Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My New Blog Is Up and Running

Today I am launching a brand new blog. It's called Live Bold and Bloom: Personal Growth for Fearless Living. I feel like I've just delivered another child. I am so excited about the new look and what I will be able to offer you, my valued readers.

Live Bold and Bloom is for people who want to live fearlessly and make extraordinary things happen in their lives. If that's you or you wish it were, please hop over to my new blog.

Here's the link:

Live Bold and Bloom

Thank you for following me here, and I look forward to your comments and inspiration at Live Bold and Bloom!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You Have a Mission Statement?

Many years ago, I worked in public relations for the JCPenney Company. James Cash Penney, the founder of the now giant retailer, based his business philosophy on one simple notion: "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" --The Golden Rule. In fact, his first store was called The Golden Rule.

This philosophy permeated every aspect of how Mr. Penney ran his business. He asked for a "fair remuneration and not all the profits the traffic will bear." He was the first to call employees "associates", and he treated them like family. During the stock market crash in the 1920's, he lost his personal fortune and took a loan against his life insurance in order to pay the associates' salaries.

When I arrived at JCPenney in 1984, it was the fourth largest retailer in the nation with stores in every state. The retail business was pretty cutthroat, but The Golden Rule remained the company philosophy almost ninety years after the store was founded.

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Penney is this: "Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals, and I'll give you a stock clerk." Mr. Penney understood the value of having a mission, a goal around which everything in your life centers.

So are you are stock clerk with a goal or just a stock clerk? Are you a man or a woman with a mission? It's just my humble opinion, but I think it's as vital for individuals to have a mission and a vision for themselves as it is for any business. Writing a mission statement for yourself forces clarity and helps you define purpose. Putting it on paper makes it real. A mission statement is like your own personal constitution. It is the basis for making major life-directing decisions as well as making daily choices that impact us and those around us.

So here are my thoughts on writing a personal mission statement:

1. Think of a person in history or in your life whom you admire. What are the qualities of that person that you would like to emulate. List those qualities.

2. Define the type of person you want to become, not just what you want to have or do.

3. Define your life roles (career, family, community, etc.), and write down how you would like to be described in each of those roles.

4. Write down a goal or purpose for the four fundamental elements of who you are: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

5. List the talents and skills you possess that are most important to you.

6. Using the information you outlined above, begin crafting your mission statement. Keep it simple, clear and brief -- no more than 3-5 sentences long.

7. Create a mission statement that will guide you in your day to day actions and decisions, as well as your long term goals.

8. Keep your words positive and affirmative. Focus on what you want rather than what you don't want.

9. Review the mission statement regularly and revise and update it as you continue to ponder your values and goals. It may take you weeks to refine your final statement.

10. Keep your mission statement within view so that you can read it regularly. Use it as your personal framework for your life. Every time you make an important decision, let your mission statement be your guide.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?

Thousands of years ago when men were carrying clubs and wearing little fur loincloths, adrenaline was a life saver. You could count on its rapid fire results to propel you through the hunt or when some wild beast was hunting you. Adrenaline still gives us that jolt of energy when faced with a threat or surprise. But for the most part, it isn't necessary in everyday life. I mean, how often are you chased by a giant boar or a saber-toothed tiger?

Adrenaline creates some very unusual physical sensations that help you survive stressful situations. Time seems to slow down. Things seem to happen in slow motion. At the same time, you feel extremely alert, energetic and responsive. If you are physically hurt, you don't feel pain. You feel detached from reality -- more of an observer than a participant in what's happening. These mechanisms are in place to help you survive dangerous situations.

But what happens when your entire life is fueled by adrenaline? Is that possible? Absolutely. You may not have wild animals chasing you, but chasing your own tail will create the same effect. Our high-intensity, over-stimulated, stress-out lifestyles keep a constant adrenaline drip running through our veins. Initially, adrenaline gives you a high. You feel alert and energetic. Over time, you feel increasingly fatigued and unable to deal with stress. The adrenal glands are weakened, and you become susceptible to illness, insomnia and depression. You can become detached from the world around you, including family and friends.

