The Intersection of Philanthropy and my 5th Mystery Book Release: Thoughts about 2021

Shame. 

That’s the predominant feeling others have tried to invoke upon me the past few weeks.

It hurts so much, so deeply. 

It just breaks my heart.

What does this have to do with the title of my post — philanthropy and my 5th mystery book? Let me back up and explain what I’ve been working on in 2021.

2021 has been a pivotal year so far. After years of privately investing and funding various causes, I decided to bring more attention to the work I’ve been doing. I formed a company (LLC) to reflect my effort and philanthropic interests: Kardos Jusino Enterprises.  

Please note that my LLC work/formation is in addition to the years of writing I’ve also been pursuing, as I have three motivational books written and published under my name, and I’ve just written and released my 5th mystery book under my pen name (Lizzie Benton). And, at times, my writing yields to consulting and coaching for individuals who need or want more support to achieve personal or professional goals. As an aside, it continues to amaze me that my writing has international reach (see the screen shot below from my sales on the retailer Kobo):

In terms of my philanthropic focus, we have been supporting a number of causes or organizations over the years. In addition to supporting scholarships at New Jersey Institute of Technology, we have also been supporting She’s the First, St. James the Apostle Church, charity: water, CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Coalition, in addition to many others when requested. Giving was always something my husband and I valued in our marriage; when we were newly married we even sponsored a child for a number of years through Compassion International

Bringing more attention to my interest in giving, however, has yielded a varied number of effects, particularly because it has opened up many unique conversations with others — and it has also made me more vulnerable to criticism. 

The interesting thing about being a donor to a number of organizations, is that I have the unique opportunity to compare how organizations interact with me. I have some personal observations about how effective these organizations are — and I determine their effectiveness based on how “joyful” I feel to give to them. Of course, I believe in the causes themselves. But, at the end of the day, life is often dictated by how someone, or an organization, makes you feel. If I feel an organization is not meeting my expectations, whether that’s in stewardship of my funds, or their interaction with me, I might adjust my contributions accordingly. 

One outstanding model is the She’s the First organization. Co-founded by my sister’s college friend, Tammy Tibbetts, She’s the First does an exceptional job engaging with donors, especially since they offer town halls, and they provide regular and timely updates on how my funds are being used, etc. I also find that they are a little more in touch with what my generation needs or expects, whether it’s in terms of how to accept payment, or concerning engagement/interaction. A few months ago, I shared an article on LinkedIn about how female donors often want to give not necessarily for the recognition, but for the engagement with the organization. I suspect millennials in general like this as well, based on my interaction with others and conversations with friends. 

This brings me to the beginning of my post, the shame that is being inflicted upon me. Recently, I participated in a number of difficult conversations, particularly where I expressed my concerns and raised the idea of adjusting my contributions based on my dissatisfaction. The organization, instead of saying, “How can I make it up to you?” or “How can I make this better?” resorted to shaming me. Clearly, there was something wrong with me, because they said they didn’t understand why I would adjust my contributions due to various disappointments in my treatment, communication, or interaction, that I should be donating based on the cause only. This spiraled out of control, where others heard about this, and jumped on the bandwagon to shame me even further.

This saddens me so deeply. So much so, I don’t think the individuals involved realize how much it hurts me. I honestly don’t think they can relate to how seriously I take things, or how I put my whole heart into every single thing I pursue. So, this has been my recent personal challenge, trying to maintain the joy in giving while feeling shamed. I’m just not sure I can get there, despite how much I believe in the overall cause. After all, I am a human being. And I respond much better when I feel cared for. I do believe that philanthropy should be a two-way street, and when I feel genuinely cared for — meaning not just in empty words, but appreciation shown through action — it’s easier for me to give more generously. But in some cases recently, it feels very one-way, to the point where I feel like I am “not enough.” I am doing as much as I can, whether it’s with my time, or financially, and so it cuts so deeply, right through my heart.

So how do I move forward? This has been the question in my mind recently. I’ve been simultaneously focusing on how I can provide value in other ways, in other areas of my life. One way I am able to do this is through my writing, particularly my mysteries. I have several contacts who, to my surprise, absolutely enjoy my writing. It’s an escape for them, and it provides them joy. What better way to provide value to someone’s life than to give them a few hours of joy, especially since time is a limited resource? 

