Six Types of Friends Every Woman Should Have!

Do you rely on just one good friend? What would it take to nurture a few more close friendships? Why do you think some women are competitive with other women, but not the men? What can you do to put other women at ease and facilitate more authentic connections with women in your circle of influence?

  

This week I want to share a special conversation starter with you from my book Happy Women Live Better: 13 Ways to Trigger Your Happiness Every Day. See the six specific types of friends every woman should have and spark up a conversation with your closest girlfriends this week to discuss what type of friend you may be.   

  

Points to Ponder

  • Studies show that it is a good idea to have several types of friends rather than relying on one or two to meet all of your needs.

  

  • Statistically speaking, your relationship with your girlfriends will likely outlast your marriage, your parents and your co-workers.

  

  • One study showed that when fewer than 15% of the women in a firm were in positions of power, the women were competitive and backstabbing with each other. But when women represented more than 15% of the powerful positions, women were collaborative.

  

Do you have the right mix of friends?

  

Not every friend can meet every need. Some will meet more than one need, but few can do it all! Here are six types of friends every woman needs:

  • The Wise Friend.

You can count on them to talk you out of doing something you’d regret, help you solve your latest dilemma, and give all-around sound advice about just about anything.

  • The Fun Friend.

Want to have a good time, be adventurous, or laugh ’til your stomach hurts? You can always count on this one.

  • The Travel Buddy.

Drama-free, this friend is adaptable, maybe even adventurous, and loves to see the world.

  • The Relationship Coach.

Transparent, real and willing to listen, this friend has figured a few things out in the love department and genuinely wants to see you happy when it comes to romance.

  • The Career Comrade.

You share a similar background and goals in your work life, and encourage each other to higher professional success.

  • The Accountability Partner.

To maximize your potential, this is your go-to pal to help keep you on track.

 

Now, let’s turn the tables. Think of your four closest friends. Which type of friend are you to each of them? Leave your comments below. I would love to hear from you!

What’s Your Mindset?

At the beginning of each year, news articles and television shows are abuzz with advice about how to reach your goals – how to lose weight, how to launch a new career, how to get out of debt. And for the most part, the advice is spot on: Eat less, exercise more, cut up your credit cards, meet new people.  Pretty straightforward, right? So why is that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions?, according to Forbes.com.  5

If you’re like most, you’ve been in the 92% whose goals dropped off by mid-January.  In my years of coaching and research, I’ve discovered it isn’t that you don’t know what to do, it’s that you don’t do it. The real question you need to answer isn’t, “What should I do to get to the goal?” The real question is, “Why don’t I do it?”

The real battle is in your mind.  When the doubt comes, when frustration leaves you wanting to give up, do you know how to take control of your thoughts before they derail you? Successful women think differently in the face of challenges and opportunities.  There are numerous ways this phenomenon manifests itself, but one of the most powerful is one I want to remind you of this week: your mindset.  One of my favorite researchers, Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University, discovered that we can have either a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset,” depending upon how we approach challenges.

If you’ve often been praised for your intelligence or beauty or talent, it can be easy to develop a belief that those attributes are “fixed.” For example, you may believe your intelligence is set.  You are either intellectually gifted or you are not. The problem with this belief is that you may shy away from challenges that don’t further affirm your high intelligence.  You might also frown upon the idea of “effort,” seeing too much effort as a sign that you are not all that gifted since you have to try so hard. Think of the “A” student who brags casually, “I didn’t even study for the test.”

The alternative is a growth mindset, which says that where you are right now is just a starting point. Your intelligence, your talent, your creativity, your capacity for a successful relationship – all have room for growth. If that’s the case, every opportunity and challenge is an opportunity to grow, to learn, to unleash the potential that comes from stretching beyond your comfort zone, a willingness to fail and venture into unknown territory.  With a growth mindset, you don’t need to fear that falling short is somehow a condemnation on your abilities. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn something new that may help you get a step closer to your goal.

What if you tackled your current goal with a growth mindset? What would that change for you?  If you let go of a stringent timetable or the need to move from point A to point B in a straight line, what would it free you to attempt? If you haven’t taken any new steps towards your goal since the first of the January, try again the first of February. Learn from what didn’t work last month. Make tweaks.  Give yourself permission to do it imperfectly. Ask for advice.  Try again.