Even with all of the negative consequences of an adrenaline-fueled life, adrenaline addiction is quite common. Type A personalities and people who are angry, worried, guilty or fearful are especially susceptible. Are you addicted to adrenaline?

Here's a self test to find out:

1. I drink caffeinated beverages in order to get going and keep going.
2. I eat sugar to calm myself.
3. I over-promise and then rush to finish projects.
4. I arrive at work rushed and already "on".
5. I feel an inner rush or lack of stillness most of the time.
6. I tend to be impatient.
7. I drive over the speed limit, tail gate and get angry in traffic.
8. I tend to run late or arrive just in time.
9. I often have to deal with a problem or hassle in my life.
10. I don't allow reserves of time in the day for things that come up.
11. I love a challenge and pushing through it as hard as I can.
12. It takes me a few days to calm down from surprises or upsetting events.
13. I find it boring or difficult to just relax and hang out with people.
14. I am at my best when under pressure and deadlines.
15. Sometimes I deliberately set myself up to wait until the last minute.
16. I don't arrive at the airport an hour before my flight.
17. I carry my cell phone even when I don't need it.
18. I unconsciously try the hardest way to get something done.
19. People complain that I'm not there with them, even when I am.
20. I am a driven type person.

Score Key:
15-20 -- You are a certified adrenaline addict
11-14 -- You probably have an unhealthy level of adrenaline in your body.
6-10 -- You may have an adrenaline problem.
0-5 -- Bravo! Adrenaline does not have a hold on you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ten Trends That Will Impact Your Life

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

from "The Times They Are A Changin'" by Bob Dylan

Even back in 1964, Bob Dylan understood that change is inevitable. The sooner you adapt, the better off you'll be. I'll even go one further than ole Bob. The times aren't just changing -- we are changing the times. Our behaviors and reactions are constantly evolving. Ripples of creativity, anger, innovation, dissatisfaction, greed, and optimism wash over humanity every day. Sometimes these ripples make waves. Sometimes they create tsunamis -- like wars and economic recessions.

One consistent attribute of the human spirit is resilience. We have an amazing ability to recover and adjust to misfortune, challenges and change. We are able to learn new ways of coping and responding to the ever-shifting events around us. As our societal responses emerge and take shape, we begin to see trends forming that give us a glimpse into the crystal ball of our future lifestyles.

There are hundreds of emerging trends on the horizon. Many of them are not real pick-me-ups to say the least. But I've researched some value trends that will have a positive impact on your life. Strangely enough, many of these positive trends have emerged from our economic meltdown. But isn't that they way it is with life? When it gives you lemons . . .

So here are ten trends that could be life-changing for you and your family:

1. Restraint
Showing restraint in spending and acquiring has become the new normal. The economic meltdown has melted our ability and enjoyment of free-for-all spending. We are now saving more, and even the most affluent see the value in cutting back and living more simply. Doesn't that take the burden off keeping up with the Joneses? Thank goodness.

2. Simplicity
This goes hand-in-hand with restraint and is a counter-trend to mass consumption. Consumers have been talking about simplifying their lives for several years now as reflected in the magazine titles and food labels we see. For many, the result of simplified living is a better life overall because we are producing less waste, eating simpler and healthier foods and having more time for ourselves and our families. A less complicated, cluttered life brings more peace of mind.

3. Global Influences
As globalization burgeons, people around the world are exposed to tastes, flavors, products and ideas from everywhere. We can communicate with just about anyone, anywhere, at any time. This ability is opening our minds to new experiences, and we want more. Increasingly we are becoming eager to try things irrespective of where they originate.

