Put More Hours in Your Day

As you know, we all have the same 24 hours. And yet, at some point everyone wishes they had more time, if only they could put more hours in the day. In fact, for 60% of my clients, time management is a primary goal.

Recently, 3 of my clients have had great success with exactly that — putting more hours in the day. Here’s how they did it.

RISE AND SHINE!

“Samantha” is a working woman, approaching retirement. She has a grown child and a husband. She needed to find more time, with the caveat, “Don’t make me do anything at night, that’s when I wind down.” Now, after she returned home from work, she’d cook, eat and watch a couple hours of tube.

But she was clear: nothing new at night. So instead of using that down time, I just asked her to have less of it. “Would you be willing to go to sleep an hour earlier an wake up an hour earlier, that way you’d have an extra morning hour.”

“I love mornings. Let’s give it a try.”

I am happy to report, that for the last 2 months, she’s woken up between 5 and 5:30 (5:30-6 on the weekends), had tea, walked into her office, and started her big personal project. We put 5-8 more hours in her day, by paying attention to her natural time preference. This gal’s a true morning glory.

GIVE AND RECEIVE

“Cindy” is an entrepreneur and mom of 2, a 3-year and a 3-month old. It goes without saying that she doesn’t get much sleep. And doesn’t seem to require more than 5 to 6 hours total. When her children go down, she goes to town working on her start-up. She goes to bed around 11 or 12, wakes a couple times during the night to feed her daughter and is up by 6 or 7.

I’ve had enough of Peter Maas classes at Cornell to know just how important sleep is. She noticed that she was forgetting the simplest things, concerned about losing weight post baby, and just generally foggy. Where could she get more hours in her day?

Get more sleep. Have fewer hours, and more quality hours to get work done.

Mission accomplished; she’s made a commitment to get to bed earlier a couple days a week and notices a significant difference in her mood and productivity thereafter.

NO MORE BLURRED LINES

“Jeremy” is a father of 4 and partner in a large law firm. He is the primary breadwinner for his family, and he works hard in an industry where you never leave the office. He takes early trains on Friday to see his children play sports, then wakes early on Saturday and Sunday to complete work that didn’t get done on Friday.

Except he really doesn’t want to wake up early on the weekends (would you?). We changed his work schedule to give him sufficient “ramp down” time on Friday and “ramp up” time on Monday. Weekend work is out of the question. By making a more clear line between work and family, he was able to be more present for both, respectively.

Did we bend the time space continuum? No. Did we put more quality hours in their days? You betcha.

Anger Is the Key to Happiness

I started off 2017 with an education resolution: I wanted more of it. And so, I signed up for a class on Happiness, created by the Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and offered by edX. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

In my first lesson, I had a couple of significant take-aways about happiness: it’s correlated to a longer lifespan, the ability to regain health after disease, greater creativity and problem solving. And if you’re going to live a long life, heck — you might as well be happy.

But the part of the conversation that stuck with me most of all was the value of anger.

Angry BabyOne of the best things I did recently with a large amount of anger I was feeling was to find an immediate physical outlet for it. I don’t remember what caused the anger, but I was fuming. I told my husband I wanted to throw something. He suggested plates, but I didn’t want to be wasteful (I was angry, but not irrational!). However I wanted to see something explode. Eureka. “ICE! GRAB THE ICE!”

We went outside and damned if I didn’t destroy an entire bucket of ice. It exploded all over the ground, and my body released. That tension, that anger, I released it.

And I don’t remember what I was so angry about, but I do remember the cathartic thrill of the release. It was great. My husband was impressed with my vigor, and I enjoyed release. It was almost orgasmic.

And yet, I felt guilty for getting “out of control”. As a person, as a woman, as a mother.

As it turns out, there’s NO NEED to feel guilty!

Here’s something I learned in my very first class from Dachel Keltner, the co-director of the GGSC:

“So Aristotle writes [when articulating his Principle of Moderation], anyone can become angry. That’s easy. But to be angry at the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and the right way that’s not within everybody’s power and that’s not easy. When our passions are cultivated in the right context, they bring us happiness and the good life.

And even passions like anger when, for example, engaged in societal injustice can bring about a lot of good and happiness. Aristotle is suggesting moderation and acceptance of our passions as a pathway to happiness.”

So. The ice smashing brought me relief and release. Admiration from my husband, and some humor. But I didn’t really take action. I didn’t use the anger; I just got rid of it.

More research, this time from postdoctoral scholar Lahnna Catalino of UCSF, found that

“The negative emotions that arise from negative life events, big or small, are natural and help us better understand ourselves—they provide vital information about what we value and what might need to change in our lives. For instance, feeling a wave of anxiety about your physical health may actually motivate you to improve your dietary habits.”

