goals

Say It Out Loud

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One of the guiding principles of my life has always been to lead with heart. It has led me to make some pretty audacious decisions like leaving a thriving business to try something I believed in, moving to places where I’ve known no one all for the chance to make an impact, or even becoming a mom. I never want to look back and think “I wonder what would have happened if I’d bet on myself,” so I’ve made it a practice of always betting on myself. Luckily, it has normally ended up pretty well.

But lately, I have been thinking about all the chances we don’t take because we’re too afraid to say them out loud. Did you know that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals by simply writing them down? This is a practice I have often used for myself and with our clients and genuinely believe in. And while there are plenty of studies that show the power of keeping those goals to yourself, I believe saying them out loud brings power to the goals themselves. Once you share the goal out into the universe, you can’t take it back and you establish an accountability unlike being able to keep it pent up inside where you’re the only one that has to face potential failure.

Some people call it courageous for living out loud the way I do - never too afraid to take the leap. But I’ve found that even if you bury the truth, it has a sneaky way of following you anyway. The things you want are etched in your heart and your mind, you just have to take action to make them a reality. And the decisions you make with your just the right mix of head and heart - well the power of those decisions can’t be underestimated!

Maintaining An Attitude of Gratitude

Picture this: the dogs are barking, kids forgot their homework, you ran out of coffee, your deal is crumbling, and it’s only 7 am. When life gets in the way, it is not only challenging - but some days it is downright hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude has a number of scientifically proven benefits such as higher self-esteem, enhanced empathy, better sleeping habits, and even better social connections. With evidence of the benefits of gratitude, why do we still struggle to maintain that feeling?

Last year, I began a practice of living my attitude of gratitude. Not just acknowledging my feelings, but also making the point of assigning gold stars of sorts to the people in my life who I feel grateful for and the things in my life that I feel most blessed about. As soon as I made gratitude a practice versus an intention - everything shifted. I found myself able to have better interactions with my family after a stressful day; I was able to shrug off the small stuff (admittedly not all of it, but hey, I’m a work in progress); and I even found myself having more energy.

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The practice began with my utilizing the 5 Minute Journal each morning and evening as the journal teaches. Starting my day with gratitude and getting into the mindset that “I’m going to have a great day” begins my day with the positivity that I need to accomplish the big tasks and “swallow the frog”. Then, after the stress of the day happens, I’m forced to pull out the great things that happened - potentially shifting my mindset to a positive place highlighting the great things that happened instead of letting setbacks burn into my mind. The other aspect I love is that it also forces you to end the day in a growth mindset - focusing on how you can improve or do things differently.

The 5 Minute Journal has drastically impacted my attitude of gratitude and I hope it can do the same for you. I get no kickbacks or kudos when you buy it, I simply endorse it as a life-changing practice. If you have a goal to show more gratitude in 2019, I strongly recommend purchasing your copy today.

What's Your Metric?

In my line of work, the last quarter of the year means one thing…business planning. Most of my clients are hard at work charting out their plans for 2019 and we’re by their side to help. One of the biggest parts of business planning isn’t just about the plans for the future, but the metrics with which you will measure your success.

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Each day, my kids go to school and I am able to track their progress and behavior through a fun app the school began utilizing this year. I absolutely adore the features this app provides. Because I’m more aware of what they’re doing each day, I’m able to have more substantive conversations with them each night. Gone are the days of “how was your day at school?” with the humdrum “Good!” Now I’m able to ask, “What were you doing when you got a point for setting a good example?” or “I’m really proud of you for being a shining star today” and yes, even “We really need to focus on making better choices tomorrow.” The simplicity of the metrics in this app make it easy for me to track their progress, but they’re also the metrics I want to evaluate their progress by. Are they being good people? Are they helping others? Are they setting good examples? Sure, I want them to excel in reading and math too, but I stand by the fact that I’ve used none of my chemistry knowledge in my adult life.