 

My challenge to you this week:

See your current progress (or lack thereof) as a starting point. Make a tweak to your approach and try again.

Journaling assignment:

In what area(s) do you see your potential as fixed?  What would happen if you believed instead that where you are right now is just a starting point for growth?

 

Resources:

Dig deeper into the concept of how Successful Women Think Differently with our 7-CD course and the book Successful Women Think Differently.

Happiness is a Success Strategy

Of all the happiness research I’ve studied over the years, one of my very favorite findings is that happiness doesn’t just correlate with success. Happiness actually causes success. In other words, if you want to put a solid success strategy to work for you, make happiness your success strategy. The positive emotion that happiness produces has been shown to increase your likelihood of a promotion, a raise, a fulfilling marriage, warding off sickness and even living longer.

So, while we often buy into the idea that we’ll be happy when we finally achieve the success we want – the career, the marriage, the house of our dreams – the truth is that happiness doesn’t suddenly appear when we achieve certain milestones in life. Happiness happens when we fully embrace the joy of living, loving, learning, even failing. It is an attitude that is grateful for the life you have now, not just the life you aim to have in the future.

If you can learn to be happy before you hit the milestones, you produce the positive emotion that research shows strengthens you, broadens your scope of thinking and gives you the optimistic outlook that predicts success.

My message to you this week is simple: Be happy. Make the choice to smile instead of frown; to be patient and kind when the cashier is slow; to stop everything, take a break and play with your kids rather than multitask. You don’t have to be happy about the challenges in your life, but you can be happy in spite of them. Don’t let anything steal your joy. It is your strength. Leverage it and success will come more easily.
My challenge to you this week:

Despite that challenge that threatens to steal your joy, choose happiness.

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) have your goals and dreams become “work” rather than joy, feeding into the misguided belief that you’ll be happy when you get to the finish line?  In what way(s) is it time to shift your attitude?

 

Read more:

For more tips and inspiration on this subject, check out my book Happy Women Live Better: 13 ways to trigger your happiness every day and the Happy Women Live Better 3-CD Coaching Program 

When Your Optimism Gets in the Way

A while back, I posted this lighthearted question on Facebook after what I imagined would be a 15-minute errand turned into an hour and a half journey through a maze of tempting detours and hundreds of unhurried weekend shoppers:

 

“Why did I think I could ‘run into Ikea right quick’ on a Saturday morning?”

 

A friend of mine from grad school who studied applied positive psychology with me at the University of Pennsylvania replied with a one-sentence comment that explained my recurring problem of underestimating how much time I need to get anything done:

 

“Because you are an optimist.”

 

I stared at the screen in astonishment. Scott’s five-word observation was a light bulb moment for me.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I believed that I could run into a 360,000 square foot store, quickly locate the item I needed and breeze through the checkout line in 15 minutes flat. One of my greatest strengths – optimism – was a weakness when it came to estimating time.  And I knew it wasn’t just this one instance.

Suddenly, I had flashbacks to all those times I was late, but deep down, believed I had enough time to be early. I thought of all the times I set 15 goals at the beginning of the year, and honestly thought if I just worked diligently enough, they’d all get done by March. Even when I started my business 15 years ago, I wrote a plan that had my calendar booked solid with speaking engagements within six months.  Needless to say, it was about seven years before I was booked the way I had predicted.

The beginning of the year is an exciting time for optimists. Talk of goals and vision and a fresh start inspire you if you’re an optimist.  Optimists are great goal setters. We are often called “visionaries” for our ability to see great possibilities for the future. Research shows that optimism, in fact, is a predictor of success.  It makes sense. When you believe in the possibility of something better, you are more likely to move towards it than the person who pessimistically laments about impending doom. Without optimism, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no dreaming, no goal setting, no starting place for your vision.

This week, I invite you to embrace what I call “realistic optimism” as you move towards your goals. The most successful people have an optimistic thinking style that believes strongly in big dreams, but uses a healthy dose of pessimism when planning for the inevitable obstacles on the journey to the finish line.  They don’t wear rose-colored glasses. They see the potential obstacles and pitfalls, but they are optimistic about their ability to find a solution to overcome those obstacles.

