The Success Catalyst

Up Your Game & Bring Out Your Best

How Surgery Was a Gift: A Fresh Perspective

I didn’t see it as a gift when I was told that my shoulder needed to be operated on if I wanted to get back to my racquet sports and swimming – not to mention if I was interested in a remaining lifetime free of chronic and acute pain from a torn rotator cuff that would only get worse. Upon getting the d-date for late May, I broke down and cried.

There’s nothing like having surgery on your (dominant) arm and then being told you can’t use it for 6 weeks to get your attention – well, there are so many things much worse, but this was enough to get mine. The worst part was this meant I had to reach out to friends and ask for help. For some, this isn’t hard to do – for me, it’s excruciating. I’ve gotten much better at it over the years, but, given a choice, I prefer not to ever have any needs – that’s how I roll.

At the eleventh hour, I made a few calls, stopped by a few friends’ houses, and wrote a few emails, letting people know I was heading into surgery and could use some help. In less than 24 hours, friends were sending out emails to my other friends and, before I knew it, I was inundated with support.

Between everybody, everything was taken care of: from day-of hospital logistics to post-op in-house movie nights – it was a revolving door of friends cooking for me, taking care of Rocco, doing my laundry and dishes, bathing me, taking me to dinner and to cool events, driving me to doctor’s appointments, downloading audio books, and checking in on me 24/7. My aunt and uncle even made a special visit which was reminiscent of when my dad came out to be with me for a minor surgery I’d had 25 years ago, armed with what seemed like a year’s supply of my grandma’s chicken and matzo ball soup and homemade Mandel Bread.

Although I’ve had the good fortune of having many close and very special friendships throughout my life, I was, once again, overwhelmed by the generosity and support that was so freely given by so many and I am forever changed by it. And, with the exception of a couple fast and furious meltdowns, I have been in exceptionally good spirits from the moment I left the hospital.

While I don’t recommend having to have surgery that renders you relatively incapacitated in order to have a shift in perspective around being vulnerable, it’s been said, when the solutions to our problems come, they are often difficult for us to receive. Life has a way of giving us the perfect people and situations to help us do something different so that we can actually have the things we say we want. Someone or something will show up in our lives that is the most challenging to our specific, deep-seated, fear-based beliefs that will take us out of our comfort zone – and it’s our choice whether to be open to receive the gift of that opening, no matter how uncomfortable it feels when it happens. Or to refuse it.

This is one of life’s many moments of truth – are we going to welcome a challenging opportunity in order to evolve beyond our self-imposed, internal barriers or will we resist and then still feel victimized when we continue to not get what we’ve been saying we want. All the while, turning our backs on the very people and situations that show up to heal us and bring us the love, connection, and affinity we so deeply long for.

Now, having spent six weeks in a sling, I can’t imagine not having had this fortuitous opportunity to let my friends be there for me – it’s as if they were waiting for it all along and I finally woke up. I can be stubborn so an injury would be an obvious wake-up call for me.

And, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you to identify one thing, however small, that you are resisting because it feels too hard – and do it! Most of us know what we need to do, and what we need to stop doing, in order to have what we want. Simply decide to do one thing differently and see what happens. You might be surprised by how good it feels – maybe not right away – in fact, at first, it’s likely going to make you feel disoriented, anxious, and put your stomach in knots. If so, that’s the one you should stick with! Learning how to do something differently requires the willingness to tolerate discomfort. And remember, you wouldn’t be considering changing things up if what you’ve been doing was getting you what you want so you’ve really got nothing to lose by breaking up a long-held habit that has been leaving you empty-handed.

In one of her poems, Mary Oliver asks, “Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”. See what shows up from asking yourself this question. And then, enjoy the freedom and peace and aliveness that comes from bravely choosing your truest path – it’s called authentic happiness and time waits for no one.

Have fun playing with this new approach and email me what you notice!

