I Wanna Be Like Bradley Cooper

Do you ever feel like there is just not enough time to do everything that you want to and “have to”? Does your life feel like never-ending blur of to-do lists, emails, events, commitments, and obligations? Do you ever worry that time is racing by so quickly that you are missing out on quality time with your friends, family, and yourself?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. In this day and age, most of us are familiar with that frazzled feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed. We are busier than ever and yet we find ourselves struggling to find the time to do the things that will help move us to our bigger goals, dreams, and life vision. We think time is the enemy holding us back from reaching our goals and enjoying the quality of life we desire. We tell ourselves that we will start pursuing our dreams “when life settles down”, but that day never seems to come. 

I have always wrestled with time and consider myself to be a recovering busy-ness addict and time-abuser. I have always blamed “lack of time” for my lack of productivity and lack of peace. Even today, the words, “I don’t have enough time” always sit on the tip of my tongue and it has taken me years to break the habit of giving the knee-jerk response of “busy” when asked how I’m doing. But this unhealthy relationship with time has led me to discover a new passion and obsession – life, time, and productivity hacking! 

There is so much to learn about the way our brains and bodies can best utilize the 24 hours we are all given each day. I find the concept of brain and body optimization to be absolutely thrilling. I mean, don’t we all want to feel like Bradley Cooper in Limitless? But until they create a nootropic like NZT that won’t cause time blackouts, limping, or death (if you haven’t seen Limitless, add to it your “movies to watch” list right now), we must be heal our relationship with time so that we may optimize our lives and start living our dreams. 

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach my first “Optimize Your Life” class this coming Saturday, September 13th at 4:30pm at Happiness U. I am so excited about this subject and I have designed this class to help you shift from “overwhelmed and busy” to “efficient, productive, and inspired” so that you no longer have to feel like time is the enemy. 

In this 90-minute workshop, I will share tips, tools, strategies, and resources to optimize your life and maximize your time. You’ll learn how to manage the technology in your life (instead of having it manage you) and discover how fun and easy it can be to outsource and automate lower-level tasks and stuff you just don’t want to do. I will share my favorite, easy-to-implement physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual hacks that can help you be more efficient so that you do more of what you and create more time for work, play, travel, fun, or all of the above!

Remember, it’s not about having time, it’s about CREATING time! When I feel those old patterns of “time blaming” and “time frustration” popping up, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I have all the time in the world to do everything I want to and more, because I CREATE TIME. Today, as you go about your day, evaluate your relationship is with time and take a simple inventory of how you are spending each moment of your 24 hours. Remember, with or without NZT, you are LIMITLESS!

Hope you can create time to join me this Saturday! Register here:
http://www.yourhappinessu.com/class-registration.html

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The Insanity Loop: 3 Steps to Getting Unstuck

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Photo credit: Pup Fan, Creative Commons
Have you ever been stuck in a cycle of wanting to change something, trying to change, not being able to change, thinking there is something wrong with you, trying harder to change, getting mad that you can’t, trying again, getting frustrated, beating yourself up for your lack of willpower, and then trying again only to continue to “fail”? Maybe you talk about how you haven’t been able to do something no matter how hard you try, but this time you’ll just try harder in the hopes that something will be different this time around. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this phenomenon lately and have been wrestling with this myself, frankly. This is what I call, “The Insanity Loop”, based on Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The fact is that we often needlessly drive ourselves insane by using all of our energy to work HARDER instead of SMARTER.At Egan’s Training Center, we are always being reminded in jiu jitsu training, that the focus is on using your individual strengths, correct positioning, and leverage. This is especially important if your opponent is bigger or stronger than you. Instead of trying desperately, again and again, to outpower someone, a simple shift in position and mindset can save you tons of energy and create the opportunity to use their force to your advantage.

