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.

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. 

How Are You Showing Up?

How Are You Showing Up?

The One Thing That Changes Everything

How we show up, the energy we bring to any situation is the key ingredient to the results we get. We can be crazy smart, super organized, and have the best of intentions but without the right type and amount of energy the ability to show up and be engaged in life can be severely limited and sometimes just not possible. By understanding and then knowing how to handle our energy we can have a huge advantage in creating a life we love to live.

Truth is the vast majority of us are unaware of why things go well for us one day and not the next. Sure, it’s easy to say we simply just had a good day, everything fell into place, nothing unexpected occurred, or we were at the right place at the right time. But we all know life is challenging, at any given moment life can throw us a curveball, no one is excused from life’s ups and down’s. Chalking up our success and happiness or lack thereof, to bad luck or good fortune is frankly bullshit.

Think about it, rarely if ever, with the exception of a health crisis, does our level of capabilities, talents, and competencies change significantly from day to day or even moment to moment. So what is it that makes us feel one minute on top of our game and quite possibly a few hours later on shaky ground? Why with the same capabilities you have right now in this moment “perform” well one day and poorly the next?

Before you answer that, I want you to think about this…you’re about to go into an interview or a presentation at work, maybe you’re going to have an important conversation with your child, make a go or no go decision on a serious health matter, or possibly negotiating a deal with purchasing a new car, house, business venture-what’s more important in that moment, your talent or the energy you’re experiencing? 

Regardless of how skilled we maybe our core energy will be the driving force behind how our talent that will get used, creating the results we’ll get. And at anytime we are feeling stressed out, unfulfilled, or stuck it is because something is blocking our energy. Which is most likely a direct result of one or more influencers on our energy: 

  • Physical-when our body is unable to function in the manner we’re accustomed (I.e.poor sleep, nutrition, illness/injury)
  • Social-when the people and social conditions around us aren’t optimal.
  • Spiritual-when whatever we are doing causes us to question our purpose, values, goals and beliefs.
  • Emotional-when we feel reactive and unable to control how we want to respond in a situation we don’t understand or that doesn’t meet our expectations or needs. 
  • Environmental-when our surroundings prevent us from being at our best (i.e. extreme temperatures, office too loud, gym too crowded).
  • Mental-when we stretch ourselves too thin and our ability to remain focused is comprised possibly because a task is too challenging or boring.

Whatever your current aspirations may be…professional, personal, or both, by understanding and knowing how each of these influencers are impacting your energy you will have the greatest likelihood for optimal results.

Next time you move into that difficult conversation with someone near and dear, have an important work meeting, or are simply heading out to the tennis court, consider how each of these influencers may be showing up for you. Are they supporting or detracting from your experience? If so, how can you lean into those that are strong for you while lessen the pull of those that are working against you?

Bottomline, it’s all about creating an empowered energetic state and the rest will follow. Energy is the one thing that changes everything. We can acquire all the skill and mindset necessary as long as we learn how to handle our energy.

 Wishing You Always The Best Of Success

-Holly-

Reminder!

Reminder!

The Key To Creating Positive Lasting Change

It’s no mystery that the things we repeatedly do are the things our brain and mind will continue to support and encourage. The more something is rehearsed or practiced, the stronger our neural connections will then become making positive behaviors more habitual in nature. Positive lasting change will occur within in our brains and then within our lives with consistent and intentional action steps that promote an optimal state of being. With all that being said, knowing this and actually doing this are two very different things. With our very busy and distracting lives; cultivating habits, thoughts, and behaviors that support our greater wellbeing, won’t come instinctually.

Let’s face it, in this fast paced world, if it’s not right in front of us, it’s likely not going to happen…thus why many of us rely on “to do” lists to remind us of where our attention needs to be. The same holds true with building in productive habits that aid our pursuit of greater happiness and success. If we want to instill more proactive behaviors we need to remind ourselves to do whatever it is we’re trying to align with until we become accustomed to it. Daily reminders are essential when it comes to creating the positive change we desire. They’re relatively simple to understand, fairly easy to implement, and the benefits from using them are almost immediate. Here are a few great ways to get started…. 

 5 Simple Ways To Use Reminders  

1.Technological RemindersHere’s where the distraction of technology works for us rather than against. Computers and our mobile phones make it possible to set up automatic reminders for just about anything. Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on our computers, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message. Even just using the alarm on our mobile phones can be a great way to help us stop, hit pause for 10 minutes and attend to some rejuvenating self-care practices to infuse our energy, helping us to go the distance the rest of the day. Maybe some deep breathing exercises, a short meditation, taking some time to call someone near and dear to us, or possibly stepping outside to connect with nature, stretch our legs and walk around bit…all great habits that support greater wellbeing.

2.Tangible Reminders– The best reminders are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce and can take the form of a quote on the wall, a picture, a photograph, a work of art, powerful words or mantras placed on a post it. Or even a special bracelet or piece of jewelry that catches your attention and reminds you to be mindful of the positive behavior you want to produce.

