Midlife Game Changing Habits

Midlife Game Changing Habits

Top Five Strategies You Need To Know 

‘Holly, do you have any big strategies to navigate midlife? 

‘Y’know, the surefire, game-changing, non-negotiables that mean you’re always so on point?’

Whoa. Now, there’s a question…

And it’s probably the one I’m asked most — on the pickleball court, out to dinner with friends, by clients and colleagues…

First — let’s get one thing straight, I am most definitely NOT ‘so on point…’ (!)

Hey, I may be a Midlife Transition Coach, but I worry about my turkey neck as much as the next woman! I’m struggling to sleep through the night. Trying to figure out how to empty nest… gracefully.

I too, question those goals I held for SO long, that sometimes feel flat and uninspiring… 

Sure! We’re a boat load wiser. But if you find yourself wandering into the bedroom, forgetting why you’re there — and instead your thoughts turn to:

>> Who the heck am I?

>> What’s next?

>> And how the hell do I begin to figure all this out?

Then you need…

The Top 5 Strategies To Thrive In Midlife Right Now 

Yeah, that’s right: these are the non-negotiable, instrumental habits you need to adhere to IMMEDIATELY…

No joke.

Because ladies, I believe — no, I know — these habits are SO powerful, you’ll finally find your groove…  and forge your path towards a fuller, happier, more meaningful life. 

(And hey, it’s what you’ve been asking for!)

Because honestly? Let’s just not age gracefully. Let’s age powerfully…

And dive right in!

  1. Keep Your Attitude in Check
    Even I find myself slipping into silly comments like: ’… well, I am an old lady.’ But, the more we indulge in that language, the more we give it mileage — the harder we’re making it for ourselves to switch gear and age optimally. 

Energy attracts like energy.

The truth is, we’re living longer fuller lives than ever before. There are inspiring women out there absolutely killing it in midlife, knocking it outta the park! So, instead of  indulging in negative language, flip the script to stories of strong, vibrant, engaging older women…

And surround yourself with as much knowledge and education to live your life more powerfully.

Check out this podcast: Radically Reframing Aging, and hear Maria Shriver discuss how we can all live our healthiest, most joyful lives as we grow older.

  1. Embrace The Now
    (Or, in short — if not now, when?)

If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s not to hang around. I’ve worked with so many women who have had the rug pulled out from under them — diagnosed suddenly with breast cancer, diabetes, or their husbands get sick…

You might remember last year my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s brutal. And I don’t know how long it’s gonna last…

But I can’t live in a state of inertia thinking ‘once she has full time help’ or ‘once she’s in assisted living, well, then I can focus on xyz.’ I can’t wait, and I can’t put things off. I have to honor the fact it’s all consuming, accept it, yet still move forward.

If we don’t start rockin’ and rolling now, then when will we?

  1. Treat Life As An Experiment
    It’s easy to get stuck in a rut — what we eat, how we exercise, even the makeup we use! (Am I right?) But our bodies have changed, our metabolism’s not so fired up, and chances are what worked in our 20s or 30s just ain’t gonna cut it. 

It’s time to shake things up…

You have GOT to have an experimental mindset.

For example, I just don’t have the stamina that I used to. Honestly, the sh*t I could get done in a day… I’d whizz my daughter to dance class, get to the shops, see clients. Now? I just want to chill a little bit.

So, I’ve switched up my day. I do deep work in the morning. And at 3, 4pm, I honor my need to rest. I’ll take the dogs for a walk, meditate, connect with a friend for coffee. And maybe then when I’ve done those things to nourish my soul — I’ll see an evening client.

Try some new things on for size –experiment– not every action you take will be a home run but wisdom gained revealing what feels right, purposeful and fulfilling to you.

  1. Rewire Your Inner Dialogue
    Let’s cut to the chase here. You’ve already spent half your life beating yourself up, telling yourself you aren’t enough. Do you really wanna be 80 — and still judging yourself? 

