What will you do continuously?

In his Zen Habits blog yesterday, author Leo Babauta wrote a delicious post called Faith in Humanity: How to Bring People Closer, and Restore Kindness. As others who inspire me have done before, he wrote of the simple acts of kindness and “paying it forward” that help make this world a better place. In the past, I’ve responded to the idea of “paying it forward” with great enthusiasm for a day or two. I’ve anonymously paid bridge tolls for cars behind me, put money in expiring meters and volunteered my time.

But somehow, after a day or two, I forget. This time, I have an idea for keeping the idea alive. Leo offered his e-book for free to the first 30 people to comment to his post, and a link to those who wrote about the post in their blogs (like this one) and mentioned how they would “pay it forward.” I think the best way I can “pay Leo forward” is to offer this idea to my readers:

I’ll be posting a yellow stickie on my mirror as soon as I’m done with this post. It will say: “How will you spread kindness today?”

I hope you’ll do the same. It will remind us to consciously look for ways to “pay it forward” every day…not just for a few days. Thanks for the nudge, Leo.

Your Wellness Manifesto – Don’t Wait for the New Year!

megaphone.jpgI’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. That doesn’t mean I’m not a goal-setter, it’s just that I’d rather develop new habits (personal and professional) one day at a time, keep assessing progress throughout the year, and make course corrections as I go. I encourage my clients to do the same.

Wellness Manifesto
One of the tools I use to assess my overall wellness is a “living” document that I call a “Wellness Manifesto” – my clients have caught on and love the idea, so it’s the heart of this post today. A Wellness Manifesto is a written declaration of activities (and non-activities) that support wellbeing as you define it, declared in the present tense. I say that the document is “living” because you continue to refine it and revisit it on an on-going basis, not just at the New Year.

What Does the Manifesto Contain?

The Manifesto’s key components are: The Current Date, The Next Review Date, Your Wellness Intention, Keywords (words used frequently in the intention and/or those that you used that hold lots of juice for you) and 3 Habits to Strengthen.

I suggest revisiting your Wellness Manifesto quarterly and reading it aloud to at least one other person. Since I did so in September, my own Wellness Manifesto is already in good shape for the holidays.

Focuses Your Intention
When I glance at the Wellness Manifesto document each day, I’m reminded of my Wellness intentions. For example, I’m reminded that, in keeping with my Manifesto, I want to look back a week after Thanksgiving land say, “How wonderful it was to eat well, enjoy the gathering of friends and family, and get some exercise that day.” I’m just more likely to act accordingly if I write the Manifesto “as if” things I intend to do have already taken place. It doesn’t guarantee anything…it just helps me put my attention on what I want regarding my wellness.

Example of a Wellness Manifesto
Look through the following example of a simple Wellness Manifesto that I revised in September. Notice it is written in present tense as if these things are already firmly in place as I write it. Notice the keywords are really the top values I’m declaring to be of importance right now. Looking at this list each day (as well as having announced and read the Manifesto to my coach In September) supports the 3 habits I want to strengthen during this time.

Date: September 1, 2007

Next Review Date (three months): December 1, 2007

Wellness Manifesto of: Erica Ross-Kriegeer

I experience wellness in body, mind and spirit. I rise early in the morning so I can enjoy the quiet hours before the active day begins. I use the time to meditate, stretch, write a few words of gratitude in my journal and identify my priorities for my business. In this way, I am more focused and prepared for the full day ahead. I focus on relaxation during the holidays, build restful “time-outs” into my workday, spend time outdoors daily and also clear time to spend with family and friends. I take time to truly savor the healthy food I put into my body and know that when I do so I’m caring for the vehicle that let’s me do the work I love to do in the world.

Body, Mind, Spirit
Healthy Food
Enjoy Friends & Family

3 Habits to Strengthen:
Rising at 6am
Daily time outdoors
Business Priorities set each day

A Gentle Yet Powerful Reminder
I don’t suggest using the Wellness Manifesto to give yourself a hard time – I figure Life can be hard enough as it is some days. Just use it to keep your eye on what’s important.

