Accountability Cropped

Show Compassion to Get Others to Commit

When the people on my team start feeling the benefits of regular exercise and clean eating, a common question I get asked is: “How can I get my spouse/kids/family to join me?”

When I work with managers teaching coaching and leadership skills one of the most common questions I hear is: “How do you motivate that negative person who doesn’t want to meet you half-way?”

I think the answer to both questions is similar even though the circumstances are slightly different.

In both instances we want the people in our lives to understand our perspective, to succeed and to ultimately, be happy.

I don’t claim to be an expert on this topic, but I can share what I’ve learned from my own experience while seeking the advice of many other experts.

  1. We can’t force our passion on anyone else. When it comes to making changes in behavior whether it’s with health and wellness or achieving career goals, it has to come from within. We can’t push others to take actions we’ve taken no matter how passionate we are about them. All we can do is continue to model desired behaviors, walk the talk and let them know we will be there to provide support and motivation when they’re ready to take the first step.
  2. Come from a place of sincere compassion and caring. In the workshops I lead we ask participants to think of a person in their life who’s had a positive influence on them. People often think of relatives, current or former bosses or athletic coaches. We give them a minute to brainstorm as many qualities or characteristics that made that person a great coach or mentor for them. The words that rise to the top are: caring, honest, integrity, listener. When you lead with your heart instead of your head you’re on the right path toward building trust.
  3. Seek to understand first before offering insights. Zig Ziglar once said: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.” Trouble is we spend more time trying to get people to see and do things our way, rather than helping them achieve what they want out of life. The next time you’re tempted to get your spouse to join you during your workout or you want to teach a team member to approach a work task in the same way you would, stop and attempt to understand things from their point of view. Simple questions like: How can I help or what do you need or want to achieve? May get some new insight into how you can add value to them.


The bottom line: Be interested in others, tell them why you believe in them and value them for who they are. With time, you might be surprised by the results you’ll get.

Sure fire tips for blog

Sure-Fire Tips to GET and KEEP Going

This morning, as I lay in Savasana after hot yoga, a cool compress is placed on my forehead by the instructor. I take a deep breath and relax, and think to myself: “I’m so glad I got out of bed to come to this class today.”

Whizzing down the line, I reach for the brake, grab it, and my feet land safely on the platform. What a rush and I think to myself: “That wasn’t bad at all, it was exhilarating! I’m so glad my family talked me into going zip lining.”

I’m listening to Tony Horton as he guides me through the cool down and stretch after a tough workout. Sweat is dripping, I’m completely spent but, my head is clear, my lungs feel cleansed, and my heart is energized. I think to myself: “Why do I make so many excuses for not “pushing play” when I know I’ll feel this good once the workout is done?”

I believe that if we all stopped to think just a bit more about “the after moment” while we debate, make excuses, and hem and haw over doing something that we’d all be so much better off. Do you ever stop to think about how you would feel AFTER taking a calculated risk? Do you pause to remind yourself of the benefits of saying “yes” to something when you toyed with saying “no?”

Why are we so scared of trying new things? Why, as we get older, does our “joie de vivre” and “carpe diem” approach to life start to fail?

As I think about the answers to these questions I am reminded of my own upbringing. I was raised in a very practical household. We were taught to work hard in school, go to college, and get a job at a company that would provide benefits and a retirement plan. I can recall conversations about “taking the safe route” and “don’t take a chance you might regret.” I think a lot of people of my generation had a similar upbringing. Even now, I find the same advice flowing from my mouth when I speak to my adult children.

Typically it’s in our 30s that we start to raise a family and we’re now responsible for much more than ourselves. Every action has a greater consequence. By the time we reach our 40s we’re working our tails off to provide for that family. Sacrifices multiply. Then, in our 50s we think back on our lives with regret. Why didn’t we try more? Do more? Say “yes” to more?

This being the season of Lent and Spring renewal, it’s a wonderful time for all of us to take inventory of our lives and think about what’s holding us back.

