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Finally A Re-Do For A Meanginful Life

Neuroscience has been probing the mysteries of your brain. For a long time.  And the neuroscientists have discovered  the steps to  rewiring it so you can live bigger, better!

As you may have guessed, this involves more than just positive thinking or working hard.

Since your brain is made up of neural networks – like interconnecting freeways – the rewiring that needed is to lay down  new neural pathways – sort of like paving new roads for easy access.

And how is that done, you’re asking.  There are five pathways that must be activated in order to create new neural networks in the brain – a rewiring… Here are the 5 pathways that must be activated and how you can do it.

First, the act of thinking sets into motion a chemical reaction in the brain that can be likened to plugging in a string of lights. As you think about something—be it positive or stressful—you turn on a string of lights related to that topic.

Second, the more you think, feel and act the same way, the faster the lights turn on and the brighter they glow. Thus, the string of lights related to driving a car at 45 years old is much brighter and faster than the string you had at 16 years old.

Finally, we have trillions of brain cells, resulting in thousands (if not millions) of strings of lights correlating with our habits in all areas of our life. Donald Hebb’s landmark discovery in 1949, “neurons that fire together wire together,” best explains the process of wiring and strengthening brain pathways. The key is to activate as many of these pathways as possible given they work synergistically. One pathway alone is not enough to successfully rewire your brain. However, when you repeatedly align your beliefs, feelings, vision, and actions you will experience lasting changes in your brain.

1. Identify the beliefs that support your intention.

Seeing is not required for believing. In fact, you have to first believe it is possible if you expect to truly see it manifest in your life.

Solution: Examine your current beliefs about a desired goal. Identify those beliefs that align with the possibility of achieving your intention.

2. Embrace your positive emotions.

Emotion is the fuel, the juice or the power behind accomplishing your intention. Without emotion a thought is neutral, it has no real power. In other words, it is not enough to repeat positive affirmations if you are not feeling anything.

Solution: What emotions align with accomplishing your goal? Why is your intention meaningful to you? Spend time feeling these feelings as you focus on your intention.

3. Visualize.

The brain can’t tell the difference between something real or imagined. When you mentally rehearse your new habits, you strengthen your ability to create them in your life.

Solution: Identify images that align with accomplishing your goal and spend time visualizing them daily.

4. Take actions that support your intention.

Your actions have to match what you say you want and vice versa. You can’t think and feel one way and act another. In other words, you won’t rewire your brain if you eat donuts while repeating affirmations of being healthy and fit. Similarly, you won’t rewire your brain if you go to the gym but complain about how much you can’t stand working out.

Solution: Identify the actions that align with your thoughts and emotions.

5. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Change requires practicing a new habit. It follows the principle, “use it or lose it.”

Solution: Consciously practice thinking, feeling, visualizing and acting in alignment with your desired intention. When you do this you will stop the unconscious habit of recycling the past and activate your ability to rewire your brain in the present moment.

If you are an executive, entrepreneur, consultant or coach I invite you to join me for a high value, no cost strategy session. You will learn the most effective ways to be rewire your brain to be productive, powerful and resourceful…ESPECIALLY during challenges…so you can rocket to the top of your game and enjoy true success in your business and in your life. 

Based on a blog by BY DR. HILARY STOKES

The Secret To Staying Calm In Chaos

I’m a coach, so my clients (executives, entrepreneurs, coaches, and other high performers)  show up in my practice for all sorts of reasons. If I had to categorize them, I’d say most clients were looking for ways “to stay calm in chaos”. That’s what “Sam” was looking for when he picked up the phone to call me one Tuesday morning.

Sam had accomplished so much already. Yet now, he was facing a new challenge, feeling stressed and overwhelmed and needing to be calm and centered. He needed to make powerful, effective decisions despite the chaos surrounding him.

Sam, a personable and intelligent man in his mid-30’s came to me when he was seeking work. He had left a prestigious position defined by constant conflict – a culture of anger and stress.

Happily married and the father of two little boys, he wanted to put his education and experience to work in a start-up with high potential for success.

Head hunters sought him out. He was getting impressive interviews, and getting call backs from HR, so what was the problem?

Sam wasn’t doing well in face-to-face interviews. Due to anxiety (leftovers from his last position, the confrontational style of some interviewers, money worries and problems with his young son) he came across as tense, slightly unfocused and rushed. His stellar education and previous experience weren’t shining through!