Or, looking back on your life wishing you’d been more present with your children, partner… but you were just too damn wrapped up and consumed by your own thoughts?

Y’know, I’m just so done with it…

Ladies, it’s time to let go of those old stories holding you back. Next time you hear that inner critic tell you you’re ‘less than’ say to yourself: ‘I’ve got this. I’m committed to my growth.’ Or ‘I’m discovering day-by-day what my goals and priorities are.’

… And shut down that negative talk in its tracks.

  1. Cultivate Connection
    Most research will say, the number 1 predictor of happiness is the quality of our social relationships. Take this from an introvert! (Or rather a social introvert — I love people, but can handle them better in smaller groups…) 😉

But, that being said…

Here, we’re talking positive relationships. The ones that inspire, support, and challenge us. A diverse network — whether that’s seeing your best friend for lunch, or clicking with a virtual Mastermind group. Connecting with your sister, or a work colleague living overseas…

These things keep us sharp, our wellbeing intact. They light us up.

Because the truth is, the struggle is real. Midlife is tough. There’s no denying it. But I know with my whole being, that if you can adapt your habits and mindset to embrace these changes — you will reap the difference in your life…

And glide into the next phase, with power, purpose and meaning. On your terms. 

XO

Holly

P.S. Tell me, what are your top strategies for dealing with the chaos of midlife? Which older women truly inspire you? Comment below (or drop me an email) I’d absolutely love to know! 

How To Stop Beating Yourself Up

How To Stop Beating Yourself Up

Three Simple Steps To Being Your Own BFF

 

Let me be honest with you. For 2, 3 months last year — I was in the zone… 

My kids were in college doing their thing. I could finally give everything to my career, to my clients. Workwise, it was all coming together. 

You know that feeling, right? ‘This is great. This is really f*cking great.’

And as you know from last month’s post I’m a recovering perfectionist…

Well, let’s FF a little… through Thanksgiving and Spring break. 

My semi-non-independent kids landed on the mat. My mother’s alzheimer’s diagnosis began seeping through the cracks — 

Think wandering lost in a neighborhood she no longer recognizes. Panicked calls that scare me out of my mind…

And suddenly all the boundaries that were working so well for me, the mojo I’d rediscovered — BOOM. 

Gone.

EVERYTHING sucked out of me.

And this got me thinking — what do YOU do, or say to yourself when the $h*t hits the fan? When you realize, between empty nesting and aging parents, you’re at the height of your own midlife angst? 

Don’t you ever feel like it’s time to give yourself a break? Like, you’re just being a little too hard on yourself? 

I know I do.

(And as a coach, I really should know better…)

It’s a universal truth. Because, let’s face it ladies, we’re great at dishing out compassion for everyone else, but for ourselves? 

We’re our own worst critics. 

So, this month we’re turning our attention to the science of self-compassion. How to deal with setbacks, failures, bumps and bruises — because when you put yourself out there, that’s what’s gonna happen.  

But first, let’s expand on last month’s post for a moment. [Missed it? You can read it here.] If you’re trying your damnedest to flip that script from perfectionist to optimalist — and finding it’s not quite that easy — I hear you. 

Rerouting toxic thinking (when it’s been your default perfectionist mechanism for so long) is super difficult… 

And we make it DOUBLY harder by believing self-compassion is a self-indulgent weakness that leads to complacency or laziness…

ABSOLUTELY. NOT. TRUE.

The real truth? The less we sugarcoat, and honor our feelings, the more we’ll strategically and accurately move forward in life. After all, if you keep minimizing your emotions, how can you possibly resolve them?  

And THIS is where the science of self-compassion is a game-changer. 

So let’s dive right in —

Kristen Neff, the world’s leading researcher on self-compassion, explains that if faced with setbacks or insecurity, most of us fall into the trap of self-criticism. Especially women. 

And this in turn breaks down our wellbeing. 