4. Adventure
As materialism declines, experiences are what people are seeking. And not just the same old experiences. We want adventure. We are looking for more creative ways to enjoy the world, and the travel industry has seen a huge up tick in active, experiential, and personal growth oriented travel. Trips that involve outdoor activities like rafting, hiking, kayaking, or biking, as well as educational travel is on the rise. We want memorable, beneficial adventures that we can share with friends and family. With so many travel options available at reasonable rates, now is a great time to plan the adventure of a lifetime.

5. Authenticity
With less expendable cash lying around, we want to spend our money on real products and craftsmanship. We want authentic experiences that don't flash with bling and over-marketing. Spin has spun itself out. Useful, well-made, practical, and meaningful are words that define what we purchase and why it's appealing. This move toward authenticity is a reflection of our shifting personal values. As we scale back to basics, we see the value od our outer world reflecting our inner core essentials.

6. Changing Gender Roles
Women will play an increasingly more important role in redefining traditional ideas at work. In 2009, for the first time ever, women represent 50% of all jobs in the U.S. Women represent 57% of all bachelor's degrees and 60% of all master's degrees, making them the most valuable part of a company's talent pool. The result will be more customized careers, flexible work arrangements, and the encouragement of more female-oriented management traits like empathy and compassion. It is also becoming less rare to see the woman as the main income earner and the man handling childcare and domestic duties. The pressure for maintaining traditional gender roles is definitely loosening up.

7. Mass Mingling
For the last several years, you've probably been hearing that the movement toward virtual communication and social media is going to create a generation of isolated robots who are wary of interpersonal relationships. Well, it appears that just ain't so, Joe. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. Our online connections are encouraging real-world meet-ups. In some instances, that might not be great. But for networking, social gatherings, education, and business meetings, the virtual world is just another vehicle to finding like-minded people.

8. Happiness Measurement
Happiness is becoming a measure of economic prosperity. Factors such as quality of life and vacation time will be included in the overall measure of economic well-being. Including the happiness equation as part of the world of economics is certainly a huge paradigm shift taking us away from purely rational considerations. Behavioral economists are scrabbling to quantify "happiness", and we are seeing more books on the shelves about how to find it. I think if we look at the other trends I've list, it's easy to see that happiness probably includes a good dose of simplicity, adventure and authenticity!

9. Individuality
Increased experimentation with our own identities is spilling over into our cultural landscape. With blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we can brand ourselves and launch businesses around our personal passions. In fact, everyday people are becoming national celebrities because they are media savvy and have something to offer. The absence, for the most part, of censure and ridicule, allows us to be creative in how we express and present ourselves to the world.

10. Youthfulness
We've known for years how to stay healthy and fit. The expectation of living a longer life isn't enough anymore. Now we want to stay young and look young. Cosmetic surgery has become popular, accepted and easily available. You can order off a menu of cosmetic treatments that smooth your skin, zap your veins, and suck your fat. Looking young isn't just for the fabulously wealthy anymore. I must admit, though, that I'm looking forward to the trend of loving wrinkles and revering the old and wise. Perhaps the trend toward authenticity will support that!

Sources: GfK Custom Research North America; Trendspotting Market Research

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's Never Too Late

When was the last time your age stopped you from doing something? For me it was recently when I was wearing a particular outfit, and I saw the look of horror on my teenage daughter's face. My brain doesn't even have to catch up with the notion that I'm too old for something. I have kids who take care of that for me. (Sometimes I take great pleasure in "not acting my age" just to get under their skin!)

Perhaps there are situations when age really matters. I don't want to look like a complete fool or injure myself. But how often do we use age as a reason or an excuse for not really going for it? Whatever "it" happens to be. Sometimes we look at a younger person who's achieving something great, something that we want to achieve. It's hard not to become disheartened if we believe we can't accomplish this same great thing as fast, as easily, or at all.

As the years float by, inertia creeps in on tiny cat feet. To break out of our circle of comfort and familiarity, we have to take bold action. But trying something new and changing our perspective is like budging a rusty hinge. Where's that oil can?

