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.

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!

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

Lisa’s Review: Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion

Last week I had the pleasure of reading Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion on my Kindle by Jesse Warren Tevelow. If you’re stuck in a rut, or want to read something motivational to “get you going,” this might be a good read for you. Currently, it’s only $0.99 on Kindle. Read more below:

 

Hustle Kindle Book

 

Title: Hustle: The Life Changing Effects of Constant Motion

 

Author: Jesse Warren Tevelow

 

Formats: Kindle, Paperback, Audible (side note for Audible — you may want to save your free book or credit for a more expensive title as it’s currently only $4.87; be sure to check the price in case it’s changed, especially if you want to purchase directly)

 

Reviews: 4.6/5 Stars (Amazon)

 

Why I Recommend: Many people have “analysis paralysis.” They may have trouble moving forward and may stay “settled” because they have fear, are uncomfortable, or simply over-analyze before moving forward. This book will get you in the mindset of gaining momentum so that you can instead reap the benefits of gaining insights as you make significant progress in your endeavors.

 

Warnings: For those who want to take action and move forward. It’s not a long text, but just long enough to get you in the spirit of moving forward.

 

Structure of the Book (and highlights): The book is divided into 15 chapters:

 

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Author cites examples of well-known people who have demonstrated what “hustling” really means.
  • Key: “Constant motion delivers life-changing results.”
  • There is value in creating momentum.

Chapter 2:  Where Does Hustle Come From?

  • Boils down to aversion to settling — you want more.
  • Discusses how to improve confidence due to whom you surround yourself with.

 

Chapter 3:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 1

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 4:  What Does Hustle Require?

  • Adjusted mindset.
  • Facing your fears.

 

Chapter 5:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 2

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 6:  Hustler’s Habits and Tricks

  • Discusses taking the leap from mindset to action.
  • Question everything.
  • Gather inspiration.
  • Focus and productivity tips.
  • Manage your physical energy (this is something I addressed in my own book, Optimize Your Productivity).

 

Chapter 7:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 3

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 8:  Hustler’s Traits

  • Idiosyncrasies of hustlers.
  • Emphasizes focus on a goal and disregard for forced convention.
  • Ignore Doubters
  • Think Different.

 

Chapter 9:  The Lifestyle of a Hustler

  • Getting things done.
  • “Ship Product.”
  • Expect detours but keep on hustling!

 

Chapter 10:  Thirty-six Hours of Pure Focus

  • Rules can be rewritten.
  • Not overwhelming.
  • “Working faster = more focus, passion and output.”

 

Chapter 11:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 4

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 12:  From Concept to Launch in Seven Days

  • How the author planned the book.
  • Authors discusses how he organized himself, tracked process, and pursued the publishing process.

 

Chapter 13:  Hustler’s Diary – Day 5

Author chronicles his progress on writing the book quickly as an example of hustling; his diary entries are insightful as he is faced with common issues we may be faced with as we try to hustle.

 

Chapter 14:  So You Want to Be a Hustler?

  • Discusses steps you can take.
  • “Live your life as a hustler.”

 

Chapter 15:  Who Are the Hustlers?

  • More examples and wrap-up.

 

Closing Comments: Overall, a good book to get the idea of moving forward ingrained in your mind. This does not mean rushing through projects without creating things of high-quality. The focus is more on the idea of moving forward at all, since many people will stay settled in their ways and they struggle to make progress.

 

Want to get this book for free? You can get two free books when you start a free trial with Audible.

5 Concepts Every College Grad Should Know

College students and new graduates often seek advice from me. Typically, they want to know how they can maximize their chances to gain employment at various companies in industry. What we often don’t get to discuss, however, is what they can do to maintain their jobs once attained – and even better, how to grow their career inside and outside of the company going forward.

 

Interestingly, it is the “soft skills” that often defines a young professional’s chance for professional growth. Typically, people have fairly comparable technical skills for the roles in which they have been given. But it is the soft skills, the ability to have a bigger vision – for themselves and the company – and how they can best serve and provide value to their colleagues and leaders, that distinguishes them.

 

Unfortunately there are some cases where politics and workplace issues may negatively impact one’s chances for career growth at a particular company. The other issue that comes up is that individuals often think that career growth means jumping from company to company. And while it is true that we can often get a better title and salary by changing companies, we also need to make the most of our current roles, to develop our experience and demonstrate why we can handle the next level roles. If there is no leadership experience, as an example, it’s hard to make a case or justify hiring someone from the outside applying for a leadership position.

