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Success & Career

The New Year and a New Way To Look At Failure



The New Year and a New Way To Look At Failure

Perhaps it is human nature that around the first of each calendar year, we start to look at the results we achieved during the preceding year, and start to assess the new and upcoming year.  This personality imprint may, paleontologists share, may in factgo back to “caveman” days.


Did we kill enough meat for the winter?  Do we have enough warm skins to protect us?  Will we be able to survive?  Do we have a fire built that won’t go out?

The New Year and a New Way To Look At Failure

Thank goodness our sensitivities and sensibilities are more focused on events in today’s life!  The important challenges of life have changed significantly.  However, those imprinted successes can still haunt us both in our business life, and in our personal one.  Were we successful last year?  How are we measuring that success?


Will we achieve all our goals for the New Year?  Let me shock you with a prediction.  Probably not.

Can and will we achieve a large portion of the objectives in which we wish to succeed?  If we apply ourselves to the tasks at hand and focus our attention on the details required to succeed, sacrifice other events and opportunities to that one end, you can probably be successful.


But what exactly is success, anyway?  And more to the point, what exactly is failure?

One of the true tragedies of our society is this:  ask any kindergarten student what failure is, and they can tell you– because they have already been conditioned to understand failure.  It’s programmed in from the earliest age. Failure, in the strictest colloquial manner, means that you didn’t achieve a specific goal that you set out to accomplish.  But what do we really know about failure and success?  Let’s see what society teaches us.


  1. Success is good. It allows us to complete a task that we set out to achieve.
  2. Failure is bad. It reflects badly upon us, upon our organization, upon our family, and upon anyone who elects to associate with us.
  3. No one wants to fail.


Wait. What?


Failure exists when and where people set goals and measure specific performance against those specific, targeted—or often mandated–goals.

Let’s think about that for a moment.


If you’re in business and you target $1 Million Dollars in sales to be achieved within a specific time window, and you only achieve $950,000 of that $1M goal, you might or might not achieve a payout bonus for the year…and you might even be considered a failure. Personally, I’d think you made 95% of what you set out to achieve, which represents 67% more than the majority of others in similar positions, with similar goals,are able to achieve.   You’ve beaten the results attained by more than 2/3 of others in similar roles.  But that’s not good enough?


Anecdotally, I can share a similar story which illustrates this point poignantly.  At one point in my career, I managed multiple retail locations for a top five retail group.  A new Director of Operations joined the group and publicly stated his revenue goal for the year was $1 Million per retail operation.  He achieved an $898,000 average, yet was forced out of his position.  The sales growth that he achieved was an increase in real dollars of over $270,000 per year, yet he was considered a failure for not reaching his goal of $1M.


There are reasons we set goals for ourselves and allow others to set goals for us.  We want to achieve that which society mandates as success.  Success goals are set to fulfill expectations.  A goal is set and given to measure success achievement or failure.  If we achieve the goal, we’ve been successful.


Those of us who have enjoyed both success and failure in life recognize, however, that success as a concept has many other component parts.  Success as a concept can be achieved through an entire series of events not related to the goals that you set.  And so can failure.


In business we often look at challenges faced–and not met–and say that we failed.  Did we really?  Can we honestly say that no learning was achieved throughout the entire process of life as measured in that time window?  Can wenot say that we learned what NOT to do in the future?


And if that is the case, can we classify any life lessons gained as a failure?


Where individuals target success and model success as an expectation, they generally achieve success.

Few people target failure.  They fall into the success model definition.


Business and science–much of life for many of us– has become steeped in the importance of setting specific goals and achieving those goals; or, one is taught that he or she is a failure.  We’d argue that more events have evolved out of measured failure and fault to help solve scientific, business, and interpersonal relationship issues than have ever been rated successful.  For every rousing success, one recognizes six or eight failures. Upon examination, we find success demonstrates itself in a failed task in a myriad of ways and under a myriad of conditions.  One may set a goal to achieve and miss that goal, but will find other opportunities for personal and professional growth and development along the way.


