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5 Aha Moments of a Working Mom - Lessons That Have Changed My Life

Saturday, September 20, 2014

motherhood aha moments life lessons
Aren't Aha Moments the best?  Those moments when you're like "Wow, I wish I had realized this sooner.  It would have made my life so much better if I had known this."  Now sometimes, those lessons are things you could not have learned unless you lived through some growing pains, but now being on the other side, I can smile and be grateful I stumbled upon some aha moments that really have changed my life.

So without further ado, let me share what I have learned:

5 Aha Moments of a Working Mom

  1. 5:00am Workouts Are Non-Negotiable - There's no way around it.  I fought this one for a while, but if you want to workout, the crack of dawn is the only time of day where you will not be interrupted and you will be able to fit your workout in.  If you wait, then life will just get in the way or you will feel guilty because it takes away time you could spend with your family and friends.  Bite the bullet.  The payoff will be your health and happiness, which means you will be around longer for your kids, you'll have more energy to play with them, and you'll feel stronger and have more confidence in yourself.  It's quite rewarding to workout so early and to have so much accomplished before others even wake-up.  For more about my health and fitness journey, click here.
  2. Spousal Gratitude Journals Will Bring Happiness Ten-Fold - I secretly kept a journal for my husband for two whole months.  Everyday I wrote an entry describing something specific he did that day that I was thankful for, that I appreciated, or a reason why I loved him.  It was a life-changing experience, and one I would highly recommend.  Our marriage has never had more love and happiness.  If you would like to read more about this, please click here.
  3. One on One Quality Time - You might think I am talking about date night here, and that would be true if you do not already have date nights with your spouse.  Please start there if you have not already.  If you have, then I would consider one on one quality time with other important people in your life.  For me, this was my mom, my dad, and my sister.  I had forgotten how much time I used to spend individually with each of them before I had my daughter.  Whether that was for lunch, taking a walk etc.  After I had my daughter, I only saw them as a group.  I recently did something about this for my birthday.  For my 30th birthday celebration, I simply asked that I be able to have one on one quality time with each of them.  My husband was very supportive and volunteered to watch our daughter while I did this.  It was the BEST PRESENT EVER!  I had so much fun, and it was great for each of my relationships with them.  I plan to do them once a month now.
  4. Food Prep Will Give You More Quality Time - I still do not profess to have nailed this one, but I have noticed that weeks where I have my meals planned out or prepared in advance, there is less stress and more quality time spent with my husband and daughter.  Sometimes, this is just as simple as steaming vegetables and cooking ground turkey on Sundays so that all we have to do is heat it up and add it to dishes during the week.  It's the little things like that.  Figure out what works for you.  Start small if you have to, even if that is just finding a staple, quick and easy recipe to make regularly.  I am a big fan of quinoa because I have found a great variety that is ready in just 3.5 minutes flat.  For one of my go-to dinner recipes, click here.
  5. Work on Yourself Everyday - Personal development.  I kind of hate that term because it used to make me think of self-help books and dependency.  I used to think that only crazy people or people who did not have it together needed "personal development."  BOY, WAS I WRONG!  Why wouldn't you want to continue to improve yourself?  Why wouldn't I want to continue to grow and increase my skills?  I have been on a rampage lately listening to audio books everyday on my commute to and from work.  No longer do I listen to talk radio, and to my surprise, I do not even miss it.  I actually cannot wait to get in my car and listen to my latest selection.  It is like having a personal coach.  Zig Ziglar said it best.  Motivational talks are not a one and done.  You cannot listen to a speaker or read a book and be good for a whole year.  The effects will wear off.  Some people might well think that means it is not a good value or a worthwhile investment then.  Well, what do you think about bathing?  If you bathe today, you will not be clean for a whole month.  You have to bathe everyday.  You have to invest in yourself everyday.  Be purposeful about the inputs you are delivering to your mind and body.  For me, I have noticed that I am daily inspired.  I am happier, and I think the people in my life are probably happier for me having done this.  I am more effective in my communication, have more self-awareness, and feel better about my life goals and my ability to accomplish them.  If there is any one thing you do from this list, please choose personal development.
So what do you think?  What have some of your AHA moments been this year?  I would love to hear about them.

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"Best Gift Ever" Response Guaranteed - Key to A Happy Marriage

Sunday, August 31, 2014

best gift ever received
Looking for a great gift idea?  I personally just gave it to my husband who proclaimed it to be the "sweetest gift he's ever received."  And the best part is, it has the great side benefit of changing your own life.  Results include increased happiness, more romance, a healthier relationship, and overall greater satisfaction.  Who can argue with that?

