change

Change Doesn't Take Courage - It Takes Clarity

"You can't be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute." - Tina Fey We can want to change, even know we need to change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will change. It takes urgency and clarity to change things up. Here's what I mean.

A forty-something woman names Beverly raised her hand in a SOMEDAY presentation in Waikiki and said, “I’ve been to inspiring keynotes before. I go home all fired up, then life intervenes, and two weeks later everything is back to same old, same old. Any suggestions?”

I told her, “Have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency and clarity. An S.E.E. is a Significant Emotional Event. Unfortunately, most are dramatic or traumatic. We get fired, divorced, have a heart attack or lose a loved one. This forces us to re-evaluate the way we’re living. We realize there are no guarantees so we’re motivated to focus on what's important and change things up now because we realize we may not get a second chance. The way I see it, why not have a pretend S.E.E. so we get the epiphany without the pain?”

“What’s an example of a pretend S.E.E.?”

“We can do one right here, right now. Just ask yourself, “If I only had a week to live, what would I stop doing? What would I start doing? What would I do differently?”

“You’re asking us to imagine we’re going to croak in a week? Isn’t that a little morbid?”

I smiled, “Thinking about our mortality isn’t morbid; it’s motivating. Sometimes it’s just the incentive we need to stop taking our life, health, loved ones and freedoms for granted and to change our life - for good.

She said, “Okay, I’ll play along. If I only had a week to live, I would stop letting fear rule my life and start doing things that scare me.”

“Like what?”

“Like going into the ocean. I watched JAWS when I was a kid. Big mistake. Here I am in Hawaii and I haven’t even gone into the water.”

I said, “Okay, let’s hack that fear. One way to hack fears is to realize they don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right. Do you know about the swim area by the Natatorium where Duke Kahanamoku used to swim? It’s only three feet deep so there’s no way you can get in over your head, and there’s only one small opening in the sea wall so the surf can’t get in and neither can the sharks. Let’s put a date on the calendar so you don’t wiggle out of your intentions. When are you leaving the islands?”

“We fly out in two days.”

“Then tomorrow is the day. Schedule a 6 a.m. wake-up call. When the alarm goes off and you’re tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, ask yourself, ‘What will matter a year from now? That I got an extra hour of sleep? Or that I finally overcame a fear that’s been keeping me from living full out, and I got up and outside and had a one-of-a-kind experience I’ll always be grateful for?”

“It’s worth a try. But why 6 am?”

“Because sunrise is at 6:30 am and you want to be at water’s edge, ready to step into the ocean the moment the sun rises over Diamond Head. It will be what Hawaiians call a ‘chicken skin’ experience. Experiences are more meaningful when they’re metaphors. You’re not just stepping into the ocean, you’re stepping into a new way of life where you remember your mortality and make changes to make the most of life now, not someday.”

I added, “Here’s my card with my number. Text me and let me know how it goes, okay?”

The next day Beverly texted, “I DID IT!” with an exclamation point and smiley face emoji.

What is a change you want to make? Instead of vaguely promising yourself you’ll do it someday, could you have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency and clarity so you’re motivated to act on it today?

If fears are holding you back, ask yourself, “What will matter a year from now?” Remember, fears don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right.

As Tina Fey points out, we can't be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide never going in. Courage is just remembering what's important.

You will never regret doing something that makes you happier, healtheir, more fulfilled. You'll only regret playing it safe, letting fear win, and taking yourself out of the game of life.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Intel, Capital One, NASA, Boeing, YPO, Cisco. Want Sam to present her inspiring keynote for your conference? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.

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Change for Good - At Any Age

"Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change."-Jim Rohn I remember asking a forty-something at a New Year's party, "What's your New Year's resolution?" He just shook his head and said, "I didn't make one. I just break them anyway. What's the point?"

“Wow,” I thought. “That’s like giving up hope.” I believe in hope and I believe we can change for good - at any age. One of the great blessings of being human and being alive is we can choose to do things differently any time we want.

Our history doesn’t need to predict our future unless we let it. Just because we’ve broken resolutions in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t honor them this time.

The secret is to believe it is possible. As Brene Brown says, "I will choose how the story ends." We can also choose how the story STARTS.

What will you change today to give yourself a FRESH START on life?

Long-time friend and Hall of Fame speaker Glenna Salsbury wrote an inspiring book on this subject entitled, “The Art of the Fresh Start.” The premise of Glenna’s book is that "most resolutions - no matter how well-intended - are doomed to fail for one often overlooked reason: they are incongruent with our dreams and values."

I think there's another reason our attempts to change often fail. We focus on what we don't want instead of on what we do.

My clarity around this was triggered by two emails our office received last week. The first said, “Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.”

The second said, in response to our request to change the day and time of an appointment, “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Yikes. When we tell ourselves (and others) what NOT to do, we actually increase the likelihood the unwanted behavior will happen. For example, what do you think about when reading these phrases?

“I don’t like it when you interrupt me.” “You need to stop being late all the time.” "We can't afford to make mistakes in that meeting." "No need to get nervous before that presentation."

The words “don’t,” “stop” “won’t” and “not” are “ghost” words. Our mind doesn’t register them. When they’re paired with an unwanted behavior, “Don't worry,” or “I won't eat carbs" or "Stop hitting your sister” we pay attention to, produce, and perpetuate the very behavior we DON’T want.

That’s why, when that company rep said, “Don’t hesitate to call,” they introduced the word “hesitate” which means we’ll think twice before contacting them.

It’s better to say, “Please call if you have questions.” or "We look forward to hearing from you …”

For many people, the word problem means “something’s wrong.” Why give customers the impression something wrong if there isn’t? How about a more gracious, “That will work fine” or “Yes, he’s open at 4:30 and I’m happy to book that time.”