So set the inspiring goal, but make sure you create a timeline that allows you breathing space for obstacles and for excellence. After all, what’s the point of rushing to the finish line? Give yourself time to enjoy the process, to learn, to grow, to be your best.  Let optimism guide your choice of goal, but let caution create your timeline.

Go Towards the Green Lights!

If you’ve read my writing for even a short time, you know I believe in the power of a clear, compelling vision. But what if your vision is clear and compelling, but the doors are opening in a slightly different direction? That very scenario happened to me  – we created purposeful projects to “go after,” yet unrelated opportunities seemed to be consuming our time and making it hard to focus on the “vision”.

One morning during my quiet time, I found myself praying about my vision when I sensed a distinct nudge – I believe it was the Holy Spirit. “Valorie, go through the green lights. You keep staring at the red lights waiting for them to turn green for your vision, when I’ve stopped traffic and turned the light green for you to move towards my vision for you.” Wow.

You can be so specific about what you think your dream should look like that you miss the opportunities that unfold right in front of you. This week, I challenge you to notice the “green lights” in your life – positive, open doors that welcome you, even though they may not look exactly as you pictured in your vision. Whether an unexpected career opportunity that has the potential to expand your skill set or a “funny Valentine” whose heart and spirit are in exactly the right place, pay attention to the green lights.

I am reminded of a verse from the Book of Matthew: “His burden is light and His yoke is easy.” When you live within your purpose, even the most challenging tasks are not burdensome.   You may work hard, but deep down you feel energized and gratified by your intense efforts. What are you trying to do that has begun to feel burdensome? What “green light” exists in your life that may be a divinely orchestrated opportunity you’ve taken for granted? What do you view as a distraction that, in fact, is exactly where you are supposed to focus? Green lights are good opportunities. They are purposeful. But they require you to open your mind and expand your concept of “your” vision.

My challenge to you:

I challenge you to pay attention this week to the “green lights” – and open your mind to following them.

Journaling assignment:

What are you trying to do that has begun to feel burdensome? What “green light” exists in your life that may be a divinely orchestrated opportunity you’ve taken for granted? What do you view as a distraction that, in fact, is exactly where you are supposed to focus?

Accepting what is….can you handle the reality?

Relaxation is largely mental. So when it is time to relax, it is about your approach to your life in general. For many women there is a persistent feeling that they have not yet arrived. Somehow they missed the boat, or there is something more they need to do, or there is a decision that needs to be made. They are stuck on the “I’ll be happy when” treadmill. But it is about learning to “be happy while.”

What would it look like to accept “what is”? We can spend so much of our energy pushing uphill against what is. You may wonder, “What is ‘what is’?” What is, is reality. It is the inevitable. It is the situation you wish were not in existence. It is the fact that: You would prefer it if someone else was your boss … you wish that bad habit your spouse has would go away … your career is off track. It is the divorce you didn’t want, the health challenge that burdens you, and the life that hasn’t turned out quite the way you planned it.

When you resist “what is,” you live in a state of denial and anxiety. You focus your energy trying to control what is beyond your control. You spend countless days and hours focused on why it shouldn’t be this way. Frustration takes over. Anger prevails. You may even hide reality to avoid facing it. Rather than letting people in on your disappointment, you keep it entirely to yourself.

You may even set out to prove that “what is” really isn’t. Rather than coming up with a plan to get your career back on track, you pretend to the world that everything is fine. Instead of making the most of the life you have left, you spend most of your energy lamenting the fact that things are not where you believe they should be. Instead of accepting a loved one right where he is, you spend your energy trying to make him change. In essence, you never relax. You are always living in a state of waiting until things come together the way you want them to.

What if you stopped pushing against the inevitable and trust your ability to handle reality? What would you do differently then? When you make that shift, it feels like releasing a heavy burden from your shoulders. It feels authentic. And let me be clear: It feels scary. At first. But if you embrace reality – finally, truly embrace where you are right now – you can relax and begin to find the courage to confront your greatest fears. You can finally move forward. You can live authentically – not in denial or fear, but in acceptance and faith and love. You cast your cares, trusting that all things indeed will work together for your good.

What is your “what is” right now? What would it look like to accept what is? What reality do you resist?

