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How and Why to Change Your Mindset



How and Why to Change Your Mindset

It’s the happiest time of the year…for people to panic. Yep,  all your regrets resolutions are just around the corner…good times! Even as I type these words, people are hitting snooze on their alarm clocks, promising themselves, however, that come January 2016, they’ll be bouncing out of their beds like a young gazelle on the plains of the Serengeti, doing a triathlon every morning, bro, eating only kale and pure protein, writing a novel on their morning commute, discovering love, and, just generally, Living Their Most Authentic Life.

Not to sound utterly cynical…but why wait? If you want to learn French or write that book of poetry…what’s the holdup? Your goals aren’t somehow going to be any easier to achieve just because the calendar reads 2016, instead of 2015. In fact, as someone who made a comeback in her own life, allow me to tell you what you already dread know: resolutions don’t matter, goals don’t matter, your mindset matters.

Your mindset is what will give you the belief that your goals are worth the exhausting, terrifying, frequently frustrating, always liberating, concentrated effort.

Your mindset is what will get you up out of that toasty bed on a cold morning to run. Your mindset is what will give you the courage to pay for an introductory French language class, and then force you to ask that beautiful blonde Parisian for directions…ooh la la! Your mindset is what matters. Your mindset is all that matters.

True story: when young Kurt Vonnegut was just starting out as a writer, he received 800(!) rejection letters, before he sold his first story. Not only did he receive 800 rejections…he saved them. Shortly after he passed, I went to an exhibition celebrating his life. Central to that exhibition, was the stack of saved rejection letters, in all their grisly glory. As a young man, Vonnegut had survived the horrors of the World War Two Dresden Bombing; what did he left to lose? (What do you?) Vonnegut took those 800 rejection letters on the chin…and kept on writing.

I remember being almost spellbound by those rejection letters: the idea that Kurt Vonnegut had the courage to save them, to fight through them, to refuse to give them the power to demolish his dreams. That exhibition was probably one of the most important events in my emotional development. As an entrepreneur, who started a coaching business with only debt and determination, there have been countless occasions when something didn’t work out, and I’d think,”…800 rejections letters and Kurt kept on writing. Okay, b*tch. Stop whining and get back to work.”

When I was finally embarked on the process of re-writing the script of my life, my mindset is what allowed me to shrug off defeats, to cry in the shower and just keep going. I learned to grit my teeth, and dig deep and keep on keepin’ on, instead of listening to the whining part of my brain, which tends to display a marked tendency towards moist self-pity. That part of my brain is very tiresome and very dangerous; she wants to drink dirty vodka martinis and watch Adult Swim at 9am, while cramming dozens offrozen Girl Scouts Thin Mints into her maw. She wants to blame everyone else, anyone else, when the universe doesn’t reward her for that magnificent smile. She’s a real pain in my ass; I’m working on kicking her off the lease.

For you kids playing along at home, a huge part of changing, for the better, your mindset is to understand how much of our planet actively requires your self-doubt and self-loathing: diet pills? Our exploding private prison industry and bankrupt, broken schools? Kim Kardashian? Global warming? Donald Trump as a viable presidential candidate? Say what? In an intelligent world, a world predicated upon humans achieving their highest potential, a world driven by compassion and empathy, exactly none of this soul-withering nonsense would be tolerated.

Right about now, you need to realize that changing your mindset is not about sexy resolutions, or constantly beating yourself up but 1) understanding and accepting yourself, as you are, so that 2) you can commit to a realistic–as per your personality–schedule of small, steady, ongoing changes. You can decide that you’re going to force yourself, for example, to be an extrovert, and thus sign up for that hardcore public boot-camp on the Brooklyn Bridge every morning. And then, “weirdly,” “suddenly,” it’s January 8th, and you have to admit that you’ve gone to exactly none of the boot-camp workouts so far, because the idea of exercising in public horrifiesyou. “Suddenly” it’s January 8th, and you’re so frustrated with yourself, that you eat a pint of Chunky Monkey at 4am, in your underwear, washing it down with bourbon, as youstand barefoot in front of the freezer, sniveling, cursing yourself. That certainly is a workout, but probably not one Jillian Michaels would endorse. What about if, instead,you had simply accepted yourself as an introverted personality, and looked for a workout that suits youas you are? What if you just tried to exercise your waistline, instead of your self-loathing?

If you want to make significant, lasting changes in your daily life, start by understanding that nothing can frighten you without your help.