Words matter. It’s in our best interests to mindfully select words that focus on the DESIRED vs. the DREADED behavior because we get what we focus on.

This applies to what you want to change. Instead of using language that focuses on what you DON’T want; use words that state what you DO want. For example:

“I will stop sitting all day at work” becomes “I get up from my desk and take two ten minute walk breaks every day.”

"You need to stop interrupting people” becomes "Let people finish what they're saying."

“I don’t eat carbs” becomes “I love eating lean, green and protein.”

“I don't want to be nervous before that presentation" becomes "I welcome this speaking opportunity and will walk in with confidence."

Please note: switching the words we think/say transcends “semantics.” Choosing words that keep the desired behavior top of mind helps us - and others - change into being the quality of person we want to be.

To help achieve that, here are quotes on how we can change for good - starting now. You might want to print them out and post them where you see them everyday to keep them in-sight, in-mind so you keep them top-of-mind. Enjoy.

1. “Never say anything to yourself you don’t want to come true.” – Brian Tracy

2. "Life has no remote. You've got to get up and change it yourself." - Pinterest post

3. “If you’re brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho”

4. “Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you’re dreaming.” – Alice Walker

5. “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther

6. “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk." - Jean-Paul Sartre

7. “Your future depends on many things, mostly on you.” – Frank Tyger

8. “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford

9. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey

10. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." - Pablo Picasso

11. “The only thing keeping you from what you want is the story you’re telling yourself about it.” – Tony Robbins

12. "And suddenly you know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." - Meister Ekhart

13. “Do you know the #1 precursor to change? A sense of urgency." - John Kotter

14. “Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

15. “You can’t start the chapter of a new life if you keep re-reading the last one.” Pinterest post

16. “May your choices be based on your hopes and not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

17. “Don’t tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be.” – Esther Hicks

18. “To make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.” Richard Feynman

19. “The only danger is not to evolve." - Jeff Bezos

20. “How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank

And a final quote from the incomparable Anne Lamott. It’s a long one and a good one. Wishing you a juicy year – and a juicy life.

“What if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing you forgot to have a big juicy creative life of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” - Anne Lamott

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Capital One, National Geographic, Boeing, Intel, NASA and Accenture. Want Sam to share her inspiring keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.

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What Miracles Await - An Hour Off Our Planned Path?

I am driving from Colorado to Califonia. My waitress at breakfast yesterday asked, "Are you going to Zion National Park?"

When I asked why, she said, "You know it's only an hour away?" I hadn't known.

Thankfully, I had left room for whims and was able to spontaneoulsy take this side trip which has made the whole trip more rewarding than I could have imagined.

By the way, that is literally true. When we partner with life rather than plan every minute of it, what unfolds is better than we can imagine. It opens the door for SerenDestiny (a life where the light is on in our eyes) and we are gifted with unexpected delights that enrich us.

I lucked out as it was a perfect winter day. Sunny and with no ice or crowds on the trails. Let's hear it for off-season.

Hiked up to Emerald Pools and marveled at this natural waterfall in the midst of the Utah desert.

Felt so blessed to be able to immerse myself in this sacred place in such ideal conditions, I decided I couldn't "rush off." So, I stayed the night at this lodge that looked out at, and was surrounded by, these awe-inspiring mountains so I could more deeply imprint and enjoy this sensory-rich experience.

Still can't quite believe this magnificent place was on my way - but not on my radar.

An extraordinary experience and totally unexpected.

How about you?

Are you leaving room for whims - space for SerenDestiny?

Do you listen to intuitive nudges and act on intriguing opportunities that pop up along the way?

Do you cooperate with what wants to happen vs. trying to control every minute of it?

After all, who knows what miracles await - an hour off the planned path?

SOMEDAY Is Not a Day in the Week

I'm here speaking at an event in Hawaii, and a participant asked, "What prompted you to write a book on SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week?"

I told the group the backstory and why I am a woman on a mission on this topic, and thought you might enjoy reading it too.

In 2015, I had just finished an intense two day consult. It was satisfying but I was so exhausted, I didn't know how I was going to get on the plane home that night.

My son called while I was summoning up energy to drive to the airport. He sensed something in my voice and asked, "What's up, Mom?"

I told him how drained I was and he said, "Mom, there's something about you I don't understand. You've created a life where you can do anything you want, and you're not taking advantage of it."

Out of the mouths of twenty-somethings. He was right. I could take time off. My sons were grown and out of the house. I was single, healthy, and could do work on the road to finance my adventures. I was free to go.

But you know what? Instead of changing things up, I went right back to my old habits and started filling my calendar again.

It wasn't until several months later when I was driving along the Pacific Coast on my way to give a workshop, that I had a "divine intervention." And yes, I know that sounds woo-woo, but that's what happened.

All of a sudden my mind was filled with an idea that wanted to be born.

If there's anything I learned from 17 years of emceeing the Maui Writers Conference, it's how important it is to ink it when we think it. So, I pulled over and here’s what poured out.

(Really. You can’t make this stuff up.)

“Some people are drawn to fire. I am drawn to water. After all, we are 65 percent water. It is our essence, our lifeblood. All of us are bodies of water.

Yet, as Maslow pointed out, water is a fulfilled need. And fulfilled needs tend to get overlooked and taken for granted.

So it is that I will set out on my Year by the Water on October 1. (My whaat?!)

I will spend a week by a different body of water — oceans, estuaries, mountain streams. Each week will have a theme. Can we really not step in the same river twice? Does salt water — sea, tears and sweat — cure what ails us? Why can’t we collect all the shells on the beach?