 

Ultimately, regardless of the paths taken, if one’s goal is to truly grow as a person, and provide value in his or her profession, then cultivating and incorporating the following five concepts will be beneficial for that individual:

 

Growth Mindset

As discussed previously on my blog, recent psychology research from Carol Dweck, Ph.D. emphasizes the importance of having a growth mindset (click here to access that post).  Very quickly, a “fixed mindset” means that we believe we have a finite amount of intelligence or ability (and wind up defending or proving that in our endeavors), whereas “growth minded” individuals go through life thinking that they can always improve and learn more. Essentially, growth minded individuals focus on the process of learning and essentially don’t pressure themselves into thinking they only have so much ability or intelligence — that ability and intelligence are not necessarily innate.

 

This is something I absolutely wish I knew at 22 years old. Interestingly, I recall one of my first managers talking with me about how it was okay to make mistakes, that it’s part of the learning process. I’m not sure why he mentioned that during a conversation with me, but I suspect he detected that I didn’t want to take much risk with my work! I remember thinking, “How could I possibly allow myself to make a mistake? I could get fired!”

 

But in hindsight, I think his real message was to adopt the growth mindset. I now realize his true warning, that by pressuring myself to be perfect all the time, I wasn’t giving myself the permission to grow. And putting that undue pressure on myself was making my life more stressful and perhaps inhibiting my learning.

 

Therefore, when we start our careers, it’s best to acknowledge we don’t know everything and to do our best to keep growing, that we “just haven’t mastered it yet.” This mindset will be more fruitful in the long run.

 

Optimization Framework 

If you’re familiar with my first book, or a member of my coaching program, the Design Your Success Academy, then you know what the “Optimization Framework” is. But if you haven’t heard of it, it can be boiled down to this:

 

We can apply engineering concepts to our lives. We can look at ourselves as a “system to engineer” and put all extraneous things outside of our system.

 

While it may sound simple, I explain in my book that most of us do not operate that way. The world is so complex, with so many distractions, and it often requires conscious effort to separate ourselves from everything entering our attention. That’s why we have to consciously realize that the only thing we can 100% control is ourselves, and therefore we can look for ways we can “optimize” (as an engineer would) our success by optimizing ourselves.

 

If we applied this concept as new grads / working professionals, it would be so helpful. I have had hundreds of conversations with friends over the years about stressful work situations, managers, colleagues, etc. But the fact of the matter is, we really can’t change the things we complain about (and yet most conversations always ended with the glimmer of hope that the other entity – the perceived source of the issue —  would change!) The best we can do is control ourselves, and perhaps by being our “best selves,” we can influence things for the better.

 

Adopting this framework would help reduce the stress, thereby allowing management of the multitude of issues that come up to be better. In turn, we can focus on our growth more and spend less energy on being upset about everything else.

 

 

Perspective: Practice Different Vantage Points to Develop Strategic Thinking

This is a concept I touched on it a previous post (click here to access it). The bottom line is that we need to develop strategic thinking. One of the best ways to develop strategic thinking is to practice looking at situations from different perspectives. For instance, if I start to get stressed by something in my life, I take the 30,000 foot view of it. Somehow, pretending that I’m in a plane, looking down on an issue, helps me separate and get the clarity and objective view that I need to make better decisions in a situation. Learning this skill is very valuable, especially when you start working and need to be objective as you manage various issues.

 

Entrepreneurial Mindset: Be the CEO

Thinking of myself as the CEO of my own company, as if my company is being paid to deliver services where I’m employed, is a subtle but powerful mindset shift for a working professional. This entrepreneurial mindset is an advanced version of the optimization framework I mentioned earlier, where you are learning to take responsibility for yourself. If you can get to this point, where you are taking full responsibility for every action (or lack of action) and looking at everything as an entrepreneur, you can really boost your effectiveness.

 

One of the reasons I think this is so powerful is because many working professionals I know don’t read any personal development books; however, entrepreneurs often do. I find it so interesting that “career development” and “personal development” are often different in terms of topics. One of the reasons I like to frame everything in the “engineering” or “optimization” framework is because it actually brings all of this together: figuring out how to optimize or be your best self;  it doesn’t necessarily boil down to having the best resume. It boils down to having both the best resume and a DEEP foundation in terms of mindset, skills, approach, etc. — essentially the best of both the “career development” and “personal development” worlds.

 

Adopt a Productivity System that Works for You

I have experimented with many different approaches to be productive (hence my inspiration for my productivity book). There is no one system that is perfect for everyone, which is why it is important to find the system that works for you. Some systems are very complex while others are simple. My focuses on a system you can use if other systems haven’t really worked for you, and furthermore will focus on root cause analysis and deeper issues to help you in the future.

