How's your New Year's Resolution coming along?

How is your New Year’s Resolution coming along? What resolution? Don’t worry if you have already forgotten about your resolution because you may be among the majority of Americans who forgot about their resolution before February 1st.  The good news is, according to the “fresh start effect,” you can start your New Year’s Resolution today!

With February being a new month you can get off to a fresh start. The beginning of a new month creates a new mental accounting period. In other words you are putting January behind you and getting a second chance to start your resolution in February.

As you jump start your resolution where you left off in January, take time to reflect on why you may have lost focus on your goals. One way to maintain your F.O.C.U.S. (follow one course until success) on your goal is to write it down and make sure it’s in a location you will see on a regular basis. This accountability piece is essential to staying focused and following through with the action steps to your goals.

Journaling is another mental reminder to keep your goals on a more conscientious level. Jotting down your progress is a constant reminder of where you have been and what you need to do next to accomplish your goal. After the first week of journaling you will discover the amazing power of being able to maintain focus on your goal. Practicing this simple approach will improve memory and prevent you from forgetting about your resolution. The reason writing improves your memory is because you are using another one of your senses to supply vital input for keeping your goal in the forefront of your mind.

Research shows the more senses activated, the brain responds much more powerfully increasing your natural ability to remember. The writing process refines your thinking so you can organize your thoughts and write them in logical steps. Writing down what action steps you completed during the day helps develop your mental process for planning what comes next. Put into place external reminders of what actions steps come next.

Some external reminders can be as simple as scheduling reminders on your phone or as complicated as using a project management tool. Another external reminder can be an accountability partner. Work out a plan with someone whom you can take turns with being each other’s accountability coach. Together you and your partner can achieve your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions.

Resolution or Goal?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! What is the first thing that comes to mind when you enter into a new year?  Making New Year’s resolutions? Did you make a new year’s resolution for 2017? 

If you did, according to, you are among 45% of Americans who set New Year’s resolutions in 2015. Of those 45% who set resolutions, 8% were successful at actually achieving their resolution. Of those 8%, only 75% maintained their resolution through the first week, the result of a phenomenon called the New Year’s Effect. Something about the start of a new year gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31st.

The objective of a New Years’ Resolution is to make some changes in your life. Resolutions made at New Years are promises to improve your life; a way to make changes in the current way of living and attempt to live a better and fuller life. A resolution requires making a long-term commitment to change and requires putting even more effort to maintaining it. Many people end up setting goals instead of resolutions, which they still break.

Goals and resolutions often go hand-in-hand as setting goals eventually help to maintain your resolution. A goal is a desired result you wish to achieve - a target you want to reach. It is an end-point of where you see yourself after a certain period of time. Make short-term and attainable goals to help maintain the overall resolution. A resolution indicates a determined resolve to achieve a goal.

Different goal strategies will help you achieve your goals. Here are some examples of how to bundle your goals.

Bundling is the idea of tying together two activities--a method for simultaneously tackling two different goals or one goal and one activity. You can tie two goal activities together such as listening to an educational podcast while exercising. Or you can tie a goal you should do but may avoid with an activity you love to do but is not necessary. For example, allow yourself to watch TV ONLY if you exercise during commercials. Bundling consists of several types-but I will focus on temptation bundling and complementary bundling.

 Temptation Bundling involves combining a guilty pleasure with a necessary task. What activities do you really love but distract from what you should be doing?  These guilty pleasures can be applied to the concept of temptation bundling. Social media may be one of your guilty pleasures or one of the habits you need to limit or stop in order to achieve you goals. If you love spending time on social media, allow yourself to indulge only after you have completed an important goal oriented task. For instance, allow yourself 15 minutes of social media for every half hour of studying or doing chores. Set a 15 minute timer on your phone before using social media.

The second bundling strategy is complementary bundling, which means the two activities complement each other like peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and jelly are two items more enjoyable together than they would be separately. One complementary bundling example is watching your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite music only while exercising at home or the gym. You might enjoy your workout more while enjoying your TV show or music more when you do them together.

 Both bundling techniques involve strategies to help you achieve your goals.

A different strategy is the Start/Stop Goal Concept. Instead of creating a goal around a habit you want to break, focus on a goal to help you start a new habit. For example, create a goal to get in the habit of eating healthy. As you research healthy foods, try out new recipes and feel the positive effects of eating healthier, the habit of eating healthy will replace or crowd out your desire to eat junk food.