So, Chesapeake Bay, Marina Del Rey… here I come. I will interview people along the way — surfers, swimmers, sailors. I will swim with dolphins, houseboat on Lake Tahoe, snuba in Maui, sail off the coast of California.

I am clear that I am supposed to set this in motion but I am not supposed to control it. I am supposed to do the opposite of my always and cooperate with what wants to happen.

And so it is.”

I sat there, stunned by the out-of-the-blue suddeness of it all.

However, I realized how fortunate I was to have a crystal clear “calling” downloaded to me (with a name and start date no less) so I answered that call.

In retrospect, I think another reason I was so ready and willing to make this major change was because of something that happened to my dad.

My dad's dream was to visit all the national parks when he retired. As head of vocational ag education for the state of California, he was on the road 4-5 days a week driving to high schools, county fairs and farms and ranches. He was an honorable man who worked hard for decades to make a positive difference in the lives of his FFA advisors and students.

A week after retiring, he took off on his long-delayed dream, and a week after that, he had a stroke in a hotel bathroom.

Dad recovered from that stroke but he never did get to fulfill his dream of visiting the Smoky Mountains, Zion, Glacier and the Grand Tetons.

I didn't want that to happen me. I don't want that to happen to anyone.

Fast-forward to 2017. I did set out on my Year by the Water and it was everything I hoped it would be - and more.

The irony is, it ended up not being about the water.

It ended up being about the people I met.

In particular, the people who, upon hearing about my Year by the Water, would say wistfully, "I'm going to do something like that ...someday."

When I asked why they were postponing their dreams, many said, "I'm busy, I've got bills to pay, people counting on me."

They seemed to think it was selfish, almost irresponsible, to do what made them happy.

The problem with that? It’s based on the assumption that we’ll be able to do what we want when we’re ready. But what if we don’t?

As the Buddha said, "The thing is, we think we have time."

The purpose of my book (published by St. Martin's Press, Jan. 2019) is to help you get crystal clear that life is much too precious to postpone.

You have a right and a responsibility to do more of what makes you happy.

Please note, I’m not suggesting you quit your job, walk away from your obligations or take a year off to follow your dreams.

Many of you aren't in a position to do that ... and/or you may not want to do that.

The good news is, there are small things you can do right here, right now, to be happier, healtheir, more joyful and fulfilled.

My hope is that by reading inspiring stories of people who decided to change their life for good; you’ll be motivated to do the same.

Most importantly, I hope you’ll be motivated to put yourself in your own story and honor your true priorities. It's not selfish, it's smart.

You’ll never regret taking the time to focus on what will matter in the long run; you’ll only regret not doing it … sooner.

IF Something Goes Wrong, Just Yell "PLOT TWIST" and Move On

The Secret Sauce to SUCCESS? Being a quick study.

If something goes wrong, just yell "PLOT TWIST" and move on.

The quicker and more proactively we respond to a "course-correction," the quicker we can turn that experience into something that serves us rather than sabotages us.

As the saying goes, "There are no mistakes, only lessons."

IT's Called a NEW Year for a Reason: 20 Quotes for a Fresh Start

I asked my waitress this morning, “What's your New Year’s resolution?" She shrugged and said, “Oh, I don’t make resolutions anymore. I just end up breaking them anyway, so what’s the use?” “Wow,” I thought. “That’s like giving up hope.” I believe in hope and in fresh starts. One of the great blessings of being human, of being alive, is we can choose to do things differently any time we want.

Our history doesn’t need to predict our future unless we let it. Just because we’ve broken resolutions in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t honor them this time.

"Fall down seven times, get up eight,” as the saying goes.

The secret is to believe positive change is possible.

As Oprah Winfrey says, "We become what we believe."

Brené Brown says it a bit differently, "I will choose how the story ends."

We can also choose how the story STARTS. There's no time like the present - and no present like the time - to create a life where the light is on in your eyes.

What will you do differently - what will you start - to make the most of this gift called 2018?

Long-time friend and Hall of Fame speaker Glenna Salsbury wrote an inspiring book on this subject entitled, “The Art of the Fresh Start.” The premise of Glenna’s book is that "most New Year's resolutions, no matter how well-intended, are doomed to fail for one often overlooked reason: they are incongruent with our dreams and values."

I think there's another reason resolutions often fail. We focus on what we don't want instead of on what we do want.

My clarity around this was triggered by two emails our office received last week. The first said, “Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.”

The second said, in response to our request to change the day and time of an appointment, “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Yikes. The human mind can’t focus on the opposite of an instruction. When we tell ourselves (and others) what NOT to do, we are more likely to continue the unwanted behavior.

For example, what do you think about when reading these phrases?

“Don’t worry.” “Stop running around the pool.” “I don’t like it when you tease me.” “Whatever you do, don’t fumble the ball.” "I'm not going to cry."

The words “don’t,” “stop” “won’t” and “not” are “ghost” words. Our mind doesn’t register them.

When ghost words are paired with an unwanted behavior, “Stop interrupting,” or “I'm not going to smoke,” or “I won't eat pizza" or "Stop hitting your sister” we pay attention to, produce, and perpetuate the very behavior we DON’T want.

That’s why, when that company rep said, “Don’t hesitate to call,” she introduced the word “hesitate” which means we’ll think twice before contacting them.

It’s better to say, “We hope you’ll call if you have questions.” or “Feel free to reach out if …” or “Please get in touch if …”

For many people, the word problem means something’s wrong. Why give customers the impression something wrong if there isn’t?