  1. Make time to pursue your interests. The most successful people I know understand that chasing success shouldn’t mean they have to forget pursuinng their favorite hobbies and interests. Take the opportunity to be creative, whatever it is you like to do most in your spare time and make some time to do it.
  2. Stop being so tough on yourself. Confidence has a lot to do with that internal voice in your head vocalizing all of the crummy thoughts. Author and speaker Brian Tracy says; “the mark of self-confidence is self-efficacy, or believing in your ability to perform well in your chosen activity.” Those with self-confidence know that no matter the challenge they’ll pull it off and succeed. You will try more and do more if you have more confidence in your ability and remove the constant self-doubt.
  3. Take fear out of the equation by having no expectations. It’s amazing to me how many women I coach sabotage their own success. They go a week or month of eating clean and exercising regularly and then quit because they fear they won’t be able to sustain it. Eating poorly and laying around is easy and comfortable, we get really good at that so why not just stay in that lane? Any goal we achieve in life is not easy. There are always ups and downs along the way and trial and error. We understand this to be true when it comes to our careers, raising children, and falling in love. For goodness sake, why don’t we accept there will be setbacks when improving our health…and more important: that those setbacks are OKAY? It doesn’t mean you don’t try and it surely doesn’t mean you quit when the going gets rough. You pause, evaluate, learn and make changes to keep moving forward, especially when…

…the alarm goes off for second time, you want to hit the “doze” button and skip yoga. Instead you think about that cool compress on your head and the feeling accomplishment you’ll have.

….you’re shaking in your sneakers as you get clipped into your harness before going zip lining and you’re about to turn back. Instead you visualize the person before you screaming for joy and think about what you’ll miss out on if you don’t step off that platform.

….you start to make every excuse in the book for not exercising (I’m tired, long day, no time, I’m sore, the garage is cold). Instead you think about how great you felt after the last workout and you decide to show up and just do your best.

survive a setback

How to Survive a Setback

We all encounter setbacks and they occur for a variety of reasons. An injury, a busy time at work, or just lack of motivation to get back into a consistent workout and clean eating routine. We often know what to do to get back on track, but we let other things take over. Here are a few things I’ve learned having suffered many setbacks over the years.

Make a Decision. It’s frustrating when we get injured or simply find ourselves at the end of a busy week or month having not done any exercise. When a setback occurs, understand that we ALWAYS have options.  We can let the setback defeat us or we can dust ourselves off and keep going. We can remain disappointed in what has happened or we can get off our butt and determine how to get past it. It’s a natural tendency to feel bad about the outcome. At the age of 51, I’ve had my share of injuries. I’m just not bouncing back as quickly as I used to, even with the right rehab regimen. I have a choice. I can sit around and mope about what’s occurred or I can feel good about determining the next steps that will keep me moving forward. NEVER carry a disappointment over to the next day. Go to bed with the belief that tomorrow you are going to get up with a new beginning and a new opportunity for moving in the right direction. Each day is a chance at a new beginning. But first, make the decision to move forward, to overcome and to conquer.

Take Action, immediately. This is the tough part. When a setback occurs the first thing you need to determine is what’s going to get you back on track and moving forward. As Tony Horton says: “If the bottom half is injured, work on the top half” and vice versa.  What alternative type of exercise can I do that won’t make the injury worse? What alternative methods of exercise can I do that will still make me feel good and allow the injury to heal? Maybe use an injury as an opportunity to dial-in your nutrition. What is your plan B?  In the case of unforeseen setbacks, the quick creation of a plan B is vital to success. Setbacks can only be addressed through action and the faster the action, the faster the resolution.

Focus on the Future and Learn from the Past.  Keep your eye on the prize and on that desired future outcome. When I start coaching people I often ask them to write down their “why” for getting healthy.  I tell them that their why can’t be aesthetically focused.  The desire to simply look good doesn’t keep you track.  Your why has to be that true reason for getting healthy, the reasons that will pull you through on your toughest days. Maybe you’ve seen your loved ones suffer with bad health and you don’t want that to be you. Maybe you are parent and you fear not being around to see your child graduate or get married. Whatever your reason, take the time to think deeply about it. Write it down. Put it in a place where you can always pull it out when the setback occurs.  Your “why” is what helps you overcome setbacks.