So here's where the rubber meets the road. Whatever age you happen to be, realize that you have a finite number of days left to do the things you want to do. Go ahead, count them up. Let's say you live to be 85. You can do the math. Seeing that number on paper forces you to grasp that every single day is a gift. Don't waste one of them moping around or watching another episode of The Simpson's. Wake up before it's too late!

So here's what I suggest you to do to get the ball rolling:

1. Write a Bucket List
Get some paper and create six columns. Write down the following headings for each column: relationships, career, travel, lifestyle, accomplishments, and altruism. If you think of another category, add it to the heading. Now think of every possible thing you'd like to do related to each category before you die, and write them down under the appropriate heading.

2. Perform Triage
Go through your list and pick the most important goal in each category. Keep doing this until you have prioritized each category. If there are two or three of equal importance, then just order them randomly.

3. Pick Two
From your list of most important goals, pick two -- one that is really challenging or scary and one that's easy. On another paper, write down all of the action steps you'd need to take to accomplish both of these goals. Think of everything, even possible roadblocks or problems you might encounter along the way.

4. Commit Some Time
Commit to some amount of time every day or every week to completing your action steps for both goals. If you can commit to an hour a day, that's wonderful. If not, commit to something. You'll probably achieve your easier goal before the harder one, but that success should motivate you to keep going. Pick another easy goal and create action steps to begin working on it.

5. Try Not To Think About It
Just do it. Don't think about the obstacles, your fears, or your age. Just keep working on the action steps. Worrying hinders action. Action creates results.

6. Inspiration
If you start to lose motivation, don't worry. Just keep taking the actions anyway. But if you'd like a little inspiration, look at what these old creekers accomplished:

-Alice Porlock of Great Britain published her first book, Portrait of My Victorian Youth, when she was 102 years old.

-At age 98, Harold Mark Foster of Owensboro, KY, began learning to read.

-Nola Ochs, age 95, became the oldest person to receive a college diploma, a degree in general studies with an emphasis on history.

-Allan Stewart of New South Wales completed a Bachelor of Laws degree at age 91 from the University of New England. He said he finished what would have normally been a six-year degree in four and a half years "because of my age."

-At age 87, Francis Peyton Rous became the oldest Nobel Prize laureate.

-At age 84, Mae West starred in the movie Sextette.

-Venus Ramey, 82, balanced on her walker and fired her handgun to shoot out an intruder's tires. Ramey, winner of the 1944 Miss America pageant, confronted the man on her Kentucky farm and disabled his vehicle so he couldn't escape. (Don't you just love this one?)

-At 77, Grandma Moses started painting.

-Ronald Reagan was reelected President of the United States at age 73.

So you see, whatever you want to do, just go do it. It's never too late.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ten Tantalizing Travel Destinations for Personal Growth

I'm reading the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think I'm the last person on Earth to read it, and now I know what all of the hoopla is about. It's a delightfully engaging book about feeding the body, feeding the soul, and feeding the heart. Ms. Gilbert writes about her own journey of personal growth during her travels in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Her adventures got me thinking about all of the places I want to visit, and how I might combine my love of travel with my desire for continued personal development.

So I've been doing a bit of research today, and darned if there aren't a plethora of destinations world-wide that combine beautiful, unique locations with self-development and relaxation or adventure. So here are ten that jumped off the computer and screamed "Buy a plane ticket right now!"

1. Costa Rica
This transforming life safari is an all-inclusive retreat in a tropical paradise with private, professional life coaching from Rosemary Rein, PhD, international author of Go Wild: Survival Skills for Business and Life and the co-author of Blueprint for Success with Dr. Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. During this personal growth retreat, you’ll explore the enchantment of Costa Rica, called the "jewel of the planet" while being certified in a personal and business survival course.

2. Hudson Valley, NY
The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is one of the nation's foremost educational retreat centers. On a serene and beautiful campus in the Hudson Valley, you can enjoy beauty, art and cultural innovation. Regular workshops and classes are offered in personal growth, and you can enjoy film, concerts, and community gatherings. The Omega Institute also has a wellness center with a variety of therapeutic services, a meditation sanctuary, and an expansive library. Lodging is in comfortable cabins on the campus.

3. Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai Healing Vacations is run by Jane Winter, a licensed marriage and family counselor who has a private practice on Kauai. She offers customized vacation programs that include personal growth workshops, personal counseling, and eco-tour adventures on beautiful Kauai. Jane is well-versed in Hawaiian culture, history, customs, hula and chanting and can share Hawaiian tools for achieving peace and balance within. She was also a core member of Shakti Gawain's (author of Creative Visualization) clinical staff and co-leader for many of Shakti's programs.

4. Isle of Wight, UK
The Grange by the Sea is a gorgeous Georgian country house bed and breakfast. It is in the Old Village of Shanklin on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. Nestled in greenery, it is very secluded. Yet it's moments from the thatched pubs and cozy tearooms, the local train station, shops and restaurants and the long sandy beach. At the Grange you can enjoy award-winning authors to sharpen your writing skills, local landscape artists, leading life coaches and exceptional singers, dancers, and yoga teachers. There are a variety of courses from which to choose. The yummy English breakfasts consist of fresh, organic foods -- and tea of course!

5. Cyprus
The Zen Retreat Cyprus offers four different retreats to address well-being, self-discovery, and relationship issues for couples and families. The goal at Zen Retreats is to foster change and harmony within your life and to restore the much needed life - work - emotional balance. The spacious retreat villa offers a commanding view of the surrounding mountains and countryside with views towards the coast at Polis and Latchi. The luxury property sleeps 6, and has its own private pool and garden areas with a covered gazebo were you can enjoy an outside massage or acupuncture treatment.

6. Amalfi Coast, Italy
During the Amalfi Coast Retreat, you will learn leading edge techniques and highly effective personal growth principals. The retreat offers a holistic approach to their teachings, working on the physical, behavioral, emotional, mental and spiritual levels during a variety of workshops. The Amalfi Coast is a spectacular coastline situated in the South of Italy. This retreat is for the luxury traveler, and the accommodations are in one of the finest five star hotel’s on the Amalfi coast. Sumptuous meals, a private yacht outing, and guided tours of the region are part of the luxury retreat package.

7. Kenya
This 14 day Self-Discovery Safari held August 2010 focuses on personal and planetary healing within the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, known as the "birthplace" of man. Meditations, group dynamics, ceremony, and individual healing sessions encourage each participant to realize their highest healing potential for themselves and the planet during this tour. The tour also includes the best in cultural and natural history that these powerful locations have to offer.

8. Alaska
Combine adventure and self-discovery during the Inside Passages Alaska Kayaking Retreat in August 2010. The retreat will be based out of the Keene Channel Lodge on the Wrangell Narrows, a sheltered and secluded location fourteen miles south of Petersburg. The lodge provides a lovely setting for day and overnight kayak trips in sheltered waters, with rustic, comfortable accommodations. The retreat includes a multi-day kayak camping trip to the Castle Islands, as well as the opportunity to explore meditation practice in a wilderness setting in order to experience presence, both inner and outer, through a variety of contemplative disciplines.

9. Charleston
The Sophia Institute in Charleston, S.C., offers retreats featuring nationally and internationally renowned authors and teachers, like Marianne Williamson and Anne Rivers Siddons. The Institute offers a variety of programs for those engaged in personal and interpersonal transformation. The Phoebe Pember House in the heart of historic Charleston offers accommodations and retreat space in beautiful surroundings with tranquil gardens and peaceful spaces to reconnect with yourself, discover a calling or expand your spiritual journey.

