Practice Makes You Prepared, Not Perfect

As I sit here watching the rain pour outside my window, I am reminded that perfection is all in the eye of the beholder. For some, a perfect day consists of the sun shining, time spent with family and friends, great food and better company, maybe even a little bit of work thrown in. Most people don't think of a rainy day as perfect. That's where sayings like "saving for a rainy day" make sense. Rainy days just aren't perfect. But, what if you prepare for the rain? What if you're the agent that has the umbrella or the raincoat? After all, even in the most beautiful climates it rains every once in awhile. Rather than be brought down by the rain, what if we prepared for it ahead of time? Then it doesn't have as big of an impact as it otherwise might. Are you preparing for the rainy days in your business?

I've always been a big on practice. It is one of the things that first drew me to coaching. The importance of practice, of preparation, of commitment - that is the stuff where legends are made. Just watch The Karate Kid. Right? As a kid, I played softball. I loved the outfield, but I was also a talented catcher behind the plate. After practice, my coach used to have the whole team line up and take turns throwing balls in the dirt toward me. I would spend 30 minutes dropping to the dirt, covered in dust blocking the balls from hitting the backstop. It was frustrating to say the least, but it made me a better player all around. It refined my focus. It helped teach me the fundamentals of committing to a goal and achieving it. It prepared me to field grounders in the outfield and behind the plate. It helped speed up my reflexes. My coach used to say "practice makes perfect" every time I begrudgingly took my spot preparing to practice. But, as I've grown older (and hopefully wiser), I've realized that she was wrong. Practice doesn't make perfect. It makes you prepared, which is close, but not the same thing as perfect. 

Okay, this is probably making any perfectionist twitch as they read, but stay with me for a moment. Perfection isn't what we're after, right? Why? Because perfection doesn't exist. It is a pipe dream. It is something that we have made up in our minds to justify our actions. Does that mean we shouldn't chase it? No. I think chasing perfection is perfectly acceptable. Yes, I understand the irony there. I just think we need to be okay with where we land. Even top agents feel the ebbs and flows of the market shifts. 

Practicing to prepare. That's different. It is a far better business (or even life) strategy. Preparedness allows you to pivot when outside factors impact the circumstances.  Preparation allows you to stay calm in moments where someone who chases perfections is feeling panicked. Prepared professionals have far more successful careers than those that strive for perfection because they adapt to their circumstances instead of constantly trying to shape them. This is what your practice should be chasing. 

So, what are you chasing...perfection or preparedness? 

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Big Picture Business

Just like that, the first quarter of the year is over. If your market is anything like Raleigh, you didn't see much of a lull during the winter months. You continued to face low inventory and buyers continued to compete for the best homes. But, how does the market impact your business goals? 

We are working with the agents at Bamboo Realty for their quarterly coaching sessions this week, which got me thinking, do you track your progress? We are all taught to plan for the year ahead, but did your planning end after January? For a lot of agents, that is the case. They spend the holiday season and the month of January pouring over a business plan (Pro Tip: this should be done well in advance of this point. We recommend Q3 business planning for the following year) and they have forgotten the goals by March. Worse, the agents adjust their goals based on their production. No! This is backward approach! One of the tactics that we use with our agents is to help them break large goals into smaller, more consumable goals. If the agents consistently hit their smaller goals, they will ultimately hit (or surpass) their larger annual goals.

For example, say that you want to complete a total of 36 transactions this year. Great! The first thing you should do is divide your total goal by 12 (representing 12 months in the year). Okay...so that tells you that to hit your goal, you need to complete a minimum of 3 transactions per month. But wait...when you set your initial goal, did you factor in other expenses (i.e., Association dues, MLS dues, marketing expenses, administrative expenses, taxes, etc.)? No? Well, then you may need 1-2 (or more) transactions to subsidize those expenses and still hit the goal number of income that you want to achieve. You see, there is a big difference between your Baseline Goals (what you need to survive) and your Growth Goals (what you want to achieve). Many agents make the mistake of setting Baseline Goals then wonder why they aren't growing or why they're constantly in debt. 