How about a more gracious, “That will work fine” or “Yes, he’s open at 4:30 and I’m happy to change this appointment.”

Words matter. It’s in our best interests to select words that focus on the DESIRED vs. the DREADED behavior.

This applies to New Year’s Resolutions too. Instead of phrasing them to focus on what you DON’T want; phrase them to focus on what you DO want. For example:

“I’m going to stop sitting 12 hours a day” becomes “I walk my dog in the morning and evening, and take a 15 minute movement break at 10 am and 2 pm every day at work.”

“I’m not going to work 7 days a week” becomes “I reclaim weekends as family/friend/me time and get outside for two fun, recreational activities on Saturday and Sunday.”

“I don’t eat processed foods” becomes “I love eating fresh fruit and vegetables and buy healthy, from-the-earth food that makes me feel lean, clean and energetic.”

“I will stop spending time on toxic people who bring me down” becomes “I choose to hang out with positive people who celebrate what's right with the world.”

Please note; switching the words we choose to use goes beyond “semantics.” It focus our attention on behaviors we want which helps us create a life we want.

To help achieve that, here are 20 quotes on how to make positive changes, fresh starts and new beginnings. Hope they help you create a happy, healthy, thriving new year.

1. “Never say anything to yourself you don’t want to come true.” – Brian Tracy

2. “You attract what you’re ready for and what you ask for.” – Sam Horn

3. “If you’re brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho

4. “Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you’re dreaming.” – Alice Walker

5. “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther

6. “Only dreams give birth to change.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

7. “Your future depends on many things, mostly on you.” – Frank Tyger

8. “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford

9. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey

10. “You’re always one decision away from a totally different life.” – Anon.

11. “The only thing keeping you from what you want is the story you’re telling yourself about it.” – Tony Robbins

12. "And suddenly you know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." - Meister Ekhart

13. “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

14. "Every thought we think is creating our future." - Louse Hay

15. “You can’t start the chapter of a new life if you keep re-reading the last one.” Anon.

16. “May your choices be based on your hopes and not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

17. “Don’t tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be.” – Esther Hicks

18. “To make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.” Richard Feynman

19. “The object of a New Year is to have a new soul, a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.” – G. K. Chesterton

20. “Tomorrow is the 1st blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley

In case you'd like to do some additional reading or research into how to make resolutions you'll keep, here are the best three articles I found on this topic.

* Ideas.TED.com - TED talks that with creative resolutions that can change your life for good. (Elizabeth Lesser's "Take an Other to Lunch" initiative is my favorite)

* New York Times - The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions (with surprising science on why will power DOESN'T work - and what does)

* Fast Company - Six Secrets from People who KEEP Their New Year's Resolutions

And a final quote from the incomparable Anne Lamott. It’s a long one and a good one. Wishing you a juicy year – and a juicy life.

“What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing you forgot to have a big juicy creative life of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” - Anne Lamott

What We Accept, We Teach

Are you in a situation that makes you unhappy? Have you tried everything to make it better but nothing's worked? Are you staying because it seems too daunting to leave?

We often think an unhealthy, unhappy situation only affects us. No, it's affecting everyone around us. We're teaching them THIS is what a relationship looks like. THIS is how people treat each other. THIS is what life looks like ... people suffer but don't do anything to change things for the better.

I remember one deeply unhappy woman who told me, "When I got married, I took vows for 'better or worse.' Well, this is definitely worse, but I'm a Catholic and no one in our family has ever gotten a divorce, so I'm stuck. It is what it is."

We may think we’re doing the “right thing” by staying in a situation where we’re deeply unhappy.

We’re taught that winners never quit.

We're taught to keep our commitments – for better or for worse.

So, we stay.

We stay in a job we hate to "pay the bills."

We stay on boards and committees with non-stop in-fighting because “it is what it is.”

We stay in a toxic marriage “for the kids.”

The thing is, when we’re deeply unhappy, we’re affecting the people around us, whether we intend to or not.

We have to ask ourselves, “What am I teaching by staying?”

Am I teaching my kids that THIS is what marriage looks like? Two adults who don’t even like each other? Who bicker and co-exist in a loveless relationship?

Am I modeling that this is what a career looks like? Sacrificing decades of our life at a soul-sucking job to provide for our family? If you ask the kids in those families what they want, they’ll often say “We don’t want you working all the time and coming home exhausted and angry every night. We want you to be happy.”

Am I teaching that this is what it means to be on a committee or board? People jockeying for position, embroiled in personality conflicts, spinning their wheels and not getting anything done or making a positive difference?

Am I modeling that the “responsible, right thing to do” is to stay in an unhealthy, unproductive situation even when it’s not adding value?

Wouldn’t it be better to model it's our responsibility to create a healthy, happy life?

Wouldn’t it be better to be teach - that if nothing we've tried has improved a situation - we find/create something better so we’re honoring the time we have left?

Wouldn’t it be better to demonstrate wisdom by leaving a consistently abusive relationship and seeking one where the people involved treat each other with respect?

Isn’t that what we all want, need and deserve?

Isn’t that what we want to teach?

Isn’t that what we want for our loved ones and what they want for us?

Happiness sets up a ripple effect. So does unhappiness.

What ripple effects are you setting in motion?

If you won’t replace a toxic situation with something more positive for yourself, will you do it for the people who are watching and learning from your example?

Please note: I’m not suggesting we act impulsively or irresponsibly. I understand there are circumstances where we do what we don't want for a certain amount of time because it serves a greater good. What I'm suggesting is we stop waiting for things to get better and start initiating sto make them better ... now, not someday.

One day or Day One. You decide.

