How to Be a Better Gift Receiver

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I was called out by my wife, again, for being a “bad gift receiver”. She is right. I need to be more grateful.

I got mildly upset because a Christmas gift we received last year was slightly different from the one that was on the list. Same thing, just a different brand. This gift was for my son, and he loved it, yet I’m still complaining about it 12 months later!

Yes, I hang my head in shame.

Have you ever done this?

I play it off as a joke, but the reality is I looked at the gift as a hindrance instead of what it was, a gift. A gift from a place of kindness and joy.

I want each gift to be perfectly tailored, but that’s impossible. Just the idea that someone is thinking of me or my son is all that should matter.

No one should have to be worried about giving me or my family a gift because I’m such an ungrateful nerd. People should be excited to give us a gift because of how excited and thankful we all will be.

I’m working on this, and my goal now is to replace every negative thought, right after I notice it, with two positive thoughts.

The reason I’m writing this is because I was recently given a business referral from a good friend. She asked yesterday what I thought of the email referral, and I was about to write back that it was wonderful, but a little too long.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how the 7 step process helps my clients become happier and get better results.

Then I stopped myself. She created this referral from a place of kindness and giving, and I was about to poo poo all over it with a “but” comment.

Then I heard my wife’s voice in my head about being a bad gift receiver, and I realized I could change that. So I wrote back:

Thank you so much! It was an amazing referral. Perfect!

You know what happened?

I felt so much happier after sending a positive thank you in response. My bad habits may die hard, but I’m not going down without a fight. My hope is that I live long enough to turn into a great gift receiver!

Importance of Gratitude

Your success and happiness depends on other people helping you, and the more grateful you choose to be, the more people will want to help you.

The key is knowing where you are making a mistake and creating “bad” feelings, and replacing a bad habit with a better habit that makes you – and other people – feel happier.

My Challenge to You

Pick just one habit you would like to create or improve. What would it be?

  • Start a meditation practice.
  • Be more thankful.
  • Go to bed earlier.

Then pick one super small way to practice over and over until you create a better, happier habit.

Another example: I wanted to start a meditation practice. I knew it would benefit my health and help make me happier. I was so right. I started with a 2 minute meditation practice after I finished up my work for the night and before I would watch my favorite show. Now I’m up to 10 minutes a night and I love it.

The key here is picking a time and place. You will be 90% more likely to build a positive habit if you are specific with when and how. If you can envision how you will accomplish the task then it’s easier to see yourself actually doing it, which means you won’t procrastinate. You’ll take action. Here is a cool article from Jenny Blake about creating magnetic personal project. When you start small, with a personal project, it can turn into something bigger. You never know.

What positive habit would you like to improve or add to your life that would make you happier?

119 Things to be Thankful for

Positive Reminders

Being thankful is one of life’s greatest happiness habits you can add to your life and of course your career.

The more appreciative I become the more successful my life seems to be. It’s like the age old question of “what came first the chicken or the egg?”

When I listen to interviews like this one from Brian Clark of Copyblogger talking with Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income the more I believe gratitude matters. Just listen to the first 5 minutes and Pat can’t gushing about how blessed he feels. You can see how it spreads through his whole life.

If you are anything like me you were taught to celebrate the big wins and not the small daily joys that occur on a minute by minutes basis.

So I put myself on a mission. I wanted to silently and quickly say thank you 1,000 times a day for a week. I didn’t keep a checklist of all my gratitude because it would have halted the fun of this project. I probably hit 1,000 maybe on the last day. I probably averaged around 400 – 500 a day. If this project became a chore it would defeat the purpose, so I chose to be flexible with my goals.

Instead of forcing myself to say thank you I put reminders everywhere. In my wallet, on my night stand, on my calendar, on my cereal bowl, in my car…everywhere that could give me a friendly reminder to feel thankful for the moment.

It was a wonderful project. I feel happier and much more satisfied at the end of each day.

So I wrote 117 things I’m grateful for. I’m going to add to the list or start another one, but this is one habit I don’t want to stop doing.

One big lesson I did take away was thinking about why I was grateful for each one, it helped ground it into me. For example. I could have said I’m grateful for my breath and moved on but I wanted to think about why. And the simple answer was because it kept me alive.

My gratitude became 10x more powerful when I combined the what I was grateful for and why it mattered.

