The Simplest Form of Happiness

Earlier this week, I was reminiscing about an evening several years ago when my neighbor called to ask if she could borrow two eggs. She was in the middle of cooking something and realized she was out. She apologized a couple of times for needing to ask, but there was a spark in my heart when she did.  “This feels so 1950s,” I thought.  “Like something June Cleaver might do on Leave It to Beaver.” What I was really saying is that I felt connected.  It dawned on me in that moment that my neighbor was also my friend. She knows my number. And she calls! Simple as it sounds, that made me happy. I went to the fridge, delighted that I had extra eggs, grabbed two of them and headed to the front door. Cheryl was already walking up to the front porch – she had tiptoed across the street barefoot.

In my grandmother’s generation, this wouldn’t be worth talking about. But in today’s world, it seems many of us don’t speak to our neighbors, let alone know their names and numbers. We are more disconnected than ever, more disinterested in the lives of others – even those who live right next to us. This week, I want to challenge you to take one action that leaves you feeling more connected to the community you live in. Whether you take dinner to the neighbors who just had a baby, stop for a 5-minute conversation with someone on your street, or invite a friend over to watch your favorite TV show together, do something to reach out.

Connection is a happiness trigger. It doesn’t take much to connect, but it probably won’t happen if you’re not intentional.  Too many of us are missing out on the face to face conversations and simple little moments that allow us to feel connected to the people around us.  Does that describe you? If so, try some simple ways to connect:  Make eye contact. Stop multitasking and give your undivided attention.  Savor moments of simple conversation.  Reach out, make a phone call, drop by for a visit.  Make “connection” just as important on your to-do list as anything else. In fact, make it more important. If you do that, you’ll get a boost of positive emotion that leaves you feeling more energized for everything else on your list.

My challenge to you this week:

Reach out. Connect. Stop going it alone.

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) do you feel disconnected right now?  Who do you want to reach out to this week? What will you do to reach out? Leave your comments, I’d love to hear from you!

One Positive Change can Spark a Ripple Effect

One Positive Change can Spark a Ripple Effect

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Valorie Burton, author, speaker, and life coach

I am an Invisalign® brand spokesperson and all opinions expressed are my own.

Full disclosure.

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Since we were children we were told we could accomplish anything. We should never settle on our dreams. Yet as teenagers and adults many of us don’t take action on even the simplest form of self-improvement because we stop believing it will make a difference. After all, how can one simple action boost our confidence or increase life satisfaction? According to a new Harris Poll survey, one positive change can improve confidence and create a ripple effect on our lives.

As a life coach and founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute, I’m dedicated to helping people get unstuck and be unstoppable in their lives. However, I recognize that even those who know their purpose are often unable to make progress towards their goals. Simply, there is often a gap between where we are and where we want to be. I always say, “Don’t burden yourself with a long list of goals. Instead, get inspired by taking action in one part of your life and it can have an effect on the rest of it.”

Knowing that, here are my top five tips to gaining self-confidence:

 

  1. Eliminate your biggest confidence stealers.

The Harris Poll finds that confidence matters for appearance (44%), success (43%) and happiness (63%). It not only impacts how we believe others perceive us, but how we perceive ourselves. Seventy percent of Americans believe that making one simple improvement in their appearance would increase confidence.  The goal is to choose something realistic that may be holding you back.

It could be that New Year’s resolution year after year to get fit. For others it may be the first thing they notice when they look in the mirror and see a crooked smile. Whatever the issue, the underlying effects go much deeper and can result in low self-esteem and a poor self-image. This is what happened to Esther from Los Angeles, who knew her teeth were holding her back. When she finally decided to fix her teeth with Invisalign® clear aligners, which discreetly straightened her teeth without the embarrassment of metal braces, it changed everything for her.

Due to increased confidence, this single action can lead to other positive changes, such as applying for a promotion, accepting speaking opportunities, and being comfortable meeting new friends.

  1. Pinpoint your fear pattern.

The events in your life do not create your actions, your thoughts do. Fear is at the core of almost every hesitation, insecurity and doubt. The Harris Poll found that weight and teeth are the two biggest insecurities in women, far surpassing other physical and personal characteristics. If you have been held back in this way, know that there is a substantial benefit for finally confronting your physical insecurity.

After Esther had the smile she always wanted, she was so inspired by her results that she had the confidence to work towards other life goals. She developed relationships and applied for rewarding jobs. Today she is engaged and working in her dream job as a postpartum doula. She is not alone in this success, three-quarters of those who simply straightened their teeth as an adult experienced at least some positive impacts on their life.