He knew he was reacting to the stress of interviews in a way that didn’t support his goal. He just didn’t know what to do about it, so we began working together.

First we discovered that when Sam experiences stress, his reaction is flight. This reaction is hardwired into his brain stem and showed up each and every time he experienced any degree of chaos. We’d have to address this!

He soon came to understand that “flight” showed up in  a concave chest (body language that transmits information), a raised voice, a rapid pace when he spoke which translated to “lack of confidence” and it happened each time he was triggered, even though he could now identify it.

Sam began practicing getting centered daily. With a few minutes of breathing practice – yes simple breathing exercises – in no stress and low-stress situations, he could create some space around his “reaction”.

In that space, he chose how to hold his body – upright and relaxed. From that posture, he was able to end his sentences with assurance, speak clearly and succinctly in his natural voice and stay calm, neutral and open to the interviewer.

For fun (and good practice) we role played interviews after centering practice to work on appropriate responses rather than his typical reactions. As he learned to respond, taking time to speak clearly, listen deeply and breathe, he smiled more, uncrossed his arms and leaned forward – always more inviting that his “collapsed” body language of early days.

Sam got so good at staying calm, keeping his body language open, being curious rather than intimidated and speaking with the confidence that showed off his knowledge and experience, that he landed a great VP of finance position in attractive firm (and helped his little boy through a difficult patch too).

Why did this work? Over 3 months, Sam was diligent about his practices. Oh sure, there were a few hiccups (like for most of us, progress wasn’t linear) but he kept improving. So much so that he he gave me a glowing testimonial on Yelp.com

And the truly “good news” is that Sam now had the tools to use in any and all stressful situations.

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Good stress like a promotion or marriage, or stress you categorize as negative around the loss of a job or a missed deadline all create the same reactions in your body.

Learning to recognize how you react, gaining the tools that support some centering – simply starting with your breath, allows you to be much more effective (and pleasant to be around) when that inevitable stress shows up.

You can begin the process by noticing your breath. Then without forcing a change in the inhale, begin extending the exhale – audibly, if you’re alone. Extending your exhale does a lot in relaxing the muscles of your face and upper body. It goes further by opening up the diaphragm. Fortunately, it also allows you to have a little more room in which to respond, rather than react.

Pretty simple but not so easy to remember when you need it most.

That’s why practicing in no-stress or low-stress situations is critical. If you practice for 28 days, you’ll create a new habit – a healthy one – that will pay off time and time again.

And how can you remind yourself to do this for 28 days? Set a calendar reminder on your computer, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, and put a sticky note on the dashboard of your car.

Take it from Sam, the rewards are tangible and huge.

If you are an executive, entrepreneur, consultant or coach I invite you to join me for a high value, no cost strategy session. You will learn the most effective ways to stay calm in the midst of chaos…so you can instantly assess each situation…and know the most effective course of action from your most powerful and resourceful state.


Steven is an amazing videographer who takes risks to capture the feeling of the products he helps market. He is building a thriving business. Eight months ago though, Steven called to tell me about burnout and his “bleak” prognosis as an entrepreneur.

The big secret of successful entrepreneurs that few talk about is sustaining passion. Yep, successful entrepreneurs know how to sustain passion – beyond the initial honeymoon phase of the big dream.

Naturally, when the rush of a brilliant idea floods an entrepreneurial spirit, passion greases the engine of activity. They don’t sleep much, food becomes less important somehow and the hours they happily put in exceed twelve a day.

But what happens six to nine months later…when hurdles grow high or sideways? What happens when the revenue to keep the enterprise afloat isn’t flowing? What happens when supporters begin to quietly voice their doubts or fears? When even the entrepreneur experiences self-doubt?

I’ll tell you about one successful entrepreneur I’ve worked with closely – Steven, yes the very one.

Steven scribbled a “note to self”: My passion is ebbing! What to do?

He took a hard look at all the domains of his life: a check-in, of sorts. What was happening for him cognitively, emotionally, relation-wise, spiritually, somatically (with his body) and across all five – integration-wise?

He found some seriously unmet needs. Cognitively, it had been months since he read anything of interest besides sales figures. He felt his mind going numb and his conversations becoming stale.