Aha! So in this case, a little anger is good for you. It’s your brain trying to say, “Wake up, Buddy. We have work to do.” Pay attention to the anger, it’s a message: Time for a change.

Anger is the indicator light in the dashboard that you’ve got to tend to something, something that’s wrong. I want to finish with a quote from Psychology Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky of UC Riverside which closes the loop on what happy people can do with their anger.

“Happier people are more likely to tackle the problems of the world. They have more energy, they are more goal oriented. They are very focused on others. If you’re not happy, you tend to be self-focused, you want to solve whatever problems you have. If you’re happier, you’re more likely to go out and do something about those problems that are going on.Women's March on Washington

Happy people make change happen because they have the energy and the creativity to see the opportunity. Fuel your happiness to fuel change. Visit with your anger, because anger is important, telling you what you value, and what needs your energy (after all, anger can use up a lot of energy). But as Aristotle noted, how you use that anger: in the right way, at the right time, directed to the right person, that is the key.

And the more positive change you create, based on that useful anger, the happier you’ll be.

 

Your Next Step After the Election

sad-supermanI woke up this morning with my eldest son and the election results. I snuggled my son, sad for him and his future. My instincts to protect him from this sad reality, the votes for hate and cruelty. I planned to wear black and mourn, to protest the hate.

I thought of the Hillary sign in my yard, and I remembered how one day some men stopped to curse at me for supporting Hillary. Even last week, my plumber said “You’re lucky I came in. I almost drove by because of the sign out front”.

Should I take the down? Was I making myself an target? I didn’t want “them” to find my family.

And then I scrolled through Facebook. In the midst of sadness, shock and disbelief, was this, from an old NYU grad school friend:

“No but seriously. I refuse to be cowed. I refuse to be scared. I’m still here and I still matter. And all of my desires and goals and dreams for my life and those of others still hold meaning. And the things that brought me joy yesterday will still bring me joy tomorrow. And I’ll never stop trying. Life’s too, too short.”

Powerful, not sad. The election has been decided. Hillary won the popular vote, which means there is popular support for the social progress we embraced. We still have momentum. For one, we have the delicious surprise of Pantsuit Nation. At 3 MILLION pantsuit-nationstrong, we are a collective of some smart, ferocious, passionate men and women. Delicious.

And from Pantsuit Nation, came this:

There’s a concept in behavioral therapy known as an “extinction burst” — basically, when you’re trying to remove a behavior (let’s say in this case, xenophobia/misogyny/etc.) often you will actually see an increase in that behavior before it dies,

The old world order is SCREAMING right now. What I’m seeing tonight are the death throes of a system that cannot last.

Whatever the outcome, remember that what happens at the federal level is not the end of the story. We can take charge in our communities, and we can continue to move in the right direction.

Let ’em scream. The rest of us have work to do.

My momma bear, my protective intuition is on overdrive right now. I’ll protect my children, because that’s what I’m genetically programmed to do. But I have others in my care — my LGBTQ friends, my black friends, my Hindu neighbors and my women. My Jews. My job is to care for you and stand up for what is right.

Realizing this, I got fired up, a la Obama.

The more I thought about who I could help, the more empowered I felt. Instead of feeling the victim, I empowered myself. I moved my brain toward a place where I could envision myself helping others.

Then, a friend shared this from The Huffington Post: If You’re Overwhelmed By The Election, Here’s What You Can Do Now. And another shared this from JezebelA List of Pro-Woman, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support.

Action. There’s action to take. There’s work to do. And a list of links in the above articles to help you move forward.

flowersThen, Facebook delivered this wisdom: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” – Mexican proverb

Exactly. This is the light, this is the possibility. This is the place from which we will grow. This effort isn’t over.

Be sad and mourn. Move through the 5 stages of grief. Take care of yourself; do what you gotta do. Then harness that energy, move through sadness to anger to action and fix the problems at hand.

We have work to do. Let’s get to work.

 

Get Unstuck (Video)

Want to see some raw honesty from a rough life coach? Here’s me, first thing in the morning (after coffee but before a shower), answering the following question:

Why do you enjoy helping people get unstuck and get more out of life?

My coach asked me this question, and challenged me to speak directly to you, and explain my motivation to coach. After all, if I’m going to help you do what you want to do, what’s the proof that I’ve done it myself? Here you go. Thanks for watching. I look forward to hearing what you think.

 

People Are Like Goldfish

My family and I went to a festival recently, and they had one of those games where participants can win goldfish. Of course this the prize both of my 3-year-olds wanted.

