Quick Tips for Getting Back on Track in the New Year

It’s the New Year–a time for new beginnings. Are you feeling excited, optimistic  and energized?

If you’re like many people I know, you might be feeling tired, sluggish and overwhelmed already.  And it’s okay to admit it. (Sometimes I’m energized and exhausted in the same day!)

It’s easy for pressure to build quickly after you have had a chance to let go of work during the holidays.

If you’re having trouble getting back on track, you’re not alone.

Here are some quick tips for easing back into the New Year:

Take your time.

You may not feel like you have a choice about the pace at which you operate, but you have more control than you realize. Set realistic expectations. Set boundaries where needed. Get clear about your priorities. It’s okay to walk before you run.

What pace feels right to you?

Notice your resistance.

When you’re too tired or you’re avoiding some activities, this might actually be a good sign. Pay attention. Maybe you don’t want to step back into the same environment or activities that don’t serve you well. Think about something new you can try, a change you can make that would give you more of what you really want.

What are you resisting?

Don’t judge yourself.

Too many people say, ” I should be accomplishing more.” Or “I should be more active.” Or ” I should lose more weight.” They think they are not good enough, capable enough, etc.  Replace those thoughts with “I am…” positive statements like these: “I am figuring things out.” “I am taking one step at a time.” “I am moving in the right direction.”

What do you really need to hear right now?

Start small.

Choose one area of your life or work that you would like to improve. Set a short-term goal. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t go out and run the entire distance. Maybe you’ll run a mile this week as a start.

I’m trying a new daily planner to improve my planning process. It’s a small change. I will see how it goes.

What’s something small you can do that will still give you a sense of accomplishment?

I’ve been writing more about the importance of paying attention to how you feel, not just what you do as a leader.

When you feel strong, healthy and vibrant, you are more likely to enjoy your life and work.

Make your own well being a top priority this year.

PS — Share this message with a friend or colleague who may benefit.

Let me know how I can be of support to you or your team in the New Year!

The Most Important Question

My favorite children’s book is The Little Engine That Could. During the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on a few questions related to that theme.

How’s your engine?

As a leader or business owner, chances are you’ve spent a lot of your energy trying to keep your business engine running. After all, if you don’t, who will?

You’ve likely experienced times when the engine seems weak or even quits, so you get busy figuring out the problem. You refuel and check the systems to make sure they’re working properly.

If you’re like me, your business may have jumped the track a time or two. Or you may have changed tracks to explore new territory. You may have lost some cargo along the way.

Leadership Tip:
Get the proper systems and people in place to carry the load.
Work on the most important parts of the business. Let others handle the rest.

Where are you going?

This is a perfect time of year to shift gears and think about the vision for your business–where you want the train to go. Yes, you need to have a strong working engine, but you have to have a destination in mind. It’s okay if your idea of the destination isn’t totally clear.  Give yourself some time and space to think about the possibilities.

When you begin to question if you’re even on the right train, keep moving. As Paulo Coelho said, “Sometimes the ‘wrong’ train can take us to the right place.”

Leadership Tip:
Be willing to change the destination if needed. Trust that you’re moving in the right direction.
Help others see and get excited about where the train is going.

How’s your mindset?

As a child, little did I realize how many times in my life I would have to say to myself, “I think I can…I think I can…I think I can.” Inevitably you’ll hit some obstacles along the way, but how you think about them and respond to them is critical.

As an exercise, quickly list all the reasons why you will be successful accomplishing what you want in the coming year.
Keep that list in front of you. It’s too easy to let doubt creep in.

Leadership Tip:
Be open to new possibilities. Anticipate good things happening. As a leader, you have to feel and convey optimism.

And the most important question…Are you enjoying the ride?

You should be. If not, what needs to change?

I used to get frustrated when people asked me if I enjoyed my work. How can you enjoy the ride when you feel such pressure and responsibility? The stress in a leadership role can be overwhelming at times.

If you shift your thinking from, “Work should get done” to “Work should be fun,” you’ll actually get more good work done.