Two Questions to Ask BEFORE the New Year

Before stepping into a new year, I love to recap the one that is coming to a close. It is so easy to let the year’s accomplishments and lessons go unnoticed, but it is a powerful practice to take just a few minutes to honor the life you’ve lived over the past year with gratitude and wisdom.  So this week, I invite you to answer two simple questions:

  1. What was the most meaningful event of your life this year and why was it so meaningful to you?
  1. What is the biggest lesson you learned this year and how will you use this lesson to be wiser in the coming year?

 

The most meaningful event of my life this year is the blessing of Alexander, our son.   He arrived in our lives already a year old, energetic, and with a smile that makes you want to cuddle and kiss him again and again.  My journey to motherhood lasted more than a decade and was a path filled with disappointment and anguish, surrender and hope.  Of all the babies on the planet, the Lord orchestrated events and people and circumstances in such a way that the baby who was destined to be ours entered our lives as though he’d been waiting for us to show up all along.

In the first two minutes we held our son while still sitting in the adoption agency, my husband looked into Alex’s big, brown eyes and said, “I’m your daddy.” And without missing a beat, Alex looked up and said, “Dadda!” and then fell into Jeff’s lap giggling. It was an astonishing moment, a moment followed by so many others that confirmed for us the miracle of our immediate bond as a family.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is this:

Hold on to the vision God placed in your heart,

but let go of your ideas about how it must come together. 

His plan may be even more beautiful than the one you imagined.

 

As I imagine my vision for the New Year, I will apply this profound lesson.  I will do all within my power to move towards the vision because it is forward movement that opens doors and creates opportunities.  I have goals and steps I’ll take, but I remain open to the possibility that something better or different may emerge.   And I am more than alright with that.

My challenge to you this week:

Before you paint a picture of what you want this next year to look like, take a moment to acknowledge what you’re most grateful for this year and what lesson you’ve learned that will make you wiser in this New Year.

Journaling assignment:

What was the most meaningful event of your life this year and why were they so meaningful to you?  What is the biggest lesson you learned this year and how will you use this lesson to be wiser in the coming year?

Christmas Gift – Jesus’ Advice for Getting Unstuck!

This week, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. If you’re not careful, it can be easy to miss that fact in the midst of all the shopping, parties and gift giving.  But we can’t miss it. And we can’t miss the many gifts He gave to us during the 33 years He purposefully walked the earth.  His mission statement can be found in John 10:10:  “I have come that they might have life, and life more abundantly.”  So, in celebration of CHRISTmas, rather than sharing my own words of inspiration. I’d like to share some words of wisdom from the greatest life coach ever – words that came directly from the mouth of Jesus himself – words that can help you get unstuck and be unstoppable, if you follow them.  Enjoy .. and Merry Christmas!

1.      Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  – Matthew 5:16

The tragic shootings recently are a somber reminder of the darkness that exists in our world.  We must not forget that each of us can be a light. Now, more than ever, the world needs your light to shine – through the love you show and the gifts you share.  Don’t hide your light . Don’t miss the opportunity to be a blessing. This Christmas, be less concerned about what you get and more concerned about what you give. Let your light shine.  When you love others, they get a glimpse of God.

2.      “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  – Matthew 11:28

Few things make it harder to get unstuck and be unstoppable than exhaustion. If you are worn out or becoming burned out, maybe you need some rest.  You can become burned out chasing goals.  In fact, research shows that we deplete our energy while reaching a goal.  It is important to replenish that energy before moving on to the next goal.  But when you shift into overdrive, racing from one achievement to the next, it is often fear that drives you.  Stop. Rest. Worship.  Let God refill your tank.

3.      “If you have faith and do not doubt … you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive what you ask for in prayer.” – Matthew 21:21-22

Fear is the obstacle that gets us stuck.  Faith is the antidote.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). You have to believe it before you see it – that’s the key to getting unstuck. Have a vision for where you are going – and believe so strong in it that you move towards it even though you can only see the vision in your imagination.  That’s how you bring your vision to fruition.  You must believe and not doubt.  As we move into a new year, what hope do you need to rekindle?  Ask for it in prayer.  Believe and don’t doubt. If you do, you will take action in synch with divine orchestration and see your vision come to life.

My challenge to you:

Honor Jesus’ birthday by talking to Him (through prayer) and letting Him talk to you (by reading His word).

Journaling assignment:

What will you do this Christmas to let your light shine?  What burden do you need to surrender to God?  What have you asked for in prayer, but doubted you will receive? What will you do to strengthen your belief that you can receive it?

