The Success Catalyst

Up Your Game & Bring Out Your Best

Relax Into 2015 With A Simple Plan

‘Tis the season to set goals and make resolutions. You know the drill – make resolutions, break resolutions, feel bad about breaking them, feel bad about feeling bad about it. And then, from that frustrated and disappointed mindset, keep trying to motivate yourself to stick to the plan. Sounds like a stressful and miserable way to start a new year, let alone, a way to live a life!

Consider approaching this new year with a fresh perspective – decide that no matter what happens this year, you are committed to living a life you love.

Imagine taking that on as THE GOAL. From there, while planning your year, your month, your week, your day, ask yourself, “Will this choice make me feel more in love with myself and my life?” Notice I added “myself” in there – because, no matter how much you accomplish, it’s pretty tough to enjoy the ride if you’re in a not-so-hot relationship with yourself.

From all the years of coaching others, and from my own life, if I had to distill down the key factor that determines whether someone is happily living a life they love, it comes down to what kind of relationship they have with themselves. We can’t get away with having a great life while secretly in a crappy relationship with ourselves.

And it’s not our fault. We live in a society that breeds self-hatred. And the outcome is evident all around us as the cultural norm is to take cover in a variety of addictions: overbusyness has become a badge, hyper-identification with a job role is a sign of success, sex and romantic fantasy addiction dominates the online dating world, consumerism and the non-stop need to acquire more stuff is sanctioned, and food and alcohol abuse is rampant – anything to numb the pain of our deep self-loathing. We’re collectively obsessed with trying to get our internal needs met by external means and it’s a no-win game.

So even though we may not have caused it, it is our responsibility to show up for ourselves in a way that honors and respects relationship, “the state of being connected”, and the most important place to start is to look at how we’re connecting with ourselves. Once you shift this most primary relationship, the rest unfolds accordingly.

Challenge yourself to decide what kind of relationship you want to have with yourself – you are your greatest love and the kind of life you have truly depends on how you are treating and talking to yourself. The idea is to start making choices that reflect a healthy, conscious, and loving relationship with yourself.

One way to do this is to get really honest about what kind of relationship you’re currently in with yourself. Is it tumultuous and unstable? Is it calm on the surface and a mess behind closed doors? Is it “touch and go”? Is it shallow and superficial, but as long as it looks good to others it’s good enough? Are you just using yourself in order to get others to do for you what you need to do for yourself? In other words, look for where you’re being not so honest about the way it actually is.

See what characteristics are most prevalent in your current relationship with yourself. Is there a lot of unchecked hostility, judgement and criticism? Do you allow yourself to talk to yourself with contempt and disregard? Is the self-talk snide and sarcastic? Blaming and defensive? Condescending and critical? Harsh and impatient? Sweet-talking and insidious?

Look at ways you abandon yourself by making choices that might get you short-term gratification but that make you feel sick inside because you know you’re selling out. Notice when you say ‘yes’ to people and things when you really mean ‘no’ and the impact it has on you and others. Consider the possible missed opportunities and ways you may have sabotaged situations and relationships where, instead of creating mutual respect and collaboration, trust, partnership, inspiration, and closeness – your actions caused irreparable damage, mistrust, ill-will, and un-lived possibilities.

The point of all this is that it’s all well and good to have goals and dreams, but if we’re in a continuous battle over whether we’re even worthy of having what we want, it’s not only exhausting and depleting to be in an ongoing contentious argument with ourselves, but, even if we do get what we asked for, we likely won’t have the capability to see it, be open to it and receive it, let alone hold on to it, when it does arrive.

Chances are, some of the things you find when you take a peek behind the curtain are not going to be pretty. But until you realize that “you’re the one you’ve been waiting for” and that no one’s coming to rescue you from the chaos of your own self-abandonment, no amount of outside approval is going to make you ever feel enough. And when we don’t feel enough inside, we create and perpetuate a continuing cycle of pain and suffering for ourselves and others. And on it goes, and time waits for no one, and there goes living a life we love.

Now the good news! Once you decide to make your relationship with yourself the most important relationship you’ll ever have, you’re on your way to living a life you love. Decide what qualities you want to develop in this intentional relationship. Some to consider are – warm and understanding, open, honest, and trusting, playful and curious, sweet and loving, fun and exciting, responsible and accountable, safe and secure, tender and caring, mindful and attentive, appreciative and thoughtful. Go ahead and come up with your own that feel right for you and feel free to mix and match.

And it’s not about being perfect and never having a bad word to say about yourself – hardly. It’s about deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with yourself, no matter what comes your way. It’s committing to a way of life. You get to decide what that looks like and you can tweak it as you go. And when you notice yourself slipping into old ways of relating to yourself – and you will – simply acknowledge it for what it is, an old default – and choose from your list of new ways of being, and keep at it. Expect it to take practice. Like anything else worth having, it requires practice, patience, and support – and it gets easier.