I, for example, as a former playwright, spent years talking myself out of my dreams of entrepreneurial success, due to my incredibly dramatic and embroidered fantasies about how the cats and I would end up living under a bridge somewhere as urban trolls; think “Starlight Express,” without the gritty realism.

Ready to change your mindset? Bueno! Let’s get started today: no resolutions, no waiting. Change takes real hard work, not resolutions.

1.) Create an Action Diary

An Action Diary is something as simple as a Word document, in which you list, for example, your three major goals for 2016 as well as the daily positive steps you take, each and every day, to bring those goals to life. These daily steps, some big, some small are how you will change your mindset for success; the more of these steps you do, the more you’ll be able to do.

Now, your goals have to be specific, since if you say, “Be successful”…well what does that mean? If you spend the next year stuck a job you loathe, and you don’t quit, or get fired, or embezzle corporate funds and run away to Tahiti…hey, sure, that’s “technically” a success: you aren’t, after all, a felon on the lam. But the whole point of changing your mindset is to allow yourself dream big and create actionable, achievable goals. Instead of “Be successful,” how about, “Get a 5% raise,” or “Get promoted,” or “Apply and be accepted to X business school.”  Instead of “Change my miserable life,” how about, “Meet a nice guy who treats me with respect and love,” or “Make 3 oil paintings,” or “Do something fun every single day.”


2.) Identify the steps necessary to achieve your goals

Start thinking backwards from your goals: what steps will you have to take to bring these goals to life? Write thosesteps out. These are your positive steps: positive steps are any and all positive actions you take to achieve your goals. If you’re trying to get a raise, for example, every step, from arriving every day on time, shaven, in a nice outfit, to studying at night school is a positive action. Unfortunately, many people think that every action has to be AMAZING and BOLD. Meh, not so much: when you’re changing your life, every step, every decision to no longer wallow in your fear and misery is a bold step. (Boom. I just blew your mind. I know. You’re welcome, America.)


3.) Commit to taking three positive steps every. Single. Day.

The more you do, the more you’ll be able to do…so start small. Make a decision that, bare minimum, you’ll do three positive steps every day. Each time you do something, write it down in your Action Diary. Big or small, your daily steps get noted down. That way you’ve done something. You’re going toe-to-toe with the Universe, kid, so each step counts. If after you’ve done your three steps for the day, you’re still on fire, hey, no one’s stopping you, Champ: keep knocking ‘em dead! On the other hand, if you’re giddy and exhausted, shake up a cocktail, put your face in a carton of Cherry Garcia and feel smug: you’ve earned that smugness. After multiple orgasms, isn’t smugness just the best feeling? Tomorrow’s another day, and the steps you took today will make tomorrow all the brighter. (I promise.)


4.) Get started as you are, before you’re ready to become the you of your dreams.

Finally, and perhaps most crucially, you’re going have to get started on this revolution before you’re ready. (Oh, don’t even give me that look.) Many people seem to think that once they magically fall in love with themselves, all of the other aspects of their lives they loathe will presto! snap into place. I envy those people—their magical, mystical planet must be an awesome place to live. However, me and my freeloading cats are stuck on Planet Earth, where, last time I checked, change comes only when you earn it. Change comes when you allow it. Changes comes when you commit to it, as you are, in tears, in frustration, despite being 10 pounds overweight, despite being hugely in debt, despite having a broken heart, despite not getting enough sleep: change happens when you fight for it.

I started my business with no business experience—did I mention I was a history major at Wellesley College, for god’s sake? To quote the wit and wisdom of Homer Simpson,” I was told there’d be no math.”–and after years of daily steps and fumbles and crying under my desk and sniveling on the treadmill and determination, I now own a successful international business. I’ve coached clients in the Obama White House. I have clients from Queens, NYC to Queensland, Australia. People in Kansas and Kazakhstan have emailed me, letting me know that my Huffington Post articles have made them feel less alone and more hopeful. I’m a very lucky girl. And the harder I work, the luckier I get.

However: if, in the early days, I had decided I must do everything all at once, or at that I had to wait until my life made more sense to save it…um, not so much. Right about now, I’d still be stuck in a career I loathed, crying in the bathroom mirror, unable to recognize my life. I did what I could with the little I had, which, over time, allowed me to do more with more, creating the opportunities and experience my ambition required, out of the scraps and fear I currently had. I’m not bragging, I’m reminding you: I got my mind right, and I built what I needed. You must do the same. Get to work.


“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”- Anais Nin

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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



a compliment (1)

Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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