March 19th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

“Being alone never felt right.  Sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right.”
―Charles Bukowski

“This morning I felt lost and alone as I was driving home after a brutal breakup with my boyfriend.  I turned on the radio and the Michael Jackson song ‘You Are Not Alone’ was playing.  A few seconds later, at the exact moment the chorus began, I passed a huge billboard sign with big black letters that read, ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE!’”

That’s the opening paragraph of an email I received today from a reader named Ella.  It made me smile because I love when life delivers seemingly coincidental, positive messages like that, right when we need them most.

However, the rest of Ella’s email further described her ongoing struggle with feeling “lost and alone” in life.  Which got me thinking…

Why do people have to feel this way?  What’s the point of it all?  Millions of people in this world, all of them craving connection, and looking for specific experiences and people to satisfy them, yet inadvertently isolating themselves in the process.  Why?  Was the planet put here just to nourish our loneliness?

The more I’ve experienced and explored my own feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, the more I’ve realized how necessary these feelings are.  It’s good for us to spend time exploring unknowns, alone.  It gives us an opportunity to discover who we really are and what life is all about.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you feel lost and alone:

1.  You are not alone in being alone.

So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you.  We are all in this together.  So no matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, know that there are others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your worried mind trying to sell you a lie.  There’s always someone who can relate to you.  Perhaps you can’t Keep reading →

March 16th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

20 Self-Confidence Traps Holding Smart People Back

25 Self-Confidence Traps Holding Smart People Back

by Barrie Davenport

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly,
you cease forever to be able to do it.”
―Peter Pan

Do you ever feel like a duck stuck in white water, paddling furiously and never getting any closer to where you want to go?  The goals and dreams you have just aren’t coming together, and you’re not sure where or why you’re missing the mark.

You think you’re doing your best and busting your butt at work, but that promotion never materializes.  You’re so excited about the date you had last week, and you thought it went well, but he never responds to follow-up calls.  You work really hard at a new business idea, put in significant time, effort, and energy, but for some reason it just never catches on.

So you catch yourself thinking, “What’s wrong with me?  Am I not good enough?  Am I not smart enough?”

Then at other times you know you’re not on your ‘A’ game, but you try to cover it up.  You put on a happy face and hope no one notices how fearful and full of doubt you’re feeling.  And while acting confidently like this, despite your doubt, may be a decent strategy for boosting self-confidence over the long-term, you’re still sending out lots of low confidence signals to the decision-makers and important people in your life.

Your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings translate to noticeable expressions that actually spotlight just how unsure you’re feeling.  And unfortunately, low self-confidence is an unattractive and off-putting quality to almost everyone, no matter how smart you are or how ingenious your ideas may be…  Which means it may be the very reason success in various walks of life has been so elusive.

In fact, did you know that 93% of the recognizable messages we send to others are through non-verbal communication?

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication.  He learned that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through specific vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc.).  When we remove the 7% for vocal content, that leaves us with the 93% statistic.

If you are going to act confidently (whether you feel it or not), you must first understand what low confidence behavior looks like.  Here are 20 ways you might be trapping yourself by sending out signals of self-doubt:

  1. Using weak body language – Such as crossing your arms, not smiling, looking down, and not making eye contact Keep reading →

March 12th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

8 Things You Should Never Give Up for a Relationship

8 Things You Should Never Give Up for a Relationship

Being alone doesn’t mean you’re weak, it simply means you’re strong enough to wait for the right relationship.

“It’s been exactly ten years since my controlling, abusive ex-fiancé sold my favorite guitar which cost almost $1,000 and took me ages to save for.  He sold it on the day I broke up with him.  When I went to pick up my belongings, he was proud that he had sold it to a local pawnshop.  Luckily, I managed to track down the guy that bought it from the pawnshop.  The guy was really sweet and gave it back to me for free, on the condition that I join him on his front porch for an hour and play guitar with him.  He grabbed a second guitar and we ended up sitting there on his porch for the rest of the afternoon playing music, talking, and laughing.  He’s been my husband for almost nine years now, and we are happier now than ever.”

That’s a paraphrased version of a story one of our coaching clients, Megan, lived through a while back.  It’s one of those life stories that really stuck with me – one that I still think about on a regular basis.  And it immediately came to mind this morning when a new reader of ours, Jay, emailed me a long story about his present, broken relationship.  Specifically this one line jumped out at me:  “I feel like I’ve given up my love, my passions, my friendships, and my life for her, but it’s never enough.”