And, after carrying those fish around for 2 hours, carelessly tossed to the side when a kid was eating pizza, swimming away from the claws of a 3-year-old trying to “squish the fish”, they made it home to a place that had no bowl and no food.

These fish were exhausted, traumatized. And no, the pet store was not open after we finally put our children to sleep.

Our two fish were to live in a pitcher and go hungry. After all that. 🙁

At the pet store the next day I was reassured by the pet store staff that there was no point in giving festival fish a nice habitat, as they were bred to live short lives. They were just meant to be prizes, or feed other fish.

life coach

Fish or food?

Slightly more research yielded a different perspective — these festival fish, also called common goldfish or comets could grow up to 18 inches! Instead of keeping them in a pitcher as I had been, these giants-to-be deserved a filtered tank, and due to the intense amount of excrement they produced, no more than 2 fish to a 10 gallon tank at a minimum.

I splurged and went with a long 20 gallon tank for my fish (which cost less than $100), to see if this fish tale could possibly be true.

The fish remind me of my coaching clients. At some point, my clients were put in a tank that was the wrong size. They heard lots of shoulds and cant’s, and stepped away from something they wanted to do.

They come to me to fix a situation, something that is wrong that is nagging at them, whether it’s career, family life, or most frequently a combination of the two.

I believe in people. I believe that everyone has something that they can do to contribute to the world. Their superpower. Maybe it’s revolutionizing school lunches. Maybe it’s helping AIDS orphans in Africa and Thailand. Maybe it’s creating the most beautiful, high end bridal shop in New York City. Maybe it’s publishing a series of cookbooks, and the words and pictures to go with them.goldfish

People have skills and talents. Unique gifts. Last weekend I was at a wedding and met a woman who makes gorgeous jewelry out of flat polished stones that she finds on the beach. Another who makes large installations of wine cork art (some of her pieces have over 4000 corks!). Both are at the beginning of their artistic/entrepreneurial journeys; I can’t wait to see where these passions take them in 3 to 5 years.

These passionate people deserve big tanks so that they can grow to the full extent of their abilities.

I coach because I believe in people. I also believe people have an easier time stepping into their zone when they have an advocate who shares their vision and believes in their ability to accomplish it. The only thing that stands between a constipated superhero and a contribution to the world is partner that believes in them and holds them accountable to their vision

My work as a coach allows me to be the scaffolding as these superheroes are built.

And those goldfish? Well I’m happier to say that the experts were right. Comets grow fast! In just 3 months, my fish are thriving and have doubled in size, from under 1 inch to big, fat two inch goldfish (with incredible appetites).

Don’t be surprised if you come to visit me in my office and find a 50 gallon tank with just a few big fish in the next few years.

I believe in what happens when fish (and people) are put in the right environment.

life coach

C’mon Get Happy

The old Partridge Family song takes me back. I’m a kid again, dancing around on a shaggy blue carpet. Nursing a serious crush on David Cassidy. No responsibilities. Little to no power either, but it’s the singing and dancing that I remember. And the feeling of being happy.

Segue to today: I’ve been reading a particularly fabulous book, recommended by one of my clients, called The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter.

It focuses on that whole overwork / work life balance thing. (You know, what I do for a living :-)). Though it may seem like well trodden terrain, she offers solutions for getting your life back, enjoying it, thriving at work and  having a short fitness routine that will get you in solid shape.

One thing I’ve started doing is using this free app called Happier. If you bob and weave through the solicitations (not that hard to do), you’re able to use it to record something every day that makes you happy. It automatically pulls up your pictures and prompts you with your own visual memories — just in case you forgot how fantastic that trip to the garden with your daughter was.

Minimal investment, maximum happy.

Minimal investment, maximal bliss.

I like doing this daily; it’s a quick passage to emotion (like the kind I get when I look at the old David Cassidy pictures), which encourages the building of neural pathways of joy. It reminds me to sit in that moment – an take a deep tub soak of positive emotion. There’s ample research to demonstrate the impact of regular positive thinking, gratitude and connecting with emotions.

Plus, after a few weeks, I have this incredible flip book of happy moments – the moments that seem inconsequential at the time, but are the tapestry of your life. So record your happy once a day, or once in the morning and once at night. However you choose to remember your happy, the benefits are clear.

As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And when you stop to capture those seemingly insignificant, powerful and joyful moments, you’ll be able to marvel at your own incredible life.

Why Modern Wives Withhold Sex

Newsflash! Wives are withholding sex.