(And if you're in a toxic relationship that is causing the unhappiness, you might find this article helpful. It has questions to help you decide if you're dealing with a toxic 5%er who is not motivated to change because they want CONTROL, not cooperation.)

Is Your Rubber Band of Routine Snapping Back?

Full confession. I've shared stories from my Year by the Water about sailing the Chesapeake Bay, swimming with Zach the Dolphin, and watching whales breach off Maui. But the truth? There wasn't a lot of water in the first three months of my Year by the Water.

What happened? The rubber band of routine snapped back is what happened.

In those first three months, I spent only one of every four days on, in or around the water. The other three days were spent in airports, flying, driving to and speaking at conferences, staying in hotels and working with consulting clients virtually or at their office.

Why did I revert to my decades-old habit of filling my calendar with paying commitments?

Well, the day before I left, I had a long conversation with Cheri Grimm. Not only has she been my Business Manager for the past twenty years, as my sister, she knows me better than anyone. As we wrapped up our call, she asked, “What do you you want most for your trip?”

I blurted out, “Well, I know what I don’t want. That's for this to turn into business as usual ... just on the road.”

Argghh. I’m supposed to know better. I focused on what I didn’t want.

Now, in my defense, there were good reasons that burst out my mouth. The weeks leading up to my departure had been intense with dozens of logistics to button up.

Still. When we focus on what we don’t want; that’s what we get. If we tell our kids, “Don’t run around the pool,” what are they going to do? Run around the pool.

If we're playing a sport and think, “Don't double-fault" "Don't strike out" or "Don't hit it in the water," what's going to happen?

If we're dealing with a difficult person and tell ourselves, "Don't let him get under your skin," or "Don't let her make you mad" we're going to do both.

I've been teaching this for years. It's in all my books. So, why did I do it?

I call Judy Gray and ask for advice. Judy used to run the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Society of Association Executives and is one of the wisest leaders I know.

She says, "Sam, think about it. You've been a single mom and solopreneur with complete financial responsibility for yourself and your sons for fifteen years. To you, a full calendar means financial security. It means you can 'breathe easy' because you know you'll be able to pay bills.

When you set off on your Year by the Water, for the first time in a long time, you had 'empty' days on your calendar."

I can only imagine, at some level, that was cause for panic. It's easy to understand why you went back to 'biz dev mode" and started filling your calendar again."

Judy's right. We kept digging into why I kept compulsively booking more commitments instead of honoring my intent to visit bodies of water and write about them.

If I’m honest about it, and I want to be honest about it, ego probably played a role too.

Face it, it’s gratifying to have people value what I do. It feels good to be popular, to be “in demand.” As an entrepreneur, people wanting to work with me is proof of my worth.

However, one of the purposes of this adventure was to give myself time and space to be creatively adventurous instead of working non-stop the way i'd been doing for years.

I want to change this long-held association that a full calendar means I’m needed, valued and financially secure. I no longer want to equate being busy and being "booked solid" with being successful.

Judy says, “Sam, a few years back you got clarity around a similar issue. Remember what I’m talking about?”

As soon as she says it, I do.

The week after my son Andrew left for Virginia Tech, (Tom was already there), I was on my morning walk around the lake when I ran into a neighbor. We hadn’t seen each other for awhile, so we joined up to get caught up.

When she heard both boys were away at college, she said with concern, “You’re rattling around in that big house all by yourself? You must be so lonely in that empty nest.”

The thought had never occurred to me that I should be lonely or that I was living in an "empty nest." I smiled and said, “I don’t have an empty nest, I have an open nest.”

Her eyes flew open. “A what?!”

“An OPEN nest. Empty means no one’s there. I am there. Empty defines my life as bereft, as focused on who’s missing and what’s absent. My sons aren’t missing or absent. They’re happy, healthy and doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at this stage of their life. We’re still connected and we’re all free to come and go as we please.”

“Wow. I never thought of it that way.”

The second Judy reminds me of this story, I realize it provides the more positive, proactive perspective I’m looking for. I don’t have an empty calendar, I have an open calendar.

In my "previous life", before launching my Year by the Water, empty days = empty bank account. It meant that clients didn’t want or need me, that I was at financial risk.

No more. I tell Judy, “I’m going to disrupt the way I think about this and talk about it. My days aren’t empty, they’re open to explore, to reflect, to create. I don’t have empty time and space, I have open time and space to discover new places, meet new place, arrive at new epiphanies."

In other words, open days aren't cause for panic, they're cause for potential.

Another one of the many things I appreciate about Judy is how practical she is.

She says, “Okay, how are you going to make sure you don't give in to the pressure to say yes to every business opportunity that comes your way? What boundaries will you put into place so you don’t fall back into old habits and work 30 days a month again?”

Good question.

Did you see the movie The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman? Remember the scene where his parents throw a pool party to celebrate his graduation from college? One of his dad’s friends drapes his arm over Benjamin, (Dustin’s character) and says, “I have one word for you … plastics.”

Well, the word I came up with to hold myself accountable for my good intentions and new mindset is metrics.

I realized that if I didn't ground my new mindset in metrics, it would be too vague. It wouldn't be measurable or enforceable (in the best sense of the word) unless I attached numbers to my intentions.

And, the fact is, I still have financial obligations. I still welcome speaking and consulting opportunities. I haven't abandoned my business, I'm just no longer doing it 24/7.

So, I created a better balance of work and recreation. A certain number of days each month are scheduled with speaking engagements, business appointments and client work. And a certain number of days each month are blocked off and kept open for friends, family, adventure ... whatever develops that day.

Those metrics have resulted in the best of both worlds (more about that here.)

How about you? Are you going going, going? Working 7 days a week?