If this is you, don't worry. This is a pretty easy fix. We recommend backing into your goals. Establishing what you need to make, what you want to make, and what you're willing to do in order to achieve those goals. Then, work with a coach (hey, we've got those too, just drop us a line! ) to help track your progress. Approaching your business with a "big picture mindset" can have a drastic impact on your success. Many agents ask if this cost vs. benefit approach of a big picture mindset will impact their level of service. My answer, "don't let it." Evaluating the cost and benefits of transactions, relationships, etc. doesn't make you an impersonal business owner, it makes you a smart business owner. Remember, the biggest payouts aren't always in the form of a check. Sometimes, it is the relationship that has all the value. 

Until next time...

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Time Flies

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Today is my step-daughter's 7th birthday. I look at her and see how much she has changed and grown over the past year, let alone the last seven and think to myself, what is it going to be like in seven more years? She'll be 14 then. Woah. Okay, I'll dial it back. 

But, as any coach might do, I draw connections. I see the last seven years and think about how my business has grown and morphed into more than I ever could have imagined. No, not every step has been planned or even predictable, but every step has been a result of previous actions. What will your business look like in seven years? What do you want it to look like? 

You see, a lot of people can't answer that question. Sure, you won't be able to predict every moment, action, or result of the next seven years, but planning and strategic actions can help determine the likelihood of accomplishing your goals. I read books, work on math problems, or answer those pressing questions that a 7-year old has swirling around in their mind with the goal of preparing Sunni for things beyond 7-years old. This isn't touting my parenting skills. Trust me, I've got plenty to work on. What I'm trying to explain here is that we have the ability to be proactive about the future, many of us are just proactive about others future instead of our own. Why is that? Why are you less important? Before you answer, let me tell you...you're not. 

So, if you're reading this and you have neglected making plans and taking actions, it is not too late. The secret is, it is never too late. Your business (and your life) thrives when you begin to take an active role in the future. You take the time to plan your actions, prepare for the outcomes, and scale accordingly. You can train with the best, but no one can ever say with full certainty that you will experience a future outcome, you can just stack the odds in your favor. An Olympic athlete spends every day training their mental, physical, and emotional capacity to win a gold medal, but only some do. They train for gold, even if they win silver. You should do the same. Train for gold. Train for goals. You still may end up just short, but at least you're on your way. 

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Doing Things That Scare You

Have you ever been up at 4 am and watched the crazy infomercials that come across TV? As a business-owner, I actually suggest watching once in awhile. Sure, some of the stuff is cheesy, catchy, and borderline crazy; but some of the products do exactly what great products should. The product solves a problem. What most of these products have in common though is that someone watching is sitting on their couch saying "I thought of that!" Here is the difference though - the person on the couch never did a damn thing about it. 

I think Eleanor Roosevelt was onto something when she gave the advice to "do one thing each day that scares you." Reading quotes like that inspires us. They ignite the fire inside us that make us feel like we can achieve anything. But then, we are faced with executing on ideas. Talk about something that scares you! Taking an idea from execution is just about as scary as it gets sometimes. Especially if you're a big thinker. Ideas inside are head are safe - from judgement, from failure, from difficulty; but when we bring our ideas out into the light of day and say "I'm going to _____!" Well then, shit gets real. 

Last week, I wrote about your team and how we all have one. What I alluded to is that your team is the group that gets you through the tough stuff. Well, your team is who gets you through the stuff that scares you. Having outside perspective can often provide much needed clarity to situations because the outsiders aren't emotionally tied to the idea. They are in execution mode - emotionally unattached, laser-focused on how to get from A to B - without much concern as for why B is so important. This is really difficult for the "idea person" to face. Why? Well, when ideas are faced with judgement, possible criticism, or worse - pivot - it can be really difficult for the person who was originally tied to the idea, but it is the key to great execution. 

You see, you don't have to be an "idea guy" to have great ideas. People have great ideas all the time. And almost just as frequently, people talk themselves out of great ideas. What you have to have is the people that help push you from idea to execution. Who are those people for you?

 

 

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We've All Got A Team

Teams have been all the rage in the real estate industry for quite a few years now. They proudly boast about the higher level of service and satisfaction that consumers will receive due to their setup, their larger marketing budgets, etc. While I understand the argument, I have come to believe that we've all got a team. Whether it is real estate or any other area of our lives, we don't tackle things alone (or at least we shouldn't). 