If you find yourself stuck in The Insanity Loop, expending lots of energy trying to outpower (or out-willpower) something you are up against, here are 3 steps you can use to help break the cycle and get unstuck:

1 – Know Yourself. The first step is coming to terms with you who are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take some time to really examine the chronic issues, habits, or behaviors that are getting in the way of your success. The key here is do this without judgement. Do you hit your snooze button 50 times every morning? Righteous! Do you find it impossible to say no to red wine/hot bread/chocolate chip cookies? Yum! That’s just who you are, baby. Do you love writing blog posts, but don’t schedule time for it and then scramble to get them done? Yup, that’s me! It’s all good. The first step is awareness and acceptance. Write down on a piece of paper what you want and then what you do to sabotage yourself. Then have a good laugh about it. We all have our shit and that’s what makes us special and awesome. And keep in mind, who we are and what we want is always changing and evolving, so finding the time to do this type of self-reflection on a regular basis is part of living a life by design.

2 – Hack Your Environment and Shift Your Position. The bottom line is that it is a heck of a lot easier to change our environment or our positioning than it is to change our personality or behaviors. Take a look at that piece of paper again and think of ways that you can “hack your environment” to support your goals. If you snooze your alarm clock so many times you constantly miss your morning workouts, instead of beating yourself for being unable to get up, move your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up and turn it off. Or get a dog that wakes you up because he has to pee or a cat that slaps your face every morning with a furry paw because she’s hungry. Or perhaps you can “shift your position” to work with who you are, and not against it, by switching to afternoon workouts. Remember, when nothing goes right, go left.

We can also use technology to hack our environment and create external reminders and pressure to help us shift. Whatever it is that you are trying to achieve, put reminders on your phone to get to the gym, or log your food, or call your mom. Use a tool like Resnooze to send email reminders to your inbox, hire someone on Fiverr for $5 to call you everyday for a month to ask you if you are staying on track. We have endless tools at our fingertips – use them to make it impossible to forget what you are trying to achieve.

3 – Put Accountability to Work. Accountability is our best friend when breaking out of The Insanity Loop and creating new habits. Accountability can come in many forms, but the main idea is to share with one person, or many, about what you are trying to achieve so that it matters in some way whether you do it or not. You can tell your best friend, your family, share it on Facebook, join a community of like-minded individuals, make a bet with someone, create a mastermind group, etc. The whole point is that more than likely, you have been trying to change in a bubble with no real external consequences. Use accountability to up the ante and the more it scares you the better! If being held accountable for something makes your palms sweat and gives you those little nervous butterflies in your stomach, that means your dreams are big and the stakes are high and that is a recipe for success!

You may want to consider doing these exercises and brainstorming with a friend, or friends, someone who can help you get creative and think of out-of-the-box solutions to your challenges since it is often difficult for us to see clearly when we’re stuck in the muck of insanity. I’d love to hear all about the creative ways that you break out of The Insanity Loop! Please share in the comments and inspire others.

If you’re looking for another way to get unstuck when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition, please join me this Saturday, August 16th, for my “Healthy Body, Happy Life” class. This is the last one of this series that I will be teaching at Happiness U this year, so if you’ve been thinking about it, I hope you can join us for this final class. I love teaching this class and have so much to share! Please register to reserve your spot. 

 

4 Apps for an Awesome August and the 1 Question to Ask Yourself Today

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Can you believe it is already August?! What a perfect time to reflect on the year so far. How are you doing on those goals and visions you created for yourself at the beginning of 2014? There are 5 whole months left in this year…what are you going to do with them? Instead of resetting those same old boring goals, think about this quote from Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week (my current Audible pick of the month): “The question you should be asking isn’t, ‘What do I want?’ or ‘What are my goals?’, but, ‘What would excite me?'” What is going to fire you up this month and beyond? What would make you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Whatever you’re thinking, think BIGGER, crazier, and more awesome! You’re not on this planet to get by and get along, you’re here to milk every minute for all it’s worth! I love using technology to support my goals/dreams/visions. Here are the apps I’m going to be using to keep me focused, hold me accountable, and help me LEVEL UP my awesomeness in August!

