosing to focus on the best in yourself and in others is powerful behavior that creates positive results. Studies show that almost all successful people are optimists.

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Choose to be optimistic

Choosing to focus on the best in yourself and in others is powerful behavior that creates positiv...

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Focus Your Plans with a Personal Mission Statement

No matter how much you think about your mission, things don’t happen simply because you think about them. They happen because you do them. And that takes planning.

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Focus Your Plans with a Personal Mission Statement

No matter how much you think about your mission, things don’t happen simply because you think abo...

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Make sure your values shape your habits—and not the other way around

A woman I was talking to recently confessed that, rather than working at her current job, what she really wants to do in life is help people. “I need to feel as though I’m making a difference in the world. I’d love to volunteer at a nursing home—or maybe the hospital. Or a youth center.” “So why don’t you?” I asked. “Oh, I can’t,” she said. “I just don’t have time.” “Run through a typical day for me,” I suggested. “Tell me what you do.” It turned out that most of her days looked pretty much like this: She went to work at an office job where she spent most of her day sitting in front of a computer. She usually worked late, and she often brought work home with her. At night, she was too tired to do anything but collapse on her sofa and turn on the television, snacking on junk food while she watched. Before she went to bed every night, she always had a bowl of ice cream because she said, “I deserve to have at least one thing I look forward to all day.” Then she’d do it all again the next day. If you listened to this woman talk, you would hear that she really values things like kindness, helping others, making a difference in the world. But if you looked at her life, you wouldn’t see those values present. You’d think her values were work, television and junk food. Does your daily life align with your values? She’s not unique. Despite our best intentions, we don’t always live our lives in a way that aligns with our true values. When that happens, we feel as though we’re missing something important in our lives. We instinctively know something is wrong, and that cognitive dissonance leads us to try to fill the hole—with a bowl of ice cream or TV. But those things are never going to give meaning to our lives. Best-Day-Ever lives match up values and action. They’re built, piece by piece, by aligning the things we choose to do with the values we hold most important. Does this mean you’re never going to enjoy a bowl of ice cream or a mindless TV show? No. But it means those things do not become the steady diet of your life. To make that happen, we must be willing to change. The woman whose life is too busy for anything but work, television and junk food needs to reassess how she’s spending her time. It doesn’t mean it’s all bad, but it does need refining to match up to her values. Maybe she needs a new job—but even more importantly, she needs to consciously align her values with what she does every day. For example, even the most boring office job will provide opportunities for her to demonstrate kindness to others. She might begin looking for occasions to help someone—her colleagues, her neighbors, her family—in small ways. She also might find that if she did volunteer work one evening a week, it could energize her instead of making her more tired. Living our values isn’t always easy. Often, we’ve fallen into habits—deep ruts in the way we use our time—that lead in opposite directions from the “why” that would give more meaning to our lives. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Don’t let habits choose your values for you. Think about what you believe is most important—and then be willing to change your life, routine and habits so that the two match. Make it personal Want a quick way to assess how well you are living your values? Check out the Life Balance Wheel exercise to get a visual representation of where you shine and where you need to put more attention.   Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

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Make sure your values shape your habits—and not the other way around

A woman I was talking to recently confessed that, rather than working at her current job, what sh...

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Visualize your way to success

This summer 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu beat tennis legend Serena Williams to become the first Canadian to win a singles Grand Slam tennis title. This Thrive Global article details five mental tactics she used to win, available to any of us. My favorite was writing herself a mock check for $3.25 million when she was 15, representing the winner’s check that year at the U.S. Open. She then updated the check each year, as the amount increased, until she received the real check for $3.85 million. Her reaction? “I guess these visualizations really, really work.” Some people may think visualization is too esoteric or “woo-woo,” but, really, it’s just about brain training and creating neural pathways that make it easier to make the right choices for you to reach those big goals. You may not have your sights set on winning a Grand Slam, but I would bet you have a big goal or dream you want to achieve. If it’s seemed unattainable, even though you’ve put some effort toward it, you may want to try some of Bianca’s strategies:   Write the check – Bianca likely got the idea from another famous Canadian, Jim Carrey, who wrote his own check for $10 million as he launched his acting career. Writing down your goal actually helps your brain remember just what it is you’re aiming for. People who take the time to describe their goals in vivid detail are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully reach those goals.    Visualize – Bianca did more than just write a mock check, she regularly used visualization to put the tournament cup in her hands. Visualization can “trick” your brain into thinking that visualization is actually real – a memory of a past accomplishment, which your brain then “remembers” and helps you play out again and again. Just 10-15 minutes of visualization each day is enough to make the goal real in your mind’s eye.   Be present (with every shot) – In a high-stakes competition like the US Open, Bianca needed to be present and focused. Her meditation routine honed her focus, which paid off when she was center stage against the crowd-favorite, Serena. Mediation can “strengthen the muscle of attention” by building neural pathways that encourage focus. Whether you’re an athlete or an executive, focused attention will keep you in the game. Breathe – Deep breathing calms both mind and body, no matter what kind of stressful situation you find yourself in. Mindful focus on your breath goes hand-in-hand with being present, and reduces the “butterflies” we get from the body’s stress response. “Dream Big and Get Big” – This piece of wisdom comes from Bianca’s mom. When you have a big dream you’ll naturally grow to make that dream a reality. What’s your big dream? Write it down, with as much detail as possible, and then set aside time each day to see it. As you step onto the “court” to meet new challenges, don’t forget to focus and breathe. Try it for 30 days, and see how you grow toward your dream.   Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

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Visualize your way to success

This summer 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu beat tennis legend Serena Williams to become the first C...

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