  1. Tell yourself the truth.

Until we admit what we really want and stop pretending things are okay, we are stuck. Whether it is a job you can’t stand, debt you’re embarrassed to admit you racked up or tackling a physical insecurity, facing the truth is empowering and the first step to freedom. Even more, you realize that when you break free from your fear, your future is unstoppable.

 

  1. Take charge of this moment.

You don’t reach your dreams by over-thinking. You reach your dreams by being fully present and making a decision to take action. When you find yourself procrastinating, dig deep to see what’s really going on. Often procrastination isn’t about simply putting off a difficult task, but about the counterproductive thoughts that can sabotage your success. When you really want something, take action. Don’t let anything get in the way.

  1. Commit or quit.

Get serious about your dream and commit to your goals. You must be willing to find the resources to invest in your goal, whether it be education, training, physical fitness or improving your smile.

Esther is a commendable example of someone who took action with Invisalign and gained confidence in the process, and there are many people taking steps to work towards something that feels beyond their reach. To learn more about Esther and others, click here.

How to Get Unstuck!

A few years ago, my dad and I were talking about how to get up really early in the morning when you feel like hitting snooze and burying your head under the covers. He said something that always sticks with me on days when I feel like turning back over: “The key is to get your feet on the ground and keep them moving!” he advised. Simple, but true.

Moving happens with a split second decision to sit up, swing my legs over the side of the bed, stand up and start moving. In the heat of the moment, when my flesh says, “Just five more minutes … pleassse!” I have to consciously say, “No. I’m getting up now,” and then follow through with my actions. Once I start moving, I keep moving! By the time I get to the bathroom and grab my toothbrush, I feel a little tingle of pride. “You did it! You didn’t feel like it, but you got moving.”

Success is a series of good decisions. Stack them up one on top of another and you will build an incredible life. These decisions are often small ones – getting up early so you can meditate or work out, for example, or choosing the grilled fish off the menu instead of fried. Even the big decisions are carried out in small moments – for instance, saying “no” to an opportunity that will lead you away from your vision rather than closer to it.

So this week, I’m curious. Will you make the call or keep procrastinating? Put on your tennis shoes to head to the gym or come up with an excuse? Will you sit down and work on that project or turn on the television? Consider these strategies to get unstuck.

4 Ways to Get Unstuck in Five Seconds

  1. The person that you’ve been procrastinating about reaching out to – when you finish reading this, contact them immediately. Don’t wait until later. Do it now – while your motivation is high.
  2. That thing you need to say, but can’t seem to muster the courage? Remember this: All you need to do is open your mouth and say it – honestly and kindly. That’s all that is standing between you and standing in truth.
  3. Ask for help from someone who is a “mover.” Sometimes we just need to get around somebody with vision, someone on the move. High energy is contagious.
  4. Stop thinking about your problem and think about a solution. Ask, “What’s the next easiest step that will move me towards what I want?”

In what area of your life do you feel stuck right now? Feeling stuck and being stuck are not the same. Feelings are honest, but they are not necessarily the truth. I can feel like hitting the rude cashier, but that’s not what I should do! Feelings come from thoughts – what you say to yourself about your dilemma. Change your thoughts and you change what you feel. Change what you feel and you change what you do.

If you want more help getting unstuck, try my “Personal Coaching on Demand” program Get Unstuck Now – and I could be coaching you just minutes from now. Check it out here.

My challenge to you:
Staying stuck is a choice. Move towards what you want. Even if it is a baby step, get moving!

Journaling assignment:

What could you do to move forward? When will you do it? Who in your life is high energy and always moving forward, even in the face of adversity? What is the most inspiring lesson you have learned from observing them? How can you use that to inspire you right now? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

The CaPP Institute Highlights: Marisel Herrera

 

MariseljpeA spring 2015 graduate of The CaPP Institute’s Coach Training Intensive, Marisel Herrera created and directs a powerful, peer-lead coaching program for first-year students at Arizona State University, the nation’s largest university. In the 2015-2016 school year, the program facilitated a record-setting 16,234 coaching sessions. Those coaching sessions help increase retention rates and success for students.

In this interview with CaPP Institute founder Valorie Burton, Marisel shares how she is using what she learned through the Coach Training Intensive in her business MariselSpeaks and her leadership role at Arizona State University, as well as coaching’s personal impact on her life.

