Making a New Habit Stick

09-07-16-change-ahead-sign

When you look at it objectively, changing a habit is actually a relatively simple process. You just do the new thing, then repeat it over and over. That’s the old 21 – 30 days to make a new habit. So why is it so hard to make a new habit stick?

What makes it complicated is you. For one thing, you let your mind monkeys get into your head start swinging around chattering away about how hard it is to make a change, how you never could do anything right and how you’ll never be able to do this new thing.

But you can deal with the mind monkeys. Simply interrupt their chatter by throwing them a mental banana, and while they’re off chasing the banana, replace that chatter with better, more productive thinking.

What’s probably more difficult is to identify the routine that triggers the habit that you really want to change. You may think it’s one thing, like not eating the whole chimichanga, when, in fact, it’s tied to something entirely different, like going to the same restaurant with the same group of friends where you order the same chimi every time. Think about it… it’s easier to change the habit by simply changing the social routine. You can still meet up with your friends for a fun meal out, just change up the restaurant. Then the chimi is out of the picture and you’ve given yourself a fighting chance to set up a new habit that is tied to a familiar routine. This will shorten the time it takes to make the new habit stick.

This also applies to your businesses. For example, how many of you want to make calls first thing in the morning but don’t seem to get to it because you spend so much time checking emails and getting lost in the associated rabbit holes of links and downloads in the morning? Let’s look at how to do this.

Of course you could set a timer when you start to look at emails, then stop after the alarm goes off. That’s easy and it’s doable. But will you continue to do it for 21-30 days? Let’s look a little deeper.

What’s your morning routine at work? Let’s say you grab a cup of coffee or tea, turn on the computer and immediately check your email. What’s the habit, checking email first thing? Nope, the trigger is getting your get coffee or tea first nad the other things fall into a familiar routine. So the trick is to tie your new habit to an existing routine, in this case, the morning beverage.

Today, when you get your coffee, instead of flipping on the computer and reading emails, choose to settle down to make some calls first. You’ve now tied the new habit of making calls first thing to your morning routine that starts with coffee. I think you’ll find that your new habit will get ingrained SO much more quickly than the old repeat for 21-30 day thinking.

And there’s a bonus: when you’ve made your calls and you go to check your email, you’re doing it later in the day when you probably have more activities that will naturally limit the time available for email rabbit holes.

So give it a try and let me know how this works for you!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, http://www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s an Artist with an MBA, a best selling author, and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™. You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

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What Do You Do When No One’s Watching?

08-16 - woman running

It’s the Olympic season and I’m really enjoying watching the athletes compete in Rio.  I’m also continually in awe of what the human body is capable of.  The strength and flexibility of the gymnasts, the amazing control of the shooting athletes, the speed and endurance of the cyclists, all I can say is wow!

But what I most appreciate is the tremendous amount of work elite athletes put in without anyone watching. It’s what goes on day after day, month after month, year after year that prepares them for the various competitions that lead up to that single moment in the spotlight in Rio.

If you’re an athlete, here’s what you do:  get up and train, put in a full day at work so you can pay your bills, then cap it all off with your evening workout.  Day in and day out. There are no cameras, there are no cheering crowds, it’s just you. You make the daily choice to do the hard work to reach your goals. Now that’s commitment and discipline!

So several thoughts are popping up for me:

  1. Training – you’ve got to build the right skills and you have to keep honing them over and over and over to excel
  2. Mindset – if you’re head’s not straight, you take yourself out of the game before you even start. Pay attention to your thoughts and your resulting actions and make appropriate adjustments.
  3. Discipline – do the hard work, even when you don’t feel like it. Be self-motivated, make the sacrifices, follow the plan, keep the focus on the goal every single day
  4. Commitment – show up every day and be your best
  5. Deliver the Goods – do your thing often, whether on a local level or internationally

Does this sound familiar? It’s what you do to be a successful entrepreneur.

You train in your specialty and your industry to stay on top of your game. You read, attend conferences, take classes, get coached and you practice your craft consistently.

You make sure you have the right mindset to invite success. You know how important it is to quickly clear your head of useless self-talk and replace it with productive thinking. You know what’s important and what can drop off the plate. You know what to do to get yourself out of a funk and back into the joy of doing what you love.