In the same respect, don’t dwell on the past, learn from it. I go through periods when I start eating sugar and continue for days and weeks on end. I am a true addict; once I start on the path of eating sugar I have a difficult time stopping. The periods when I am successful overcoming this challenge are when I pause and think about the past. Like most addicts we want the high and forget the consequences of the high. When I stop and really think about how cruddy I will feel the hour following what I ate, I am less likely to give into temptation.

Believe in Yourself. This is probably the most important message I can convey. Have you ever met and spent time talking with someone who has lost 30, 40, 50, 100 plus pounds? They will tell you that for years they felt that was how they were meant to be—overweight and obese. They will tell you that once they took the steps described above they started to move in the right direction. They will tell you that the turning point toward making progress was the true belief they could succeed. Every moment they had to make a choice they would repeat affirmations in their head such as; “I can get through this, I can overcome this, I can do this, I will not be defeated, I will achieve my goal.” Every person has a chance at getting their health and life back. Everyone CAN succeed. The more belief and positive attitude you have, the more power you give yourself to overcome the big and the little setbacks and the faster you move forward toward reaching your goals.


Stop Judging Yourself

It’s the opening moments of yoga class and we are asked to “set our intention.”  Instead, I start judging myself as I look at my reflection in the mirror. “I’ve put on weight. My hips and thighs are looking larger. Look at how wrinkly my skin is.” In a matter of seconds I size myself up and compare my body to other women in class.

So much for setting a positive intention for class.

I speak a lot about not letting the scale run your life and to resist comparing yourself to others or to a fitter, younger version of yourself. We are all human after all, and it’s difficult, even for me, not to fall into that comparison trap.

After a few moments of letting my mind wander, I snap out of it. I remind myself that no matter what happens today, I’m here. I showed up. My intention: stay on your own mat. Be the best I can be today. Accept whatever happens today, good or bad. And, then I’m reminded of Proverbs 14:30:

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Envy, jealousy, they are evil emotions. We have a tendency to let other people and other things in our lives prevent us from even getting started. Everyone, including me and the people in my motivation and accountability group all had a “Day Zero” and we’ve all had setbacks in our lives. Our motto: to continue to show up and thrive so the good days outnumber the not-so-good.

The most difficult part of change is making a commitment to do something differently and taking the first step…without expectations and without judgement. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Set your intention just for today. Don’t worry about tomorrow and stop living in the past. Take things one-day-a-time. You might be surprised at how one day turns into 7, and then 30 and then 90.

I’m starting a new group on Monday, February 27th. The workouts are just 22 minutes long and there will be plenty of good, clean food to eat. There will be no judgement just positive support. If you’re ready for your Day Zero to turn into Day One, comment below.

I leave you with this post from Jenn A. I met Jenn a few years ago at the National Team Beachbody Summit. She’s been part of my online support and accountability group ever since. I draw strength from her and from so many others in our group every day.

“It will be 9 years in March that I made the decision to get stronger. I had already lost 40+ lbs with weight watchers but I was weak as water and headed straight into osteoporosis as a young woman. I thought then and there I was not going to be like my granny (God love her soul) and be fracturing my spine by just rolling over in my bed. I started P90X from the couch guys… Was I intimidated? HECK YES!!! But with determination I went from zero to P90X! I could barely eek out 1 push up from my toes but Tony said that was okay: “Do your best and forget the rest… “Which is what I did. Now at 46 I’m much stronger than I was at 36….or even 26!”


Kit What Do You Eat?

I get asked this question often. This week I thought I would answer it honestly.

You may have decided to read this blog because you want to understand the right combination of foods to lose weight, or the key ingredient (no pun intended) to speeding up your metabolism, or to get the definitive answer about how much to eat and how often.

Well, I’m going to share everything. What I eat and what I’ve come to learn since deciding to change my diet 12 years ago with P90X, the Nutrition Guide and Michi’s Ladder of food that came in the box with those DVDs.

Here’s exactly what they look like: The good, the pretty good and the ugly days along with my top 3 lessons learned.

