How I feel about sharing this, in emojis: 😳😖😕😬😌😄😊

I buried the lead in last week's note.

This was brought to my attention after I hit 'send'—and, having sat with it for a week, I can't help but think I ought to explore what happened there.

What am I talking about?

My offerings.

Specifically, the fact that there's now two ways to work with me: in a six-month intensive (by application only) or in single sessions. Instead of highlighting this new and exciting development (you don't have to buy a whole coaching package if you don't want to! You can experience profound transformation for a mere three hundred dollars!), I tucked it into the 'Work with Me' section in last week's note. I padded it. I played it cool. Inadvertently, of course.

(But maybe not?)

I was of two minds—and I see this now, only after it was pointed out to me that my Big Announcement came across as more of a parenthesis than a thesis.

My two minds went as follows: 1. This is an amazing opportunity and I feel really good about offering it to my people, and 2. What if my people are offended by my suggestion that three hundred dollars is a great deal?

Oof. That's kind of a lot to unpack. But here goes. In four parts. ;-)

Part 1: Transformation isn't always difficult and it doesn't always require a long span of time.

For some people, a coaching program makes sense; there's work they want to do that can't be done in one conversation.

I've witnessed exquisite transformation over the course of three-, four-, and six-month coaching programs.

For others, however, multiple conversations aren't necessary (not to mention the fact that committing to three or more months of coaching at a price point that exceeds their rent payment just isn't feasible).

I've witnessed exquisite transformation in a single 90-minute session.

Part 2: While it isn't always difficult (and this is something I say often), transformation isn't for the faint of heart.

What do I mean by that?

Shifting a mindset has the capacity to change a life—and not everyone is ready or willing to have her life changed.

Change can feel scary and even painful. Change can mean letting go of something we don't want to let go of...in order to make space for our becoming. Change can be really beneficial for us at the same time that it's profoundly lonely.

Part 3: Very little in life is, or should be, one-size-fits-most; coaching is no exception.

My previous service model started to seem one-size-fits-most-y...and that's when I knew I needed to reconsider my approach.

Part 4: In telling you about my new offering, I'm not at all suggesting there's a 'good deal' here.

In the past week, I've had to remind myself that I'm not even in the business of good deals. That's the job of Walmart and Dollar General (and Kohl's, but only if you remember to bring your coupons).

I'm in the business of transformation.

And transformation is an investment. Of money, sure. But also? Of energy and thought and action. You have to want your transformation more than I want it for you. Which is where a fee can be a useful filter.

That being said, I never wanted my fee to preclude someone's ability to experience transformation. At twenty-two hundred dollars, however, I was absolutely out of the realm of 'affordability' for many folks—folks who are ready and willing to change their lives. 

So, while three hundred dollars is hardly pocket change, it is a way of making my service accessible to more people.

Why, then, was I of two minds in sharing my new offerings with you last week?

(Rather: Why was I of that second mind, that 'what if' mind, that money-fearful mind?)

Because, in my own life, I revere thrift and abundance simultaneously. And they're two tricky things to reconcile.

I squeeze out every last bit of toothpaste before tossing the tube and unscrewing a new one and I believe absolutely in my ability to create regular income for myself.

I don't want to ask for more money than I believe is mine for the taking and I absolutely believe that an edgy fee inspires commitment in my clients.

I want you to make good decisions with your money (incidentally, this is none of my business—isn't it fun to watch me coach myself?) and I believe absolutely in my ability to co-create a massively impactful, 90-minute conversation with you.

...

You can see this is a many-layered thing. An onion of a second mind.

If you've stuck with me this long: Thank you! Also, I'm curious: What's your take on fees for services? What makes a service 'worth it,' in your book? Do you tend to bring more of yourself to the thing when you've invested more money in the thing? How would you quantify impact or transformation?

Hopefully, you got your fill of me this week with this massive note, because you won't be hearing from me next Tuesday. I've given myself the week off for some travel and family time—but we'll pick back up with each other that last week of November. If you celebrate American Thanksgiving, here's wishing you a beautiful day of gratitude on the 23rd.

Love,
Helen

What's love got to do, got to do with it?

A question I receive often (and relate to like WHOA) is this:

How do you get yourself to take action, day in and day out, on the things that don't bring you any immediate gratification? Or even any obvious results? How do you stay motivated to keep on with those actions?

Oy. That's that age-old question, isn't it?

Right now, I can think of several tasks I don't particularly enjoy, but I do them daily because I know they're good for me.

The first that springs to mind? Flossing. GOOD GRAVY FLOSSING IS AWFUL.

And I wasn't always a flosser. (Mom, you didn't read that.) About three years ago, after a sad trip to the dentist, I started flossing in earnest. Having survived twenty-something years without a cavity, I was sure I didn't need to be the daily flossing type, so I reserved my little spool of waxed string for the night before a dental appointment (which, I'll admit, I scheduled few and far between), and that was that.

But at age 31, I got a cavity. And then another. And another. (I won't tell you the exact number of and anothers that should follow because that's just flat-out embarrassing. Suffice it to say: I need two hands to count my fillings.)

(Ugh, I think I may have just embarrassed myself.)

Anyway, the upshot here is, I became a fanatical daily flosser once I had proof that 1. flossing is necessary for my dental health, and 2. not flossing is actually a way of hurting myself.

A good portion of the damage is done already. I got cavities; I have fillings. It all could've been avoided.

But there's a part of me that knows I need to keep up this newish habit—because abandoning it could lead to more cavities, sure. But also because I want to be the Helen who takes care of herself.

You see, what really changed my perspective on flossing wasn't the cavities or the fillings or even the dental bills.

What changed my perspective on flossing was a reframe I happened upon.

That reframe was this:

I love myself enough to [fill in the blank].

I love myself enough to floss tonight.

Simple and profound, all at once.

When I view the task before me as an act of self-love, the task is transformed. Motivation is irrelevant. Readiness is neither here nor there. Energy plays a part only insofar as I might be really damn tired, barely capable of keeping my eyes open... But c'mon, flossing takes all of, what? Three minutes?

(You'll remember motivation, readiness, and energy as the Three Fallacies that Stand Between You and Taking Action.)

So, it comes down to loving ourselves enough to do what we don't feel like doing.

This isn't to say if you don't floss tonight, you don't love yourself. It isn't quite so black and white as that.

If the question, though, is how to persist with relentless action-taking when the task feels inconsequential (or unrewarding, or boring as hell) in the moment, try finding its connection to your self-love.

Try reminding yourself that you deserve to have the thing that's on the other side of the seemingly thankless task. To have happy gums (gums that don't betray your not-flossing secret when you finally go to the dentist and they bleed...) To have healthy teeth.

Because really—when it comes to flossing, or whatever else it is that has us falling off the wagon periodically, good teeth is actually something we can provide for ourselves! We have a hand in it! We can give ourselves the thing we want! So, then: Why wouldn't we?!