Therefore, I am working on my sixth mystery. My fifth mystery, just released in August, was unique in that it somewhat paralleled my life the past few years. The main character, a PhD chemical engineer turned cafe owner/amateur sleuth (sound familiar? 😉 ), is trying to decide if she should continue teaching part-time at the university. I similarly had to make this decision a few years ago; in fact, my decision to pause my part-time teaching was in part to allow me more time to focus on my family, as well as to strengthen my focus on my other pursuits such as philanthropy. It was at that time that we formalized our first scholarship at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and the seed was more firmly planted that funding scholarships would become a stronger interest for me, especially since I benefited from scholarships years ago in college. So, I must say, I’m absolutely delighted that the inception of that scholarship has led to my support of two additional scholarships at the university, and that I’ve also recently joined the Newark College of Engineering Board of Visitors, allowing me an opportunity to volunteer and help the students in a different way.

In addition to working on my sixth mystery, and my volunteer work at  NJIT, I’ve also mapped out future self-improvement books, created covers for future self-improvement and other mystery books, and spent significant time strategizing some of my goals and work for the next couple years. While I am disappointed and sad about the incident I discussed here in the post, I remain interested in philanthropy as a whole, and will continue to focus where I feel there is the best fit in terms of my personality — the seriousness in everything I pursue, and my heart — and the organization.

Finally, I’ve made some updates to my website. The email subscription service I was using under Google Feedburner has been discontinued, so you will need to sign up again on the main part of the site if you’d like blog updates. 

I hope all of you are safe and healthy, and I wish you all well, as always. Thank you for reading.

Please join me at this special upcoming virtual event—Celebration of Hope: An Evening with NJIT Students

Filming of Celebration of Hope Event

Dear Friends,

In November 2002, I had the great honor and privilege of speaking at the 2002 NJIT Celebration event as the undergraduate student speaker. I could not have foreseen that nearly 20 years later, I would have the sincere honor and pleasure of participating in the upcoming March 25, 2021 virtual event—Celebration of Hope: An Evening with NJIT Students—as a three-time NJIT alumna and founder of the Kardos and Jusino Family Annual Scholarship in Memory of John F. Papetti, Sr. 

In preparation for this virtual event, I had the opportunity to speak with the very talented and outstanding NJIT chemical engineering senior student, Sydney Sweet. Our conversation was so very special and meaningful; I invite you all to view our touching and impactful conversation during the event so that you can hear all the extraordinary things Sydney has accomplished during her time at NJIT, as well as listen to the other heartwarming and amazing stories of NJIT students and graduates. 

Please join me in viewing this very special event at 7 pm on March 25, 2021 by registering at http://njit.edu/hope-regreg or by clicking “register” on the information page at http://njit.edu/hope (the program can be viewed at 7 pm on March 25th at http://njit.edu/hope and will be available for a limited time following the live broadcast).

NJIT is, and will always be, part of my heart; I know you will enjoy this event and I am so proud to share it with you.

#njit #njitcelebration #njitalumni

Self-Improvement Giveaway (plus Update)

announcing Giveaway for personal development resources

Happy New Year! I hope all of you are doing well, and I am pleased to announce that the Better You Bundles for Good Giveaway is now open for entry! I am honored to participate as an author/course creator once again. There are three chances to win $3300 worth of personal development courses and resources. There is no cost to enter. Please visit the Giveaway page to see all the products included (note: my Optimize Your Productivity Course is included in the bundle!)

To learn more about the bundle (and the charities it supports), please visit this page: Better You Bundles for Good Giveaway.

Other News:

I have not posted in some time, mainly because 2019 was a year of family focus, reflection and learning. Some highlights from 2019 are as follows:

  • I had the opportunity to participate in the Indie Author Day at my local library in October. I enjoyed meeting and connecting with other local authors in New Jersey and look forward to participating again in the future! I now have four cozy mystery novellas under my pen name in addition to the three self-help titles. I will continue to explore expanding my writing and creativity in 2020.
  • My husband and I continue to sponsor the Kardos and Jusino Family Annual Scholarship in Memory of John F. Papetti, Sr. at NJIT.
  • I successfully simplified and redesigned the book promotion site I run (Bookwerm). I’m happy to support fellow authors. I would like to grow this site eventually so that I may provide more help going in the future.

Those are just a few of the main highlights of what I focused on in 2019 outside of my family. I’m also always learning more about finances, investing, etc. to best support our household.

Again, I hope all of you are doing well. Also, I encourage you to enter the giveaway, especially considering the charitable efforts behind the bundle that John Bardos has created (note: similar last name by sheer coincidence! I did not hear of John until he first contacted me to participate previously).