Over the past few weeks, our leadership team here at Bamboo Realty has been tackling "sprint work". This style of work dictates following a 12-week process to take a project from idea to execution & roll out in 12-weeks. You spend three-weeks in each phase - planning, creating, shipping, and assessing - and ultimately end with a really refined vision and end product. The process, originally taken from our CEO's coaching club, 108 Collective, has been enlightening for all of us working together. We've grown as a company, but more importantly as a team. We've been able to truly uncover each other's strengths, compensate for each other's weaknesses, and trust our guts. 

In true Bamboo fashion, we decided that we didn't want to tackle one sprint, so instead, we opted for three sprints. No big deal, right? Now, the magic of the 12-week sprint is that it is long-enough to fully think through something, but short enough that you're unable to overthink any particular element. This is a fantastic perk for us creative types. We're analytical of the details, so rather than over think them, we focus on executing them with precision, yet we're still comforted that we can adjust the dials during the Assess phase of our sprint. Last week, on the brink of beginning the Create phase, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. As I shared my concerns with our VEEP, Zach, he said something that I have taken such comfort in. He told me, "Don't worry about the amount of tasks. That's why we're here." As supported as I felt in that moment, what struck me about his comment was the truth to the statement. We're here. Zach & Sarah care as deeply about the projects that I champion as I do about theirs. We all have different roles and responsibilities within the company, but we're after the same thing - making Bamboo the best version of itself. 

So I began to wonder, is it any different for agents? I'm not sure that it is. Explain that you too, have a team. No, a solo agent doesn't have a formal team per se, but they have a team just the same. They work with photographers, appraisers, lenders, home inspectors, attorneys - the list goes on! You have a group of professionals (that you probably think are the best at what they do) working to get the best results for your clients. If you ask me, that's pretty great. A team doesn't have to mean that your checks are signed by the same folks, it just means that you're working toward a common goal. More agents need to leverage this to consumers. 

When I reflect on the greatest moments of my life - my greatest achievements, my happiest memories, and the things that I am most proud of - they have one thing in common; I wasn't alone. So, perhaps I don't have a team, perhaps agents don't have teams either, but as the Beatles put it best, "I get by with a little help from my friends." I think we all do, don't we?

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Two Words That Can Change Someone's Day

In the age of the iPhone, we're awful at delayed gratification. If you can't figure out how to tie a bowtie or cook that recipe - Google is at your fingertips with the answer, or at least the guidance. Our emails are constantly alerting us to pause our lives and respond. If we can pull ourselves away from our emails, our Twitter & Facebook notifications pull us right back in. Not to mention, with the divisiveness that our country we are often left exhausted and discouraged that we're all human and we all have hearts. 

I still believe that. Despite the hate and turmoil that is going on, I believe that we're all human, and that a thank you goes a long way in reminding each other of that. I'm not alone either. Last week, at our monthly Karma Keg event at Vita Vite in downtown Raleigh, I had the pleasure of meeting Mimi Shankin, a local professional who is inspired by the idea of gratitude. Discouraged by the political rhetoric that she saw cluttering her social media feeds, Mimi decided to do something about it. She is offering Free Thank Yous and shared this with us at our Karma Keg. 

Mimi showed up to the event with a purse full of ready-made thank you cards that were all blank inside. She had a variety of designs and a variety of cards by photography, Teresa Stephens. All of her envelopes were pre-stamped and she didn't care who you decided to write to, she just wanted you to express gratitude. Her hope was that she could begin to unite people as humans - to understand that we're all different and that we all have the right to (and often do) believe whatever we choose, but we're still human and that we should be thankful for all of the blessings that we have in each of our lives. Mimi impacted me more than she probably knows. The desire to unite us as people first runs deep within my veins. It is something that I was taught from a very early age, and something that I work very hard to instill in my step-kids. After thinking for a while about who I would write my thank you note to, I decided to write it to my parents. After all, they were the ones who taught me the original importance of giving thanks. 

Life goes by fast. There are a million things that can distract us at any given moment, but when we stop for a moment, most of us are overwhelmed by one important feeling - gratitude. Taking the time to show the people in your life how important they are to you, to say thank you, and to take a moment to show that others matter - these things are what make me proud of humanity. These are the very same things that can drive you to lead an extremely successful business. This week, I want you to stop for a few minutes and take some time to write some handwritten thank you notes. If you're really ambitious, start the habit and take the time more often than just this week. I think you will be encouraged when you watch your business take off because you said two little words. 

hank you. 

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What If You Had To?