And it just so happens that one of my favorite creative geniuses, John Lennon, put it this way: “We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

How you know you’re on the right track is that you feel alive, open, and inspired – connected to others and all of life – you’re living a life you love! From this place of lovingkindness and compassionate self-regard, you’re free to make choices that truly align with who you really are, which is who we all are: powerful, thriving, creative, and worthy humans with unlimited potential to live a life filled with love, joy, peace, connection, and true contentment.

Have fun playing with this approach and let me know how it goes!

With Big Love,

Stay tuned for my next post which will focus more on the nuts and bolts of making your dreams come to life – coming shortly: Make 2015 your best year ever – how to turn good ideas into powerful intentions.

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,


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,

How to Have What You Want

DSC00594Werner Erhardt once said, “If you want to know what you want, look at what you have”. Whoa, that’s pretty harsh.

Or is it? To me, this is one of the most insightful, compassionate, powerful, and truthful proclamations I have ever encountered (and on my personal and professional path of growth and development I have come upon many!).

If the truth of the matter is that we are living out whatever thoughts and beliefs we put into our heads then that means we get to choose the stories we tell ourselves and decide how we want our lives to go. How freeing is that? We can write the story of our lives, chapter-by-chapter, page-by-page.

What would the title of the book of your life be, based on your Life Message right now? Would it be something like, “I never get what I want”, “It’s not fair” or “Why me?”. Or how about, “When’s it my turn?”. Or maybe, “It’s too hard”.

Now, take a look at some of the chapters in your book that you may have authored – here is just a small sampling of the “best picks” I have heard: “it’s never too late to blame someone else for the way my life is going”, or “make resolutions, barely follow through on them, then hate myself for it”. Or, “do unto others as much I can get away with and then come away feeling even more empty and worthless”. One of my personal favorites that I see a lot is, “get excited about having a great life, but balk at putting the corresponding time, energy, and money toward it and then get envious when I see others who have what I want”.

Take your pick from the variety pack above or come up with your own. The idea is to take ownership of the thoughts and beliefs that are guiding your life so that you can decide if they are ones you want to keep or let go of. If they are fear-based thoughts then they will continue to make you miserable and you will continue to not have what you want.

Now, the good news! You can write the story you really want to tell, and LIVE, instead of the ones you have been programmed to believe you’re supposed to have. Ask yourself, “10 years from now, what’s the story I want to be telling about the last 10 years of my life?”. Most people do not have what they want and are waiting until the day comes when it will magically appear. Now, that’s harsh. And so sad. Most of us know plenty of people who, year after year, are still saying the same things over and over, to themselves, and to anyone around them who will listen, and the years go by and nothing has changed. Actually, the quality of their lives usually gets worse – great intentions and all.

That’s because most people do not want to ask themselves the real questions that would actually impact how they can have what they want. Most people would rather stay stuck than let go of old ways of thinking. Even when they say they want more in life, I’ll still hear them say, “I’m definitely going to make the change, just not now, later” and another year (or five, 10, or 20) goes by and it’s the same old story. This one usually starts out with, “If only…” or “It’s too late now, I should have done it last year (or 10 years ago!)” or “Why bother now”. The reasons and excuses go on, ad nauseam.

Now ask yourself what would you like your Life Message to be? What does your Best Life look like? What would you like people to take away from their time with you? What would make you want to jump out of bed in the morning?

Some ideas might be, “Always do your best and your best will keep getting better”, “Whatever the question, Love is the answer”, “Life is happening for me, not to me”, “All dreams appear impossible until someone makes them happen”, “Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, love as long as you live”.

Come up with your own and you’ll know it’s right for you if it makes you feel sparked and alive. And then ask yourself, “what’s one thing I can do to start making my new Life Message real?”.

My favorite parable of all time (and I’m not big on parables), told by Stretton Smith, is about three little fish in Monterey Bay, CA who are in fish school and one day their professor tells them about “water”. He tells them that water is present at every point in space at the same time.

So, after school that day, the three little fish were talking and wondering where the water really is. One of the little fish understood the concept. He knew he was already in the water. The other two said with great excitement, “Let’s go find the water!”

And so, they swam the seven seas, and finally, years later, they returned to Monterey Bay, old and decrepit, impoverished and home to die. They looked up their old fish school chum, who was still looking young, who had a whole string of condos in the reef, a fine family with several generations of grand-fish. And the two fish asked, “How did you ever find the water?”

I love this story – it makes me cry. Everything we need and want is already right here, in this moment – inside us, and all around us. All we have to do is awaken ourselves to the truth of how life works and we can have everything we want, beyond our wildest dreams.

