Ignite Your Passion

set your goals

On the way to the airport an enthusiastic cabbie entertained me explaining in detail his passion for soccer. Over the course of a twenty minute ride, I learned a good deal about the sport most countries, with the exception the USA, refer to as football.  Martin, my driver, who originally hails from Kenya, offered up at least seventeen reasons why soccer is the world’s most popular sport. When I inquired how often he plays the game, he looked at me sheepishly. Meeting my puzzled expression young Martin wistfully replied maybe someday he’ll get on the field again to boot the ball into the net.

While my plane departed from the gate I pondered the reasons people fail to pursue their passions. Each 24-hour period gives us an opportunity to push ourselves beyond the norm. Why not use that time pursuing goals that bring us joy and satisfaction? What stops us?

Sure, we can feed ourselves the line that we are beyond busy, but we know that is just a lame excuse. Growing up, whenever I complained I was too busy to tackle a job, my mother stopped me in my tracks by reminding me if I wanted something badly enough I could make the time to do it. Yes, dismissing my excuses with a little tough love worked wonders.

Fear of Failure
As a career coach, I find fear of failure is often a stumbling block preventing individuals from pursuing their heart’s desire. I know, sometimes looking at the big picture of a total career makeover is scary. My advice to anyone faced with a challenge appearing insurmountable is: Think small. That’s right, small as in baby steps. Whether it’s a career change, a move across the country or tackling a remodel on your home, the magic begins when you break it down into actionable steps.

believe in yourself

Getting Started
Another common lament is not knowing where to begin. Professional tennis player Arthur Ashe put it best when he said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Getting started need not be complicated. Take some time to brainstorm a path then commit it to writing. You can always make course corrections along the way. Just begin.

As I said good-bye to Martin at the airport I offered up two tips. The first, a monetary thank you for his safe driving and soccer tutorial. My second tip, which I also offer anyone reading this column is…

motivational message live your dream

take one of your “maybe someday dreams” and turn it into a reality. No more procrastinating! Start today by implementing one small step.  Just one action and you are on the road to success. Go for it! I know you can do it!

Labeling a Winner

Recently I clicked on an interesting blog about a young man who at the age of fourteen set a goal of getting straight A’s throughout high school. It sounded like an admirable achievement so I read on to observe his strategy.

Steven attained success by employing two distinct methodologies. After considerable research and reflection of his past grades, he discovered students who earn lower grades employ last minute study habits. Attempting to tackle assignments at the eleventh hour adds an element of pressure. Kids who do so often end up frazzled and tired when sitting for an exam. What is key to an A student’s approach is immediate learning and processing of new information.

Letter A. Apple A+ White Background

Okay, that’s not rocket science. Anyone who has ever popped No Doz and pulled an all-nighter can testify to the stupidity of the process. Sure you may end up passing with a mediocre grade, but studies performed at UCLA claim inadequate sleep patterns cause a compounded issue. Habits of cramming and sleep deprivation result in greater academic problems.

The flip side of avoiding last minute cramming into the wee hours of the morning is keeping up with assignments on a daily basis, a process Steven took seriously. Before engaging in playing any video games, he completed his homework. Again, not an earth shattering breakthrough approach, just a matter of establishing an uncomplicated habit.

What really impressed me about Steven’s commitment to earning straight A’s was a mindset shift involving a new label. He began thinking of himself as an A student. 4.0 became more than a goal, it was his identity.

Adopting a new persona was a theory worth testing, and I did. After contemplating this approach, I purchased a new workout shirt that reads: #Fierce. It is pink and cute and something new to wear to the gym a place I dread but am forced to frequent because “The Punisher,” my personal trainer, (AKA Brad Kingsberg of Nutri-Power Fitness) expects me to show up.  But here’s the thing, I now have a new label. When I brand myself #Fierce, I act the part


performing more like an individual who enjoys pumping iron and strength training than a sleep deprived class C student who can barely make it through the last set of chest flies.

Want to change the way life is grading you? Change your label. You can over-perform in school, at work or on the playing field. Begin by instituting some positive habits, and be sure to create a new winning identity.

Why Life is Like Lasagna

Cooking lasagna

Confession: I am a foodie! Give me the French, German, Asia Fusion, Indian cuisines, I love them all. Recently while dinning at a new Italian bistro, my excitement mounted when I spotted lasagna, one of my all time comfort favorites. It made for an easy decision. Order in.

When the steaming dish arrived, my eyes were in for a big shock. Expecting layered ribbons of pasta sheets filled with creamy ricotta and a mouthwatering tomato ragu, I gave the waiter a questioning look. He just smiled and walked away. Once I sampled a bite, my mouth thanked me for a winning pick. Bingo! On my plate was a deconstructed lasagna, same ingredients, different presentation.

Life is a lot like that. Often when we create a particular goal, our natural tendency is to visualize exactly how the experience will unfold. Here’s the rub. It doesn’t always happen that way.

For example, my friend Larry was ready to climb the career ladder. When the timing was right, he applied for a promotion. Larry ended up deeply disappointed as the opportunity was offered to a colleague. During the same time frame, a more lucrative position hit the job posting board far surpassing the advantages of the so-called dream job. Larry told me he was so busy staring at the closed door; he nearly missed the noticing the career prospect. In haste, he made a last minute application. Human Resources reviewed Larry’s file, scheduled an interview and before my long my friend was offered the job.

This is a perfect example of what can happen when we establish preconceived notions. Larry considered only one avenue to moving up in his field and then nearly shut down when it did not occur as he thought. The lesson learned we can all profit from. Make it a practice to remain adaptable and release your attachment to how things should occur. Learn to embrace the unexpected. Stay committed to your goals,

believe in yourself

but remain flexible in your approach.

What does that have to do with lasagna? Well, a standard lasagna is labor intensive, especially Bobby Flay’s recipe (click here) which takes over 2 hours prep time and promises to make you a rock star. You can shortcut this process and create a deconstructed version in much less time. According to a post on the blog Not Quite Nigella,  food enthusiast, Lorraine Elliot, can make one in 35 minutes. The taste is the same, (well, okay maybe not to identical to the critically acclaimed Chef Flay’s version) only the appearance changes.

Keep that in mind the next time you plan your future.

Flexibility text concept

Your journey to the goal line may be much different than you ever planned or imagined. With a little luck, fate might hand you a deconstructed shortcut.