Conversely, self-compassion builds us back up. It’s a source of empowerment, learning, and inner strength. 

And it all boils down to 3 main practices: 

  1. Self Kindness. Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds. All this means is when you feel yourself slipping into toxic ruminating thinking, talk to yourself as you would a dear friend (or child). Be kind to yourself! 

(I mean come on, would we ever tell our child, husband or friend: just give it up. You should not even bother going to college. Y’know what? You suck at football. Forget it.)

Yet, that inner voice does it to ourselves all the time…

2. Embrace what Kristen calls ‘Common Humanity.’ You’re not alone. We ALL experience challenging times. If you’re anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, feeling less — you’re human. The only people who don’t experience painful emotions are psychopaths (or dead people) so remind yourself — it’s okay not to feel okay. (In fact it’s very normal.)

And if you’re feeling this way — let me validate the hell out of you. Remind you that you have the fortitude to push through this. Heck, you deserve to push through this… 

3. Take a balanced approach to negative emotions, so your feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. In short, notice the struggle that’s arising. Acknowledge and strive to understand it. And better support yourself to move forward. 

Don’t allow yourself to get stuck, brooding in chaos… 

Yes, it sucks that my mother has alzheimers. Unimaginably. And I’ll honor that at my core — but I’ve got to remember there’s no point in ruminating on it. That is never going to serve me.  

So, next time you hear the voice of self-criticism, get smart AND strategic. 

How? Start by rubbing your goals and aspirations up against reality… 

For me this means having the support to STOP being superwoman. Sharing the struggle with my girlfriends or husband. Being a cheerleader for myself — remembering to talk to myself as I would a friend or a client…

‘Holly, this is super hard. But you can do this.’ 

Because, here’s the deal. Anyone who’s achieved greatness will tell you the road to success and wellbeing is anything but easy…

And whether you’re actively moving from perfectionist to optimialist (or simply staying committed to the best version of yourself) flipping that script from self-criticism to self-compassion will help you navigate the toughest times. 

Ladies, it’s time to stop getting in your way and become your own biggest cheerleader.  Martyrdom is getting old. 

XO 

Holly 

P.S. What self-critical narratives have you been telling yourself — and how are you planning to flip that script? I’d love to support you through this journey… hit reply and let me know.

 

 

The Myth Of Having It All

The Myth Of Having It All

Hey ladies, remember these…?

Those delightfully damaging Enjoli advertisements from the ‘80s?

*Gulp.* (Imagine that making the Superbowl break nowadays?!)

That’s right. As Gen X-ers we REALLY were spoon fed that we could ‘have it all.’ The children. The career. The husband…

And of course we’d ‘never NEVER let him forget he’s a man.’

Yikes.

The thing is, whether it was our well intentioned mothers cheering us on — from a generation where women’s rights were little more than a novelty — or the subliminal craziness of ads like these popping up every 30 minutes…

Where has this internal dialogue left us?

>> Burnt out

>> Exhausted

>> Leaving our own wellbeing limping in last place

And deep down you know that’s not serving anybody…

So, this month I’m examining the psychology behind letting our purses (and our minds) constantly overflow with this baggage…

I’m looking at why we ALL fall into one of 2 camps when it comes to aspiring for more in our lives…

AND why we’re all still suffering from a bad case of comparisonitis. (And yes, what the heck we can do about it!)

So ladies, let’s dive in!

You may have heard of Tal Ben-Shahar? He’s a leading light in the world of positive psychology and one of my absolute heroes…

Tal’s the author of 3 books including Happier, and taught the largest class in Harvard’s history: ‘Positive Psychology 101.’ He also founded the HSA (Happiness Studies Academy) where I studied for over a year — gaining coaching certification in the science behind happiness.

Tal believes there are 2 distinct forms of perfectionism:

  1. The ‘Perfectionist.’ This individual who’s gotta be SO on point they’re suffering from anxiety, depression — even addictions.
  2. The ‘Optimalist.’ A healthy, striving individual who uses high standards to fuel their growth.

