By Lacy Schoen
It has been said “win the first hour of your day, and you win the day.” But what does it mean to “win” the first hour of your day? Basically, it's knowing how to plan your day and taking the time to do it - first thing, everyday. Further, it's using your planning time to managing your mindset, intention and priorities for your day. If you set up a structure to tackle these three, you can create a life, day after day, that moves you toward your goals and makes you happy.
I think that most women would agree that mindset has a huge impact on our success. We tend to draw into our lives what is in our thoughts. So it’s imperative that we get our thoughts in the right place.
Successful people start their day with a routine that includes getting their head in the right place so that their thoughts follow. There’s a number of ways to do this. Some read the Bible. Some meditate. Some do Yoga and meditate at the same time. Some use an app like Headspace or The Five Minute Journal.
I check in with my spiritual values every morning. I read from my spiritual books, meditate on my truth and review what is most important to me in my life. I recommit to those values, spend some time in gratitude and visualize where I want to be. I do this to set myself up for the right mindset for the day, because from my mindset will flow my thoughts and actions.
As I meet challenges and choices throughout my day, I have a firm basis from which to respond…one that keeps me aligned with the woman I want to be. It’s so much easier to stay grounded when I check in with my values every morning. And since I focus on gratitude, it helps lighten the load when the day’s events might otherwise get me down. Since I devote time to visualization, I notice my momentum unfolding throughout each day, and that is hugely invigorating!
In short, getting my mindset in the right place every morning helps me direct my thoughts throughout the day in a way that I will be happy with at the end of the day. And day by day, I am building more and more of the life I want. You can do this too!
One of the most important questions to ask yourself every day is, “How do I want today to end? What does a successful day – today – look like?” Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you end up somewhere else.”
It’s true, so why leave your day to chance? Early in my career, I hoped for luck in my days. I hoped for good relationships. I hoped for a good day at work. I learned quickly…hope is not a strategy and luck is a word for people who don’t understand that we create our lives.
The fact is that good days, and good relationships are created by us. So why not intentionally make the days, the relationships and ourselves the way we want.
That’s the power of intention.
I mentioned earlier that every morning I think about the woman I want to be. That is part of my intention. I want to be giving, inspirational, effective and encouraging. I want to be calm and peaceful. I want to give others a hand up. I want to be authentic. I want to be unfettered and compassionate. I want to be confident and successful.
All these things are things that I review in the first hour of my day. Imagine how much different I respond when I meet with a rude person when I’m in touch with the calm, peaceful and compassionate woman I want to be.
Being in touch with my values allows me to act with intention – moving from “reaction” to “response.” I get to choose my actions, not from emotion, but from a deep sense of who I intend to be. That’s the power of intention. It moves us from who we are to who we want to be.
Last year I was at a conference. There was a woman in line going off on an angry tirade. She was rude, she was yelling and she was blaming the hotel clerk for her lost luggage. She looked at my friend and told her to get out of her way. As I stood there, shocked, my friend did the most amazing thing. She touched the woman’s arm and said, “Are you okay?”
The woman melted, breaking down in tears. She had just lost her home in a hurricane on the other side of the country, and hadn’t heard from her husband. Her fear and sadness came pouring out and suddenly the mood changed from tense to loving. All of this happened because my friend stayed in touch with who she wanted to be – she withheld judgment, didn’t take things personally, and acted from compassion, in alignment with her ideal self.
Another intention all women must have is self-care. Make sure to include your own self-care.
I’ve learned that if I’m not in tiptop shape, I’m not at my best with others or in my business. So I get up earlier than normal every day to give myself the gift of exercise. This is non-negotiable. It’s a top priority and is part of how I start and win my day. Because I’m intentional about this, I feel more confident, and I have more stamina for the day’s challenges.
Whether it’s Yoga, walking, running, stretching – whatever exercise makes you feel good – set an intention to give it to yourself. You’ll be happier and interact with others at a higher level when you’ve put yourself first in this regard. You can’t be there for others until you’re there for yourself. Resentments will fade because you’ve taken care of yourself.
This is the power of taking the first hour of your day to check in with the woman you want to be. Review it every morning. Lift yourself to a higher level and watch your thoughts and thereby your daily actions work together to upgrade your life.
Setting intention is also imperative to getting things done. Just like becoming who we want to be; getting done what you want to get done is not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of setting your intention through planning your days according to your priorities.
Many of us have way more to get done than is humanly possible. And that means we can end the day feeling like we failed. The best way to combat this is to use intention to plan your daily tasks. Ask yourself this question…”If I can only get one big thing done today, what is the most important thing I need to get done?”
When you narrow it down like that, you can’t fail. You set yourself up to get that one thing done, and everything else is gravy.
To be successful, you have to identify your overall life priorities. You have to know what are the “must haves,” versus the “nice to haves.” This is important to think through because we, as women, are pretty good at telling ourselves that everything is important. But that approach will not win your day. You have to know what is MOST important.
Sometimes this requires a chat with the boss. Sometimes this requires a chat with ourselves; or our family. But it’s important to figure out, so you can plan to win your days. You need an order of priority to make decisions about how to plan your days. If you don’t have a priority, you are approaching your days randomly – and that doesn’t win your day.
For instance, when I worked for someone else, I always made sure I understood what was most important to my boss and what was most important to my company. If I didn’t know, I’d ask. That way, I could plan to work on the most important things first.