For instance, let’s say you’re currently working on developing the habit of getting up a half-hour earlier than you used to (like I am). You can keep your manifesto by your nightstand and your alarm clock. On the manifesto will be a few keywords that you want to emphasize in your life right now – words that could include: quiet time, priorities, and focus. You might glance at the document before bed, taking a minute to imagine those qualities as already present in your life.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, and you’re tempted to hit the snooze button one more time (or turn it off and go back to sleep) just glance at the manifesto again. Ask yourself if those qualities of  quiet time, priorities, and focus are important?

If so, glancing at that list might just be all you need to get going and further solidify your habit of getting up earlier. If not, and you choose not to get up, don’t beat yourself up about it later on. Just re-group and course-correct. Maybe 15 minutes earlier is a better target for a while. Maybe getting to bed earlier is where you really need to focus. Just revisit the manifesto, revise it, declare it to someone again, and gently get back in the saddle.

Your Turn
I invite you to use the example above as a guide to create your own Wellness Manifesto and put it into place before the winter holidays this year.

It could just be one of the best gifts you give yourself.

What will your Wellness Manifesto say? Send a comment and let us know.

Oh…and do you see how you could do a Wellness Manifesto for your business? (Another topic for another post:)

Entrepreneurial Time Out

resting-at-apple-tree.jpgLiz Strauss wrote an elegant and powerful post today called Life and the Universe that inspired me to heed some of my own wellness advice and head outside for a time out. It was a reminder for me to do the “come to your senses” exercise I wrote about in my ezine last year…with the luscious addition of focusing on my connection to the world.

Liz mentioned looking at the stars and since it was morning here and the stars weren’t out, I looked instead at the clear blue sky and golden sun. I took a deep breath, stood barefoot on the grass and took a moment to feel my feet connected to the earth. I took more moments and felt my connection everywhere…including my connection to the amazing post that inspired me and the talented soul who wrote it. Thank you Liz.

Healthy Holiday Habits for Entrepreneurs

healthy-bites.jpg Contributor Glenn Townes wrote a juicy article on November 2 in the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) business toolbox. He starts with this appetizer:

“Entrepreneurs are used to working long hours and occasionally ignoring their health, all for the sake of making their small business a success.

“With the holiday season quickly approaching and leftover Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies and Christmas goodies all racing through our heads, now is the time to establish healthy holiday habits that will make your New Year’s resolutions last well beyond the first slice of pumpkin pie.” For the rest of the banquet, read Glenn’s full article.

Take Action:

Choose one of the following tips and habits (some from Glenn, some from me) and take action:

– buy a pedometer, learn how to use it, and get moving
– bring fresh fruit to the pot luck
– go for a brisk after-the-holiday-dinner family walk
– drink plenty of water
– opt for soup as an appetizer to curb your appetite
– hire a certified nutritionist or wellness coach before New Year’s Day
– select some energizing music (rock, jazz, oldies, you call it), and take an late afternoon office break to get up and move around for 15 minutes.
– enjoy the gathering of friends, family and colleagues in abundance and the food in moderation.
– count your blessings instead of a total focus on counting calories.
– take an information and technology break for 24 hours — no email, texting, cell phones, blogging, Twitter, newspapers, and all electronic games and computers. [Get past the first go-round of this, (where you’re likely to be worrying if you’re missing out on something) and next month you’ll look forward to repeating this one.]
– practice Dr. Andrew Weil’s Relaxing Breathing Exercises

My plan’s to outsource some more of my work to my VA starting this week — a gift for me and a gift for her.

What healthy habits will you start?

Keep us posted.

Living in the Richness of the Moment – Part 7: Use Questions as Passports

be-w-questions.jpgGot any business questions hanging around?

For many entrepreneurs, unanswered life questions in general cause anxiety — and business questions?…let’s just say “wellness” is not the word I’d use to describe our states of being when we are “wrestling” with an unanswered business question. In this final post of the series, I’d like to explore another perspective about questions.

My client, Wendy (not her real name), once said to me, “Questions are like passports…they take you into new territory.” I don’t think she’s the first one to have ever said it, but since she’s the first one I heard it from, she gets the credit. Anyway, since the first moment I heard those words I’ve recited Wendy’s quote to myself more times than I can count. I do so whenever I consider making changes in my business and I’m stumped by the questions involved.