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Some people may have the perception that coaches have it all figured out, and I am quite certain that I'm not alone when I say, we don't. We question ourselves and our abilities, too. We have fears of failure and we have to work to attack our distractions every day. What coaches have is greater perspective, not ability. We know that not everything works, we just don't believe that is reason enough not to try. 

As a coach, I work with agents every single day who question their abilities. My role helps agents find innovative ways to grow their business, hold them accountable to their goals, and ultimately - assist all of our agents in living #LivesThatThrive. I love what I do, I really do. Another part of my role is helping agents dig deep to achieve things that I know they can, when they are still unsure. 

I have quickly come to believe that our abilities truly don't limit our achievements, our minds do. Sure, it is easy to rattle off a list of why something won't work, but what happens when you ask yourself, what if it does work? What if you stop telling yourself "I don't think I can do this," and you start asking yourself "what if I had to do this?"

Soak on that for a moment. Do you know what you would achieve? Would you push a little harder at the gym? Would you go after the listing in the neighborhood that seems out of reach? Would you work just a touch harder? Would you try that creative marketing idea you've been mulling around in your head? I hope so. 

Some of you still may question how you would act in a certain scenario. But, look at moments where people had to do great things. Moments where a parent needed to act swiftly, ER doctors day-to-day, or a Coast Guard rescue. No, real estate normally isn't fast-pace, life or death moments. That said, real estate is our career. It is our have to. Have your moment. Do your thing. Take those leaps and hope that you fly. Rather, build wings so that you do fly! Our human bodies are wired for fight or flight. So I'm asking you to fight. I'm asking you - what if you had to?

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Creating Your Community

More and more, I find myself looking outside of the real estate industry for inspiration. So, this week, as we tackled the concept of branding on one of our training "B-Line" calls here at Bamboo Realty, I couldn't help but reference my latest obsession - my new Peloton bike. Those of you that follow me on social media may have noticed this new obsession; however, what you likely haven't seen, unless you're a Peloton rider yourself, is the power of the Peloton community. After just a week with my bike, the power of their community has vastly changed how I ride and my drive to keep going. 

Of course, it's all in the name though! "Peloton" is a word used to describe the main group of riders in a race. Riders group together to enhance their performance - so riders in a peloton work together, conserve energy and perform better because of one another. Hm, sounds a lot like a community to me. One might begin to wonder how a spin bike with technology for at-home on-demand rides actually enhances performance or creates community, but I tell you - this company has mastered it.

Founded in 2012 as a kickstarter, Peloton was created by people who "loved cycling but had a hard time finding a workout that consistently fit their schedules." The mere idea of this had me hooked long before I was a rider. You see, I was sold on the problem they were facing and their way of solving it. I too loved working out, but for me - life had gotten in the way. Peloton works to utilize technology to deliver an engaging experience that truly can act as a replacement for an in-person class, because it delivers the same level of experience. By bringing classes on-demand to your home, they're able to solve one of the big reasons why many of us stop working out - because we simply can't find the time. 

But, without community, motivation is easily lost. Communities not only keep us engaged, they keep us accountable. Many adults who continue to work out regularly have gym memberships merely because they need to go somewhere to actually work out. Personal trainers have made a career out of not just expert advice, but providing accountability. (Yes, real estate coaches have too). This isn't a bad thing. It's just honest. Wherever there is a void in the market, there is a business opportunity. Peloton nailed that opportunity. 

When you create a community, your brand becomes powered by it. You aren't constantly looking for new ways to tell your story - your community begins to tell your story. Communities are created through satisfied consumers who believe that your work matters. This isn't just a past client that thinks you did a good job for them. That's great, but that is a singular story. Communities are a collection of stories - a collection of paths crossing in a way that ties the individuals together through a common bond. Community is created by people who know you would care just as much about anyone you worked for, because you care just as deeply about each of your consumers. Community is created by people who care deeply about one another. By people who believe in one another. By people who want others to succeed just as much as they want themselves to succeed. Community is created by people. So, regardless of busy schedules or any other distractions, don't look past the people who you are building your community with. Each one of them has a story that is now part of your brand. Each one of them will now tell their version of your brand story. Becoming part of one another's stories is magical. It is deeply personal. Relish that opportunity. Don't waste it. 