Many people make a lifestyle choice and adopt a philosophy that life is for living, and those things that we learn along the way help guide other choices that we make.  They allow others to focus on success or failure.


So how can we set some targets for failure?

  1. Learn to view life’s objectives to be achieved not as fixed targets– but as opportunities for personal growth, expression, learning, and success. Few of us are able to achieve all that we set out to do, so the inability to successfully complete 100% of everything you’ve targeted certainly doesn’t make you a failure.  If your business is creating meaningful work for you and others, and is generating revenue to meet the financial needs of the business, you will meet the targeted definition of success.  Why worry if it’s not doing all that it can?  That simply means that you have additional opportunity to grow the business.  Recognize and address them. Don’t look at that as a failure.  Viewing that through the gray-white glasses of failure paints your accomplishments with undue negativity.  Same with life.


  1. Take your failures of today and restructure your thinking so that what life defines as the failures of today become your successes of tomorrow. Learn that there are event s and occurrences you simply can’t plan for; you simply can’t change.  Sometimes the world is—shock of shocks–bigger than you are, and the challenges you will face are impossible to overcome.  Failure stalks these huge challenges and wants to seize your self-esteem and your feelings of self-worth.



  1. Begin to look at failure as an opportunity to successfully complete the additional requirements that life has offered you. Life regularly throws challenges at us.  You’re driving to work and you have a flat tire.  You’re rushing to catch a flight at the airport and you’ve been delayed at check in…and you miss the flight.  You’re interviewing for a new job and you’re not selected.


I recently had a former MBA student share with me that she was starting a new job after a job search of over a year, but she was terribly upset because the compensation offered didn’t meet her personal objectives.  My advice to her? Be happy that she was able to work in a meaningful job with more than adequate compensation.


Let’s make a suggestion–Learn to view life not as a success or failure, but as a continuous opportunity for learning and change.  Expect the impossible to be achieved and you’ll often find it is.And as you learn to build upon your growing and evolving stream of life experiences, embrace the knowledge that you gain—not necessarily the successes that society has offered, but the events that help shape and direct your life to be fuller, more complete, and beneficial for those around you.

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Success & Career

5 tiny habits that can change your life and career



Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

When it comes to the daily grind, time seems to keep passing by – yet many things remain the same. We are so busy trying to get things done, keeping our heads above water, that we don’t take real time to think about things like balance, self-care, or making necessary changes.

Little do we realize that small tweaks at home and at work might create opportunities for us to have true balance, and even achieve that elusive success.

Let’s look at five tiny habits you can implement today to control the chaos – and start changing your life and career.


Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life and Career

1.) Embrace the concept of a “clean slate” at work.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

This involves implementing a few simple routines and organizational tools upfront. This will save you time in the long run, and will leave you feeling satisfied at the start – and end – of your day.

For example:

  • Create folders in your e-mail inbox by person and topic. Be sure to move applicable items there. The feeling of a clean inbox can reduce anxiety and enables you to find important material faster!
  • Write phone messages on a notepad next to you each day.
  • Return each call.
  • Note the status of what you were able to do, what needs to be done, and cross out which ones have been taken care of.
  • Complete your list before you leave work.

Nothing feels better than looking at the list and knowing that you have attended to every person, every item, and every task you started with. Yes, more may come in later. But these were your starting tasks.

You are leaving with everything crossed off, a clean slate for the day. You can start tomorrow with a clean slate as well. You’re more organized: able to look at a detailed history of each item you did, each person you spoke to, each item you completed.

A well-structured system and way of doing things is mentally good for you. It’s also a nice feeling to walk away with a complete sense of accomplishment for the day.


2.) Surround yourself with people who nourish your soul, NOT people who infect it.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

Think about the people you chose to be with. Don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries, no matter who they are. Be honest if someone is a “toxic” person in your life. Surround yourself with folks who build you up, support you, are honest but fair with you, and those who have your best interests at heart.

We of course need people who are going to tell us the truth. But remember that truth can be told with kindness. We can give ourselves permission to distance ourselves from, or let people go. These are individuals who make us feel bad about ourselves, or take every chance they can get to criticize our every choice.