And emotionally, well, he had so immersed himself in working at his dream, he had forgotten the feelings that it originally evoked…sort of like going on “auto-pilot”. In fact, he wasn’t feeling much of anything these days.

Steven was wise enough to recognize that to sustain passion, he needed to care for himself – all of himself, not only the entrepreneurial part. So he had to go out and find support for the domains of this life where he was experiencing unmet needs.

What did he do? First, he signed up for a class at the Academy of Science – something he had always wanted to do. He figured the stimulation and ideas of classmates would juice up his own thinking an imagination – get him cogitating again, in a wild, new way.

And next, he asked his girlfriend for recommendations of her favorite poetry (he had observed her emotional responses to poems over time). Though poetry hadn’t been high on his list of favorite things to do with very limited spare time, he tried it on.

Being disciplined about diet, rest and exercise, Steven didn’t change much in the somatic area, and he felt fortunate that his relationships were strong and vibrant. So he concentrated on the unmet needs in the two areas he recognized needed help. And he went out and got support; a class (with instructor and schedule and accountability) and his girlfriend’s suggestions.

You might wonder what all that had to do with his business enterprise? And while Steven knew there wasn’t a direct line he could draw, he understood that HE WAS HIS ENTERPRISE, and if he didn’t take care of himself, really care for himself, the passion that fueled getting his dream into the marketplace would run dry.

Sustaining passion rests on two important questions every entrepreneur must ask himself or herself:

What unmet needs do I have?

Who/what  can support me in taking care of myself?

And though successful entrepreneurs may use different language for the questions, they know that sustaining passion over time, requires self-care and support.

Oh and Steven? He went on to successfully grow his business by landing a well known and creative client…which led to more work. Today he has 4 employees and his enthusiasm is almost uncontainable when he talks about the future.

And you? What are you doing about sustaining your own passion when the inevitable hurdles and dips appear?

Check-in with yourself across the domains of your life. What’s happening for you emotionally, cognitively, relationally, spiritually, physically and in the integration of those? I hope you’ll take note of ALL of yourself; find what needs aren’t being met and gather the resources to fulfill them. The world needs you and your passion.



Jubilation!  I don’t use that word often, but its what I felt last week! Jubilant.

Why, you ask? Ah, it’s been a bubblin’ and a steamin’.

For a over a month,  I wended my way through all the ups and downs of creating my first ever webinar, “21 Days from Timid to Awesome” which came off despite some technical difficulties (always, always learning). There was a store to set up, email blasts to send out, a change in publishing to undertake, a software program to master and more. Yet, I undertook all of it.

And then, along the way, I got good news.

A prestigious university’s business school  was interested in the material and invited me to fly in for a brainstorming session. The questions? How to serve female MBA students on the cusp of leadership? How to support all MBA grads in taking on their new roles?

It happened because I had chosen to “step it up.”

Years of working with amazing women who flinched a little at standing fully in their power, led me to designing a course. And broadcasting the key components of the much needed shifts, the ways to stop undermining or diminishing themselves, the steps to cultivating their capacity instead, was a commitment I took into the market place in a new medium, with technology that I had to master. Not to mention my own fears. BY the way, you can read some of the beginning steps on my blog: http://www.thevaliantgroup.com/5-secrets-brilliant-women-in-charge-need-to-know/

I had to model the “stepping up” by making big changes to way I had done things up ‘til then. (I didn’t name my company The Valiant Group lightly.) What that meant was a lot of learning, asking for support (and getting it) and widening (often with a crowbar) my perspective about where change can happen. It was a wonderful though frightening process. Change is not easy!

Yet, look at what happened!

Not only did I create a course I am loving teaching, but I also ventured into avenues I hadn’t imagined.  Isn’t it great when life steps in to surprise and support you?

After conversations with the Dean and Associate Dean, we agreed that the business school was poised to support students in becoming emotionally intelligent, strategic and resilient leaders. Many offerings could support that transition. And my input was useful. THEY WANTED MORE. Yay!

How wonderful that business school might become the place to break the mold of “old school” leadership, often held in place by entrenched ways of doing things from the last century. How wonderful that business school might prepare leaders for dealing with themselves, their colleagues and bosses, their direct reports with compassion alongside the skills of strategic planning, process orientation, customer service, operational excellence, accountability and so on.

As the title of  a Marshall Goldsmith book states eloquently, “What got you here won’t get you there.” And the new “there” includes leadership of a different order.