With Love,
Dani

When All Else Fails, Be Yourself

When I was a teenager growing up in the 70’s and Graham Nash was proclaiming to song to, “Be Yourself”, I remember thinking, “Yeah, that’s right!” and ended up using that as one of my anthems into adulthood. And, although my version of what that looks like today is probably unrecognizable to the 16 year-old me, the core of the message is still the same – that I be true to myself because, at the end of the day, all that really matters is that I lived my life according to my own inner compass, my own True North.

We can so easily be influenced by what others think of us that it often leaves very little room to genuinely explore and then go after what we really want and what would make us truly happy. The tragedy is that we’re then stuck with a life (read: job, relationship, career, body, home-life, financial situation) that doesn’t fit who we really are and what we could actually have. As Charlie Chaplin noted on his 70th birthday while reflecting back on his life, “anguish and emotional suffering were only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.”

And the warning signs usually first come as a quiet whisper, obviously the best time to catch them and, with practice, really does get easier. Or, if we’re lucky, it’s more like a tap on the shoulder – still not too shabby if you can catch it then. More likely though, for most of us, you might notice it as some very annoying finger-poking in the chest, and, if you’re still not willing to pay attention, a thwack across the head – think major, and often humiliating, take-downs for those in the public eye and, for many of us, the usual high drama of didn’t-see-it-coming flash floods like affairs, pink slips, loss of an important friendship, or, even worse and, in most cases, just a quiet desperation of a life unlived.

The great news is that these circumstances don’t have to be a crisis; rather, it’s life’s way of sending us smoke signals that we’re off-course and just need to re-calibrate. Wake-up calls can be a cold shower and, although unpleasant, nothing more. If we take these signals as a friendly reminder to follow our hearts, no matter what, life has a way of providing all the support we need to take the steps toward creating a life filled with peace, joy, and true contentment.

So, what does being yourself really mean? The first step is recognizing that anything in your life that isn’t going the way you had hoped and planned likely has some hint of inauthenticity in it and lacks the vitality of a rich connection – with yourself and your values.

This is where a real heart-to-heart with yourself can do wonders. One great way to get back on track is to ask yourself, “If I were completely being myself in this situation or dynamic, what would I be doing, seeing, or saying, differently? What beliefs about myself and life would I have to be believing in order to feel alive and connected and getting the results I want? What conversations might I be having with the people I’m closest with?”

Start with where you are, get curious about what’s going on, and trust that the rest will show up as you go along. It was Oscar Wilde who once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Do yourself a favor and take his advice because it’s never too late to be the person you could have become!

With love,

Dani

The Four Pillars of a Wonderful Life

Clients often ask me, “How do I get what I want?” The question comes in many forms like, How can I have better communication with my husband/wife/business partner? How can I make more money? How do I find “The One”? How do I lose the one I’m with? How do I hold onto the one I have? How do I find a career I love that pays me enough? How do I lose the 20 pounds and keep it off? How do I have more balance? How do I get out of debt? How do I increase my sales? How do I get my business off the ground?

No matter the question, I believe the answer is always the same and one of the many forms the answer has come in for me is an approach I stumbled upon years ago called, The Four Pillars of a Wonderful Life. The idea is when all four pillars are firmly constructed, their sturdiness holds up a life worth living. So, let’s take a look.

The First Pillar is to know ourselves. Imagine getting excited at the prospect of getting to know yourself more, every day, and liking what you’re discovering. Every experience we have is an opportunity to grow and become more of who we are. But we have to be open to the lessons and willing to see that everything that happens to us is happening for us.

As the Tao Te Ching, written 3,500 years ago, says, life is a constant movement toward our wholeness and our greatness. When we resist this, we suffer and become more estranged from ourselves and from the opportunity to connect to our inner experience, which is what gives our lives meaning. When we realize that Life is a conversation, one we can dance with, we become more relaxed and connected to our true selves, which inherently increases our compassion and openness to ourselves.

