3 Fool Proof Mindfulness Tips for Busy People

Mindfulness, once an obscure Buddhist concept, is now a popular practice in our modern world. Why because mindfulness has been proven to improve your ability to be aware of how you think, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your working memory. Yet when I recommend the practice to my clients they often complain, “I’m too busy to take time out, be still, and meditate.” In response I encourage them to incorporate the following into their daily life.

Start small. Focus away from your computer, tablet, or phone screen on an object close at hand. Maybe you look out the window at the clouds in the sky or maybe a shadow on your wall. It doesn’t matter use something that is as close to nature as possible. Set a timer for 60 seconds, sit or stand still, and focus on the details of the object. Avoid focusing on the thoughts as enter your mind, just bring your attention back to the object. When a minute passes notice how you feel before returning to your previous activity.

Create a Mindfulness jar. You can buy one on Amazon or make your own. All you need is a clear glass jar, like an empty jar that had pickles or mayonnaise in it. Then fill it with water, dish soap and glitter of glitter glue. 

Set a reminder. Use your calendar app, fitness tracker or Apple watch and set a reminder for the same time every day. You can practice the activity previously described or focus on your breath. There are a number of techniques to use when focusing on your breath from counting to breathing in one color and out another. If you’d like the audio I created for an online course on breathing, just ask for it in the comments below and I’ll send it your way.

Take small consistent steps to increase your awareness of the present moment. Many times people avoid starting because they think it has to be for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Harvard University researchers observed that short sessions of meditation practiced with consistency improved the regions of the brain associated with memory, learning, emotion control, self-awareness and perspective.

3 Best Ways to Live With Intention

A new year is often time for reflection. We take a look back and think about what we want to be different in the year ahead. We create new plans, new goals and begin with hope for a new future. We know things don’t always go as planned, our goals aren’t always achieved and sometimes our hopes are dashed. Yet we celebrate a new year with anticipation that this year can be different, can be better. One of the ways to make this happen is to live with intention. As Kristin Armstrong, three-time Olympic gold medalist reminds us: We either live with intention or exist by default. Make 2021 your year to live on purpose.

Here are three ways you can build intention into every day: practice gratitude, mindfulness, and focus. I will cover each of these in the next three posts, this post I’m going to focus on gratitude.

Even when things are at there worst look for things to be thankful for. One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day. Begin your day by acknowledging what’s going right in your life and the people you appreciate. Recite out loud affirmations such as:

I am so thankful that the universe is working for my greater good.

I am grateful for another chance to live my life.

I’m grateful for the air I breathe and the blood flowing through my body.

I appreciate the help and support of the people who have helped me along with way.

Take a few minutes right now to create and write down a few gratitude affirmations that appeal to you. Next put them in a place you where you will see them shortly after you wake up in the morning so you can repeat them as you begin your day.

I’d love to know one or two of the affirmations that you create, post them here and begin 2021 by being intentionally grateful.

What change will you make in the new year?

As we mark the end of another year, one filled with challenges and anxiety, we anticipate 2021 will be better. It will be better if we follow the advice left on an Anglican Bishop’s tombstone in the basement of Westminster Abbey. It reads as follows:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change. So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family, from their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I might have even changed the world.”

As you think about the next 12 months what is one change you can make to create a positive difference in your life? My one change is to incorporate a meditation practice at the end of my workday. I’d love to know what your one change will be, post it here.

What is your response to a red light?

What is your response to a red light? Is it something like – just my luck, I am always stuck in traffic, if that person ahead of me would have been a little faster…? Or is it something like this – great I can take a moment and relax, look at the sunshine, or the rain drops on my windshield, I can take a breath and give thanks for all the good things in my life.

If your response is like the first one, adopt the attitude of the second, for our response is a choice and the more times we choose to be frustrated and angry the more we are frustrated and angry. If we choose peace, calm and gratitude our lives become filled with moments of serenity.

Years ago I clipped the following out of a magazine:

If I Had My Life Over by Nadine Stair

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously.

I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

Let me know how you respond to traffic lights? Post here.

What to do when you encounter a roadblock.

Imagine you are driving to a vacation destination.  You are excited to spend a week relaxing.  You round a corner and see the road ahead is blocked.  There is a sign – bridge out, follow detour.  An unexpected turn of events, yet you can follow the detour and arrive at your destination.

Roadblocks happen to all of us and not just when we are driving our vehicle.  Roadblocks can be those unexpected things that happen that require a detour to reach our goal.