Try it on for size: I love myself enough to [fill in the blank]. And let me know how it goes. What shifts?

Love,
Helen

What Halloween can teach you about action-taking

Much like your next-door neighbor's kid—the one who'll come to your door tonight, demanding a fistful of candy while dressed as some hero or villain, a clever mask obscuring her dimples and a bulky costume stuffed within a winter coat altering her gait dramatically—our best action-taking occasionally looks quite different from what we're accustomed to seeing.

We hear 'action' and 'productivity' and 'to-do list,' and we think 'move' and 'go' and 'more.'

Being action-oriented is equated with never sitting still. Or at the very least, sitting still insofar as it allows you to accomplish your next five goals.

But what if the next right thing for you to do is nothing?

(And by that, I don't mean 'nothingness,' as though there's a blank space where your next right action should be; I mean the act of doing nothing might be your best next step.)

What if you're someone who needs to get better at taking action when the list becomes unmanageable? What if you need to take a red pen to the meetings and appointments and commitments? What if you need to practice doing less? What if you need to do better, not more? What if you need to be choosier when it comes to your actions, because taking all the actions isn't giving you the results you want?

You know how they say indecision is a decision within itself? And it's a semi-snarky way of saying that by not making a choice, you've made your choice? Well, the same is true here, minus the snark. Inaction is an action within itself—and it's a viable one at that, when it's the result of a choice.

I'll say that again:

Inaction is a perfectly legitimate choice.

For the record, indecision is, too. The problem arises when either of these, inaction or indecision, isn't chosen, but is your passive response to something. That's how you wind up disempowering yourself. You forfeit your agency.

(Similar, but different: Listening to your fear is a choice, too—so technically, it puts your agency to use. However, when you choose fear over your other options, when you listen to what your fear has to say about why you shouldn't pursue a certain dream or ambition, that's just a slightly more convoluted way of disempowering yourself. But make no mistake: It's still a way of disempowering yourself.)

Choosing inaction doesn't imply you're not action-oriented. Quite the opposite, in fact.

If you're willing or likely to take practical action to deal with a problem or situation, you're action-oriented. If your practical action is to take an item off your plate, to shrink your to-do list by choosing not to do a thing, you're action-oriented. If it's to lie down for a nap and try again tomorrow, ditto. What about back-burnering that album of songs you want to write because you just don't have it in your right now to create something from nothing? You guessed it—still action-oriented.

Bring your consciousness and your agency along for the ride, and you're just as 'productive' as the taskmaster beside you. Her actions might be more obviously doing-related while yours are not-doing-related (being-related, perhaps?), but both require evaluating what's next and making a decision about how to be here now and how to move forward.

Just because that little trick-or-treater doesn't look the way your neighbor's kid usually looks doesn't mean she isn't your neighbor's kid, you know?

Love,
Helen

P.S. Whether you're doing-focused or being-focused, there's a place for you in my free Facebook group, Action Oriented. If this subject matter (and all its nuances!) appeals to you, come join us.

P.P.S. My friend, Vanessa, wrote something yesterday that reminded me of how badly I wanted to address this topic in the midst of all the focus on 'doing,' here and elsewhere. Check out what she wrote after a week away from her two-years-running daily TinyLetter. A big thanks to her for providing the inspiration for today's post.

That thing you're avoiding wants to get a date on the calendar

Without exception, I use my time far more efficiently when I know someone else is paying attention.

If I go to the bookstore on my own, to hunt for a particular book, you can bet I'll wander to my heart's content, remembering this book and that book and detouring myself the entire time. An hour or more can be lost like this.

Sure, I've got a goal (to locate that one book), but it's pretty meandering as far as a plan is concerned, and it's definitely aimless in the sense that it doesn't live on a timetable—so, I've more or less made it forgettable from the outset.

If, on the other hand, my husband's waiting out in the car and we agree I have 15 minutes to find my book, I'm focused first on accomplishing the mission at hand, and only then would I permit myself to wander around with any remaining time.

As with the first example, there's still the same goal (to locate that one book); however, this time it's set within a specific context—a husband waiting patiently and an increment of time that's trained squarely on the objective, not on the experience.

An important aside: I absolutely believe in focusing on the experience much of the time. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'm someone for whom the experience is often prioritized over the objective.

But, when it comes to doing what I know I need to do with this one life of mine (and when it comes to doing what I want to do and staying married to the person I want to be married to, lol), I try to remember that focusing my energy on the objective is sometimes undeniably important.

And in many cases, dealing with the objective first (and positioning it within a meaningful context—on a timetable, as part of an agreement, etc.) actually affords me the opportunity to be present for the experience.

This is where I want to help you.

Enter Get It Done Day.

Get It Done Day is a free virtual event that's held on the SECOND FRIDAY of every month. Throughout the course of a day, we call in using a video conferencing service called Zoom (it's free to participants), on five separate occasions. Between each call is a 60-minute productivity session (there's also a 60-minute lunch break). Together, we'll be working on our respective Thing We've Been Avoiding.

Get It Done Day is for anyone who struggles with procrastination—whether it's a work-related task, a personal project, or something that seems inane but needs doing (e.g. organizing an out-of-control closet). If you suspect you could benefit from a bit of accountability, some group camaraderie, and a designated time to finally complete That Which You've Avoided For Weeks, please join us.

For details on the event schedule and to register for the next Get It Done Day, go here.

These events are free, though I do require all participants to register in advance. While this helps me to get a sense of interest, it also serves as an important accountability step for you; if context is what you've been missing from your goal-setting, this is a fabulous opportunity to get what you need through a group commitment.

Commit to doing that Dreaded Thing with the bunch of us on the second Friday of each month, and you'll see that it isn't so bad when you're in good company (and we're all right there with you, doing our Dreaded Things, too).

Questions? Hit 'reply.' Otherwise, I'll see you there.

Love,
Helen

Three things that feel like productivity 'hacks'...but aren't

Taking action is rarely, if ever, a thing that can be hacked.

Save for 'to kill two birds with one stone'—which is really more of a statement about the fact that occasionally, we're lucky enough to have one action accomplish multiple objectives—our best and most reliable action-taking isn't particularly sexy or clever.

In fact, it's usually pretty banal.

It's a matter of doing the thing now as opposed to later (or never).

It's heroic only in the sense that choosing to do anything (e.g. bathing) is heroic.

Someone who takes action consistently is no more special than someone who struggles to take action consistently; the difference between them is that the action-taker isn't stopped by her feelings on the matter of the undone thing.

However, there are folks who buy into the belief that the action-taker knows something that the rest of humanity doesn't; these folks further complicate things by attempting to 'hack' productivity...only, they do so in some pretty self-defeating ways.