Using Megan’s story as a frame of reference, we are reminded that unhealthy relationships restrict and impair, while healthy relationships bring freedom and life to our existence.  It’s important to remember the difference.  It’s important to remember what you should NEVER have to give up for a relationship.  And that’s what this article is about – some good reminders for Jay, and for all of us…

1.  Your imperfect magnificence.

It’s not hard to find someone who tells you they love you; it’s hard to find someone who actually means it.  But you will find them eventually, so don’t rush love, and don’t settle.  Find someone who isn’t afraid to admit they miss you.  Someone who knows you’re not perfect, but appreciates you as you are.  One who gives their heart completely.  Someone who says, “I love you” and then proves it day in and day out.  Find someone who wouldn’t mind waking up with you in the morning, seeing your wrinkles and grey hair, and then falls in love with you all over again.

Remember, to the people who truly love you, you are magnificent already.  This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings, but because they so vividly see Keep reading →

March 10th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

30 Must-Do’s While You’re Young Enough to Read This

30 Must-Do’s While You’re Young Enough to Read This

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.  Let us begin.”
―Mother Teresa

This morning I received a new thank you email from a reader named Claire.  She said our blog and book helped motivate her while she was fighting cancer over the past 18 months.  Although her entire email was both heartbreaking and inspiring, this one paragraph made me pause and reflect on my own life:

“When I found out that I may had breast cancer, the strangest thing happened…  It seemed as though I was given a new set of eyes.  Suddenly I looked around at my life in the face of possible death, and my life seemed so full of color and happiness.  And I began to pray that I would beat my cancer and have more time to enjoy it.”

I think this is such a bold reminder that far too many of us wait too long to live our best lives.  We keep putting everything off until tomorrow.  Then, before we know it, we find ourselves asking, “How did it get so late so soon?”

Thankfully, for Claire, the final line of her email read, “I’m happy to report that my Oncologist just gave me a clean bill of health this morning.  Right now I’m cancer-free!  I’m just so grateful I get to implement the positive principles you’ve taught me, as I dive headfirst into my second chance at life.”

So let’s wake up!  ALL OF US!  If you can read this, it’s not too late.  Like Claire, make today the beginning of your second chance at life.  Take time to figure yourself out.  Take time to realize what you want and need.  Take time to take risks.  Take time to love, laugh, cry, and learn.  Life is shorter than it often seems.  Here are 30 must-do’s you can start working on today:

  1. Accept every unique piece of yourself. – The secret to happiness and success is the acceptance of yourself.  You will never become who you want to be if you rely on everyone else to qualify you.  Own yourself completely, just the way you are, flaws and all.  Once you love and accept even the worst possible version of yourself, you are free.  So always go with yourself, never against yourself.  Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.
  2. Make yourself a priority. – Truth be told, there are only a few people in this world who will stay 100% true to you, and YOU should be one of them.  Prioritize your own needs into your daily to-do’s. Keep reading →

March 5th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

28 Ways to Uncomplicate Your Relationships

28 Ways to Uncomplicate Your Relationships

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
―Confucius

Almost two decades ago, when I asked my grandfather for some relationship advice, he said, “Honestly, the moment I stopped trying to find the right woman, and started trying to become the right man, your grandmother walked up to me and said, ‘Hello.’”

This small tip immediately changed the way I treated myself and others.  In fact, it set the foundation for all the healthy relationships I’ve nurtured over the years, including my relationship with Angel.

The bottom line is that every single one of our relationships starts within us.  When we uncomplicate ourselves, we uncomplicate our interactions with others.  When we stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things, our relationships get a lot easier.

Which means it’s time to…

  1. Stop looking to others for the love and respect only you can give yourself. – Self-respect, self-worth, and self-love.  There’s a reason they all start with “self.”  You can’t receive them from anyone else.
  2. Start accepting and embracing your flaws. – Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.  Love yourself!  Forgive yourself!  Accept yourself!  You are YOU and that’s the beginning and the end… no apologies, no regrets.
  3. Stop comparing and competing every second. – Take one step at a time and don’t compare your progress with that of others.  We all need our own time to travel our own distance.  Remember this, and give others the space to do the same.
  4. Start letting others be exactly who they are. – Remember, a great relationship is about two things: First, appreciating the similarities, and second, respecting the differences. Keep reading →

March 2nd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

40 Regrets You Don’t Want to Have in 40 Years

40 Regrets You Don't Want to Have in 40 Years

Stop wasting time regretting what you did a year ago.  Start doing what you have to do now, so that in a year’s time you won’t regret what you did today.

This morning, like he has every morning for the last decade, my 86-year-old grandfather picked a fresh wild flower on his morning walk and took it to my grandmother.  This morning I decided to go with him to see her.  And as he placed the flower on her gravestone, he looked at me and said, “I just wish I had picked her a fresh flower every morning when she was alive.  She would have loved that.”

As you can imagine, his words touched a nerve in me.  I almost immediately started thinking about everything and everyone I care about, and what I don’t want to regret in 40 years when I’m on the cusp of my 80’s.  It almost felt like every aspect of my life was flashing before my eyes.  And as soon as I got home, I started jotting down everything that had come to mind.  When I was done, I read the list to Angel.  She nodded her head all the way through to the end, and then said, “I couldn’t agree more.  I don’t think anyone wants to regret any of those things when they’re older.”  Perhaps you will also agree…

  1. Spending too little time with the right people. – Sooner or later, you just want to be around the people who make you smile.  So today, spend time with those who help you love yourself more.  And remember, the people you take for granted today may be the only ones you need tomorrow.  Never be too busy to make time for those who matter most.
  2. Not making your loved ones smile more often. – The most beautiful thing is to see a person you love smile, and even more beautiful is knowing that you are the reason behind it.
  3. Not saying what you need to say. – Speak up.  Don’t hide your thoughts and feelings, especially when you can make a difference.  Be brave.  Say what needs to be said.  If you care about someone, tell them.  Hearts are sometimes broken by the words we leave unspoken.
  4. Constantly comparing yourself to everyone else. – Don’t compare your progress in life with that of others.  We all need our own time to travel our own distance.  It’s perfectly OK to be different.  Today, the only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday.  Prove yourself to yourself, not others. Keep reading →

February 26th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

4 Ways to LIVE Today, and Not Merely Exist

4 Ways to LIVE Today, and Not Merely Exist

Throughout your life, there will be times when the world gets real quiet and the only thing left is the beat of your own heart.  So you’d better learn the sound of it, otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s telling you.

The wisest and happiest among us are those who are respectful of their time, and who use it productively to grow as they age.  Sadly though, far too many of us age much faster than we grow.  We spend so much of our lives going through the external motions of what society tells us “maturity” is – getting married, buying a house, working our way up the corporate ladder, etc. – that we fail to concentrate on our own inner growth and goals.  We never allocate enough time just for us.

Part of the problem is that we’re always waiting for some condition to resolve itself at some point in the future.  We believe that the right time to take the next step with our own personal development is somehow going to magically happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and so on.  But one day we wake up and realize we’re no closer than we were long ago.  We find ourselves asking, “How did it get so late, and why haven’t I moved?”  In other words, we’ve aged, but we never grew to our true potential.  We never fulfilled ourselves.

Let this be your wake-up call.  Right now is LIFE.  Indulge in it!  Make it count.  Because it’s happening…

And that’s precisely why we recorded today’s video for you – to help you make the most of it.

Video Blog Post:

4 Ways to LIVE Today (video transcript):

Reminder:  Have you checked out our book?  We just released a limited time bundle for “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently” which includes our eBook, audio book and bonus material on sale for a big discount.  Click here to check it out!

1.  Invest the present in what matters most to you.

You are the customer of a bank called Time.  Every morning it credits you with eighty-six thousand, four hundred seconds.  Every night it writes off, as a loss, whatever remainder you have failed to invest to good purpose.  It carries over no balance.  It allows no overdraft. Keep reading →

February 23rd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

15 Powerful Beliefs that Will Free You from Negativity

15 Powerful Beliefs that Will Free You from Negativity

There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference.  The little difference is attitude.  The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
―W. Clement Stone

When I was a teenager I was the primary target of an extremely persistent bully at my high school.  One day I came home in tears and wrote this on the whiteboard hanging on my bedroom wall:  “I hate bullies.  They make me feel like a loser.”

The next day, while I was at school, my grandmother erased what I wrote on the whiteboard and replaced it with this:  “An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship.  Similarly, all the negativity in the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside your head.”

And from that day forward I felt better.  I made a conscious decision to stop letting the bully get inside my head.  I changed my beliefs about his level of importance in my life.

It isn’t easy to remain positive when negativity surrounds you, but remember that you have full control over what you choose to believe.  You can effectively defend yourself against all kinds of negativity by adopting simple, yet powerful, beliefs that support a positive outlook in the face of seemingly negative circumstances.

Below you will find 15 such beliefs that have helped free me from the grips of negativity.  I have these beliefs written down in my journal, and I review them on a regular basis, as needed, just to keep them fresh in my mind.  I hope you will join me by adopting them into your own belief system as well…

  1. What other people say about me is their problem, not mine. – Don’t take other people’s negativity personally.  Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  What they say and do is a projection of their own reality.  Even when a situation seems personal – even if someone insults you directly – it oftentimes has nothing to do with you.  What others say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.
  2. I am free to be ME. – Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?  Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want.  Stop living for other people and their opinions.  Be true to yourself.  You are the only person in charge of your life.  The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it? Keep reading →

February 19th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

20 Things that Belong On Everyone’s TO-DON’T List

20 Things that Deserve to Be On Everyone’s TO-DON’T List

Your greatest fear should not be of failure,
but of succeeding in life at all the wrong things.

This morning as Angel and I were driving to meet a coaching client, another driver a few cars in front of us tossed a large disposable cup out the window.  Suddenly, a motorcycle directly in front of us pulled over near the litter as we passed.  When traffic stopped at the next red light, the motorcycle driver pulled up to the driver that littered and handed him his trash back.

The motorcycle driver then shouted, “Being too lazy to put trash in a trash can… put that on your TO-DON’T list!”  And then we all drove off.

Wow!

Besides the fact that this motorcycle driver is my new hero, he also reminded me to check and update my own TO-DON’T list.  Angel and I have discussed the TO-DON’T list concept on our blog before, and most recently we focused on it in the Productivity chapter of our book.  As you may have guessed, a TO-DON’T list’ is a list of things NOT to do.  It might seem a bit amusing, but it’s an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of unproductive habits and thought patterns.

The bottom line:  If you get decent value from making TO-DO lists, you’ll also get significant returns – in productivity, in improved relationships, in emotional stability, and in heightened levels of happiness – from adding certain things to a TO-DON’T list.

And since I just updated my TO-DON’T list, which is in essence a universally applicable list, I figured I’d share it with you today…

  1. Don’t be lazy. – The world doesn’t owe you anything; you owe the world something.  So stop daydreaming and start DOING.  Develop a backbone, not a wishbone.  Replace laziness with determination.  Laziness is being unable to find the time you have.  Determination is being able to find the time you don’t have.
  2. Don’t cower from life’s necessary challenges. – We work hard to discard the parts of our lives that were painful, difficult, or sad.  But just as we can’t rip chapters out of a book and expect the story to still make sense, we cannot rip past chapters out of our lives and expect our lives to still make sense.  Keep every chapter of your life intact, and keep on turning the pages one at a time.  Sooner or later you’ll get to a page that brings it all together, and you’ll suddenly understand why every page and chapter before it was needed. Keep reading →

February 16th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

15 Things You Must Give Up to Be Happy Again

15 Things You Must Give Up to Be Happy Again

Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak; sometimes it simply means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go.

Last week Angel and I received a new thank you email from a reader named Kevin.  He said our blog and book helped him and his wife Laura maintain a positive, intentional mindset as they struggled and grew through one of the most difficult periods of their lives.  Certain sections of his email made my jaw drop:

“After injuring my back, losing my job because of it, being evicted from our apartment, moving in with Laura’s parents, nursing my five-year-old through a nearly fatal bout of strep throat, I was sitting on the front porch feeling sorry for myself when my old college buddy called me crying and said, ‘Mel-Mel-Mellisa, my baby girl, just died in a car wreck.’  And suddenly I felt like the lucky one.”

Kevin then went on to say, “It was the shock of my friend’s tragic loss combined with the near simultaneous discovery of your blog and book that changed my entire outlook from negative to positive.  I suddenly realized there were people who needed me to get back up, and infinite reasons and ways to do my very best with what I had.  So I started giving up all the negative things I was thinking and doing that had been holding me back; and then I took a bold step forward, and another, and another.  And I’m happy to say you were right!”

If you can relate to Kevin’s situation in any way, and you’re ready to move forward, today is the day to start giving up the things that have been holding you back and draining your happiness.

Truth be told, it happens to all of us as we grow.  We discover more about who we are and the way life really is, and then we realize there are changes we need to make.  The lifestyle we’ve been living no longer fits.  The environments and relationships we’ve known forever no longer exist, or no longer serve our best interests.  So we cherish all the great memories, but find ourselves at a crossroads, giving up the old to make way for a new beginning.

And it’s not easy.  It’s painful to give up what’s familiar.  Angel and I have struggled through this process many times.  In the past decade we’ve had to deal with several major, unexpected life changes/challenges, including:

  1. The loss of our home after a breadwinning employment layoff.
  2. Breaking ties with a close friend who repeatedly betrayed us.
  3. Closing down our first family business when the profits didn’t follow the work.
  4. Reconfiguring our lives after losing two loved ones to death.

These experiences were brutal.  Each of them, unsurprisingly, knocked us down and off course for a period of time.  But once we accepted these harsh realities, by giving up our expired ideals and letting go of the way things used to be, we pressed forward, stronger, and with a greater understanding and respect for life.

Which is why I want to remind you that TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life.  The road ahead is wide open.  You CAN be happy again!

But first, you have to give up…

  1. Choosing to do nothing. – You don’t get to choose how you are going to die, or when.  You can only decide how you are going to live, right now.  Every day is a new chance to choose.  Choose to change your perspective.  Choose to flip the switch in your mind from negative to positive.  Choose to turn on the light and stop fretting about with insecurity and doubt.  Choose to do work that you are proud of.  Choose to see the best in others, and to show your best to others.  Choose to truly LIVE your life, right now. Keep reading →