Toggl Available as an internet, desktop, and smartphone app. This easy to use, simple and intuitive time-tracking application is a kickass tool to help you measure, manage, and more efficiently use your time. We learn so much by tracking our time: Are we spending our time wisely? Are we taking more time to do things than we think? Do we have work/life balance? Are we spending enough time doing the things that will bring us the most profit/satisfaction/bang for our buck? What low level things can we delegate? How much time do we spend commuting, running errands, sucked into social media? How much are we sleeping? Working out? Taking time for self-care? Basically, tracking our time tells us quite quickly if we are spending our time in ways that are in alignment with our values and goals.

GymPact This cool reward (and penalty) app pays you if you reach your weekly goals and YOU PAY THEM if you don’t (that money that goes to pay those that are reaching their goals in the GymPact community). What I’m super excited about is that now Gym Pact syncs with Fitness Pal and RunKeeper so you can use it to keep up with your food logging and non-gym workouts too. I set up some goals, entered my credit card, and synced up my other apps to this today. It made me NERVOUS and a little scared that I won’t be able to keep up and guess what – THAT’S AWESOME!!!!!! If your goals and personal challenges don’t make you nervous and a little scared, then they are not big enough! This month, set some goals that make you uncomfortable! Up the stakes and watch the magic happen!

Headspace One of my current goals is to work on managing my stress and improve my quality of life through daily meditation. Let me tell you, this does NOT come naturally to me. Even just the smallest commitment to meditate for 5 minutes a day is so freakin’ hard for me. I have tried and tried to create a daily meditation routine but have never been able to keep it up. Headspace was recommended to me by the super awesome Christopher Kelly from NourishBalanceThrive who I have been working with to improve my health and athletic performance. This guided meditation app is simple, easy to use, and just kind of fun, so I actually look forward to it. It tracks my progress which helps me stay focused and motivated to keep going. I am working my way through the foundation package so that I can unlock the other packages. I’m determined to get to the next level this month. I also love the “singles” – little meditations for use during runs, chores, freak-outs…and the sleeping meditation knocks me out without fail.

Duolingo I just discovered this app and I am obsessed! It is just so FUN! As I mentioned, I have been working on reducing stress and part of that is a focus on having more fun and doing things that bring me pleasure. I know it’s kinda silly/sad that I have to set a goal to have more fun, but I can often get so sucked into my to-do-lists, responsibilities, and battling the soul-sucking “shoulds” in my life that I forget to do things just because they are fun and enjoyable. This app, available online and as a smartphone app is a free language learning tool. I started fooling around with it to see how much French I could remember from college and surprisingly it all started coming back to me. The app works like a video game, with levels and a “lingot” reward system complete with a virtual store you can spend your lingots in. I forgot how much I love the French language, learning language in general, and how much I love video games! I find myself getting completely lost in the moment (a great thing for the brain and spirit) and feel such a sense of accomplishment when I soar through a level (also great for the brain and spirit).

Commit to spending at least 30 minutes today or this weekend to write down your answer to the question, “what would excite me this month.” Take some time to also think about what you can do to make the rest of the year flow smoothly and joyously. Make this the year that you plan ahead for the holidays (and REALLY enjoy them), learn a new language, take a fall or winter vacation, and design your dream life BEFORE everyone else’s New Year’s Resolution scramble to get their s#!% back on track.

If you’re looking for the perfect moment to start something, finish something, become something, make something happen, shift something, do something, change something, build something, dump something, grow something, create something…THIS IS IT! Get excited and get on it! Woohoo! 