Here are the top three faulty 'shortcuts' that seem to show up regularly:

1. Multitasking.

Successful multitasking isn't possible, so I beg you to please stop trying for it.

So many of us are absolutely convinced that we're the exception to the rule here. "But I'm actually really good at multitasking!" No, you're not. You believe you are, but what's actually happening here is, you're not giving anything your full presence.

While you might be doing multiple things at once, maybe even finishing them and checking them off your list, 1. it's obvious to anyone with whom you're interfacing that she doesn't have your complete attention, 2. you're very likely doing one or more of these things sloppily, in a way that would probably embarrass you if you were aware of it, and 3. your concept of time is getting more and more screwed by the minute.

Full presence is a time bender; you know this from your own life: how time seems to slow and actually, oddly, expands when you're all in (whereas when you scramble around and rush and give only half of yourself to a thing, the clock's hands seem to mock you by moving twice as fast).

Slow down to speed up.

2. Operating on a wide-open timeframe.

Ever wondered why an easy-breezy thing like writing a three-line bio for an article takes all damn day?

Psst: It's because you gave it all damn day.

Tasks take as much time as you have available for them. I'm telling you, this is so much a thing that there's even a name for it: Parkinson's Law (anyone who's been with me from the beginning will remember my writing about it here and here).

When you swing to the opposite of multitasking by giving yourself unlimited time to accomplish something, you're actually slowing yourself down to the point of inefficiency. Even if it seems like a good idea not to schedule anything for the day you write your weekly blog post ("I think most clearly when I don't have any commitments on the calendar!"), unless you truly want to kill an entire afternoon on that one task, consider scheduling it for a decisive pocket of time.

In other words, tell the task how long you have for it—don't allow it to decide for you.

3. Forgoing your humanness.

Skipping dinner, and, instead, wolfing down tortilla chips while editing client photos? Staying up into the wee hours after everyone in the house has gone to bed to reply to the eleventy-bajillion emails in your inbox? Not leaving the house for two or more days to create that email series for your new online offering?

Nuh uh, not good. ("But I only do it once a month, before deadlines! No big deal!") We've all been there—remember pulling all-nighters in high school or college?—so we all know this isn't a sustainable method for taking action consistently.

Sure, in the moment, this absolutely presents itself as The Remedy to The Not-Enough-Hours-in-the-Day Phenomenon. I'll give you that.

But—and this is a big 'but'—it feeds into an insidious belief system that's very dangerous to foster: that your basic human needs for adequate nutrition, sleep, and exercise are negotiable. (And once your requirements for living well become negotiable, you can pretty much kiss efficient action-taking goodbye.)

Draw a line in the sand and decide, once and for all, that your basic needs aren't called 'basic wants' for a reason. Honor your humanness instead of looking for loopholes and ways around it.

Are there any proposed 'hacks' or 'shortcuts' out there that trigger your goggles of skepticism? Hit 'reply' to share them with me, and let's see if we can bust through them together.

Love,
Helen

Why taking action ISN'T the be-all and end-all

I'm all for breaking a project down into its tiniest steps...and then, oftentimes, even halving (or quartering!) that first step to make it smaller and more doable and a surefire way to experience a quick victory.

This is a superb technique for easing ourselves into some new undertaking. It allows us to get a little bit of traction on our project, and that little bit of traction helps us to see that we don't have to allow overwhelm to take over.

At the same time, not all of us are able to take action all the time.

Many of us, at one point or another, will experience a genetic predisposition to something or a stressful life situation or the untimely loss of a loved one or a traumatic event.

As with our physical health, our mental health can absolutely preclude our ability to take action.

This is never a failure on our part.

We are worth so much more than our productivity.

We aren't machines. We need rest. In some cases, medication. In other cases, therapy or in-patient treatment.

Our mental health dictates the way we move through the world, so caring for it needs to be more than an afterthought.

I'm someone who has coped with an anxiety disorder since early childhood. My brain chemistry is such that, without medication, inexplicable and often unbearable anxiety is my default setting.

And I'm a coach. You know this. I'm a coach who believes in the power of thought. I believe we have the capacity to, as Jamie Smart writes in The Little Book of Clarity, "create literally any perception using the incredible power of THOUGHT, and then experience that perception as real. This is how our experience is created, and we're using this capacity every moment of our lives." I believe this, and—simultaneously—I believe mental illness is an entirely different can of worms. One that can't be fixed by simply deciding to think different thoughts.

Although I feel vulnerable sharing this with you, it's really no different than letting you know I wear contact lenses—because, without them, I see faces as indistinct blurs and street signs are flat-out unreadable.

I have a medical need, a solution is available to me, and I choose to take advantage of that solution because it's what's right for me.

Today is World Mental Health Day.

As your favorite action-oriented life coach, it's important to me that you know this:

It's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.

Nothing is more important than your mental health. So, please, take care of it. Get help if you suspect you need it. You're not alone.

And for the love of all that is holy, set aside your to-do list and your goal-setting, stop berating yourself for not doing or being enough, and go make sure your mind's in good shape.

Love,
Helen

What my tidy bookcase has to do with you

The first week of October was National Get Organized Week in the United States.

The National Association of Professional Organizers (yep, that's a thing) started it back in 1992.

I say 'was' because, in 2005, they moved National Get Organized Week to National Get Organized Month (January, big surprise).

So, here we are, in the final quarter of 2017, with the ghost of a national awareness week hanging around, collecting dust and convincing us that we don't need to concern ourselves with order until January 1, 2018.

I'd probably let it go except this past weekend proves that synchronicity is alive and well in my neck of the woods.

Also: As your favorite action-oriented life coach, it'd be a shame to pass up any opportunity to shower you with encouragement to Do The Thing Now! And a national awareness week, ghost or not, is one such golden opportunity.

Anyway, back to synchronicity:

For those of you who are new here, my husband and I bought our first home together this summer—after two years of living on the road and keeping our possessions in storage and in the spare closets of our generous parents. We've been unpacking steadily since early July, but made our most impressive progress in the past four days.

Our shared office now houses two desks (which we picked up and assembled Saturday evening) and a bookcase (which means our books are no longer living on the floor, trading stories with the spiders); lamps are arranged (bulbs replaced for efficiency) and in use; a filing cabinet is ready to receive the stuff that's been living in plastic totes in my mother-in-law's closets; the printer and speaker and internet cables are coiled and twist-tied into submission.

In short, we got organized.

Then, as if to say, Keep going, Helen!, my own coach announced her free, week-long Turning Pro Challenge, which began yesterday.

In today's email, she writes about creating sacred space: "Where you work has a huge impact on how you work."

She goes on to quote Steven Pressfield, whose book, Turning Pro, is the inspiration behind the challenge: "When we raise our game aesthetically, we elevate it morally and spiritually as well."
Huh. So, I guess there's something to be said for this environment thing after all.