10. Bali
The Heal-in-Paradise programs in Bali, part of the Indonesian archipelago, offer strategies for balance, discovery and awakening to manage stress, bring clarity of mind, enhance vitality, re-center and bring harmony. Life coaching, workshops, meditation classes and spa treatments are included in the programs. Cuisine is geared towards optimally fueling the healing process. Accommodations are in bungalows near Pererenan Beach and set in lush gardens. Bali is indescribably beautiful and is regularly voted by major travel magazines as the most enchanting travel destination in the world. It's also one of the settings for Eat, Pray, Love --so of course, it had to be on the list!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are You Lovable? Ten Actions to Be More Appealing

We all want love. We are hard-wired to want it. From the moment we leave the womb and enter the world, we are kicking and screaming for love and care. Babies demand love, and mothers are programmed to provide it unconditionally. (Thank God, right? Those crying, pooping, eating machines don't always foster warm, fuzzy feelings at three in the morning!)

In most healthy families, love is offered to children unconditionally by their parents. And if we're fortunate, our parents continue to offer this love even as we become adults ourselves -- whether or not we deserve it! Parental love is one thing, but what makes us deserving of love from other people? What qualities make us lovable? Here's what I've learned over the years about lovability:

1. Be Light
There are two meanings for this. Be light as in don't be heavy, and be light as in don't be dark. People who are light draw others to them. It is effortless to be around someone with a lightness of demeanor and an easygoing manner. A person with a light heart reflects happiness and brightness to others, and it is uplifting to be near them. Be someone who offers light, positive energy to the world, and the world will be drawn to you.

2. Like Yourself
If you don't like yourself already, then make that a daily objective. Write down all possible reasons that you should like and respect yourself. Focus on your positive qualities and successes. Don't allow your mind to lock on to negative thinking. If you don't like yourself, your lack of self-esteem will be apparent to others. It is very hard to love someone who doesn't love themselves. It is very hard to receive love openly and completely if you don't believe you are worthy of it.

3. Set Boundaries
I know this sounds pretty negative if you are trying to attract love, but it goes hand in hand with liking yourself. Setting boundaries is about having respect for yourself and gently letting people know who you are and how you want to live. If you allow yourself to be taken advantage of and walked on, it is hard for others to respect you and to offer you real, healthy love. You won't lose love by setting boundaries. You will become more lovable.

4. Show Kindness to Everyone
Just be kind to people. Buddhists have a meditation called "loving kindness" to develop selfless and altruistic love. Show loving kindness to all people, regardless of their station in life or behavior toward you. In this hurried, self-centered world, show kindess to everyone you encounter, the check-out lady at the grocery store, the fussy child on the airplane, the guy who flips you off on the highway. Develop a habit of kindness and make it part of who you are. A kind person is hard not to love!

5. Laugh at Yourself
Don't take yourself too seriously. Have enough confidence to laugh at your own foibles. Embrace a healthy self-deprecating humor. If you let the defenses down, and allow yourself to be vulnerable and real, then you become more approachable and oddly enough, more respected.

6. Show Affection
The power of loving touch is astounding. When you offer someone a hand, a hug, a friendly squeeze, you are jumping into their space and pulling them into yours. You are inviting a connection. There are some who aren't so comfortable with lots of affection, but even so, a small amount of touch communicates volumes about who you are and your willingness to reach out.

7. Be Real
Sometimes in our efforts to be lovable, we lose ourselves. We put on an act to appear smarter, funnier, richer, more powerful or simply to become the person we wish we were. That's all fine if you want people to love the imitation you. But eventually the act is not sustainable and you're found out. Don't waste your time pretending. Just be yourself. Be honest with yourself and others about who you are so the real you can receive the love you deserve.

8. Have Integrity
Honesty. Loyalty. Reliability. Strength of character. You might win love without these, but you won't be lovable for the long term. Define what integrity means to you, and live that every day.

9. Be Surprising
Step out of your comfort zone. Do something unexpected. Go out of your way for someone. Say the nice thing that you are thinking. Say yes instead of no. Gain a reputation for being interesting and surprising -- in your own special way.

10. Love Unconditionally
Offer love to others expecting nothing in return. Offer love because you want to give it without fear, conditions, or strings attached. Give love for the sheer joy of giving, and you will discover that your own lovability factor increases exponentially!