The Second Pillar is to love ourselves. This one can sound so cliché and yet it is so fundamental to being genuinely fulfilled and happy. How can you expect to live a life you love or even find the love of your life, if you don’t love, honor, and cherish your own unique and precious self? Usually we’re so busy telling ourselves what’s wrong with us that we don’t see how lovable we are. We often hold ourselves to ridiculously high standards and see ourselves as deeply flawed so we don’t think we deserve to be loved “until or unless…”. Our self-love is often conditional and comes with strings attached – it’s pretty flimsy and not the kind of love I’d want to settle for with anyone, let alone have with myself.

We then try to motivate ourselves to make the changes we desire from this disapproving, critical, and judgmental standpoint and, while that may give us the short-term results (think bootcamp and diets), it isn’t effective for lasting change.

The Third Pillar is to trust ourselves. Becoming trustworthy can mean that we know we can dependably rely on ourselves to take good care of our well-being in all areas: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  This creates a self-assuredness and calm and that, in turn, builds our confidence. It gives us the ability to make choices that fuel rather than deplete us.

The Fourth Pillar is to inspire ourselves. How many times have you said to yourself, “I’m bored, I can’t think of anything fun and interesting to do. I’m just not motivated. ”

Life is filled with opportunities to connect with our creative life force and to make a difference. When in doubt, get out of yourself and go help someone else who is less fortunate. That is a great way to re-ignite your flame. Once your pilot light is back on, keep it burning by asking yourself, “What else can I try? Where else can I go? Who else can I meet? What else can I make?” Just like negative thinking and getting stuck in old beliefs of lack and scarcity is habit-forming, getting inspired is contagious, too.

TRY THIS: for the next 30 days, give 30 minutes each day toward knowing, loving, trusting, and inspiring yourself and see if it makes a difference in your life.

AND, for those of you who are interested in having more self-awareness, love, trust, and inspiration in your life, contact me for a complimentary coaching consultation. Say YES to living a life you love NOW because, “a year from now you’ll wish you had started today.”