It doesn’t matter how successful you are in business if you’re not fulfilled.

When I focused more on the positive aspects of my work, more opportunities emerged. I followed my instincts to create a business that allows me to do more of what I enjoy.

Leadership Tip:
As you consider your goals and aspirations for the New Year, make a commitment to focus more (much more) on what you truly enjoy–within and outside the business. Fill yourself.

In business, results matter, but the experience of creating those results matters too.
The train will keep going. You can enjoy the journey if you choose to.

While “Enjoy the journey” may sound trite, that is my best wish for you this holiday season.

I think you can. I think you can. I think you can.

Three Keys to Overcoming Your Toughest Business Obstacles

It’s been fun watching the Ninja Warrior competition where athletes move quickly through different kinds of obstacle courses to reach their goal.

runnerAs a business owner or executive, there are parallels you experience as you grow your business.

Here are three Ninja inspired keys to moving through obstacles in your business more easily.

1. Commit.

One key to the success of exceptional athletes is their ability to fully commit to the process. When the athletes get a running start to conquer the obstacle course, they don’t hesitate, look back or question their decision. They go for it.

If they do hesitate, they will stumble, lose time or fail.

Once you’ve made your decision, move. Play it out. Replace any doubt with determination.

Entrepreneurs are especially likely to look around at new ideas and possibilities. While not always a bad thing, too much distraction impedes your action.

Stay focused on your next step so you’re not distracted by anything that will keep you from achieving what you want.
Assess your level of commitment based on your actions, not just words.

2. Bounce back.

Build your resilience. Inevitably there will be times when you fail or you can’t complete the course. You might not get over the wall.

Maybe you didn’t get the funding you needed, you lost a big piece of business or your star employee quit.

Major business setbacks can negatively impact your mindset, health, relationships or well-being.
The most impressive athletes don’t beat themselves up. They acknowledge that they made a mistake, but they don’t dwell on it. They recommit and refocus on the goal.

Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel good. Your mood affects your mindset. The better you feel, the easier it will be to shake off whatever negative experience has occurred.

Some of the most successful Ninja athletes are simply being themselves and having fun. Do more of that in your business to minimize any negative impact. You’ll navigate your business obstacle course more easily.

3.  Find your fans.

If you feel like you’re going it alone, find the coach and fans you need. Be specific about what you think you need. Ask for help when you need it.

Start or join a mastermind group. Fans are waiting for you there in the form of other business owners and executives. You’ll be surprised to see how many people have experienced a similar obstacle. Learn from them.

Spend more time with people you enjoy. You’re more likely to develop mutual “fan like” relationships where there is support or camaraderie.

Appreciate those who have believed in you, invested in your business or given you support along the way. Those fans will create more fans for you.

Do something simple today to express a little appreciation to someone in your network.

Obstacles are a part of business and life. You don’t have to face them alone. And shouldn’t if you want to achieve the success you desire and deserve.

What’s one of the biggest obstacles you’re facing in your business? I’d love to know.

Ready for a Coaching Conversation?

Ever struggle to find just the right words when you’re in a sensitive conversation? If you’re in a leadership role, it’s not uncommon.


birdsOne executive I worked with admitted he tried to avoid one of his direct reports.


“I never know how to approach her without striking a nerve.” He complained about having to tip toe around issues. The idea of confronting the person became more stressful to him than dealing with the negative impact of ignoring it.


If you’re like many of the executives I coach, you just want to get things done, but “people issues” get in the way. While the words you choose to use are important, there are other factors that matter as well.


Here are some quick tips to help you address difficult people and situations as they arise.


Focus on…


Your intention: What do you want to happen as a result of the conversation you know you need to have? Be clear about the purpose or expectation you have for the conversation.


For example, your intention may be to encourage some type of change or to help someone improve performance. Maybe you’re trying to smooth relationships.


Your tone: What do you want the person to feel as a result of the conversation? Encouragement? Trust? Willingness to improve?