You see, I used to care A LOT about how my surroundings looked and functioned. Too much, I'd say. And not in any of the ways that might've mattered where my career was concerned.

I was a writing student, enrolled in an MFA program and avoiding my little writing table and writing chair because my closet was a mess. Or because I needed better kitchen storage solutions. Or because my plants needed dead-heading.

My neatnik tendencies could've been innocent (maybe? I'm still not entirely sure about their true innocence), except that they kept me busy—they kept me from creating, from being prolific, from turning pro in the one area of my life where I was supposedly wanting to turn pro.

I fussed over the details instead of immersing myself in my work.

I fussed over the details so that I didn't have to immerse myself in my work.

That's quite different from the pro approach of squaring away a sacred space (read: not perfect, but dedicated—and, more importantly, functional) in order to really up one's attention and focus and performance.

Living on the road for two years was HUGELY instrumental in my turning pro in my working environment.

I had to learn to work everywhere.

I had to learn to alter a space just enough to meet my immediate needs...but not to get lost in rearranging and adjusting.

I had to learn not to be so precious about my stuff (most everything was in a storage unit in central Virginia).

I had to learn to stay focused on the thing I was creating—my service-based business—even and especially when I wanted to make it about something, anything, else (such as finding and purchasing the holy grail of all planners, creating my perfect logo, tweaking my website fonts for the umpteenth time).

Those two years on the road, I got organized somewhat inadvertently: by removing from my field of vision all the normal noise and stuff to the point that there was nothing to do...except my work.

And even now that those things are back in my field of vision—the bookcase filled with books, the filing cabinet and the plastic totes of files, the washi tape, the round pebble collection, you name it—they don't distract me as they once did (or as I once allowed them to).

What's different now is that I'm committed to my business. I'm committed to making my vision happen. So committed, in fact, that I won't let my fear stop me.

Now, just to clarify: You don't need to become nomadic in order to turn pro. You don't need to get all #tinyhome or #vanlife in order to clear a sacred space that's devoted to your work.

You need only to decide to turn pro. You need only to commit to making your thing happen. You need only to refuse to let your fear get in the way of taking action.

And you might need to tidy up a little, to make space for your pro self to work.

Start now. Hit 'reply' and share with me how you're getting organized this week.

Love,
Helen

Your fourth and final distinction for making the most of September

To jog your memory: We're using the month of September to bust our mental blocks—you know, those thoughts, belief systems, and inactions that stand between us and our creating the thing we want to create before the end of 2017. If you missed it, here's where I give the full scoop on what we're doing, here's the first distinction, here's the second distinction, and here's the third distinction.

Well, this brings us to the last week of September and our fourth and final distinction of the month:

The Overwhelmed/Strategic Distinction

When you've got a pile of things to do and not much time in which to do them, you have two choices: You can be overwhelmed, or you can be strategic.

If you choose overwhelm (yes, it really is a choice, and you'll see how in just a moment), you're deciding to be defeated completely before you've even begun. You're allowing the list of tasks, projects, and commitments to be larger than life—hell, to take on a life of their own and to overcome your emotional and psychological state.

You're saying, I'm a victim to this list! These to-dos are bigger than me! I'm weak and powerless—so much so that I'm going to surrender right now, before I've even attempted to make sense of this situation I've created for myself!

If this is what you mean to say, then by all means, go lie down and see if the doctor makes house calls. Perhaps you're coming down with something, because the average person isn't usually quite so feeble when it comes to a list of lifeless tasks.

If, on the other hand, you choose strategy, you're deciding to stay in control of the inanimate pile of to-dos by applying a particular plan to them, a thoughtful course of action. You're remaining solution-focused—hell-bent on completing the tasks before you instead of indulging in your emotions about the tasks before you.

You're saying, I brought this list into the world and I can take it out! I'm an owner, not a victim! I have agency here! And a brain in my head! I'm capable of creating effective strategies to deal with any mess, my own included!

To choose strategy over overwhelm is to choose yourself over your fear.

To choose strategy over overwhelm is to bet on your own capability instead of betting against it.

It means using your imagination to conjure a plan for doing what needs to be done, not using it to worry over worst-case scenarios and possible future misery.

It means relying on a plan that keeps your eyes trained on the very next challenge before you...completing it...and only then advancing to the next challenge. It doesn't mean scrambling around, attempting to multi-task as though it's actually possible to give your attention to more than one thing at a time (it isn't).

While overwhelm turns everything into life or death, strategy transforms the situation into a game.

Now, for your challenge:

Where are you choosing overwhelm in your life? (Still don't think you're choosing it? That's probably a good indication you could use a perspective-shifting conversation.) Where are you choosing strategy? This week, your mission is to use what you know about strategy to tackle the mess of things that feel overwhelming to you. Not sure you know much about strategy? Think again. Ever come up with a travel plan, like a flight or long car ride, that takes advantage of your children's usual nap time? What about that shortcut you use in order to make it to both the bank on one side of town and the dry cleaner on the other, all during your lunch hour? Boom. That's strategy. If you feel like sharing a bit about your experience, or you'd like to receive some direct support, come join us in the Action Oriented Facebook group and start up a new thread. We're in there, rooting for each other every single day.

Love,
Helen

Your third distinction for making the most of September

To jog your memory: We're using the month of September to bust our mental blocks—you know, those thoughts, belief systems, and inactions that stand between us and our creating the thing we want to create before the end of 2017. If you missed it, here's where I give the full scoop on what we're doing, here's the first distinction, and here's the second distinction.

All right, you're up to speed! Let's dive into the third distinction of the month:

The Busy Action/Clarified Action Distinction

This one is deceptively simple.

To be busy is to be occupied. To have lots to do—often some combination of tasks and time commitments—and to focus your attention on the thing at hand (with, perhaps, a peripheral awareness of all the things that need your attention next).

When you're busy, your overarching objective is to strike through as many items on your list as you can, and to do so as efficiently as possible.

You might say the objective is to become less busy.

It's pretty vague as far as intentions go (and it's such a fleeting outcome!), yet we're all guilty at some time or another of using it as our sole guidepost when making our daily and weekly plans.

(After all, why do you think so many stationery companies create those adorable little weekly to-do lists for us to buy? Because we love to collect all of our busy-ness in one spot, then tick through it like the efficient go-getters we want to be.)

The problem here is less about our method (I love those Monday through Friday notepads as much as the next gal) and more about our mission. Rather, more about the absence of a real mission.

Let's look at the other half of this distinction for some contrast.

To clarify something is to remove its impurities. To refine. To eliminate confusion. To filter.

When you clarify your intentions for the day, you get really clear on what it is you want to accomplish (and we're not talking a whole list of things—pick a maximum of three) or who it is you want to be in the world (both your given and chosen roles), and you ensure all individual actions you take are in service to those intentions.