Lesson Learned #1: There are some foods that just shouldn’t be ingested on a regular basis. In fact, I wouldn’t refer to them as food. Examples: French fries, hot dogs, potato chips, candy, white bread. I’ve strung a few days of “ugly” together in this department for sure. The key is avoid them at all costs. Get them out of the house and don’t frequent places that sell them. Eliminating this stuff gives you the biggest bang for your buck. If you’re the type of person who ingests this stuff on a regular basis, once you do eliminate them, the weight will melt away like snow on a warm spring day. Your body is just not designed to eat or digest them and it will immediately thank you for not letting them pass your lips.

My GREAT day: I break off a row or two of a Stevia-sweetened dark chocolate bar and nibble on it after lunch or after dinner. PRETTY GOOD DAY: that chocolate bar plus another small sweet indulgence after dinner. UGLY DAY: I’ve had a scone or muffin with breakfast, the chocolate from that bar after lunch, and a few cookies after dinner. If I cheat I try to cheat on a snack and not blow an entire meal.

Lesson Learned #2: Think “whole.” You’ve seen a lot about this all over the internet. The “whole food diet” and related cookbooks have become very popular. This concept made sense to me and was do-able when I decided to change my diet 12 years ago. And, with time and patience, it worked. I didn’t want to count calories, calculate macros or weigh my food. I had a full time job and three kids under the age of 5 and measuring and weighing took time I didn’t have. Tony Horton told me this: “Look down at your plate at every meal and make sure everything on it falls into one of these categories: lean protein, vegetable, whole fruit, healthy fat or whole grain.” Okay that I could do. I soon became bored with the obvious choices that fell into those categories like chicken, broccoli, apples, brown rice etc., so I sought out cookbooks that had clean recipes using only the foods in these categories. It opened my eyes to using spices and healthy fats to make “boring” food taste better. It made me realize that healthy food really can taste good.

My GREAT day: Breakfast: one whole egg and three egg whites scrambled with spinach, red pepper, red onion and spices from Trader Joes with a side of berries and piece of Ezekial toast. Lunch: large salad of kale, spinach, chopped veggies, avocado and toasted pecans with homemade dressing. Dinner: a soup or stew I’ve prepped ahead of time or lean protein like chicken, flank steak or fish prepared with a side of quinoa and vegetable. Two snacks that might include apple with raw nut butter or cut veggies and hummus. PRETTY GOOD DAY: Typically involves similar clean meals but poor snacking in between meals. UGLY DAY: It begins with sugar like waffles or breakfast cereal with toast. Toast again later that morning. Lunch is a sandwich with grilled veggies or deli turkey on whole grain bread and I choose to have chips on the side. Dinner is cooking something quick like pasta with no vegetables or getting take-out from a place my teens love and then me searching in the pantry for something sweet later.

LESSON LEARNED #3: Learn how to cook, eat at home more often and when you can’t spend a little extra money buying prepared foods at healthy markets. I soon realized that if I was going to stick to a healthy eating plan I had to know what was in my food. The only way to know what was in my food was to prepare it myself. I am not a great cook and I don’t own a lot of “gadgets” to make food prep easy. I did invest in a few that have become huge time savers: a mini electric chopper to chop veggies, a Vitamix that does blends, chops, and mixes and better non-stick skillets and soup pots. I purchased just a few healthy cookbooks that have recipes that are easy to make and use all whole foods and spices. When I don’t feel like cooking or I don’t have the time I go to a few local farmer’s markets in my area that have prepared foods that list all the ingredients right on the label so I know what I’m eating. Last week for example, I was leading a two day seminar and the client was having lunch brought in. Panini’s, chips and cookies on the first day and pizza on the second. UGH! I went to my favorite market the day prior: Debra’s Natural Gourmet and purchased two kale salads and a side of their mustard chicken and packed them in a cooler. I ate these prepared meals for lunch each day. For dinner I ordered room service and just asked for what I wanted and the chef prepared a great spinach salad with veggies topped with grilled salmon.

IN SUMMARY: You may have read what I eat on my “ugly” days and thought to yourself: “That’s my good or pretty good day.” That’s okay. Guess what, in my teens, twenties and early thirties my ugly days included sugary drinks, pancakes, pasta and burgers… pretty often. I was lucky because the other big part of my life was exercise and yes, I was one of those people who could exercise her way through a poor diet. Not anymore. Not only does that kind of food put weight on me FAST, it also makes me feel like crud.

