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Stacey, Griffin and LuisitoThat’s me and my Griffin with the son from our host family in San Pedro, Guatemala!

You may notice that Luisito and Carlitos (Griffin’s Spanish name) are wearing matching Barcelona soccer team uniforms.

It was a happy surprise when I learned that both boys have the same favorite player – Lionel Messi (an Argentine professional soccer player who plays for Barcelona) – and it was an even happier surprise when I realized I could acquire the uniforms for them at a tiny little shop in San Pedro.

I’ve come to think of soccer (or football as it’s called in most of the world) as the international language of friendship because it has brought us so many lovely experiences with so many people in Guatemala.

I could regale you with the many stories of football and friendship we’ve had, but I want to keep this note short (but I hope also sweet!) because I still want to be fully immersed in the amazing adventure we’re having here.

Of course, I’m still devoted to you, so I wanted to answer a question I’ve been getting from a lot of readers about how I’m able to “take off” so much time this summer.

Ever since my son Griffin entered elementary school (he just turned 10), I have wanted to take the summer off to just “be” with him.

One of the many reasons I quit my hospital job last year is because I wanted the freedom and flexibility to make that dream a reality.

And last year it happened: I took off 3 weeks in June. My family traveled across the country in an RV and then we had a week in California to spend quality time with my extended family.

I spent a week in a high-level business training with my mentor.

We went on our annual camping adventure with some of our closest friends.

Then Griffin and I flew to Europe in mid-July to spend the rest of the month sailing around the Greek Islands with friends. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Paris.

August was spent mostly reading novels by the pool.

So after only ever taking (maybe) one week off in a summer in the past, how is it possible that I could take almost the whole summer off last year – and do the same again this year?

There’s really no magic formula. I “simply” created a business to grant me the freedom and flexibility I desire.

I worked on my coaching business as a “side hustle” in a very focused and consistent manner for the first 5 years. (I just celebrated its sixth anniversary! Woo hooo!)

I went into my business with the idea that it would – someday, in the long run (the long run, mind you!) – give me the freedom and flexibility I desired.

All through those first 5 years I made decisions about my business based on that desire. I even turned down opportunities that seemed to conflict with that priority.

I call it “planting purposeful seeds,” and this line from the poet Robert Bly really captures the idea:

The albatross that lands on the mast began flying a thousand years ago.

In other words, the harvest you’re reaping now comes from seeds you planted long before — and you can rest assured that the seeds you plant and nurture now will bear fruit sometime in the future.

The problem most people encounter when they plant their seeds is that they are not deliberate about what they want to grow. And then they become impatient and frustrated when they don’t see the fruit bursting off the vine within moments of planting.

They sow the wrong seeds. Or they don’t sow the seeds they do want with deliberate intention. Or they don’t tend their seeds thoughtfully over the (usually) significant time it takes for the plant to bear fruit.

Why not? I’m not entirely sure.

freedom and flexibilityI believe before we’re born, when we’re pure positive energy, we have no doubt that manifesting in a physical form will be amazing.

And yet when we arrive in our physical forms, we often forget that we’re really good at this manifesting thing. And above all we forget that the journey from desire to accomplishment is supposed to be fun.

To be honest, I’ve sometimes forgotten that the journey is supposed to be full of joy. And yet, as great as it is to enjoy the “fruits of my labor” now, I can look back and honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every step on the entrepreneurial path.

Even when challenges popped up (and plenty have!), I saw them as opportunities to discover what I really wanted and to become my best self.

It is amazing to see the vision I had for myself six years ago has become a reality – but the BEST part is acknowledging the person I’ve become along the way.

And you can do the same. Because all we need is a BIG vision to pull us forward as we become our best selves.

Without that vision there’s a good chance we’ll just stay where we are – kind of stuck and small, right?

But with that BIG vision, you don’t need circumstances to be pleasing, or for others to make things easier for you, praise you, or even acknowledge you. It’s wonderful to get those things – but not at all necessary.

You just have to remember that you already have everything you need for a great journey, and it’s all inside you.

By the fact of our existence we are worthy of love and all good things. We already are love and all good things.

Even the challenges we face on the road to what we want are there to reveal better things than we ever imagined.

We will get where we’re going, that place we set out to reach before we were even born. We just need to plant those seeds, tend them mindfully, and take joy in the journey.

Before I close, I want to return to Robert Bly’s image of the albatross, because albatross are symbols of effortlessness.

This is from Wikipedia:

Albatrosses are amongst the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses (genus Diomedea) have the largest wingspans of any extant birds…They are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring and slope soaring to cover great distances with little exertion.