You apply discernment because you already know there's no end to the things you could do, chores and errands and fulfilling other's expectations of you.

The objective is to stay in alignment with some greater mission. To view the individual daily and weekly plans as stepping stones to achieving the bigger picture—the long-term goal, the long-range plan, the higher purpose of your existence.

Clarified action is supporting action. It's conscious action. It honors your big mission, whatever that might be, because it prioritizes your must-dos (instead of your infinite to-dos), all while maintaining the ever-present awareness that you have this one lifetime. And that's it.

If you don't feel high purpose when you think about your existence, fear not.

All you need to know is this:

Your reason for being is far more magnificent than the sum of your to-do lists (and your ninja-level ability to tick through them).

'Become less busy' is not your big-picture objective, even if it feels like it is in this season of your life.

You can shift from busy action to clarified action by bringing more consciousness to your planning. By contemplating what your mission statement would be if you had one. By setting aside the adorable Monday through Friday notepad in favor of a different approach, one where your guidepost is a single question you ask yourself:

What would I like to have achieved a year from now?

I can guarantee you that 'make the bed 365 times' won't be what springs to mind. Nor will 'write all birthday/holiday/event thank-you notes.'

What might spring to mind is something you started, but eventually abandoned because your time was hijacked or you had to pick up a side-gig to pay the bills or you just plain got scared. Something like, 'finish writing the novel.' Or 'host private dinners for small groups.' Maybe 'book a solo art show.'

If you're stuck in an endless loop of small-fry to-dos, what behaviors need to shift today (this week, this month) in order for you to get closer to achieving your dream thing a year from now.

Now, for your challenge:

It's time to refine! Imagine running your task lists through a filter, one that separates those future-vision must-dos from the myopic (and perpetually regenerating) to-dos. This week, your mission is to make time to accomplish as many of the former items as you possibly can. Between now and next Tuesday, put the latter items on hold (it's only seven days!) and observe how your relationship to your dream thing changes. If you feel like sharing a bit about your experience, or you'd like to receive some direct support, come join us in the Action Oriented Facebook group and start up a new thread. We're in there, rooting for each other every single day.

Love,
Helen

Your second distinction for making the most of September

To jog your memory: We're using the month of September to bust our mental blocks—you know, those thoughts, belief systems, and inactions that stand between us and our creating the thing we want to create before the end of 2017. If you missed it, here's where I give the full scoop on what we're doing and here's the first distinction I shared, just last week.

Wasting no time at all, let's dive into our second distinction of the month:

The Obligation/Accountability Distinction

As you're already well aware, an obligation is an action or a task to which a person is bound because of a legal arrangement, a personal commitment, or a sense of duty.

When I think about what an obligation is and how it shows up in our world, the word 'debt' comes to mind—as in, owing someone something, be it the fulfillment of a promise, the execution of a particular course of action, etc.

Oftentimes obligations involve a penalty for non-fulfillment.

Defaulting on your student loans might mean having a percentage of your wages garnished.

Not meeting a writing deadline might mean tarnishing your professional reputation with the newspaper or magazine.

Failing to turn up for a scheduled and confirmed appointment might mean damaging an important relationship.

With an obligation, there's a sense that something's at stake because there is, actually, something very real (and often external) at stake—and perhaps it's that very fact that drives us to make good on our word: We don't want to suffer the consequences of not meeting our obligations (obligations which we resent because we're perceiving them as expectations placed upon us; this is a stance of passivity).

Accountability, on the other hand, is the fact or condition of being responsible. It looks at the end result—regardless of whether or not the commitment is ultimately fulfilled—and states firmly, I'm willing to take responsibility for myself.

When I consider the concept of accountability and how it shows up in our world, the word 'agency' bubbles to the surface. Agency, meaning the capacity of individuals to act independently and to exercise their ability to choose.

Accountability doesn't live in fear of penalty because accountability is about responsibility for the self.

Knowing that alcohol tends to bring out a side of you that's loud and clumsy and unkind might mean you decide not to drink at your sister's wedding.

Preventing debt might mean paying the credit card bill in full each month, instead of carrying a balance (which might mean never charging more than you can afford to pay off within any four week period).

Dating with integrity might mean being completely (and perhaps uncomfortably) transparent about your desire to keep it casual or make it exclusive.

With accountability, the commitment is to ourselves. Nothing is outsourced—not the debts, not the failures, not the disappointments, and certainly not the responsibilities.

Accountability places great faith in agreements, personal or interpersonal. And because of that, being accountable for something or to someone has the direct effect of empowering us to rise to the occasion.

Now, for your challenge:

I'm inviting you to reconsider a commitment that has you showing up passively (e.g. I'm obligated to drive carpool this week, or It's on me to run the daily meetings until my boss is back from vacation, or I have to be up at 5 a.m. because I promised my neighbor I'd walk with her before work). This week, your mission is to bring an ounce of accountability into the picture. Between now and next Tuesday, reframe your commitment so that you're clear on how and where your agency factors in. If you feel like sharing a bit about your experience, or you'd like to receive some direct support, come join us in the Action Oriented Facebook group and start up a new thread. We're in there, rooting for each other every single day.

Love,
Helen

Your first distinction for making the most of September

September isn't messing around when it calls itself Self-Improvement Month: Already, tomorrow, we have Fight Procrastination Day.

(Not sure what I'm talking about? See last week's post for the full scoop, but in essence, we're using the month of September to bust our mental blocks—you know, those thoughts, belief systems, and inactions that stand between us and our creating the thing we want to create before the end of 2017.)

How fitting, then, for me to introduce you to the first distinction of the month:

The Procrastination/Awareness Distinction

Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. You know this. I'm not telling you anything new there.

Have you ever considered the purpose of procrastination, though?

To avoid discomfort.

The discomfort of starting something new or finishing something difficult, the discomfort of being a perfectionist who might not be able to do the thing perfectly, the discomfort of working on an undertaking that elicits some level of stress.

Understandable.

But there's often a bit of a fight against procrastination. We do it and we self-flagellate at the same time. We know it's not serving us to procrastinate because we're not getting any closer to completing our tasks or achieving our goals...and yet, we can't seem to stop ourselves from avoiding the discomfort that we know the work, whatever it is, will entail.

So, we have a problem.

When we perceive our procrastinating on a project as problematic, we believe there's something to be fixed. We need to find a solution, some tool or trick or tip that will make us do the thing we're actively avoiding.

Or we need to just push through our resistance by forcing ourselves to take action.

Although we don't want to feel discomfort, we also don't want to feel guilty, lazy, inadequate, or undisciplined—and those are our other options if we go the route of procrastination.

What I'm proposing this week is to bring some awareness into the picture.

Instead of procrastinating blindly, thoughtlessly...

And instead of railing against your procrastination—fighting it, obsessing over it, trying to force your way through it...