Here are my 117 things I was grateful for during my one week thankfulness project. I would love to hear what you are grateful for please add to the bottom of this post or here on this post. My goal is to create an epic gratitude list for people all over the world to enjoy.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how the 7 step process helps my clients become happier and get better results.
  1. My breath which keeps me alive.
  2. Wild flowers because they grow everywhere.
  3. My wife’s love which keeps me grounded.
  4. My son who shows me how his toy can make a farty noise, which cracks me up.
  5. My dog who can’t resist nestling into my neck when I’m laying on the floor.
  6. The playground that has the awesome swirly slide that my son loves.
  7. My neighbor who brought us lemon cupcakes.
  8. The moon for looking like he’s smiling at me.
  9. My ankle for healing even after over a dozen ankle sprains.
  10. My beard because some guys can’t grow one.
  11. My bed which usually gives me a wonderful night’s sleep.
  12. The rollypollies bugs that eat my dog’s poo.
  13. The stars for being so shining bright.
  14. My computer which allows me to write, reach new people and help you.
  15. My local coffee shop that makes me feel comfortable and creative.
  16. Balding guys who own it by shaving or buzzing their heads.
  17. Gifts that aren’t very good, but the person tried hard to make me happy.
  18. A little house built out of legos because it’s fun.
  19. The loud bird outside my window that encourages me to wake-up and get out of bed a little earlier than I planned.
  20. My jacket on a cold and windy day.
  21. My delicious PBJ.
  22. My laptop started up without any trouble.
  23. Listening to my favorite jazz song from John Coltrane.
  24. My Birkenstocks that I wear as slippers around my house.
  25. My dog who always wants to be near me while I’m working.
  26. My standing desk that allows me to dance while I write.
  27. My willingness to keep trying new projects that scare me.
  28. My iPhone that allows me to stay connected to my friends, clients and family.
  29. Doing a weird little dance because I got a client thanking me for my hard work.
  30. Mowing the lawn on a cool day.
  31. Laughing so hard my cheeks hurt.
  32. My favorite shirt because it feels so soft.
  33. The sun because of 1,000 reasons.
  34. Stories from my friend Matt that always makes me laugh.
  35. Riding my bike to the grocery store.
  36. The fresh baked bread at my grocery store.
  37. The deaf guy who bags my groceries and his always genuine smile.
  38. Seeing the beauty in a lizard sitting on the trip of my front door.
  39. My office that we are building in the garage so I have a dedicated place to work.
  40. The biggest and most golden turkey I’ve ever seen.
  41. Love.
  42. My old friend Sam Hafner who always sees the positive in things.
  43. The skunk who hides underneath my kids playhouse. Poor thing looks so scared. Hope it doesn’t spray my dog.
  44. The warm shower with just the right pressure.
  45. Hand lotion, keeping my hands from cracking.
  46. The playhouse that the previous owners left and my son can play in.
  47. My garden that helps me relax my stress and feeds my family.
  48. A beer while watching my favorite team play.
  49. Double rainbows because their special.
  50. Single rainbows because their fun to look at.
  51. Hawks soaring over my house.
  52. Owls hooting at night.
  53. My favorite pair of jeans that look good with everything.
  54. My favorite sneakers that I can walk all day in.
  55. NY subway for being so convenient.
  56. Wrigley field because I feel like I’m being transported back into the 1950’s.
  57. Listening to my son laugh with a friend’s kid in our backyard.
  58. Yesterday’s meditation when I felt at peace with a difficult family situation.
  59. The builder for building a wall in my garage so I have a dedicated space to work.
  60. Walking my dog and watching a hawk fly over my head.
  61. The crunch of gravel underneath my feet.
  62. My son gently pulling on my arm hairs while we read a book.
  63. Starbucks coffee to help me get started on a rough Monday morning.
  64. A local bakery that has the most amazing almond croissants ever.
  65. Bach piano music.
  66. Walking on crunchy leaves.
  67. Meditating at the end of a stressful day.
  68. Yoga at the beginning of each of my mornings.
  69. Reading a great book that inspires an amazing idea.
  70. Laughing out loud during a movie. (It’s hard to make me laugh out loud during a movie.)
  71. Sitting a sturdy table while I type on my keyboard.
  72. My car starting in the morning.
  73. A lady smiling at me as I type away on my computer.
  74. A well designed sign that is easy to understand and pretty to look at.
  75. The creativity in products that companies create to grab my attention and encourage me to buy. (Lucky to live in such a prosperous country)
  76. The cloudy weather because we don’t get it as often as where I grew up.
  77. Talking to my parents anytime I want whenever I’m feeling happy or sad.
  78. Sending a picture of my newly renovated office to my dad and hearing his delight.
  79. A white Corvette that is beautiful even though I never want to own it.
  80. Happy for a friend’s business success. (My jealousy has decreased as I get older, which I’m even more grateful for.)
  81. My red sweater that just keeps on lasting and lasting.
  82. Afternoon tea when my energy is waning.
  83. Not having afternoon tea and going for a bike ride instead because I needed a change of pace.
  84. My mind that helps teach people to be happier.
  85. The beautiful dark speckles in the brick.
  86. Tile that is easy to clean.
  87. A toilet that flushes without clogging.
  88. My box of tissues when I’m having a tough day with allergies.
  89. Long blond hair my wife has.
  90. My wife’s big belly with our baby inside.
  91. My son who likes being cold, wearing no shoes or socks on a cold day.
  92. How the keys dangle from my wife’s fingers as she waits for her drink.
  93. A comfy chair that supports my back.
  94. Almond milk because it’s delicious and I’m lactose intolerant and soy milk makes me fart.
  95. Using a pencil instead of a pen to write a quick note because it reminds me of elementary school.
  96. Listening to my dog chew on her bone and being happy about it even as I’m trying to concentrate.
  97. Standing on what foot.
  98. The red stripes on my luggage that helps it stand out from the rest of the black bags.
  99. A big deep breath when I’m stressed and feel like screaming.
  100. Walking super slow to the trash can.
  101. Walking quickly to the bathroom.
  102. Waving hi to my neighbor who is trimming his bushes.
  103. Watching a team of runners job by while I sit in my car and wait for them to pass.
  104. Recording software that allows me to record quick and high quality audio that wasn’t possible 10 years ago.
  105. A sip of cold water.
  106. Holding my son’s hand as we cross the street.
  107. Stopping to kiss my wife on top of the head because I feel like it.
  108. Building a weird Lego monster with my son.
  109. Stopping everything and just feeling my heart beat.
  110. Glad my eyes work well so I can see my computer screen.
  111. Knowing that there is so much I can improve on and happy that there is so much potential upside to my life.
  112. The plant in the corner of my office that is struggling, but stays alive some how some way.
  113. My wrist guard that keeps my wrist supported so I don’t feel any pain when I write.
  114. My socks that keep my feet warm.
  115. My receding hairline that is hanging in and doesn’t need to be shaven yet.
  116. My brain that allows me to write fun posts like this one.
  117. My lungs for working so well and allowing me to take big breaths.
  118. The oil painting of a tree on my wall.
  119. My beard that helps me think more deeply when I stroke it.