You are crystal clear on your goals and you focus on them when making decisions.  You make a plan and you do the hard work to execute that plan. You show up consistently every day and you deliver the goods to your customers and clients worldwide.

There’s no one sitting on your shoulder watching you 24/7. You’re the one making the choices and setting the goals. You’re the one developing a plan for success then choosing to do what it takes to make that plan work. You’re the one who decides how you’re going to spend your time and who you’re going to hire to do the other tasks. You’re the one choosing to put in the time to make sure your business flourishes. You’re the one choosing to go for the gold.

So, what do you do when no one is watching?

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way.  She’s an Artist with an MBA, a best selling author, and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™.  You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

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Superwoman Doesn’t Do Windows

06-16 - SuperwomanWe’re all superheroes.

That’s right, we all have superpowers and whether we’re aware of it or not, we know how to use them. But do you want to know the quickest way to squelch your superpowers? By not using them!

When you are a talented graphic artist and you spend day after day, week after week trying to figure out how to run your client management system all by yourself, you’re playing with kryptonite. Rather than hiring someone who knows the system, you’re burying your superpower. And when you bury your superpower, you lose your ability to fully tap into it when you need it. Hire someone who knows the system and loves doing that sort of work and get back to what you love best… stellar graphic design.

Some people pride themselves in claiming that they do everything all by themselves. That’s great, but are you doing everything well? I’ll bet you’re not. There is no badge of honor for getting all the day to day stuff done while your business goes nowhere. There are things you’re really good at and things you’re not so good at. Your tasks may be done-ish, but at what cost? Are the client billables piling up? Are you looking at a long list of customer follow up calls that you cannot seem to get to? Have you reviewed and updated your business plan? Is other work piling up? Are you enjoying time for play and for self-care? Are you able to sleep well at night?

Superwoman doesn’t do windows.

Superwoman focuses on what she excels at. She takes on the tasks that only she can do. She knows where her weaknesses are and she doesn’t do work that can be done better by someone else. In essence, she outsources the operational left-brained work with clear expectations and objectives. The creative right-brain work she does by herself and with her team of creative cohorts.

Now, I can already hear the objections: “I can’t afford it.” “I can do it quicker myself.” Stop it! Sure it costs money, but paying someone a few dollars while your time is freed up to go out and earn hundreds or thousands is a no brainer. Maybe you can do it quicker, but is it an income generating activity? Why not pay someone to do tasks that are not your strength and focus your time and energy and creativity on tasks that no one else but you can do.

So here’s a way to offload the things that are burying your superpowers:

1. Identify what will move your business forward that only you can do

2. Identify the things that are not your strength that need to be done

3. Start moving that work off your plate onto the plate of someone who enjoys that work. (In other words, tap into their superpower!)

4. Fill your newly reclaimed available time with revenue generating work

5. Keep reviewing the list regularly to make sure you’re maximizing your time and your creative energy.

The bottom line: Unless you’re in the business of washing windows, take window washing off your list!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Her calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way.  She’s a best selling author, textile and mixed media artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ coaching program. Her next book, Cool Stuff Jar™, will be available this Fall.

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My Colorado Calliope

07-12-16-calliope-hummingbird-

I was out on the deck early one morning watching the birds at the feeders. The hummingbirds had arrived at our altitude and I watched them dance through the air. I was entranced by their ability to just hold their space so delicately, yet so completely.

Then I spotted a Calliope hummer sparkling in the sunshine. He cruised over to the feeder, had some nectar, then took up residence on the tip of a branch in a nearby scrub oak and began preening.

As I studied him taking care of those gloriously brilliant feathers, I marveled at the way he was able to flex and reach most of the feathers with his long bill and use his feet to preen around his neck and the back of his head. He was so thoroughly engaged in his task he appeared oblivious to what was going on around him as lots of other birds came to the feeder while he was a mere six feet away preening.

When a Rufous hummer came by, my tiny little Calliope immediately zoomed over to defend the feeder against the typically more aggressive Rufous. Their wheeling battle was loud and short. When he’d dispatched the invader, he returned to his perch and continued preening. After a while, he gave his feathers a final ruffle and luxuriously stretched out his wings. I think he was ready to catch some rays.

When I looked at the clock, I realized that I had been sitting there watching my Calliope for over 20 minutes and I needed to hustle to get to the studio on time. How did that happen? The answer is I was so completely present in that moment that I excluded all other distractions. I became part of the scene before me. And the bonus for being so present…I can remember every delicious color drenched detail!