You know the ones…”should I spend X on marketing? Should I start a blog? Do I hire an assistant? Is this the right course of action this year?”

When I’m surrounded by questions (which is often), can’t find answers (even more often), and have a gnawing sense of unwellness because of it all, I remember the “passport perspective.” I take a breath, employ a few techniques (I’ll share them below), embrace the state of suspense, and am finally able to relax into the unknowing. When I resist, and insist on pushing for an answer before its time, I wind up miserable.

As I said, I’ve got several techniques and inquiries I draw from when traveling in the territory of unanswered questions [Pamela Slim (who writes the phenomenal Escape from Cubicle Nation blog) refers to this turf as “wandering in the desert” in Psychology Today’s December cover story that features her.) Quite often, the techniques and inquiries I use transport me from fears of making a wrong decision or getting stuck “answerless” forever, to a state of acceptance. I have no idea if the same tools will foster “passport travels” with your questions…but give them a whirl and see what happens:

Try this: Take a Question for a Walk Exercise
This coming weekend, consider taking a question out for a walk. Write a question that you are facing on a small piece of paper. Simply notice how you feel about that question in your life. Now, place it in your pocket, put on your favorite walking shoes, and head out the door.

As you walk, move briskly and concentrate fully on all that surrounds you. Notice everything. Notice the color of the sky, the feel of the air on your skin, the pebbles on the ground, the shape of the neighbor’s roofline, the sounds coming from your left, the number of telephone poles you pass. Notice it all. Continue doing so for at least 15 minutes and then head for home.

Back at home, take the question from your pocket. Notice how you feel about it at this point. Did something change? Is there another question that now comes forward? Let that question, or the original one, percolate for a few days. Practice the art of what I call in Seven Sacred Attitudes, Being with the Questions.

Try this: Explore these inquiries this week:
• What questions are you living with?
• What would change if you viewed those questions as “passports” to
another phase of your life?
• How will you give gratitude (even for the questions) this month?
• What is it to enjoy the unknowing?

The realm of unknowing is often paved with discomfort. Embracing unanswered questions and learning to relax into the uncertainty is grist for the mill of a daily practice. Wishing you many blessings as you hone your practice.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment™
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?
3. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Slow Down to the Speed of Life
4. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Do Less
5. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Trust the Process of Life
6. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Count Your Entrepreneurial Riches

Living in the Richness of the Moment – Part 6: Count Your Entrepreneural Riches

counting.jpgIn the first post of this series, I suggested that Coming to Your Senses was a great way to begin the wellness-enhancing practice of Living in the Richness of the Moment. But you’ve read 4 additional posts in the series since then, and you’re beyond beginning…so today, in post #6, you’ll learn to turbo-charge your practice of Living in the Richness of the Moment.

And true to form, being willing to heed my turbo-charged advice means that you’ll be revving down, not revving up.

Get Set
So before you read any further, go ahead and grab a pen and paper, or open a clean document on your desktop. This post contains an invitation to do a bit of writing…right smack here in the beginning. Take a minute now and get things ready.

Okay, here we go.
Suppose I told you that there are riches within your entrepreneurial business that you haven’t even noticed. And suppose I further told you that noticing those riches would contribute to your overall wellness. Chances are you would ask me to point those treasures out to you. “Where are they?” you could be asking.

Well, since you are there and I am here, sitting at my desk, and I like to encourage exploration…how about undertaking a challenge right where you are? Let me turn the question right back your way and ask you:

Can you identify (and make a list of) 50 things, right now, that are present in your business, that you have not recently (or ever) stopped to count as riches?

If you dare
Grab that sheet of paper, or your keyboard, and compose that list. Do so as an exercise in expanding your mind. Do so as an exercise in expanding your heart. Don’t just think about it, write the list. Ready? Go!


A phenomenon you might notice
If you’re reading through the whole post before you get started, here’s what you’re likely to notice once you actually start the exercise. When you begin, it’s common that the first 10 items on your list will come out of your brain quite quickly. The next batch, a bit more slowly.