With Love,
Dani

Sustainable Resolutions: Choosing What You Want Most

I once heard it said that discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. If that’s true then it would be good to know what’s really important to you and to your life so that, when you are making decisions about how you’re spending your time and who you’re spending it with, you can consciously decide whether it is either an attempt to temporarily alleviate the inescapable discomfort of being human or if it’s in greater service of your true heart’s desire.
The absolute best way to know the difference is to spend time getting to know yourself. No one can do this for us and the only way we can get to know ourselves is by spending real time with ourselves. You are the expert on you and there’s no better way to hear the wisdom of your inner guidance than to get quiet and listen.
Gandhi once said, “The only tyrant I will follow is the still, small voice within.” The truth of who we are is tyrannical and it patiently and persistently tugs at us, sometimes in a barely audible whisper, until we quiet our minds of the thoughts and the made-up stories that keep recycling in our brain, taking up precious time and space that could be used to bring us real and lasting happiness. And it’s not until we bestill the mental chatter that we can start listening to what it’s saying.
Most of us don’t stop to listen because we’re afraid that it’s going to tell us to do something we don’t want, like change the dynamic of our intimate relationships or friendships, eat the broccoli instead of the pizza, stop self-righteously judging someone and, instead, get into their world and see their point of view of things, or give up a night of TV to enroll in a class in something we’ve always wanted to do.
If the pizza were going to bring you real comfort, or the lack of real communication with others was going to bring you more meaning and closeness, or being right were viable roads to true happiness, then we’d all be set. But, it doesn’t work that way and, thankfully so because, at the end of the day, I can’t imagine anyone saying they wished they’d watched more TV, or closed more people out of their hearts, or ate more foods that made them feel sick.
So, the first step to finding out who you are, and this is going to sound brutal, is to stop what you’re doing and really start noticing the voice inside your head and hear what it’s saying. For those of you who are not used to doing this, which is most of us, you will, at first, not even know the difference between this voice and the real you, so be patient with yourself as you charter the tricky terrain of your mind and its creative ways of lulling you into looking outside yourself for approval, validation, and a sense of worthiness.
One of the reasons it’s so important to know the difference between that voice inside your head and your own inner knowing is that, without your awareness or permission, it will make choices for you that ultimately keep you stuck and unhappy and further from the truth of who you are. And, no matter how much you say you want something, if you don’t actually believe it, it will not come to be.
There are many ways to get acquainted with the voice in your head and, besides meditation, one of the best ways I know of is to start a daily morning practice of writing down your stream-of-conscious thoughts in a notebook – I’m talking good old-fashioned journaling that is for your eyes only. I have been doing this myself, off and on, since I was a teenager and it’s also one of the first things I get my clients in the habit of doing when we start working together.
The results my clients have experienced from doing this have often been nothing less than transformational – from restored relationships that seemed hopeless, to the breaking off of marital engagements that were based on fantasy and projection, to starting successful businesses generated from long-held creative passions, to going from feeling hopelessly unemployed to getting a six-figure job, to meeting and creating a life with the person of their dreams, to creating a more empowering and exciting role in their company that better reflects their strengths and interests, to changing their sexual identities (both ways!), and the list goes on.
But, most importantly, what comes from knowing ourselves is a greater ability to love who we are and that love is what creates true possibility – for ourselves, for others, and for the world. When we are so busy judging ourselves and others, there is no space for true creation and creating is what makes us come alive.
Try this: ask yourself, of these two choices, do you prefer truth or untruth? Now, ask, would you choose something that feels good or something that feels bad? Ok, now, which would you choose, something that feels good or something that is true?
If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry, right? This is where it’s easy to get stuck and choose the short-term gratification over the bigger picture of true fulfillment. And, if the price weren’t so high, like forfeiting your dreams and passions, then I’d say, no big deal and to go for it. But the cost of not authentically living into who you really are is to be miserable, at best, and life-threatening, at worst.
It’s not about being perfect, it’s about waking up and becoming aware of what’s true because, as it’s been said through time, the truth will set us free, and freedom allows us to choose powerfully. If you get and stay curious, challenge yourself to ask the powerful questions, and allow for the raw energy of life to move through you, you get your real self back and, from that place, anything is possible.
So, the great news is that, once we start exercising the often flabby muscles of our deeply-held desire to genuinely connect with ourselves and others and access our vibrant and creative spirit, we start to get into a groove and the very same techniques that got us stuck into old and destructive habits that keep us unhappy are now in service of activities, routines, and behaviors that actually bring us true happiness, peace of mind, and real joy. And, if you check under the hood of anyone’s new year’s resolutions, you’ll probably find very similar motives: to feel, do, and be their best. So, start getting “selfish” and focus on you and what you really want – it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself and everyone else.
Have fun playing with this approach and email me what you notice!
With Love,
Dani

When you make average great, your dreams become a reality.

I was watching one of the recordings I have of Oprah’s show the other night and this particular episode was dedicated to watching successful celebrities re-visit the workplace of their first-ever job and, although I’m not a fan, Suze Orman, one of the celebs, said something that really resonated with me and that was, “When you make average great, your dreams become a reality”.

I thought about how that has been true for me and how, upon landing my first job at 14 yrs old, scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins off tony Michigan Ave on Chicago’s Gold Coast, I took so much pride in being and doing my best. Although frightening, even the application process was uplifting to me – that I had to qualify and explain why I felt they should hire me was such a valuable experience – a chance for me to think about and articulate my worth and the value I would add to their business if they took a chance on me. I remember practicing with my dad to prepare for the big interview which turned out to be nothing more than a very friendly and casual conversation with the owner of the store.

I was so proud that I had a real work schedule and real co-workers and that I was learning so much about the business of how to serve, stock, supply, process, and inventory a product – and the free ice cream didn’t hurt, either! And I will never forget the day a limousine pulled up and out came the one-and-only Ann Landers who’s column I read religiously. She entered the store with a smile on her face, greeted me as if we were old friends, and ordered a Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream pie. I remember proudly packing it up in dry ice for her and, in return, she handed me a $10 tip – about as much as the cost of the pie back then, which was mind-boggling to me that someone would appreciate my service so much they would give me as much money that the item was worth. And, back in 1975 that was some sweet cash!

