Are You Procastinating?

It took me years to write my first book, OASIS Conversations. It was an ardent goal of mine, yet I always seemed to have other things to do first. Granted, the demands of a young child, elderly parents, a full-time business, and extensive global travel for work kept me occupied. While the desire to write and share the book burned within me, I often found myself waiting for a bolt of inspiration.

Research suggests that roughly 80% of us procrastinate while we wait for the motivation to spur us into action to achieve a goal or get something done. It looks like we have it all backward. If we actually begin to take action, it is then that we garner the motivation and energy to continue working on a task or project. When we procrastinate, we are waiting for motivation or energy to proceed. When we initiate an action rather than procrastinate, we often find the energy and inspiration to proceed. It’s a subtle yet crucial mindset shift.

Envision taking the smallest step in tidying your home, writing a report, or starting a new project. Notice what happens when taking the initial step. I’ve noticed that if I start a project within a short time, I often garner the energy and inspiration to carry it through to completion.

Another element that has helped me to get things done is to be accountable to a friend or colleague. We benefit from extrinsic motivation. For instance, I’ve discovered that knowing I will be sharing my work with a colleague or group can be a powerful motivator. Sometimes, it spurs me into action just in the nick of time. The commitment to someone else can provide the spur of energy to overcome inertia.

I have also found that having a slot marked on my calendar for writing, exercise, or even household chores provides the space and a routine for getting these things done. Of course, setting priorities and putting some things aside have been useful, too.

What strategies have you found to help you to get things done? Your insights and experiences may offer keys to unlocking motivation and productivity that help us progress from waiting for inspiration to actively igniting it.

Are You Enjoying the Journey?

Joy’s soul lies in the doing. — Shakespeare

I’ve been exploring how to experience joy with coaching clients and leaders in my courses.

It’s not the destination but the journey. No doubt you’ve heard this cliché. However, it is scientifically supported. In the book The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt explores the “progress principle.” He concludes that we get more pleasure and satisfaction from progressing toward our goals than actually achieving them.

Many of us have experienced the treadmill of pursuing goals relentlessly. Whether striving for a promotion, gaining acceptance into a prestigious college, completing a challenging project, or buying a house, we often anticipate achieving these objectives will lead to lasting happiness. However, we soon discover that the pleasure we expected quickly fades, and we’re back on the treadmill, pursuing the next goal. It can feel like the mythological Sisyphus endlessly pushing a boulder up a hill.

Happiness researchers like Iris Mauss conclude that those who relentlessly pursue happiness as their end goal often experience less satisfaction than those who savor the journey. Rather than chase happiness, we need to embody practices that support us in experiencing joy in the process of living.

Rather than focus externally, it is helpful to appreciate our innate sense of JOYBeing–the simple joy of being alive that we can connect with throughout our days and life’s journey. Shifting our focus to enjoying our days and working toward our goals can be transformative. We can experience joy in many moments, even in the face of challenges, by seeking opportunities for learning and growth.

Making the conscious choice to shift our perspective and prioritize JOYBeing as we journey through life is a practice and habit that can be cultivated. By doing so, we enhance our wellbeing and discover that the journey itself is a destination worth celebrating. So, why wait to reach the summit when we can find joy in every step of the climb?

Navigating Uncertainty: Finding Clarity Amid Chaos

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” — Rumi

A theme I hear with my coaching clients and those in my leadership courses is how to face the uncertainty of our times when the path ahead feels shrouded in mist. We have all experienced the lingering uncertainty of the pandemic, climate changes, and societal divisions. The daily news showers us with global and local challenges. We also face personal questions of job stability, how to manage our health, relationships, and even how to address loneliness and aging.

I and many I work with make great efforts to create a sense of control. Of course, we should each do our best to plan and take responsibility for what we can. We should do our best to care for our health, work, and family needs. Ideally, we also use our energy to support others and our communities.

Amid our quest for control, we can develop the practice of turning inward. We can focus on connecting with our inner landscape and be present to the thoughts and emotions coursing within us, the events unfolding around us, and what is happening in our relationships.

With the art of pausing, checking in, and becoming aware, we have a process that supports us in being present to what transpires. From this Open Stance place, we can be more at choice and see opportunities–even in the face of challenges. Experiencing uncertainty and challenges, we understand, will always be a part of life. With awareness and practice, we can transform our reactions into purposeful choices. We can learn to move with grace and a sense of possibility.

We need to invest in practices that support us in taking an Open Stance, calming our nervous systems, and becoming present to prepare us for what emerges. We need to be leaders and support others during these times to weather the storms and uncover the seeds of growth and transformation within them.

What Inspires You?