What are 5 things you are grateful for today? (Just let us know in the comment section below.

The Art of Making a Simple “To Do” Lists so You Get More Done

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You want to accomplish so much each week, but many times you feel behind. This feeling of not being able to keep up can get us all feeling a bit depressed. We really try hard, but we just aren’t able to keep up.

Could it be that you feel behind because your expectations are too high?

Most of my clients think they are “behind”, but it’s because they want to be in a better place with their career. This is natural. If you didn’t strive for more and better, your business/career would fail.

But learning to understand and accept where you are is an important part of the process to grow your career or business. You can’t fast forward to greater success. You and I can only use one minute at a time to get our work done. This requires focused action.

And even if/when you get to that level of success that you only dreamed about, you’ll probably want to move forward to even greater success. We humans are strivers, which means that we want to keep improving and get better results. It is at least partially responsible for making us viable as a species.

Where or When Does the Wanting Stop?

Being satisfied with your position or success is difficult, and can even feel a bit wrong.

I get it. I still struggle with enjoying where I am because I also see how much more I want to accomplish. You accomplish an amazing project like writing a book and before it’s done you are probably thinking about the next book or next project.

So the key is to understand you are only one person, and there are only so many hours in a day.  And I hope you realize that not all of your time can be spent on work and also hope to stay sane or healthy or have good relationships or prevent burnout and loss of creativity.

I’ve tackled this “problem”, and I’m going to give you a quick explanation of how I’ve created my daily “to do” list to make my life better and more productive without going crazy..

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of lists because they help me keep track of what I need to get done, and they help me stay focused on doing the important work. I use Asana to keep track of my big “to do” list, and it’s a great free app.

When I get a “task” type email from a client or I need to follow up on an opportunity, I adjust the subject line, forward it to Asana under a special email address, and it automatically populates into my task list. I use Dispatch on my iPhone to help make this easier. The mail app that came with my phone didn’t have this capability.

Main List – Monthly List

I have a list in Asana that I can reference whenever I need to know what to do next. This list is mostly the major projects that I need to get done for my clients and myself.

I write down everything that I think will move my business forward. If I want to work on a book, I’ll put this on the list. If I notice that I keep avoiding a project, I stop putting it on my to-do list, and that goes on a document that has a list of all the major projects I might eventually like to work on.

I finished the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide because of this system. I chipped away at it every single week, so I mark off tasks in Asana as I complete them. It’s so close to being done, I can see the project finish line.

If you want to, you can actually check it out and see how it can help you improve your career and happiness by clicking here. There are some cool early buyer bonuses you can grab before I remove them for good.

The Art of the Daily List

I do a daily list on a small Post-it note. I pick 1 main project to work on and 3 tasks that support that project. Each task is a part of the project that will help me make the biggest impact in my career. This is where it can get tricky. I focus on this one main project for only 3 hours. The rest of the day might be dedicated to email, fun task, calls, etc.

I only schedule this high level work for 3 hours because it’s draining. I know that I’ll need a break to celebrate my hard work. Which is usually a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. It helps me process this block of time while recharging my internal battery. You only have so much energy in the tank for high level work that’s why it’s good to get it done earlier in the day. If you put it off the type of work that grows your career might never get done.

If your “to do” list of 3 things for the day is too broad, and one of the items might take 1.5 days to accomplish, then you aren’t creating the type of list that will make you feel happy at the end of the day because you’re setting yourself to feel like a failure.

You need to make a list of 3 tasks that you can reasonably do within 3 hours. One might take 1 hours, another 30 minutes, and the other 1.5 hours. By making your list complete-able, then you are much more likely to feel happy when you have completed them all in one day, and then be at least a little happier and possibly more productive the next day. If your list is too comprehensive and too much of a stretch you are hurting your confidence and productivity.

But, here is where it can get fun, if you follow my suggestion below.

Underneath the 3 tasks, write something about how you will celebrate when you accomplish the task. If you do, you’ll reward your hard work, supporting your ability to build good work habits while also creating some external motivation that will layer on top of your intrinsic motivation. Of course you’ll need intrinsic motivation (curiosity for what will happen after you look at your finished tasks), but a little positive external motivation can make the process a little more fun. If the task is tedious it is hard to feel curious about the outcome.