Just last week, the Official Peloton Rider Page on Facebook hit 25,000 members and to commemorate the moment, they put out this great video from folks throughout the company to say thank you. Want to see how companies nail creating community? Click the image below to see the video

I realize that there is a big difference between Peloton and real estate, but then I wonder - is there really? Don't we all have the opportunity to create a community around a common bond? I think so. 

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Swag That Sticks

don't know about you, but I love good swag. Not the junk that someone tosses in a gift bag, but something I like to call "sticky swag." Swag is really just a vehicle to tell your brand story or start a conversation. Isn't that the goal? To get your consumers/clients to tell their story that you were a part of? I think so. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than combing through the meaningless trinkets that are brought home that don't resonate with me. Why? Because they don't make sense. They seem wasteful and thoughtless. In a world where every dollar matters - why are you wasting money on swag that doesn't tell a story or that you need a manual to figure out? Like this pen that BMW sent me a few years ago that took me 15 minutes to figure out was a pen!

So who are some companies with great swag? A few of my favorite companies with "sticky swag" are Contactually, BoomTown, and Giveback Homes. Why? Because their swag is second to none and their story always resonates. They have "sticky swag" in that none of their swag feels like they just dug through a closet in the marketing department and gave you the random junk they found. Their swag has thought, has story, and most of all - has purpose. As a real estate agent, you should have the same intent when you give away swag. You should want your swag to be useful, interesting, and meaningful. 

Take for example, Contactually. As a Contactually Ambassador, they take the time to send me swag from time to time. What is fun about Contactually is that they find a way to give away swag that you will use on a regular basis. More than that, they have swag that can save you in a pinch, like when you need to give your phone a little juice or your 5-year old forgot sunglasses on your Bahamian vacation. But, more than the physical swag, Contactually has a way of showing you that they care. Like when they sent me this kaleidoscope after I shared a very personal story of the meaning of kaleidoscopes to me on stage at Inman Connect San Francisco last year. 

Contactually understands that the impact of swag isn't always in the item, it is in the story. When I share how they took the time to not just send me an item, but seek out and have a hand-crafted item created to show me how much they value me as a customer...I think, "wow, that has impact." Are you conveying how much you value your customer's business? 

Personal connection drives growth. Just as the meaning of swag is more than the item, the reach should be too. "Sticky swag" is swag that your client's want to share and show off. These don't always have to be high-dollar items, but showing to clients that you value when they share your story and your brand is a great way to maximize your reach. 

On a recent vacation, my fiance was wearing some swag sunglasses given to us by BoomTown. The sunglasses met the basic criteria of "sticky swag" in that they were slick looking, comfortable, and something that we wanted to use. This is something that BoomTown does extremely well! Their swag is always high-quality, which is so worth it, because it has a much longer shelf-life. They also have the BEST t-shirts of any company that I have come across. 

I digress...well, as we ventured out on our first day of vacation, we had arranged to swim with the dolphins. When the trainer asked my fiance to borrow her sunglasses so Astro could take them for a spin, we were excited to watch. Luckily for us (and for BoomTown) there was a professional photographer on-site. The remarkable part of this story, besides the dolphin's ability to balance the sunglasses as he swam, was that the first thought we all had was "make sure the photographer gets a shot so that we can share this with the BoomTown team!" How amazing is that? Not only were we utilizing the swag, we had the desire to share it because the company made us feel valued. The company made us feel like that would matter to them. 

So, if you think about your swag - what makes it "sticky?" Do consumers find it useful, engaging, and important? Swag is just like content in that what you put out is a true reflection of your brand. It has to make sense. Let your swag tell your brand's story, have a little fun with it, show your consumers that your value them, and you never know - maybe they'll send you a picture of your swag on a dolphin someday. Imagine the possibilities! 

*Disclaimer: I am a Contactually client and a past BoomTown client

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Beyond Showing Up

Last week, I headed off to the grocery store. It was a rather dreary day where everyone sort of had that weather related scowl on their face. As I walked in the store, I was greeted with a lovely smile and positive energy by Janice, one of the employees. Her smile was contagious and immediately changed my entire energy. As I shopped around the store, I kept smiling and thinking to myself, "wow, she really is a great brand ambassador with that kind of energy."

As I rolled my cart to the checkout, again Janice greeted me and helped me load the contents of my cart onto the counter. As we put the last item on, she handed me a bouquet of flowers, to which I replied "Thank you ma'am, but those weren't mine." Once again, Janice greeted me with her warm smile and replied, "Everyone needs a little sunshine in their day! They're from me to you!" 