Another strategy is the Fresh Start Goal Concept. Just like the New Years’ Effect, you can take advantage of the “fresh start effect” throughout the year. If this is the thought process at the beginning of a new year, then there should be lots of other cycles that show patterns such as Fresh Starts that happen at the beginning of a new week, new month, holidays and birthdays. These calendar landmarks regulate the passage of time, creating many new mental accounting periods, which transfer past imperfections to a previous period, compel people to take a big-picture view of their lives, and thus motivate aspirational behaviors.

Google analytics’ data over an eight-year period for searches such as diet had most hits on the fresh start days.  Gym attendance increases on the same calendar benchmarks. This demarcation of time is when you feel your past is behind you and a new you is ahead.

Excuses often distract you from your goals such as, “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have willpower.” Successfully achieving your goals depends on adopting habits that allow you to achieve your goals or stopping habits that prevent you from achieving your goals. One habit to adopt may be rising earlier in the morning. This will give you more time to achieve your goals. One habit to stop is the amount of time spent on social media (Facebook, Instagram, browsing).

Willpower is not enough so you need accountability. Creating a positive habit requires self-control, and self-control is often in short supply. Fortunately, there are many tools to help you acquire new habits. I call them habit hacks. Some people call these tools “commitment devices.” Set reminders on your phone, tell someone your goals or get an accountability partner and take advantage of fresh start dates. Do not rely on mere willpower, sometimes it just is not enough.

Scrap the excuses using the goal strategies so you can achieve your resolution. Start now with who you are and where you are. It is never too late to begin according to the Chinese Proverb: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Thinking About Thinking

Are you really thinking or just remembering? 

If you say you are thinking about something that happened in the past, what you are really doing is remembering. Don't say you are thinking when all you are doing is exercising your faculty of memory. As Dumont says in the Mastermind, "You are simply allowing the stream of memory to flow through your consciousness, while the ego stands on the banks and idly watches the passing waters of memory flow by."

This is not thinking. In reality there's no process of thought underway. Real thinking is intentional--with purpose-- with an end in mind. One purpose for thinking is to solve a problem.

If you have a specific problem to solve, try this exercise:

Right before you drift off to sleep at night think about the problem you are trying to solve. When you first wake in the morning spend a few quiet moments in meditation to receive the answer to your problem. Did you get results? 





5 DOs

1. Know thyself

2. Believe you are enough

3. Stand for love

4. Forgive thyself

5. Accept thyself

5 DON'Ts

1. Don't lie to yourself

2. Don't think you need a reason to love yourself

3. Don't be so hard on yourself

4. Don't let your inner critic take over

5. Don't punish yourself

What are your self-love hacks?

Self-limiting Beliefs About Love and Money

The amount of love you receive can be compared to that of receiving money; the amount depends on how much you are willing to receive. You will allow yourself to accept only the amount of love you are comfortable receiving. Whether you lack money or love, do not blame others for what you do not accept.  Practice using the concept of money to overcome mental obstacles to receiving. Follow this simple reflective writing exercise to identify your self-limiting beliefs about money:

First-Write your ten most negative thoughts about money.

Example: I do not deserve the blessings of money in my life.

Second-Convert each negative statement into a positive affirmation.

Example: I deserve the blessings of money in my life!

With guided practice, your relationship with money will transform and you will begin to act on your affirmations. Your beliefs and actions reflect the presence or absence of money in your life. In other words, the presence or absence of money is a reflection of your thoughts about money.

There is no excuse to wallow in poverty. God is opulent and wants to bless you with wealth and abundance.  The term opulent is derived from the Latin root word ops meaning wealth or abundance.  Ironically, ops is related to the word opus meaning work or exertion. The only place opus follows ops is in the dictionary. In life, work and exertion precede wealth and abundance. There is no getting around the fact that work is a prerequisite to wealth and abundance. You may have to change your self-limiting beliefs about work before you focus on receiving wealth.

One great myth about the Law of Attraction is the belief that you just sit around saying affirmations and money flows your way. The affirmations will help you change your beliefs about money and give yourself approval to allow money into your life. An important component of the Law of Attraction is action.

The following thoughts on money can be applied to the concept of love. All the money that anyone ever received came from other people. All the money that everyone ever spent went to other people. Money is not money unless is passes from one person to another. Likewise, all the love anyone ever received came from another person. All the love anyone ever gave was received by another person. Love is not love unless it passes from one person to another.

Now you can apply the following simple reflective writing exercise to identify your self-limiting beliefs about love:

First-Write your ten most negative thoughts about love.

Example: I do not love myself.

Second-Convert each negative statement into a positive affirmation.

Example: I love myself for no reason!

