What’s YOUR State of the Union?

US CapitolI have to admit that I do NOT watch, listen to or read any political stuff and avoid discussions of such like the plague. Until they have a good news or just all news program, I will continue to simply scan one or two internet news pages to make sure I know important things happening but that’s it. All the negativity simply pollutes my mind and attitude.

But I did know that last night was the annual State of the Union address by the President of the United States. I also know that it’s a bunch of word and ideas of what the President “would like” to accomplish – remember, though, that there are both houses of the government that have to approve any action so good luck with that.

Two things struck me as useful in this whole event, though. And they both apply to you and my designation that this is the Year of You.

The first is that everyone should create their own State of the Union “address” every year – it should be a summary that includes:

  • Where were you in January last year – and I don’t mean geographically unless that’s important in your life (such as if you had a significant move later in the year). I mean look at last January and see where you were emotionally and spiritually. Were you busy making resolutions or instead, outlining your goals (like we did in our Define and Conquer program which is available online) and your plan of action. Or were you just plodding along ‘same ole, same ole’? Were you feeling excited about the upcoming year or dreading it? Look back at your calendar or journal or diary if you have any of these. Look at your emails to see what you wrote to your friends or even what purchases you made that would impact living your life for the rest of the year. When you do your taxes, use this information to take inventory of the various months.

What happened during the year – what was planned that happened, what happened that you didn’t plan? Write these things down. Did things happen that you weren’t expecting or planning for that turned out great or turned out not so great.  Did something occur that you thought was pretty horrible but when you look back on it now you can see the good things that came from it? That happens to me all the time – especially when I’m willing to look at it as an event, without being held hostage to my emotional ties to that event.

Where are you now – at the end of the year or at the beginning of this year? What’s your emotional state right now? What’s your spiritual state? What’s fulfilling in your life and what’s missing? You can add whatever you want to your own State of YOUR Union address. I encourage you to write it down – you can use bullet points or you can write it all out like a speech writer would. But put it down on paper and keep it.

  • The second thing about the presidential address that struck me as pertinent to all of you was his declaration that this should be the “Year of Action”. He said “”What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up iStock_000016019519Smallgrowth…..”. In order to make this The Year of YOU, you have to take action. You have to plan for action. Stop just dreaming or wishing. Stop staying that it’s not meant to be or that other people are lucky and you’re not. It’s not about luck, it’s about planning and taking action. Your next writing assignment after the State of YOUR Union should be to write down your goals and what you really want to achieve this year. What are you aiming for – and aim high – it shouldn’t just be something like “I want to be happier”. That is too vague for your subconscious to embrace. If you said that doing x, y, z (and they are specific items) would make you happy then that would be ok.   I’ll give you one example of my own that is only partially good. I am focused this year on completing the 315 mile trek across Tennessee in July. I have this dream in my mind almost constantly when I have any idle time at all. Can you figure out what’s wrong with this goal? I’ll give you a hint – it’s one event. It’s over in July and I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to do or want to do after that. That is not good. It’s what happened to me when I graduated from medical school. I had wanted to be a doctor since I was four and all I ever did was directed toward that goal and it took me a long time. But I had not really thought about the after. So the day I graduated my only feeling and thought was “what now?”, “is that all there is?” and that was NOT a good place to be emotionally. That’s why we have to build on our goals and keep them coming. We set and revise the goals as we go on. But the most important thing is to be specific about what you want to do and achieve.

Then you put down your plan of action! In order to achieve these goals you have to take action and you should plan it. What are you going to do when or by when? Write these things down!Then, of course, you have to actually take the action – you have to get rid of the fears that you’re not good enough or you can’t succeed or you don’t deserve this, etc etc. It’s time to get out of the emotional hostage situation! Get yourself a negotiator – a coach.

So, start write now and state the intention to get at least your state of the union address written by this coming Sunday. Then set yourself another goal, perhaps the following Sunday, to have put down where you want to be by December of next year and how you’re going to get there. Take 2 or 3 weeks to outline your plan of action.

If you’re interested in another live Define and Conquer type program this year, let me know either by email or by posting a comment here! Now get to work!


Find A Way in 2014

practice1 Welcome to the greatest year of your life – EVER!

Why have I “waited” so long to write this? Why didn’t I get it out there on 1 January?

I’ll tell you why and there are two reasons:

1) I was doing a six day run (and am proud to say that I covered 200 miles during those 6 days – it was a terrific moment for me) called “Across The Years” – meaning it started in 2013 and ended in 2014. So, I was a bit out of commission at the first of the year.