Keep your tone light when you can. If you are stressed and serious, other people will sense that. Have a positive expectation for the conversation.


Your questions: Hear the difference between…”WHAT were you thinking?” and “What do you think you can do differently next time?”


Use good questions to help bring out the best in others, not to shut them down.


Your timing: Timing is everything. If you are reacting to a person or situation that makes you angry, wait. Allow the dust in your mind to settle.


Many times the situation is not as bad as it first appears. Even if you’re ready to have the conversation, the timing may be off for the other person. Read the other person. Open a difficult conversation when people are more likely to be receptive.


More people and companies are recognizing the value of coaching conversations to address difficult issues. They realize that the role of the leader is not always to solve problems, but to be a good coach or mentor–to build capability in others.


Whether you are trying improve a difficult situation or develop a top performer, make your conversation count.


WorkMatters-Newsletter-JUL2016-Cover-LOIf you, or someone you know, wants to lead a little easier, DOWNLOAD my latest newsletter on how to have coaching conversations that get results. 


The newsletter includes a short coaching conversation checklist to serve as a guide. 
You’ll reduce your stress and increase confidence in your coaching conversations.
Share it with others who may benefit!


What are you thinking about?

“What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be.”

~Mark Victor Hansen

So what are you thinking about? 

Pen in the hand over white backgroundThis time of year people naturally think about the New Year and what they want their life or work to look like. Whether you’re working on personal development, business goals or leadership goals, a little of your time and a lot of self-motivation are required.

However, three common traps might make deciding what you want more challenging:

  1. Distraction Trap

As you ease back into work, you probably feel pulled in different directions. This distraction limits your “thinking time” as you are swept up in the rush. Other times of the year, your brain may be consumed by thoughts about what needs to get done today instead of what you want for your future.

To counteract this trap, set aside dedicated time to reflect on your future. If you don’t, you may cruise through life on autopilot and not achieve your desired goals. Force yourself to stop, consider the big picture and look for new possibilities. Then decide what path makes sense for you, your work, life or business.

  1. Should Trap

You fall into the “Should Trap” when you hear yourself saying, “I should…” You might think something like, “I should spend less time on the road.” “I should get more involved on a board.” “I should start that project.”

My suggestion is to shift from using “should” to “want”. For example, “I want to start that new project.” See how that works? Cultivate a healthy sense of selfishness. After all, if you are not filling your life with what you really want to do and feeling fulfilled, you won’t be able to serve others to the best of your ability.

Using the word “should” often stems from some form of guilt. On the other hand, the word “want” is based on your desires. Allow yourself to want whatever you want. Then, focus on that and let go of the “shoulds” that get in the way.

  1. Judgment Trap

Judgment is one of the most dangerous traps. When you catch yourself thinking about what you want and then immediately deny it, you know judgment is at work. You might say self-sabotaging things to yourself or others like:

  • “I’m not ready.”
  • “That’s too much of a risk.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “That’s not possible.”

As judgmental thoughts pop into your head, take time to notice them and write them down. Next, write down why the statement or excuse is not true to turn it around.

For example, if you say you are not ready to tackle a big project, write down all the reasons why you are more ready than you’d like to admit. This exercise pushes you past the judgmental limitation so you can think bigger and move into action.

PS – My newsletter articles (also found at workmatters.com/blog) this year are inspired by the leadership quotes in the new Leadership Journal I created for busy leaders like you. The journal is available through Amazon.com

Order your copy of the journal today to follow along, capture your own ideas and do your best thinking. See details below.

Have you ordered your Leadership Journal?

The New Year requires new thinking. My new Leadership Journal will help you in the process.

journalDid you know that you are much more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down?
I created the Leadership Journal for busy leaders like you who are serious about achieving their goals. It’s a simple weekly journal with a few coaching questions and inspiring leadership quotes to keep you motivated and on track throughout the year.

Just 10-15 minutes each week of thinking time will help you achieve what matters most to you.

Get one for yourself, your team or anyone who might benefit from this empowering goal-setting tool.

Find it on Amazon: