Monday, December 31, 2007

NYC to DC Co-Pilot: Zig Ziglar

I just did the DC to NYC drive for the holidays and finally tried books on tape (CD). I went to my local library and looked around for something that was non-fiction and not too long. Since I've been into personal development books, I picked up a copy of Zig Ziglar's "How To Be a Winner".

I had seen quotes from Zig Ziglar before and the title definitely caught my eye, but something about renting these tapes made me feel a bit silly (...aren't I already a winner?? ...and who are the other weirdos listening to this??). I put aside the small naysayers in my head and tossed it in the car for the return trip to DC when I'd be driving solo.

His stories kept me entertained and did a good job reminding me how important a positive attitude is to being successful and feeling good about where you're going. Zig's quote:
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
As I learn more about success in business and in life, I find that this is increasingly true. What's surprising is that the idea of having the right attitude is hardly mentioned in the many years of our "aptitude-based" schooling. Don't you wish you had learned more "life stuff" in school or growing up? Where/when did you learn some of your more important lessons about life and success? Please comment!

Other reminders from Zig:
  • Motivation (positive attitude) isn't permanent - like eating and bathing, we have to make sure we do it everyday (we can all practice having a more positive attitude in our daily lives).
  • Positive thinking won't help you do everything (we can't all be pro baseball players, no matter how awesome our attitude is) but it will help you do things better than negative thinking will. (Why not think positively if it can only make you more successful?)
  • To develop a winning attitude, first you have to decide that you want it, then make a commitment to it, and find training/guidance to fully develop it.
A lot of people think motivational tapes are hokey. They are. But if they remind you to be a better person and keep a good attitude, it can only be a positive influence. I believe it's better to fill your mind with things that may inspire or challenge you instead of listening to the same Alicia Keys song over and over again on the radio.

You don't have to tell all your friends, you can just do it for yourself. Give it a shot next time you've got a solo trip planned and need an interesting co-pilot.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pause for Reflection

I ran across this on YouTube and thought I'd share it. It's a great reminder of all the stuff we intuitively know about life, but sometimes forget as we're running through our busy day.

I'm not familiar with the coach who put it together and the plug at the end is a bit much, but the content and delivery were good for reflection. And I guess it motivated and inspired me to blog about it, so I guess it was a success!
  • What songs, vistas, or quotes inspire you?

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Late-December

Today I bought a new daily planner for 2008. This isn't interesting on it's own, but what is interesting is that, as an overachiever, it's unprecedented for me to not have next month already scheduled and overbooked.

My plans are usually penciled in at least a month ahead of time, with future To-Do lists already in place for certain days. But here we are, on December 23 (!), and January still feels far away. Where most months bleed into each other, the leap from December to January feels different. There's something about the new year that creates a momentary pause in our hectic lives.

We can attribute a lot of this to the break we get during the last week of December. Our attitude (for better or worse) is either "Let's finish it before the holidays," or "We can worry about that in the new year." It means that the mental space we reserve for daily fire-fighting is suddenly clutter-free for the week. Without the pressures of having to get things done, study for finals, or endure meeting after meeting, we feel a bit lighter. With this, we begin to think about "what could be" and what new things we want to see or create in our lives.

There's something about late-December that temporarily shifts our focus from the typical "small picture" thinking (daily routine, weekly plans, etc.) to big-picture thoughts of what we want in life. Like a deep sigh, we give ourselves the opportunity to re-set, re-start, and think more broadly about the coming year - what we'd like to do, things we'd like to change, and new avenues to pursue.

With an emphasis on goals, projects, and endeavors, it offers inspiration and a challenge that we don't get from our daily "To-Do" lists. It affords us the time and perspective to check-in with ourselves, see if we're on track, and make whatever changes might be necessary. New Year's resolutions are an obvious next step after this end-of-the-year introspection, and I think the ritual of setting goals is a result of the feeling we naturally get from changing our calendar.

With an empty planner for 2008 and the prospect of a quiet week, I'm excited to dwell in this "clean-slate" feeling. I'm a bit reluctant to open my planner, for fear that I'll get swept up again in the minutia of the day and week.

I don't think I can make it until Jan 1st with an entirely empty planner, but I'll give myself another few days to ruminate on the "big picture" of what I want in 2008. It's the vision of what "could be" in the new year that's heavy and light at the same time.
  • Do you get a similar late-December feeling? Please comment...
If you're looking for some help creating a vision for 2008, take a look at my workshop "YOU in the New Year" or contact me at

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Who is Your "Person of the Year"?

Every year, TIME names a "Person of the Year" and every year I think how inappropriate the title is for what they are trying to recognize.

Naturally, there will always be dissent when bestowing an award like this, but sometimes I think they purposefully choose someone who would be polarizing enough to generate "news" and sell more copies of their magazine. But the main gripe I have is that the characteristics they look for in their nominations don't match what I believe should accompany the title "Person of the Year".

From the TIME article that describes the criteria and how they voted Vladimir Putin as the winner for 2007:
"TIME's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership—bold, earth-changing leadership."

Hold on. Is it just me, or do you think "______ of the Year" SHOULD BE something positive and reserved as a title of honor? Whether it's "Employee of the Year", "Wine of the Year", or "Athlete of the Year", I expect it to be noteworthy because he/she/it is outstanding and excellent. If I were to meet the "Person of the Year" I would want to be impressed, wowed, and inspired (not fearful of polonium in my tea).

Of course, it's a free (and media-driven) country, so TIME can do whatever they want, but they've misappropriated the popular term "Person of the Year" and changed it to mean the most-powerful-and-potentially-influential-person of the year. We are fleeced into believing that the most powerful and influential person should get the respect and admiration associated with the title "Person of the Year" (even though the fine print from TIME tries to clarify their ).

When I think of the term "Person of the Year", I expect it to be someone who should be admired and esteemed for consistently is making the world a better place. Some could argue that this year's TIME Person of the Year, Vladimir Putin, is such a person (I wouldn't, but some could).

It brings up a similar argument of whether figures like Hitler, Stalin, Arafat, and the Ayatollah Khomeini (all fellow "winners") deserve such a title. Yes, they've successfully led people. Yes, they've been influential and powerful on a global stage. Yes, they were able to rally, persuade, and build toward their vision. But does that make them a "good" leader, worthy of the widespread recognition? Effective in achieving their objective, perhaps, but not "good" in the moral sense.

I believe we're doing the general public a disservice by sneaking these guys into a category that should be reserved for the "good guys". Younger generations or less worldly people might not be able to spot the incongruity between a prestigious title and TIME's subtle definition, and may naively believe some of these figures aren't that bad (of course, good and bad are largely determined by social mores, but I think we can all agree on some of the obvious candidates).

Personally, I would be more interested in having TIME review someone who could serve as a role model or best practice in leadership. Of course, all leaders have skeletons in their closets, but give us someone who is generally doing "good" in the world for us to look up to because they're making a positive difference.

Since TIME is too caught up in the power/influence definition, I'll ask you to consider who you would nominate for the REAL meaning of a "Person of the Year" award. Someone who inspires you, impresses you, and is out there consistently doing the "right thing"? Tell us about someone you think embodies the true definition either in your life or in society.
  • Who is your "Person of the Year"? Please add a comment and share your nomination with us!
Btw, it doesn't go unnoticed that I fell prey to TIME's strategy of creating a buzz...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gift vs. Present

A friend and former colleague used to make the following distinction that I often think about during the holiday season:
A present is something that you want the recipient to have. A gift is something that the recipient would want.
It's a subtle difference, but we give someone a present because we think they'll benefit from it, whereas a gift is something they have expressed interest in or would like to buy on their own.

An example of a present would be the Sonicare toothbrush I bought for my brother. I really enjoy the one I have and thought he could use one, but he would never have bought it on his own. On the other hand, the digital camera he wanted would be a gift that he really wanted.

Personally, I find it more difficult to shop for gifts and usually prefer giving presents. Although gifts are typically more well-received, I think presents have greater potential for broadening horizons and inspiring new thoughts (maybe that's why I like them better).
  • Do you find that you give mostly gifts or presents?
  • What's your present-to-gift ratio this year?

Monday, December 17, 2007


I was skimming through the NY Times online and found this recent article entitled, "How to Boost Your Willpower." It presents a few theories on how to improve self-control, citing that it's a limited resource within us but we can do a few things to increase our chances for success.

In summary, here's the advice:
  • Diet - Healthy glucose levels allow us to exercise greater self-control. The advice of eating smaller meals throughout the day is great for dieting, mental acumen, and now also willpower.
  • Mindset - Laughter, positive memories, and long-term thinking help with self-control:
“You want to look good in a bikini next summer but you’re looking at a piece of chocolate cake now,’’ said Dr. Vohs. “When we get people to think about values we move them to the long-term state, and that cools off the tempting stimuli.’’
  • Start small to gain practice - Just like most things, willpower can improve with practice. Practicing self-control with a few small tasks will help you be able to better respond to bigger challenges:
"A few studies show that people who were instructed for two weeks to make small changes like improving their posture or brushing their teeth with their opposite hand improved their scores on laboratory tests of self-control. The data aren’t conclusive, but they do suggest that the quest for self-improvement should start small. A vow to stop swearing, to make the bed every day or to give up just one food may be a way to strengthen your self-control, giving you more willpower reserves for bigger challenges later. “Learning to bring your behavior under control even with arbitrary rules does build character in that it makes you better able to achieve the things you want to achieve later on,'’ said Dr. Baumeister."
This article is a good follow-up to my post "Gumption for Good Things" that similarly discussed the difficulty of doing "good things." My suggestion is that one can increase willpower by reminding him/herself of how much they enjoy the outcome (e.g. "I don't like lifting, but I like having lifted"). By momentarily recreating that feeling, we're inspiring ourselves to exhibit willpower and do what we "should" do.

Of course, these are just theories and suggestions. And even though "theories" often change with the times (e.g. the USDA food pyramid), the suggestions above can't hurt; even if it turns out that these aren't "proven" to help self-control, they're beneficial habits for life in general.

Obviously, as with most mental challenges, one theory or tactic may work for one person and may not work for another. Either way, it's good to have an arsenal to pick from and learn tricks and best practices from others!
  • Your thoughts? Please feel free to comment...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Personal Finance: Holiday Spending

JLB: Make it Through the Holidays, Stress and Debt Free

Why are holidays stressful? Work, family, traveling, gifts for Mom, Dad, siblings, pets, significant others, bosses, Secret Santa, Billy, Bob, Joe and Sue..and the list goes on. How many people out there get all their shopping done, have a great holiday season and about 48hours after the New Year’s hangover goes away, get their credit card statement either in the mail or online? How many people wait a couple of days to open it and feel a pit in their stomach as soon as they see it ‘because they are scared of what they are going to see when they open it'?

If you know exactly what I’m talking about, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Statistics say that the average American spent $1200 on holiday gifts last year. For most of us, $1200 is A LOT of money. How much do you plan to spend? Have you already saved for it or are you going to "make up for it" later?

Here are some tips to avoid that pit in your stomach come January:
  • Create a holiday budget - Before you buy anything, assess how much you want (and can afford) to spend on holiday gifts in total. If you’ve been saving a few extra bucks from recent paychecks, good job! You've got the right approach by preparing yourself for greater spending!!

  • Create a list of people you need to buy for.

  • Assign a dollar amount to each person – WRITE IT DOWN.

  • When you shop, stick to the amount you put down in writing (this includes, tax, shipping & handling and gift wrap fees). That sweater that you thought was $29.99 for Aunt Sue all of a sudden costs $46 with all of the above, without you even realizing it.

  • Keep your receipts and attach them to the list where you wrote down all of the amounts – it keeps you honest. That’s why you WROTE DOWN your list and amounts.

  • Don’t spend money before you’ve got it. Yes, its holiday bonus time… but don't let that fool you. Here’s the common internal monologue - "this means I can get the new ____ I’ve been wanting for months!! I get my bonus in the next paycheck, I’ll be fine.” Oops, your bonus and the amount taken out for taxes are FAR less than you anticipated (especially because bonuses are ALWAYS taxed at a higher rate).

  • Making gifts is an easy way to save money – make custom CD’s off of iTunes, knit scarves, make candles out of peeled crayons, or make a personal gift card to redeem for a home improvement project. Plus, you get extra points because handmade gifts really "show that you care."

  • Realize that people don’t judge you based on the gift you give or how much you spend. It really is the THOUGHT and meaning behind the gift that counts. SO MANY people overspend (not just on gifts) to give the impression they are making more money than they are and that “life is great”, when sometimes, it's not.

  • If this column got to you too late and you’ve already overspent – create a PLAN for paying off the holiday debt. On a piece of paper or in excel, write down how soon you want to have everything paid off and how much you are going to pay per month to get it done. Example – I want my holiday bills of $585 to be paid off by the end of February. This means that for the next four paychecks I will be paying $150 to my credit card bill. Interest and fees from carrying a balance on your credit card can add up fast – beware!

Remember, the only thing that really matters during the holiday season is showing that you love and care about the people around you. Money should never get in the way of that. They probably don't need more stuff anyway, and would rather you be happy without having to endure the stress or the debt of over-spending.

Happy Holidays!!

Personal Finance: Welcome!

First I'd like to thank Lee for asking me to be a guest blogger. I get SO many questions from SO many of my friends about personal finance, that I figured it would be great to start writing them down. Since many of the areas of life are linked to our financial situation, we both thought it would make sense to offer some of these tips to fellow overachievers.

My goal with this column is to offer informal advice (non-"professional" with no legal liability) on basic personal finance. The coaching that Lee offers can help you formulate and work towards goals in certain areas of life, and I'd like to offer some financial knowledge, skills, and best practices to help you make those goals a reality.

For example: "I'm doing __insert "what you do now"__ for a living. In an ideal world I would LOVE to be doing __insert "your dream job"__ for a living, except the pay sucks and I don't think I could live off of that". Example #2 – "I've realized that while I love my job, one of my goals is to travel 2-3 times a year. The problem is - I can't afford it".

As a diagnosed overachiever, rugby player and busy professional, I know how money plays a big part in our lives. I enjoy the world of personal finance, so I want to share what I've learned to help you get more out of life by making your money work FOR you.

Additionally, I want to encourage young people (ages 18-30) to start saving and taking their financial health seriously. The one thing we do have on our side is TIME. And as this blog has mentioned in previous posts (Time vs. Money and Money, Money, Money), TIME IS MONEY!!! My goal is to offer an overview of various topics with easy money saving tricks, tips, and habits that you can put into practice now.

If there are specific topics you want covered, email Lee at and I'll make sure to blog about it. Please feel free to add your thoughts, suggestions, and personal tips to the discussion through the comments section.

For my first post, I'll do something rather timely because it is the first chance to practice one of my favorite concepts – budgeting!!! Stay tuned.


Guest Blogger: JLB on Personal Finance

As part of the vision for this blog, I'd like this to become a forum for sharing and discussing topics that are relevant to overachievers who are striving to get the most out of their lives.

With that in mind, we all know that money plays an important role in our lives (regardless of how much we have or don't have), so I've asked a knowledgeable friend, JLB, to write as a guest blogger on the topic of personal finance.

Having experience with asset management, hedge funds, alternative asset capital raising, and insurance, she will be penning a couple of posts each month with some great tips, suggestions, and practical applications for money in our lives. I'm happy to have JLB as a guest blogger and look forward to her posts!

If you're interested in "guest blogging", and are passionate and knowledgeable on a subject that might interest fellow overachievers, please let me know!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Paralysis by Over-Analysis

A few days ago, I got an exciting email from someone who attended the Nov 26th workshop.
"The thanksgiving session was awesome, and thanks so much for it and for everything you said. I really am going to throw my life in a backpack and go to New Zealand--I told my family about it and everything--probably right after next Christmas. A good friend might actually come too! So thanks for getting me to stop thinking about it and actually do something. I feel like that might be a common overachiever problem, overanalyzing to the point where you are paralyzed by the options..."
As a fellow overachiever, I completely agree. Even the best of us occasionally get stymied by our own "Paralysis by Over-Analysis." We find ourselves trapped in our own decision-making process... mulling over the pro's and con's, carefully deliberating on the best options, and trying to be sure make the "right" decision.

Most of us suffer from "Paralysis by Over-Analysis" at some point in our lives - Do I need a new job? Should I go back to school? Or maybe work a few year to save up money? Would I like to move to a new city? Do I want to stay in this relationship? Is it ok to spend this much money on this?

Since none of these have a "right" or "wrong" answer, we can waste a lot of time trying to optimize our decision. We don't have perfect information so we have to go with what we've got. But as overachievers, we always want to do (or have) the best, so when we're not sure of what that is, paralysis sets in.

Frozen in this state, we've temporarily lost our ability to make choices. We end up just "doing what we've been doing" as a default and become even more frustrated with ourselves and unhappy with our situation. And that's the last thing we want!

Since life is about being happy and creating the life you want, here are a few decision-making philosophies that I've come across that might help you in your next "Paralysis by Over-Analysis" moment:
  • Make a decision, and then make it the right one. (Wisdom from a former boss...whatever you decide, go with it entirely. Don't look back or second-guess yourself.)
  • If you make a decision to do something now, you can always make another decision later to change something if it's not working. (This way you're making a decision now, with the option of making another decision later... 2 decisions vs. indecision!)
  • Right or wrong, do it at 100%. (Wisdom from a former rugby coach...Even if you screw up, do it at 100%. People will see your courage and respect you for trying.)
  • Go easy on yourself if you do make a mistake. The world goes on and hopefully you've learned something from it. (According to Jack Welsh, it's how you recover from the mistake that's important!)
It's my firm belief that a few bad decisions are part of learning, and any decision is better than no decision. What do you think? Please comment...
  • Have you ever found yourself in a state of "Paralysis by Over-Analysis"?
  • What have you learned about decision-making that you could share?
Sometimes it's nice to have someone to gently nudge you out of the analysis phase. If you need a nudge, email me at and we'll have you making decisions in no time!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Free Workshops for Dec/Jan

In case you haven't heard yet, I decided to offer all my workshops for December and January for FREE. I didn't want to put it out to my entire newsletter audience, but I want my faithful readers to know! Here's the email I've been sending around:
Hi everyone!

In the spirit of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc., I decided to offer all my December and January workshops FOR FREE. I really want people to be happier about their lives during the holidays and figure out where they're going, so....... all you have to do is RSVP and show up! For those of you who already signed up, thank you and I'll see you there.

Check out all my workshops online and I hope you'll bring a friend or two. Please forward along to anyone you think might be interested!

Happy Holidays,

The next workshop is THIS SATURDAY and the topic is "Contemplating Your Career". We'll do a number of exercises that help you identify your skills, interests, and strengths. You'll walk away with a stronger knowledge of careers or avenues that would be a good match for you. If you're in the DC area, I hope you'll join me.

I hope to host more workshops in the near future, but I'd like your feedback:
  • What types of workshops would you be most interested in?
  • Where should I host these workshops? What cities or venues?
If you can rally a group of 10-15 people, I'm willing to travel!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gumption for Good Things

Why is it so difficult to do things that are good for us? Eating healthy, doing exercise, staying in touch with people, saving money, etc. We know these things are beneficial and will make us feel better down the road somewhere, but they require additional effort and gumption, which often keeps us from being fastidious about it.

Conversely, why do we continue to do things that make us feel less-than-amazing? Drinking, fast-food, staying up late, watching hours of TV, shopping sprees, etc. Are these options "too easy" and play to our temptations? Or maybe they lure us in by promising "short-term" happiness and instant gratification.

Logically, we know we should do more of what makes us feel good and less of what makes us feel like crap. Yet, we keep skip the gym and/or stay out late at a bar. Is it a willpower issue or lack of discipline? Or is it that we don't make it a priority to change our habits? Maybe we don't have a compelling vision or goal to help keep us on track.

I think part of it is that we quickly forget how much better we feel after doing something "good". I know that if I could bottle up the "post-biking" and "post-yoga" feeling and remind myself of it, I would be a lot more consistent at doing it.

As with most things, much of it is controlled by our perception; what we tell ourselves can either fool us or help us. I know many times I've convinced myself that I'd have more fun going home to relax than hitting the gym. It's in that split second where you can intervene in your thinking. Remind yourself about how you good you feel after a workout or how blah you feel sitting on the couch.

About a year ago, I was doing weights next to this guy in the gym and saw that on his weight belt, he had written the following inspiration:
"I don't like lifting, but I love having lifted."

I think this saying is adapted from writers who have the same sentiment towards sitting down and putting words to paper. Interestingly, his mantra stuck with me for a long time and I now think about it when I need a little gumption of my own.

I think it was especially memorable because the guy was totally ripped. It's nice to see that even the people who look like they don't need motivation, still need a little help to get 'er done.

  • What are some of the "good" things you'd like to do more of?
  • Do you have any sayings/mantras you use to help yourself do it?

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Most Powerful Motivator

I've been reading John Maxwell's book the 25 Ways to Win with People and came across this sentence that is important in so many areas of life - business, leadership, relationships, parenting, coaching, mentoring, etc. It's such a simple piece of wisdom, with incredible value:

The most powerful motivator is "I believe in you."

Letting someone know that you believe in them is so important, yet overlooked. That phrase alone has the power to change people. A little support goes a long way. People naturally want to do a good job and are able to rise to challenges more effectively when they know that someone is in their corner. It makes all the difference.
  • Who in your life has done this for you?
  • Is there someone in your business, team, or life that might benefit from having a vote of confidence from you?
Please share with your comments...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

One of My Happiest Moments

As overachievers, we often jump from challenge to challenge, without giving thought to those moments of happiness that come along with our achievements.

Certainly, in my rugby career most of my time was spent going from matches, tournaments, and tours without much reflection. But one rugby event was memorable when it happened and still amazing when I think about it now. It's one of the happiest memories of my life so far, and I'm thankful just to be able to have experienced it.

I've played rugby for 10 years now and the 2006 National Championship Tournament stands out as the moment that makes all the training and sacrifice worth it. Being part of the NY team (NYRC) for 5 years, I saw the team during high and low moments. We had climbed our way to be one of top clubs in the country, but plateaued at 3rd, not being able to beat the Minnesota Valkyries. We knew we'd face them again in the semi-finals, but entering 2006 Nationals, NYRC was again hopeful.

Minnesota has been a consistently great team because of their ability to play hard and keep their opponents fighting until the last minute. In a difficult but exciting game, I remember hitting a lull at min 60 (out of 80). We pushed each other to dig deep and play hard to the end, resulting in a much-coveted victory against the Valkyries (32-15). The victory was ours to celebrate for the rest of the afternoon, but we had to quickly focus on the next day where we would meet the 9-time National Champions, the Berkeley All-Blues.

The finals seemed like a complete blur. I actually don't remember much except not being able to breathe after running support across the whole field. Berkeley has been consistently the best in the country for a reason, but we played good "team" rugby and really connected with each other; at the whistle we were victorious on the day (22-17)!

The pure happiness and joy that came next was overwhelming. Everyone ran onto the field - hugging, crying, cheering, congratulating. We had never won a National Championship before; but what we were really celebrating was each other and the satisfaction of having worked hard as individuals and as a team to achieve a shared dream.

Sabrina Asch, former teammate and amazing photographer, was there to immortalize the love and excitement on the field. Her caption was perfect and poetic:
"a moment to indulge in for the rest of our lives and the look on our faces is the grandest reciprocal for hard work"

If I ever need a pick-me-up, I flip through pictures like these from Nationals. I'm transported back to that moment and I can't help but smile and feel an immense joy for having been part of it.

As we go through our lives accomplishing things big and small, overcoming challenges, and striving for more, it's important to appreciate the happiness and joy that our hard work has brought us and be thankful for how far we've come.

  • What's your happiest moment or achievement so far? Please share...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Money, Money, Money

In my recent newsletter, the section called "Thoughts to Consider" offered a perspective from one of my blog posts entitled "Time vs. Money".

A friend of mine emailed me back with the philosophy and approach she's trying to put into practice in her own life. I haven't read the book she mentions, but the advice is great.

I am moving toward Joe Dominguez's solution ( I hope and aspire to it anyway): Your Money or Your Life.

Summary: Know what you need. Know what you spend. Need less. So you're not dependent on earning money and spending tons of time earning money but you spend time on what matters to you most, or you have time to figure out what that is.

Speaking of money, I've been traveling quite a bit and am starting to realize the dent it's been making on my finances. When I told my friend I needed a break from the jet-setting to let the coffers build back up, her response (left in "quick email speak") had a great metaphor -
yeah you are probably having a cash post buzz. sometimes it feels like you spend more than you do just cuz you have so much fun. also sometimes you really do spend that much, lol. but I know what you mean. its like when you've run a red light that was really red. you're like ok, I got away with it but I need to calm down for a while before my luck runs out.

It's also interesting that in the first few workshops, the topic of money and financial stability came up repeatedly. Many of us still have debt from school (or are still in school), have struggled to climb up from the bottom of the totem pole, and have started thinking about the future.

Maybe we want to buy an apt/house, a new car, pay off our credit cards and bills with no problem, or invest more in our 401k. Maybe we want to have enough to take a long backpacking vacation through South America, or create a financial safety-net to eventually start our own business, or just have the ability to go out with friends and not feel guilty for spending so much.

Why is it so hard to save money? Is it that we don't have a unifying money strategy or approach (like my friend who's motto is "Know what you need. Know what you spend. Need less."), or maybe we don't have clear financial goals to inspire us and keep us focused. If we have both a money strategy and a clear financial goal, maybe we need help with the daily discipline of resisting the temptation to buy those shoes or that new DVD player. It's starting to sound like any other area of business or life that needs attention - values/approach, strategy, action plan. If you'd like help with this, check out my coaching services.
  • What's your philosophy or approach to money?
  • What would you like to improve about your financial situation?
  • Would you attend a workshop that focuses on setting and achieving financial goals?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Today in a NY Times article entitled "Unhappy? Self-Critical? Maybe You're Just a Perfectionist", there is a great description of 3 different types of perfectionists. The first one sounds quite similar to being an overachiever, although I don't think our primary risk is "self-critical depression", but rather stress, imbalance, and burnout.

Some researchers divide perfectionists into three types, based on answers to standardized questionnaires: Self-oriented strivers who struggle to live up to their high standards and appear to be at risk of self-critical depression; outwardly focused zealots who expect perfection from others, often ruining relationships; and those desperate to live up to an ideal they’re convinced others expect of them, a risk factor for suicidal thinking and eating disorders.

“It’s natural for people to want to be perfect in a few things, say in their job — being a good editor or surgeon depends on not making mistakes,” said Gordon L. Flett, a psychology professor at York University and an author of many of the studies. “It’s when it generalizes to other areas of life, home life, appearance, hobbies, that you begin to see real problems.”

The article goes on to say that perfectionists may suffer mental health problems because they can't handle when things aren't completely in order or under their control. In a study mentioned in the article, researchers forced perfectionists to slack off to prove that the world would continue and they'd even be happier if they lightened up a bit.

I'm not sure that it warranted research, but it would have been interesting to monitor the stress levels they felt when something wasn't getting done perfectly. I bet the perfectionists in the study may have said they were happier after the fact, but they probably were less happy (more stressed and anxious) during the experiment. Which poses a bit of a catch-22: happiness to a perfectionist is perfection, happiness to an overachiever is achievement. I guess the wisdom is that we shouldn't drive ourselves crazy going after it.

Since being a perfectionist is seen as a good thing in many circles (especially at work), it's difficult to acknowledge it as a problem, or "dysfunctional" as the article suggests. I think for most of us, our tendency to strive for perfection isn't dysfunctional or debilitating, but it's important to be aware that it can impact our mental health even on a small scale.

  • Do you identify with any of the "perfectionist" descriptions in the article?
  • When have your perfectionist characteristics had a negative impact, even just on a small scale?
Please comment!