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year!

Be Gentle on Yourself (and disciplined at the same time): Notes on 2018, the Scholarship We Started and Moving Forward in 2019

First of all, I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy holiday season. I am writing today because I want to touch base with you as we cross over into 2019, particularly because I’d like to share what was going on in 2018 (in my life) and how I expect to apply what I’ve learned going forward. I hope my insights may help you, too, especially if you are feeling criticized in your life or you are holding back on pursuing a dream.

Many of you know that I have two children (my son is now 5 years old and my daughter is 22 months old). I consider myself primarily to be a “stay-at-home” mom at the moment. I don’t work a normal, full-time job. When I’ve worked since my son was born, it’s been part-time as an adjunct professor on and off, when my schedule allowed (update: I’m taking a break from teaching for the foreseeable future to maximize my family and personal time).

I mostly spend my days preparing my son to go to school, dropping him off, taking care of my daughter during the day, picking my son up, helping with homework/reading, playing, cleaning my house, cooking, and anything-moms-typically-do type of work. My “off-hours” (namely when my kids are sleeping early in the morning or late at night), or on the weekends when my husband can help with the kids, are typically the only moments I can do anything else, and that usually means some form of writing or consulting-related work. Some of you have read my non-fiction books or have taken my online courses/coaching. If you’ve read or participated in anything I’ve done there, it was all prepared during those “off hours!”

The aforementioned writing/courses I started a few years ago were mostly borne out of a passion for helping people. Earlier this year my husband and I started a scholarship at my alma mater, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). It’s entitled: The Kardos and Jusino Family Annual Scholarship in Memory of John F. Pappetti, Sr. I’m very pleased that we started this scholarship in memory of my grandfather, someone who always encouraged my education. I mention this because around the time the scholarship was being set up, someone had asked me a number of questions about why or how I got started in writing. My initial response without even thinking was, “Because I would have wanted this advice years ago.” I truly think about what I didn’t know, especially in my early 20s, and wish someone had explained to me how to be successful. Note that I did receive some help and support from mentors and people who cared about me over the years, but I would have loved to read a few pamphlets or guides with a succinct framework years ago! Therefore, I wrote the book that would have resonated with the younger version of me.

When I first embarked on my author journey in early 2015, I had no idea where it would lead. At that point I didn’t even anticipate an online course or more than one book. I wrote Optimize for Victory on the heels of earning my Ph.D. and working in the chemical industry, mainly as a summary of what I had learned and thought could be most helpful for people to be successful. But embarking on that author journey opened up a whole new world to me outside of academia and industry. Soon I found myself following podcasts, YouTube, blogs, etc. of other authors as I became interested in the changing and evolving publishing industry. I learned quite a bit about marketing books, writing, and more. Despite being busy taking care of the household, teaching part-time, and a very difficult pregnancy (with my daughter; she turned out to be a very healthy baby but I needed to rest for nine months as we waited for her arrival!), I turned out three non-fiction books total, one major “premium” course and also a number of other courses within my own online school, not to mention that I learned how to create a website, etc., all stuff I never did before. Now, over the years on and off, I’ve ignored my own advice and suffered from “comparisonitis” — namely comparing book sales and reviews. Other non-fiction authors have either yielded more or less success than I have. But I’m happy to say I’m finally starting to get over worrying about what other people are doing, or even worrying about what people think of me (I have had to navigate many difficult discussions of what I’m “doing” now post PhD; I’m getting better about not worrying about what people think and standing behind what I want and my values, but it hasn’t been easy). I can do this if I follow the advice I provide in my own work: just focus on what I’m doing each day and only compare myself to the Lisa from the previous day. As long as I’m learning and improving, that’s all that matters, especially if I can help a few people along the way (readers or course participants).

I’ve talked about the growth mindset before, mainly because it’s something I have personally had to work on–I could relate to the pain some of my readers’ experienced about “not being enough” or not being “perfect enough” or things like that. If you are struggling with that, as I have in the past, I would suggest that you remind yourself that no one has ever walked in your shoes, only you have. Further, no one has the unique combination of talents or achievements that you have. And if you start to question your achievements, I bet if you listed out a few of the things you managed to do the past five years, you’d surprise yourself.

