September 21st, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

22 Harsh Truths that Will Jolt You Awake

22 Harsh Truths that Will Jolt You Awake

Once you know better, you can do better.

Angel and I receive dozens of amazing emails from amazing people every day.  This morning I received three that truly blew me away.  And while I won’t share these emails in their entirety with you, out of respect for each person’s privacy, I will share one small paragraph – a bite-sized story – from each that I know will make you think:

  • “My mom is a healthy 55-year-old who successfully owns and operates a popular bakery downtown – a goal she’s had all her life.  15 years ago she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  In the face of possible death, she quit her store clerk job, opened the bakery, started chemo and radiation therapy, and succeeded on all fronts.”
  • “This afternoon my teammate broke his right arm during our first game of the season.  It was actually his first game in over two years, after his doctors told him that he would never play again due to knee surgery.  This evening when I stopped by to see him I assumed he would be terribly upset.  Instead he smiled and said, ‘That hour I spent on the field today was once only a dream.’”
  • “Two of my ex-coworkers actually laughed at me last year when I told them I dreamed of opening my own hair salon.  When I spoke with you and Angel on a coaching call that same afternoon, Angel said something like, ‘We’ve known quite a few people who went after their dreams and succeeded.  One thing they all had in common was they got laughed at in the process.’  Well, I’m happy to say, I opened my salon six months ago and business is great!”

So what do you think?  For me, above all, these stories remind me that living a rewarding life isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed, but it’s possible with the right attitude and drive, and worth every bit of effort you can muster.

So with this theme in mind, here are a few harsh truths that I hope will jolt you awake and motivate you to make changes – to do what it takes – to live your version of a great life:

  1. No one else can give you the exact answers you need to be happy and successful. – There are many important answers only you can give yourself, through firsthand experience and self-reflection.  So stop listening to what the world says you should want.  Start listening to who you are.  Once you’re tuned-in to yourself, a time will come when you finally get it.  When in the midst of life’s chaos and commotion you stop dead in your tracks and, from somewhere deep down, the voice inside your head cries out “ENOUGH!”  This moment is the turning point that leads to happiness and success. Keep reading →

September 17th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

12 Promises You Should Make to Yourself and Keep Forever

12 Promises You Should Make to Yourself and Keep Forever

When you become your own best friend, life is easier.

Life is not all rainbows and butterflies.  It can be tough sometimes.  And you’ve paid a heavy price to get this far, so the best option is to really make it count by moving forward from where you are.  Free yourself from the world’s negativity – from the sources of ignorance telling you what you can and cannot do – by promising to look ahead, to live ahead, and to get ahead.  In other words, start making positive promises to yourself!

Promise to fight back, to fight harder, to laugh louder and longer and slap adversity back into its seat whenever it dares to stand against you.  Promise to be a force to be reckoned with – because you are a force to be reckoned with.

Make these promises to yourself, and keep them forever.

Repeat after me: “I promise…”

  1. “I will not hold the past against myself.” – Your problems, your weaknesses, setbacks, regrets and mistakes teach you if you’re willing to learn, or they will punish you if you’re not.   So let them teach you, every day.  Take everything as a lesson learned.  If you regret some of the decisions you have made in the past, stop being so hard on yourself.  At that time, you did your best with the knowledge you had.  At that time, you did your best with the experience you had.  Your decisions were made with a younger mind.  If you were to make these decisions with the wisdom you have today, you would choose differently.  So give yourself a break.  Time and experience has a wonderful way of helping us grow and learn to make better choices today, for ourselves and those we care for.
  2. “I will own my life and never deny responsibility for it.” – Through the grapevine, you may have learned that you should blame your parents, your teachers, your mentors, the education system, the government, etc., but never to blame yourself.  Right?  It’s never, ever your fault… WRONG!  It’s always your fault, because if you want to change, if you want to let go and move on with your life, you’re the only person who can make it happen.  It’s YOUR move to make.  It’s YOUR responsibility.  Own it! Keep reading →

September 14th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Stuck

10 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Stuck

Never assume that you’re stuck with the way things are.
Life changes, and so can you.

“I don’t know what to do.”  “I’m in a rut.”  “I feel stuck.”  These are words Angel and I hear frequently from coaching clients and blog subscribers (subscribe here) alike.  We all struggle with this kind of mindset sometimes, and if you’re struggling right now, it’s time to push through.  There’s plenty you can do.