Despite promising yourself you'll take more time "off," do you find yourself filling your calendar again?

Could you put measurable, enforceable metrics around your intentions to set aside time time for family, friends, adventure (or whatever puts the light on in your eyes) so the rubber band of routine doesn't snap back and you revert to old habits?

Reverend David Steir said, "Let us always be open to the miracle of the second chance."

Yes to the miracle of the second chance. And yes to us taking responsibility to create a more balanced life where we spendd time on all our different priorities - instead of just a few of them.

rubber band best

Stop Procrastinating: 30 Quotes to Inspire You To Take Action Now ... Not Someday

"My parents always told me I wouldn't amount to anything because I procrastinated so much. I told them, 'Just you wait.'" - Judy Tenuta Are you procrastinating on something that's important to you?

Why? Many of us wait for perfect circumstances to take action on our projets, dreams and goals. We tell ourselves we'll do it when we have more time, money, confidence, energy, freedom - fill in the blank.

The problem with that?

We'll never have more time than we have right now. As my mom used tell me, "A year from now, you'll wish you had started today."

What is a project you've set aside that you really want to finish? What is something important to you that you've been putting off?

Review these quotes. Select a favrorite and post it where you'll see it every day to inspire you to take action on something that matters to you so you're leading a life that leads to results, not regrets.

1. "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

2. "If you don't go; you'll never know." - Robert DeNiro

3. "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't; you'll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn

4. "Are you doing what you're doing today because it works; or because it's what you were doing yesterday?" - Dr. Phil McGraw

5. "At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results." - Chuck Yeager

6. "Let us always be open to the miracle of a second chance." - Rev. David Steir

7. "I have heard every excuse in the book, except a good one." - Bob Greene

8. "Are you putting aside what you want most for what you want now." - Zig Ziglar

9. "It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis." - M. W. Bonano

10. "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere." - Belle from Beauty in the Beast

11. "Don't just follow your dreams; launch them." - Sam Horn

12. "The trouble is, you think you have time." -Buddha

13. "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield

14. "Once you've done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line." - Phil Jackson

15. "Perhaps we never really appreciate anything until it is challenged." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

16. "When we neglect what matters most to us, then that becomes the matter with us." - -Paula Reeves

17. "The scariest moment is always right before you start." - Stephen King

18. "To feel, think, love and learn; surely that is being alive and young in the real sense."- Freya Stark

19. "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek." - Barack Obama

20. "Some people get stuck because they keep telling themselves stories about how stuck they are." - Pinterest post (unattributed)

21. "If you don't have a dream; how ya gonna make a dream come true?" South Pacific

22. "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." - W. H.Murray

23. "Life expands or contracts in proportion to your courage." - Anais Nin

24. "Nothing will work, unless you do." - Maya Angelou

25. "I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day." - Albert Camus

26. "It gets late early out there." - Yogi Berra

27. "Don't tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be." - Esther Hicks

28. "The most important things aren't things." - Ann Landers

29. "We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw

30. "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with you one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

Okay, I'm a roll and can't stop. Here are a few more favorites. Hope they help you realize that "Someday is not a day in the week" (the title of my upcoming book) and you choose to set something in motion today that contributes to the quality of life you want, need and deserve.

31. "I didn't change. I just woke up." - Anonymous (I wrote about this here.)

32. "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso

33. "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan

34. "Life, for many of us, is one long postponement." - Henry Miller

35. One of my favorites: "Tomorrow is another day, but so was yesterday." - Rene Ricard

What are you waiting to do?

Begin it today. You will NEVER regret starting a project that calls you, finishing something you can be proud of, or spending time on what puts the light on in your eyes. You'll only regret not doing it sooner.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, has helped thousands of clients create quality books, brands and presentations that scaled their impact – for good. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in New York Times and on NPR, and presented to YPO, Intel, NASA, Capital One, Nationwide. Want Sam to share her inspiring insights with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

Day Right Quote #59: Everyone Thinks of Changing the World. No One Think of Changing Himself

Leo Tolstoy said, "Everyone thinks of changing the world. No one thinks of changing himself." We can choose to disrupt this.

All we have to do is GO FIRST.

Every time we want someone or something to change, we set the precedent by altering the way we treat that person or approach that situation.

Change begins at home.

leo tolstoy

Day Right Quote #58: Quit Watering Dead Flowers

What a joy visiting Hawaii's famous Talk Story Bookstore, meeting owners Ed and Cynthia Justus and hearing their surprising secrets to building a successful life and business in an out-of-the-way location. Here are a few take-aways from my interview with them. The #1 Prerequisite for a Profitable Retail Business is NOT Location, Location, Location - It’s Clarity, Clarity, Clarity

Their bookstore is on the least-visited major island and in a town of less than 3000 people. Yet they have been one of Hawaii’s Top 50 Fastest-Growing businesses for the past five years. TripAdvisor says they’re THE #1 visitor destination on Kauai.

How can this be? In one word …CLARITY. Clarity is the new location. Clarity about who they are. What they want. What they don’t want. And they stay true to those priorities. Which means gently and firmly enforcing their rules.

For example, you’ve heard “There’s no crying in baseball?” Well, there are no thongs in bookstores. At least not in THEIR bookstore. The twenty-something who walked in wearing her version of an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie yellow polka-dot bikini was asked to honor their posted sign, “No shoes, no shirt, no shorts, no service.”

The woman who told them she was going to leave her kids in the store while she went shopping across the street? Nope. “This is a bookstore, not a babysitting service.”

