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Why Your Life is Like an App Game- And It’s a Good Thing

Directions are pretty important, right?

How would we get anywhere anymore without our precious GPS systems?

How would we cook anything without a recipe?

Then again, directions can hold you back. They can hinder you, confuse you, and leave you downright stressed out.

Think of the directions you get in a piece of IKEA furniture. Now that’s a good way to spend a Saturday frustrated and bordering on divorce with your partner.

Recently I played an app game with my 3 year old son, Ari.

Or at least we tried to play.

There were no instructions. We did not know the mission of the game. Nor did we know how to get the most points to achieve whatever this mysterious mission might be. Where were we supposed to aim our avatar? At that flashing green thing? Or should we avoid it? Did the blue blobs earn more points than the red blobs – or vice versa? What was the point of earning points? What could we even get with them?

Not knowing any of these answers made my son and I feel stressed and unhappy.We did not enjoy playing this app game. At. All.

I’m a philosophical gal. I even named my son Ari as a “wink” to Aristotle the philosopher – who I have a platonic crush on. So I wound up thinking about my app unhappiness in a philosophical way. In particular, in an Aristotelian way.

I remembered how Aristotle was a big believer that you must begin all projects with the “final ends” in mind. You must know exactly what it is you want to achieve – your mission – before you start any project. This applies to everything from writing a book, to making dinner  – or even when it comes to approaching that gigantic project called Your Life.

Aristotle said: “Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right?”

When it comes to knowing your mission for life, Aristotle believed your final ends for life are the same as my final ends. In fact, everyone on this planet shares the same final ends for life:

Become your best possible self!

Plus, Aristotle believed becoming your best self was not only your mission for life – but also what leads to true happiness.

Now, a lot of you right now might be wondering what the heck all of this has to do with that app game.

It’s simple.

Aristotle was right. You must know exactly what you want to achieve – your final ends – your mission – before you begin any project – from playing app games, to playing at that gigantic Game of Life.

I thought about how unhappy my son and I were when we did not know the final ends for that app game – then I thought about what it takes to create happiness in life – then a realization emerged….

Once you fully and clearly understand your mission for Your Life, then life becomes less stressful – and it becomes far easier to score those glorious life happiness points – and become a winner at life!

Aristotle had some particular suggestions for scoring life happiness points. He recommended aiming yourself at “Best Self” habits – including things like: high integrity, kindness, mindfulness, patience, discipline, courage, altruism, generosity of spirit, love of learning, love of doing your innate passions, etc.

Plus Aristotle suggested you avoid doing “Lowest Self” habits – because they’ll simply get you whacked, kicked and fire-bombed. “Lowest Self” habits are pretty much all the opposites of the items shared on the “Best Self” habits list. Plus, “Lowest Self” habits also tend to be anything impulse-directed, ego-directed, and/or body-directed – like cheating, lying, stealing, pigging out, sleeping around.

Basically Aristotle suggested you aim yourself at doing soul-directed habits – behaviors your soul can be proud about.

Unfortunately, nobody ever sits us down to so succinctly explain  that this is our life’s mission. As a result many of us wind up with highly incorrect “life missions” playing in an ongoing loop in our heads.


To become the richest person on the planet!

To become the thinnest/prettiest girl on this planet!

To have the best wardrobe on this planet!

To be the most famous person on this planet!

To party and have fun, fun, fun!

To have the most orgasms as possible!

To have the most power as possible!

To get lots and lots of people to fall in love with you!

These are all ego-directed missions and body-directed missions – instead of missions which the soul can be proud about.

According to Aristotle, all of these missions, which are purely ego-directed and/or body-directed, lead to “pleasure” – a form of “fake happiness.” Pleasure is a temporary hit and run joy. It’s fleeting. According to Aristotle, if you want to be a winner at life you have to do stuff which helps you become your best you – and this happens when you aim yourself at habits your soul can be proud about.

I believe it’s wildly helpful to have a mindful awareness that becoming your “best self” is what leads to winning at the game of life. I believe this so much, I’m now raising my 3 year old son with this “life mission” awareness.

Now whenever I catch my son making a less than wise choice, I relate it back to his “life mission.”  I don’t say, “No, don’t do that.” Or, “No don’t eat that.” Or, “No, don’t talk to someone that way.”  Instead I remind him of his mission for life – and how doing these things won’t help him snag being a winner at becoming his best self. Because my son loves app games, I’m talking to him in language he understands. I’ve witnessed a true improvement in his behavior. He now, on his own, loves to brush his teeth, eat healthy, read books, be kind and generous. He even told me that his favorite red Power Ranger’s power is “studying.” He explained, “When you study you become your best most powerful you – and you can do anything.”

We must teach kids to understand the “why not” behind a “no” or a “stop.”  We must raise kids to become good choice makers on their own – even when parents and teachers are not around. I believe an effective way to do this is to take the time to talk with kids about their mission for life – and the importance of doing habits which help you become your best you!

And speaking of YOU….

I also believe that whoever YOU are – however old YOU might be – it’s helpful to think of life in this way – as being like a gigantic app game – and if you want to rise up to higher and higher levels – you’ve got to aim yourself at actions your soul can be proud of!

So take all the directions you want in life, but without an idea of what the end should look like, you’ll find it a lot harder to succeed at becoming your best self.

Think of your life as a puzzle. You may know how to put it together, but without an idea of the big picture, you’ll sure have a hard time achieving your goals!

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections publicationWomen Who Run It.

Who’s The Boss?

Have you ever had a bad boss?

If you have, that person probably popped into your head immediately after reading that question, followed by a long list of why you hated them, what they did to you, what they did to everyone around you, and why they were bad leaders.

Or maybe you couldn’t even put into words why they were so bad. Where to even start?