The reason money is used to guide this practice is because people have many emotional associations with money. Financial goals can be measured because money is tangible. Love, however, is more abstract and hard to measure. Practice attracting and receiving love into your life. Take action by working hard to prove to yourself that you deserve both love and money.  

-An excerpt from my  upcoming book Loving Intentionally.


Why do you love?

In the book Love for No Reason, author Marci Shimoff describes the following four categories of love on the love continuum.

 NO LOVE is one of the three conditional categories on the love continuum. Feelings of fear and anxiety are hallmarks of No Love.  Our hearts are shut down; we feel fear, anger, hate, and suffering. We feel empty, bored, disengaged, disconnected, or lonely. We may lash out at people around, especially those we think are causing our pain. People may find themselves in this state when dealing with grief, depression or trauma. Sometimes professional treatment is needed to overcome the state of No Love.

LOVE FOR BAD REASON is the second CONDITIONAL category on the love continuum. Love for Bad Reason is concerned with “being loved” to fill a void inside ourselves. It isn’t about appreciation or true caring; it’s about trying to escape or ease our emptiness. A person may be obsessed on getting a “love fix.” This state is the basis of all addictions and in the long run erodes our health on all levels-body, mind and spirit. Codependency falls into this category. People who are co-dependent get swallowed up in the lives of others in an effort to fill the vacuum inside.  They want to please the other person-in order to get love back.

Here are some signs:

Giving love to get love

Pleasing others to be accepted

Feeling addicted to the object of your love

Feeling needy, hungry, or desperate for love

Controlling those you love

 LOVE FOR GOOD REASON is the third CONDITIONAL category on the Love Continuum. This is what most people understand as love. It’s when you deeply appreciate or feel connected to certain people, situations, or even material objects. When you love for good reason, you feel inspired to contribute to others and are able to both give and receive. This type of love is healthy and strengthens you.  This type of love has some limitations. The main problem is that it’s linked to reasons, and if those reasons change, your love usually changes too. For example, if you love your spouse because he or she is wonderful to be with and then your spouse disappoints or betrays you, where does your love go? Love that depends on any reason can come and go.

LOVE FOR NO REASON is the only UNCONDITIONAL category on the Love Continuum. This is the higher love-an inner state of pure love that doesn’t depend on other people, external conditions, or circumstances. It’s a love we experience from the inside out. You don’t need a reason-you love just because. When you love for no reason, you bring love to your outer experiences, rather than try to extract love from them.

Here are some signs:

Being fully present

Feeling oneness and a sense of connection to all people and nature

Being equally comfortable giving and receiving love

The ultimate test of Love for no Reason is feeling the same love for someone who doesn’t reciprocate as you do for someone who loves you back.

The apostle John says, “There is no fear in love but Perfect love casteth out fear.”

Now that you have considered the four categories of love it’s time to take the love quiz. 


Rating scale:

2  3           4 56 7                 8 9 10

                                              Not true at all    Moderately True     Absolutely True

1. I move through my day feeling grounded—aware, awake, and appreciative of what is happening in the present moment.

2. I feel connected to the natural world, including animals, plants, water, mountains, etc.

3. I feel supported by my friends and family, and by a friendly universe.

4. I have a lot of physical energy and am able to feel my feelings without resisting or suppressing them.

5. I feel deserving of love and am able to be assertive without being aggressive.

6.  I feel an abundance of love in my heart—I give and receive from a sense of fullness.

7. I am a good communicator. I express how I really feel and listen without being defensive.

8.  I am intuitive and see the beauty all around me.

9.  I experience periods of acceptance and/or peace on a daily basis.

10. I feel connected to a power larger than myself and feel higher love flowing through me.


80-100         Congratulations, you Love for No Reason

60-79           You’re well on your way to Love for No Reason

40-59          You’re having glimpses of Love for No Reason   

Under 40    Love for No Reason is waiting for you


Man's Search for Meaning-Viktor Frankl

Frankl, a noted psychiatrist and author raised in the tradition of Freudian psychology, believed character and personality were governed by whatever happened to you while growing up. After surviving a life-changing experience Frankl discovered that identifying one’s meaning in life would empower each person to change direction in life.  This new insight was contrary to Freudian psychology. Frankl postulated that people have the capacity to progress beyond biological, psychological, and sociological restrictions.

All members of his family were victims of the Holocaust.  The only concentration camp survivors of Frankl’s whole family were Frankl and his sister. Not only did he lose all of his personal possessions in the concentration camp, he lost his dignity. The Holocost experience caused Frankl to search for new meaning in his life. He searched for the primary motivator in life and meaning for individuals. Frankl’s dire circumstances in the concentration camp did not change; the prison guards did not change; nothing in his life had changed—except him. But that was everything. 