The truth is, you have the power to move forward no matter what obstacles block your path.  You have the power to live up to your highest vision of how your life can be.  You have the power to follow through and make significant progress on your biggest goals.  You have all this power because you have the CHOICE.  In each moment you can choose what you think, what you do, and who you want to be.

If you’re being pulled in every direction by forces beyond your control, take time to realign yourself with what you value most in life.

You don’t have to continue doing things the way you’ve always done them.  You don’t have to be held a prisoner by your old, familiar habits and assumptions.

Today is a new day, filled with new possibilities, so remember…

  1. Feeling stuck is a FEELING, not a fact. – When we feel stuck, typically our first instinct is to look outside of ourselves for someone or something to blame.  In reality, we ought to be looking at how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking, and how we plan to respond.  Your life is your responsibility.  While you can’t always change what’s outside of you, you can certainly change your perception of it.  And the funny thing is, when you change the way you look at things, the things themselves change. Keep reading →

September 10th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

9 Signs It’s Time to Take a Step Forward

9 Signs You’re Wasting Your Life (But You Can’t Admit It)

You think 60,000 thoughts a day.  Don’t waste 59,999 of them on limited, negative, unproductive thinking.

A person does not have to be behind bars to be a prisoner.  People can be prisoners of their own concepts, choices and ideas.  This is how countless intelligent people waste the majority of their lives.  It’s sad, but true.

As life coaches, Marc and I speak with these people every day, and every single day the same thinking traps reveal themselves.  And not surprisingly, when we bring these thinking traps to the attention of our clients, most of them can’t see their faults, at least not initially.  Because it’s hard to admit that the way you’ve been doing things for the past decade or more has been holding you back.

So that’s what I want to discuss with you today – nine of the most common (and heartbreaking) signs that you’re wasting your life in a mindset that’s keeping you trapped, and some tips to help you take a step forward.

Even if you are generally comfortable with your present life, take a look at the list below.  As I’ve said, many of the people we’ve worked with over the years, who came to us because they felt stuck, initially refused to admit that they carried these beliefs and behaviors, even when the evidence stacked against them was undeniable.  It’s worth taking a few minutes to see if any of these points are holding you back from your full potential.

1.  You’ve spent lots of time recently thinking you aren’t good enough.

Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible.  From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place.

A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind.  Know this.  There will NEVER be a perfect time to pursue your dreams and goals.  You will never feel 100% ready, because you will never be 100% complete.  You’re growing every day.  You just have to find faith in yourself right now.  Faith means living with uncertainty, feeling your way through life, letting your intuition guide you like a flashlight in the dark.

What if, for today, you choose to believe that you have enough, you are enough, and that you’ve come far enough to be worthy?  What if, for today, you choose to believe that you are strong enough, wise enough, kind enough, and loved enough to move forward?  What if, as the sun sets on today, you choose to believe that you did a pretty good job?  And what if tomorrow morning, you choose to believe it all over again? Keep reading →

September 7th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Toxic Behaviors that Kill Your Confidence

10 Toxic Behaviors that Kill Your Confidence

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it means nothing without building up the confidence to do something with it.

Two decades ago, when the bullies at our high school called her a nerd for being a virgin and a straight-A student, my best friend Sara smiled and confidently said, “Thank you.  I’m really proud of it.”  She honestly was.  What those bullies said never bothered her one bit.  And this is just one tiny example of Sara’s incredible self-confidence.

I was reminded of Sara this morning when I received an email from a blog subscriber (subscribe here) named Lane who is struggling with a similar bullying issue at a small community college where he’s taking classes.  After describing his predicament in detail, he ended his email with this:

“I love your book and blog.  Both have helped me get through a very low point in my life.  But even though I’ve made progress, I often struggle with my self-confidence.  These bullies really get the best of me.  And I know my shattered confidence is really taking a toll on me.  Therefore, what I need now more than ever is to learn how to walk in a more confident person’s footsteps, by changing the behaviors that kill my confidence.”