Shine a light on your procrastination. Focus your awareness on the why of it. Examine it—as well as your perceptions, sensations, thoughts, and emotions about it—without judgment.

When you notice yourself picking up a novel to read instead of researching that grant that could finance your painting career for a full year, do just that: Notice it.

When you keep telling yourself you'll begin writing your website copy just as soon as you've cleared out your email inbox (but you haven't yet put down that novel in order to tend to the email, let alone the web copy): Pay attention to yourself.

This awareness will become habitual, inserting itself earlier and earlier into the chronology of events, so that you'll start to observe yourself as you're following the distractions and avoidances, not just after the fact.

Then, you can introduce some gentle inquiry to your procrastination-in-progress:

Why am I avoiding this thing?

Where is there discomfort for me in this undertaking?

Am I sure there's discomfort, or might it be just that I'm fearing possible discomfort?

And that's it. No cajoling or strong-arming necessary. This focused awareness is enough.

Now, for your challenge:

Think of that project, big or small, that you want to bring to life before 2018 is here. Now, bring into your consciousness the associated task you've been procrastinating on thus far—no matter if it's the first step or the hundredth step of your particular project—because you're avoiding whatever discomfort might come along with it. This week, your mission is to begin this task. Between now and next Tuesday, direct your effort toward accomplishing it, just this one step...and see what comes up for you. Welcome the procrastination, if it's there, but remember to shine your awareness on it, too. If you feel like sharing a bit about your experience, or you'd like to receive some direct support, come join us in the Action Oriented Facebook group and start up a new thread. We're really keen to learn from each other.

Love,
Helen
 

Why September is the perfect month for winning your inner battles

I was pleased as punch to learn some weeks ago that September is Self-Improvement Month. While this doesn't mean our self-improvement should be reserved only for those four weeks out of the year, it does mean we can kickstart a few useful practices (or jumpstart any of our fallen-by-the-wayside good habits) during back-to-school season—which, for many of us, tends to function as 'January Lite'.

What is it that you want to bring to life before the end of the year?

Do you want to have written the first draft of your novel? (Obviously November is NaNoWriMo, but why wait until then when you can start now and have more than a single month to write it?)

Do you want to finally open the doors to your virtual creative residency for mothers?

Do you want to fashion a fitness program for the kids in your community?

Do you want to get the ball rolling on planning your Summer 2018 tour of the national parks?

Do you want to put together your first exhibition proposal to send to galleries?

Do you want to raise $50k in charitable donations to your nonprofit organization?

Think about your thing right now. Seriously—take a moment to hold it in your mind, to name it and give it a shape, to envision its actual becoming this year.

In preparation for all the good, juicy stuff you're going to create in the final quarter of 2017 (notice I didn't say 'hope to create'—that's right, you're an action-taker), I've got a plan to help you make the most of this month.

Each week, beginning in next Tuesday's post, I'll share with you a distinction that will up your doing game and render your feeling tendencies moot (at least as far as your particular project or ambition is concerned).

I'll also invite you to participate in a specific challenge around each week's distinction, so you can have some fun with these concepts in real-time.

Can't wait until the first week of the new month? Looking to begin right now? (Damn, you're good.) Join us over in the Action Oriented Facebook group, where doing is already kicking feeling ass.

Love,
Helen

Developing a bias for action (even when your default is usually analysis)

This past Saturday morning, I held my first Facebook Live broadcast. It was very much unscripted and totally exhilarating.

For weeks now, I've been toying with the idea of live video; the reality of it, however, scared the socks off me. 'I don't do video' would've been an easy refrain to keep myself from trying something new (and possibly failing or looking like a fool or being laughed at)—and, perhaps, if I weren't a coach, I wouldn't know to call bullshit on myself right there. So, early last week, it became really clear to me that my most urgent personal and professional edge was located somewhere in the act of being recorded and witnessed live, without the option of editing.

As with double-dog dares, I can't turn down a good challenge, even (and maybe especially) if it's a challenge I give to myself. And when it comes to modeling boldness and decisive action for my clients, I really can't turn down a challenge.

So, I took a step forward. I announced a date and time for my live broadcast, and I tried not to seriously entertain the voice in my head that really wanted to know, OMG, HELEN, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!

Oh, and on top of that, I didn't prepare. Nope. I decided this would be an exercise in showing up boldly by bringing just myself.

(You know how, when you're invited to someone's home for dinner and you ask, "What can I bring?" and they say, "Just bring yourself!"? I don't know about you, but, for me, that's the cat's meow, being told I need not bring anything but myself; it's a cozy feeling, and I try to revel in it for a moment by really appreciating my own enough-ness.)

So, you're wondering, how'd it go?

It was enough. I was enough.

 

(You are enough, too. You might be a chronic over-preparer or an I'm-not-ready-er or someone who has a really tough time being a beginner at anything. But you are enough. And it is enough for you to simply show up and learn by doing.)

 

Anyway, the live broadcast is available for viewing in the Action Oriented group. I'd love to have you in this community, if you feel called to participate.

Once you join, you'll have access to future Facebook Live broadcasts and you'll get accountability, community, and otherwise-unadvertised offers from me. Good deal.

You can take my word for it or you can take a member's:

Here's to taking a first-step this week, toward a first of your own.

Love,
Helen

Prioritizing, part two

Okay, so, since last week, I've done some fine-tuning of my sticky note method, and here's what I have to share:

1. Color coding. It helps! So do mnemonics.

  • I'm using blue for commitments and agreements, and also for business-related tasks that are important to my overall mission and to developing my work.
  • Green is for anything that is, or might become, a source of income. This makes it really easy for me to spot the activities I need to focus on during whatever hours I've dedicated to work. Money is green and so are the to-do items associated with it!
  • Social correspondence and connection, essentially everything that falls in the personal realm of my life, is pink.
  • The days of the week get orange, but that's only because it was the last color left in the four-pack I had on hand. ;-)

2. Once complete, tasks are plucked from their assigned spots and stacked in the lower corner; at the end of the day, they get moved to the trash. Currently, I'm using a glass window as my board for arranging and rearranging the sticky notes (fingerprints and smudges abound!). I like to keep the completed tasks up on the window until the end of the day, because then I'm able to track how much I actually accomplished. Otherwise, it'd be all too easy for me to whine, "I got barely anything done today!" because #chronicoverachiever and #victimoftime. I'd much rather have hard, irrefutable data that allows me to assess how ambitious I was at the start of my day and whether or not my strategy was solid enough to achieve those ambitions (and, also, I'd rather be a #timewarrior). So, each completed sticky gets stuck to the previously completed sticky until I have a nice little chunk of stickies in the lower corner of my office window. Right before I sign off for the day, I review the chunk (as well as whatever I didn't get around to) before tossing it in the trash can and situating the following day's tasks.

