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.


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!)


Additional Resources:


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!

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 (; 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!  🙂