But after listing about 35-40 items (if that many), pens tend to come off the page, or fingers off the keyboard, faces scrunch into frowns, and shoulders begin to shrug. You might have noticed the same thing if you’ve done this already. We just run out of things to list.

Time for a reminder
This is when I remind myself (and I’ll remind you here too) of a statement that I once heard Bob Proctor mention in his Goal Achiever® CD series. (btw I’m not an affiliate, though I probably should be, I talk about it so much.)

Paraphrasing here, Bob reminds his listeners that we don’t just set goals in order to achieve the things that the goals describe. He said that we set goals for who we will become in the process of achieving them.

Then I let the words sink in. I remind myself (and you too) that the same is true about our businesses…we don’t just run our businesses for the financial results they yield, we engage in our businesses for who we become by engaging in our businesses.

I’ll get quiet again and let that sink in as you re-read it.

Turbo charge the exercise
So at the point in the writing exercise where I run out of entrepreneurial riches to put down on my list, I ask myself (and I ask you now):

– what riches WITHIN YOU have shown up while you have been engaged in your business?

Sure, in workshops I frequently get blank stares for a while. Usually, I remain quiet. Undoubtedly, after a moment of awkward silence, someone will suddenly blurt out: “Oh. You mean like how I am much more PATIENT (or HONEST or ORGANIZED or COURAGEOUS) since I have been running this business?

And I smile.

Slowly, the lists fill. (Yup, yours will too.)

And often, years later, clients will tell me how that one simple exercise helped them live in the richness of the entrepreneurial moment and even rekindle their passion for their businesses. For some people, including me, this exercise is one of the things I do to complete the last day of work each quarter.

Taking the time to notice the details of everyday existence often brings us into a place of both wonder and gratitude. There is a way I soften when I notice things anew — doing so in a spirit of simple observation and appreciation fills my heart. Likewise, when I slow down to appreciate and give gratitude, I also find myself in a receptive, humble and softer stance.

Take time to enter both states today – simply noticing things anew as well as giving gratitude. Doing so can become a daily practice. Doing so will help you live in the richness of the moment.

Let us know what you discover.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment™
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?
3. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Slow Down to the Speed of Life
4. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Do Less
5. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Trust the Process of Life

Living in the Richness of the Moment – Part 5: Trust the Process of Life

trust.jpgIn the previous post of this series, I invited you to clear the decks and Do Less. Today’s post is designed to further your thinking about Living in the Richness of the Moment by exploring another wellness tool: the powerful act of trusting the process of life.

Flip Side of Trust
First, let me say a bit about the flip side of the trust coin. One of the key ways we rip ourselves off from living in the richness of the moment is by engaging in worry, doubt, and fear. And there is nothing that tends to bring those creatures of the mind to the entrepreneur’s foreground more than: being in-between projects or contracts (a common state); or having to face the unknown or tackle something we know little about (part of the definition of entrepreneur in my book.)

When that all-too-common “messy” space of the unfamiliar and unknown enters my business, or my daily life, and taxes my “trust” muscles, I take comfort in a story from long ago. I put the story in an essay and offer it here as food for thought:

by Erica Ross-Krieger

When I was eight, we took a family vacation to Disneyland. I’d been before and I looked forward to seeing the Magic Kingdom again.

When we arrived, I ran through the entry gates and hugged Mickey. Throughout the day, I found Disneyland to be as wonderful as ever. Well into the night, Disneyland kept its promise of magic. But things had changed since our last visit.

As we walked toward my favorite ride, a small but distinct sign grabbed my attention:

Please excuse our mess—
This attraction is being completely refurbished.

A brightly colored drawing of Mickey, sporting a pair of carpenter’s overalls and holding a hammer and nails, illustrated the message. The captivating sign helped me add a new word to my vocabulary. Refurbished.

My Dad gave a further explanation and then herded us into line. We endured a forty-five-minute wait with other kids and families who weren’t put off by Mickey’s warning.