The point is that you probably had an immediate emotional reaction to that question.

Few things incite a frothing, wild-eyed rage like asking people to talk about bad bosses. People aren’t just annoyed by poor leadership—they sputter and snarl as they describe their superiors, lusting for the chance to hit that bad boss with a perfect, withering insult. Or perhaps a truck.

It’s a little scary, then, to realize that we’re all likely to occupy a leadership role, from motherhood to mogulhood, at some point in our lives.

When we blow it, our imperfections will be magnified by our authority. Leadership is simply too complex to do perfectly. I believe that the key to being a better boss lies in accepting that fact.

Ineffective leaders expect their role to be easy and think—no matter what—that they’re doing the job just right. Although good leaders often begin with similar expectations, convinced they’re natural-born chieftains, they soon run smack-dab into a little thing called Monday morning. The best leaders let go of the fantasy and become fully present and responsive to the complexities of each new situation. They’re the ones—the few, the proud, the downright worshipped—who earn their followers’ respect. To become one of them, you need to turn bad-boss behaviors on their head to find your way toward good-boss techniques.

The View from Below

Bad-boss self-concept: As a leader, I’ll be a higher-up.

Good-boss self-concept: As a leader, I’ll have to go lower down.

The bad-boss tales I’ve heard include many stories of managers demanding the undoable, responding to objections by simply reiterating that it had to be done. This creates nothing but hostility. “If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them,” said the philosopher Lao-tzu (who is my favorite management consultant, despite having been dead for centuries). That doesn’t mean you become a slave to your followers’ whims. Great bosses acknowledge their own ignorance and ask questions of everyone to gain a better grasp of two important things: What’s going on? What needs to be done?

Eliminating Moving Targets

Bad-boss target setting: Now that I’m the boss, I give orders to others.

Good-boss target setting: Now that I’m the boss, I bring order to what others do.

Many people find a thrill in giving orders or critiques, but have unclear, uninformed, or ambivalent ideas about what they’re actually trying to accomplish—that is, they know what they want this second, but the big picture is as fuzzy as a winter mink.

Leading well means forming a crystal clear image of what must happen and communicating that precisely. After giving an assignment, ask that person to describe the task in their own words. If they can’t, or if the account they give doesn’t match what you were trying to convey, you need to try a new tack. The first step could be as easy as clarifying your directives—or you might have to rethink your organizational chart and who reports to whom.

Where We Go Wrong

Bad-boss position on feedback: Now everyone must tell me when I’m right.

Good-boss position on feedback: Now everyone must tell me when I’m wrong.

Most humans go through the world trying to elicit validation. Al Preble, a leadership consultant for Cambridge Leadership Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says this isn’t the way to go. The most powerful way for leaders to communicate, he believes, is to use just three simple steps. When a problem arises:

  1. Clearly tell your subordinate what you really think.

  2. Describe the facts that led you to this opinion.

  3. Ask to be disconfirmed; in other words, honestly request that people tell you where you’re wrong.

Taking the Hit

Bad-boss protection strategy: As a boss, I’ll be protected from taking blame.

Good-boss protection strategy: As a boss, I’ll protect others by taking blame.

The successful bosses I interviewed emphasized that a good leader helps her followers feel safe from the dangers that come from both inside and outside the organization.

An incompetent supervisor, on the other hand, feels that the best way to secure her position is to appear faultless, and works mightily to make clear who fouled up or even to lay blame on a scapegoat. But that behavior turns people into twitchy, record-keeping, blame-tallying masses of ectoplasm.

Once More into the Breach

Bad-boss problem solving: Being the boss means I can avoid problems.

Good-boss problem solving: Being the boss means I must seek out problems.

You can tell if you’re making mistakes as a leader, because things go wrong—not just one catastrophic computer snafu, but repeated errors. Bad bosses turn away from these realities. They don’t discuss problems; they just hunker down and hope the issue will go away. It won’t. Untreated, a minor concern becomes a major issue becomes a catastrophe.

This is the core of good leadership, whether you’re managing a corporation, your immediate family, or just your own life. Lao-tzu puts it this way: “When [the Master] runs into a difficulty, she stops and gives herself to it. She doesn’t cling to her own comfort; thus problems are no problem for her.” Embracing the fact that you’ll encounter many obstacles—and that this is all right—allows you to understand, listen, give clear instructions, invite negative feedback and protect those you lead. You’ll be comfortable with leadership, even when it’s uncomfortable. And that will make you an easy act to follow.

So don’t spend another second huffing and puffing about a boss who did you wrong. You can use them to make yourself a better leader. Think from the employees perspective, not the employers and you will always be the kind of boss that you wished that you’d had.

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections publication Women Who Run It.

So You Think You Can’t Sell?

Working in sales is hard.

You have to be actively trying to get what you want,while also trying to give someone what they want, or even trying to convince someone that they want what you’re selling, even if they really don’t!

Most of us don’t think we’re very good at sales.

But think about these scenarios:

You are trying to get your kid to eat their vegetables. You are telling someone about the movie you saw last night. You are praising someone else’s work You’re asking your friend for a favour. You are trying to convince yourself that today’s a good day to start your diet. What do these scenarios have in common? You guessed it: you are actively trying to sell someone or something. “That’s not selling!”, you say? Then what the heck is selling? Well, technically speaking selling is a form of influence to reach a desired outcome. We are so used to describing selling as the used car salesman’s pitch but it’s more than that. It is also an essential life skill that goes back to the stone age and something that everybody does everyday, all day. The reality is that some people are just better at it than others. And it sucks if you aren’t good at it. What is the hardest sales pitch? Selling YOU to YOU! It’s damn near impossible to sell, convince, or influence yourself when the controlling voice in  your head slams the phone down on the sales call day after day.