May you and your family have a blessed and beautiful Christmas!

Resistance Means That There’s Something There!

A while back I hired a new coach, presumably to help me navigate the multiple transitions I’d made, and to get clarity of my vision moving forward. Several times, I hung up with my business coach feeling – to be blunt – a little peeved. I found myself pushing back on his tough questions because, a) they forced me to face some of my habits that might be counterproductive to my goals and b) I didn’t feel like changing those habits and wasn’t totally convinced that I could. So our conversations were at times tense, and yet beneath it all, I felt a little tug saying, “Hey, you need this. No coach has ever quite challenged you like this. Don’t run from the challenge.” So I didn’t. Despite my defenses going up, I stuck with it. I was intrigued by the questions and my strong response. What was going on?

To go to the next level, you must get bigger. That means stretching beyond your comfort zone. And that is uncomfortable. Growing usually means growing pains. When a question or opportunity leaves you resisting, defensive and uncomfortable, it is often an indication that there is something there that you need to explore. Rather than run from it, press in. Your boss gives you feedback that hit a nerve? Someone makes a valid observation that left you feeling defensive? Has your journey to a goal stretched you more than expected and left you questioning your own abilities? All are likely to cause resistance.

Breakthroughs happen when you do the hard work of looking honestly at yourself, your habits and the patterns of fear that can get you stuck. Whether it’s exploring why you feel guilty about stuff you didn’t do wrong, or notice how the overachiever in you is really just craving approval and acceptance, “doing the work” requires courage, time and honesty. Take criticism and learn from it. Get better, not bitter. Push through it. That’s how you have a breakthrough.

My breakthrough came – a major shift in how I saw my mission. And that breakthrough gave me the insight I needed to see what my next season would look like. It was the vision I’d been seeking. And finally, thankfully, my eyes were open to it. But without the hard work of pressing in rather than giving up when I met resistance, I’d still be waiting on my breakthrough.

My challenge to you this week:

Ask yourself the hard questions and answer them. Find the grain of truth in criticism. Stretch!

Journaling assignment:

Where are you resisting? What are you defensive about? What is the real issue beneath the resistance? What message is your resistance offering you? Head over to my blog and leave your comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Mission Accomplished?

Why are you here? I don’t mean why are you here reading this right now. Instead, why are you here on this planet at this time, born into the family you were born into, with your unique gifts and talents, with your experiences? There is indeed a reason you are here. It’s your purpose. Some call it your mission. We all have one. Your job is to discover what it is and live it. When you get to the end of your life, don’t you want to be able to say, “Mission accomplished”?

It is a sad state of affairs when our mission is fuzzy. We feel a little lost, even if to the rest of the world it looks like we know exactly where we are going. I remember winning honors and awards in my previous career field, yet feeling a deep dissatisfaction with my work. Because I was good at my profession, the people around me assumed I was purposeful. But deep down, I knew something was off. Life can have all the external accolades of success, but if there is no purpose to what you are accomplishing, you’ll feel a black hole – an empty place in your soul that wants true fulfillment. That true fulfillment comes from knowing you are living on purpose.

One day, while coaching a client who was struggling to articulate her life’s mission, a question just rolled off my tongue: How is someone’s life better when they cross your path? She immediately began describing her mission, “Well, I am a bridge builder who connects people, ideas and resources so a person’s life is better because I help them make the right connection.” Just like that. Crystal clear. She articulated her purpose. Over the years, this powerful question has helped many people get crystal clear. Without a lot of introspection and pondering, answer this question from your gut: How is someone’s life better when they cross your path?

We are all here for a reason – leaving the world in some way better than it would otherwise have been without us. The fun part is that we get to accomplish that mission using our own uniqueness – our gifts, strengths, passion and experiences. While you are likely not the only person in the world with your particular mission, you are the only one who can accomplish it the way you can. There are people God has uniquely equipped you to impact. They connect with you. They are around you. They are impacted by you.

I’m not the only author whose mission is inspiring women to live fulfilling lives, but for some reason right now, something caused you and me to connect. So with you, in this moment, I get to live out my mission.

My challenge to you is this:

Articulate your purpose in one simple sentence. Who will you connect and live out your purpose with today? Identify your one sentence and leave your thoughts below, I want to hear from you!