This post is only the tip of the iceberg (many books could be written on this topic); I hope it served you. Feel free to comment below!
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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D. blogs about how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!) She enjoys helping people overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Kardos has experience in chemical engineering, management, higher education, public speaking, and career development. She is the Founder of the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence and the Amazon Bestselling Author of Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams.

Why We Don’t Achieve Our Goals (or Resolutions)

First, I’d like to thank you for your support. I really appreciate that you’re reading this right now! The past few months have consisted of rapid growth and change for me, since I get more email subscribers every day. I also have thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers (it’s mind-boggling to me – in a good way 🙂 )

Due to the rapid growth, I took some time over the holidays to do some “soul searching” about what I want to focus on this year. These are my main goals for 2016:

1) Provide more value and engagement with you (expect to see more videos!)

2) More focus on how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!)

3) Release my next book (stay tuned on that!) Blog subscribers will get first access to get it for free!

I will keep you updated. Now onto today’s post…

It’s that time of year where most of us have likely abandoned the New Year Resolutions that we declared a few weeks ago. Today’s post consists of a quick video to discuss a few of the main reasons we often don’t accomplish our goals or resolutions.

This video is a brief excerpt from the Optimize Your Productivity Course inside Design Your Success Academy (the Academy resides within the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence).

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To learn more about Lisa and access resources, visit:

Blog: http://optimizebooks.com
Design Your Success Academy: http://learn.lisakardos.com
Free Webinar: http://lisakardos.com
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Lisa Kardos, Ph.D. blogs about how we can optimize our lives for the better! (achieve happiness, success, and what we hold in our hearts!) She enjoys helping people overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

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Dr. Lisa Kardos has experience in chemical engineering, management, higher education, public speaking, and career development. She is the Founder of the Lisa Kardos School of Excellence and the Amazon Bestselling Author of Optimize for Victory: A Simple Approach to Overcome Challenges and Achieve Your Dreams.

Slideshare Presentation: Achieve the Life and Career You Want in 5 Steps

If you haven’t explored Slideshare, it’s a neat site (now owned by Linkedin) that offers many free presentations on various topics. I created a presentation on how to “Achieve the Life and Career You Want in 5 Steps” based on a webinar I presented in 2015.  Anyone can view it, so feel free to click the image below to check out the slides!

The Power of “Not Yet”

Recently my two-year-old son started to learn the alphabet. Part of his learning process has been due to his playing — he loves to play with two toys in particular that help children learn their letters (one toy from each grandmother, respectively!). He has been playing with the apple the past few days, the one featured in the picture. With this particular toy, he is not only learning his letters but also the associated phonics. It’s a lot of fun to watch and listen to him; the letter “y” seems to be his favorite (we have been hearing “YAH!” a lot more lately 🙂 ).

 

Watching Gabriel learn reminds me of what Carol Dweck, Ph.D. says in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I finally listened to the audio version of her book through a service I use (Scribd.com); in all seriousness, this was one of the most important books I have ever read. It has fundamentally changed the way I view my life and how I function in the world.

 

Pretty strong statement, right? Allow me explain.

 

In her book, Dr. Dweck explains the differences between the “growth mindset” and the “fixed mindset” (previous posts that explain these concepts are here: Your Mindset is Important and Mindset and the Art of Learning.) Very quickly, a “fixed mindset” means that we believe we have a finite amount of intelligence or ability (and wind up defending or proving that in our endeavors), whereas “growth minded” individuals go through life thinking that they can always improve and learn more. Essentially, growth minded individuals focus on the process of learning and essentially don’t pressure themselves into thinking they only have so much ability or intelligence — that ability and intelligence are not necessarily innate.

 

In her book, Carol Dweck explains how we do not expect a child to know how to speak or read yet; however, we do expect a lot of ourselves as adults in terms of what we think we should know. Interesting, right?

 

I know that I have berated myself over the years if I had difficulty mastering a subject immediately (ie tough subjects like organic chemistry!). I would condemn myself and get so angry (at myself) that it did not come to me as easily as it did for others in my classes.  I had this fear that I must not really be that smart if the Pre-Med students seemed to so easily consume the material.

 

For a number of years,  I was always working to improve myself, or master a new skill, but there were times I feared I wasn’t really that smart during the learning process, as if I had a limited amount of intelligence and that I had to “prove” that I had intelligence. I have always worked very hard, and I wondered if working hard meant I wasn’t smart if I didn’t know or understand a concept immediately.