I recently had the pleasure of sharing lunch with an old friend. She mentioned that she was inspired when she heard an interview on a podcast about a nonprofit group collecting stories from people who had experienced slavery. The organization is now collating the information to educate people and support learning from history.

As my friend spoke, her eyes lit up with enthusiasm for this group’s remarkable work. During the interview, the organization’s leader expressed a need for volunteers to help shape the collected information for broader dissemination.

I encouraged my colleague to contact the organization immediately and volunteer.

We all have causes and issues that resonate with us profoundly, calling us to take action. Imagine the impact if we followed through and took concrete steps to support these causes. By engaging in acts of kindness and support for initiatives that align with our values, we contribute to worthwhile endeavors and set in motion a ripple effect of positive change.

When we work towards a purpose that inspires us and gives our lives more significant meaning, we experience an undeniable surge of aliveness and energy. This sense of aliveness is, in itself, contagious. In today’s world, with so many pressing needs, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take action, no matter how small, and inspire others to do the same.

Share what inspires you, and if you’re seeking assistance for a particular endeavor, don’t hesitate to ask. You never know—you might encourage others to join you on this journey of creating a brighter and more compassionate world. Together, we can make life better for all.

One of my projects is to share more broadly the power of taking an Open Stance–with an open mind and open heart. If more of us can manage our reactions and judgment, we will be positioned to co-create solutions facing our world today. I am creating Open Stance Circles and a community where people encourage each other to be open and learn together. You are welcome to join if this inspires you.

Join here: 

The Power of Permission: Rest and Relaxation Matter

I hope you had a good weekend and found some time for rest and relaxation. If you are like me, I sometimes find it hard to take off and give myself permission to really relax.

I have learned that we need to allow our systems to rest. We shouldn’t stay revved up for long periods of time. It hurts our health and immune systems. This seems obvious, but not long ago, working long hours and pushing oneself to the limit was not only a badge of honor but deemed essential for “success.”

However, recent shifts in our understanding of wellbeing and productivity have revealed a different truth: we need rest, play and joy to thrive. Our bodies and minds are not designed to remain in a perpetual state of busyness. Such continuous stress can take a toll on our health and productivity.

By allowing ourselves to step away from work and “be,” we recharge our energy and open the door to innovation and creativity. The act of slowing down and resting is not counterproductive; it’s an essential part of the productivity cycle.

Some of history’s most brilliant minds, from Albert Einstein to Leonardo da Vinci, understood the power of relaxation in sparking new ideas and solving complex problems. They actively embraced moments of rest to enhance their creative capacities.

So, the next time you hesitate to take time off or feel guilty about doing so, remember that relaxation and simply “being” is not a luxury but a necessity. It’s a vital component of a fulfilling and successful life. When prioritizing rest, we set the stage for greater clarity, enhanced wellbeing, and the ability to make a difference and significantly impact our endeavors.

Take a moment today to honor your need for rest and relaxation. You’ll find that by nurturing your JOYBeing–your sense of aliveness-you’re investing in yourself and unlocking your full potential for joy, creativity, and success.

Let me know how you are incorporating rest. Do you find it challenging, like me?

Navigating Life’s Challenges: Embracing Resilience and Openness

In the tapestry of life, challenges are woven seamlessly, along with moments of joy and accomplishment.

Many people in my life are facing challenges these days, making them seem more pronounced. Climate shifts have disrupted lives, health uncertainties cast shadows, isolation creates pain and loneliness, and economic shifts are reshaping livelihoods. Even seemingly positive changes bring challenges, like embracing a new academic journey or relocating to an unfamiliar area, which can hold its own set of trials. Of course, life offers big and small challenges each day. We know it is a part of living and a natural part of our journey.

How do we find the sustenance to nourish ourselves and uplift others, creating a ripple effect of positive transformation?

We each have habitual patterns that impact how we react to challenges. Some of these patterns, including worrying, reacting, and procrastinating, may have supported us earlier and may not serve us now. Noticing and being aware of our propensity to react can help us and give us the courage to make new choices.

A simple practice that supports me is to check in with myself often to recognize the state of my inner landscape. During moments of stress, I pause to discern the narrative I am weaving around a given moment. What are my thoughts–how am I making sense of a situation? What are my sensations and emotions? Do I feel tight in my chest, notice my heart racing, and am I concerned and contracted?

I often ask myself, “Are you Open?” This pivotal question resonates deeply and is a powerful touchstone that probes my willingness to embrace the unfolding moment, whatever it may hold. It reminds me of my commitment to take a stance of receptivity and openness. Through practice, I’ve come to understand that openness doesn’t mean the absence of challenges or discomfort. It’s an invitation to approach moments with an open heart and a spirit willing to learn and evolve.