For example I had to stuff thousands of marketing bags and my intrinsic motivation was very much lacking. I tried my best to understand my why, but by creating an extrinsic motivation like going for a quick walk after stuffing 2 boxes, approximately 500 bags I would be able to go relax and call my girlfriend, friend, brother, etc. It helped me finish up my 2 boxes a little bit faster than I otherwise would have been able to do.

By creating a fun celebration after each project, you are encouraging yourself to stay focused and follow through. You will notice that when you are curious about the outcome, then sometimes you might not even need to reward yourself afterwards. The natural reward of completing the task will be an adequate reward in and of itself.

Your Turn

How do you encourage yourself to stay productive at work?  Do you make simple lists, or do you have an even better technique for getting things done and feeling happy?

5 Games for Your Brain to Make Your Work More Fun

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Your career success is based on how much fun you have in your work. Look at the projects that you are most proud of. Most likely you enjoyed the work itself as well as the results.

You were able to find the best mindset for the tasks you needed to do in order to complete your project. And you had an emotional connection to your work.

It’s this connection that needs to happen naturally or you need to manufacture in order to maximize your career success.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a project I call Unlock Your Career Happiness. I want to help you bring more energy to your work so you can improve your results and level up your career.

I recently hit a wall, and I feel the fear rising as I get closer to putting something out there for people to see and use and therefore judge.  I remembered an article that I read over at nerd fitness about gamifying my life.

Why Games Work

As a kid, you probably loved games. You felt the rush of joy as you were close to winning. There is something engaging about taking on a challenge that we are not quite sure we can reach.

Creating this feeling in your career to boost your motivation and productivity is a time-honored technique that more people should use.

I use games to encourage and motivate myself to take action. Here are 5 of my favorite games:

Ready to bring more passion to your career? Check out the new guide I’m putting together for you to help unlock your career happiness.

1. The Time Crunch Game

You understand the importance of time. It’s a finite resource that will run out at some point in our lives. It’s why the Time Crunch game is one of my favorites. It improves focus and productivity.

Next time you have a project to do and you are procrastinating, bring out a timer, set it for 20 minutes, and focus on your work until the timer goes off.

You know how hard it is just to get started sometimes. We hold on to all this emotional baggage which holds us back from taking action. This game sets your mind on focusing on the task at hand and there will be many times that you just keep working, but that’s the point. Sometimes the hardest part is starting something.

2. The Movie Game

There are times that you will look at a task and feel the torture before it starts.

We all have tasks we can’t stand no matter if we are at the bottom or top of the career totem pole. The key to being a top performer is treating each task as if it’s important to your career. This is easy to say, but hard to do all the time.

I had to stuff 2,500 marketing bags for a huge conference for a company that I used to work for. I stuffed them with our newsletter, pens, little flashlights and postcards. I couldn’t even tell you the total amount of time it took to stuff all those bags.

The only way I got through it was by playing mental games. One of my favorite Movie games was pretending to be Bruce Lee as I stuffed each bag. Each movement was precise and perfectly calculated. It forced me to be in the moment instead of worrying how many more bags I had to stuff.

3. The “Acting” Game

There are times we all feel a little inferior as I try to complete the task at hand. Heck, we can’t be good at everything.

Focus is a big problem of mine, which I know is a difficulty for many of you as well. Instead of beating myself up and letting my arch nemesis dictate how I feel, I play the “acting” game instead.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I pretend I’m Bill Gates. I’ve read stories of how expansive and quick his mind is. He is able to process and act on information faster than most people.

I adjust my glasses if I have them on, I hunch over just a little and I start to think of myself as Bill Gates. Then I get back to the task and it comes much easier to me. I eventually fall out of character within 10-15 minutes, but now I’m back on track and I’m much more productive.

4. The Internal Challenge Game

Every game needs to keep score — how many enemies you’ve killed to how many coins you’ve been able to collect. Every time you play, you are measuring yourself against previous tries.

When I feel stuck while trying to write an article, I time myself to see how fast I can get to 100 words. I used to keep a record of how fast I could get to 100. Now I just use this game to spark my motivation and I’m off and running and reaching 1,000 words before I know it.

Next time you are stuck, try setting small little attainable goals that you can measure. Then keep track of how you improve from previous efforts.

5. The Freeze Time Game

You’ve probably wished you could freeze time. I know I have. How cool would it be to be able to freeze time, try something new that might not work, and if it doesn’t work you can just unfreeze time and continue with the original action you were working on?

This game is wonderful for finding a better mindset for doing a tedious or difficult task.

For example, you are about to finish up a report and send it to your boss. As you look it over, you see a way you could improve the report. You could create two graphs to back up your ideas. You already feel stressed about the report and feel you have spent too much time on it. You aren’t sure if the graphs will help. You then remember you have the ability to freeze time.

Lucky you.

You freeze time and create the graphs. If you create the graphs and they don’t help, then no big deal. You didn’t lose any time. You unfreeze time and send off the report.

Too often we get caught up in trying to make perfect use of our time, which we all know isn’t possible. So this game gives us the attitude that we don’t need to be perfect in our execution, and helps us make sure that we deliver the best possible results.

Your Turn

Which game do you or would you use at work to improve your happiness and productivity?

If you aren’t ready for the whole guide you can take the starter email course to help you bring more passion to your career.

A Simple Guide to Career Happiness – Genius Methods

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Most people don’t believe they have true freedom in their career. They scoff at the idea because they are afraid of the power that they possess within themselves.