As for myself, the new “there” keeps opening up. As I design new workshops, courses and programs…as I learn to interface with clients in ways other than face-to-face, as I reach out beyond my geographic area, I grow more fully into what’s possible. I learn new skills, hone some of the existing ones, master new technology, expand my vision around learning and teaching, and trust myself and my team to find direction, correct course and bring value forward.

As I said, “Jubilation.”


Yes, real change is possible regardless of your age. Dr. Siegal  is the foremost expert on remapping your brain.

Watch this video and see how you can change your brain too.


You’ve left the building…the city. Worse, you’ve left your body!  Sometimes the fear of feeling what you’re feeling is far worse than the experience. It can close down your breathing, contract your whole body, shut down your emotions, create so much anxiety that you dart from thought to thought or place to place. From this place, there is no resolution – no rest. And there is no NOW!

What makes us leave the present? Stress. And the irony is that stress is part of life – small ones and large ones. Good ones and awful ones. (Yes, stress can be positive like getting engaged.) Stress comes in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. While most people exit the moment at its first warning signs, there’s good news! Really good news.

You don’t have to run or hide. You can take charge of your response. Its easy, much easier than you think.

Here are 5 signs that you’re in trouble and what you can do about them.

One: You’re squeaking!

When we’re not being ourselves, we tend to use a high voice. We’re not projecting from our belly and chances are everything below the neck is starved of breath.  Are you talking super fast? Another sign of discomfort.

What to do? Place your hands on your abdomen. Imagine speaking from there. Nice and easy does it. As you speak, feel the support of the floor or chair beneath you.

Two: You’re Contracting!

Am I clenching my butt, my hands or my jaw? Our bodies are billions of cells firing at once and those cells can’t be fooled. Tension in your being is picked up instantly by your body. When you’re not present,, you’re tense.

What to do? Do a body scan. Find the tense culprit and relax that muscle group.

Three: You’ve stopped  breathing?

Shallow breathing in the chest area vs. the belly will not only change your voice, it’s also a signal of fear, nervousness and playing the game of inauthenticity.

What to do? Take a few breaths, extending the exhale with an audible sound. Five or six or these will bring the oxygen to all the needed parts and settle your nervous system.

Four: You’ve blocked your feelings.

Not being clear which emotions you are experiencing in a sure sign you’re in trouble.

What to do? Close your eyes and sense into your experience. What image or words arise? Stay with the image (or words) until you can isolate an emotion. Then allow that feeling to unfold.

Five: You’re being hyper-vigilant.

When we’re feeling safe and authentically in the moment, we relax and respond naturally to what’s showing up. When we’re not, we’re hyper-vigilant, watching others for signs that we’re accepted and okay.

When we’re in the present, our reactions are authentic, and we feel safe to shine our gifts onto the world.

What to do? The 4 above in any sequence.

Of course, if you practice during the non-stressful times, you’ll know what to do when the inevitable stresses show up. So what are you waiting for? Start now and head off trouble at the bend.



Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet

What one thing can you do today that will significantly change your life for the better?

Yes, that’s a question!

And the power of questions is what I’m sharing with you today.

Often, when we embark on a course of development, we become aware of how much there is to do. We focus on the shifts we want to make – eating healthier, exercising more, meditation, a new practice like yoga or a martial art, or learning a new skill, sitting with a teacher, deeper reading, etc. etc. And yes, it can be overwhelming.

When my clients bring their overwhelm to me, an effective antidote to their sense of discouragement, even despair, is to ask them to live into a question.

As Rilke eloquently points out in the quote above, living the questions – loving the questions, gradually brings us into the answers.

So what kind of questions am I talking about?

Try these on to see if any fit:

What is life calling me to do?
How is what I’m doing bringing me into alignment with who I am?
What is my heart yearning for?
What is my contribution to make?
What would deeper connection in my life look like?
What keeps me from being true to myself?
What does my soul long for?
If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I be doing now?
(Add your own)

Pick a question for the next month.

Live into the question this way:

Part One: Begin a journal with that question at the top. Come back to that journal every day for 28 days. Allow yourself to doodle, jot down a sentence or two, sketch, tear out a relevant piece from a magazine. Perhaps include a quotation or poem that speaks to your question. Capture the title of a film or TV show that concerns your question and comment upon it. (Do this either every evening or every morning to begin the day.) Capture in your journal whatever is showing up around your question. Don’t judge it or force it into a frame. Just capture it. Allow, allow, allow.