The common denominator to your success and failure is….YOU!

If you constantly blast yourself with external, negative crap that doesn’t mean anything except what you make it mean (the “I am not good enough, I can’t do this, it’s too hard”…that crap) you will never close the deal with yourself.

It comes down to choice; will you or will you not listen to that little voice that can stop you dead?

So if you can’t sell YOU to YOU, then you will have an even harder time selling something to someone else.

Try this on for size; change the word sell to help. Instead of selling, you are helping.

Zig Ziglar taught us: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”.
Shifting your mindset from selling to helping will change your behaviour and your sales results. Giving and helping activates the power of reciprocity.

The greatest competitive advantage to you and your business is the art of selling or helping. Master it! Blow it up! Milk it! Do it like your life depends on it! Selling is the #1 skill you need to have in your business and in your life.

Sales = Income. 95% of businesses fail because the proprietor believes the product or service will sell itself.

That’s craziness. That’s laziness. That’s failure in the making.

Selling is a learned skill, not an innate way of being.

The bottom line is this: if you aren’t good at sales, life will be more difficult for you. Period. So what do you do about it? Listen and learn, and practice, practice, practice!

You do not need a fancy car or fancy shoes to be a sales person. You do not need a ‘sales force’ in your business. You don’t even need money or education to sell your business.

The bottom line is this: if there is a cash flow problem in your business, then you don’t know how to, refuse to, or think it’s not important enough to know how to sell.

Here are more than 30 ways to be more successful at selling. Implement the easy ones first, then tackle the rest one a time. There are a ton more tips, so create your own list.

  • Work hard on sales, but work harder on yourself.
  • Dress like you don’t need the sale.
  • You’ve got two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk.
  • Change the word “selling” to “helping.”
  • Change the way you think about selling vs. helping.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Be willing to learn.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Be prepared.
  • Develop a team.
  • Talk to anyone about your business.
  • Write down all the people you know, whether you like them or not.
  • Do not pre-qualify your list.
  • Follow up.
  • Don’t be shy.
  • Fake it.
  • Do not assume anything.
  • Do it everyday.
  • Read lots of good business books.
  • Be coachable or teachable.
  • Hold yourself personally accountable.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Don’t blame.
  • Squash your fear of what others think or don’t think about you.
  • Show gratitude for what you have.
  • Barter.
  • Ask for referrals.
  • Ask for the sale.
  • Stop thinking and start doing.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Hire a coach.
  • Have positive affirmations that override your little voice.
  • Invest in yourself.
  • Be consistent, diligent and persistent.
  • Never underestimate how big you really are.
  • Be the person you know you can be.

The bottom line is this: results cannot exceed your self concept. People love to be right: if you think you can’t do it, you’re right, you won’t. Good luck with that!

If all else fails think back to those little selling scenarios in your life and sell with the ferocity that you’d use to try and get your kid to eat those darn peas!

**Edited by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publication Women Who Run It.

Debtors Not-So Anonymous: An Interview with Julie D. Andrews

Most women find themselves on the same path financially.

Until the end of university, their financial situation is seldom up to them. Their parents take care of the finances until, well until they don’t.

Unfortunately, this usually happens in an abrupt manner. School is over, we’re expected to get jobs, get apartments, pay our bills and oh yes, take care of those nagging debts we racked up thanks to our shiny, new education.

Before we’ve even started in life, we’ve found ourselves stalled at the gates.

Author, Content Creator, and Ex-Debtor, Julie Andrews, knows of this all too well. After university she found herself living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and carrying around a debt that she wasn’t even completely knowledgeable about. Her life in New York City was supported by living in a one-bedroom apartment that was converted to a three bedroom so that she could have roommates, and working a paid internship. “I didn’t even know the amount of debt I had or what it looked like,” she shared.

She had stuck her head in the sand.

She had debt, but no idea what the debt looked like and therefore, no plan on how to even begin to tackle it.

How many of us have found ourselves in these kinds of situations before?

We’ve got credit cards that we refuse to look at in fear of overwhelming ourselves, bills that pile up, and debts that go unlooked at. This is a coping strategy, but it’s not a good one.

Life is full of demands, and they tend to pile up. The mortgage needs to be paid, the kids need something for school, the car broke down. Credit cards are convenient and once debts start to pile up, it’s easy to allow ourselves to keep adding to the mountain and think we can visit it another day, but we need to be fully aware of everything in our lives or else we don’t have full control.

Julie took control and paid off $26,000 in student loans by herself while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

She admits “I was not always smart about money. I was very unaware about money. I did not have a healthy relationship with money.” So how did she do it?

  1. She took her head out of the sand! “You have to know the numbers and you have to look at them head on. And you have to live an honest life, which means living within your means.” Until you educate yourself, you are powerless to your situation. By learning about your debts, what they look like, and how much you owe, then you’ll be able to become an active participant in your life. Until you take your head out of the sand and face your debt head on, then you won’t be able to do anything about it.

  2. She became honest about her money The first thing Julie did was to learn exactly what her debt looked like. She no longer wanted to lie to herself and hide from her problems. Next, she created a system for herself. He biggest breakthrough came when she decided to write everything down. This kept her honest about her spending and knowledgeable about where her money was going. Seeing how much she spent on paper each month gave her the ability to see where she was wasting money and where should could find some to help pay off her debts. She also became honest with others about her financial situation. Instead of eating at an expensive restaurant because a friend wanted to, she was open about her goals to save and would suggest a cheaper place, or a night in. “My biggest advice would be don’t spend money you don’t have and be very honest about that. People will respect you for that.”