When we got inside we overlooked the boards, the scaffolding in the background and the strips of yellow plastic tape that sectioned off the work zones. We were excited to get to the front of the line and to hear the familiar music.

I guess we trusted Walt Disney. Despite the refurbishing signs, we climbed right into those little wooden boats. Off we went, expecting nothing less than a grand time. And that is what we had.

When we got out, we talked about the magical characters, the music, the swift rapids that the boats navigated, and how we couldn’t wait to come back. We trusted that any Disneyland ride being refurbished, no matter if it looked messy right now, would somehow turn out to be an even better ride when we came back…even if it looked different from what we’d known. After all, it was the Magic Kingdom.

So I wonder, why don’t we sit back in our midlife or entrepreneurial boats and trust the “Magic Kingdom” of life?

*This is a modified version of the original essay that appears in Seven Sacred Attitudes®

When I view spaces of transition or the unknown in the same light as a Disneyland “refurbishing” experience, they seem less daunting. Seen in this light, I am much more able to relax into this entrepreneurial and wellness journey of life, and so are my clients. Seen in this light, we may even be able to enjoy the ride.

• What is it to view entrepreneuring as a safe adventure-vehicle in the “Magic Kingdom”?
• What would change if you were to trust that you are “right on schedule”? (…with your business, with your wellness, with your life.)
• When something has you baffled, and you can’t figure it out, what helps you relax into the unknowing?
• If you Trusted the Process, what new adventures would you try?

Keep us posted.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment™
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?
3. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Slow Down to the Speed of Life
4. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Do Less

Living in the Richness of the Moment – Part 4: Do Less

acupuncture.jpgIn the previous post of this series, I invited you to Slow Down to the Speed of Life. In this post, I’ll be talking about the importance of leverage, focusing and working smarter – what I call in Seven Sacred Attitudes, the Do Less Attitude.

Working Smarter
In his book, 365 Tao, author Deng Ming-Dao includes a Chinese fable about an ancient king who had much to learn from a common butcher about working smarter. As entrepreneurs, we can heed the same advice.

My short version of the fable is this: Rumor had it that this butcher could dismember an entire ox without much effort. As a result, he only had to sharpen his knife once a year. As the king’s own butchers had to grind their blades daily, he asks this village butcher how such results are possible. The butcher tells him that “he inserts his knife in the spaces between the muscles, thus parting the body along its natural lines.”

The Law of Least Action
The Do Less Attitude is founded upon the Chinese Law of Least Action. This Law advises the acupuncturist to choose to place needles in only those acupuncture points that will get the energy moving — no more, no less. The same law advises us to Do Less of the unimportant stuff. To Do Less of the unnecessary. To do only those things that have the greatest leverage for us—just as the wise butcher did in China when he dismembered that ox with just four simple cuts of his knife.

Not About Laziness
When high achievers (a.k.a. entrepreneurs) hear the phrase Do Less, we often squirm. We often (erroneously) think that Doing Less means being less productive. But if we take a minute to consider the fable above, and the times when we are most productive, we know there’s much to be said for Doing Less. The Do Less Attitude has to do with focus. It does not have to do with being lazy, letting important things slide through the cracks, or abdicating responsibility.

Speak without words, work without doing
Few realize how much how little will do.
–Lao Tsu

Do Less Applied to Business Wellness
As an entrepreneur, you already know that your business is at its best (I call it business wellness) when you have a clear and focused vision of where you are heading, know which activities are closest to your bottom line and delegate or dismiss the tasks that are not the best use of your time. This is the Do Less Attitude in action.

Do Less Applied to Pesonal Wellness
When it comes to your personal wellness regime, the same Do Less idea applies. Eating less “empty-calorie” foods and more energy-packed nutritious food; doing less of the couch-potato or computer-hunch activities and more high-leverage physical activities (take the stairs, walk more briskly while heading to appointments, power walk with light weights) are all examples of the Do Less Attitude in action.

Do Less = Greater Wellness Overall
You’ll actually come to work, life, and the richness of the moment more fully when you adopt the Do Less Attitude, because there will be more of YOU (your energy, passion, creativity) available. You will be, as author Chin-ning Chu wrote almost 10 yars ago in her wise little book, Do Less, Achieve More, “…elevated from the ordinary agitated state of consciousness into an extraordinary level where desired objectives and results unfold with an uncommon ease of effort, thus positively effecting our practical day-to-day performance in all arenas of life.”