And here’s the big difference: the Perfectionist fails to embrace reality. They’ll work 16 hours a day… AND stay super-healthy/be a model spouse/the perfect parent/be super active in the community/BFF to millions…

BUT, they’re failing to embrace the constraints of reality. They simply can’t do all those things. And when they inevitably fall short of their own expectations, they beat themselves up and… it all comes crashing down. Perfectionism for them, has become a great source of misery.

On the flip side, the Optimalist has equally high standards. But they rub their vision up against reality. They aspire to be their best — within reason. They understand there are only so many hours in the day, and healthily construct an OPTIMAL life within these boundaries.

So, be honest now. Which one are you?

If you’ve ever felt exhausted or burnt out, I think you’ll agree unhealthy perfectionist tendencies come with some serious consequences…

But, the truth is, decades on from the Enjoli woman, we’re now a helluva lot wiser…

And we are DONE playing by the rules that no longer serve us. 

So, if we’ve been dealt a bad dose of the unhealthy perfectionist syndrome (as I call it) how can we still hold to a strong commitment AND evolve into the best version of ourselves? How can we embrace the constraints of reality just a little more today?

In other words, how can we move our mindset from Perfectionist to Optimalist?

Well, we can start by remembering ladies, life is not about perfection —

Progress, yes.

We can have it all. Just not all at once. 

Be gentle on yourself. Remember, frying that bacon up in a pan after a hard day at work for your man is probably in your DNA! It’s gonna take a little rewiring to let that past conditioning go.

But, now you’re aware of the difference. Which means you can actively bring your best self forward…

So, next time you feel the pang of perfectionism, be realistic. Look at life through a different lens — and flip that script from Perfectionist to Optimalist.

XO

Holly

P.S. If you’re a recovering perfectionist (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) how does it manifest in your life? When do you feel the wheels coming off? Hit me back and let’s talk about it.

P.P.S. And if you want to read more about this topic Ben-Shahar’s book ‘Pursuit of Perfect’ is an ahem, perfect place to start.

Can you? Or can’t you?

Can you? Or can’t you?

Achieving Those Goals

Hey there!

It’s time to raise a belated glass to that elephant in the room… Goal Setting. 

Ewww, I know. Love it or hate it — setting goals is an undeniable step to success. 

Maybe you’re part of the shiny ‘New Year, New Me’ crowd. You’re still hard at the gym. You’re keeping up those dinner dates with girlfriends…

Perhaps, despite the symbolism of fresh starts and new beginnings, you prefer to eaaase yourself into a new year — mug in hand, lounging in the gorgeous cashmere sweater you finally treated yourself to in January’s sales. Bliss…

Or maybe you’re one of the 80% of resolution makers petering out as we now move into the first week of February…

Finding you’re beating yourself up already. (Pah! You know I don’t believe in guilt-trippin’ or shaming. We’re human. I’ve got your back.)

Last month, I talked through the numero uno secret you need to master in order to go the distance this year. The one thing that’s a game-changer for giving back clarity and making sure we’re firing on optimal levels. Missed it? You can read that post here.

This month, I’m going one step further. You’ll be leaning into your own energy. Being gentle with yourself. Learning how to trust — and make your internal dialogue work for you when it comes to goal setting.

So the question is — what are your goals for this year? 

And more importantly — do you think you can achieve them?

Because, truth is, there’s scientifically-validated wisdom in Henry Ford’s quip: whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.’

Or in other words, on a scale of 1–10, what confidence do you have that you’ve got what it takes to make your goals happen this time…

And, well stick?!

The study of Self-Efficacy (or the Science of Self-Confidence) is SUPER important in this.

It quite simply translates as: the belief that you can achieve what you set out to achieve.

And Albert Bandura — one of the most respected psychologists in the world — is one of its biggest proponents.