This got me thinking, who really defines our metrics? In real estate, so much of our success is inherently tied to production. Brokerages award them, other agents measure themselves against your production, and it even is leveraged to help you win more business. And while production is undoubtedly important - to me, so are so many other metrics. Have we lost sight of those metrics during our chase for more?

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Most adults struggle to find the hours in the day to complete their to-do lists. We go to sleep with our minds still abuzz with our tasks for the next day and even struggle to sleep through the night because we’re constantly thinking about what lies ahead. Sure, technology is partially to blame, but so are we. I think this is all a result of us falling off track from the real metrics that matter in life. The news, work, our lives - it can all feel a little heavy sometimes, but each time it does; I encourage you to revisit your metrics and even go back to the metrics of your childhood to measure up.

Are you proud of who you are or who you are becoming?

Did you try your best today?

How did you help someone today?

Are you happy?

What did you do to be better today?



One Year Later

On August 24, 2017, with a grand vision, a belly full of nerves, and an insatiable passion for helping agents, I launched Compass South in my living room. It was just the right mix of exciting and terrifying, which I knew meant I was doing something worth doing. Those of you that know me well know that I didn't do this blindly. I had dreamed of this for years and even though it may not have been the perfect time, there was no time like the present to live my dream and help others do the same. 

But that's the thing about dreams. Sometimes the stars align and things happen just on the timeline you were expecting and sometimes you're thrown a curveball, jerked into position and expected to rise to the occasion. When Compass South opened, it was definitely the latter. In fact, I was still reeling from the upheaval from my previous position at a company that no longer exists. Truthfully, I may still be reeling from that. But one thing remained, I knew the work I was doing was important work. I knew these agents mattered. I knew I could help. So I did. 

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There is something both traumatic and liberating when your fate is decided by someone else. It forces you to look deep inside and cement your values, your ambitions, and your integrity. As I look around the industry a year later, a lot has changed. Major players still exist, there are some new ones and the ever present "disrupters." But one thing has remained the same, this industry is run by hard working agents that pour their heart and soul into what they do every day. To me, that is inspiring. Those are the folks I want to help thrive. 

A year later, Compass South probably still isn't considered a household name, although luckily my kids consider it one. We haven't helped a billion agents or closed million dollar deals. But we have experienced our version of success. We're living our mission each and every day. We're helping those hard working agents that I see as the difference-makers. We're partnered with incredible brokerages, MLSes, and vendors to help them deliver value to their customers - agent and consumer alike. But most of all, we're proud. Not because we're boastful. In fact, we're anything but. We're proud because when the going got tough, we got going. 

A year later, I genuinely believe that each one of us is far stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We're capable of taking big leaps of faith, jumping without safety nets, and rising to the occasion. We're every day people capable of amazing things. We just have to say when. 

 

Begin

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There is something refreshing about a beginning. So much of our lives are spent in preparation mode. We're always preparing for something - our next listing, our next step in our career, our next step in our relationship, etc. The problem with approaching life this way is that we miss so many opportunities. 

One of the biggest reasons people don't accomplish what they set out to is because they fail to ever truly begin. They spend days, months, even years of their lives preparing to begin and fail to ever take the first step. Here is the secret: you will never be fully prepared but some of the best things have come from inadequate preparation. Ask just about any parent. Most of us were probably ill-prepared to have kids, heck, most days I still feel that way. But they have been some of the great treasures of my life. When I began Compass South, there was no question that I wasn't adequately prepared. Sure, I had the value to share with clients, but I didn't have the systems in place, the lessons I have learned over time, or the experience that time has brought me. That's the thing though, had I waited and prepared, I never would've learned all that I have by starting before I felt ready. 

Your odds will never be perfect. Your journey won't be easy or hassle-free. But, the lessons that you learn along the way because you are approaching your journey with the humility of someone who doesn't have all the answers will be the key to grow beyond your wildest measure. There is no time like the present to begin.

It's your move. 