3. A sticky note that keeps moving from one day to the next is probably a sticky note that needs breaking down into its smaller components. I'm finding that there's two sticky notes that have covered some serious territory on my window—traveling from Monday to Friday and back again. What does this tell me? I put too big a task on the sticky note and need to determine what mini-steps I can take toward it each day (and create sticky notes for each of those mini-steps), rather than hoping the overarching task will somehow transform into something that's easier or more doable to tackle tomorrow.

And there you have it. Those are my three biggest takeaways from almost two weeks of using this particular self-devised time-chunking method.

Thoughts? Questions? Best practices? Keep 'em coming—I'm learning a lot from your replies.

Love,
Helen

Prioritizing doesn't have to be so hard!

You want to take action, you want to dive in and complete something on your list (because it's gotten really old, really fast, to keep dragging the same tasks from one day to the next on your Trello calendar or in your bullet journal or wherever you keep track of what needs doing).

You know that once you kick it into gear, very often something becomes somethings nearly effortlessly, so it's really just a matter of starting.

But you haven't got a clue how to prioritize when everything feels urgent or when the list is so long, it feels impossible to discern what's urgent and what isn't.

This cluelessness has a big impact. It means you're either 1. starting by tackling some arbitrary task that isn't necessarily important in the big picture of what you want to do with your life, or 2. not starting at all.

A few of you have reached out and posed some iteration of this concern.

And while I can't promise to know your right answer, I can certainly share what's working for me at the moment.

If you're in the clueless camp, my hope is that you'll take my method and make it your own.
First of all, I don't believe prioritizing has to be hard. I even think it can be fun (and enlightening!) to move things around until there's some resonance in the arrangement.

Yesterday on Instagram, I mentioned a new time-chunking method I'm using that involves sticky notes. Lots and lots of sticky notes. Here's what I'm doing, using the 1.5 x 2 inch size in a variety of electric colors:

1. I take my time to think of All The Things that are crowding my mind and I write them on sticky notes. This is perfect for those days when I arrive at my desk without a plan, but with what feels like an overwhelming list of things that need my attention.

2. I assign just one task per sticky note. 'Answer emails' is not one task. 'Reply to Emily' is. 'Reply to Sarah' is another. 'Reply to group message with availability,' and so on. One per sticky, no exceptions.

3. I arrange the sticky notes based on a hierarchy of two questions. Once I've gotten down everything that's top of mind and my desk's surface is covered in neon tiles, I ask myself two quick questions that help me to get clear on what actually needs to get done today. I rearrange the tiles accordingly.

Now, my two questions are particular to me, as a married and self-employed woman without children. Yours might be really different based on the particulars of your life. There's no shame in whatever your guiding questions might be; the important thing is to be honest with yourself about your overarching goals for this season of your life.

  • Do I have a commitment to or an agreement with someone to do something here? For me, this might mean my husband and I agreed I'd call for an electrician first thing; it might mean I've a paying client who emailed me in a tizzy the night before and requires a reply; it might mean today is the first day of a self-care commitment, and I need to get outside for an early morning walk. It helps me to first consider my commitments and agreements, and then to make sure those sticky notes get moved to the top for immediate attention. Even as a particular relationship is important to me, if there are no explicit agreements in place, I set aside its associated tasks for later. (Note the difference between agreements and expectations; someone might expect you to reply to an email or might desire a returned phone call, but there's no explicit commitment on your part to do so. Here's a fantastic article on this exact distinction.)
  • Is this, or might it become, a source of income? Because I'm self-employed, my priority throughout the work week must be growing my business. As much as I adore being in touch with family and friends on a regular basis (and need to be in touch with them in order to have a meaningful life!), I don't allow my personal life to outrank business-generating activities when I've got myself on the clock. This means that all those sticky notes that are decidedly personal in nature get moved to the bottom.

4. I create header sticky notes (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on) and then I distribute the individual sticky notes that didn't make the cut as commitments/agreements or sources of income. I only concern myself with Monday through Friday because this system is about managing my work week as someone whose personal and professional lives intersect quite a bit; your needs might be different. It's worth noting that I don't distribute these remaining tasks arbitrarily; I rank them based on nature of relationship, urgency of request, and order received.

If this sounds heartless (spelled out, it strikes me as being a bit more matter-of-fact than I've ever actually copped to being), I suspect it's because there's a distinct discomfort around not operating from a place of accommodation (at least for some of us; fellow people-pleasers, I'm looking at you). I am someone who'd like for everyone in her life to feel they are a priority—and, if there were enough hours in the day and my business ran itself, I've no doubt I'd try to ensure that! (Though whether or not that's a good thing to need/want to ensure is an entirely separate conversation.)

Having a system that acknowledges the fullness of my life and doesn't have me chained me to my inbox until bedtime is crucial for me.

So, if you're clueless, start here. Tweak as necessary. Report back.

If you have a system that beats mine in spades, don't hold out on us. Share!

And finally, hit me with any questions you have about time management, taking action, prioritizing, or starting and/or completing your Big Thing. I always answer, and I may even feature our Q&A in this space (provided I have your permission, of course).

Love,
Helen

Feelers vs. doers

If you don't feel particularly good at taking action, fear not: I didn't either.

When I launched my coaching business in early 2015, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I'd never started a business before; the only money I'd ever made in my life (besides cash from babysitting) came in the form of a paycheck; and my deep-seated desire to execute everything flawlessly the first time I tried it made for a bumpy beginning to entrepreneurship.

So, I spent a huge portion of that first year doing whatever I felt like doing. If a blog post seemed like a good idea and I felt up to writing something, I cracked open my laptop and tried to offer a new perspective on a topic of interest. If I got frustrated with my efforts to create something from scratch, I'd turn to "research," and proceed to kill an afternoon with my nose buried in the pages of another coach's site. If social media felt important, I'd wile away the hours on Canva, playing with fonts, and then maybe I'd post it on Instagram.

I was in motion, sure. No one could accuse me of doing nothing.

However, I wasn't in business. Not truly. Because, to be in business, I would've had to have prioritized experimentation—that is, the process of taking action consistently with a goal of determining something previously unknown—over my feelings.

In his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Others: How Great Leaders Can Produce Insane Results Without Driving People Crazy, the brilliant coach, Steve Chandler, says:

Steve Chandler

I was a feeler, and it took me the better part of a year (and a lot of unnecessary grief!) to become a doer.

How did I finally kick it into gear?

I took one small step. I started a newsletter with the promise that I'd send it out every single Monday, come hell or high water. It didn't matter what I wrote in it—I was using it as a tool to experiment with content—it mattered only that I showed up every week and reported my findings. Whether I felt like it...or not.

I spent 78 weeks writing this thing that was a cross between an email to a friend, a travel missive, and a personal development think piece. Was it perfect? Far from it. Was it a solid indication to my audience and the Universe that I was in business as a life coach? Not quite. Did I learn anything? HOLY BATMAN, SO FREAKIN' MUCH.