Part Two: Write your question where you’ll bump into it several times a day – perhaps on a sticky attached to your computer and on a 3X5 in your sock drawer; on a slip of paper in your wallet or attached to your medicine cabinet. Each time you encounter the question, pause a moment, take a full breath and exhale slowly…then go on about whatever you are doing.

At the end of the month, read over what you’ve captured. Answer these questions:

What is emerging?
What thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations arise as you look over your journal?
What are you seeing, learning, noticing by living into this question?

The practice of living into a question is powerful and revealing. Don’t beat yourself up about “not having answers.” Sometimes, having the right question is far more transformative.


My dog saved the day, saved my business and that’s why I love him. In playing with Beezley and experiencing his unconditional love, I reconnected to myself, to my deep enthusiasm and concrete belief in what I’m up to in this world, and finally, who I am.

These past few months have been exciting and hard…ever since I made the decision to transform the way I run my business. Exciting because I kept a clear, though imaginary, roadmap pinned before my eyes. I could see where I was and knew the destination. I had a plan to get me there and sharp tools for the trip.

For the first time in my life, I was also really inviting in support, so I found it! Not only support for online marketing and my upcoming tele-summit, but GREAT support. I felt part of an effective and talented team.


And I was sure that I was going to get there, I worked longer hours with more focus than I can remember doing for years. Some of the work wasn’t at all of interest to me, but just needed doing. I stayed mindful of the necessities and often felt in flow – just doing the next thing, next.

I researched and read, watched webinars on marketing, spent more hours at the computer, more hours strategizing with my supporters, even hours hiring the right assistant. Workflow charts, blogging, making videos, creating offers, writing auto-responders, learning editing software, setting up a new accounting program and testing project management software. Work and more work. And all of it around the clients I was currently coaching.

And I saw my own teacher (I am a Ridhwan student) regularly, did weekly inquiry to stay clear and on track and out of the outdated, outworn stories about what is possible for me.

Of course, it all cost money, too. Money I borrowed from my pension plan. Money I borrowed from family. Money I wasn’t sure I would be able to repay or replace anytime soon, if ever.

Yet, I knew what I wanted and I was going for it…without excuses, without hesitation, without certainty of success- but HOPE – big, barrels of hope and a firm commitment to do whatever was required and a conviction that I had something valuable to offer to the world – these were all part of the mix.

Most of the time, I felt enlivened, noticing every cell in my body resonating, enthusiasm spilling through me like slow paint. Decision after decision, user guide after user guide, video correction after video correction, I went all out, stayed with it and forged ahead.

My lovely dog, Beezley, gave up some long hikes for shorter trots in the neighborhood. He hung out near my feet as I packed in whole days on the computer and phone. He even took his vitamins with less fuss. After 11 hour days on the computer, he hopped enthusiastically up on the bed to keep me company, when I collapsed at night.

And all that’s been great. Truly great and I’m deeply appreciative. He’s a handsome, supportive and understanding companion, easy to be with and a great camper- but that’s not why I love my dog.

This week I got sick…terrible burning sore throat and some sort of infection that made me feel like a dirty doormat. The “bug” ate up all my energy. Worse, it ate up my enthusiasm and belief in this vision. The dream lost its color, went stale, heavy, dull.

A harsh inner voice started taunting me with messages like, “You’re wasting your time. Who do you think you are anyway?” And mostly, I was too tired to defend against it.

I started feeling drained, then exhausted and then really, really unsure – second guessing what I am up to, questioning every decision…wondering if I’m making a BIG mistake or worse, delusional. My head went fuzzy about even the simplest task. And that nasty voice kept me obsessing about the money all this was costing me.

Now some people talk to their dogs – a lot. Not me. I generally keep our conversations short. So I wasn’t sharing – at least not verbally what was transpiring.

And Beezley, while smart and with it IS a dog.

But last night, when I felt I had hit a stark low – no energy to move, no idea what to do next and not enough juice to call anyone for support, Beezley jumped up on the sofa with me. Peering into my eyes like a wise sage, he curled himself into the crook of my body and began to lick away my tears.