One year later, I wanted to try my hand at flipping burgers at “Big Daddy’s – Chicago on a Bun” (I’m not kidding), so I requested a letter of recommendation from Baskin-Robbins and Russ, the owner whose name I never forgot, told me to write the letter myself and then give it to him for approval. At first, I was discouraged and intimidated by his response to my request, but then I excitedly took it on and loved it because it forced me to think and write about all the things I liked about myself as a worker and it helped me articulate my skills and abilities.

I landed the job at Big Daddy’s and poured my heart into it until I became assistant manager. But, even more memorable was that I took some of my earnings and bought my dad a fancy schmancy, solid gold chain necklace at Henry Kay Jewelers on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile for a whopping $100 (pretty much one of the cheapest one’s they had) for his birthday. Needless to say, I felt like a million bucks!

With Love,

Dani

As I Began to Love Myself

The speech that Charlie Chaplin gave on his 70th birthday: As I Began to Love Myself

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
 are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
 as I try to force my desires on this person, 
even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it,
 and even though this person was me.
 Today I call it “RESPECT.”

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life 
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
 Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
 I am in the right place at the right time,
 and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
 So I could be calm.
 Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time
 and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
 Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do 
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
 Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health—
food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself.
 At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. 
Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right,
 and, ever since, I was wrong less of the time.
 Today I discovered that is “MODESTY.”

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future.
 Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening.
 Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
 But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
 Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems 
with ourselves or others. 
Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
 Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

It’s Never Too Late!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the second best time is today.” ~Chinese proverb

I love this because there are so many things I am doing now, later in life, that I never had the courage to do before when I was younger. And, as a result I am having the time of my life!

If I wanted, I could come up with a million excuses as to why “it’s too late” to live the life of my dreams. For starters, although my spirit is more vibrant and energized than ever before, my body is not! I just don’t have the same ole “bounce-back” I had at 25 as I do now in my late 40’s, and yet, I am not letting that stop me from making choices like moving cross-country to a big city I don’t know, filled with friends I haven’t yet met so that I can live near the beach, surrounded by year-round swaying palms and fruit trees.

Yeah, it would have been great to have moved here 25 years ago and learned to surf and play volleyball in the sand before I developed multiple repetitive stress injuries throughout my well-worn body, but I didn’t so what’s it going to be – lay down and cry or get on with it? Well, I chose the latter and couldn’t be happier.

The above proverb is a reminder that it is never too late to be, do, and have all that life has to offer! There’s no better time than now to live a life you love because yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes. In the end, what do you have to show for your unlived dreams? Even better, 10 years from now, what kind of memories do you want to be able to look back on?

Try this out: ask yourself, what is one thing you can do today that you wished you had done years ago? Now, start taking the steps to make it happen. It may be as simple as reaching out to someone you’ve been meaning to re-connect with, bringing a camera with you on your outings and take those pictures you’ve been meaning to shoot, getting that story that’s been in your head for ages out onto paper, or take a weekend or a day trip somewhere off the beaten path that leads to some unforeseen adventure.

The sky really is the limit when you decide to take a chance and do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again, expecting different results. If you’re feeling lackluster in your day-to-day life then it’s time to shake things up a little and see what’s available to you from a fresh perspective. But we can’t create something new and fresh from a mind filled with old, stale ideas so start with an open mind and heart and dive in with the courage and curiosity of a child, and see where it takes you. It’s never too late to have what you want!

Since it’s true that if you keep doing what you’ve been doing you’re going to get what you got, then what have you got to lose by doing something you’ve always wanted to do but left it behind and underneath a pile of worn-out excuses?

Have fun playing with this new approach and email me what you notice!