There is enough negativity in the world. We don’t need to have it in those closest to us. You will be amazed at the difference when you give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries. So surround yourself with healthy relationships. Stop feeling like you must endure unhealthy ones.


3.) Clutter creates anxiety more than you realize.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

Whether it’s your home or your workspace, getting organized makes a huge difference in your state of mind. So start practicing tiny habits that create structure.

At work:

Get those piles into drawers and desktop storage. File folders are your friends! Label by topic, date, etc. Having things organized and at your fingertips will save you time and a great deal of anxiety.

Have trays for things that are needed on a daily or weekly basis. Organize your office supplies neatly. Remember that your desk is also a presentation of who you are.

You may think that those piles make you look busy – but they really make you look disorganized. Create your own system so that you can locate anything instantly. That, is more impressive than a pile.

At home:

Think more in terms of scaling down to get organized. Make it a goal to make you space your solace. Organize, donate, and find a place for everything. If you have not used it in a year, consider donating. If things belong together, group them. Get the right storage to hold things.

Group things where they make the most sense. Move things where they work and function best. Get rid of things that no longer work, are expired, are outdated, or that could benefit someone else more than sitting in a pile at your home.

You will not miss them. You will probably feel pretty good for sharing the love. Nothing feels better as having a fully functional home where you can live and breathe; where there is no clutter, and where everything has a place.


4.) Practice good, daily self-care.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

It may seem so simple, yet we all seem to fall short when it comes to this vital area that impacts our lives and our careers. If we practice tiny habits of self-care, we function better, perform better, and surely, improve our opportunities for success.

Good self-care includes things, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep each night. This includes going to bed and getting up at the same time, seven days a week. When going to bed, there should be NO electronics, including screens or cell phones, as they stimulate the mind and keep you awake.
  • Eating food that nourishes you – such as whole foods, not processed foods.
  • Drinking eight glasses of water each day.
  • Enjoying treats in moderation, no need to crash diet!
  • Be sure to wake up 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual to ease into your day, and allow yourself to practice your morning routine.

Whether it be reading the paper, listening to a podcast, watching a TV show, yoga, or morning meditation, how you begin sets the tone for the day. So set aside time in the morning so you are not rushed. This is an essential part of your day.

If you start rushed, you are going to feel that way the whole day. Starting with balance, leads to a balanced day.


5.) Self-talk is one of the most powerful habits we can change.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

If we think about how often we thought something negative about ourselves, someone else, or about a situation, we would see how powerful negative self-talk can be. Now think about how better our lives could be if we stopped ourselves before doing it. It’s possible – but it takes effort and conscious work.

You simply need to pay attention and catch yourself. But as you do, the difference can be profound. You start to see how by removing negativity and replacing it with realistic thinking, you feel more balanced. Imagine the impact it can have on your work and relationships, to not see things in the worst possible light?

By implementing these tiny habits, you can bring about tremendous changes to your work and personal life. A few would only be one-time tasks. While others require minimal, but – hopefully welcome – effort.

If things are not working well in these areas of your life, why not give these tiny habits a chance? You will at least be a little more organized. And hopefully, be well-rested at the end.



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Success & Career

7 Ways to Organize Your Day for Success



Organize Your Day for Success

Nope, don’t panic. I’m not going to start by telling you to get up earlier! As an Integrative Nutrition® Health Coach, I firmly believe in bio-individuality. This is the idea that we are all unique: just as some people can’t tolerate gluten and some can, there are early birds and others are night owls. Neither is wrong – they’re just different.

So yes, just as our definitions of success look different, how we structure our days for success will vary as well. However, I believe that there are some things in common.

For the sake of having a starting point, let’s agree that success is showing up in your life (career, relationships, physical activity, etc.) in the most biologically effective way possible (i.e., you are healthy in every sense of the word).

So how would you organize your day for success? Here are seven ways to try:


7 Ways to Organize Your Day for Success

1.) Wake up without an alarm if possible (see also #7).