I mention all of the above because I want to set the stage, or context, for what I pursued the past year, that of becoming a fiction author. I had moments since 2015 where I felt I wasn’t successful enough as a “non-fiction” author or “consultant/coach/educator” online. I would remind myself of everything I had going on in my personal life but it still wouldn’t quell my concern. But then I remembered the key reason I earned my Ph.D. after eight difficult years navigating all kinds of issues: perseverance. How long it takes you to do something doesn’t matter. As trite as it sounds, it is about the journey and who you become in the process.

What happened in 2018 is that I pivoted. I did not give up on non-fiction or helping people, but I decided to test my own systems in a new area and fulfill a dream I’ve always had — that of becoming a fiction author as a completely unknown person. I put the non-fiction on hold, not indefinitely, however. It will be there when I’m ready to return to it. In the meantime, I created a pen name that I did not share with anyone (except my husband at first and now just a handful of people). I started from scratch completely. And keep in mind I haven’t had any kind of English or literature course since high school (some individuals have actually criticized that I shouldn’t be writing non-fiction either for that reason and that I’m “embarrassing” myself, but I’m getting better at ignoring them. I recently heard a quote by New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Hollis: “Don’t let someone in the cheap seats have an expensive opinion in your life.”).

I managed to teach myself to write “culinary cozy mysteries” and published two titles, selling hundreds of copies (to my surprise); the third title will release on Christmas day and I plan to write and publish the fourth in the coming weeks. If I were to compare myself to some of the Amazon cozy mystery authors who have 50+ titles, I would feel like a failure. But if I didn’t try at all in 2018 I would have zero titles, no sense of how to write any kind of fiction, and most importantly, no perspective for what’s possible. I can’t explain how much I’ve learned and how the world of writing and publishing is even deeper and holds more possibilities than I realized.

I’m still learning how to improve my craft. But I’m keeping in mind that this is brand new for me, and most importantly, I’ve finally learned to stop worrying about what people think and focus on producing a creative piece of work (and enjoying it in the process). Further, I try to remind myself that time is our most valuable resource. If someone was able to enjoy the few hours they took to read my book (fiction or non-fiction), that it elevated their mood or helped them cope with a difficult period of their life, then I’ve managed to add value to that person’s life, and that’s not to be underestimated. Time is something we’ll never get back, and it’s important to try to appreciate and enjoy what we have left.

This is turning out to be a long blog post, but I wanted to provide the entire context to you for a few reasons. In summary, my point is to be gentle on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about what you have or haven’t done in life. We can’t change the past. But we can focus on the present and the future, and you can decide what you want to learn and improve going forward. It doesn’t mean you have to have rockstar success at first. While we don’t know why things take time to come to fruition, I do believe “all things work together for our good” (essentially Romans 8:28) and eventually it all works out, we just can’t see it now. I think as long as we are always learning and creating, and not just consuming, we are adding value and that’s important. Further, to do that you do need a level of discipline. That doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up. Don’t underestimate the power of a few minutes here and there. Try to work everyday on something you want to achieve, even if for just five minutes. It adds up. The five minutes don’t need to be perfect or consist of perfect work. Having anything is better than nothing (and then refine as necessary).

That said, remember my first point: be gentle on yourself. If you’re not gentle on yourself, people won’t be gentle on you. Treat yourself as you would like to be treated. That doesn’t mean being lazy or a couch potato all the time, but it does mean it’s good to try to add value and be of service when you can, but also take care of yourself, too.

These are my end of the year musings for 2018. In essence, I tried a new challenge (fiction), tested my success systems in the process, and I plan to continue to write fiction and non-fiction going forward in my “off hours” (as explained) and helping people whenever possible.

(TL;DR — In case you skipped to the end)

I sincerely wish you the best this holiday season and moving forward into 2019. If you have a goal or dream but haven’t been able to achieve it (yet), don’t despair. Carving out even just five minutes a day is an achievement and more than someone else might do. After a year or two you might be surprised you completed whatever it may be. The point is to be consistent and persevere. Don’t make a resolution and give up. Just keep going and you’ll get there. Have faith in yourself. I have faith in you.

Morning Journal vs the Tracking System?

In last week’s post, I talked about the approach I’ve added to my morning routine, particularly the process of filling out a morning journal. A section of that journal is focused on writing out your most important objective (i.e. goal, project, or desire) to improve your focus on your goal. I explained why in last week’s post.

