Looking to make a lasting change? Try this experiment

 

Sometimes when you want to make a change, the fear of it can be overwhelming. Whether you want to change your eating habits, spending habits, or your overloaded schedule, it can be tempting to make big declarations of change only to discover it’s much easier said than done.  And that’s why so many doubtful questions tend to pop up when you’re contemplating what to do: Is this the right change? Will I be able to keep it up? Do I really want to make this big of a commitment?

A better approach to change is this simple experiment. Choose a practical change you can make and give yourself a set amount of time to try it out – say, a weekend or a week or even a month. And at the end of that time period, evaluate how it went. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? Did you see the results you wanted? Do you want to keep going with it? If so, what tweaks will you make.

When you approach your life like a living laboratory, you realize that it is often impossible to know what will work until you give it a try. The journey is about learning what works for you and what doesn’t. Changes don’t have to be perfect the first time you attempt them in order to be effective.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing an experiment of my own – trying out a new schedule. It is a pretty radical change. It is a 30-day experiment and it mirrors a plan I had imagined and started working towards several years ago, but in the fast pace of  family and my business, I had lost sight of it. But as I work on a concept for a new book, I was reminded of this old vision.  I’ve learned a lot in a couple of weeks, and I’ll make some decisions about what permanent changes I’ll make.

What about you? What change have you been thinking about, but hesitating to move forward because you aren’t certain about the “right” way to do it? This week, would you be willing to experiment with change? Try it. I’d love to hear about it in the comments section on the blog.

 

My challenge to you:

Choose one change as a short-term experiment. Do it for a couple of days or a week or even a month. Then evaluate how well it’s working before committing longer term.

 

Journaling assignment:

What change have you been thinking about, but hesitating to move forward because you aren’t certain about the “right” way to do it? This week, would you be willing to experiment with change? What period of time will your experiment last?

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3 Empowering Ways to Measure Your Success

 

We all want success. How you define the word “success” determines just how satisfied you are with how your life is unfolding. If success is a moving target, with the finish line always just beyond your reach, it will impact everything from motivation to perseverance. If it is measured simply by a specific financial goal or job title or the square footage of your house, you’ll find the rewards rather empty once you attain it. When I wrote Successful Women Think Differently (and later, Successful Women Speak Differently), I articulated a definition of success that resonated deeply with me – and over the years, so many readers of those books have expressed how that definition resonated with them, too. Here it is:

 

Success is a harmony of purpose, resilience and joy

 

Purpose:   

Does your daily life align with your life purpose? Do the activities in which you engage daily have meaning in your life?  When you live life on purpose, you’re not afraid to make bold moves because you understand your mission in life.

 

Resilience:    

Do you find a way to work around obstacles or do you let them get you stuck? On the path to success, obstacles, challenges and disappointments are inevitable. The most important skill you need is resilience: your ability to bounce back and even grow as a result of your challenges. If you’re doing that, you’re successful … and more success is headed your way.

 

Joy:    

We pursue success because we believe that, in some way, it will make us happier. But if you learn how to be happy on the way to your goal, that’s real success – not holding your happiness hostage to your circumstances. Happiness is a measure of success. Your ability to live in this world, deal with challenges and keep your joy is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Your joy is a strength that empowers you to persevere, reach goals and build strong relationships. So love, laugh, play and be grateful.

 

My challenge to you:

Measure your success by a definition that has real meaning to you.

 

Journal about it:

If you measure your success by the definition that it is, “a harmony of purpose, resilience and joy,” how do you feel you’re doing? Where do you excel by this definition? Where might you improve?

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What to Do When Your Fears Cause Doubt

 

Fear. It creeps up on us, often without a sound. It asks, “What if everything goes wrong?” “What if I fail?” “What if I never get what I want?” And disastrous answers to those questions can send us down a path of negative thinking that spirals out of control. Psychologists call it “catastrophizing.” Next time it happens, stop fear in its path with an opposite question: What if it does work out?