I was floored. So much so, that I sent my fiance this photo as I wheeled my cart back out to the parking lot. In that small moment, Janice shifted my entire day. It wasn't what she said or did (although both were undeniably charming), it was what she did that was beyond my expectation. She surprised and delighted. She did more than just show up. Nothing that she did fell into Janice's job description, but her action that exceeded my expectations ensured my continued business. 

One of my favorite blog posts of all time is Beyond Showing Up by Seth Godin because he explains that merely showing up isn't enough anymore. It isn't enough to meet expectations, you must exceed them. Think about that for a moment. When you go to a deli and order a sandwich, it is your expectation that after a few minutes - the person behind the counter will slide over a sandwich. Sure, the taste may exceed your expectations. The service may delight you. The price might even make you want to come back. But what if you ordered a sandwich and nothing ever crossed the counter? That is the equivalent to a homebuyer or seller utilizing you and you not helping them buy or sell a home. Getting to the closing table doesn't exceed expectations. You're merely delivering the sandwich at that point. There is so much more that goes into exceeding expectations! 

Sure, half the battle is showing up, but you realize that is only half  the battle, right? You still must "surprise and delight" as Seth puts it. You still must prove the reason why they chose you. Why they love you. Why you matter beyond your presence. When we spend our days merely meeting expectations by closing transactions, we are doing nothing to ensure our growth or customer satisfaction.

What is funny about us as professionals is that we spend countless hours and thousands (maybe millions) of dollars seeking how to set ourselves apart when the answer is right in front of us. In fact, the answer is us! It is you. Your actions are what set you apart - not some shiny object or fancy software. Your ability to connect as a human. Your ability to surprise and to delight. Your ability to overdeliver. 

o I ask you, how are you working to surprise and delight your customers each day? Are you leaving an impact? Are you meeting expectations or exceeding them? If you step back and look at your business, I think you will find that surprising and delighting your consumers is much easier than you think. 

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Committing To Yourself

Most of us began the new year with a list of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. We're all going to end 2017 in the best shape of our lives, with limitless income, and parent of the year badges. Or at least, that's how we start the year...

But if you look back to your 2016, many of you will find that you had the same setbacks, challenges, and bad habits that you had in 2015 or even 2014! You are keeping your problems year after year despite setting out with the best of intentions. Herein lies the one of the fundamental problems that we have with achieving our goals. Many of us make goals - even writing them down, but don't make the changes necessary to achieve those goals - so, we end up in the same place we started. We speak powerful words, but we don't commit to powerful action. Why is that? Author Lisa Jacobs puts it very simply, "If you wanted to travel from Pittsburgh to New York, you can't sit down on a park bench in Pittsburgh and wonder why you're not getting to New York." Yes, while many of us laugh at this sentiment and think "of course you can't!" that same group is found wondering why they haven't achieved their goals year after year. Why, you ask? Because you're sitting on the park bench! Because you are being a spectator in your own life instead of getting on the field! 

This weekend, my 5 year old (5 1/2 year old if you were to ask him) went to basketball practice. This is a new activity for him that he has only been doing for about two months. He's still learning, but when his coach told the kids that they should practice making 200 shots per day, this 5 year old didn't take it lightly. After being at practice on Saturday, he couldn't wait to tell me how he was going to make his 200 shots every day because he wants to get "really good." But then something truly wonderful happened. He got off the park bench! Ryland spent nothing short of 3-4 hours outside sinking shots. He missed more than he made at first, but as the time went on, he started sinking more than he made. He was determined to get to his 200. Shortly after 6:00pm. I stood in the darkness shooting with him and he made his 200th shot! I caught the aftermath on video! 

What is remarkable about this wasn't the 200 shots on Saturday afternoon, although that was undeniably remarkable. Already proud of his commitment to his goals, I gushed with pride as he woke up Sunday morning ready to shoot his 200 baskets. Not because I reminded him, but because he made a commitment to himself. This is what active progress toward your goals looks like. This is what commitment is. I don't tell you this story to brag (although, it is certainly a brag worthy step-parenting moment). I tell you this story because this commitment displayed by a 5 year old is more than what many adults commit to. Kids are constantly learning, growing, and most importantly - doing. As adults, we could learn a thing or two from them. I know that I have. 