As I’ve been emphasizing in this series, when we are bombarded by more e-mail messages than ever before, new information arrives every minute, and everything seems to be urgent, it can be easy to get distracted. It can also be easy to become addicted to busy-ness. But distraction and busy-ness are not requirements in life.

The keys to focusing and the Do Less Attitude are:

  • Identify what’s important (I discuss this in detail in the second post of this series.) This means getting clear about which activities in your work environment are closest to your bottom line and which wellness activities will help tone your physical ”bottom line.”
  • Identify the activities that you can delegate or dismiss.
  • Ask yourself what price you have been paying for trying to do everything.
  • Ask yourself how important is for you to be more relaxed, productive, efficient and clear-minded.
  • Commit (preferably to someone else who is interested in your well-being) to saying No to those items that are not worth your precious energy.
  • Commit (also to someone who wants the best for you) to saying Yes to those items that have the biggest payoff to you (however you define this.)
  • Keep it simple at first. Cut out a few things at a time. Once you get the hang of this and make it a habit, the Do Less Attitude will become a new way of life…a new daily practice.

The question is: When would NOW be a good time to identify those high-leverage activities?

I’ll be cutting a few unnecessary words from this post and focusing on a high-leverage article today. How about you?

Keep us posted.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?
3. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Slow Down to the Speed of Life

Living in the Richness of the Moment–Part 3: Slow Down to the Speed of Life

smell-of-apple.jpgLiving in the richness of the moment means we are living life and not just thinking about it. Living in the richness of the moment means taking in every luscious drop of life that’s right here, just because we’ve been gifted with breath and just because we can. Living in the richness of the moment is also called mindfulness and I’m certainly not the first one to write about it. But mindfulness is a passion of mine, a major component of wellness in my view, and a life-long practice. And so it’s the topic of this 7-post series.

In the first post, I explored the topic of Coming to Your Senses as a tool to use for living in the richness of the moment. Doing so plays a vital role in the degree to which we experience personal and professional wellness. Next, I challenged you to consider What’s Important and to do so daily.

Today, I’m inviting you to Slow Down to the Speed of Life. Just in time for the weekend.

Popular Hypnotic Suggestions
In the span of one single day, I recently heard the following three statements:

  • “Life is so hectic these days…”
  • “It’s amazing how the pace of Life has gotten so crazy…”
  • ”The speed of Life is ten times what it used to be…”

I won’t tell you which of those delightful phrases came out of my own mouth, but I will say this: each of the three phrases is untrue. As my mentor, (and author of Taming Your Gremlin), Rick Carson would say, these statements are subtle “hypnotic suggestions” that most of us have adopted.

The Real Pace of Life
When we stop to think about it, we can see that the pace of Life has not changed one bit. It still takes 365 days (most years) to go around the sun. It still takes however long it takes for a caterpillar to create a cocoon and turn into a butterfly. And (when you aren’t stressed) your breath still comes in and goes out at the same pace it did several years ago. The building blocks of Life have not changed.

So, what has changed?
The things I’ve been discussing in this series: our activity levels, the amount of information now available to us, and the demands we’ve put on ourselves – in other words, the conditions of our lives — are all that’s changed. But Life itself has not. I think this is an important distinction to remember. And when we are mindful of those hypnotic words we use, it can help us remember the distinction.

Evidence is all around us

Last year I wrote an article in my ezine with a similar title to the one I’m using on this post. And when I told a colleague that the article was called, Slow Down to the Speed of Life, she looked at me with a frown.

“But the speed of Life isn’t slow,” she said.

I asked her to put her hand on her 3-year-old child’s chest the next time he was napping—to watch the rhythm of his breath. “To me,” I said, “that rhythm is Life. And that has not changed—despite cell phones, high-speed-internet connections and the five after-school activities your middle-school-age daughter attends.”

She nodded and sighed. “Hmm. Never thought of it that way.”