  3. She made calculated money decisions Two of the biggest things that helped her: 1) When making a buying decision she never got wrapped up in the moment, always asking “is buying this thing, or spending money on this thing, more important than me reaching this goal?” 2) Knowing the value of money. What does this equate to in your daily life? If you realize that a night out could get your groceries for a week, or that those gorgeous heels could pay your phone bill for a month, then it will become easier to say no. Then you’ll see the true value of money.

  4. She started chipping away at her debts Instead of looking at her debt as a huge mountain to climb, she simply took it inch by inch. Don’t become overwhelmed by your debts. Just start chipping away at them bit by bit and each day you’ll be one step closer to completing your goal of financial freedom.

  5. She learned the truth about money “Money doesn’t define you and money certainly doesn’t define your success… It’s just something that you need to pay your bills and pay your rents and to buy things, but it doesn’t define you.” Money tends to cloud our judgment. We see the glamour of it, of having something, and forget about how silly it really is. Having more money doesn’t make you fancier, happier, or a better person. “If you have more money you’ll only use it to do more of the things that you are already doing. You’ll only become more of the person that you already are.”

Money doesn’t have to be complicated, but we make it that way. Yes, debts are stressful, but what’s more stressful is finding yourself without control of your own life? By following Julie’s tips, you too can get your finances in check and find yourself free of your financial burdens. It just makes cents.

Seeds of Success; or How a Dishwasher Led to the Butler Bag

When an idea begins to take root in your mind, an idea that could really go somewhere, there is a certain rush of euphoria – which comes with the knowledge that you are on the cusp of something brilliant. Entrepreneur, author and business visionary, Jen Groover says it’s a sensation that every entrepreneur becomes addicted to quickly.

And she would know. That sensation has been a part of her life ever since the first step aerobics class she took during a winter break in college, where she spent an hour dancing and barely noticed she was working out. Once she realized that a workout class which felt more like a dance party was something that a lot of other college kids would take an interest in, the euphoria hit.

It was the nineties, after all. Boom-box dance parties were in. The fitness industry was just about to take off, but hadn’t quite become the popular trend that it is today. The potential was there, though, and Groover harnessed it, going back to her university with the plan of creating a group fitness program on campus. Nearly a hundred kids turned up for the program.

Her ideas have been raking in money pretty steadily ever since. Jen Groover has recently been tagged by Success Magazine as a “One Woman Brand”, in recognition of the success story which started with her innovative creation of the Butler Bag – the world’s very first compartmentalized handbag – and kept soaring from there.  She developed the Butler Bag into a full-on company just over two years ago, marketing it to various retailers all over the US.

She has since launched even more lifestyle brands: Leader Girlz and Empowered by Jen Groover, both of which are motivational coaching guides teaching people to embrace life, empower themselves and seek success the way she did. She has been aligned with such internationally-known brands as AvonVerizon, and SkyMall. She has appeared as a keynote speaker at universities, for corporations, for organizations such as Career Wardrobe and the CNN Hero award-winning non-profit “Back on My Feet” (on which she is also a board member).

And between her regular stints as a contributing business expert on programs like Fox News’ “Strategy Room” and CBS’ “Early Show”, and hosting the recently created Launchers’ Cafe – an interactive, multimedia brand which connects tens-of-thousands of business owners and allows them to share information and grow their businesses – it’s hard not to notice that she’s a jack of all trades. Not just in talent, but in the focus areas of that talent. From fitness and health, to motivational life coaching, to business, and fashion … these themes have been the building blocks of her entrepreneurial journey, but they’re all quite different. What’s the common denominator?

It’s all in the ideas that come to you on any given day

The notion of starting a group fitness program came to Groover while she was dancing in a random aerobics class and led to her expansion into the fitness industry with a thriving gym which became competitive and known on a national level.

When at 26 her own body began to shut down due to oxidative stress, she came to fully appreciate the importance of health, wellness, and passion for life. But it was more the sheer pleasure that came to her when helping people and the idea that there were real lessons in her experience for others which had her turning to motivational life coaching as a career. Once again, this was before life-coaching had really become a thing, let alone a career path. Groover would counsel several of her fitness clients, inspiring them to find their passion and make a living out of it, and helping them turn ideas they had into successful – even on a multi-million dollar level of successful – businesses.

The Butler Bag was born out of a moment of pure frustration at the cash register of a grocery store, a moment which all of us has experienced some variation of at least once. Groover had been juggling her young twin daughters and a frantic search for the credit card she’d lost inside of her single-compartment sea of a handbag, and finally she dumped the contents of the bag out onto the counter to retrieve the card. Even then, the idea of a better handbag remained a frustrated wish at best, until months later when she was loading the dishwasher. On a whim, she took the utensil rack from the dishwasher, shoved it into her handbag, and began thinking: “If I were to design a handbag, this would be my prototype. This is what I’d want the bag to look like.”

She didn’t know how to draw. She didn’t know how to design anything, and she was a fitness trainer, not a fashion guru. What she did have was a mantra her mother had left her with years ago – that you’re not allowed to complain about something unless you plan to do something else to fix the problem. So she asked for help from everyone she could, anyone who would know how to design a bag, how to market and publicize it, and so on. Her goal for the Butler Bag company was for it to be a million dollar company by the end of the first year, and she made it happen through a lot of media attention and awareness.

“Failure is a thing which holds most people back from achieving their goals and dreams,” Groover has said. “When children are taught that failure is not an option, it teaches them not to do anything that they think they might fail at.”

Most people have ideas. Groover would even say most people have ideas which could potentially become multi-million dollar businesses. But most people tend to talk themselves out of going anywhere with those ideas, feeling that failure is inevitable if they take such an insane risk.

Groover had never imagined herself as anything other than an entrepreneur, so the risk was less scary to her. But even she stuck to her comfort zone, doing things she was naturally going to be good at, until the creation of the Butler Bag.