If you want to break those bad habits - finally lose those 5 lbs, grow your business, be a happier version of yourself, or even become a better basketball player - you have to get off the park bench. You have to commit to your 200 shots with action, not just words. And when you feel like you have an excuse as for why you can't, watch the video of the 5 year old who is making 200 shots every day and tell me why you can't accomplish your goals, too.

So, what's your plan today? 

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Intentional Happiness

I've always been sort of a morning person. By that I simply mean that I naturally wake up early. What I wasn't doing was designing my mornings to make an impact. I was going through the motions and things were getting accomplished, but I might as well have not been present. I wasn't engaging with the kids as they ate their breakfast, instead I was cleaning up the mess that really could wait 5 more minutes until they finished. I wasn't reading and continuing to challenge myself to learn. I wasn't working out, I was chugging my coffee and immediately sitting down at my computer or rushing out the door, convinced that I was being effective by merely showing up. I was doing, but I wasn't being intentional with my time. You see, showing up isn't enough. You have to do more than just show up. Your work, your clients, your kids, your dog, etc. expect you to show up. How do you expect to make a difference by merely meeting expectations? Moreover, does your presence even matter when it is just your physical presence, not all of you? I say, no. 

Last fall, I decided to choose to make mornings a more intentional time. I was the heaviest that I had ever been in my life, lacked the self-confidence that I had once oozed, sleep deprived, and always wondering why I never felt like there was enough time in the day. It was bizzare since I felt so fulfilled in so many areas and in so many of my relationships. What I realized was that despite my attempts, my happiness had to start with me and my choices, not the joy that I found in others. So...I chose to give up coffee, which may seem ludacris to most, but was very intentional for me. I wanted to break out of the routine of needing something to get by so that I could focus more on what I was doing. And I did. By removing part of my routine, I was able to fill it with intentional action. Yes, the first week was awful. I would melt at the mere smell of a freshly roasted brew, I was probably pretty irritable, and I thought, "what a dumb idea to replace coffee with a workout!" as I pedaled the bike still half asleep. But, I was determined to find the time to be the better version of myself. So, I committed. I stopped complaining about being achy and tired from my lack of coffee. I started finding the time to be on that bike every single morning. I missed some days (hey, we're not perfect), but I worked really hard to make sure that I was creating a habit, not just a fling. For me, it wasn't about the weight or even really my self-confidence. It was about making a difference in my day. It was about choosing to do instead of dream. 

Sure, it was scary carving out an hour when I wasn't sure that an extra hour in my day even existed. A big "a-ha" moment for me was when I realized that I didn't have to spend the time 100% focused on pedaling. After all, pedaling is a pretty mindless task in and of itself. So, I found other ways to use the time. I found a way to balance carving out an hour of each day without losing it somewhere else. I often spend my rides on emails or reading a book that helps me in my work and taking notes, watching recorded webinars, making my morning calls, making lists on my phone of things I'd like to tackle that day, or even just laughing with the kids as they play Legos on the bonus room floor and I hammer out my 10 miles in the corner. It has been fascinating because I am expanding my horizons in more than just my workout. I'm reading again! A lot. I'm writing again. A lot. I'm creating again. A lot. I am finding so much uncovered wonder in this version of myself.

So how do you magically uncover an hour in your day? Well, it is a whole lot easier than it seems. In fact, we probably have hours of our weeks that exist and aren't being used effectively. We just have to look. When creating a habit, we thrive off predictability and routine. A lot of coaches may recommend creating habits by tackling the task at the same time each day. Unlike so many coaches recommend, I rarely ride the bike at the exact same time each day, I merely focus on tackling this task in the morning - before the day has the opportunity to go off the rails. Four months later and almost 15 lbs lighter, I feel on top of the world. You see, it has very little to do with the actual weight (although that part admittedly feels good too). I now find myself being an active participant in my own life. I find myself being more calculated about my time and how I choose to spend it, more present in the moments that I choose to spend a certain way, and more effective at work. I am better able to nurture my relationships and nurture my career, because I'm finally nurturing myself. 

By spending time in the morning with intention and focusing on things that make me feel good, I am able to be intentional about the rest of my day. Do you have a task or goal that has been looming for a while? An unfinished project? Try carving out some time each morning to devote to that. I think you'll be surprised at how quickly things get accomplished. 

So, what are you going to tackle tomorrow morning?

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