We're All A Little Flawed

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I have a confession to make. I'm incredibly flawed. I try not to be, but I am. Try as I might, there are times that I stumble, times that I fail, and times that I let people down. It gets to me and that's when I have a choice to either let my head play out every worst case scenario, or to dust myself off and rise to the occasion. We all have these choices and how we choose makes all the difference. 

A friend once told me about a Japanese practice called "kintsugi." In this process they repair a broken object with precious metals - liquid gold, liquid silver, or lacquer dusted with powdered gold. The process not only repairs the broken object, but highlights the breaks - celebrating them as value, not flaw. I adore this practice because it makes me think of the human story. We're all a little broken and flawed, but I have always believed that it is those very flaws that make us who we are. Each flaw has a story, a lesson, and a seed of growth. 

When I work with teams and brokerages, I often suggest an activity where they openly identify not only their strengths, but their weaknesses. I encourage every member of the team to identify these qualities both in themselves and in their colleagues. Admittedly, this exercise can get a little uncomfortable, but the result is truly amazing. What comes out of this exercise is not unlike kintsugi. Individuals not only gain a deep understanding of what they do well, but what they struggle with, too. Their weaknesses are celebrated equally with their strengths. You see, only when you identify what you struggle with are you able to improve and grow those skills. Further, you're able to leverage those around you. To me, this is what true growth is all about.

Admitting the flaw can often be the hardest part. We don't want to be vulnerable so instead, we charge ahead. The beauty in admitting your flaws is that you begin to see the strengths of those around you - both in your professional and your personal life. You begin to identify who you can turn to and lean on in times of need, and that...well, that is nothing short of perfect.  

Love Yourself

When we talk about love, most of the time we immediately think of others. How can we show others that we love them? That we care? But, what about loving yourself? Why don't we talk about that as much? 

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Most of you know that I am an avid (okay...maybe more like obsessive), Peloton rider. In early 2017, I made the commitment that so many of us do as we ring in the New Year to shed some unwanted weight. I know I'm supposed to say that it was about my health, which it was, but it was also about my appearance. I felt bad because my health was in bad shape, I looked bad because I was overweight, and I felt worse because I wasn't doing a damn thing about it. Something had to change. Well, most of you who have known me for some time now know that the Peloton was my solution. Each day, I'd ride, I'd recommit, and I'd love myself enough to carve out an hour for me. On Tuesday, I celebrated my one year #Peloversary. It was a year of over 3,000 miles; 269 rides (I know, but my legs wouldn't let me get that 270th ride in); countless hours of sore muscles; pounds shed; and friends made from all over the country. But really, it was a year of falling in love with myself all over again. A year of carving out time to commit to better myself so I could be better for others. To loving who I am - flaws and all, because well, if I don't love myself - how can I hope others will?

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This isn't about me though, it is about you. In business, we often put ourselves last. We fill our days with clients and to-do lists and fill our nights with activities for/with our children, friends, and significant others. We give our whole selves to everything around us, but put ourselves and our health and well-being last. Here is the problem with that though: what happens when you've got nothing left to give? My good friend Jim Wahlberg reached out to congratulate me on my Peloversary this week and I admitted to him that part of what got me through the last year was something I once heard him say..."you have to make time for your health now, or you have to make time to be sick later." Everytime I felt like quitting, Jim's words rang through my head. 

So, for you, what can you do to show yourself a little love? How can you carve out some time to pour into yourself so that you can be capable of pouring into others? 

Overcoming the Mid-January Blues

We're about 5% done with 2018, and for most people, that means beginning the process of giving up on their goals. Not you. Not this year. Instead of feeling the mid-January pressures to give yourself a break, you would be much better served to stay on track and adjust your approach to make achieving your goals a reality. 

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The problem with setting and achieving audacious goals is that we are often setting big goals while not wanting to compromise anything we currently have going on. I liken this to the mid-January situation in my kid's playroom. Over the holidays, they had their embarrassment of riches in Legos and the latest trendy toy. Prior to the holidays they already had full toyboxes of toys they loved, but as the new toys came - the old ones got pushed to the bottom and now I see them as they sit in the toybox and the new toys grab their attention. 