We continued to talk and our exchange helped me flesh out the article. It also helped remind me do to so with a gentler pace. It’s still reminding me to do the same as I craft this post.

So be on the lookout. The next time you hear yourself remark about the pace of Life, remember you’re hypnotizing yourself and you’re more than likely commenting about the circumstances of your Life.

Then stop and observe your breath for a while. And also observe a squirrel, a tree, flowers or the ocean…and you will see the real pace of Life.

Observing the differences between real Life, the circumstances of your Life and/or your concepts about Life, will help you remember that you have choice over the activity-level and busy-ness with which you fill your days. More importantly, you have choice about where you place your attention.

So go ahead. Just for today, practice what I call the Go Slow Attitude…and Slow Down to the Speed of Life.

Try this: Savor the Flavor Experiment

Here’s a dining experiment that accentuates the Go Slow Attitude. Because it requires silence, try it the next time you are eating at home alone or where you will be uninterrupted by a waiter, waitress, or dinner companion. Hopefully you’ll find the right moment this weekend.

Upon sitting down to your meal:

Take a moment to observe the food on the plate before you. With gentle curiosity, just notice the colors, textures and aromas. Give silent thanks for the food in a manner that suits you. (You will remain in silence throughout the meal.)

• Pick up your utensil and gather your first bite.
• Place that bite in your mouth and
set your fork or spoon down and then begin to chew.
• Chew slowly. Savor every taste of that one bite. Notice all aspects of the food—flavor, texture, temperature, aroma.
After you have swallowed that first bite, pick up your fork or spoon and gather the next bite.
• Continue the practice of mindful eating (putting down your utensil between each bite) until you are full and have finished eating your meal.
• Enjoy!

I once attended a residential retreat where we engaged in this mindfulness practice for five days, three meals a day. After putting aside my resistance (which took two days) I began to look forward to each meal. I found I enjoyed my food in a way I hadn’t before, did not eat beyond fullness, and was more present to the moment before me throughout the day. Every now and again, I do the exercise simply to remind myself about the real pace of Life. I’ll be joining you this weekend.

Let me know how the experiment works for you.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment
1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses
2. Living in the Richness of the Moment: What’s Important?

Living in the Richness of the Moment—Part 2: What’s Important? or Did Lucy Ricardo Stop to Ask?

contemplating.jpgIn the first post of this series I discussed how Coming to Your Senses is an important step in helping you spend more time in the heart-centered present. Doing so will increase the level of wellness you experience in your life and in your entrepreneurial business.

Another factor that plays a vital role in wellness levels is our ability to sort through and process the mountain of information we encounter each day while remaining sane. Listening to or reading about the million ways there are to run our businesses, write our blogs, take care of our bodies, (and even to improve our wellness levels), can be overwhelming.

While there is no magic word, like abracadabra, or quick-fix, to make all the conflicting information and opinions disappear, there is something that you already possess that will help tremendously…although it may be worn out or have been a while since you’ve used it. It’s your unique blueprint of what’s important.

Learning to focus on what’s important is what this post is all about. It’s the real secret to balancing entrepreneurial success with wellness.

What’s Important
Remember the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy worked in the candy factory wrapping chocolates? Remember how the conveyor belt shot so many chocolate candies out that Lucy couldn’t keep up and so she popped handfuls of them into her mouth? Can’t you just see the scene in your mind’s eye?

Well, I remind you of this image not just for a trip down memory lane but to draw a comparison to our entrepreneurial lives. With To Do lists a mile long, email messages and in-boxes filled to overflowing, we too struggle to keep up. And as we do we can lose sight of what is important. I know I’m not the only one who’s headed to the web, followed a link or two (or three) and wound up mega-minutes later somewhere I had no idea I would be, completely losing track of time and what it was I was looking for in the first place.

We all agree that it has become more critical than ever for us to be clear and focused on what is important, but how do we do that?

Well, it boils down to this: the trick is to take time each morning to set our intention for the day – to set our intention around the values we want to embody and to make it our intention to take, as one of my coaching mentors, Mike Jay, calls it, “right action” in our lives that day. This is substantially different from setting up our To Do or Action lists (even those we carefully pull together with elegant GTD techniques for those of you like me who use them.) I have a way for you to set your intention, but first a bit more about “right action.”