Slowly, methodically, Beezley cleaned me up…snotty nose and all. What’s more, he somehow conveyed the message that this was just a temporary setback, that everything was really OKAY and that we – him and I, were just fine.

Beezley let me know I was good enough, despite what gremlins were whispering from within my muddled, feverish mind. He showed me that I was loved and that love was more important than just about anything else.

He didn’t need my videos to be perfect or my blogs to shimmer with wisdom and clarity. He didn’t care whether I mastered the learning curve of all the new software programs dotting my desktop.

Beezley just cared about me, how I was doing, whether I was down and what he could do to make me feel better. We were a team. He reminded me of what counts most – love and compassion.

Go figure that my dog would be such a good teacher. His compassion fueled my own. I re-aligned my priorities, sank into the ready affection we share, shucked off my cares and began to play with him, making both of us happy and a bit goofy.

And in playing with Beezley, experiencing his unconditional love, I reconnected to myself, to my deep enthusiasm and concrete belief in what I’m up to in this world, and finally…who I am. And THAT’S how my dog saved the day, my business and why I love him!


Of course you want to be happier. Everyone does. So, why are so few people there?

Because most people haven’t learned the simple steps, I am about to share with you.

What’s one huge thing that gets in the way of your happiness?

You probably said money or a relationship or having enough time. And while any or all of those might increase your happiness factor temporarily, they won’t keep you happy for long. Soon, you’ll drift back to the place you know only too well.

What will make a long lasting difference? A new relationship with your inner critic. One based on compassion and forgiveness.

You know, the harsh, even mean, inner critic – the one with the voice. The voice that attacks you with all the, “You should have…” and the niggling, “Why didn’t you?” and spins you into a cycle of blame and shame. The one that is harsh, judgmental and insists on “knowing best” without taking circumstances or feelings into account.

Here’s the shocking news. The happiest people around, the ones that lead lives filled with meaning, on purpose and in balance, they’ve learned the secret to dealing with that harsh critic.

And they deal with it by learning to forgive themselves when they miss the mark.

And you can learn how too!

In fact, happy people hold mistakes as “missing the mark” rather than sins against humanity. They allow their energies to be used to “correct course” rather than be leached away into blame, shame or even, self-hatred.

So here are the 3 steps to living a happier life:
1. First notice your harsh inner critic – how loudly and how often it speaks up – just notice.
2. Next, acknowledge that it really wishes to take care of you; it just isn’t very skillful yet.
3. Now do the forgiveness practice that I’ve included below.

Do this every evening for 28 days. Start tomorrow. Make time for it… 5-10 minutes. Consistency is more important than time.

Place your hand on your chest, right over your heart, close your eyes gently and take a few deep breaths. Let your attention sense into this area of your body. Let it fill this space. Notice what you experience. Just breath and notice.

Remember that there is no right answer – there is nothing that you are supposed to experience. Whatever you find or do not find is your experience. Stay with whatever sensations you find in your heart’s “space,” and note how these sensations change over time.

Keep away from any judgments. Don’t try to analyze the “why” of these sensations. Make a clear distinction between your thoughts and the sensations that arise. Stay with the sensations, letting the thoughts go by like bubbles that arise and burst.

Now with hand over heart, say aloud or silently, “I forgive myself for all the ways I fell short. I forgive myself for my past confusion and behavior. I forgive myself for my past limitations. I truly forgive myself”.

Breathe deeply as the words fade away, keeping your hand over your heart.

You’ll quickly find that as you learn to forgive yourself, your energy will be used more productively, you’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll be happier.

And there’s a bonus! As you learn to be kinder, more compassionate with yourself, the benefits spill over to include others. So you attract people, people who want to hang out with you, enjoy being with you. And that just adds to and reinforces your own personal happiness.

So what are you waiting for? Get started today, be consistent and start living your happier life.


You want to change. It’s not easy. You’ve probably noticed that.

We all want to become better people — stronger, calmer, healthier, more creative, more skilled, more balanced, a better friend or lover.

Why is it that really wanting it, even getting inspired, doesn’t do the trick?

What can you do to make the positive changes you long for, stick?

Meet Daphne

When she first started meditating, Daphne was inspired. For the first few weeks after a retreat, she sat on her beautiful new cushion every morning. Then, as time rolled on, her practice became spotty. After a while, meditation was an infrequent part of her week.