2) I really loathe the hype that surrounds the New Year. People make it out like it’s the only time of year you can (or should) make changes in your life. Why? Why can’t you decided today to make changes? Why can’t you decide that you don’t need to make any changes, you don’t need any resolutions, that maybe you’re ok as you are? Why oh why does everyone HAVE to make some sort of resolution to change every year on 1 January?

This superimposed “you must change” edict that you see all over the TV, the papers, the internet (must be true of course right?), and in the conversations all around you is enough to make you feel guilty if you don’t want to participate in “changing your life forever”.

What happens if you’re just not “in the mood” at this time of year (which many people aren’t – it’s a big time for depression but that’s not talked about as much) so you don’t make any New Year’s resolutions? You feel guilty and unworthy and not “part of the crowd”. You feel as if you don’t belong. It seems that making resolutions keeps you in the mainstream of human nature so you do belong and are just like everyone else.

But the other thing that happens if you don’t participate in the “New Year’s Resolution” process is that then you feel that you can’t ever make any changes, any alterations to your life until “next year” – where you will probably repeat this same process and set of emotions. So 1374635_10151938781002408_1738297909_nyou put off making any changes even when you ARE motivated for it – because it’s NOT the New Year.  Why don’t you do it then? Because there’s no hype, no being part of the process, no belonging if you decide in June that you have something in your life that you want to alter. You feel foolish telling people you’ve made a resolution. Their response might be “now?, why?” And that will help defeat you before you even start. You won’t have the support that you would have had if you had started when everyone else did – even though your heart wasn’t really in it.

So, let me ask you this – did you make resolutions? Where are you with them now  that we are half way through January?

More importantly – have you taken an inventory and listed everything that’s great about you and that you’re grateful for? That should be your first step for sure. Because you have to focus on the good parts of you more than the “bad” things, the things that you think have to change and have to change right this minute.  Once you’ve taken this inventory and expressed your gratitude, you can list the areas you want to examine that might show you areas you’d like to concentrate on. I don’t want to say change because that word often implies significant effort and obvious (to others) alterations.  To concentrate on something might mean simply focusing more on a process such as keeping a gratitude journal or making sure every day you say your “gratitudes” even if you don’t write them down. So what can others see to know you’ve accomplished something? Probably nothing immediate and the change  in you they might not attribute to this action/concentration. You might not either but it will most likely be because you have paid attention to gratitude.

iStock_000005883875XSmallI want everyone to spend January thinking and writing about how great they are and all their terrific qualities. Write them down. Make a list of all you have accomplished – you can start with 2013 but go back all the way through your life and write, write, write.

This is your starting point. You can alter how you feel and think about things just by taking this life inventory and dwelling on all you have and all you’ve done. Stop focusing on the bad or negative things.

2014 will be the best year of your life and you will NOT have to put much effort in it. Stick with me and I’ll show you how this will happen. Are you willing to take that risk?


Change Your Outlook!

End of summer I don’t know how many of you have this issue, but I’m not a “holiday” person and have always seemed to have difficulty handling the “end of the year”.

It’s taken me a long time to realize why the “end of the year” has been depressing for me but I finally figured it out.

It’s because of the way we tend to look at this time period. We look at it as if it is The END – no more, finished, over with, stopped etc.

People treat the arbitrary determination of December as an end and January as a beginning. Life is not really like that, however. It’s all a continuum and should be treated as such. We should look at December as just another month and if we do tend to get caught up in the hype of resolutions and change, etc, it should be in the face of simply reviewing where we are at any point in time and revising how we approach our lives.

I will be putting up a special report on how to look at the end of the year and your goals in the next few days but I just wanted to mention that it’s all about how you look at this time of year. Remember that your thoughts rule your life and no one is in charge of your thoughts but you! Therefore, try to look at this month as a time of celebration and joy. Actually, I think that because it’s so hectic and so filled with other activities, that this is probably the worst time you could possibly think of making any resolutions or new goals. You are too exhausted (mentally and physically to say nothing of emotionally or spiritually) and when you’re exhausted, you’re depleted. When you’re depleted is when you’re most susceptible to the outer influences of media, family, friends and more media. You’ll start seeing all the ads for gyms and weight loss products (is there ever a time they aren’t around us – sandwiched between ads for fast food of course?). So it’s easy to start feeling guilty that you’re a failure and “NEXT YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT” – why wait til the end of the year to think or say that. Why not wait until you’re more rested and energized and then figure out what you like and don’t like about your life, what you want to change, what you can change and then how you’re going to do it. We had our “Define and Conquer 2013″ last year in February for that exact reason – wait until this exciting time is over and then go for it! Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in Define and Conquer 2014.