 

Perhaps I had a bit of “fake growth mindset” for some time, which Carol Dweck speaks of in this outstanding video). With “fake growth mindset,” I believed that others could learn and improve (hence the coaching and mentoring I did through my various job roles), yet I did not apply that belief consistently to myself. As discussed in the video, many people are a mix of “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset;” sometimes we operate where we believe we can improve, whereas in other areas we think we either “have it” or we don’t.

 

So why am I bringing all this up? Because I know so many of us (including me for most of my life) operate predominantly with the fixed mindset. I believe I actually impaired my learning because I spent so much energy and time being upset that I didn’t know something the way I thought I should. What is so interesting about Carol Dweck’s book (and the video link above), however, is that her words are quite freeing. She explains that we should think “I have not learned or mastered this yet.”

 

It may sound overly simple, but such words are quite profound. I know that those words have changed the way I look at everything. For instance, I’m fairly new to blogging seriously, building up an author platform, online business, etc., and yet I’m trying those things. In fact, I signed up and am currently taking Jeff Goins’ Intentional Blog course, because I really felt I needed to learn and improve. Instead of looking at other people’s blogs and thinking “oh I’m a terrible writer and blogger…look at what they can do” I took a different approach. I thought “I’m new to this and I can learn. If they can do it, so can I. I just haven’t mastered it yet.”

 

There is also the caveat that sometimes we don’t necessarily have to or want to be the best, but maybe good enough is enough. That’s an incredibly hard viewpoint for a perfectionist. I was able to grow out of my perfectionism as I improved my prioritization skills; it came down to deciding how I want to spend my time, particularly only spending time on things that matter the most to me and things that I want to get better at.

 

Change is not easy, however. Though my “growth mindset” has been increasing the past few years, I am definitely not where I’d like to be as far as how I regard my progress and learning. But, I am trying to embed the words “Not yet” in my brain so that I can immediately acknowledge and address those self-deprecating thoughts when they pop-up!

 

And the last issue to address is dealing and managing with other peoples’ expectations (that can be a whole book, actually!) The past year has been very enlightening for me. I have had to cope with significant amounts of criticism for the new things I have been trying and learning, particularly when my book came out earlier this year. People felt that since I did not have an English degree, I wasn’t suited to writing/publishing. Or they wondered why I was spending my time that way instead of only working on chemical engineering.  But, I wanted to start somewhere and see what the public thought, the true test (which so far, the reception by people I don’t know has been fantastic actually! I have found the self-publishing and entrepreneurship circles to be extremely supportive and welcoming; I was even invited to several private facebook groups).

 

Maybe one day I will address managing others’ expectations more deeply than I did in my book or here. The bottom line, though, is that it is a red flag when someone has an expectation about your abilities. If someone thinks you can’t do something, it’s because they have a fixed mindset in general. They don’t feel you can improve or get ahead or they are fixed on the idea that you need a degree. But as I’ve been studying success a lot more the past few months, I have noticed that some of the most successful people are college dropouts! Look at Elizabeth Holmes, the number one self-made female billionaire; she dropped out of Stanford University or Chandler Bolt, a 21-year-old college dropout who started a self-publishing school and is on his way to 7 figures this year. It goes to show you that dedication and hard work, while having a growth mindset at your core, are really critical traits. They figured out what they needed to learn to get ahead.

 

If you are very hard on yourself, or if you did not realize that your potential really is limitless, that it’s just a matter of “not yet,” then I highly encourage you to check out the following links. If you don’t have time to read the book, try checking out some of these videos where Mindset was at the center of them:

 

Video: Carol Dweck on Inside Quest

Video/podcast: Tom Bilyeu with Lewis Howes on the School of Greatness Podcast

Book: Mindset: The New Pyschology of Success

 

I wish you all the best, and I sincerely thank Dr. Dweck for her life-changing work!  🙂

Why Everyone Should See The Lego Movie

Recently, The Lego Movie has become a new favorite of mine. The article below will help you see why. Additionally, what I find very interesting is the idea of the mind being a “blank slate.” Without spoiling the movie, there is a message that comes forth from the character, Emmet, who has a “blank slate” mindset. Instead of having to unlearn negative/fixed mindsets (see blog post http://www.optimizebooks.com/mindset/reframing-and-perspective/), he has such an open mind and is able to use that to his advantage.

It’s an interesting idea — because I’ve noticed that many of us are trying to unlearn a lot so that we may increase our chances for success!

That’s my two cents…check out the article AND the movie!

By the time The Lego Movie ended, I not only wanted to see it again to examine any subtle nuances I missed, but I was also grappling with several central questions of human existence — mainly, how I, one human being in this world of millions, can contribute something important.

Source: Why Everyone Should See The Lego Movie