I believe everyone has great powers. Superpowers not to just help others, but ones that make us happier.

80% of people are currently looking to change their career because they don’t care about their work or feel like they aren’t making a difference.

When you believe in a mission greater than yourself, you’ll push yourself to grow, improve, and make a difference. This stems from the internal belief that you can change lives.

A superpower is sparked by your passions. You then create leverage in your career with your strengths. You then apply your focus to get closer to your reaching your goals. It’s this formula that has allowed myself and people who work with me to do more of the work that makes them happier while getting great results.

Thomas Edison is a great example of this.

I could use your help. I’m working on a title and subtitle of my new step-by-step guide to help you, just click here to tell me which one you prefer.

Passion

Thomas Edison obtained1,093 patents, a single-person record that still stands to this day. And these patents didn’t happen in 1,093 days. They were spread over his entire career, so this was a daily exercise in passion.

Once a reporter asked Edison, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” and Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

He believed he was on to something great he couldn’t stop. He saw the possibility. He once said, “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

He saw his ideas helping millions of people live better lives, and it motivated him to try over 1000 times until he succeeded. His vision trumped his fear of failure. He didn’t know that his light bulb would succeed. He just so desperately wanted it to that he just kept trying small ideas until he saw progress.

Passion has to be nurtured. Edison was pulled out of school after only 3 months (his only formal education) because his mother was saddened that they couldn’t see his potential. They stifled it. So instead, his mother allowed him to follow his curiosity through his experiments.

Many times people won’t want you to follow your curiosity and vision for your ideas, but it’s up to you to pull yourself away from these people. You can only follow your passions if you don’t hold yourself back or let anyone else hold you back from seeing what you can accomplish.

Need help unlocking your career passions? Check out the Unlock Your Passions ecourse I put together to learn more about infusing your passions into your career.

Strengths

Strengths are tricky because sometimes we don’t know our strengths until we practice them awhile. When we practice things we are skilled in, they can turn into a talent. If we practice enough times, we get stronger and more fluid in how we execute our actions.

Thomas didn’t believe his success came from his genius. He believed it came from practice or perseverance.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas Edison

Edison failed at perfecting the light bulb over 1,000 times. Each time he looked at what didn’t quite work. He gained knowledge from the supposed failure, then went back to fixing the problem from a place of strength.

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” – Thomas Edison

It’s hard persevering through career challenges, but if you can view the challenge as a learning experience, you’ll find yourself able to try just one more time. You have another chance at refining your skills and turning them into a real strength.

How did Edison find this positive outlook through each failure?

He relied on memories of past success, his mother’s support, and his curiosity to find the right solution.

Instead of focusing on what you might perceive as a failure, try focusing on what you learned from the experience. From a money-losing project to an idea that no one believes in, give yourself some time to breathe and try again from a place of strength.

Next time you hit the wall of failure, ask yourself what your greatest supporter (could be your best friend, mom, even your dog if he could talk) would say to you. Let this be the voice of reason to help relax your inner arch nemesis and do great work.

Focus

Thomas Edison was mostly deaf due to unknown reasons, but there is one thing we do know. He liked not being able to hear very well. He could concentrate on his experiments without distraction.

He knew he was easily distracted. It’s why he struggled in school. He needed to focus his attention on work he cared about without interruptions.

Edison once said “The first requisite for success is to develop the ability to focus and apply your mental and physical energies to the problem at hand – without growing weary. Because such thinking is often difficult, there seems to be no limit to which some people will go to avoid the effort and labor that is associated with it….”

Look at where you lose focus on projects. What keeps you from finding a unique solution?

You need to eliminate any distractions to allow yourself to get in the zone. The next step is to have the willpower to put your focus back on your work when you have a failed attempt (i.e. a step on the way to success).

Your focus is actually like a muscle. The more you use it the better you get at it. This is where your inner arch nemesis is so important to listen to, but not dictate your actions.

Give yourself a chance to process the failed attempt, but then get back to it and try the 101st step and see what happens.

* You can pre-order the soon to be released guide here.

Remember: Failure Is Inevitable

Many of Edison’s ideas never took off. He tried creating a practical family home out of cement molds, which was never accepted. He tried to create a practical way to mine iron ore to help meet the demand Pennsylvania steel companies needed for the metal.

When that didn’t work out either, he gave up and moved on to more practical projects. You will have failures too. The key is know when to give up and put your focus back on projects that will help you grow your happiness and your career.

More Important Than Failure

Edison knew his ideas could help people live better lives. From the light-bulb to his attempt to make cheaper and sturdier houses. He stuck with an idea he cared about from beginning to end.

He let go of various ideas like cement molds and electrographic vote recorder, but persevered on his motion picture Kinetoscope and iron ore separator.

Letting go of ideas that aren’t working well and following through on the good ideas is part of Edison’s genius. He couldn’t have perfected the light bulb on his 738th or 978th try. He kept going because he knew he was on to something great.

What small action can you take today to help someone to grow your career?

Let’s Review

Edison believed that his hard work is what helped him accomplish all his amazing inventions. He did this through his superpowers (passion, strengths, focus). He believed that his curiosity was more important than worrying about failure. He believed that having time to focus and let go of negative thoughts kept him moving forward on projects that never went quite right until that last try. He believed that his strengths grew stronger the more he tried.