Meanwhile, don’t add stress to your life by worrying about goals and resolutions – enjoy the season! I think some people use the first of the year coming as an excuse to really overdo it during this holiday season of FOOD and DRINK. Take a look at how you want this  to be for you. If you’re willing to pack on a couple of pounds accept it and go for it. If you want to maintain your healthy lifestyle figure out how to overcome all the temptations. Take control of your own life!


Sunday Success Series – Angela Tortorice – How To Keep Going…and Going and Going

sunday success series 7 I always wonder how people can keep on going like the Energizer Bunny when other folks (like me) would just say “I’m too tired” or “I can’t go on” or “It hurts too much”.

I asked Angela Tortorice (the most marathons in a year for a female) how she was able to keep going in the face of continued pain, exhaustion and everything else that happens to you when you are pursuing such a phenomenal goal and achieving this accomplishment. Doing 129 marathons in 12 months, doing it ethically and honestly and not having the marathons all put on  in her backyard makes it such an amazing feat. Others who are reportedly breaking this record have a very large proportion of the races a few miles from their home. That does not factor in all the exhaustion from travel. Oh yeah, all the while holding down a full time job. Every one of Angela’s great personal qualities came through during this year. I will be writing about them separately as time goes on. But today I wanted to focus on the perseverance she had and how she was able to get to that wonderful end point. Perseverance is something we all need no matter what we’re going for – whether it’s to get through the day/week or to shoot for the stars and achieve great recognition for an extreme accomplishment.


So I asked Angela “How/Where did you find the drive or determination to keep you going week after week, day after day when you were exhausted or in pain?”

She replied:

“I found myself reflecting on the fact that others have done so much more than me when I was hurting or had to drive hundreds of miles or had to go on no sleep. I think another thing that kept me going is I would think, although this may be my most difficult week (or month) yet, I just have to get through this month and I would sort of count down the days/and or weekends. Once I was halfway through my goal I felt better. I recall in 2011 my first 9 marathons in 9 days. I did not want to go out (although I did a couple of nights) and socialize. I wanted to run, come to the room and take my ice bath, cook my food and put my feet up and eat. Once I got to day 5, I realized I was on the downhill. I had a lot of feet problems and tried liquid band aids, blister band aids and burn gel. After day 6, I only had 3 days left. I think this was a great experience to prepare me for the 12 in 12 days (14 in 17), the days I did doubles and the weekends I did a couple of marathons and a 50K.

One  more thing that I think helped is my ironman experience. In an ironman you cannot think I have to go 140.6 miles today and get it done in 17 hours. You have to think, I just need to get through the 2.4 mile swim. Once that is done, just focus on the first half of the 112 mile bike, once you start the second loop of the 56 miles you cannot turn back. Finally, when I get to drop off my bike in transition to prepare for my run I am so elated I am willing to give the darn thing away. Now, just 26.2 miles Breaking this race down was the only way I survived and I think I had to look at the many days and months of running the same way.”

So what’s our takeaway from this. I am so glad that she told us this answer. Break things down into manageable pieces. You always see that the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting technique.  “M” is for manageable. This is such a vital part of anything you attempt. If you tell yourself 68that you’re going to make a million dollars a year and you are starting from $20,000 a year, it’s very difficult for your subconscious to wrap around the idea of a million a year so your “belief” in that goal being achievable is not there. Then when you break that million a year down to how much a month, then how much a week? Once you do that, you have to look at where you are, what you’re planning on doing to increase your income and then decide if this is a realistic or manageable number. Most likely the answer will be no. So what do you do? Do you have to narrow down your dreams and not “go for the gold” – heck no, you just have to start smaller and then continue to work up. If Angela thought “oh my God I still have 128 more marathons to do” it would have been much easier to just give up. But she didn’t. She looked at each day as a new day, each event as a new and separate event and conquered that one – one step at a time. That’s what you have to do to achieve what you want.

Have the big picture in mind (as long as it’s both believable and manageable) and keep it there but do NOT focus on that big picture all the time. Focus on what you have to do today, this hour, this week, this month. Read what Angela told me again and see how she made it through pain and adverse circumstances to get where she wanted to go! You can do it to.

Congratulations again Angela!