Regardless of the circumstances of a person’s life and the pain or guilt that he or she experiences, a person can use these situations to change for the better. Frankl believes he has the freedom to choose his response regardless of the stimulus. Frankl teaches about the ability to transform suffering from evil or tragedy into personal growth. The growth you experience during suffering will be evolutionary and the effect revolutionary. That is why this experience is referred to as a transformation and breakthrough. What hurts you is not what happens to you, but your response to what happens. The process of transformation leading to breakthrough is similar to a metamorphosis taking place. Great power resides in the influence of a person who transcends suffering, overcomes circumstance, and exemplifies and expresses a standard that inspires and elevates life.

When others hurt you, do not let the hurt define who you are. You may know people who have been hurt many times over yet maintained dignity. They had the courage to overcome having been a victim without succumbing to victimization. You may know people who cannot let go of the hurt and carry it with them forever to the point of allowing the hurt to define who they are. Victims empower the perpetrator when they label themselves as a victim.  The perpetrator has moved on and may not even be aware of this self-imposed identity.

Others may hurt you, but only you can victimize yourself. Blaming others abdicates and relinquishes your responsibility for control of your own life. If you give someone else credit for how your life turned out, then the power to correct the situation lies with the person of blame.  Thus, you deny yourself the opportunity to partake in your own personal development.

Why do some people choose to continue feeling victimized? A noted author says, “Feeling victimized usually feels comforting at first. It’s a sanctuary of self-involvement. It paves the path to indulgence and creates community with other victims.”  Comfort may be the primary reason for hanging on to victimization.

One trap of victimization is blaming. For example, blaming someone else means you are relinquishing control of your own life and making the statement, “I do not have control of my feelings or life because I give the power to you.”

Another trap of victimization is not necessarily blaming others but blaming yourself. Blaming yourself may be an attempt to “own up” or appear heroic. Blaming self is not a sign of strength, and the result is actually opposite, it is a demonstration of fear. You are reinforcing fear when you blame yourself. The fear that is being reinforced is that you are not good enough.  Now, you are convinced you will never be worthy of happiness. Not only does blaming provide you with an alibi, it provides a lifelong plan of sabotaging your personal power.

Everyone has the self-agency to choose how they will react to pain and suffering. Transform your adversities into opportunities.

Living Intentionally: Step Six-Assess Your Progress

Create a goal schedule that is realistic and attainable. Specific action steps will make monitoring your progress measurable. All action steps must lead directly to the goal. The great Canadian hockey player Gretzky says, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”  Collect important information as you monitor your progress for evaluation. Make sure the action steps are measurable and useful so you can use the feedback to make informed decisions, to alter the course, and make modifications to your approach. You will encounter construction and detours along the chosen road so be flexible. As you navigate into uncharted territories, your brain will act as your GPS prompting you to “recalculate” and redirect you back on course in order to stay on target.

Practice the following technique when you embark on a new adventure. At each milestone you achieve, amp up the expectations for the next benchmark in the goal-setting process. Self-monitor along the way, especially at each benchmark, to check progress and examine the feedback.  Assess whether or not the benchmarks are set too high or too low. Beware not to set your sights too low because you will probably accomplish them. Some circumstances are appropriate for small achievements. Small goals are easier to measure. Sometimes small goals are not meant to elevate your values but to help you maintain the norm. Do not be distracted by easily achieved short-term goals. Since thoughts and beliefs are the precursors to action, keep those in check. Evaluate your thoughts and beliefs to see if they are aligned with strategies and action steps that cause deep change.

Living Intentionally: Step Five-A Call to Action

A popular phrase, “knowledge is power” is often mistakenly quoted and is not correct. The phrase, “knowledge is only potential power” is more accurate because knowledge becomes power when acted upon. Taking effective action steps transforms the potential into optimal power. The definition of power is the ability or capacity to act effectively. Only when a definite plan of organized knowledge is acted upon does knowledge become power. Continuous action is the result of a definite plan. One assumption is thinking that once you “know” about something you are “doing” something. Remember, knowledge is only potential power but according to Robbins, “the critical ingredient that in the end determines whether we succeed in achieving our outcomes is our actions.”

Decision-making is one step toward taking action. Small successes are a sign a compelling decision has been made. A purposeful notion causes perpetual motion. A committed decision will launch you into action. The conscious effort of making a decision moves you one step closer to living intentionally. Desired results from decisions depend on whether or not your actions are aligned with values and principles you have chosen. “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing"-Roosevelt.