The one message she would pass on to everyone in the world if she could is a mantra she came up with for herself. “I have more fear of regret than I have of failure,” she says. “Don’t be afraid. Make your ideas happen.”

Financial Decision-Making in 6 Easy Steps

On the whole, making financial decisions is not the easiest process.

There’s a lot of responsibility which rests on them and, let’s face it, while some mistakes can be undone with relative ease, financial mistakes are a pain to untangle when you’re knee-deep in the fallout.

So it’s easy to get scared beforehand. And we all have our current coping mechanisms for dealing with that fear and avoiding the potential earthquake before it hits.

You might obsess over the options when making the decision. Maybe talk to your more successful, experienced friends and see what they’ve done in the past and how they would advise you. Or maybe you go in to see your financial advisor, only to get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your advisor spreads out swathes of paper for you to look over, describing IRAs, 401Ks, money markets, and insurance plans that make you think you’re in over your head. Maybe you’d feel the need to read the fine print on every last sheet, and go over it in your mind to know you’re choosing the right products and making a good decision. Scour Google to research the options carefully. Consult even more financial experts. Obsess some more.

Note: these aren’t exactly bad habits. But entrepreneur Kate Northrup, bestselling author of Money: A Love Story, has seen plenty of people burn out on them when making financial decisions, and as she notes, they’re exhausting habits. Just the thought of having to undertake them can leave you feeling sleepy, irritable, and ironically less liable to make a good, clear-headed decision.

More to the point, she says, the problem with obsessing and over-thinking on what decision to make is that life goes on. Opportunities pass, you miss out on them, and you waste time.

“There’s an important part of you that wonders, ‘might there be a better way?’” she says.

There is!

In her new book, Northrup delves into the easy, failsafe way to ensure that you’re making the right financial decisions every time.

The trap that most people seem to fall into is a tendency to silently go over their financial choices in their minds – and only their minds. They preoccupy themselves with the obsessing and the decision-making while letting their bodies run through their daily tasks on autopilot. We’ve all seen that person at the office going through the motions of their day when their mind is clearly elsewhere. Hell, we’ve all been that person at least once. What we don’t realize is that when it comes to financial decisions, this is a matter on which mind and body are better off connected.

“Research has shown us that our physical bodies and our proprioceptors have access to much more information than just our minds,” says Northrup. “When you bring your body into your decision-making and listen to the signals that it’s giving you, you become a lot wiser.”

Here are the six simple steps that will let you tap into this potential and keep you from ever making a wrong financial decision again.

1. Take a deep breath Prior to making a decision, take a very deep breath, all the way into the lower bowels of your lungs. Let it expand your belly – who cares if it suddenly looks rounder? You want to make sure you actually feel the air going all the way in and pushing hard against your diaphragm. And then exhale, and feel it leave your body. Focusing your mind on these feelings will allow you to clear it, even just for a moment. It’s long enough to know you’ll be thinking about something other than your decision in that moment.

2. Close your eyes Even if it doesn’t feel entirely appropriate to do so at the time of your decision-making, close your eyes. Though, if you’re feeling really awkward you could always excuse yourself to the ladies’ room to complete this step. It’s a good idea to give yourself a moment to shut out the world – and any external pressures you might be feeling from anyone around you – so that you can concentrate. It reminds you that this is your decision.

3. Picture one of your choices in your mind’s eye The power of visualization is always a useful tool, but never more than when you’re trying to decide between a number of different options (and outcomes). Whether you’re just picturing the words, like “September IRA”, or picturing something that represents that choice for you, or even visualizing an outcome of deciding on that option. Having a visual image of your choice, even if only in your mind, will make it more real for you.

4. Tune in and listen to how your body feels Now we get to the point where you listen to your body’s input on your decision. Pay attention to how your body is feeling at the moment you’re picturing your choice. Does it feel relaxed and expansive, or tense and contracted? Lighter or heavier? Do you feel energized, or sleepy? You can tell where this is going…does the decision feel right? Or wrong?

For the vast majority of our lives, many of us have been talked out of listening to our bodies, and trained against letting our instincts guide us to decisions. We’ve been told we’re being too sensitive. Even advised to take “chill pills”. But you’re the one who has to live with your decision, and the right financial decision should always leave you feeling good about having made it. Your body can give you the best signal on that.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 for every one of your choices at the time Pay special attention to step 4; be sure to gauge how your body reacts to every single one of your options.

6. Pick the winners Go with the option that makes you feel the most energized, yet relaxed, and that makes you feel the lightest. In other words, go with the right choice.

It may take some practice to wire your mind into following these steps. But with that practice, the time you spend sweating over financial decisions will be cut in half. There’s nothing wrong with doing research and understanding your choices, but at some point you really have to take that plunge – and better sooner than later. Going with your gut is the best way to do it.

Bring On Your Sparkle!

Women have long been told to be modest, to be polite and to shy away from bragging about themselves.

You may be thinking “well of course, that’s just good manners!”

But it can actually become detrimental to your career.

Men were taught to showcase their successes and in turn, we have found that they are more confident in their abilities and more likely to negotiate for themselves in job interviews.

When prepping my students and clients to network or interview for an ideal job opportunity, I encourage them to showcase their sparkle factor. This is the palpable characteristic that highlights their passion, strengths, and authentic interest in the opportunity at hand. The energy you emit is profound when you tap your sparkle factor and this visceral emotion should not be reserved for the job interview alone.

Finding your sweet spot in the career world can be daunting, but the responsibility lies with you alone to play to your strengths and honor your passions in the job you are in or the job you may be seeking.

Identifying what makes you unique requires self-reflection and focus – so get quiet with yourself. Turn off the monkey chatter in your brain and slow down so you will be able to identify what makes you sparkle.