So, here’s the key – in order to have what you want, start with understanding these three things:

1. You can never get enough of what you don’t really want. Most of us are relentlessly looking outside ourselves to fill up the emptiness and lack that we experience deep inside. There is not enough alcohol, food, sex, obsessive romantic love, drugs, shopping, over-busyness, or whatever other obsessive-compulsive, self-sabotaging, fear-based and blaming thoughts or behaviors you are engaging in, that will fill the emptiness inside of your hungry heart. We are starving for love and attention and what most of us don’t know is that it is we who have abandoned ourselves and we are just trying to get back home to us.

It can seem so much easier to tell ourselves the same old crusty story about “how things are” rather than feel the fullness of life that is always flowing through us. It takes great courage to be vulnerable and to allow ourselves to connect to our inner experience and awaken ourselves to the places inside that we hide from. It’s everyone’s dirty little secret that they think they are the only ones who are scared to death to live a life of open-heartedness, connection, peace, and joy. So many are consumed with trying to get what they think they want or desperately trying not to lose what they have that they are living in their own solitary confinement.

We live in a culture that obsessively promotes the false notion that once we get what we want, then we’ll be motivated to do what we need to do in order to be the person we know we can be. Any happy person will tell you that it’s the other way around!

Start putting who you are being first and watch your life completely change. Do what you love and what you were born to do and watch your life completely change. And then enjoy everything that you have as a result of who you are being, while you are living a life you love!

2. Want what you already have. There is nothing cliché about being fully aware that every breath you take is a gift – ask anyone who is dead and see whether they agree! And that the happiest people are not those with the most stuff, but those who are rich in gratitude and generous in spirit.

Make a (written or mental) gratitude list every night before you go to bed and it’s impossible not to go to sleep feeling filled by all of life’s riches. Reminding ourselves of all that we do have – inside of us and in our lives – is hugely gratifying and, above all, transformational. Don’t wait until you “don’t know what you got till it’s gone” to start appreciating what’s in your life now.

When we don’t take the time to appreciate what we have and acknowledge ourselves for what we have accomplished, how is it that we think we’re going to appreciate what’s to come once we get it? Who you are being while trying to get what you want is who you will be when you get it so be very clear about thinking you’re going to be happy by manipulating a situation into giving you what you think you want. Disappointment and self-hate will surely accompany that one.

3. Ask yourself “What do I love to do?”. What makes your heart sing? What would make you get out of bed in the morning that you couldn’t get dressed fast enough to go do?”.

What I love to do: I love to dance. I love to write and read, to sing and play my guitar and to listen to my favorite music, watch movies, and play with my adorable and irresistible cat. I love to swim and kayak in the ocean, ski powder, and hike in the mountains. I love improv theater and comedy, and to travel everywhere. I love dinner parties with friends, having great conversations about everything. I love to coach people to live their dreams and have their best life possible and I love to get coached – I love it!

This is just a small sampling of what I love to do. What is yours? Start writing down what you love to do, and then start doing it! It will make you come alive and, when you feel alive, you have no interest in blaming others and complaining about why you can’t have what you want, because life is too good!

And, if you’re still not convinced that your thoughts create your reality, then you’ll have Albert Einstein to contend with because he is the one who said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”. Still with me? Good because here’s more good news, you can have whatever you want. Whatever you want. Start by,  1. Getting honest with yourself about what you’re focused on wanting, 2. Want what you have and, 3. Do what you love!

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

With Love,

The Best or Worst of Times?

Dickens said it best 150 years ago when referring to the French Revolution of the late 1700’s in the opening of his novel, A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” ~Charles Dickens

I love this passage! These times are whatever you decide you want them to be. Yes, there’s the reality of the Big Bailout and the ensuing ripple effect on the economy resulting from short-sighted greed and selfishness (throw in denial, fear, and ignorance, for good measure). Yes, there’s financial devastation, pain, and loss for some, and “belt-tightening” for most. (And for those of you who are prospering – personally and professionally – from a place of authentic generosity, love, and service to others, then ROCK ON and keep doing more of what you’re doing!).

But, whether we see this as an opportunity for self-reflection, re-invention, and rebirth into never-ending possibilities, or as a time where “the sky is falling”, is entirely up to us. You choose: “Doom and Gloom” or “New Beginnings” – whatever you choose is what you will get, so choose carefully.

Life is always giving us wake-up calls – some alarms ring louder than others. And, as a young, robust, vibrant, and virile nation (to my international readers, please excuse the ethnocentrism of this message:), we are constantly given numerous opportunities to grow and change…or die. Those are the only two options we have – it is impossible to stay stagnant and not whither – nothing can exist from nothing.

Right now, we have the chance to become benevolent toward our “adversaries”, prosperous as a result of socially responsible and ethical business practices, fair-minded in our approach to the giving and exchanging of goods and services, compassionate when restructuring our health care system, and inclusive when creating community in our neighborhoods. The opportunities for bringing love, understanding, compassion, and kindness into our personal and professional lives, are endless.