Adults are really just slightly more evolved versions of kids. We set ambitious goals and New Year's Resolutions and spend much of our time laser-focused on those goals, often completely abandoning other secondary goals or even strategies that got us to the point of our current success. But we must be aware of this trap. Forgetting the tried and true strategies that allowed us to succeed to this point are not things that should be abandoned for a shiny new model of marketing, branding, or prospecting. No, these are the things that should be doubled down on to continue to build our success. 

So, how do you overcome these mid-January blues and stay on track to achieving your goals? Regardless of what goals you find yourself working toward this year, I challenge you to consider this: if you were limited to five major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be? Now, consider these "major moves" more of a category of activities that move you closer to achieving your goals. Once you have the knowledge of what those activities are, break them down further into tasks (with deadlines) and get them on your calendar. When things end up on our calendars, they get back to the forefront of our awareness. It is like pulling the toy from the bottom of the toybox and placing it back in their field of view. No longer does it get treated as "that old thing," but a treasured part of their day. So, what will you treasure today?

Sure, you may not be a kid anymore and you've got things more pressing than Legos and Barbies determining your success, but who says you can't use the same tried and true strategies to tackle keeping things top of mind?

Honor The Struggle

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We have established the importance of incremental growth; however, what we didn't dive into is the struggle associated with that growth. Trust us when we tell you, we get it.  The struggle is real. But, the struggle is also necessary to achieve great things. When we are growing, building, and advancing - the natural desire is for an easier way. We're in a time of life hacks and shortcuts, but as a coach, I assure you - there is no hack to success. There is a struggle, but instead of fearing the struggle, we must learn to honor the struggle as part of the larger process. 

As I coach, I am particularly attuned to what differentiates high performers from low performers, and while habits are the main differentiator, more recently I have been intrigued by specifically what habits make a difference. In Brendon Burchard's book, High Performance Habitshe explores this idea of honoring the struggle in depth. 

He makes the point that our society has glorified avoidance of the struggle versus honoring the struggle, which is a big mistake. This concept of an easy way out is particularly prevalent in the training and coaching industry. People want you to simplify the content, find an easier process, or even a shortcut; but my question remains - if we are always telling people to do what is easy, why would they ever embrace the things that are hard? Well, they wouldn't. Are you looking for the easy way out? Hopefully not, and here's why...

High performers don't just honor the struggle, they welcome the struggle. They shift their mindset to prepare for the struggle, then welcome the struggle, and eventually even build off their struggle to grow their character into who they need to become rather than leaning on who they are. What if you adopted that mindset? What if you were willing to meet your challenges head-on instead of trying to avoid them? Would your life look drastically different? I bet it would. 

Setting big goals requires big work. Big work requires big belief. And, well, big belief requires big faith. Faith not just that you are already capable of achieving great things (which you probably are), but that to achieve things beyond your wildest dreams - you will do what it takes to get there - struggle or not. You're committed to refine your skills, learn new skills, and build a big, badass life. So go on...what are you waiting for?

Growth Is A Process

As we embark on a new year, many of us are finding ourselves focusing on the year ahead. But think on this for a moment...2018 is only a year. Just as 2017 was and every year before that. And chances are, there will be more years to come as well. So, instead of focusing just on 2018 and what we will achieve this year, wouldn't it be more useful to focus on how we can make 2018 a year of incremental growth so that we can achieve greater things in the years to come?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that you should sell yourself short and set goals with little growth in mind. I'm a big fan of audacious goals, but why not focus those goals on the process of growth versus a destination? Why set some arbitrary day to be a better you instead of focusing every day on how you can be better than you were yesterday? 

For example, in 2017 I set a goal to lose 25 pounds. 2016 had been a year of big transitions in my personal life and my health was reflective of that. The thing about losing weight and getting healthy is that it provides a lot of perspective on incremental growth. You can't just go for a run and meal prep for a week and poof! you're back to your prime! Much to our chagrin, that's just not how this works. Instead, you better get comfortable with incremental growth. So, this is how it went for me...