When I recognize that I am contracted and closed, I can be with this experience. While I often feel like diverting myself with busyness, focusing on someone else, or eating something, I know it serves me to be with the sensations and emotions. When we are kind to ourselves, name our feelings, and empathize, we can often allow the emotions to move through us. Then we can shift into being open and see more possibilities and choices.

The simple habit of asking, “Are you Open?” has changed how I react. I know that even when I am feeling stressed or numbing myself, I can return to a balanced inner state. From this Open Stance, I feel more capable of responding to my challenges and those of others.

Cultivating this resilience and openness benefits us and radiates outwards, offering a gift of presence and support to those around us. As the tides of challenge ebb and flow, we find ourselves better equipped to navigate the currents, to uplift ourselves, and, in doing so, to extend a hand of strength to inspire others.

When we build our capacity, we can support others and make a difference during these times. What helps you to navigate challenges these days?

Embracing Transitions: Navigating the Unknown with Openness

The end of summer signals a time of transition. Just as I always looked forward to returning to school, driven by a love of learning, I also recognized the undercurrent of anxiety that accompanied each transition–the unease of venturing into the realm of the unknown.

It’s hard to identify anyone not facing a transition these days. I know people moving to new towns, embarking on fresh educational journeys, stepping into novel professional roles, and embracing entirely new life chapters in retirement.

Transitions, no matter how necessary or positive, demand our energy. As we let go of the familiar, we are like beginners again, grappling with uncertainty and often wrestling with a sense of isolation. In our collective experience, the pandemic challenged us to brave the unknown, a feat we accomplished by leaning on our skills and nurturing practices that anchor us.

An essential initial step is to observe our inner narrative. Are you telling yourself that you won’t be successful? Or are you reminding yourself of past transitions, acknowledging their difficulty while recognizing your ability to navigate and ultimately thrive?

As emotions surge, extend a gentle hand of empathy to yourself. It’s okay to feel afraid, lonely, uncertain, and unsettled. Be with these emotions by naming them and fully experiencing them. Normalize the range of emotions. Notice your impulse to distract yourself, isolate, or blame others. While it can be challenging, reaching out to a friend or colleague and receiving empathy and support from others is helpful. Most who are experiencing a transition have mixed feelings. Sharing your journey, with its uncertainties and vulnerabilities, invites a reciprocal flow of empathy and support. Remember, you are not alone in this.

Take care of yourself. Be sure to fuel your body with nourishing sustenance, ensure enough sleep, and find solace in exercise and the outdoors. Nature has a way of grounding us. Whether it’s a yoga class, a walk in the park, or diving into a captivating book or enlightening podcast, these moments of self-attunement are essential.

Accept that you will need to build new habits and practices. You will need to find your way. Allow yourself to trust that you will benefit from this change and that you are making the muscle for future transitions. Each transition is akin to strengthening a power that will serve you well in future journeys, which will inevitably grace your life’s unfolding narrative. It’s part of our life journey of learning and growing.

Remember to take care of yourself amid the ebb and flow of life. What kind of transition are you navigating? I hope your journey is enriched with an open heart and unwavering spirit.

Creating Change, Spreading Joy: The Ripple Effect of Purposeful Action

I attended a panel discussion recently on the challenges facing women and girls globally and strategic opportunities to advance gender equity. Each of the panelists was clearly passionate about their work. For example, the CEO and founder of Rise Up
( practically radiated when she shared how her organization is elevating the lives of women and girls worldwide. I find myself retelling her stories. For example, her organization worked with leaders of organizations in Guatemala to raise the legal age for girls to get married to 18. Without the legislation, girls were marrying at the age of 12 in some locations.

The resonance was palpable–life takes on new meaning when we align our actions with a sense of purpose. When I am clear about the difference I am making, I feel more alive and excited about life. Life feels worthwhile and joyful when we are making life better for others.

Over years of collaborating with leaders, coaches, and change agents, I have noticed that those who embrace a clear purpose and a goal of empowering others stand out as the most impactful. Their clarity fuels their effectiveness, allowing them to guide transformation with unwavering commitment.

Can you imagine if we each identified how we could contribute to making life better for others? The daunting challenges that define our era would be met with purposeful actions weaving a tapestry of fulfillment and joy.

Discovering your avenues of contribution requires introspection. It can take some reflection on what issues you care about, the values that fuel your passion, your skills and abilities, and what is most needed. There is no shortage of areas where we can contribute.

By actively participating in improving lives, you also engender personal growth and experience and spread joy and possibility.

How Do You Manage Negative Thoughts and Stress?

A client recently asked, “How do I manage my negative thoughts? I keep seeing what is wrong, and I feel stressed.” In our busy and full lives, negative thoughts often emerge as unwelcome companions that disrupt our inner ease.