The Universe really does rearrange things in perfect order to bring you what you want – when you have a clear vision based on your true desires and take consistent action.

Do you want “covering great distances with little exertion” to be what your life is all about? Fortunately, with the proper mindset and focused effort, it can be.

If you’ve been trying to create a BIG VISION and you keep getting stuck or caught in the struggle mindset or pummeled by your old thought patterns, then I hope you will check out my End Your Next 6 Months Strong program that has changed the lives of so many people already. It’s HALF-OFF through June! NOTE: My be-happy, money-back, no-questions-asked guarantee makes this a no-brainer.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

the law that’s too easy to break

Child Aid

Griffin and I are in Guatemala as you read this! The photo to the right shows one of my favorite scenes from the work made possible by Child Aid – an organization that advocates for literacy in the poorest regions of Guatemala.

As many of you know, I’ve consistently tithed to the organization and a few months ago the CEO wrote me and asked if I’d like to come down and see the programs that my contributions helped make possible.

The upshot is that I saw an opportunity to make a valuable contribution in the world and jumped on it. I mention this because I don’t know if you noticed, but we’re in the middle of June. In other words, 2015 is almost half over.

How do you feel about that? Do you feel satisfied by what you’ve accomplished so far? Are you excited and enthusiastic about what you know you will achieve by the end of the year?

Or do you feel a sense of disappointment and frustration? Are you worried that another year will go by and you won’t have much to show for it?

If you feel the latter, I hope you’ll check out a special program I’m offering – check it out at the end of this post.

No matter what, I think we can all agree that often we feel like we don’t have enough time to get everything done we want. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In order to create a business and life I absolutely love, I’ve had to lean hard on Parkinson’s Law. It really is a magic formula and if you don’t know about it, you’re going to love it.

I think we can all relate to the frustration that comes from feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all that we want to do.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. First, let’s look at the facts: human beings are wired to seek novelty and challenge. It may sound nice to live on the beach sipping fruity drinks all day, but studies show that no one really wants to do that all the time.

So we reach and stretch and find that we always have a little too much on our plate (and that we sometimes have waaay too much). We generally feel slightly overwhelmed. And that overwhelm can feel stressful. But it doesn’t have to.

One of my clients had a long-held desire to write a blog, but never felt like she had the time to pull it off. Then she saw that her local city newspaper was asking for submissions for a “readers write” column.

She saw that this would be an opportunity to write for public consumption and make connections within her new community, thus accomplishing two of her goals, so she jumped on it.

She went through the initial stages of the selection process and became one of the semi-finalists for the job. This was great news, but she also found out that in order to get the gig she had to submit a winning column in seven days.

The prospect was a little daunting because she was on a business trip for most of the days leading up to the deadline. This meant she had little time to research the piece (research that would have to include interviews), write it, and polish it before the deadline. The discomfort around the timing led her to wonder if she really wanted the job after all.

not enough time in the dayI agreed that the timing was not ideal, but then I suggested that the unexpected deadline in the midst of a busy week was not a bad thing. I reminded her of Parkinson’s Law, something I always remind myself of in a time crunch. (In fact I was working under it as I prepared this article!)

If you’re not familiar with it, it goes like this: “Work expands or contracts to fill the time allotted for its completion.” For myself, I’ve added a corollary, a sentiment best expressed by Duke Ellington. “I don’t need time,” he once said, “I need a deadline.”

In other words, never mind how long something has taken you or others before: chances are good that it took as long as it did because there was simply more time to get it done. So focus your attention, figure how much time you really have, and get going.

What’s the best way to get going? I’ve found that my best friend when I’m facing a deadline is a timer and the concept of the “15 minute sprint.”

That’s how I accomplish almost everything. I define the task, set the timer and Go. For 15 minutes. And I repeat as necessary.

If you’re really up against a deadline, I encourage you to use the sprint in combination with the following additional strategies as needed.

1. Get Accountability.

When we’re working on something in our private lives, giving up is extremely tempting.

At work, though, that’s generally not an option, and many folks who let their personal dreams languish can move mountains when they’re under the watchful eye of a boss.

That’s why I love having (and being!) a coach. The coaching relationship provides the same guidance and accountability that we get at work—but it does so for goals that we set for ourselves.

So ask your friend to be an accountability buddy, or invest in a coach.

Make it public. Tell your family at dinner, or announce it on Facebook. Whatever you want to do, put some public accountability in place so you have to get it done.

2. Define the Time.

A goal should be grounded within a time frame and given actual dates. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. Remember, Parkinson’s Law states that the work needed to complete a task expands to fill the time allotted—but it also says that work can contract, magically fitting itself into a limited number of hours.