He believed…

He believed in himself, and although he probably didn’t call them “superpowers“, he had utilized his Passion, Focus, and Strengths

Do you believe you have any superpowers? (Powers to help others)

If not, why not?

Are you using these talents in your career?

Career happiness shouldn’t be for only 20% of the population. Career happiness can come in many packages. You can find it in the strangest places. Over my conversations with hundreds of people who’ve found their passion, I’ve found the happiest people have one thing in common. They take daily actions to make a difference in people’s lives.

They aren’t always in a blissful state, but their purpose keeps them moving forward, chipping away at their goals. It’s this passion that drives them to seek out creative solutions.

Your Turn

You have great gifts too! What are they?

And what is one failure that you worked through and came out on top?

The Biggest Mistake People Make When Trying to Improve Their Focus

Your Focus

* No laughing at my rudimentary drawings. I wanted to create a visual drawing for you of work that gets me “in the zone”.

Last week I was working my butt off for a client deadline. I was in the zone. Time didn’t exist and I was killing it. After I was done I lifted my head, looked around, and basked in the glow of doing great work.

I stood up, stretched, and a little dance just popped into my legs.

You ever have moments like this?

They don’t happen often enough for me. They don’t happen often enough for anyone.

This experience hardly ever happened until I began to apply a few techniques that have made a huge improvement to my ability to focus and accomplish great work.

I’m a thought chaser, easily distracted.

It’s like watching my dog watch squirrels she can’t catch, just enjoying seeing them run around in the yard.

Many times I have a thought or idea I act on it, which means I pull myself away from work that I need to stay focused on.

Thought Chaser

I’m a fairly productive guy. I write two blog posts a week. One here and one on Domino Connection, my customer connection site. I also do career coaching calls, interviews, social media, speaking events, and website Connection reviews. I have a 5 year old son, wonderful marriage, exercise and many little tasks like grilling chicken and making amazing green beans for dinner.

I’m no slouch.

I am however a thought chaser, which means I struggle to harness my focus at times.

This can be a good thing for your creativity, but many times it holds you back from getting in the zone and accomplishing great work. It means stress kicks in at the end of the day because you didn’t get what you needed to get done.

I used to work at night all the time to catch back up on work. There are times I work at night, but now it’s because I have a creative itch that I need to scratch, not because I didn’t do all my work.

As I’ve been dealing with my attention issues I began to notice certain patterns.

Squirrel Brain

Your focus is the reason you are successful. The better you get at prioritizing your days the easier it is to get your most important work done, so you have more flexibility in your day.

You are allowed to chase squirrels, but you need to know when to stop and get your focus back on track.

Sometimes it’s fun chasing thoughts around, but if we do it usually leads to getting nothing done.

Next Step

Look at where your attention is being distraction and why you think it’s happening. If you don’t have focused time to get your most important tasks accomplished you won’t get great results.

Ask yourself:

What can I do to create more focused time at work?

This question will help you identify where you are losing your focus. Once you figure out what triggers your attention to diminish you’ll find it’s much easier to get it back on track.

Unlock Your Focus

Need help harnessing your focus at work? Check out the Unlock Your Superpowers course where we help you unlock your focus as well as your passion and strengths to make reaching your career goals faster and a lot more fun.

The course will go live on Sept. 10th. There is a presale discount going on right now. Click here to see what’s in the course and how it can help improve your happiness at work. The more efficient you are able to get your work done the quicker you can move on to work that makes you happy.

The Importance of Starting Today

career superpowers

I talk a lot about focus because it’s one of my greatest weaknesses. I have ADD. It takes me awhile to get my focus going in one direction and keeping it there. When it is there, the results are fantastic. When it’s not, I’m a blubbering mess.

Finding ways to improve my focus has been a mission of mine over these last few months. It’s been the missing piece to my success.

I’ve got most of my passions figured out. And I know my strengths well.

My success has been good but not great. Over 1,000,000 views on Work Happy Now. The money I earn from coaching and consulting is good. The people that I’ve been able to help feel happier and bring more success to their careers has been an inspiration to me.

I’m inspired to do even better.

It’s been my difficulty in focusing for long periods of time that has held me back from helping more people. All my dominoes haven’t been aligned as best they can.

Now things are improving on a daily basis. I’m layering my projects so they fit into a larger picture. It’s this vision that has helped me reach new levels. Each choice is made to reach bigger goals.

It comes back to focus.

This took awhile. I knew what I needed to do, but I couldn’t put it all together. Many of you might feel this way about your career as well. You’ve done great work, but your focus is a bit off, or maybe your passions are a bit off because you’ve lost some of your motivation.

I’ve been there.

Do you know the four words I use the most often on my site?

You can probably guess.

  1. Passion
  2. Strengths
  3. Focus
  4. Happiness

I’m obsessed with these words because if you can utilize the first three, you are utilizing your superpowers and developing a happier career and life.

It’s why I created the Unlock Your Superpowers Course. Right now it’s $20 off until Sept. 10th. I know this course is not for everyone. I designed it for people who want to make a bigger impact on others and feel happier at the end of each day. If you don’t believe you have special talents (superpowers) then you probably won’t be able to utilize the course.

Ok, if you are still reading this, you probably believe in your talents and you want to take back control of your career happiness.

Welcome to our club!

My goal with this course is to help you do three things.

  1. Bring more passion to your work so you get excited about your work again.
  2. Improve your focus so you get better results.
  3. Grow your happiness so you feel less stress and improve your relationships at work.

Click here to join in on the fun and bring back the joy to your work.

Why Your Career Strengths Aren’t the Whole Picture

Understand Your Why

Your strengths are tricky.

I used to think I was a great writer, but I’m really not.

There are many better writers than me, but what helps me sell books and courses, and grow my blog is my passion for my subject, not the quality of my prose.

Art is also a passion of mine. There is something amazing about taking a blank canvas (blank page) and turning it into something that makes people feel something.

In college, I once wrote a paper breaking down a piece of art from Rembrandt.

I broke down each area of the painting. From the hand gesture of the woman laying in bed to the expression on her face. I handed in my paper and when I got it back I saw that my professor got to the second page and then marked a bold red line under the first paragraph.

He wrote, “I can no longer edit this paper. The grammar is terrible, but the thoughts are excellent.”

He gave me an A-.

He saw my vision and rewarded me appropriately.

Passion First

I believe that work happiness is one of the most important things any person can strive for in their career. I’m on a mission to help as many people as I can unlock their superpowers so they can work happier. That means conveying my ideas through writing.

I can’t let my writing skills hold me back from being great. With that being said, I truly enjoy writing and I do it to get my ideas out into the world. I’ve turned myself from a terrible writer into a good writer. It has become a strength because of the amount of hours I’ve put in. It’s easily over 10,000 hours. I now consider writing a superpower of mine because it combines passion, focus, and strength.

Work happiness is my passion and I use writing (which comes easy to me and gets me in the zone) to reach more people.

I’m never going to write the next great novel, but I am able to convey ideas that get people excited about taking action. That’s even more beautiful to me than writing the next great novel.

Check out the free ecourse to help unlock your passions, it’s the first step to unlocking your superpowers.

Superpowers

That’s why I always tell my coaching clients to start with work they are passionate about and add actions that come easy to them (strengths) as well as  actions that they get lost in and it feels like time doesn’t exist (focus) to make sure that they achieve great results.

When your motivation wanes, (and it will) it’s this larger-picture thinking that will get you back on track more than task-oriented thinking If you can focus on why you are doing the work instead of focusing on just the task, it will become easier to stay motivated.

That’s how you unlock your superpowers and take your career to a new level. The whole you instead of just your strengths.

Your Turn

Do you think about why you are doing a project to motivate yourself and help you get focused? If so, would you be willing to share your passions?

How to Befriend Your Inner Arch Nemesis

Hug your inner arch nemesis

Your inner arch nemesis (inner critic) can be very good for you or very, very bad.

In a lot of cases, it can tell you that you are an idiot for rushing into something that blew up in your face. Quick note: it’s never ok to call yourself an idiot. It’s your inner arch nemesis getting the best of you. Sometimes your arch nemesis can keep you grounded and prevent your ego from getting too big, other times he’s a jerk and needs to be ignored.

I like to think of my inner arch nemesis as a friend trying to protect me, like any good mom or dad would do for their child.

Sometimes parents go too far though. They protect you from experiences that are supposed to make you fall flat on your face so that you can learn to get back up and try again.

Finding harmony with your inner arch nemesis is like finding the perfect balance alone on a teeter-totter.  Too much weight on either side, and the seat can hit the ground. Hard.

Are you ready to bring back the joy to your work? In the Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide you’ll learn how to quiet your inner arch nemesis and create projects that boost your resume and of course your career.

Opening Awareness

A few months ago it felt like my inner arch nemesis was trying to claw my eyes out from the inside, obsessively worrying about a coaching client that I wasn’t getting along with at the moment. I didn’t understand why I felt this way because she was smart, worked hard on improving her career, and had seemed to enjoy our sessions.

Instead of asking her what was wrong, I let this feeling drag on because my inner critic was speculating about all the things that could be wrong with me that were affecting our work together.

Then on our next session I ignored my inner arch nemesis for a minute and came right out and asked, “I’m feeling some resistance from you. Am I reading this right?”

She meekly said, “Yes.”

So I asked “Why do you think that is?”

“Well, I’m not sure. At first I was all excited, then we did the superpowers session.”

“Ahh. I see.”

“What?”

“You’re having a tough time with the word superpowers.”

“Yes. I think you are right. I didn’t realize it. I like the concept, but having to think of myself as having superpowers is hard.”

So we talked it through and instead of using the word “superpowers”, we used the word “talents”. This made much more sense to her, and she could now process the information better and start to take action. We still talked about passion, focus, and strengths, but in terms of talents, not superpower. By bringing the issue out into the open, we were able to uncover and work through the problem.

The reason I had been afraid to say something is because I thought she would tell me she was disappointed in our work together because of something I did or didn’t do. That was my arch nemesis taking over. He was just trying to help me realize something wasn’t quite right with my client. No relationship is perfect and if I would have ignored this voice then our relationship would have continued to flounder. Communication is important to help bring clarity to the situation, making the decision making process easier. All it took was suggesting a change in my choice of words to solve the problem.

I thanked my arch nemesis for speaking up. The doubt that was there helped  us make our relationship stronger.