I post photos and videos of myself on social media exercising not to emphasize my biceps or my abs but so you can see MY SMILE. My smile represents how I FEEL as a result of my lifestyle. When I’m exercising regularly and fueling my body right I just feel downright better. I strive to find the right balance of foods that put me in the right mindset. Period.

When it’s time to work out I want to perform at my best.

When I need to make some serious headway on a project I’m working on, I want to be able to focus my mind on it.

When it’s time to go bed, I want to fall asleep easily and not wake in the middle of the night.

When I find myself in a stressful situation, I want to be able to work through it calmly.

Clean food enables me to accomplish all of the above. Sugar, fat and salt, on the other hand, wreak havoc on those goals every, single time.


3rd Annual Ode to the Super Bowl

Here we are. The day of the “big game.” Even if you’re not from New England or Atlanta, it’s likely you’ll be gathered on the couch in front of the flat screen. Even if you’re not a football fan they’ll be funny commercials and a half-time show to entertain you.

You’re probably thinking I’m about to tell you not to overdo it on unhealthy game food. You probably think this week’s blog is about sticking to your New Year’s resolutions. You might be anticipating a recipe for a lean turkey chili or the ingredients for a low-calorie cocktail.

This week’s blog is not about any of that.

Nor is it about which team to root for. Even I’m a bit perplexed this year. Matt Ryan attended my alma mater, Boston College and I’ve been living in Massachusetts ever since graduation rooting for the Patriots.

Today, I root for both teams. Today I root for humanity.

Today I encourage us to gather for one of the biggest events in the U.S. where we take sides and not take sides. Be like the parent of a young child watching the championship match giving kudos to the opponent. Be the person that opens their mind to consider an opposing perspective. Be the person who recognizes the goodness and the strengths of both teams.

Laugh, cajole and give others who want the other guys to win a friendly jab but not a knockout punch.

Today I am hopeful that differences are set aside, people come together, and see the good in each team and each other.

Enjoy the game.

How to Enjoy the Process

How to Enjoy the Process

Twelve years ago my husband and I did our first round of P90X. On day 90 we raised our arms in the air shouting; “Victory! We did it!” We had set out to accomplish a goal and had achieved it. We were done. Or were we?

I’ve coached many people over the years and have had great success helping them get to their goal weight. Once they achieve this target, many, sadly tend to go back to their old ways. The pendulum doesn’t immediately swing back in the other direction, but slowly, over time they find themselves creeping back toward old habits and feeling poorly about themselves again.

You might be a few weeks into a new health and wellness regimen and wondering: “Really? I’ve got to keep this up….forever?”

You might be wondering if you will ever put the word “enjoy” and “working out” in the same sentence.

How do you make exercise a regular part of your life?How to Enjoy the Process

Rethink Your Purpose

Most of us exercise to improve the overall quality of our life. Many people who begin an exercise regimen have had some kind of wake-up call: A poor report from their doctor, they can’t run upstairs without being completely out of breath, or they want to break a poor genetic pattern in their family history. Being able to play with your kids, be around to see your grand kids and enjoy outdoor activities that you may have never attempted, are all great incentives for exercising daily.

In an online article I read recently a personal trainer said: “There’s nothing wrong with having external or aesthetic goals, but in my experience, most clients who are able to find true, long-term success also tend to fall in love with the process itself.” I would agree. I would add that “falling in love” with the process also means accepting the journey and the ups and downs that happen along the way. Some workouts will feel pretty good, others will not go the way you expect. ALL that is good.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Barre, spinning, P90X, yoga… Which is the best way? No one solution is going to work or appeal to everyone. Every human body is different. Every personality type is different. A big part of enjoying the journey is finding the kind of fitness that appeals to you. Exercise should challenge you, but should be enjoyable to a certain degree.

When my husband and I completed our first round of P90X we felt great, but we honestly wondered if we could sustain that level of intensity day after day. That said, having been consistent over 90 days, we obtained a kind of “exercise euphoria” that we wanted to maintain. We were just ready for something different. Anything, if done repeatedly, is going to become mundane. That’s no different with exercise. To enjoy the process, you have to find new outlets. That might be including friends who will make you laugh, or playing a sport or training for a race.