It cannot get any simpler.  Here are the instructions:

  1. Purchase or Make a Daily Journal (I started small and purchased a small $1 notebook at Staples.  You don't have to spend a lot of money).
  2. Write daily entries describing what he or she did that day that made you love them more or something they did that made you thankful.  Include fun details like what they are doing as you scribe your entry or just describe the day and where you are as you write this journal.  For example, instead of writing "Thanks for washing the dishes," spice it up by penning, "Right now I'm writing you and pretending to watch TV, while you wash the dishes.  Dinner was so delicious and that joke you made about ____ was hilarious.  You always make me laugh.  That is one of the many reasons I love you."
  3. Finish the journal (I purchased a small pocket book that took about 2 months to fill up).  Feel free to start small.
  4. Wrap it up and Present your HEARTFELT JOURNAL to your lucky recipient.  Don't forget to describe the reason behind it.  Below is a picture of the one I gave my husband.  You can see I wrote on the inside cover to make it easy.
best gift ever
So whether it's just because, or you are looking to put the spark back in your marriage, this exercise can be mutually rewarding.  Not only is it great for the recipient, but as the giver, I found it to be a truly fun and inspiring experience.  I got the idea after listening to an inspiring presentation by Darren Hardy at a conference this summer.  He challenged us to keep a daily journal of thanks.  He said that we would be amazed by the results.  Not only would we feel different but our partners would change as well.  We would find more romance, more happiness, and more fulfillment even though our partners would have no idea.  

I personally started looking for daily things to write about in my journal to my husband.  I did not want to be repetitive so it became a fun challenge to find something new to be thankful for in him.  And I think he felt my new found appreciation.  I became less critical because I was focused on the good.  I started to see him for the amazing man I fell in love with 7 years ago, and I believe that he subconsciously felt that and thus wanted to live up to it.  Keeping this journal was one of the best experiences of my life.

So, what do you think?  Will you be starting a journal for someone special?  If you do, I would love to hear how it goes.  I hope it is the best gift ever. 

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How to Mind Map Yourself to Success - Achieve Your Goals

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

achieve your goals dream big
How to Mind Map Yourself to Success and Achieve Your Goals.  Have you ever completed a dream board?  Do you have a bucket list?  Perhaps you have SMART Goals at work?  How about a 5 Year Plan...for your personal life?

Many of us have an idea of where we are going, not written down, but up in our heads.  Or I know there have been times in my life where I have also felt aimless.  I was still figuring out what I wanted in life, and that is okay as well.

For those of you though who are ready to take that next step, I challenge you to make a Mind Map for your life.  Mind Maps, done correctly, can be super powerful stuff.  I am talking more than just about the law of attraction.  Think about it.  If your company did not have fiscal year goals, how would it put together the budget.  If you did not have a map or internet access, how would you reach a destination you had never visited?  This is the same with life.  If you do not have a road map for your life, then you are leaving your destination up to chance.  If you are okay with that, no need to read further.  However, if you have a dream, if you know what you want in life, then you need a mind map to fast track your progress towards it.