Not too long ago one of my clients encountered a roadblock.  She was assigned an important project, one that would save her employer a lot of money and give her a lot of visibility.  A win-win all around.  The deadline was looming, and she found herself procrastinating on a putting the last few pieces of the project together.  They weren’t particularly difficult, yet she was telling herself all kinds of stories about why the project could fail.  We had our coaching call and dug into the stories.  The first story was she was telling herself was “who am I to take on this task I’m not that talented”. The other was “I’m not smart enough to figure out these last few pieces.” Her inner critic was keeping her stuck.  Using two visualization techniques we changed the stories. She then took action and completed the project.

Does your inner critic stop you from taking action and moving forward?  If so, you may want to check out the program that starts in January. Take advantage of the special offer by enrolling today.   Click here for a link to learn more.

How to Give Feedback When Job Performance Needs to Improve

Over the past several weeks I’ve consulted with a number of supervisors who have had to give negative performance feedback to one of their employees. My advice is always the same, follow the PLANNED constructive confrontation model. The P stands for prepare. Imagine the conversation going well. Write out your opening line and commit to memory what you will say to open the meeting.

After reading Anna Maravelas’ book, Mastering a Difficult Conversation, I would add her advice: Open the conversation in the energy of appreciation. Before you open your mouth, think about why you value the person.

In general, life is a mirror; we get back what we send out. Research done by University of Washington psychologist Dr. John Gottman shows 96% of the time the conversation will end as it begins. Conversations that started with harsh words and tone resulted in the other party becoming angry and upset. Conversations that began with warmth and appreciation ended on that same note.

Start by expressing the importance of the relationship. Use a sentence like the following: “My goal is to help you be successful in your job and because of that I need to give you some feedback about your behavior that is stopping your success.” Then describe the specific behaviors that need to change. Remember the old adage; people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Simple appreciation can go a long way in improving on the job performance. If you’d like a copy of the PLANNED model, just ask.

Reframe Failure into Feedback

In my post two weeks ago, I talked about how fear of failure can stop us from taking action on our dreams. When you take action and your plans fail, reframe failure into feedback.  You now have information to make adjustments and take a new course of action.


You’ve most likely heard the story of Thomas Edison and how he reframed each attempt to create the incandescent light bulb.  When his colleague remarked about another failure Edison remarked “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.” Lucky for us he was willing to see it as feedback and didn’t give up.

Success is failure in progress. – Albert Einstein

Describe a time when you have or could use failure as feedback.  Post it here.

Are you intentionally grateful?

This week as we observe Thanksgiving our celebration may be different than the past. We will still take time to focus on the things that matter most in our lives and be grateful.

That being said it is important to have a daily ritual of gratitude though out the year. Here is a practice you can adopt. At the start of each day review your appointments and be grateful for each item on your calendar. It may be a task you find difficult or conversation with aa person you dislike, find something to be grateful for as you consider the event. At the very least, you can be grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow. At the end of the day, list three things you in your gratitude journal to celebrate. Share one of those gratitude’s here.

The Surprising Secret to Confidence – borrow the slogan from Nike and Just Do It!

Fear of failure is what stops many of us from pursuing our dreams. The thoughts like what if it doesn’t work, what if I look stupid, what if I get laughed at, what if I go broke, have stopped many a dream in its tracks. The best cure is to take action despite that voice shouting in the back of your head. The advice Mel Robbins gives in her TED Talk fits here. She describes a method she created to motivate herself to get out of a funk and take action. Count backward from 5, when you get to 1 you get up and do what you’ve been avoiding. “Your feelings don’t matter. The only thing that matters is what you DO.”, says Robbins.

Try the 5 second technique and let me know what happens. Post your comment here.

Are you struggling to stay focused in the current crazy chaos?

Here’s three tips to help:  Create a plan, start with gratitude, celebrate your wins.

A colleague of mine often said: “Well begun is half done.” With that in mind it is important to take time to create a plan for your day. Your plan more than a list of meetings and tasks, it’s a plan to work on your priorities.

Identify the one thing you want accomplish before the end of the day to reach your long-term goal. Do that first thing in the morning. Maybe your goal is to write a book. The first thing you do every morning your write for 30 minutes. Maybe your goal is to increase your sales numbers to X. The first thing you do every morning is make X number of sales calls. Maybe your goal is to lose 8 pounds by the end of the year. Every morning you get up and exercise for 30 minutes. Post you top 3 priorities where you can see them and until those items are accomplished avoid working on anything else.

Practice gratitude. It is easy to find reasons to complain. The weather is cold and rainy. The neighbor’s dog is barking. You have the sniffles. Instead look for reasons to be grateful. There is hot and cold water in the tap. You slept in a nice warm bed. You have food in the refrigerator.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

As you begin to be more grateful you can begin to celebrate the actions you took to move you closer to your goal. Create a log (written or digital) of your accomplishments each day. Then give yourself a pat on the back for taking action. Remember, there is no failure. You either win or you learn.

Do you have a tip you use to stay focused, post it here.