PAVE THE PATHS

Ed and Cynthia didn’t have a background in the book biz and didn’t plan on buying a bookstore. They visited Kauai on their honeymoon and liked it so much, they decided to take a leap of faith and stay. How did they make money from the first day they put their sign up, when they had no experience in the industry?

Ed says, “Amazon’s website taught us everything we needed to know about book-selling. Instead of us trying to figure out which books to stock and what to charge, we simply followed the favorites. Why re-create the wheel? Their site told us the most popular books in each genre and the going price for gently-used books.”

I said, “That’s brilliant. There’s an urban legend called ‘Pave the Paths’ which recommends that instead of prematurely installing sidewalks at public places (e.g., colleges and county buildings), it's smarter to wait and find out where people naturally walk and then put the sidewalks there.

That’s what you did. Instead of stocking what you hoped might sell, you 'booked the beloveds' and bought proven ever-greens that have a track record of always being in demand."

Don’t follow The Rules; Follow Your Values

For example, the “rules” say a brick and mortar store has to have a cash register, right? The problem is, cash registers lock you into one location, often in a front corner of your store. What if you have a customer in back who can’t find what they want? If there’s no one around to answer their question, they often leave and don't come back.

Ed and Cyndi don’t have a cash register; they have cash belts. Wearing a cash belt around their waist gives them freedom to wander the store and connect with their customers. While I was there, they greeted every single person who walked in the store. One was always out on the floor, asking people if they were looking for something in particular and then pointing out recommended authors in their preferred genre.

The trend of many bookstores is to offer coffee to attract customers. Well, they tried that and you know what they learned? Coffee sells coffee. Books sell books.

Another “rule” of retail businesses is you need to diversity if you want to grow. So, they added an art gallery with works from local artists. A restaurant. Book clubs. Internet service. Chairs so people could sit.

Guess what they discovered? Those extra services took lots of extra time and effort, created a lot of problems they didn't want or need ... and didn’t boost profits. In fact, Cyndi said, “We found that for every chair we took away, we added an extra $1000 of income. People who sit and read books for free for hours often walk out without buying any books."

The rules say a retail business needs an inventory system. Ed said, “Why? We mostly stock one copy of each book. Why spend a lot of time logging in and tracking single sales? Plus, we handle every purchase so we know what’s selling and what’s not.”

The Secret to Loving Your Life and Work? Stop Watering Dead Plants

As we talked, it was clear to me that one of the reasons they’ve been so successful is they QUIT doing things that didn’t work; that didn’t make money; and that didn’t bring them joy. This frees up time and money for business activities that contribute to their quality of life instead of compromise it.

They quit the belief that bigger is better. They've built and sustained a successful business because they've honored their belief, "If we don't love it; we don't do it. If it doesn't add personal and professional value, we drop it."

Chip Away Everything That is NOT David

I told them, “There’s a (perhaps apocryphal) story about Michelangelo who said, when asked how he creating his masterpiece sculpture, ‘It’s easy. I just chipped away everything that wasn’t David.’"

I smiled and said, "You have ‘David’d your business and life. You have chipped away everything that isn’t congruent with your values and vision. As a result, the light is on in your eyes and you’re successful for all the right reasons.”

So, what surprising lessons did I take away from my time with Ed and Cyndi?

* CLARIFY your values, vision, priorities and policies and STAY TRUE to them.

* Quit watering dead plants and DAVID your life and business.

* Gently and firmly ENFORCE RULES to protect what’s important to you.

When we do the above, we build a successful life, business and career where the light is on in our eyes - and things just keep getting better and better – for all the right reasons.

- - -

Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, is on a mission to help people create quality projects that add value for all involved. Her work - including her TEDx talk - and books POP!, IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! and Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times, Forbes, Fast Company and presented to NASA, National Geographic, Capital One, YPO. Want Sam to share her inspiring insights on how to create a successful life and career at your next convention? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

quit watering

Day Right Quote 57: You Can Love Your Job But It Won't Love You Back

A couple years ago this week I spoke for the Women in Consumer Technology conference in NYC and Cathie Black, former President of Hearst Magazines was the other keynoter. When asked her most important lesson-learned about work she said, "You can love your job but it won't love you back."

This came to mind because several people have said something to me recently about their job that caused me to think, "WHY do we do this to ourselves?"

One was flying from our afternoon meeting in one city to another city, had two presentations the next day, one at 8 am and she hadn't begun crafting her power point presentation which meant she was going to have to do it that night when she arrived on the East Coast after 10 pm or the next morning at 5 am.

One spoke about how "insanely busy" she was and that it was going to get worse before it got better because September was going to be a "brutal month."

The other had gotten sick six times in four months (she said, "How is that possible?!) and realized it was a wake-up call as to how toxic her work had become.

So, the question is, "Do you love your job?" At what cost?

Can you love your career AND maintain your quality of life?

How will you love your job AND make time for other priorities you love that love you back - like your friends, your family, your health and your __________ fill in the blank?

cathie black

Day Right Quote #54: Stop Trying to Make Everyone Happy. You're Not Chocolate

I’m working on a chapter in my new book – Chase Meaning Not Clicks – about the futility of people-pleasing. One of the unexpected themes from my Year by the Water was how many people are taking themselves out of the game of life. They are neglecting their own needs and taking care of everyone BUT themselves. These are good people who are putting aside their own priorities because they have “responsibilities” to take care of.

I believe it’s important to be responsible; to think of others, to care for others.

I also believe that, taken to an extreme, trying to make everyone happy can become our Achilles Hell. (Not a typo). Self-sacrifice doesn’t serve anyone.

Please understand, I’m not suggesting we think only of ourselves and what we want. That is an equally unhealthy extreme.