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On February 13, 2017, my Peloton bike arrived. I had been lusting after it for months at that point and couldn't wait to take my first ride. I had space in our guest room perfectly reserved, my water bottle was filled, and I was ready for the delivery guys to set it up so I could ride! As soon as they set it up, I hopped on and took my first ride. Truth is, I don't know if you can call the flailing that I did a ride as I thought the instructor had plans to kill me the entire ride, but I just kept pedaling. I got off the bike and felt defeated (and exhausted) and almost started to cry. Here I was, sitting on the floor in a puddle of my own sweat, out of breath, overweight, having spent thousands of dollars on a piece of equipment that I felt like I couldn't even do. 

But that night, I got on the bike again. This time only for 20-minutes, unlike the 45-minute deathwish ride that I'd done earlier. It was still hard, but I kept pedaling. My stepkids sat on the bed watching me asking questions like "why are you sweating so much?" and "is that hard?" the entire ride as my fiance encouraged me knowing that I was struggling. Even though it was hard, it was a little easier than earlier that day. This continued throughout 2017 and I ended the year more than 25 pounds lighter than I began it, completely asthma free, and with a heart rate that was well within a healthy range for my age. So, what does my weight loss journey have to do with your audacious goals for 2018? Well, a lot. Much like my goal seemed almost too big to imagine in January; when I was able to break it down into small, achievable steps - it seemed more realistic. In order to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year, you need to lose roughly 1/2 a pound per week. Sounds doable, right? 

This is incremental growth. So, maybe you're struggling with the size of your goals for this year. Or maybe you're having trouble thinking about how you get from A to Z by 2020. Start by defining where you want to be in a year, three years, five years, maybe even ten years then be honest with yourself about what it will take to get there. What skills do you need to refine or even learn? What changes do you need to make? What strategies must you master? You won't get there today, but thinking about the incremental growth makes you a lot more likely to get there eventually than your zero to sixty plot you've made up in your mind. Take your time. Make incremental changes. Celebrate your wins. And go crush it. 

Small steps add up. You just have to choose the direction. 

 

Start Small, Think Big

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By now, most of us have heard the story of Apple, which started in a garage with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976. A true bootstrapping effort of brains, wit, and ambition that built one of the most successful companies in the world. The remarkable thing about their story isn't just the amazing growth of their company though. It is the fact that they were willing to start small to build something they truly believed in. 

Apple isn't the only example of this type of story. Take ice cream moguls, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (better known as Ben & Jerry's) for example. They started their careers taking a $5 class on fine points of preparing ice cream. They opened their first location in an abandoned gas station eventually growing their business to developing creative flavors and selling ice cream to distributors - now a household name. 

Entrepreneurs are really more similar than they are different. Most of us don't work just for the money. Entrepreneurs could trade the unpredictable nature of their business for a stable job, reliable paycheck, and health insurance whenever they want. So why don't they? 

The truth is, we're in it for far more than the money. Sure, money pays the bills, but our motivation is found in customer satisfaction, great experiences, and a desire to make a difference. It can be a little daunting when you're in the garage starting small, but my advice is keep going. It doesn't matter if you start small, it just matters that you start something that matters. 

Time Flies

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Today is my step-daughter's 7th birthday. I look at her and see how much she has changed and grown over the past year, let alone the last seven and think to myself, what is it going to be like in seven more years? She'll be 14 then. Woah. Okay, I'll dial it back. 

But, as any coach might do, I draw connections. I see the last seven years and think about how my business has grown and morphed into more than I ever could have imagined. No, not every step has been planned or even predictable, but every step has been a result of previous actions. What will your business look like in seven years? What do you want it to look like? 