When was the last time you were so fully present that you were part of the scene? When was the last time you were so fully present that you can remember something to the most delicious detail?

Being present, whether with a client or a customer or with nature on the hiking trail, is an art. You have to learn how to turn off the distractions and how to turn on your focus. It’s that time when your mind is calm, it’s that wonderful state of flow, when everything comes easily and moves smoothly from one spot to the next.

For your clients and customers, being fully present means listening, really listening to them. It means paying attention to the nuances, the expressions, the body language. It means, taking care not to develop a response until they’ve finished talking to you. It means, putting your devices on mute so a conversation can happen. After all, you know how nice it is to feel like you’ve been heard. Intentionally extend that same courtesy to your clients and customers.

I think about my Calliope. He was fully present when he was preening. He was fully present when he swooped over to defend his feeder. He was fully present when he returned to his preening. I guess his lesson is that you can get a lot done as long as you’re fully present in each task.

So practice being fully present, whether it’s working with your clients and customers, walking the trails or watching the hummers.

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, http://www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, textile and mixed media artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ coaching program. You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

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Stop Hitting Snooze

Snooze Button - May 2016BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ!

How many of you wake up in the morning to an alarm buzzing in your ear?  Do of you automatically hit the snooze button to sleep just a couple minutes more? Do you hit it more than once?

There’s nothing wrong with a little extra sleep, but the reality is that hitting snooze does not really gain anything because you’re not getting restful, restorative sleep, you’re just crashing and then being jarred over and over. Plus, you’re wasting 10, 20, 30 minutes each day that you could be using to finish the things that are keeping you from getting your beauty rest.

So ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What’s keeping you from getting enough sleep?
  2. What will happen if you just get up?
  3. What changes will you make to stop hitting snooze?

The same holds true for your business. When you delay a task or delay making a decision, you may get a few minutes of not worrying about it, but the fact is your tasks just keep piling up and your decisions keep being left unmade and you’ve suddenly got a mountain staring you down.

So here’s an example of a task people hit snooze on a lot: updating your website. (Just to be transparent, updating my website has been on my To Do list for quite a long time and I’ve hit snooze on it more than once.) You know that the longer you wait, the more work you have to do because more changes occur that need to be reflected on your site.

Since there’s no question that having an up to date site is critical to your business success, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What’s keeping you from getting your update done?
  2. What will you gain by updating your website?
  3. What changes will you make to stop hitting snooze?

The list of reasons you haven’t gotten your site updated is probably pretty long. You know what your excuses are so it’s easy to say why it isn’t getting done. But let’s look at the other side and see what you may gain by making time to get it done.

Obviously, one of the tangible things you’ll gain from updating your website is you’ll have a reliable place for your clients and customers (and future clients and customers) to go for current information. Your products and services will be clearly laid out and many questions will be answered effectively on the site. You’ll have your offers and you have a place to make purchases as well as contact info for more info. And that translates into increased sales opportunities.

A less tangible and quite significant gain is you’ll find your stress is reduced simply because you know your site is up to date. Another gain is focus. You’ll be able to focus your energies on other revenue generating activities because you’ve minimized the distraction of updating the website.

So what changes are you going to make to stop hitting snooze? Whatever it is, you have to make getting it done a top priority or you’ll just stay in the spin cycle and your site just gather dust and become useless. Maybe you’ll finally decide to hire someone to help you get the work done. Maybe you’ll ask for help from someone who knows what they’re doing. Maybe you’ll just take a weekend and knock it out yourself. You decide, just make sure that you make a wise choice.

Since I have a business to run just like you, and I like to walk my talk, I’m giving myself a challenge to update my website within the next 30 days. This means you are all invited to be my accountability partners and you are allowed to ping me if I do not get an update completed.

All I ask is that you do something right along with me:

  1. Pick a task that you’ve been hitting snooze on and make a commitment to get it done within 30 days
  2. Post that commitment here in the comments so you’ll have accountability
  3. Report your progress

Let’s get to work on this together and stop hitting snooze!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Her calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way.  She’s a best selling author, textile and mixed media artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ coaching program. Her next book, Cool Stuff Jar™, will be available this Fall.