3.Daily “To Be” Reminders– Are a record of those things that you would like to be reminded of on a daily basis, the values that you want to internalize and live by each day of your life. By using “Ideal Self Statements” (i.e I am calm and present in the here and now, I embrace a growth mindset” ) that capture the attitudes and behaviors that are first, most important to you personally and, second, that you want to be reminded of. Your “To Be” List so to say rather then to do list.  It’s suggested to come up with at least 3 and no more than 5 along with starting with 3 deep breaths before reading each out loud to yourself daily.

4. Specific Reminders-focus on a particular aspect of life that you want to work on and improve—a challenge you’re facing or an area where you want to grow. Start by writing down a single sentence that captures whatever it is that you want to work on. The sentence, ideally, should be stated positively, in present tense, and inspire a sense of purpose (i.e. I am a confident and authentic public speaker). Then elaborate in three or four sentences what that single sentence means to you. Spend a few minutes each day to go over your Specific Reminder, read it closely and deliberately at least once through, and then if you feel the need to do so, modify and refine the text.

5. Mini Reminders-is a sequence of words (i.e.calm, confident, authentic) that embody how you want to feel most times. The words may draw from your Daily Reminders, Specific Reminders, or from anywhere else. Place them anywhere and everywhere that catches your eye. I keep a post it note of Mini Reminders on my car dashboard, desk, and night table. Every time I see them I take a deep breath and read them aloud.

Reminders have the power to positively transform our lives for the better. Studies have proven environmental and physical cues we pick up daily affect us more than we realize, triggering habits and thoughts that then begin to feel natural to us. Why leave our most important priorities to chance…check out this month’s 5 simple ways to use reminders  to promote more of what you want in and for your life.

 

Wishing You Always The Best Of Success  

-Holly-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting The Stage For A Great Day

Setting The Stage For A Great Day

The Power Of Bookending Your Days

The number one complaint I hear from women when it comes to taking care of themselves is that there just isn’t enough time. Of course, we have the best of intentions but once the day starts to unfold, taking care of ourselves just gets lost in the shuffle. Well, there’s a solution for that!  

I think we would all agree that typically we have a greater ability to “control” the earlier and later parts of our day, our am & pm routines. The middle of the day not as much, where people and things we didn’t anticipate come into play. Of course, there are no absolutes but generally speaking we have a heck of a better chance at determining how we want our mornings and evenings to go. Darren Hardy, motivational speaker and author of The Compound Effect refers to this as optimizing the bookends of our days.

Ideally, I like to use my mornings to exercise but of course there are days my schedule or body is asking for something else. Regardless, whether it’s an hour or 15 minutes, my morning routine hands down includes some form of rejuvenating self-care practice. Most recently, I’ve incorporated a game changing habit called the Three-Minute Morning Mindfulness practice, introduced to me by Pilar Gerasimo author of the Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World. The idea behind it is to start your day on your own terms rather than exposing your mind to stressful, distracting thoughts and outside forces. 

You chose any feel good activity-stretching, meditation/breath exercises, petting your dog, journaling, stepping outside to listen to the birds, or even finding a favorite spot where you can just look out the window and enjoy having a cup of tea/coffee for at least 3 minutes or longer-as long as you find whatever your doing rewarding and doable.

One caveat though, before and during the Morning Minutes practice, they’ll be no checking into your phone first , or TV, or any other sensory distractions or stressors. Emailing, texts, social media, or news will have to wait. The the whole point of this exercise, is to gradually & peacefully give our body and mind a chance to establish an early state of mindfulness and wellbeing, making it easier to retain and reclaim throughout the day. Part of the morning minutes practice uses the last few moments to set intentions for the day and then visualize how you want it to go or to reflect on the things you are most grateful for. Then close the practice with three deep, energizing breaths before moving on to the active part of your day. You’ll be surprised how just taking 3 minutes to yourself without exposing your mind to any external stressors upon awakening, will markedly make a difference how the rest of your day unfolds. 

But keep in mind if we want to fall into supportive morning routines, it all starts the night before with a good nights sleep. Evenings are the perfect time to hone in on some self-care practices, to decompress, quiet our minds and prepare our bodies for restorative sleep. Of course that looks different for everybody but research supports shutting down our phones and electronics is key to reducing the blue light stimulation that interferes with restorative sleep.  All the more the reason to get off our devices and use our pm hours towards self-care practices. (i.e. journaling, reading, meditating, taking a bath, connecting with those near & dear, etc…).

As bookends are used to support a row of books from collapsing, your am and pm routines can have the same capacity to ensure a great day ahead. Use this more “controllable” part of the day to set yourself up for greater success and wellbeing, try optimizing the bookends of your day!

Wishing You The Best Of Success

-Holly-