But putting everyone else first - every time, all the time - is a prescription for regrets.

This insight “Stop trying to make everyone happy. You’re not chocolate” (or pasta, or pizza, take your pick) makes the point with humor.

Trying to make everyone happy makes no one happy. (This post shows an example of how I learned this.)

Are you a team leader, parent, project manager, caretaker, writer or creative? Are you trying to make everyone happy? As Dr. Phil says, "How's that working for you?"

Put yourself in the mix. You have value. You have your own voice, talents, contributions, experience, expertise, perspective and unique take on the world.

It is FAIR and NEEDED for you to honor and contribute your own abilities, insights and gifts. This is true on and off the job – at work, at home and in your community.

We serve best when we serve others AND our self. The goal is to keep things in balance, always in balance.

chocolate - best

Day Right Quote #51: The Future Starts Today, Not Tomorrow

Wisdom from the Pope, "The future starts today, not tomorrow." He's right.

We talk about what we're GOING to do tomorrow or next month when we're not so tired, busy or overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, our life whizzes by.

The truth is, we'll never have more time than we have right #now.

As John Legend says, "The future started yesterday and we're already late."

What will you do today to kick-start the future of your dreams?

pope middle

Day Right Quote #48: When We Neglect What Matters Most to Us, That Becomes the Matter with Us

A few years ago - before I went on my Year by the Water - I was neglecting my health, some of my loved ones, and a calling to explore new territory (literally and figuratively) and write more. It feels wonderful to be back in alignment again, focusing on what matters most.

How about you?

Are you neglecting someone or something?

Reach out to the person today. Take time today to take care of that priority that's not been getting the time or attention it deserves.

The key to creating the quality of life you want is no secret. It's simply a matter of focusing on what matters.

neglect

Day Right Quote #45: It's Not Nature OR Nurture - It's Nature AND Nurture

My energy was a little flat yesterday and I wondered why. All of a sudden, it came to me. I had "inside-itus."

I had spent hours looking down at my laptop, working online, answering emails and writing a blog post.

Spending too much time indoors - and keeping our head down - is a prescription for feeling down.

So, I headed outside and LOOKED UP.

I didn't see this magnificent waterfall, but I DID see spacious blue skies, golden foothills and a serene lake park trilling with the sounds of songbirds.

Nature nourished me and lifted my spirits in minutes.

Are you overdue for some nature and nurture?

Thinks will be looking up as soon as YOU get outside and LOOK UP.

nature AND nurture - best

Day Right Quote #38: We All Have Stories We're Living and Telling Ourselves

I think this is one of the most important epiphanies we can have - that the stories we tell ourselves determine the quality of our life. So, what are we saying to ourselves? That we don't have time, that life is "hard," that no one appreciates us, that the world is going downhill fast?"

Or, that we have all the time we need, that life is a blessing, that I appreciate my loved ones, and that every day is an opportunity to create a positive difference?

Next time you tell yourself something negative, ask, "Is that true or is that just a story I'm telling myself?

What story do I WANT to tell that will help create the world I WANT to see and be?"

bruce - middle

Day Right Quote #34: Nearly All The Best Things That Came to Me in Life Have Been Unexpected, Unplanned by Me

After an intense and rewarding week of consults, I pronounced yesterday ADVENTURE FRIDAY and decided to go to Estes Park, 30 miles away, because I'd never been there. As I drove into that stunning mountain valley, I saw a white lodge high on a hill. I didn't know what it was, but it looked intriguing, so I started taking roads that led UP until I arrived HERE.

This is the famous Stanley Hotel. You may have seen it in the movie The Shining. Remember Jack Nicholson's immortal words, "I'll be b-a-c-k."

As I strolled the grounds, marveled at the "didn't know that" history of this grand hotel, and gazed at the majestic snow-capped mountains, I was reminded all over again that SECURITY is not the spice of life, DISCOVERY is.

Do you do same-old, same-old, day in and day out? Do you feel locked into routines?

This week, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Change things up. Follow an intuitive nudge to go here, do this. Re-experience the power curiosity and discovery have to put the light on in your eyes. Set something in motion and see what unfolds

Your SerenDestiny is on the other side of routine.

Carl Sandburg is right. Nearly all the best things that come to us in life are unexpected, unplanned

carl sandberg

Day Right Quote #33: Change Before You Have To

I've been SITTING a lot these days working on my book "Someday is Not a Day in the Week." I know that's a problem.

Sitting has been called the cigarette smoking of our generation, yet I've been spending 10+ hours every day at my desk.

Then, I saw this quote from Jack Welch and thought, "He's right. I want to do this differently NOW instead of waiting until something goes wrong and I WISH I'd gotten up out of my chair, gone outside and been more active while I had the chance."

So, here I am enjoying Coot Lake's water, songbirds, spacious blue skies and Boulder's majestic mountains ... changing because I WANT to instead of waiting until I HAVE to.

What's one thing you want to change NOW?

sam at coot lake - jack welch

Day Right Quote #23: When You're Different, You Can Last

Comedian Don Rickles said, "When you're different, you can last." Rickles is right. The world does't need more copycats.

How are you different from everyone in your organization or profession? How are you one-of-a-kind or first-of-your-kind?

I was just working with a client on his TEDx talk, and we took out everything that seemed obvious or that sounded like someone else said it.

I told him, "It's not enough to be TRUE. The question is, 'Is it NEW?' Does it cause people to say, "I never thought of it that way." Does it open their eyes?

THAT's when you cause a SHIFT. That's when you add enduring value.

How is what you're saying and doing different than the norm? THAT is when you stand out - for all the right reasons - and get heard, noticed and valued.

when you're different you can last