4 Powerful Ways to Make Your June Amazing

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It’s the start of a new week, a new month, and Summer is in the air – can you feel it? It’s the perfect time to spend some quiet time DESIGNING your month ahead. Here are four ways you can make the most out of any month:

  1. Take Inventory of Your Month – Review your whole calendar to avoid any surprises. Look for upcoming events, birthdays, bills, deadlines, schedule changes, etc. Add any tasks tied to these calendar items to whatever your task management system is (I’m a devoted Simpleology “black belt” user), or create a new “My Amazing June” list on paper or even better, create it in Evernote, another one of my top favorite applications. Do you have to get a Father’s Day gift or make reservations? Do you now realize that you need to find childcare for a certain night? Do you need to send a card to a friend to wish her happy birthday? Don’t forget to check your Facebook for any birthdays or other invites that are hiding in your “upcoming events” section. Taking inventory of our calendar gives us the ability to design our month with awareness instead of living in a blur of little “oh s@%#” moments.
  2. Plan Your Workouts and Self-Care – Just like you schedule your work and family responsibilities, put your workouts for the month (or at least this week, with a note to schedule your workouts every Sunday) in your calendar. Also, look for space in your calendar to schedule something that will nourish you each week – something that you REALLY WANT to do that makes you FEEL GOOD. It could be massage, acupuncture, beauty treatments, dinner with your besties, date night, beach time, reading time, meditation, a new class you’ve been wanting to try, whatever fills you up and makes your heart sing. Treat these like appointments with your most important client because frankly, that’s exactly what they are.
  3. Eat Some Frogs – Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog, is based on an old saying that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you’ll enjoy the relief, satisfaction, and empowerment of knowing that hopefully the worst part of your day is over and you can handle anything else that comes your way. He uses this as a metaphor for getting those unpleasant, big, or nagging tasks done first before filling your day with the stuff you don’t mind as much. Avoiding your frog breakfast day after day doesn’t make the frogs go away, it just means that you’ll have a giant frog smorgasbord to deal with sooner or later. This month, commit to eating some of those frogs that have been on your list for weeks, months, or years. Clean out that closet. Get that check-up. Clear out that inbox. File those documents. Balance that checkbook. Call that relative. Or get someone else to do it for you (see #4 below).
  4. Discover Your Zone of Genius – It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life, spinning from one obligation to the next, doing what we do (because we’ve always done it). We can lose months, even years, filling our days with “shoulds” and “have tos”, living a painful (or heartbreakingly comfortable) life of wasted potential and mediocrity. We tell ourselves that we’ll get to the big, awesome stuff that lights our fire LATER, when things “settle down”, but that day never seems to come and pretty soon it’s a new month or new year and we’re not sure where the time has gone.This month, commit to asking yourself how much of your time you currently spend in what Gay Hendricks calls your “Zone of Genius”. This is the place where the things you love to do and the things you’re good at come together in a beautiful flowing symphony of joy, love, fire, and inspiration. It’s that stuff that doesn’t feel like work, the time-bending stuff that makes you come alive and inspires others to come alive as they witness you operating in this zone.In his book, The Big Leap, Hendricks talks about how much time even the most successful people spend in three other zones that prevent us from living a life of true fulfilment and joy:
  • The Zone of Incompetence: Where we spend way too many hours trying to do things that just aren’t our thing and we have no desire to master (ever spend 4 hours trying to research and fix your iPhone and then a Genius Bar employee at the Apple Store fixes in 2 minutes?).
  • The Zone of Competence: Where we fill our time with those things that we are able to do, but that we could easily outsource, automate, or pay or trade someone else to do. For more on this I highly recommend reading, Less Doing More Living by Ari Meisel.
  • The Zone of Excellence: Perhaps the most seductive zone where we are doing what we are really great at, but something is missing. We get lots of positive feedback in this zone from our bosses, co-workers, clients, friends, family, and our ego. We are comfortable here, but our spirit knows that we are destined for something more.

For the month of June, make a commitment to becoming aware of how you fill your calendar and in which zones you spend the majority of your time. Ask yourself as you go about your day if you could outsource, delegate, or shift in such a way that you could spend more (if not all) of your time in your Zone of Genius. Pick up Hendrick’s book or download it the Audible.com version, and make June the month you begin your Big Leap!