Protect your sparkle fiercely in your professional life.

This is what makes you unique, what energizes you, and what gives the countless waking hours you spend at work meaning and a sense of purpose.

Know Your Distinguishing Factors  What sets you apart from the pack? Truly consider your strengths and the energizing skills that you enjoy performing. It’s not enough to be good at something – you must really relish doing it consistently. This is when time flies because you lose yourself in these wonderful tasks. When you can become the go-to person in your organization because of what you do uniquely well, then you can distinguish yourself and become indispensable.

Learn to Bob & Weave If you are not a boxing fan you may not know the origin of this term but the concept is universal. You must be quick on your feet, flexible, and ready to innovate in changing situations.  In other words – roll with the punches. The new normal has taught us that resilience matters. Showcasing your sparkle factor may provide growth and leadership opportunities if you distinguish yourself as the professional who is ever-ready to do what it takes to accomplish organizational goals.

Toxic People Can Steal Your Power  Positivity is infectious but so is negativity. Minimize the toxic associations in your life and give yourself permission to play to your strengths and focus on what you do well. Power is not given, it’s taken, so never let the toxic people steal your thunder or undermine your value. Be assertive, self-confident and fiercely protective of your sparkle factor. Establish a work culture of having a good day or a great day – both are very strong options and will diminish negative attitudes.

Ask for What You Need  The most successful people have a team helping them achieve their goals. Assemble your Personal Board of Directors and don’t be timid about asking for help. Can you do it all? Yes, but not alone, and not at the same time. Tap your tribe and pay-it-forward by having someone else’s back. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a wise distribution of what you do really well. Delegation can provide someone else with an opportunity and it empowers you to do what nobody else can.

Command Respect  There will always be people who are fearful and manipulative who may try to squelch your sparkle. Strive to earn their respect, since that is more important than being liked by them in the workplace. You need not win the office popularity contest, but it would be ideal if you earned your colleagues’ respect. People accept what you project so it’s your responsibility to teach them how to treat you. Consider what professional persona you want to put out into the world. How do you want to be recognized? Send that message out loud and clearly to those around you.

Bring it On  Showcasing your sparkle is energizing for you and contagious for your colleagues. Consider how you dig deep and deliver. Discuss what motivates you and your colleagues. If you are in a leadership role be sure to ask your staff what makes them sparkle so you can recognize and validate them for a job well done. Employee engagement, or lack thereof is a top factor in retaining or losing great talent.

Love What You Do  It all boils down to honoring your values and playing to your passions on a regular basis. If you are in a role where you cannot showcase your sparkle it may be time to consider your career future.

You alone have the power to embrace your strengths, own your self-confidence, and engage your sparkle factor. Spend some time reflecting on what makes you tick. You deserve to sparkle so once you find it – protect it for the precious commodity that it is.

Once you’ve determined your sparkle factor you’ll never again have to give in to self-doubt. You can spend the time you used to spend fretting and put it to good use, like earning the respect of your co-workers, rocking all of your tasks and having great work days!

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.

Live Like a Millionaire

If you’re like most of us, you probably plan to budget. You tell yourself when you earn money that you’ll save it, rather than spend it. But it’s easier said than done – without a plan, you can easily find yourself on the final ten dollars of your most recent paycheck, wondering what happened to the rest of that cash and your hopes of saving it.

It’s not the greatest feeling. Wouldn’t you rather avoid it?

In my five-year study on the daily habits of wealthy people I uncovered certain things the wealthy do to create, maintain or grow their wealth.

The 80:20 Rule

This rule requires that you set aside 20% of every paycheck and learn to live off the remaining 80%. You do this no matter how much money you make. If you get a raise or bonus, set aside 20% of that raise or bonus in addition to the 20% of your regular pay. If you stick to the 80:20 Rule you will save a lot of money and you will be wealthy long before you reach retirement age. You will be one of the few among your friends and colleagues because, unfortunately, most parents don’t teach their kids the importance of saving, so nobody saves.

Budgeting & Saving

Below are some guidelines regarding budgeting and saving:

  • Don’t spend more than 25% of your monthly net pay on housing.It doesn’t matter if you own or rent. Stick to this 25% rule.

  • Don’t spend more than 10% of your monthly net pay on entertainment. This includes bars, movies, restaurants etc.

  • Don’t spend more than 5% of your monthly net pay on auto loans and never lease. Leasing is something I call a Poverty Habit. Buy your cars and take good care of them.

  • Stay away from accumulating credit card debtIf you are doing this it means you are living beyond your means and you need to cut back on something.

  • Always invest your savings prudently. Never gamble your savings on get rich quick schemes. There’s no such thing. The power of compounding can grow your savings and make you  wealthy. Saving just $250 a month over 40 years will produce $500,362 at a 5% return.

  • Max out your contributions to the company retirement plan. If the company matches your contributions, great. That’s free money. Always take free money when you can get it.

  • Know what you spend every month. Create a monthly budget and track what you spend.

Most of the wealthy don’t make a lot of money. But they do save a lot of money. They make a habit of saving until it hurts. They focus on accumulating wealth through savings.

Savings and investments are two different things. Your savings should never lose money, whereas your investments represent a portion of savings that you are willing to put at risk and lose. How much you take out of your savings and invest depends on your risk tolerance. Conservative wealthy people do not put any of their savings at risk. Moderate wealthy people put 25-50% of their savings at risk. Aggressive wealthy people put more than 50% or more of their savings at risk.

If the wealthy invest part of their savings, they typically invest it in one or more of the following:

  • Their businesses and their retirement plans.

  • Guaranteed products like variable annuities & life insurance.

  • Stocks, real estate investments, or gold.

  • Education for their children.