The Normalcy of Negative Thoughts

First, we must normalize that we are not alone in our struggle with negative thoughts and emotions. We have a physiological imperative to survive. Our brains are wired to scan for potential dangers naturally, and with our negativity bias, we find many things to keep us worried and stressed. I told my client, “You are not alone; this is part of our human experience.”

Harnessing Stress for Growth

Not all stress is detrimental. We need some level of stress to be motivated, to grow, and to live fully. It gets challenging when we sense we have too much stress. Of course, many factors, such as climate shifts, work pressures, family demands, polarization, and uncertainty, contribute to our stress. Acknowledging stress is a part of life, and taking conscious steps to manage it becomes paramount.

We can use our awareness of stressful thoughts and sensations as a cue to engage in practices that support our nervous system. We can each build practices into our day that support us. We are unique and must experiment to learn what practices support and calm us.

Pause, Reflect and Cool Down

We can use our sensation of stress as a cue to Stop, Step back and Cool down. Stop and give yourself space to reflect objectively when you sense negativity taking over. Cooling down allows you to shift from a reactive state to a calmer and more open perspective, enabling you to respond effectively.

The Power of Gratitude

Cultivating a sense of gratitude serves as a powerful antidote to negative thoughts. When you are spiraling into negativity, intentionally shift your focus to things that are going well and what you are grateful for. Allow yourself to fully experience gratitude, noticing how it transforms your physiological and emotional state and helps you connect with your inner ease and joy.

Art as a Path to Inner Wellbeing

Engaging with art, whether through observation or creation, can be soothing for the mind. In Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us, the authors Megsamen and Ross encourage having an aesthetic mindset where simply observing or engaging in some art form promotes joy, health, and overall wellbeing. Drawing or creating something with your hands and engaging in art can calm us at a physiological level. Studies show that art can lower stress hormones, elevating your inner equilibrium. It doesn’t matter the level of artistic skill. Many studies show that art–whether sound, colors, drawing, painting, or sculpture can reduce stress and prolong life. Engaging or enjoying art is something worth trying.

Personalizing Your Practice

As you manage negative thoughts and stress, remember that each person is unique. What works for one person might have a different impact on another. Experiment with various practices, observe the effects on your sense of JOYBeing, and develop a set of practices that resonate with you. Then weave these practices into your daily routine and build habits that support your energy, resilience, and ability to thrive.

There are many practices we can adopt to help us manage our negative thoughts and stress. What are some strategies that you find helpful?

The Power of Rest and Relaxation: Embracing the Art of Rejuvenation

In the relentless whirlwind of modern life, stress becomes a constant companion, demanding our attention and energy. From juggling work pressures, climate changes, political polarization, and family responsibilities, the list seems endless. Stress, in moderation, is a natural response and can support growth, but when it becomes overwhelming, it exacts a high cost to our wellbeing. However, amid this chaos lies a potent remedy often overlooked – the power of rest and relaxation.

I must confess; I was once among those who failed to grasp the importance of intentional downtime. Like many of my clients, I believed there was never enough time to pause and recharge. The allure of productivity and societal expectations nudged me away from the essential need for rest and relaxation.

Yet, as I delved deeper into the research, I discovered a surprising truth: we are actually more productive and experience more joy when we make time for play, rest, and rejuvenation. Our human system is designed to allow space for recovery and replenishment. Like a battery, we need to recharge. By embracing restful activities such as being in nature, reading, or taking walks, we grant ourselves the gift of renewed energy and a broadened perspective.

I have personally experienced the transformative effects of incorporating rest into my life. Engaging in activities like connecting with a friend, sketching, listening to a podcast or immersing myself in art has boosted my productivity and creativity. Even dedicating a few minutes to breathing exercises or yoga has remarkably enhanced my energy levels.

Furthermore, we need to consider the impact of stress on our immune system. Persistent stress weakens our body’s defenses, making us more susceptible to illness. The antidote lies in mindfulness and being present in the moment. We foster a greater sense of calm, wellbeing, and joy by taking time out to experience the present fully and let go of the burden of past and future worries.

As an executive coach, I have witnessed a remarkable transformation in my clients as they embraced the power of rest and relaxation. What was once perceived as indulgence is now understood as an investment in their overall JOYBeing–their joy in being alive. The ripple effect is palpable; those around them benefit from their positive disposition and contagious energy.

In a world where unplugging seems impossible, I invite you to trust in the power of rest and relaxation. Allow yourself the time and space to rejuvenate and observe the profound impact it has on your life. As you embrace the art of rest, may you experience a newfound sense of ease, joy, and resilience. Remember, in these moments of rest, we truly find the strength to be resilient and thrive in the face of life’s challenges.

I would love to hear about your experience of taking time for rest and rejuvenation. Do you find it hard to take a break, like I and my clients have?