 

What if you succeed? What if you finally get what you want? What if things go right? Asking these questions gives you a sudden burst of energy. That energy is hope. It can feel like a small light in a dark place. What if your idea does manifest into all you have hoped? What if that relationship does work out? What if your persistence despite your discouragement does pay off? What then? Then, perhaps it will all have been worth it.

 

This is not to say you should never have a contingency plan. But you can’t live life simply avoiding your fears. Living and working with passion means giving your all because you believe in the possibility of success. You hold more closely to your dreams and desires than your fears and doubts. So in this moment, I invite you to consider the challenge or possibility that causes you the most doubt or anxiety. You know the one, that thing that causes the persistent question, “What if it doesn’t work out the way I hope?” And ask the opposite question: What if it does work out the way I hope? Don’t just ask the question. Imagine your answer in depth. Take a moment right now. Imagine what it would look like for things to work out. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. What would it feel like? Really imagine yourself there. Imagine who is with you. What you are doing. How things are different than they are in this moment.

 

Now, move forward focused on the possibilities for your success. Allow your motivation to be a spirit of faith rather than a spirit of fear.

 

My challenge to you this week:
Choose optimism. Stop obsessing about what might go wrong, and put your energy into what could go right.

 

Journaling question:

Consider the thing in your life you most want, but are afraid you will not get. What if it DOES work out? What will that look like? What action can you take that will demonstrate you are operating in faith rather than fear?

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How to Set Boundaries in an Uncomfortable Conversation

 

If respect is derived from a shared understanding and honor between two people for what’s acceptable and what isn’t, then at its core, respect is about setting strong, good boundaries.  That means first being clear about what’s okay and what isn’t.  Then it means communicating those boundaries clearly.

 

When someone crosses your boundaries, the normal reaction is anger and resentment.  Oftentimes we find ourselves resentful because we haven’t verbalized those boundaries to the other person.  Whether you are afraid to speak up or you simply were no clear about expectations, when you haven’t communicated the boundary to the other person, it is a problem that you can fix.  It will take courage if you don’t like speaking up, but it is necessary.  While it certainly does not apply to all women, many women struggle with setting boundaries because it makes them uncomfortable, it doesn’t feel ‘nice’, or they are afraid of what others will think.  But boundaries actually empower you to have strong relationships.  Boundaries set expectations and an agreement about what is okay in the relationship—and what is not.  It is healthy.  And for any successful relationship, personal or professional, it is necessary.

Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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A Week of Gratitude

 

There are so many interesting positive psychology exercises that I love to do, but one of my favorites is the three blessings exercise. It is so simple to do on an everyday basis, and it actually has health benefits.  So here’s what you do.  Before you go to sleep, take out a journal, a piece of paper, a notebook, or maybe even your phone, and write down three things that you are grateful for.  It could be three things that happened that day or that week.

  • What are you most grateful for? 
  • Why am I grateful? Be very specific, and then ask …  
  • Why am I grateful for it? 

In other words, reflect on why you are so thankful for that particular thing or person in your life.  Studies show that doing this exercise for just three weeks, will boost your immune system (you are less likely to get colds), it deepens your sleep, and it actually helps you to sleep longer.  If you just count your blessings in your head, and you don’t write it down, the effects are not the same.  There’s a lot of power in the written word, and power in being reflective and intentional about your gratitude.  Gratitude is such a powerful tool, not only because it allows us to reflect on just how blessed we are, but it also counteracts the spirit of discontentment that can be so easy to get if you have attained goals or gotten use to being at a certain level.  A lot of times we get into our new normal and we forget that just a couple of years earlier we were hoping for the things that we now have in our lives.

So being able to intentionally be grateful helps you to remember what you have to be grateful for and to not take it for granted, and it is amazing that it has health benefits as well.  Helps you sleep better, ward off colds, and puts you in a better mood.

Journaling Assignment:

So try it tonight, the three blessings exercise.  Count your blessings, then ask why am I so grateful, and write it down.

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