Accumulating wealth is not about hitting it out of the park.  It’s about getting singles. You get enough singles and you win the game.

In my five year study on the daily habits of the rich and the poor, when it came to money, there were significant differences between the two groups. Let’s take a look at some of the research:

  • 67% of the wealthy said they are frugal with money.

  • 8% of the wealthy shop at retail thrift stores.

  • 85% of the wealthy in my study stated that they have always believed that no matter what, an individual can always save money if they really want to. Only 2% of the poor share this opinion. 73% of the wealthy in my study were taught the 80:20 Rule by their parents.

  • 6% of the wealthy lease cars. Conversely, 45% of poor people lease cars. Leasing a car is a Poverty Habit. Wealthy people don’t lease cars. They purchase their cars and will drive them as long as the engine holds out.

  • 16% of the wealthy gamble on sports at least once a week vs. 52% of the poor. 9% of the wealthy play the lottery every week vs. 77% of the poor.

  • 100% of the wealthy save for retirement vs. only 19% of the poor.

The research speaks for itself. It’s not hard to accumulate money. On the contrary, it can be very easy! Living like a millionaire doesn’t have to involve earning six-figure sums. Like anything worth earning in this world, it just involves planning and commitment. You save, and you save, and you save, even if it hurts. It’s a lot harder to commit to saving than it is to not and say you did. But with these tips under your belt, you’ll hardly feel the difference – just the rewards.

**Edited for Repurpose by Amy Kisaka, staff writer with Goddess Connections.

Redefining Feminism

There is a Charlie Perfume ad from the seventies, depicting “The Woman Who Has It All,” or at least, a very common perception of her. It was an image that stuck with Harvard professor Deborah Spar for a very long time.

The Charlie girl is exquisite: glamorous, successful looking, and clearly holding down some high-power job with her lovely pantsuit and smart briefcase. In some of the ads she is seen heading out after work with friends; in another, she’s clinking champagne glasses with a hot guy on a date; in yet another she is shown clutching the hand of a small, appropriately-adorable child.

Her message is clear: “This is who you want to be, ladies! You too could have it all!”

Well, verbatim of the message is “Kind of young, kind of now; kind of free, kind of wow!” But same difference. As Spar points out, “Who wouldn’t want that?”

Exactly. And hey, more power to the Charlie Girl. If she weren’t a fictional construct for ad purposes, we’d all want to know her secret. Because she made it look so easy. As any of us real alpha women know, the combination of work and family life is not so much effortless handling and breezy elegance, as it is desperate juggling and time-crunching – and situations that don’t always leave you looking glamorous. How big is the gap between reality and the illusion?

Deborah Spar discovered the difference in the grimy ladies’ room of an airport one morning, five weeks after giving birth to her second child. She was on her way to a business meeting, and briefly took the time to pump breast milk for her baby. Her breasts started leaking all over her clean business suit. “So I guess this is ‘having it all,’” she thought ruefully, recalling the Charlie Girl ads and the personal goal she had always striven for. Just like that, a light went on for her.

The feminist movement of the sixties changed the world for half of its population. But as liberating as the movement was, in many ways it brought along just as many shackles and heavy expectations for women, especially those under the impression that the battle was pretty much over.

The knowledge that we can now be astronauts or scientists or Supreme Court judges is a double-edged sword. It opens up a realm of possibilities…followed shortly afterward by the expectations we’ve internalized after spending much of our lives submerged in media images of the Charlie Girl, and other fantasies of what the working woman’s life must be like.

Spar explains what happens: We start thinking “if I can be an astronaut or a Supreme Court judge, why am I not an astronaut or a Supreme Court judge? What’s wrong with me?”

And it goes in other directions.

Business women begin to  feel like there is something wrong with them for not having eternally-flawless hair and poise, or a husband and child, or even the time to go on a date.

Working mothers who get caught in business suits stained with breast milk end up  feeling like they’re about to drop the ball in at least one aspect of their lives, but are not yet sure whether it’ll be work or family.

Women who back away from the workforce after having children feel like they’ve failed because they couldn’t find a balance.

The running theme is always “why couldn’t I have it all? Why is it not so effortless for me? Society expects it to be.”

Feminism is far from being won. It’s far from perfect. There are plenty of pitfalls to be aware of, and being aware of them is the first step to redefining feminism, and making it work for you.

Recognizing the Beauty Ideal for What It Is We all want to look gorgeous. For many of us, that’s just the ultimate confidence-booster. But ever notice how often the idea of the driven corporate woman is sexualized whenever she appears in the media? It’s not just that she’s expected to be smart and capable but she’s expected to be even more on her feet than the men are to really compete with them. She has to look gorgeous 24/7 on top of all that. It’s another expectation.

Now that’s not to say men don’t face their own expectations in the business world. But let’s face it – they don’t always meet every one of theirs, and it shouldn’t be super-important for us to meet this one. Clearly, you want to aim to at least be presentable in the workplace. But ‘presentable’ should be defined by what we feel good with, not by the standard of beauty demanded by society.

Recognizing that the Fight’s Not Over As Spar points out, we’re still fighting for pay equity. We’re definitely still fighting for a system of sustainable child care in most countries, a system of support for working families, especially those with new mothers. We’re often still fighting for our right as women to have children at all without being marginalized in the workplace due to pregnancy, or the need to take maternity leave.

Women with children, especially newborns, tend to find themselves at a disadvantage when they return to the office – they learn they’ve been taken out of the running for a promotion to some high-level job, or even that they’ve been demoted to a position that’s a little more out of the way. Presumably it’s to allow them better hours, so they can get home to see their children. But it’s hard not to notice how (comparatively) rarely this happens to men with children. And it shouldn’t take surrendering our ambitions to get the time to be a parent. It’s not a personal failure for this to happen, it’s societal. Fighting against it is what should define feminism.