 

I want to address this point because I discuss the ideals of goals vs. systems in my book, Optimize for Victory. While I think it’s important to set goals, I caution people to ensure they do not get overly focused on their goals without having a consistent system or process in place to achieve them. In many cases, we can get overwhelmed by the idea that something is missing in our lives, hence the goal; in fact, we can get so focused on the lack of it, that the stress related to achieving that goal can backfire on us. We may end up putting it off or not achieving it at all.

 

Therefore, I recommend a hybrid approach in my book. I do not think adding the morning journal opposes that. If anything, I think it complements the Tracking System I talk about in my book, a system for getting things done. Crystallizing your focus on what’s important through the morning can help you gain clarity while you continue to work with your robust system to achieve your projects and dreams.

 

Additional Resources:

 

Don’t forget to get cash back when you shop through Ebates this holiday season!
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

 

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

Optimize Your Productivity: The Counterintuitive Approach to Get More Done in Less Time (Today)

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

Course: Design Your Success Academy

Check out my #AmazonInfluencer Gift Guide page!

Reflection and Morning Journal (free download)

As we approach the end of 2017, it’s natural to look back on the year and review our personal progress. We ask ourselves: did we achieve the goals and resolutions we committed to at the beginning of 2017?

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I did not for a number of reasons. Those reasons range from personal struggle (feeling sick/immobile in my pregnancy, giving birth to my second child, mourning the death of my grandfather, etc.) to shifting and changing my mind on some of the ideas and goals I had. The latter is okay, by the way. As I have mentioned in previous posts, it’s important to take action. It’s better to take action and “course correct” along the way than to be completely idle and do nothing. On the other hand, it’s also okay to rest and “sharpen the saw” (as Stephen Covey has said) for a period of time, if needed. In full transparency: I actually had a mixture of action in some instances, and rest other times, depending on what was specifically going on in my life at different times over the past year.

 

(And let’s not forget that a newborn gets up multiple times a night, and she still wakes up at least once per night now!)

 

While some of my lack of progress was due to “course correction” or personal struggle, I must acknowledge that a portion of it was also due to lack of discipline at times. I didn’t have the self-discipline to take action in some cases due to “analysis paralysis” and in other cases I got off-course in my personal habits. Admittedly, I got away from my own Design Your Success system after the birth of my daughter. And I paid a small price for it (i.e. I didn’t achieve as much as I would have liked; but, to keep perspective—it’s not the end of the world!).

 

What I experienced is natural for everyone, especially when you’re dealing with major life changes. The important thing to do now going forward, however, is to acknowledge where you are and then to move forward. And this can be done very easily and in small, easy steps.

 

To address my own situation, I started doing the following:

 

 

  • I started Using a “Morning Journal” to solidify my morning routine, to help optimize my mindset and my day (more about that below).

 

 

  • I am working on my mind and brain again by listening to audiobooks, reading or taking in visual content that is aligned with who I want to be in my free time (mentioned in this interesting video presented by Impact Theory featuring Tom Bilyeu and neuroscientist Moran Cerf, Ph.D.):

Warning: do not listen around small children; sometimes Impact Theory’s videos use adult language.

 

The Morning Journal is a new addition for me, but powerful. More and more anecdotal evidence (and perhaps even scientific – I need to do more research) is coming out in articles and books about “millionaire morning” routines.

 

I set up my morning journal to address the following:

 

  • I am: This gets me in the right mindset in terms of the kind of person I want to be for the day (i.e. “I am focused. I am disciplined. etc.)

 

  • I will: I physically write out my most important goal or project: “I, Lisa Kardos, will…” (right now my goal is around a new course I’m creating!)

 

  • Gratitude: it’s important to optimize my mind and realize the blessings in my life, so that I can start my day from a place of thankfulness instead of bitterness.

 

  • Morning reflection: This gives me a chance to flesh out my thoughts or get them “out of my system,” so-to-speak.

 morning_journalmorning_journal

Some people may balk (or like) the I will section because they resemble affirmations. In all honesty, I do not care how they are labeled. Some people will call them affirmations, others will call them goals, and some people will question the number or the wording. I look at them as a tool, because it’s the same way I learned math or other concepts in grade school: writing something down a number of times forced me to focus; the repetitive nature helped drill those concepts into my subconscious.

 

Some would argue it may not be the best way to get focused or disagree with the approach, but right now I’m looking for results and it’s working for me. Interestingly, Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) looks at it the same way. Again, this is just a tool to get focused by working with our reticular activating system in the brain.