I know, I know it’s a bit cliche. Before you were married, it was hot sex all over the place, then honeymoon sex, maybe some fun pregnancy sex, and then…SPLAT! kids. “Honey, we’ll wake them up”, “The baby is watching!”, “I don’t feel good about my body!” and everyone’s favorite: “I’m just soooo tired.” Wives aren’t faking headaches anymore, they’re just passing out.

But how is this different from the classic cliche of Lucy and Desi-style separate beds in the same room?

sex and relationship coaching

Modern Retro Marriage

Well, for one, we’ve undergone a pretty intense sexual revolution since then. Women are allowed to like sex, even supposed to like it. Women and men have friends who are just like Samantha Jones. Miley is twerking and the girls of Girls — every shape size and color, are having sex and lots of it. Taking sex advice from our universal Jewish grandmother, Dr. Ruth, now seems quaint and dare I say prudish? A quick walk down a NYC street in the summer shows as much skin as soft core porn in the 60s, and today’s moms are pissed off when their daughters are thrown out of school for short skirts and belly shirts. No, they’re not mad at their daughters wearing skimpy clothes; they’re mad at the schools are coming down on those girls.

Judith Warner, in Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxietyexplains the situation thusly, quoting one of the many modern married moms she interviewed for her book:

” ‘I can’t say these days our marriage is about love,’ says a working mother of two in New York. ‘It’s definitely not about romance.’ It’s like we run a small business together. We’re business partners.’ ”

Hot, it’s not. Martin continues with the following analysis:

“…then they talk about sex. About how, as more highly evolved females, they don’t need to have sex, don’t want to have sex, while their husbands, being men, well…”

sex and relationship coaching

Frustrated. And in need of an orgasm.

Eek. Sure, sex is fun, physical and gratifying, but what about that whole making love thing? What about the intimacy that comes with sex? Are we beyond that too?

In the celebrated Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin said almost the same thing, that women were establishing their own single gender tribes, and have moved beyond sex — though they are not without physical gratification: there’s always Pilates and ultra marathons.

Not Having Sex Has Become A National Trend

Martin continues her analysis, “There was something sinister in the fact that the very same women who would tell me how wonderful their husbands were would, in the next breath, let me (and a roomful of avid listeners) in on the most awful humiliations of their mates’ private moments.” Talking about how pathetic their husbands were, masturbating in bed after these wives refused their advances, flowers and all. These wives enjoyed shaming their husbands behind their backs, in public.

Ouch.

But why is this happening? It’s actually pretty straightforward: wives are angry. Women are still doing the housework. Women are still the primary child caretaker. But wait — we started out equals; it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

One of Martin’s interviewees explains, “When my huband and I started dating, I made more money than he did. I had more status than he did. Then all of a sudden — whoosh! I went part time. I don’t think I’m ever getting it back. He now starts conversations with me with the words, ‘Here’s what I’d like you to do.’ I want to say, ‘You can shove it up your ass.’ ”

sex coaching

Doesn’t This Seem Like Fun?

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. We were peers. We were equals. The wives, have more advanced degrees. We traveled side by side, we had sex on top, underneath, all over the place. We made money, we had plans. We were peers in and out of the home.

And then we had children. And now the Mrs. is working, or not, but either way she’s setting up birthday parties, play dates, interviewing babysitters and au pairs, cleaning out the fridge, making or ordering dinner and organizing doctor appointments and immunizations.

She’s pissed. She may let you know it directly, or she may be passive aggressive about it. But the fact remains: you’re not getting any.

And given this tense situation, in a culture where raising children goes largely unsupported, especially in the first five years, wouldn’t both partners benefit from a couple orgasms, some intimacy and a hug?

You bet they would. Here are two ideas to address this situation that has worked with my clients:

  1. Masturbate. A lot. You know your husband is doing this, but are you? Ok, you might be mad and not want to have sex with him, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the health benefits of an orgasm on a regular basis. You’ve earned this. Head to your favorite sex shop or go online. You can be mad at him, but don’t punish yourself.
  2. Remember Those Cheesy Cosmo Quizzes? Well, the self-help aisle has tons of similar ones for couples. The most popular amongst them is this: The 5 Love Languages. It’s quick, easy, and I promise you’ll learn something about your partner — and yourself — by the end.

In the end, remember: it’s not his fault, and it’s not your fault. American culture has given women opportunity, but not the support to back fill what’s traditionally been considered women’s work: raising children and tending the home. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s not his fault. Talk to each other, love on each other (and yourself), and remember to fight the common enemy instead of one another.

And if you still feel stuck, you can always call me; it’s what I do, after all.

relationship coach

Come to Momma!