The DEADLINE to register for the Coach Training Intensive ends May 9th at midnight!

Click HERE to register today!

5 Habits You Can Start Today to Improve Your Quality of Life

If you are like most people today, you’re bombarded with distractions from the time you start your day. Whether it is e-mail, television, interruptions or requests, something is constantly vying for your attention. What’s the result? You often start the day with good intentions but end the day wondering where the time went. That’s fine every once and while – in life, some days are better than others. But when it becomes a way of life, it can cause you to be frustrated, scattered and ineffective. And if that’s the way you are feeling all the time, you’re dealing with a much bigger problem than just productivity. You’re dealing with chronic stress and a lack of fulfillment – both of which can impact your level of happiness or physical health.

 

I want to challenge you with a simple technique that can make you more productive and increase your energy when you have a lot on your plate. It’s all about what you choose to do first.  What you do the first 30 minutes you’re awake, the first 30 minutes at work, and with the first portion of your income ensure that no matter how overloaded you are, your most important priorities will not be lost in a sea of distractions.   When you do the things that are most important to you first, you free up energy for everything else on your list. Be intentional. Make it easy to accomplish “first things first.” Make them automatic. Here are five simple things that you can do “first” to enhance your quality of life starting this week – one in each of the five key areas of your life:

 

  1. Tackle the looming project.

 

You know what it is. Whether it’s a report you need to finish, a meeting that needs to take place, or a project waiting for your attention, get started early in the day. Block out a window of time – whether it’s 15 minutes or four hours – and get it done. A short time from now, you’ll have more energy because the burden of the work you’ve been putting off will be lifted. Be aware of the tendency towards instant gratification. It will keep you tied to email and less important work that gives you immediate feedback, but isn’t nearly as important.

 

  1. Connect with loved ones.

 

Start the day with a kiss, a hug, a phone call to someone who matters to you. In the midst of a busy schedule, don’t let loving gestures diminish. If anything, increase them! Staying connected to others is one of the most important ingredients for well-being.

 

  1. Drink a bottle of water

 

First thing in the morning, before you even put your feet on the ground, drink a bottle of water. Sit it by your bed before you go to sleep. Drinking water first thing in the morning gets your system moving and your metabolism kicking.

 

  1. Meditate on what you are grateful for.

 

While you’re drinking that bottle of water, why not start thinking about the things that are good in your life. “Whatever things are good, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, think on these things,” the apostle Paul wrote. Research now shows that expressing gratitude has health benefits and meditation actually changes your brain chemistry for the better. So first thing in the morning, pray a prayer of gratitude.

 

  1. Save some money and give some away.

It’s hard to give and save money when you don’t do it first. No matter how hard you try, if giving and saving comes last, you’ll rarely have much left over. But somehow, when you give first and save first, your spending becomes aligned with your goals. That’s because you’ve made your goal – saving and giving – your top priority. Set up automatic debits from your paycheck or checking account so you don’t even have to think about it!

 

My challenge to you this week:

Put first things first. For the next week, make these five intentions the first things you do .

Coaching question:

What priority is not first on your list of actions today? When will you stop and make time for it? How could you ensure that it becomes first on a regular basis?

Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

The CaPP Institute Highlights: Jasmine Taylor

 

 

Jasmine Taylor, M.D. is a fall 2015 graduate of the Coach Training Intensive and is a current student in our Certifed Personal and Executive Coach program. She is a physician and psychiatrist that implements the power of coaching into her medical and psychological interventions with clients.

In this interview with The CaPP Institute founder Valorie Burton, Dr. Taylor talks about the ways in which The CaPP Institute’s curriculum has transformed her life both personally and professionally; and also discusses the challenges specific to mental health care providers who want to embrace coaching as an added resource for facilitating change growth with the people they work with.

 

 

 

Your Procrastination is Telling You Something!

In my “struggles” as a recovering procrastinator, I have learned a simple lesson: You can look extremely productive while producing not much of anything. In the name of “planning,” we procrastinate. We analyze, plan, research, mull over, and consider. Then we analyze some more, plan some more, and research some more. It is as if we think things will magically come together if we just think about them hard enough. Maybe you’ve been there – or perhaps you’re there right now.   

 

The truth is, you don’t reach your dreams by over-thinking. You reach your dreams by DOING. Stop planning and start doing. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly, or having it ALL figured out. That’s never going to happen anyway. Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Trust that if you make a mistake, you can learn from it, make adjustments and keep moving forward.   