 

So if you are interested in increasing your focus and setting up your day for success, you are welcome to download the Morning Journal here (free; no opt-in required). I will probably write more about the morning routine in the future, but this is a start!

 

Also note that the “Daily Journal” (used in the evening) is still available for download here. And as always, feel free to check out additional resources below.

 

(Note that there is special holiday pricing for my books on Amazon and Kobo; Amazon should update the price to $0.99 later today!)

 

I leave you with the peaceful view I woke up to today (it snowed here in New Jersey!)

peaceful_winter_photo

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

 

Optimize Your Productivity: The Counterintuitive Approach to Get More Done in Less Time (Today)

 

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy

Check out my #AmazonInfluencer Gift Guide page!

Thoughts for Today: Their Shoes and Your Mind

Today I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had recently about two seemingly-unrelated topics that have been on my mind (and they are actually related, as I will explain).

 

One topic I’ve been thinking about is due to my work with students and young professionals for their careers. I often find that individuals are so stressed and concerned about getting a job that they keep thinking in terms of what’s best for them; they’re not necessarily thinking about the potential employer. In other words, they are not putting themselves in the shoes of the potential employer who is thinking, “Why should I hire this person?”

 

While it sounds straightforward to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, very few people do it. They think they’re bringing out the most important points in an interview, but it really takes a level of “mind mastery” to put aside your own ideas and to put yourself in the shoes of the manager.

 

The manager wants to hire someone who is going to make his or her job easier. That means hiring someone who can think ahead (anticipate problems and propose solutions, as an example). It’s extremely hard for people to get past the anxiousness they feel in order to achieve that level of thinking, and it’s especially hard to demonstrate that in an interview. The ones who can are typically the ones who can get the jobs or get the promotions. I know from first-hand experience after interviewing hundreds of candidates at career fairs or in my office for jobs over the years. Often their resumes looked good, but many of the interviews suffered.

 

This brings me to the second topic, that of “mind mastery.” Our minds are what make us so powerful as humans, and yet we can be limited by our minds at times. This is one of the reasons I study this area so much. I don’t like being limited by my mind, and I’m always looking for ways to feel like I’m in charge of my mind (and not the other way around)! As an example, if I wake up and I know I’m supposed to work on something, but I say, “I don’t feel like doing it today,” and consequently don’t work on it, I’m a victim of my mind. Most people wouldn’t look at it that way, but I do.

 

While this can get into a lot of philosophical thought (who am I if I’m a victim of my mind, for instance!), the bottom line is that we can often get hung up by our minds. Many people will say these are due to habits, willpower, etc., but it in the end, it all comes down to getting past our minds. Working with our habits and willpower are actually methods that can help us. So if we can figure out how to get past the voice telling us not to do something, using some of those techniques, we’ll have won. And getting back to the interview example, if we can master our mind to the point of putting our own agenda aside and demonstrating how we can provide value to someone, we’ll have succeeded in the interview.

 

I don’t have all the answers but I will continue to study this area and also help others, because to me this is one of the trickiest things to manage in life (in terms of success or overcoming a challenge).

 

So the next time you say, “I don’t feel like doing this” yet you feel frustrated that you’re not achieving what you want, remind yourself who’s in charge 😉 and in the future we’ll get into more techniques on how to master your mindset to overcome your challenges.

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

Optimize Your Productivity: The Counterintuitive Approach to Get More Done in Less Time (Today) 

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

Course: Design Your Success Academy

Check out my #AmazonInfluencer page!

Happy Thanksgiving! (2017)

I just want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful to you, my readers and course participants. Also, I know that this can be a frenzied week and time of year. Thanksgiving is intended to be a time of counting our blessings and grounding ourselves in our gratitude, however it can be hectic preparing for the meal and celebration (and also a little crazy with Black Friday the next day!).

 

If I start to feel stressed during weeks like this one, I just remind myself to “draw the box.” I think of the comments and issues from others as being outside my box, and I remind myself of the idea: what can I do in this moment. What can I control?

 

Just taking a breath and thinking about the box produces a subtle but powerful shift; by shifting my attention off of my anxiety and stress, I can transition to a healthier mental and emotional state.

 

If you are feeling stressed this week, try to draw the box (more info in Optimize for Victory). I hope that helps bring you some peace.

 

Again, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with loved ones.

 

Sincerely,

Lisa

 

Additional Resources:

 

Books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy

This is too much. Where do I begin…?

Cultivate Good Habits.

 

Improve Your Mindset.