Bandura tells us there are 4 primary ways we can build on our own self-efficacy — and finally make our goals stick:

  1. Accomplishments. Specifically, your past successes. When did you last accomplish something that felt difficult — or even impossible? Reminding yourself of big and small wins from the past are HUGE ways to boost your current confidence. 

Create those wins, celebrate them. Build your self-image as someone who succeeds… And bring those past mastery experiences to mind when you’re facing current challenges.

  1. Social Modeling. Seeing someone else achieve the success YOU would like to achieve. Truth is, if they can do it, you can do it! Know that.

(Note: Don’t be envious of their success. Celebrate it!)

  1. Verbal Persuasion/Support. When someone tells you that you can achieve success, listen to them. This could be a coach, or supportive co-worker or friend. 

Better yet, persuade yourself through positive self-talk! Kindly challenge yourself as you would someone near or dear to you. 

  1. Act as if. This is a game-changer (and one I practice time after time). If you want to succeed, act like a successful person! Walk, talk, breathe, and carry yourself as if you’ve already achieved that which you aspire to be. 

You can read more about this in my past post here.

Lean into your energy. Listen to your past successes. Visualize your value: allow yourself to celebrate your wins when setting goals — and get ready to triumph.

Now ladies — strike that power pose and go get ‘em!

XO

Holly

P.S. Before I leave you today, I’d LOVE for you to take a pen and paper and jot down the answers to these 4 questions:

  1. What’s a past success you can celebrate and build on — for future triumph?
  2. Who do you admire — who’s achieved something you’d love to have for yourself? Celebrate them! If they can do it, you can do it.
  3. Who’s your biggest cheerleader? And what supportive words do they share?
  4. When you’re at your best, how do you walk, talk, breathe and hold yourself? 

P.P.S  So, what are your goals for this year? Shoot me an email here. I’d love to know— and cheer you on as you rock them!   

And know that whenever you’re in doubt, that’s what I’m here for…

New year, new you…right??

New year, new you…right??

The Secret To Making Resolutions That Actually Stick

It’s January — and we’re back to our routines. In line at the supermarket, you’re hit by all the articles on health and wellbeing. You’ll go back to the gym. Dust off that yoga mat (or Peloton). Seal the deal with a big client/see your best friend more/eat less carbs… You’ve got your resolutions. New year, new you, right? And you are on it. 

Sound familiar?

How many times have you started the year — with the best intentions — only to peter out in February or March? Slowly lose interest. Feel exhaustion return, and go back to the same old habits.

Truth is, you can have all the goals in the world. But if you don’t have the right foundation in place, it’s all for sh*t — or at least, you’re not going to be able to up-level your game. Dish out the work. Be available to your friends and family. Whatever the aspiration, if you don’t take care of yourself…

Your goals are going to flatline.

So, how can we make sure we’re not only on it now — but stay on it throughout the year?

This month’s post is all about the one big secret you need to conquer to stay on top of those goals. The one thing — above even nutrition or movement — that if mastered, is a game-changer for giving back clarity, a sense of purpose and making sure we’re firing at optimal levels…

(And it’s a problem I see more and more of you struggling with, desperate to find a solution…)

The answer? Sleep.

As human beings we have natural rhythms embedded in us. Back in the day, before the lightbulb was invented, we’d just sleep when it was dark. And now? We’re taught to go, go, GO! And as a result, our circadian rhythms are shot.

You probably felt it over the holidays. And ladies, it’s hard to admit, but we’re faced with a double whammy — we no longer have our youth to pull us through those late nights. We can’t just pull on a pair of leg warmers, plug in a Walkman and bounce right back (what can I say, I love the 80’s).

And no, it’s not just that your body’s changing — we groove to consistency. Maybe you wake up like clockwork each morning at 3am, needing the bathroom? You have a hot flash, and your mind starts whirling. We stare at the clock, getting back to sleep is so challenging!