Here are 5 Tips to Create Dynamite Mind Maps:
  1. Broad Categories - You want this to be a well-rounded road map.  So make sure you have goals for all areas of your life.  Here are a few suggestions:
    • People - Make a short list of the important people in your life.  The ones you want to make sure you are regularly connecting with and whom you want to know you appreciate and love.  I usually put a heart in the center of my mind maps and make a list of these individuals inside it.  Two things to note.  Do not forget to put yourself.  Too often we focus on everyone else and forget to be kind and take care of ourselves.  Secondly, I want this to be a reminder for you, so that when you look at this list, you can ask yourself, "When is the next time I see this person?  Do we have a coffee date set up?  I need to call her.  I need to send him an email."  Ideally, like the rest of these categories, this will serve as a prompt for you to take some sort of action.
    • Places - Where do you want to go?  What places do you want to visit?  Where do you want to live?  What does your ideal vacation look like?  You get the picture.  I think this category is self-explanatory.
    • Career - What does your ideal job look like?  What type of company do you want to work for?  What kind of mentor do you have?  What job title do you desire?  What Boards or Committees or Non-Profits do you want to volunteer your time for?
    • Lifestyle - Do you have a regular date night?  Quality time with the kids?  Regular happy hours with your coworkers?  Weekend getaways with your friends?  Game nights or BBQs with the neighbors?  Think about what your ideal week looks like and how that time is spent.  You get the chance to build it.  Remember, this is your life.  You only get one.  You have a choice in how you spend it.  Be purposeful about it.
    • Personal Development - How are you investing in yourself?  Are you growing as a person?  What do you want to learn?  I heard a study recently that said the most effective way to learn is by completing stretch assignments.  So I challenge you to not only take a class or read a book, BUT COMPLETE AN EXERCISE OR ACTIVITY THAT GETS YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.  I promise that will probably be your biggest learning opportunity, so map one out for yourself.
    • Health - Do you want to lose 5-10 lbs?  Do you want to run a marathon?  Do you want to learn more about eating clean?  Do you want to lower your blood pressure.  When was the last time you got a physical?  These are all just questions to think about as you decide your goals.  Do not feel like you have to answer each and every one.  Hopefully these will just prompt you to think of the one that best fits you and your dream lifestyle.
  2. Choose a Deadline - Dreams will always be dreams without deadlines.  Write down a specific date that you will complete your goal.  This is powerful.  Trust me.  It will make all the difference when it comes to results.  If I write that I am going to Italy by next spring, I might think I need to start looking up plane tickets and booking hotels soon.  If, however, there is no date next to my beautiful pictures of Rome, I might just continue to dream about "someday" when I will go there AND it may never happen.
  3. Write it in the Present Tense - Instead of saying, "I want to weigh ___ lbs or I want to be a better leader/parent," write, "I weigh ___ lbs.  I am a great leader who motivates my team and shares frequently my vision of the future.  I am the best parent because I actively listen and make quality time for my child."  We live in the now.  If you want or wish, that automatically supports delay of action and makes it okay to start tomorrow.  If you say you are something now, you have no excuses.  You will start to do and be who you want to be NOW.
  4. Make it Colorful and Real - Make this mind map visually appealing.  The more realistic you can make it, such as using Photoshop to insert yourself in the actual picture, the easier it will be for you to visualize your success.  You can use free programs online, or cut out pictures from magazines.  It is completely up to you but the more vibrant your mind map, the more you will look at it, and the more you will focus your energy on making it happen.
  5. Place it Somewhere You Will See it Everyday - Finally, and most importantly, make sure you look at your mind map everyday when you wake up and when you go to sleep.  Ask yourself how you are tracking towards your goals.  Take a moment to actually feel how it is going to feel when you achieve everything on it.  Feel how good that feels.  You now have a road map for where you are going which dramatically increases your chances of getting there.
I know from experience how life changing mind maps can be.  I have been creating mind maps for almost five years now.  Just to name a few goals achieved:  I took trapeze lessons, successfully got hits as a switch hitter in slow-pitch softball, completed a flying lesson, started a saltwater aquarium, finished my MBA, became a home owner, and had my baby girl.  Your goals can be as big or as small as you want.  Lately though, I have been dreaming big.  Someone once said that if your goals do not scare you, then they are not big enough.  I took that to heart and recently revised my mind map to have some pretty big and scary goals.  How about you?  Are you dreaming big enough?

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The Key to Success: Just Do What You Don't Want to Do

Friday, August 1, 2014

Free Mentorship Program Online
Just do what you don't want to do.  What does that mean?  Well, to put it simply, if there is a task you can think of right now that you do not want to do but know you should, then this applies.  If you have a list of dreams and there is one on there that scares you, then this applies.  If you start cleaning, cooking and doing anything else BUT this project or task because you just do not have the time, then this applies.

I recently signed up for Daily Mentoring with Darren Hardy.  I am only a week in but I am LOVING it.  I get a daily email, Monday through Friday, with a simple 3-5 minute task.  There is usually a short explanation written in the email and then a supplemental video that is only 2-3 minutes long.  The shortness of the instructions are really my favorite part.  They are just short enough to keep my attention and just simple enough that I actually complete the daily exercise.  Most importantly, the exercises are making a difference.

Case in point, today's exercise was to Just Do What You Don't Want to Do, and the task I have been putting off for weeks now is writing a blog post.  I have started many and thought of many but have been ultimately left uninspired, leaving many posts in draft.  Waiting for that perfect topic and wanting to feel inspired to write with purpose, I have let the weeks go by without a post.  So I took Darren Hardy's advice, and I just did it.  And I tell you what, it feels good to just do it.

So what is the thing you do not want to do?  That thing that you know you should do but don't.  That call to the person you do not want to call.  That undertaking that seems just too big to start.  That thing you are sure you will do someday.  JUST DO IT.  Just Do What You Don't Want to Do.  You will be thankful you did.

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