Treat Your Workout Like Yoga

People who teach and do yoga on a regular basis refer to it as a “practice.” As Joe, one of the yoga teachers at the studio I attend always says: “Remember, today is about yoga practice, not yoga perfect.”

Why don’t we treat ALL our workouts like this?

If we treated every workout like a “practice” instead of like it was the championship match then we’d be less hard on ourselves if we had to grab our knees a few times or had to a walk a mile during our run. Have no expectations going into every workout. Just go into with the mindset that you will give it your best effort. This mindset is forgiving and helps me show up day after day.

Yes, my husband and I work out regularly, 6 days a week. What keeps us in the game is our ability to think in these terms:

  • we’re not doing it to outshine anyone else
  • we understand our limitations while trying to challenge ourselves
  • we never expect perfection, just our best effort
  • And the best reason of all…

We know that when we’re done, we always feel 1,000 % better than we felt before we started.

The Power of Potential

Potential, noun; “The latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”

You have this. Everyone has this.

Potential is the easiest, most powerful starting point. It’s your opportunity to achieve any goal and obtain any dream. But, do you believe in your potential?running up stairs

Oprah Winfrey says: “You become what you believe.”

More often than not, our lack of belief in ourselves and our abilities is what holds us back. For goodness sake, give yourself more credit! I see so many women reluctant to go outside their comfort zone and try new things or hold back on fighting for what they believe because they focus too much on their weaknesses instead of working from their strengths.

Once you have a strong belief in yourself, the next step is to take ownership. Potential can only turn into success if we choose to take action. Don’t be concerned about being great or being better than someone else, just focus on being your best. Tony Horton taught me long ago that showing up is better than skipping out. I’m 51 years old, and believe me, there are many days that I want to skip my workout, but when I heed Tony’s advice and choose to strap on my sneakers and have no expectations about the outcome, I always feel better than before I started. Every good choice, even if it’s a small one, happening moment after moment and day after day adds up to building an amazing human being.

Finally, I strongly believe that passion and potential go hand-in-hand. If you care about something deeply, you can achieve it. Why does the underdog win the game? How does a 3rd round pick become the starter? How does the “C” student become the CEO of a successful company?  Answer: deep-rooted, unwavering, passion.

In summary: stop wasting your potential. Decide what you want and GO AFTER IT today.

Off to a Slow Start?

It’s January 15th. Have you made any progress toward this year’s goals? Yes? Great! No? Well, you’re not alone. January is a tough month for me. The fourth quarter of the year feels like a sprint. I’m racing to finish out the year well at work and get ready for the holidays and after a short break I have a tough time starting all over again. The Christmas decorations are stored away, day after day of bitter cold weather sets in, and my older kids head back to college. Let’s just say I’ve had a few false starts already.tortoise slow start

With tomorrow’s Martin Luther King holiday, some of us may have the benefit of a long weekend. Let’s use this weekend to erase the false starts between January 1st and now and start fresh.

Are you with me?

Here are some thoughts I’ve jotted down to help us:

  • Get freaky or conquer your fears to get out of the funk. Whenever I’m “in a funk” I try to shake things up. This could be something simple like getting up from your desk, blaring some music and dancing around the room or coming face-to-face with one of your biggest fears and conquering it head on. For example, if you are afraid of heights, go on a long, steep hike with some friends or take downhill skiing lessons. I often exercise in the privacy of my home, alone. This Christmas I asked for tennis lessons so I could get out of the house, interact with others and get better at a sport. My husband did a ton of research and provided several options in our area to take lessons. This week I’m going to explore those options and register.

What will you do?

  • Figure out how badly you want it. If you’ve set a goal then you have to change your behavior to have a shot at achieving it. For your behavior to change you’ve got to want to achieve that goal more than anything else and rethink your priorities. Yes, that means making sacrifices, but if those sacrifices make you a better person in the end, they’re probably worth it. When you sat down on January 1st and said: “my goal this year is to….,” had you truly thought it through? Did you prepare yourself for those moments of temptation when you knew you’d want to drift away from the goal? Sit down and ask yourself: Why is this so important? What will I gain from achieving it? Why should I make this a priority? If you can’t answer those questions honestly, then maybe you need a different goal. I’ve already started rethinking some of my goals to better align with who I want to be at the end of 2017.