 

 

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Turn Judgement to Joy

Turn Judgment to Joy

I was at my Women’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon and heard a great speaker who has a huge job running the largest hospitals in the region. She is a delightful person who maintains her sense of humor while demonstrating what it’s like to be a very successful businesswoman. She was talking about leadership, passion and health and a particular line stuck with me:

“Turn judgement into joy.”

Look at this from the perspective of constantly judging yourself. Obviously this is a recurring theme amongst women, but it applies equally to men. Whether you’re judging your mental shape, your financial shape or your physical shape, you tend to set up standards that are unreasonable and you then berate yourself for falling short of perfection. What gives?!

Do you realize how much of your precious energy is wasted feeding the negative judgment into your mind? Are you paying attention to the impact of that judgment … sucking the passion out of your life?

If you were to check in with your body you would immediately feel that negative energy. To see what I mean, say this sentence out loud: “I totally screwed that up, I’m a completely worthless person.” Check in with your body and you’ll likely feel your shoulders slumping, your energy draining and your mindset heading into a downward spiral.

Now say this sentence out loud:  “I totally screwed that up, and I learned some important lessons.” Feel the difference? Maybe you shrugged your shoulders, but your body didn’t slump. Your energy probably remained stable and your mindset went into I-have-to-figure-this-out-now mode. You acknowledged the screw up but instead of collapsing into a trembling blob of goo, you shook yourself off and looked ahead to see what you learned in order to not repeat the same screw up. Small shift in thinking, huge difference in your energy.

There’s joy in learning lessons, because there’s joy in learning. Think about it. When you learn something new, your brain is engaged and you are fully present. Whether you’re learning a new painting technique or learning a better way to handle a business situation, you’re staying in the moment and being proactive. And when you’re fully engaged, there’s joy. In fact, when you’re fully present, there’s very little room for judgment because so much of your self is focusing on learning something new.

So, when you fall short of miraculous, instead of being so harsh on yourself, find the lessons learned and apply them. One lesson might relate to the actual situation and how you could have responded in a different way. Or it might be how the situation could have been defused or avoided all together. Or it could be a serious look at the expectations and seeing how they were or were not communicated. Another might be checking your standards against reality and making some very appropriate adjustments.

Regardless of the lesson, put what you learned into practice and turn that judgment into joy.

 

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

 

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The Spider Women

Magic hand-cropped

I have the distinct pleasure of co-hosting a four day retreat this weekend for a group who call themselves The Spider Women.  For over a decade, these ladies have been getting together annually to go on a journey to discover something new. They are vibrant, juicy women who drink up knowledge like sponges. They dive into the classes with tremendous enthusiasm and joy. They are open to trying new things and applying what they’ve learned. They come from all over the US and from Canada. They have diverse politics, diverse backgrounds and diverse personalities. Oh, did I mention that the youngest is in her 60s, the oldest in her mid-80s?

And the glue that binds them together is art.

Art is a most wonderful thing. As artists, we find it a means of creative expression. As viewers, we can receive inspiration, perhaps a challenge to our thinking and even have our souls stirred by art. For me, art is a never ending source of exploration and growth. When I look at these ladies I see the joy of the journey.

This retreat never would have happened if my studio mate and I hadn’t been business minded artists. We saw the opportunity to create an event for The Spider Women and we made it happen. We came up with fun and creative class proposals, did the budget, calculated the supplies costs, estimated the number of hours we’d be teaching, came up with a fee for the retreat, negotiated the contract and managed the logistics. In essence, we married art and business.

I’m lucky enough to have a Spider Women-like group of my own. We’re called Full Circle. We‘re all artists and we’re all businesswomen. We meet regularly in a mastermind format and, once each year, we all go off to the beautiful mountains of Colorado for our own retreat, specifically to work on our businesses. There is great power in this retreat as we strive to challenge each other and to hold each other accountable. These are smart, amazing women and our collective brainpower and creativity makes for a marvelous group of creative cohorts.

What I’d like to have you walk away with from this post is that art and business can, and should, go hand in hand. It takes work and really understanding how to run a business. It requires you to consistently show up as your true self. It means being both strong and vulnerable. It is essential to surround yourself with other amazing people who challenge you and who tell you the truth. It demands that you be open to learning and to making changes.

The bottom line is when you put in the effort to marry business and art, magic happens!

©2016 Cass Mullane – All rights reserved

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