As long as our individual consciousness is attached to the experience of lack and scarcity, we are contributing to the collective victim consciousness, which only results in blaming and complaining. All victims blame and all blamers see themselves as victims  – we live in a victim/blame culture so we are constantly being surrounded, encouraged, and bombarded by this ineffective yet, oh-so tempting approach to life.

As long as we react to challenging circumstances by tightening up inside and withholding ourselves –  from our selves, and from others –  we cut ourselves off to the possibility of uniting for what everyone on this planet wants: Happiness. We don’t all seek happiness in the most effective of ways, but I don’t know of one single human being who does not truly want happiness versus the experience of suffering. Each and every one of us can redeem ourselves in the blink of an eye, just by asking ourselves, right this second, “what can I do, today, to ‘be the change I want to see in the world’?” (Gandhi).

How exciting that, as a country, we are so fortunate to have this opportunity, right now, to take responsibility for how each of us has contributed – in thought and deed – to the fear-based hysteria and panic that is occurring in our great nation. How many of us spend much of our time, when “times are good”, in anxiety, worry, and fear rather than in appreciation, gratitude, and open-hearted joy. Instead, it is more likely that we are seduced by fear – fear of losing what we have or of not getting what we think we want. This attachment to having things go a certain way is the cause of our suffering and, as a nation, this mindset is unfortunately condoned, is very contagious, and results in devastating outcomes such as an epidemic of unresolved conflicts that sometimes end in violence or, at best, in such unnecessary unresolved misunderstandings, bitterness, and resentment between one another – all of which closes us off to the love in our hearts and the possibility of living our dreams. It comes down to the tried and true, “would you rather be right or happy?”.

Ironically, this is a fantastic time for us to become even more generous and giving with whatever we have – to ourselves, first and foremost (we really are our own worst enemy), and with everyone we come into contact with, regardless of how others are treating us. This is a great time for each of us to let go of any self-centeredness and thoughtlessness we have and get busy being who we were bornto be, but who many of us have forgotten. Now is a great time to remember and reconnect with our authentic selves – that person we left behind years ago because we thought we had to become something different in order to be liked, to be successful, or to be accepted and to “fit in”.

DO try this at home (or anywhere!):

1. Try saying YES to unconditionally accepting everything that is happening in your life today – see it all as a gift from the universe, rather than as an “interruption” of your life. By doing this, you are saying “yes” to the abundance of love, to change (yes, to change – bring it on!), to connecting to the flow of “life on life’s terms”. Say yes to being true to yourself –  every morning, ask your heart what is it that you need to know in order to live a fulfilling life, listen to what it says, and then have the courage to follow it.

Say yes to trusting the process of all of life and to opening your heart – more than you thought possible; not waiting to do this when you start getting what you want, do it now, instead of waiting to open yourself up once the job market changes, once your co-worker stops annoying you, once your children start obeying you, once your business partner starts respecting you, once your significant other starts listening to you – choose love and understanding now and allow for all of life to flow through you and watch as everything you need, in all areas of your life, comes to you.

2. Say NO to blaming others for your misfortunes, to complaining, to judging others, to angrily finger-pointing, to getting others to agree with your “stories” – you know the ones – your golden oldies that keep you and those who will listen to your continual tale of woes of how right you always are and how wrong everyone else is – for those of you who are doing this, please note that you are still not getting what you want, plus you’re still the victim in this story, wishing things were different, asking “why me?”, and  wondering why you don’t have what you want. This is a great time to let go of  judging and blaming others because it doesn’t get you want you want. It only disempowers us more and takes us further from having the wonderful life that we all want and are meant to live – a life filled with love, joy, abundance, connection, and intimacy with others.

How you know whether you are successful at saying yes and no to the right things  is very simple: when you feel good, you are doing the above and, when you feel bad, you’re not.

That said, it is important to distinguish between the initial instant gratification (the “high”) that we get from blaming, rationalizing, and justifying – the euphoria quickly passes and we are, once again, left feeling empty inside, self-hating, confused by why it didn’t last, and feeling even more victimized…and then back to the blaming we go – a vicious cycle that brings us more suffering and even further from what we want.

This is a time to get humble and honest with yourself because when we are honoring the truth of the matter, although we may initially feel the discomfort of becoming aware of, and admitting to an old, comfy habit, the discomfort eventually transforms into a deep feeling of peace and ease and a grounded sense of satisfaction, with ourselves and the world – and that’s what it’s all about!

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

In the words of one of my personal heroes who did not back down from his stand for peace in the midst of a hostile national political climate:

“Yeah, we all shine on, like the moon and the stars, and the sun, yeah, we all shine on, on and on…” ~John Lennon

Shine on!!

With Love,