How badly do you want to achieve your goals and why?

  • Just do it! If you’re like me, you may have a tendency to fall into “analysis paralysis.” I spend so much time planning, preparing and waiting for the right moment that I never start. We’ve got to just dive in! Take the first step without fear of failure, without inhibitions, without worrying what other people will think. It probably won’t be pretty, it will feel weird and awkward but good things come from EXPERIENCE, not from sitting on the sidelines. My husband says this to our teenagers all the time. Good, bad or indifferent, every calculated risk gives us a learning lesson.

What actions will take today to move you closer toward your goal?

Confidence in the New Year

A feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances.”- Merriam Webster Dictionary

If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Fordconfidence

Scene #1: Yesterday my daughter and I attended a hot Bikram yoga class together. As I stand at the front of my mat, preparing for the grueling 90-minutes in 95 degree heat and 65% humidity, hands folded, eyes closed, I set my intention: “Give your best effort, have fun and don’t judge yourself.” I’m calm but my sore body and the more experienced yogis on either side of me wane my confidence.

Scene #2: Zip lining in Montana, last summer with my husband and teenage children. During the long hike and once on the high platform, I’m shaking like a leaf. We’ve gone through all the preparation and we’ve been told several times how safe and fun flying on a line hundreds of feet above ground will be. Yet, I’m thinking I can’t go through with it and the fear of what’s about to happen is overcoming me. I have no confidence in my ability to complete this.

Scene #3. It’s a few minutes before the start of a two-day seminar I will lead for a new client. A senior executive is saying a few words to kick-off the session. I’m sitting next to him. As I listen to him and await his introduction of me I’ve got butterflies, but the good ones. Their fluttering around my stomach but flying in unison. I’m nervous and excited. I’m confident that since I’m prepared and I know the seminar content is valuable, once I begin speaking everything should proceed well from there.

Three different circumstances with three varying degrees of confidence. What gives us confidence? As a health and fitness trainer I see so many women who lack confidence. As a mother of a teenage daughter I observe her and her friends either beaming with it or doubting their capabilities.

We all want to be confident and to appear confident, especially in those situations that might make or break our career or might allow us to experience something outside our comfort zone. Confidence isn’t a skill that we learn, it’s a feeling that we can grow and develop. From my personal experience I’ve realized I’ve been more confident when certain best practices or circumstances are in place- as Merriam Webster defines above.

  1. Celebrate your successes. When leading communication skills workshops we often conduct role-plays. I always find it interesting that at the conclusion of these practices people will immediately start talking about everything they felt went wrong instead of what they did well. To build confidence you must tame the inner critic and start with a positive self-appraisal. For whatever New Year’s Resolution you’ve set, set out smaller goals or milestones and celebrate those minor successes along the way. If you want to lose 50 lbs. this year and you completed 3 workouts this week, congratulate yourself (not with junk food, of course) and feel good about your progress.
  2. Surround yourself with positive influences. I’ve been blessed. My mom instilled confidence in me on a daily basis. My mom was beautiful, intelligent and ambitious but she came into adulthood in the wrong era. Women in the late 50s and early sixties were not encouraged to pursue a career or use their brains. She took every opportunity to recognize my successes and encourage me to take advantage of all the opportunities that were not available to her. I credit my ability to exercise daily and eat right to the people in my support and accountability group that I’ve been leading for over 5 years. Without their positive comments, encouragement and the “no judgement” culture we’ve created together, I would have quit long ago. Find people whom you admire and work to nurture those relationships. For me those are people whom are credible, caring and confident themselves.
  3. Be prepared and don’t dwell on the outcome. We’re typically more confident in any situation we’ve prepared for. If I’m going to lead a workshop for a new client I learn about their challenges, business model and goals. Even If I’ve lead the workshop 10 times before, I still take time to practice my words and get mentally prepared. If you practice and prepare for any big venture whether it be a presentation, asking for a promotion or making the leap to change careers, it makes no sense to dwell on the potential bad outcomes outside your control.

How are you going to build your confidence this year? How can you feel good about who you are and the God given gifts you have? I’d love to hear your ideas.