 

Create a Vision.

 

Hustle.

 

Be Disciplined.

 

Set Goals.

 

Be Productive.

 

Wake up Early.

 

Do this, don’t do that…

 

A bit overwhelming, right?

 

All the above concepts are touted in the areas of personal and professional development. In some ways, it’s almost a vicious cycle. People seek help in order to take the next step—to overcome a problem or to improve a particular area, but it can be paralyzing.

 

In the process of trying to take the next step to improve, you hear all these things you are supposed to be doing, and in doing so, you deepen your state of inaction—because you don’t know where to start. You may think, “Well I don’t have a vision, so I’d better create that, but then I have to improve my productivity, and then I have to improve my mindset…so I can’t really improve anything until I fix all those,” and in the end, you wind up doing nothing—because you need to return to your survival mode. How can anyone improve all those at the same time and see a difference in their lives the next day?

 

And in many cases, people actually feel worse about themselves, because they start taking inventory of all the things they are not doing. And that certainly doesn’t lead to individuals overcoming their challenges or achieving their dreams more easily!

 

One of the most common questions I hear is with regard to not knowing how to take the next step.  It’s very easy to get caught up in realizing everything you’re not doing as described above, and that can be justification for not making expected progress in your life. This is why I am focused on resources that can help you take action. It’s even one of the reasons I use the word “optimize” because it’s like what we do in engineering—let’s yield a high quality product with minimal cost (i.e. yielding an even higher quality product for 100x the cost, in time/money, may not be profitable nor will it provide you the supply you need for your customers tomorrow!).

 

If we’re looking to improve something, we don’t necessarily want to take a year to get our systems in place; we typically need a different result as soon as possible and need to “optimize” the current situation for the better. And while it’s important to have good systems in place, realistically people need to see improvement more quickly. Therefore, I suggest taking action as soon as possible (while keeping in mind the overall system you’re aiming for in the future). I’m concerned that if you work on the system and don’t take action immediately, you’ll get so focused on perfecting the system that nothing will actually get done in the process!

 

Over time, you’ll find that the small improvements will compound, which is often discussed in the Kaizen approach. And if you do this intentionally, knowing the overall system or place you want to wind up, you’ll find that life helps you “course correct” along the way. But you can’t “course correct” unless you start taking action.

 

Therefore, if you’re in the boat of not knowing what to do next, check out my baby steps article for reference, and also keep the following in mind:

  1. Just start working on what makes sense. While it’s important to take time to reflect and take a step back, don’t do that for days on end while waiting for an epiphany. Take a break and then get back to the task at hand.

  2. If you’re not happy with your current situation and want a change in your life, keep doing #1 while also investing in yourself: take a few minutes each day to think about your overall system.

Sometimes when I present the above two points, an individual will respond to me and say, “Yes, but what makes sense for the next step?”

 

Naturally this is something best discussed in person. It’s very personal, but it may help for you to use some of the tools discussed in Success Blueprint or Design Your Success Academy. It’s hard to cover all the iterations of where you could be in your life or imagine what your situation is. But my quick, general advice would be:

 

  1. Continue what you’re currently doing and just keep trying to do your best at it until you’re clear on your new goals. For instance, if you’re in a career you don’t like, keep working at it while you start preparing for a new one (taking online courses to increase your skills, posting your resume, etc.)

  2. If you’re stuck not necessarily in terms of wanting a career change, but you want to feel better about  yourself in terms of discipline or productivity, try to implement one small change while you continue to invest in yourself (described above). For instance, if you can’t bring yourself to start something you don’t want to do, create a spreadsheet (described in Optimize for Victory) and track your progress on simply working on it, with no expectation to how much time you spend on it. Your goal is to ensure the time you spent on it each day is simply not zero (0).

 

To wrap up, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s understandable. It’s easy to “go down the rabbit hole” so-to-speak when you’re looking to make a change. Start small and enjoy the compound effect of small improvements each day as you keep your intention about the new person you want to be (or new career, or whatever it is your heart desires!).

 

And one final note: I’ve noticed that as hard as it is to start something I don’t feel keen on doing, it typically doesn’t seem as bad once I’ve begun it, and I often feel a sense of relief and a release of tension for at least finally starting it!

 

Additional Resources:

Books:

Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams

Success Blueprint: Get Out of Survival Mode, Regain Control of Your Life, and Get Ahead at Work and in Life

 

Course: Design Your Success Academy