You see, a lot of people can't answer that question. Sure, you won't be able to predict every moment, action, or result of the next seven years, but planning and strategic actions can help determine the likelihood of accomplishing your goals. I read books, work on math problems, or answer those pressing questions that a 7-year old has swirling around in their mind with the goal of preparing Sunni for things beyond 7-years old. This isn't touting my parenting skills. Trust me, I've got plenty to work on. What I'm trying to explain here is that we have the ability to be proactive about the future, many of us are just proactive about others future instead of our own. Why is that? Why are you less important? Before you answer, let me tell you...you're not. 

So, if you're reading this and you have neglected making plans and taking actions, it is not too late. The secret is, it is never too late. Your business (and your life) thrives when you begin to take an active role in the future. You take the time to plan your actions, prepare for the outcomes, and scale accordingly. You can train with the best, but no one can ever say with full certainty that you will experience a future outcome, you can just stack the odds in your favor. An Olympic athlete spends every day training their mental, physical, and emotional capacity to win a gold medal, but only some do. They train for gold, even if they win silver. You should do the same. Train for gold. Train for goals. You still may end up just short, but at least you're on your way. 

We've All Got A Team

Teams have been all the rage in the real estate industry for quite a few years now. They proudly boast about the higher level of service and satisfaction that consumers will receive due to their setup, their larger marketing budgets, etc. While I understand the argument, I have come to believe that we've all got a team. Whether it is real estate or any other area of our lives, we don't tackle things alone (or at least we shouldn't). 

Over the past few weeks, our leadership team here at Bamboo Realty has been tackling "sprint work". This style of work dictates following a 12-week process to take a project from idea to execution & roll out in 12-weeks. You spend three-weeks in each phase - planning, creating, shipping, and assessing - and ultimately end with a really refined vision and end product. The process, originally taken from our CEO's coaching club, 108 Collective, has been enlightening for all of us working together. We've grown as a company, but more importantly as a team. We've been able to truly uncover each other's strengths, compensate for each other's weaknesses, and trust our guts. 

In true Bamboo fashion, we decided that we didn't want to tackle one sprint, so instead, we opted for three sprints. No big deal, right? Now, the magic of the 12-week sprint is that it is long-enough to fully think through something, but short enough that you're unable to overthink any particular element. This is a fantastic perk for us creative types. We're analytical of the details, so rather than over think them, we focus on executing them with precision, yet we're still comforted that we can adjust the dials during the Assess phase of our sprint. Last week, on the brink of beginning the Create phase, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. As I shared my concerns with our VEEP, Zach, he said something that I have taken such comfort in. He told me, "Don't worry about the amount of tasks. That's why we're here." As supported as I felt in that moment, what struck me about his comment was the truth to the statement. We're here. Zach & Sarah care as deeply about the projects that I champion as I do about theirs. We all have different roles and responsibilities within the company, but we're after the same thing - making Bamboo the best version of itself. 

So I began to wonder, is it any different for agents? I'm not sure that it is. Explain that you too, have a team. No, a solo agent doesn't have a formal team per se, but they have a team just the same. They work with photographers, appraisers, lenders, home inspectors, attorneys - the list goes on! You have a group of professionals (that you probably think are the best at what they do) working to get the best results for your clients. If you ask me, that's pretty great. A team doesn't have to mean that your checks are signed by the same folks, it just means that you're working toward a common goal. More agents need to leverage this to consumers. 

When I reflect on the greatest moments of my life - my greatest achievements, my happiest memories, and the things that I am most proud of - they have one thing in common; I wasn't alone. So, perhaps I don't have a team, perhaps agents don't have teams either, but as the Beatles put it best, "I get by with a little help from my friends." I think we all do, don't we?

What If You Had To?

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Some people may have the perception that coaches have it all figured out, and I am quite certain that I'm not alone when I say, we don't. We question ourselves and our abilities, too. We have fears of failure and we have to work to attack our distractions every day. What coaches have is greater perspective, not ability. We know that not everything works, we just don't believe that is reason enough not to try. 