That's the thing about taking action:

The worst that can result is a learning opportunity.

Not taking action, however, has a far worse outcome: nothing. Nothing happens, nothing changes, there's nothing to measure.

In my guide (seriously, if you still haven't downloaded it, I don't know how else to tell you that it's all yours, free for the taking, so GO GET IT!), I say that a feeling is very often a byproduct of action, not a prerequisite for it. Well, the same goes for learning; we can soak up all the external information we want (the freebie opt-ins, the e-courses, the webinars), but until we use that information for personal transformation—until we transform ourselves into experimenters, into action-takers—we won't actually learn much at all.

Take a moment right now to consider all that you already know about the thing you'd like to create in the world. Keeping in mind those glorious byproducts of action (positive feelings and unparalleled learning experiences), what small step will you take as soon as you close this email?

Love,
Helen

Unhook from these three beliefs and you'll be action-oriented in no time!

Something I created during my hiatus from Weekly Findings was a 10-page guide for people who aren't doing the things they say they want to do.

I'm certain you know just what I mean by this.

Folks who want to get really good at meal-planning a week or two at a time instead of last-minute scrambling everyday at 5 p.m. Artists who want to launch that pop-up shop to sell their personal artwork. Family historians (i.e. moms) who want to finish editing those vacation photos from two years ago so that those keepsake books can get printed finally.

Dreams, tasks, ambitions, projects, would-like-to-do-somedays.

The purpose of the guide is to identify the three main beliefs many of us hold onto about why we can't yet take action—and then, in direct response to those beliefs, to provide three game-changing perspective shifts and pro tips for putting things into motion NOW.

I wrote it because these are the primary reasons my clients have given for why they don't already have what they want (that right there is a favorite coaching avenue—discovering why a perfectly capable someone hasn't already achieved what she says she wants to achieve)...and—surprise twist!—because these are the reasons I, myself, used to give when I was less than productive in getting after what I claimed to want.

So, all that's to say: It's an honest, won't-make-you-feel-bad guide to identifying and correcting the most prevalent fallacies that surface for all of us when it comes to taking action.

Also: It's my gift to you.

Since my intention is to inspire and help as many folks as I can to start taking action on a regular basis, I've created a Facebook group called Action Oriented; this group is for anyone who reads the guide and wants support in taking consistent steps toward a specific dream, desire, or project.

Here's where I tell you about a special offering from me:

The first 13 people to read the guide in its entirety and participate in the Action Oriented community (specific prompts are located within the guide) are eligible to receive a complimentary 60-minute coaching session with me. A coaching session is the perfect way to jumpstart your action-taking and make a plan to turn those individual actions into a beautiful thing known as momentum.

To get started, here's what you can do now:

Step 1: Download the free guide to taking action.

Step 2: Read the PDF in its entirety (it'll probably take you fewer than 20 minutes—a quick read!).

Step 3: Follow the links within the guide to the Action Oriented community and request membership.

Step 4: Contribute at least once to all three discussions.

Step 5: Await an email from me with details to schedule your complimentary coaching session!

One more thing: If, after reading the guide, you think of someone who you believe would also benefit from reading it, please direct her here, and she gets her own copy.

I can't wait to hear all about your success in taking action, inside the Action Oriented group. As always, feel free to reply to this email.

Love,
Helen

So, it seems I wound up with two new homes...

Yup, you read that right.

One's a cute Craftsman (built in 1915!) on a corner lot in Appleton, Wisconsin, and the other's a cyber yurt with an address of HelenMcLaughlin.com.

Both have been a long time coming and both are very much works in progress (believe me when I say I'm surrounded by literal and metaphorical boxes as we speak...).

Before I do anything, I want to welcome all the new subscribers who snuck in some time between the last issue of Weekly Findings and now: I'm glad you found me and I'm SO glad you've decided to become an Insider; finding my Right People is an ongoing process, and one of the first steps in that process is determining who wants to be in conversation with me (I see email as a kind of conversation, especially when you hit 'reply' and we get to chatting). If at any time the conversation stops being useful to you, please know you're always free to unsubscribe, no hard feelings.

Next, I want to give great big internet hugs to all my old faithfuls, those of you who've been with me since the beginning, or very nearly. I feel as though I owe you a bit of an explanation for the radio silence over here: Dana and I were dealt a personal tragedy back in February, which was the reason behind my shuttering Weekly Findings these past five months. One of our dearest friends died very unexpectedly and there was just no good way for me to address it here. Though grief has had its way with us, we are okay.

Fortunately, the break from Weekly Findings was fruitful. I reflected a ton, sought out new learning resources, coached and was coached, and created—content, art, conversations, and soon-to-be-shared-with-you offerings.

I also reached a decision that was previously eluding me for months on end: Weekly Findings has run its course.

Writing a casual, meandering newsletter was the hands-down best alternative (for me) to all the marketing mumbo-jumbo and 'best practices' that weren't resonating as I finished coaching school; it was exactly what I needed as I launched my business and embarked on a cross-country motorhome adventure with Dana; it was a natural way for me to talk to you regularly, to tell you what I think about and how I think about it, and to connect with many of you in one-on-one emails, in phone calls, and in actual, real-life meet-ups (I'm scheduling these as we speak! Wisconsin and other Midwestern peeps: Hit me up!).

But it's time to change gears. I have more to offer. I want to give in different ways. And I have tools in my toolbox that very much need to be out in the world, engaging in real-time application and improving your experience of life (because that's what I really feel called to do).

I'll be sharing those offerings with you in the coming months—but, in the meantime, here's what you can do now:

Step 1: Hit 'reply' and type "WOOT!"

I'm not kidding! Some email services are wildly protective and will immediately file me and all my missives into your Spam folder (or the godawful Promotions folder). If you "WOOT!" me, yours will know we actually want to be in touch with each other.

Step 2: Tell me who you are and name one unfinished thing in your life that you'd really like to finish.

If you'd rather not "WOOT!" me and instead, prefer to have a more substantial exchange—and especially if we've never emailed with one another before—go ahead and tell me a bit about yourself and the unfinished business you've been carrying around. I'm creating a completion program and want to maximize its helpfulness for you. This means your input is solid gold.

Look! I made it super easy for you: Click here to "WOOT!" or here to chat.

A heads up: I read and respond to every email I receive, so don't be shy about connecting. No VAs managing my inbox over here, just me. ;-) Hearing from you is a real treat, so please do say hello.

Keep your eye out for an email from me next week; I'll be sending you a free guide I created—Three Fallacies that Stand Between You and Taking Action (and How to Vanquish Each of Them Like a Pro)—that'll seriously shift your mindset and free you up to actually do the thing you say you want to do.

In the meantime, let your July be whatever it needs to be.

Love,
Helen