Sure, sometimes priorities change day-by-day, or even hour-by-hour, but it’s important to make the decision to shift to a new priority consciously. In a work environment, some of the most valuable input you can give is when something doesn’t line up with priorities.
In my own business, I have a very simple order of priorities. I always work on the profit making projects first. Why? Because I cannot impact the world the way I want to if I am not making money at what I do.
The second priority is service to women. If I am good on the money making front, my second priority is to make sure I am serving women in a meaningful way. If I have two projects in a day, I will always choose the profit making activity first in my planning, then the service project. From there, I prioritize other things – like social media posts, writing and administrative tasks.
Think about the administrative tasks for a minute. This is the time suck that keeps employees, business owners and entrepreneurs alike from advancing their business. That’s because we tend to prioritize things that mentally “bug us” so we can get them off of our plate, so we can feel relieved.
That problem is, they are not the most important thing – meaning they don’t really move the needle toward our goals, happiness and success. We end up just being a clerical worker, instead of working on the bigger picture things that really move us forward.
From a business perspective, we likely chose to be our own boss to create more freedom and a bigger impact on the world. Prioritizing administrative tasks will NOT get us where we want to go. Earning a profit and serving others are what is going to get us there. So, prioritize the MOST important things first. The rest can wait.
WINNING YOUR DAY
So, winning your day (and all your days) is a matter of addressing your mindset, your intention and your priorities in the first hour of your day. It may take you longer than an hour, but the idea is to start your day with mindset, intention and priorities. Set things up how you want them to be, and according to what will produce results.
Remember, if you don’t do these things you are leaving your goals and happiness to chance. If you take the time in your morning to do this work, you’ll have clarity, confidence and a plan to drives your life where you want it to go. Make it a daily habit, and win your day - and you’ll be on the path to creating a life you love!
By Lacy Schoen
Maintaining healthy boundaries is a matter of self-esteem and maintaining functional relationships. Because women are often raised to “be nice,” and “give to others generously,” sometimes insisting on healthy boundaries makes women feel like they are being “mean,” or somehow harsh.
The truth is exactly the opposite. Asserting healthy boundaries is actually a matter of deep love and consideration for others. We just need to adjust the way we look at it. So, today, I’m going to share a couple of quick truths that can help you understand that the best thing you can do for someone else is insist on healthy boundaries.
First, when we don’t have boundaries, it opens the door for others to dump their failures, baggage and shortcomings onto us. Being dumped on is common with women who feel the need to “save” others. When we try to save someone we do two things that are in error.
First, we rob them of the life lesson they need to learn to get their life together. We literally prolong their immaturity in this area by not allowing them the gift of failure or difficulty. Sometimes this is the only thing that will motivate them to learn and grow. Let them have the experience they need, rather than prolong their insufficiency.
Second, when we try to save others, we open the door for them to dump all of their problems onto us. When we take on other’s dysfunction and failures, we are literally saying, “In addition to the problems I have in my life, I’ll be taking on yours as well.” We end up living two lives – our own, and the person’s that we are trying to save.
Some people call boundaries tough love. I call it true love. It’s okay to give advice, mentor and give support. But when someone’s unfortunate life situation alters or affects our own life significantly – our involvement may have gone too far.
Even if we decide we want to help a loved one who is in a dark place, putting ground rules or time limits around the help is another way to establish healthy boundaries. This is a way to say, “This help has a shelf life. You have this amount of time (or money) to get serious about putting your life back together, and after that, you are on your own. So use this help wisely.”
Maintaining healthy boundaries is also necessary in smaller ways, in our every day interactions. Small actions to maintain boundaries are important.
For instance, when a friend starts to talk negatively to me about another friend, they have crossed a boundary with me. I wouldn’t want someone else talking about me behind my back, so I never allow myself to be part of this type of dysfunctional behavior. It goes against my values, and crosses a strong boundary that I have.
What do I do to maintain my boundaries when I friend is talking badly about another friend? I politely tell my friend that while I want to be there for them, in this instance they are talking to the wrong person. I tell them that I would want anyone who has a problem with me to come to me directly. That’s fair and creates trust.
Then I encourage them to go directly to the person with which they have an issue. I sometimes offer some support if they are not sure how to approach the situation. Because often people are conflict avoidant, and are uncomfortable addressing issues with others directly. So I like to suggest ways that might make it easier for them to bring up. But I only do this if they indicate they are unsure how to address the issue with the other person.
I make sure this boundary is known with my friends and consequently I have very few instances where any friend tries to cross this line. That’s because I’ve trained and taught them how to treat me, and where my boundaries are. When we do this…when we establish strong, healthy boundaries, the people around us learn from it and over time, respect them.
And, if they don’t, they are someone that should be eliminated from your life. If you establish healthy boundaries and someone in your life refuses to respect them, even after multiple requests, then they are not worthy of a relationship with you.
Creating healthy boundaries creates healthy self-esteem. Healthy boundaries allow us to focus on growth and productive relationships instead of relationships that drain us and suck the life from us. Maybe most importantly, creating boundaries allows others to learn the life lessons that are integral to their long-term success and self-sufficiency.
Always engage in relationships that light up your life - that support you. You deserve it, and it’s important to a happy, functional life.
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Lacy Schoen is the CEO of Team Lead, Inc., and Founder of Real Women Real Success. She is a Best Selling Author and Certified High Performance Coach. Through one-on-one coaching, and her women’s group Women Thriving at Work, she supports women in their journey toward a more full and enriched life. © 2018 Team Lead, Inc. All rights reserved.