As a coach, I work with agents every single day who question their abilities. My role helps agents find innovative ways to grow their business, hold them accountable to their goals, and ultimately - assist all of our agents in living #LivesThatThrive. I love what I do, I really do. Another part of my role is helping agents dig deep to achieve things that I know they can, when they are still unsure. 

I have quickly come to believe that our abilities truly don't limit our achievements, our minds do. Sure, it is easy to rattle off a list of why something won't work, but what happens when you ask yourself, what if it does work? What if you stop telling yourself "I don't think I can do this," and you start asking yourself "what if I had to do this?"

Soak on that for a moment. Do you know what you would achieve? Would you push a little harder at the gym? Would you go after the listing in the neighborhood that seems out of reach? Would you work just a touch harder? Would you try that creative marketing idea you've been mulling around in your head? I hope so. 

Some of you still may question how you would act in a certain scenario. But, look at moments where people had to do great things. Moments where a parent needed to act swiftly, ER doctors day-to-day, or a Coast Guard rescue. No, real estate normally isn't fast-pace, life or death moments. That said, real estate is our career. It is our have to. Have your moment. Do your thing. Take those leaps and hope that you fly. Rather, build wings so that you do fly! Our human bodies are wired for fight or flight. So I'm asking you to fight. I'm asking you - what if you had to?

Committing To Yourself

Most of us began the new year with a list of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. We're all going to end 2017 in the best shape of our lives, with limitless income, and parent of the year badges. Or at least, that's how we start the year...

But if you look back to your 2016, many of you will find that you had the same setbacks, challenges, and bad habits that you had in 2015 or even 2014! You are keeping your problems year after year despite setting out with the best of intentions. Herein lies the one of the fundamental problems that we have with achieving our goals. Many of us make goals - even writing them down, but don't make the changes necessary to achieve those goals - so, we end up in the same place we started. We speak powerful words, but we don't commit to powerful action. Why is that? Author Lisa Jacobs puts it very simply, "If you wanted to travel from Pittsburgh to New York, you can't sit down on a park bench in Pittsburgh and wonder why you're not getting to New York." Yes, while many of us laugh at this sentiment and think "of course you can't!" that same group is found wondering why they haven't achieved their goals year after year. Why, you ask? Because you're sitting on the park bench! Because you are being a spectator in your own life instead of getting on the field! 

This weekend, my 5 year old (5 1/2 year old if you were to ask him) went to basketball practice. This is a new activity for him that he has only been doing for about two months. He's still learning, but when his coach told the kids that they should practice making 200 shots per day, this 5 year old didn't take it lightly. After being at practice on Saturday, he couldn't wait to tell me how he was going to make his 200 shots every day because he wants to get "really good." But then something truly wonderful happened. He got off the park bench! Ryland spent nothing short of 3-4 hours outside sinking shots. He missed more than he made at first, but as the time went on, he started sinking more than he made. He was determined to get to his 200. Shortly after 6:00pm. I stood in the darkness shooting with him and he made his 200th shot! I caught the aftermath on video! 

What is remarkable about this wasn't the 200 shots on Saturday afternoon, although that was undeniably remarkable. Already proud of his commitment to his goals, I gushed with pride as he woke up Sunday morning ready to shoot his 200 baskets. Not because I reminded him, but because he made a commitment to himself. This is what active progress toward your goals looks like. This is what commitment is. I don't tell you this story to brag (although, it is certainly a brag worthy step-parenting moment). I tell you this story because this commitment displayed by a 5 year old is more than what many adults commit to. Kids are constantly learning, growing, and most importantly - doing. As adults, we could learn a thing or two from them. I know that I have. 

If you want to break those bad habits - finally lose those 5 lbs, grow your business, be a happier version of yourself, or even become a better basketball player - you have to get off the park bench. You have to commit to your 200 shots with action, not just words. And when you feel like you have an excuse as for why you can't, watch the video of the 5 year old who is making 200 shots every day and tell me why you can't accomplish your goals, too.

So, what's your plan today? 