 

When you find yourself procrastinating, dig deep to see what’s really going on. Often procrastination isn’t about simply putting off a difficult task. It is about the counterproductive thoughts that can sabotage your success. Some of these thoughts are ones you are not consciously aware of. But if you become more aware of thoughts – and intentionally change them to something more productive – you can get unstuck and become unstoppable. When you hold back from moving forward on plans you say you want to see come to pass, you have to wonder what’s really holding you back. It’s probably not just that you have too much on your to-do list today or the distraction of text messages or email or Facebook. Truth be told, when you really want something, you take action. You don’t let anything get in the way. 

 

As you look at the five revealing subconscious thoughts many procrastinators have, be honest with yourself. Do any of these thoughts resonate?   

 

1.  “Truth is, I like things just as they are.”  

Sometimes you think you “should” do something, but you really don’t want to do it. You like things the way they are. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to stay where you are – or it’s time to muster the courage to shake things up a bit. The choice is yours. Just don’t stay in that inauthentic place of insisting you want something that you are never going to actually pursue.

 

2.  “Tackling the project at hand is too complicated.”

Many procrastinators tell themselves that the task at hand is complicated. Because it’s complicated, they feel overwhelmed or paralyzed to even get started. Do you do that? Break the task down into next steps – one at a time. What is the next step you could take right now? Do that.  

 

3. “I don’t really think I deserve to have what I want.”  

This one gets to the heart of your self-esteem. Whether you feel guilty about something you did in the past or you don’t feel worthy for some reason, you won’t move forward if you don’t believe you should have the thing you want to move towards. So subconsciously, you can sabotage your success by procrastinating. Do you really believe you deserve to have the goal you say you’re aiming for?

 

4. “I don’t really think it can happen.” 

One of the most basic and necessary elements of goal setting is self-efficacy – your belief that you can accomplish the goal. Without that belief, what’s the point of putting forth effort? A lack of confidence can be masked as procrastination. Be honest. Do you need to strengthen your belief that something really great is possible? 

 

5.  “I’m afraid of what others will think, say or do.”  

Fear is at the root of most self-sabotaging behaviors. Are you willing to allow what others think (or what you’re afraid they might think) to control you? Make an intentional decision.    

   

My challenge to you this week:

Peel back the layers and uncover the real culprit of your procrastination

 

Journaling assignment:

After answering, take a look at the five self-sabotaging thoughts above, and ask yourself, “which of these are true for me?” Is the thought helping you or hurting you? Are you willing to change it?  If so, what new thought do you want to embrace that will empower you to finally move forward? 

Future Looks Foggy? 5 Questions to Get Some Clarity

One morning when I was headed to my office, I was startled by what appeared to be a cloud of smoke across a wide swath of gray sky. The view that I was accustomed to seeing was nowhere to be seen. It was a bit disorienting. As I tried to make sense of it, I had only one thought: There must be a fire. I scanned the area while driving, curious what building the fire might be coming from. But as I continued to drive down the street, I realized the “smoke” expanded far beyond the few blocks from home. It wasn’t smoke at all. It was a dense fog – thicker than I’ve ever seen it!  Amazingly, an hour later when I stepped out of my office, the sun’s bright rays had parted the fog and the skyline was in clear view. Finally, there was clarity.

It reminds me of what happens when life gets foggy and cluttered. It can feel like you can’t see what the future holds, what decisions to make or whether what has always been there is still there at all. It is like wading through a dense fog of uncertainty and confusion. Should I follow my dream or play it safe? Should I buy the house now or keep renting? Should I go back to school so I can change careers or stay in this career I don’t enjoy? Should I hold on to this relationship or let go? When working with clients, and even in my own life, I have noticed that stress and stagnancy are often created by a lack of clarity.

Once you get clear, it is like rays of sun burning away the fog of confusion – and suddenly you are no longer stuck. It is normal to feel uncertain and fearful of the future when you can’t see clearly. Clarity creates breakthrough. In what area of your life are you lacking clarity right now? Here are a few ways you know it’s time to get clarity:

  • A decision needs to be made – whether about a relationship or finances or career – and you feel as though you have absolutely no idea how to proceed.
  • You find yourself busy doing a lot of stuff, yet you feel unproductive.
  • You feel overwhelmed.
  • You have no idea how much is coming in and going out of your checking account.
  • You have no passion for what you’re doing, but no plan to make a transition.