Indulge at the Super Bowl Party, Guilt Free

Pillsbury Snack Stadium

Pillsbury Snack Stadium

It’s early February, we’re all a little plump here in the Northeast. And here comes the Super Bowl, with it’s guac, chips and chili. And wings. And cookies. And Italian heroes, meatball parms, pizza and ice cream. It’s a food orgy.

My clients are annoyed, bothered and irritated by extra pounds they are carrying.  And we talk about it, because it’s something that’s on their mind that they want to change. Here’s how the conversation goes:

Q: What’s the benefit of keeping the five pounds?
A: I get to drink wine, eat chocolate, cheese and enjoy dinners out.

Q: And what’s the benefit of losing the five pounds?
A: I feel better in my clothes. It’s not a big difference, I’m really the only one who sees it — it just bothers me.

Then we do a Cost Benefit Analysis. Is a bathing suit body in the winter more beneficial than chocolate and cheese? If so — bye bye chocolate. But if hiding a couple pounds under a sweater for the cold months, then cutting back on the high-cal intake in May is more your style, you have my blessing.

If a client isn’t motivated to make change, change isn’t going to happen. The next step is to accept the situation as it is (and enjoy the food). And if you’re more motivated to eat high cal foods (in exchange for the extra weight), then be active in that choice.

Here’s the main point: Whether or not my client loses the weight, I want them to lose the agita about weight loss. I want them to lose the anxiety, stress and aggravation. You want chocolate? Have chocolate! Just promise that you’ll eat slowly and take pleasure, real pleasure in that chocolate.

As for the Super Bowl, if you plan to do it up, do it up! I’m not saying throw back a 6 pack and gorge thyself, I’m saying go into the party looking to enjoy. Think of the things you’re looking forward to indulging with, and enjoy that experience. Take pleasure in taking pleasure.

The mental game that my clients are playing — the guilt over eating, not eating and losing 5 pounds; THAT guilt and negative self talk is what’s most important to me as a coach. I’m all for losing weight and feeling good in your clothes. I’m just not for the amount of anxiety that goes with it.

When you give yourself permission to enjoy food, instead of feeling guilty about eating it, here’s what happens: You actually enjoy eating. You have less guilt and more pleasure. So the guilty binging stops. When you stop telling yourself you can’t have the food, you can take time to enjoy it, and then….

You might just indulge a little less. And when you indulge less, you might end up losing those pesky pounds. But not because you’re willing yourself to do it with negative self talk, but because you’ve stopped battling yourself.

Let me know how this works for you and have a wonderful Super Bowl Sunday!

 

What’s A Life Coach? (Video)

Part of the fun of working with a life coach is picking a partner who you connect with. After all, we’ll be working together closely on something that’s of absolute importance to you.

You may be wondering:

  • How is a life coach different from a therapist?
  • Are my questions that insightful?
  • What is it like to work together — am I upbeat? Is this fun?
  • Do I have an annoying Jersey accent?
  • What’s the point of a coach, really?

Here’s a little sample of me in my office answering the question “What is a Life Coach”. We’ll meet here in my office, or virtually via Skype or phone.My role is to be your advocate as you go for this big goal — something you’ve been working on and wanting to achieve.

We’re about to get to know each other really well.

So here’s what I’m like. As you can see, I’m pretty fired up about what I do.

Need More Time? Fire Your Staff

There’s a trend I’m noticing with some of my clients right now: They’re putting more hours in their day by getting rid of the weak links on their teams.

time management coaching

Don’t postpone the inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong, my clients are not “You’re fired!” type, who enjoy terminating their staff. They’ve given their staff every opportunity to succeed, and still….

Sometimes you just need to fire someone. 

I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. Keeping an employee around, making lots of excuses, having talks, providing learning opportunities and otherwise shoring up someone who isn’t acting like they want the gig.

When you, as an employer, finally get to the point of letting that person go, it’s often been long in coming and it feels fantastic to have that release.

We dread the conversation — everyone dreads a break-up, but after the fact, most clients feel as relaxed and happy as Kermit in a field of daisies.

time management coach

When’s the last time you’ve felt this good at work?

And when you look at it through the lens of time management, the time you spend working to inspire someone who isn’t acting like they want to be there, well that’s rarely time well spent.

Plus, through the lens of team building, when you keep someone on who isn’t doing her job, they’re not only taking hours out of your day, they begin to sour the team. And the team may begin to question you’re judgment as a leader.

Top corporations have institutionalized firing, forcing reviews onto a bell curve so that the weaker players are continually culled. For some this feels Darwinian (and Microsoft has allegedly dropped the practice), while at other times it feels refreshing, keeping standards high.

Have you ever been fired? In retrospect, was this a good thing?

Or, are you in a situation where you need to let someone go? I’d love to hear about it.