“Right Action”
In short, “right action” to me means operating from the inside out – putting the souls of ourselves into what we do. Setting our intention to take “right action” for the day asks us to expand our perspective about how we spend our time and what we do each day. It’s up to each of us to name our top values and determine what it is that, for each of us, constitutes “right action.”

bookends1.jpgDaily Practice
I think it’s important to start and end each day with a daily practice that helps us focus on “right action”. We can take a brief moment of time in the morning to name what’s most important for the day—not just the Doing, but more importantly, the Being that we want to embrace. Then before retiring for the night, we can check in and ask ourselves if we were able to focus on what’s important or not and what we learned. I call this practice, “Bookends.”
It takes 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed, and it could well be some of the most important minutes you spend in a day. It is for me.

Try this: Bookends™ Exercise

10 Minutes Upon Awakening:
•Take a moment to sit up, stretch and greet the day. Now think about the attitude or state of Being that you intend to bring forward into your day today. Examples: Gratitude, Confidence, Self-Compassion.
•Write down that state of Being you want to focus on today.
•Now think about the area of your life and/or business that is of most importance to you right now. Of all the To Do’s that are before you today, which action is going to further your progress in that area or deepen your learning? Example: writing a business plan
•Write that action on your notepad.
•Take another moment to contemplate how you will integrate the Being and Doing focus that you have listed. Imagine that you are placing that value or state of Being right into your heart or soul and will carry it with you as you take the important action(s) you need to take today.
• Example of how this could look: Writing a business plan while Being in a state of Self-Compassion could mean I pour myself a cup of tea and sip it while I write the plan, extend self-compassion by not insisting the plan be perfect, turn off the ringer on the phone so I am not disturbed.

Reminder: It’s more important to remember you can always return to that state of Being throughout the day, than it is that you give yourself a new mandate to try and stay in that state. Being mindful that you have let your focus slip from, say Self-Compassion, you can apply the 4-step process I talk about in my book: Stop, Breathe, Notice, and Choose™ and gently bring yourself back to your desired state of Being as you Do the next important task in your day.

10 Minutes Before Bed:
•Write a few sentences about the exercise for the day, or simply review this list of 7 inquiries: Where was I able to stay in the state of Being that I selected this morning and/or return to that state when I veered off the path? What evidence shows me that I lived by my top values today? What did I do that helped me take “right action” today? What got in the way? How can I change that in the future? What will I have to say “Yes” to and what will I have to say “No” to, so that I can keep on track? What else did I learn?

•Extend gratitude to yourself for your commitment to What’s Important.

And try this: A Bigger Time Out to Regroup
Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve taken time to clarify your values. Maybe it’s been awhile since you put together or revised your life plan, business plan, or investment strategy and tied these to your values. Maybe you want to reassess your values before doing the Bookends exercise.

Today, why not schedule an appointment with yourself very soon to at least begin? The appointment doesn’t have to be formal. It could even be an hour at a coffee shop or a few hours in the garden, where you spend time mulling over and identifying what’s important. Or it could be time with a notebook, a friend, a coach, or a colleague to sort through your values. Just be sure to make the time to stop the chocolate conveyor-belt of life for a bit and regroup.

Creating lives that reflect our values and top priorities takes “discipline.” I’ve found that word makes some people shutter. But it’s fascinating to know that the root of the word “discipline” is “disciple.” That could be a loaded word for some of you. But I’ll take the risk and use it. Encouraging you to be a disciple of your own soul seems worth any feathers I might ruffle.

So I ask each of us to ask ourselves regularly: Am I willing to become a “disciple” of what is important to me? Sure, I can name what’s important, but am I acting on it? And, if not now, then when?

Practicing the Bookends exercise and asking myself these questions keeps me focused on what’s important and boosts my wellness levels. Give it a try. Let me know what you think.

Table of contents for Living in the Richness of the Moment

1. Living in the Richness of the Moment: Come to Your Senses