When you ask the right questions, you get the right answers. So in this moment, I invite you to take a deep breath and coach yourself with a few questions to get clarity so you can de-stress, move forward and become unstoppable:

  1. What is unclear to me right now?
  2. What specific information or activity will give me clarity?
  3. Who or what resources do I need in order to get that clarity?
  4. What decision will clarity empower me to make?
  5. Why is that decision important for me right now?

My challenge to you this week:

Take a break to get clarity.

Optimism Checklist… What is it time to hope for?

In my book Start Here Start Now, there are assessments that are simple tools to coach you to make bite-sized, but effective changes in your life. This week, I challenge you to start hoping for that thing you’ve been afraid to hope for and start expecting great things to happen in your life.

Without hope and optimism, we tend to shrink and settle for far less than we are capable. If we let it, fear and doubt can creep in and steal your dreams. But even if it feels like that’s happened to you, it’s not too late to start dreaming again. It’s not too late to start over. It’s not too late to do an about face and move in a brand new direction – the right direction. Consider areas of your life where you need to rekindle your hope. Then see how many of these statements hold true for you:

  • I do not get discouraged easily.
  • Despite the disappointments I have suffered, I have hope that my future will be satisfying.
  • I am inspired by others’ stories of success because they give me hope that I can do it too.
  • There is nothing in my life that I am settling for.
  • When I succeed, I do not downplay or dismiss the effort I put forth, saying things like “Oh, it was just a lucky break.”
  • I believe in myself.
  • I have a clear set of goals for my professional and personal life.
  • I have a clear vision of what I want my relationships to look like.
  • I have a clear set of financial goals and a plan to get there.
  • I have inspiring health and fitness goals that compel me to push forward.
  • I pray regularly.
  • I sense an inner voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, that often guides me in my life.
  • Even when things get tough, I do not give up hope.
  • I see challenges as temporary and expect to work through them.
  • I feel confident most of the time.
  • I get excited about my vision for my life and the future that’s ahead.
  • If I wanted to make an unconventional change in my life, such as changing careers or deciding to become a parent later in life, I would give myself permission to go for it!
  • As a leader at home, work, or in the community, I am good at helping people see the vision for where we are headed.
  • I listen to my intuition and follow it, even when I feel fear.
  • I look for the good in every situation.

My challenge to you:

Be optimistic. It is the fuel you need to dream big and gain the courage to take that next, right step.

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) do you need to be more optimistic? What is it time to hope for again? What would change in your life if you embraced optimism in the face of your most persistent doubts? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

How Resilient Are You? Take This Quiz!

No matter what the goal, it is almost guaranteed there will be obstacles along the path to your vision. And the most successful people in the world are masters at bouncing back from setbacks. Whether the setback is small (such as an argument with your spouse, or an unexpected expense that threw off your spending plan this month) or large (such as layoff at work, cancer or a divorce), your focus in life must continually be to recover from the unwanted detours so that you can stay on your path and enjoy victory.

  

Use this checklist to give yourself a “resilience checkup.”  Check every statement that is true for you today:

         I know my purpose and live it every day.

         I am not withholding forgiveness from anyone.

         Fear is not stopping me from moving forward on my most meaningful goals.

         I maintain a positive outlook most of the time.

         I have a strong support system of friends and family.

         I am spiritually mature and aware of God working in my life.

         I am in a good place emotionally. I am whole and well.

         My life is fulfilling and meaningful.

         I have a deep sense of joy, and experience inner peace daily.

         In the last major challenge I faced, I was able to bounce back and move forward quickly.

         In a crisis, I usually remain calm and take action that is helpful to the situation.

         I can tolerate uncertainty without a high level of anxiety.

         Those who know me best would describe me as “adaptable to change.”

         I am lighthearted and try to find humor even in difficult circumstances.

         I enjoy discovering new ways to do things.

         I am a good problem solver.

         I always learn and find ways to apply the lessons from my past experiences.

         I am comfortable being myself.

         I am an empathetic listener.

         I have found purpose in my painful situations and believe all things work together for good.

 

My challenge to you this week:

Accept challenges and obstacles as an opportunity to be resilient.

 

Journaling assignment:

Which statement did you most wish you could check off, but it simply isn’t true for you right now?  Don’t beat yourself up about it. What goal could you set to enable you to be able to check off that statement in the future? By when will you reach that goal? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!