Shame (she confessed to me and other close friends) didn’t help.

Here was something she REALLY wanted, knew the value of, and still, she couldn’t make the change from being a non-meditator to a consistent one. She was upset, frustrated and disgusted with herself.

I wanted to help. Of course, I knew about the 28 day make or break a habit rule, and I knew that certain habits, like dominoes falling, put other good things into place effortlessly, but what I didn’t realize was how much the identity we hold impacts change. Wow!

What I learned was that identity was the single most important factor in making change happen.

Daphne’s identity was that of “spontaneous” person. She even told people that with pride. So…how could this new daily habit take root? She couldn’t be spontaneous about meditation AND do it regularly. (She had to do it every day and preferably at the same time.)

What had to change was her identity. As long as she was identifying as “spontaneous” being consistent on the cushion was a battle.

And here is an important secret: we are never limited to just one part of ourselves – it just that part we choose to identify with, so that’s what we put our attention on, ignoring the other parts.

So what needed to change? Daphne’s identity. It needed to expand. We talked about it.

She started thinking of herself as a disciplined person (who could be spontaneous). And she started paying attention to all the places in her life she was disciplined (brushing her teeth, moisturizing, preparing for her clients, etc.) Yep, those parts she hadn’t shone the light on.

As she focused on each time she did something consistently (a small win) this new identity took root. And, so did her new habit of beginning the day with 20 minutes of meditation.

Identity-Based Habits

The key to real change is focusing on creating a new ( larger) identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).

To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.

Imagine how we typically set goals. We might start by saying “I want to eat healthier” or “I want to get stronger.” If you’re lucky, someone might say, “That’s great, but you should be more specific.”

So then you say, “I want to stop eating processed foods” or “I want to do 100 push-ups.”

These goals are centered around our performance or our appearance.

Performance and appearance goals are great, but they don’t have the traction of habitual behavior. If you’re already doing a behavior, then these types of goals can help drive you forward. But if you’re trying to start a new behavior, then it would be far better to start with an identity–based goal.

The interior of behavior change and building better habits is your identity. So take a real look at yourself.

Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions.

The reason why it’s so hard to stick to new habits is that we often try to achieve a performance or appearance–based goal without changing our identity. Most of the time we try to achieve results before proving to ourselves that we have the identity of the type of person we want to become. It should be the other way around.

The Recipe for Sustained Success

Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. If you pay attention, you’ll see what has been “kept in shadow” by not shining the light of your attention there.

Try these two steps.

1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Here are five examples of how you can make this work in your life.

Note: It is very important to start with incredibly small steps. The goal is not to achieve results at first, the goal is to become the type of person who can achieve those things. That means really seeing yourself fully and in technicolor and then living into the parts (identity expander) that you haven’t identified with.

For example, a person who works out consistently is the type of person who can become strong. Develop the identity of someone who works out first, and then move on to performance and appearance later.

Start small and trust that the results will come as you develop a new identity.

Want to lose weight?
Identity: Become the type of person who moves more every day.
Small win: Buy a pedometer. Walk 50 steps when you get home from work. Tomorrow, walk 100 steps. The day after that, 150 steps. If you do this 5 days per week and add 50 steps each day, then by the end of the year, you’ll be walking over 10,000 steps per day.

Want to become a better writer?
Identity: Become the type of person who writes 1,000 words every day.
Small win: Write one paragraph each day this week.

Want to become compassionate?
Identity: Become the type of person who perform random acts of kindness.
Small win: Pay “it” forward every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Want to be a better friend?
Identity: Become the type of person who always stays in touch.
Small win: Call one friend every Saturday. If you repeat the same people every 3 months, you’ll stay close with 12 old friends throughout the year.

Want to be taken seriously at work?
Identity: Become the type of person who is always on time.
Small win: Schedule meetings with an additional 15–minute gap between them so that you can go from meeting to meeting and always show up early.

What is your identity?

When you want real change, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than getting amazing results. This is especially true at first.

If you want to get motivated and inspired, watch a YouTube video, listen to your favorite song, and follow a TED talk. But don’t be surprised if you burn out after a week. You can’t just rely on being motivated. You have to become the type of person you want to be, and that starts with proving your new identity to yourself.

If you’re looking to make a change, stop worrying about results and start worrying about your identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve. Take on that identity now. The results will show up in neon lights.