Intentional Happiness

I've always been sort of a morning person. By that I simply mean that I naturally wake up early. What I wasn't doing was designing my mornings to make an impact. I was going through the motions and things were getting accomplished, but I might as well have not been present. I wasn't engaging with the kids as they ate their breakfast, instead I was cleaning up the mess that really could wait 5 more minutes until they finished. I wasn't reading and continuing to challenge myself to learn. I wasn't working out, I was chugging my coffee and immediately sitting down at my computer or rushing out the door, convinced that I was being effective by merely showing up. I was doing, but I wasn't being intentional with my time. You see, showing up isn't enough. You have to do more than just show up. Your work, your clients, your kids, your dog, etc. expect you to show up. How do you expect to make a difference by merely meeting expectations? Moreover, does your presence even matter when it is just your physical presence, not all of you? I say, no. 

Last fall, I decided to choose to make mornings a more intentional time. I was the heaviest that I had ever been in my life, lacked the self-confidence that I had once oozed, sleep deprived, and always wondering why I never felt like there was enough time in the day. It was bizzare since I felt so fulfilled in so many areas and in so many of my relationships. What I realized was that despite my attempts, my happiness had to start with me and my choices, not the joy that I found in others. So...I chose to give up coffee, which may seem ludacris to most, but was very intentional for me. I wanted to break out of the routine of needing something to get by so that I could focus more on what I was doing. And I did. By removing part of my routine, I was able to fill it with intentional action. Yes, the first week was awful. I would melt at the mere smell of a freshly roasted brew, I was probably pretty irritable, and I thought, "what a dumb idea to replace coffee with a workout!" as I pedaled the bike still half asleep. But, I was determined to find the time to be the better version of myself. So, I committed. I stopped complaining about being achy and tired from my lack of coffee. I started finding the time to be on that bike every single morning. I missed some days (hey, we're not perfect), but I worked really hard to make sure that I was creating a habit, not just a fling. For me, it wasn't about the weight or even really my self-confidence. It was about making a difference in my day. It was about choosing to do instead of dream. 

Sure, it was scary carving out an hour when I wasn't sure that an extra hour in my day even existed. A big "a-ha" moment for me was when I realized that I didn't have to spend the time 100% focused on pedaling. After all, pedaling is a pretty mindless task in and of itself. So, I found other ways to use the time. I found a way to balance carving out an hour of each day without losing it somewhere else. I often spend my rides on emails or reading a book that helps me in my work and taking notes, watching recorded webinars, making my morning calls, making lists on my phone of things I'd like to tackle that day, or even just laughing with the kids as they play Legos on the bonus room floor and I hammer out my 10 miles in the corner. It has been fascinating because I am expanding my horizons in more than just my workout. I'm reading again! A lot. I'm writing again. A lot. I'm creating again. A lot. I am finding so much uncovered wonder in this version of myself.

So how do you magically uncover an hour in your day? Well, it is a whole lot easier than it seems. In fact, we probably have hours of our weeks that exist and aren't being used effectively. We just have to look. When creating a habit, we thrive off predictability and routine. A lot of coaches may recommend creating habits by tackling the task at the same time each day. Unlike so many coaches recommend, I rarely ride the bike at the exact same time each day, I merely focus on tackling this task in the morning - before the day has the opportunity to go off the rails. Four months later and almost 15 lbs lighter, I feel on top of the world. You see, it has very little to do with the actual weight (although that part admittedly feels good too). I now find myself being an active participant in my own life. I find myself being more calculated about my time and how I choose to spend it, more present in the moments that I choose to spend a certain way, and more effective at work. I am better able to nurture my relationships and nurture my career, because I'm finally nurturing myself. 

By spending time in the morning with intention and focusing on things that make me feel good, I am able to be intentional about the rest of my day. Do you have a task or goal that has been looming for a while? An unfinished project? Try carving out some time each morning to devote to that. I think you'll be surprised at how quickly things get accomplished. 

So, what are you going to tackle tomorrow morning?

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