4 years ago I struggled with exactly this. I’d survive on 5 hours a night. (And probably shouldn’t have been driving in the afternoons…) But when 8 or 9 hours is considered the norm, the fact is probably 90% of us are deprived sleepwalkers…

And so I know how important it is to share the habits I’ve used — to break destructive patterns, and help you live life to the fullest. So you can show up consistently and keep your goals alive month after month (and not just in January.)

7 Steps You Can Take TODAY to Help You Recalibrate: 

  • Caffeine. This is a biggie. Listen, I love a cup of coffee (maybe even 2 or 3!) But pushing the envelope isn’t a good idea. You can indulge — but stop after 3pm, and give caffeine a chance to leave your system.
  • …And alcohol. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but though soothing in the moment, that glass of wine after a long day stops you from reaching the really deep, restorative sleep that truly rejuvenates. If you can go without, do.
  • Avoid blue light. (Oh yeah — just like the electric blue eyeshadow you wore in your teens, blue light after dark is not going to suit you anymore!) Unplug your phone, maybe leave it in another room if you can. My secret? Set an alarm and remind yourself to shut your phone down.
  • Stop that Nextflix binge 2-3 hours before hitting the sack. The stimulation makes winding down that much harder. So save the new reboot season of Sex and the City for early evening hours only…
  • Be honest, what time do you stop working? (That includes checking your phone, deliberating over a response.) When my children were younger I’d put them to bed, and get back on my game for 2-3 hours. This was a terrible idea! Giving yourself time to wind down should be your number one priority.
  • Take a power nap. It might not be the American way to take a break in the middle of the afternoon, but your body will thank you for it. Get out of the habit of needing to be on it, every minute of the day.
  • Keep your room temperature down low, no higher than 68°. And that means no exercising or big meals before bed that only stimulates and raises our body temperature (and nix the sweaters and socks under the covers).

But what if you’re one of the many women who come to me tired and exhausted — unable to switch off your anxieties, thoughts and worries? The techniques above will certainly help, but you may require another layer — to truly quiet the mind and signal to your body, that it’s time to flip off the switch…

Go-To Rituals to Quiet the Mind 

First take five minutes. I gently potter about the kitchen and put away the dishes. Whatever routine might be personal to you, to signal that the day is done.

Take a warm bath, dim the lights, light a candle. Heating your body up, to then cool it down, is a relaxant and sets you in the mood for sleep.

Make your bedroom a sanctuary. It should be dark, calm and cool. Your bedroom should be for 2 things only — sleep… and sex! No TVs, phones, nothing else. That’s it.

Establish a 3-5 minute ritual of breathing exercises. For me, it literally signifies flipping the switch… Because otherwise I know I’ll sit in bed and think about ideas for the day ahead, or that person I have to get back to. I’m running down the list, right? And that is not going to work.

Instead breathing allows us to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system — accessing calm, rational thinking. And box breathing (tracing the outline of a box as you breathe) is a very simple place to start:

  1. Breathe in for 4, hit one corner
  2. Hold for 4 until you reach the next
  3. Exhale for 4 seconds hitting the next corner
  4. Hold for 4 before repeating

And my final ritual for sleep? A nighttime gratitude practice. It’s a game changer — I talked about this back in November, but it bears repeating. Take a piece of paper and pen (no screens, remember!) and list everything you did throughout the day, from taking out the garbage to picking up dinner or conversations you’ve had. Now take that list, and flip it — look only through the lens of gratitude, and write each one down. Only seek the good. Because honestly? Gratitude is a superpower, it’ll squash any negativity you feel dead in its tracks.

XO

Holly

P.S. So, what about you? Hit reply…I’d love to hear how you prepare for sleep — or which practice(s) I share resonates with you?

P.P.S. Please know this is NOT about perfection,  just adding any one or two of these practices can make a big difference. You better believe there are some days I fail my caffeine curfew and nights a Netflix binge takes over. BUT those days are now far and few between.