Over the years of working with all different kinds of people, I’ve found that it’s better to bring issues out into the open and talk about them. Sometimes it happens that people are just not a good fit for my style, and that’s ok with me. Whatever the underlying issue is, I’ve found that it’s better to talk about it than to ignore an awkward or uncomfortable situation.

Understand Your Inner Arch Nemesis

We all have an inner dialog that is trying to feed  or tear down our happiness.

How you choose to build a relationship with your inner arch nemesis determines your attitude and success.

Here is a 3 step process to help you gain insight into your inner voice that might skew toward the negative side during difficult situations.

Step 1 – Listen to your inner arch nemesis.

It’s kind of crazy how this works, so over the next few days, I want you to watch your thoughts. i.e. what do you say to yourself in different situations?

For example,if you are in a meeting and your inner dialog is saying, “Auugghh, I can’t believe I have to be here. This is such a waste of time,” then note this inner dialog.

I don’t want you to judge this dialog, just document it and watch it. I actually named my inner arch nemesis to make it the game a little more playful.

Step 2 – Watch how your inner arch nemesis makes you feel.

Remember the first post asking about how you want to feel at work? Well, your thoughts play a huge role in how you feel at work. If your inner dialog is negative, it can becomes your arch nemesis. It stops you from taking action.

So, your notes might answer questions like the following:

Where were you when you noticed your inner arch nemesis’ voice?

ex. I was in the weekly review meeting.

What did my inner arch nemesis say?

ex. My stomach hurts. My boss is such a dork. I wish it was lunch time. Oh, my, God! I can’t take this for one more minute!

How did this inner dialog make you feel?

ex. I felt angry and frustrated, and the more I thought these thoughts, the angrier and more frustrated I felt.

Step 3 – Plant seeds to improve your relationship with your inner arch nemesis.

Here is where it can get fun. You can start to rewire how you think about and deal with difficult situations. Try imagining you have a good friend or parent with you who wants to keep you safe and support you, then ask yourself the following:

What could I do differently next time?

ex. Next time I’m in a meeting like that, I could take a big breath and relax, or I could offer up a solution to make the meeting run smoother, or maybe find a positive thought like Mary tries so hard to make this place better, next time she offers up a suggestion I’m going to support her.

Putting It All Together

Do you want to create a happier life and career?

Watching, learning, and adjusting how you view a situation will go a long way toward improving your career. You are planting the seeds for a more positive mindset. We all have difficult situations and people to deal with — the key is to be open to finding solutions that can help us and the company instead of letting our inner arch nemesis hold us back.

I know many of you will read this and will want to try the exercise of watching your inner critic and then thinking about what you could do differently. This is exciting.

I also understand that some of you just aren’t ready to take on your inner arch nemesis, maybe because it’s been a strong part of your life for so long and you can’t imagine having a good relationship with your inner arch nemesis, but I would encourage you to give it a shot.

Are you ready to take the next step and befriend your inner arch nemesis?,

If you gained any insights, please share below. I would love to hear what you will try to do differently this week and next.

* This article is a part of the Unlock Your Passions email course that you can get access to by joining our community and getting free career happiness boosting updates.

Understanding Your Work Rhythms

Sandra Day O'Connor Quote

It’s funny how moving to a different climate will change your mental rhythms. I grew up and lived in Pennsylvania until my mid 20’s. Summer was a time of exploration, adventure, and hanging out.

I’ve now lived in Texas for over 10 years and slowly my mental rhythms have changed. It’s too hot to go outside for extended periods of time if you value your sanity. I get out in the morning for a bike ride or hike, I’ll go shopping in the middle of the day, and I’ll hang out with friends at dusk and into the night but for the most part summer is more an inside existence, especially from 10am to 6pm unless you are able to access a pool.

I can’t help, but become more contemplative living through Texas summers, which plays into my personality. I like going internal.

This used to happen to me in the Pennsylvania winters, it’s too cold to go outside for extended periods of time. But the winter weather in Texas, for the most part, is just too pretty for any extended contemplation, hiking is perfect and winter BBQing is amazing.

As we’re hitting the heat of the summer I realize that I’m learning to understand and care about the things that make me happy. I don’t want to go out on a Friday night anymore just because I can. I want to spend time writing this email on July 4th while most people aren’t working. I want to help more people reach their goals. I care about delivering more value in easier ways to consume.

What experiences do you choose differently than you did 10 years ago? (Ex. Do you choose to watch more movies at home instead of going out to the movies?)

Happiness is ever fluctuating. You can’t say yes, this one thing will always make me happy. Your body, thoughts, and happiness change through time.

So that leads me to learning more about you and your goals. I decided to create a survey that helped me dig into what makes you happy, what you were looking for from me and from your career because what we do with our superpowers matters.

I’ve been coming back to this quote from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on one of my blog posts:

“The secret to a happy life is work worth doing.”

I love this quote because it emphasis doing work that is greater than our own lives. I’m on a mission to help you improve your career so you’re happier and doing great work that truly matters.

I put this survey together, so I can do a better job of helping you feel happier and do great work. Just click the link below and give me 5 minutes of your time. I would very much appreciate it.

Click here to fill out the survey.

What is your greatest career goal? Could it be more fun? Could it be bigger? Could it make you feel like you can’t give up until you reach it?

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