With Love,
Dani

The Power of Imagination and Intention

“When I grow up I am going to draw and paint pictures. I am going to be an Artist. I will bring my pictures to art shows all over the world. I will bring them to ships and let men bring them across the world. I will take my stuff like paints pencils and paper with me almost wherever I go. I will make alot of money. I will be famous. I will draw people. I like art. I hope people will remember me as an artist.” ~Tracy, 3rd grade

[Tracy Kachtick-Anders is a Painter, Doula, a mother of six, and Rosie O’Donnell’s girlfriend. She is also the Director of Open Arms Campaign, a non-profit organization dedicated to the recruitment of foster and adoptive families.]

Now here’s a kid who allowed herself to imagine and follow her heart, no matter what, and she then proceeded to live the life of her dreams. There are no limits when you aren’t old enough to make up stories that there are. It doesn’t mean that she didn’t encounter hardship, disappointment, loss, and failure along the way – this is the human journey – but what she did do is stay true to her values and passions and she is living the life of her dreams, as a result.

What are your dreams and what are you going to do about living them, TODAY?

With Love,
Dani

Inspire Others By Doing Your Best

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~John Quincy Adams

There’s a kid who works at my gym who, everyday, gives 100% to every single task he does – cleaning the machines, fixing whatever’s broken, stocking the supplies, sweeping the floors – and always with a spring in his step while unfailingly greeting every member with a warm smile, followed by a hearty good morning. I am moved and inspired by his commitment to his way of being in the world – he is a true leader. Just for today, allow yourself to impact others in a way that leaves them touched, moved, and inspired – it’s not hard to do and the rewards are plentiful!

With Love,
Dani

What’s Your Stimulus Plan?

On January 20, the man we elected as our President made some powerful proclamations about who we must be, as Americans, in order to rise above our current conditions and, in his words, “pursue our full measure of happiness.” (My non-American readers please include yourself in this discussion – last we checked, this is a global thing). [Note: everything in quotations is directly pulled from Barack Obama’s inaugural speech – in many cases, pronouns are modified for the intent to speak to the individual rather than to the country as a whole.]

As Obama reminded us in his inaugural address, “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood…. a consequence of our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare for a new age.” Come again? The President of the United States is asking us to “prepare for a new age”? Sounds more like a musical from the late 60’s about some overly idealistic hippies ranting against “the Establishment”. And now it’s coming from the Establishment? Yes it is, and how exciting!

We tried greed and denial (our “collective failure”), why not try something new? And what better time when so much is crumbling from the business-as-usual approach? Aren’t we sick of ourselves yet? Just as it was our collective failure that got us where we are, it is our collective success that elected someone as “new age” as President Obama. Our ability and our willingness, as a country, to choose someone who is committed to peace and understanding and who is encouraging us to “seek a new way forward based on mutual respect” signifies that, somewhere, in each of us, we do want be a part of creating a better world, a better us.

But there is work to be done – it’s not enough to just want a better world, a better life, and then wait and see what happens – we have to BE a part of the solution in creating what we want. This is good news! Because, even though “there is work to be done” (I know, the “w” word – eek!) we are always given the opportunity, in every moment, to “lay a new foundation for growth”. Who doesn’t know the feeling of a job well done? Even better, who doesn’t know the feeling of a job poorly done? If I recount just any random memory of a job well done, however small, the experience was always much more fulfilling than all the jobs put together that lacked the spirit of doing my best.

President Obama is busy doing his part, how are you doing yours?

If you’re in need of some ideas, let’s go back to Obama for some helpful hints. On the 20th, he reminded us that, “in reaffirming our greatness…we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey…is not one of shortcuts or settling for less. It is not the path for the faint-hearted….Rather, it is the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things…who carry themselves up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”

Why, that sounds like a pep talk from an experienced Life Coach! And, he’s right; this path of making a difference in the world is not for everyone. There are no shortcuts to genuine happiness and true success so you have to decide whether you’re in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as a middle ground on this one. It’s like saying you’re on the field during a game and you’re “sort of” playing. Or a guitar player in a band and you’re “sort of” strumming. For your teammate’s or bandmate’s sake (and yours!), I hope that you’re in.