Please join me on June 7th for my class, “Healthy Body, Happy Life” at Happiness U. Register today YourHappinessU.com to explore the connection between our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Discover new tools for reaching your goals and get inspiration to make the journey fun and empowering (instead of just another “should” on your list, blech). Can’t wait to help you create your healthy body, happy life!

6 Cool Fitness and Health Apps That Can Improve Your Life

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Smartphones are powerful tools for helping you improve your quality of life. For very little cost, you can have a trainer, a nutritionist, a business and life coach, an assistant, a meditation guru, and more in your pocket and on-the-go. Here are 6 of my current favorite life-enhancing apps:

  1. Fooducate While I mostly use and recommend Fitness Pal for food and exercise logging, I have been experimenting with Fooducate and love the way it helps you learn about food choices. According to the website, “Fooducate’s scientific algorithms grade each product and provide simple, concise explanations”. The grading system they use was developed by “scientists, dietitians and concerned parents.” So you learn as you log. You can also learn as you shop by using the bar code scanner when you’re in the grocery store. While My Fitness Pal is a bit more user-friendly and has a wider database of foods, I like the way Fooducate helps you gain awareness about the choices you are making.
  2. 12-Minute Athlete Of course, my top choice for workouts is Egan’s Fit Body Bootcamp, but if you are traveling, this app delivers 12 to 16 minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts in a simple and interactive presentation. You choose your equipment (or just “bodyweight” if you have none), shake your phone, and it gives you a workout. So easy, so fun! This would be great for traveling or on those days that you can’t make it to the gym. I’d recommend, warm-up for 5 minutes doing high-knees or jumping rope and finishing up after your HIIT workout with 5 minutes of abs and stretching.
  3. RunKeeper Most runners have heard of or use this app. Of all the choices out there for tracking your walks and runs, this is my favorite. You can sync it up with your heart rate monitor and you can sync it to My Fitness Pal too. You can take a photo and log notes each time you complete a workout, so it’s a great way to track your fitness journey. It’s also fun to friend people. I get alerts when my friends have completed runs which inspires me to get up and lace up!
  4. Sleep Cycle  Sleep Cycle is “A bio-alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase”. There’s nothing worse than that shaky, icky feeling you get from waking up at the wrong part of your sleep cycle. Instead of a jarring alarm beep, this app wakes you up gently from the lightest part of your sleep cycle during a window of time that you select. Once you have tracked your sleep for 5 nights, it gives you feedback on which nights you had the best quality sleep. You do have to keep your phone plugged in and then place it face down on your mattress, so I usually like to put it on “Airplane Mode” to reduce exposure to EMFs (electromagnetic fields)…just to be on the safe side. And for naps, they have now created Power Nap.
  5. Omvana – I use this app daily! I absolutely love this amazing creation from Vishen Lakhiani and the geniuses at MindValley. Omvana is a collection of inspiring speeches, guided meditations, hypnosis tracks, and other transformational audio content. These audios are a simple and easy way to start your day on the right foot, recharge or reset during the day, or help you sleep and reprogram your subconscious at the end of the day. Some of my favorite tracks are Vishen’s 6-Phase Mediation, “How to Be Insanely Productive” hypnosis track, “Overcoming Overwhelm” meditation, and the very inspiring, “15 Things We Should Give Up to Be Happy” audio. MindValley also has the Dormio App, which is a collection of tracks dedicated specifically to helping you improve your sleep.
  6. SoundGecko – This is a fun little tool that can work in conjunction with your desktop internet browser. I come across so many interesting health and fitness articles that I want to learn from, but don’t always have time or want to give up the time to read them all. With one click using an internet browser add-on, I can send articles to Sound Gecko and listen to them in the car or on a run instead of having to sit at my computer and read them. It’s so cool!

What health and fitness apps do you use to improve your quality of life? Share in the comments below!