So when you want to finish a project, or a task related to a project, set a length of time to work on it and a completion date that seems just a little ambitious.

“Someday” isn’t a viable plan. But if you anchor it with a date, “by June 28th”, then you’ve set yourself into motion to begin working on the goal.

3. No Distractions.

You know what’s great about setting the timer for 15 minutes? Your brain finds it a totally doable amount of time to fully commit to a task without distractions.

Any longer and you’ll find yourself thinking about whether you’ve got an email, or that you have to start the dishwasher, or you need to walk the dog.

I call it the “15 minute sprint” because I like the feeling of being in a race against the timer. And I want to win.

Just as a successful life comes out of a collection of successful days, a successful project really does come out of a successful series of sprints like these.

So whether you’re setting a timer for 15 minutes or an hour or an entire afternoon (keeping in mind that what you think you can manage and what your attention span can actually manage may be two different things), remember you’re in a race against time and avoid distractions.

4. No Excuses.

This is actually the most important aspect of all: your belief in yourself. You can do whatever you set your mind to.

That’s the other thing I love about the coaching model – I may doubt my ability to pull something off, but my coach always believes in me. She sees me in the best possible light and with her reflecting that back at me, it’s like I can’t help but do the same.

Maybe you don’t have a newspaper deadline looming the same way my client did. But I’m guessing there’s something you want to accomplish, but haven’t.

Know what? All the same rules apply. Even if it’s something that seems impossible, if you set a date and do a little bit of concentrated work on it every day, you’ll be shocked at how soon a lofty goal can become reality.

Remember the story of my client at the beginning of this essay? She submitted a quality essay to the newspaper by the deadline. Hooray!

So are you ready to set a few spacious (or detailed) goals? Do you want to give your dreams a deadline? Do you want to make 2015 your BEST year ever? You’ll want to check out my special program: End Your Next Six Months Strong – it’s HALF-OFF through June!

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

How to Create the Freedom and Flexibility You Want in Your Life

June 16, 2015

That’s me and my Griffin with the son from our host family in San Pedro, Guatemala! You may notice that Luisito and Carlitos (Griffin’s Spanish name) are wearing matching Barcelona soccer team uniforms. It was a happy surprise when I learned that both boys have the same favorite player – Lionel Messi (an Argentine professional

Read the full article →

the law that’s too easy to break

June 9, 2015

Griffin and I are in Guatemala as you read this! The photo to the right shows one of my favorite scenes from the work made possible by Child Aid – an organization that advocates for literacy in the poorest regions of Guatemala. As many of you know, I’ve consistently tithed to the organization and a

Read the full article →

worry is a choice (+ how to choose different)

June 2, 2015

That’s a photo of me with my private client after her VIP Day with me here in Asheville last week. We dug deep into her unique gifts, uprooted the blocks that have held her back, and created a clear path for her to find and LIVE her purpose. I am so proud of her and

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How to let go of bad feelings

May 26, 2015

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! The photo to the right is Griffin with his cousins as we gathered in my brother’s Cincinnati home. It was so nice to get away for a few days and bask in simple pleasures like sharing meals, throwing the Frisbee, and playing games together. One of the

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How to Get Back on Track After You Make a Big Mistake

May 19, 2015

What a week! Griffin’s 10th birthday extravaganza ultimately came to an end on Friday at a place called Fun Depot. How we got there is an interesting story. As you may remember, Griffin had a big “Boffering Birthday Bash” a couple of weeks ago with many of his friends. He invited his entire 5th grade

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Life Lessons from J.R.R. Tolkien and Haruki Murakami

May 12, 2015

That's a photo of me in my "outdoor office" – now that it's so beautiful out, I find myself writing there more and more. Lately I feel like I'm ON FIRE when it comes to my writing. Many of you know that I'm working on getting my book, No More Crying and Complaining, published. But

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Ready to give birth to your spiritual potential?

May 5, 2015

That's a photo of Griffin and his friends before they went up against another set of friends at his most excellent Birthday Boffering Bash last weekend. (Boffering is essentially mock combat with foam-covered weapons and it's SUPER fun.) TODAY is Griffin's TENTH birthday!! We keep saying to each other "Double digits, baby!!" I can hardly

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what to do when the universe hates you

April 28, 2015

That's a photo of Griffin (behind his friend Freddy) and a group of his classmates during a Creek Cleanup. Griffin and I take a walk every week down to the river a mile from our home and we always go past this creek. A few weeks ago Griffin expressed dismay that the creek was so

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