Who, in your life, is counting on you to be, and do, your absolute best? And, who can you currently count on to do their best? The faint-hearted ones? Those who are risk and conflict-avoidant? The ones who take shortcuts and settle for less? Those who expect others, and life, to give to them first before they give of themselves? We are being asked, by a great and courageous leader, to make some hard choices and decide who we are on this journey – will you be one of the courageous ones? If so, start by asking yourself, “In what areas of my life am I settling for less?”. Are you feeling lackluster in your job? Are you making excuses for maintaining the status quo in a stale relationship? Are you out of a job or relationship, and didn’t see it coming?

Are you overwhelmed by your TO-DO LIST? Do your friendships lack depth and a feeling of real connection? Do you cut corners when it comes to taking care of yourself? Are you putting off having fun and relaxation until you “get more done”? (Hey, if Obama can make time for romantic dinners and theater outings with his wife then so can you).

And then ask yourself the price you are paying for not doing and being your best, because there is a cost for everything we do that is not feeding our well-being. It’s like driving a car with shoddy alignment – you have to grip the steering wheel harder and harder in order to keep from going off the road. It doesn’t mean the car needs to be taken to the dump, it just needs a tune-up!

Some indicators of “poor alignment” are frequent feelings of anxiety, fear-based thinking, increased secrecy and isolation, worry, and perpetual lack of clarity. All of which, left to their own devices, will take up free rent space in your head and, unless given an “eviction notice”, will gladly squat there for as long as you allow and that is what will be driving your life choices and decisions, as well as just plain make you feel bad!

Just as there are costs for settling, there are immeasurable rewards for choosing greatness. Some signs that you are living a life that is authentic to your True Self and inspired by your dreams are: unexplainable joy for no “reason”, an openness to whatever life brings, an acceptance and compassionate understanding of yourself and others, perpetual curiosity, laughter, generosity, and an overall feeling of connectedness, inner peace, and sense of purpose. The road less traveled may be a “long and rugged one”, but what a journey if the riches are that of prosperity and freedom, of heart and mind? The other option is just as long and rugged, but its continual rewards are that of lingering self-doubt, feelings of disconnectedness, boredom, and persistent blaming.

And the real kicker is that, in order to cope with the barrage of sabotaging thoughts, we then return to the addictive patterns that got us into the stuck mindset in the first place; discovering, once again, that the relief is always short-lived, and ultimately followed by an even more vicious onslaught of greater emptiness, deeper confusion, and intense frustration. And on the cycle goes.

But wait, there is a way out! Here are three things you can do, right now, to kick-start your own personal Stimulus Plan:

First, make the decision that you want freedom from the bondage of your old ways of doing things. It’s the old, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you got.

Second, start noticing what you say to yourself when you would rather give up than stay focused on what’s important to having what you want. Some worn-out favorites I hear, and have tried out myself are, “What’s the use, it never works out”, “People will always let you down”, “It’s not realistic”, “The world doesn’t work that way”, “I’m too busy just getting by”, “I know, I know. I’ll do it later”.

Third, Instead of focusing on your “petty grievances” with others (and yourself) and habitually making “false promises” to yourself (and others), both of which result in a “sapping of confidence” that leaves you with “a nagging fear that you must lower your sights”, try something new and make the decision to re-connect with your Real Self – “reaffirm your enduring spirit” by committing to a process of self-discovery. The days of façades and self-deceit are numbered and will keep you from having what you really want.

This approach guarantees a deeper clarity of purpose, focus, sense of direction, and HAPPINESS.

Obama has firmly asserted that, “what the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them.” To those of you who are trying to hold on to wanting things to stay the same even though you weren’t too happy with the way they were anyway, the ground is feeling a little shaky right now and, if you want to be one of the beneficiaries of the “new age” then now is a fantastic time to get your own stimulus plan in action – so that when our economy strengthens, and it will, you want to be at the starting line, poised to hit the ground running. And, in the meanwhile, you can spend your time living your life joyfully and without regrets.

Do this for a week and email me what you notice. And, don’t forget to have FUN while doing it!

Make 2009 your best year ever – invest in YOU!

With Love,
Dani