Recognizing the Cons of Extreme-Parenting Spar notes that on the parenting front, it has become a thing in recent decades for parents to micromanage their kids’ lives. Parents decide what instruments their child will pick up, who their playmates will be, what sports they’ll go into, what colleges they’ll apply for…and of course it’s all with the best of intentions. But not only does it utterly cripple the children’s ability to be self-sufficient and independent; it also drains a lot of time away from the parents – especially the mother. Children’s lives don’t need to be micromanaged. And as the mother who wants it all, isn’t this a lot more time that could be spent making it happen?

Women should no longer be feeling the pressure to “do it all!” All that matters is that we feel like we’re doing all we want to, no matter where that falls on societies expectations!


Learning to Climb in a Dress

It wasn’t so long ago that the top of the corporate ladder was unreachable to women. The most we could hope for was to look up through a glass ceiling at the patriarchal community at the summit; to watch the male corporate bigwigs as they partied, schmoozed, plotted and formed alliances amongst themselves as the only real contenders for the top position. Whether or not those men were best qualified for that position didn’t always matter as much as whether they’d played the best political game out of all their competitors. And those men knew that – were used to it, even.

The glass ceiling may have shattered, but navigating the path to the top continues to be a challenge for smart, capable women.

The road is cluttered with residual chunks of glass from that ceiling such as:

  • Unspoken rules about what it takes to get ahead in a male-dominated culture.
  • Leadership standards that were defined in the decades when men worked and women stayed home still exist today.
  • Unconscious and even conscious biases that prevail and subjugate our reputation as leaders.
The real solution is to eliminate these intangible barriers that so many women face every day when they go to work. Until the time comes when organizations realize that the real problem suffocating women leaders is the very culture in which they work, we must become more adept at traveling the glass-cluttered road.

We can improve our odds of landing top, influential leadership jobs by knowing of certain personal behaviors that can sabotage our career advancement. Changing these behaviors can make a profound difference.

Here are three of the most common ways I find women limit their own potential, and several strategies to immediately overcome them:

1. Invisible Woman Syndrome:  Slaving at your desk non-stop is a surefire recipe for being overlooked for a promotion or key assignment. You do a great job, but no one notices. You are not given credit for the project that you tirelessly worked on to make the deadline.
  • Strategy: To optimize your career advancement key stakeholders, who can influence your career advancement, need to know just how good you are at what you do. You must stop hiding out in your office and eating lunch at your desk and start wasting time at the water cooler. In other words – you must get visible! Networking and forming relationships is not a waste of time.  It is time well spent. You’re getting to know others who can advocate for your career advancement and perhaps more importantly, help you make things happen in your current job.                                                                                                                                                                                         There are countless ways to get visible: volunteer to participate on a cross-functional committee, invite a colleague to go for coffee or lunch, identify the key connectors in your organization – those who seem to know everyone and everything that is going on. Be sure they know and like you, and know what you do as well. ( Note: these individuals may not be high up on the organizational chart, but they can create great buzz on your behalf.)

2. Political Iconoclast : The term “politics”, when associated with the workplace, is charged with emotions – typically negative.  Yet, every organization has the unwritten rule book called “office politics”, which are essentially the rules of the game you play to gain advantage for yourself or a program you support.These rules are understood by the politically astute and seem to baffle those who are politically naive.

The game of politics in the workplace is a fact of life. Love it or hate it, being politically aware and tuned in is essential to thrive in the corporate environment.  Yet many women abhor the idea of playing politics and disregard the importance of being politically savvy.

  • Strategy: Stop stonewalling when it comes to politics. Find a way to make office politics work for you, versus allowing them to derail your success. It does not have to be a black and white situation where you are either naive and politically off the grid, or slick, slimy, and overly political.  Begin by identifying the politically influential individuals in your organization.  Observe the informal groups, networks and relationships that possess the power. Build relationships with key players, but proceed cautiously before you align yourself too closely with any one group. This way, you can get the pulse on the politics from all the players in the game.
3. Fragile Self-confidence:  Lack of self-confidence is the wellspring from which flows the majority of women’s career-derailing behaviors.  Listening to the voice of your inner critic, and believing what you hear, is the mother of behaviors that will sabotage your career.

Notice that I didn’t say having an inner critic was the problem.  Everyone has self-doubts and negative thoughts running through their mind at some point.  But listening to your inner critic rant about your inadequacies and worse yet, believing the messages are gospel truth, causes a problem. Unfortunately, countless women do listen and believe.  Career-derailing behaviors are the result. They don’t speak up and voice their opinion in a meeting. They don’t apply for a job because they doubt they are good enough to land it. They don’t request a promotion because they fear they do not measure up. They are fraught with nerves when they stand on a stage presenting to an audience.

  • Strategy: Stopping the chatter is a herculean task, so don’t even try.  Just don’t let it stop you! Instead, acknowledge the voice of the critic and talk back!  “OK. I hear you saying I don’t have enough experience to apply for that big job. Thanks for your opinion inner critic.  But I am going to do it anyway.”  Why not? The more you become aware of the negative talk and your tendency to let it stop you, the more you will be motivated to respond!
Mastering these three strategies will significantly enhance your leadership profile and get you recognized as a powerful, persuasive, high-impact leader. Choose one to put to work today.

The corporate game isn’t fair. That’s a given. But when you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em, and you can play the game until you get to your rightful role in the company without losing touch with yourself as a person. Work to overcome your personal barriers and misgivings, bit by bit, and soon it will no longer feel like a chore. It will feel like you’re just being yourself…only letting more people know about it.

**Repurposed by Amy Kisaka, a staff writer at Goddess Connections’ publication Women Who Run It.