Organize Your Day for Success

Jolting awake to an alarm is a sure-fire way to feel like you’re off to the races first thing in the morning. Instead, learn how many hours of sleep you are naturally inclined to. Then try to get that every night.

Waking up naturally prevents that influx of fight-or-flight chemicals coursing through your veins: nobody needs that kind of stress at the start of the day! Chronic stress can wreak all kinds of havoc with your body, starting a cascade of poor health outcomes.


2.) Start the day with screen-free “me time”.

The moment you check your email or social media, you are giving others power over how you spend your time. There will almost always be an email that just can’t wait or a post that brings on a severe case of #FOMO. Before you know it, you’re sucked in.

Instead of reaching immediately for a device, consider starting a new practice that can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes (or less) or as much time as you create for it: breathing, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, journaling.

The Web is full of resources for these – just don’t go looking for them first thing in the morning! Are you an early bird? Use this gift of time to work out, meal prep, read, etc.


3.) Create time blocks (see also #5).

Organize Your Day for Success

As much as we think we can multitask, research shows we really can’t. “Task-switching” – what we’re really doing when we think we’re multitasking – can cost us as much as 40 percent of our productivity.

The solution: block out specific times on your schedule for tasks that require your full attention. During those times, close all other tabs and turn off all your notifications – and I mean all of them!

In between these blocks and not before, take a break to check email, make some calls – take care of some smaller tasks. Set a timer that indicates your next productive block is starting.


4.) Schedule your workouts and meals.

We seem to have time for everything but what really nourishes us: fuelling our bodies well and moving them regularly. As a health coach, when you tell me, “I don’t have time to…” what I hear is, “I don’t prioritize…”

I see you rolling your eyes. Let me tell you: if you do that enough, they’ll stick back there. But seriously – it comes down to this: if you wouldn’t cancel on your work, your client’s needs, your spouse’s needs, your kids’ needs, why would you cancel on yourself?

Meaningful self-care is putting on your oxygen mask first so you can help those who depend on you. Organize your day and put those blocks on your schedule. Treat them as unbreakable appointments with yourself.


5.) Multitask…intentionally (see also #3).

Organize Your Day for Success

Yes, I know I told you not to multitask. Now I’m telling you it’s okay if you do it intentionally. What does that mean?

In my work, I talk a lot about primary foods – all the other things in our lives that nourish us (or don’t!) besides what we put in our mouths. Think: sleep, career, spiritual practice, physical activity, time in nature, etc.

The multitasking I encourage is the kind that helps us nurture ourselves on the primary level, NOT the type that tries to manage a staggering number of little tasks that make our schedules so overwhelming.

What this looks like:

  • Need to spend quality time with family members? Instead of adding an outing (with all the planning, preparation, and consensus-building it requires), combine it with another area that needs some attention: take suggestions on the week’s meals, shop together, do some meal prep, etc.
  • Missing time with your girlfriends? Combine it with a workout or better yet, a walk in nature.
  • Desperate to do a little meal prep for the week? Invite a few friends over to cook so that you all get to stock up for the week. (There might be wine involved?)
  • House feeling like a hardhat zone, but you’d rather read? Clean while you listen to an audio book.
  • Time constraints making you choose between a workout and your spiritual practice? Take a walk in nature or practice a walking meditation.


6.) Make a plan for tomorrow.

You don’t have to organize your day down to the minute (although that works for some people). Instead, write down 1-3 large tasks to be done tomorrow and prioritize those once you’re done with your “me time.”

Are the tasks unpalatable? Brian Tracy has written about this concept in his book ‘Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’. He calls the tasks we are most intimidated by (and therefore put off doing) as “frogs”.

His recommendation: start your work – not just the day – by “eating a frog”. If all the frogs look big and ugly, eat the biggest, ugliest frog first.


7.) Get to bed on time to get the sleep you need (see #1).

Organize Your Day for Success

Once you know how many hours of sleep you need, organize your day and figure out when you need to get to bed. Make sure to end the day as you began it: NO screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime!

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