So, pulling from a decade of experience as a life coach, in an effort to help Lane walk more closely Sara’s footsteps, here are some toxic, confidence-killing behaviors to avoid:

  1. Getting caught up in lots of needless drama. – Some people love to stir up controversy and drama for no apparent reason.  Don’t buy in to their propaganda.  Stay out of other people’s drama and don’t needlessly create your own.  Instead, imagine what would happen if you spent this entire day, and every day hereafter, with all your energy directed toward your most positive possibilities.  Rather than being annoyed, be amused.  Instead of getting angry, become curious.  In place of envy, feel admiration.  Life is too short to argue, fight or be negative in any way.  Count your blessings, value the people who matter and move on from the drama with your head held high. Keep reading →

September 3rd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Emotional Manipulation

4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Emotional Manipulation

“Anything is better than lies and deceit!”
―Leo Tolstoy

How could anyone fall for that?  How could I have been so foolish?  Why do they believe such lies?  How could we have been conned like that?

There are emotionally manipulative people of varying degrees all around us.  When we are young we like to think that we are immune to the psychological pressures that confuse, manipulate and condition other people.  We are not so gullible, are we?  But part of truly maturing as an individual involves understanding how you too are led by the environment, influenced by others, and driven by the needs you have as a human being.

Human beings can be manipulated precisely because we share innate psychological characteristics that render us ALL susceptible, to a point.  Although, like any other weakness, some people are naturally more prone to succumb, while others have higher levels of immunity to the external pressures that can make us do things we would normally never think of doing.

But assuming that we are already “immune” is naive and the surest path to being a victim of manipulation.  Let me give you a powerful example:

Emotionally Manipulated to Death

The day is November 18, 1978, and you’re in Guyana.  There you stand in the middle of Jonestown, a loyal member of Jim Jones’ cult known as “The People’s Temple”.  He commands you to drink a cup of poisonous, cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and take your own life.

What do you do?

Well of course you don’t do it, right?  Who is Jim Jones, or anyone for that matter, to tell you to end it all?  You are not a robot that can be ordered to kill yourself against your own will!  But an astounding 907 people simply followed his orders and died that fateful day.  And many of these people poisoned their children before they took their own lives.  People who wanted to live and wanted their children and spouses to live. Keep reading →

August 31st, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

40 Things I Want to Tell My Kids Before They’re Too Cool to Listen

40 Things I Want to Tell My Kids Before They're Too Cool to Listen

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
―Margaret Mead

Seven weeks ago today, Angel gave birth to our son Mac.  The experience was miraculous.  As every parent can attest, the miracle of childbirth takes on a whole new meaning when it’s YOUR child being born.  It’s one of those life experiences you can’t fully grasp until you live through it.

Anyway, I awoke this morning thinking about the whole experience, and two thoughts immediately came to mind:

  • How in the world did Angel and I suddenly become parents?  Whoa!
  • There are so many things I want to tell Mac – as soon as possible, before he’s in school with his friends and too cool to listen.  And before Angel and I go from “mommy and daddy who knows best” to “mom and dad who couldn’t possibly understand.”

So in no particular order, here are 40 things I intend tell him (and his sister or brother when they come along):

  1. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. – Don’t base your attitude on how things are.  Choose your attitude so it supports and expresses the way you wish to be.  Frustration and stress come from the way you respond and react, not the circumstance themselves.  Adjust your attitude, and the frustration and stress is gone.
  2. What you experience starts with your perception. – In almost every case, nothing is stopping you… nothing is holding you back but your own thoughts about yourself and “how life is.”  Your perception creates your beliefs.  And your beliefs create your behaviors.  And your behaviors produce your experience.
  3. Let go of the need to complain about life. – Spend your moments actually living its beauty.  Change the phrase “have to” to “get to.”  So many things we complain about are things others wish they had the chance to do. Keep reading →

August 27th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

20 Things Life is Too Short Not to Appreciate

20 Things Life is Too Short Not to Appreciate

Life is rarely perfect, but it’s always pretty darn good.

This morning I saw an elderly woman in a wheelchair rolling down the sidewalk in the pouring rain just outside the coffee shop where I was writing.  She was moving at a snail’s pace and I thought she might be struggling, so I ran out into the rain and asked her if she needed assistance or a dry resting spot.  She smiled and said, “I appreciate it, but the rain feels great against my skin.  I’m out here and going slow on purpose.”

I loved her sentiment – talk about the epitome of appreciating life.  And truthfully, life is simply too short for anything less.  When you’re young, you might feel like there’s a huge mass of time ahead of you.  But trust me, it passes much faster than you think.  You get grey hairs before you feel like a real adult.  And then you have kids, and suddenly they’re off doing their own things.  None of this is bad, of course.  It’s an extraordinary experience, as long as you pause long enough to appreciate it all.

So that’s what I want to reflect on today – quick reminders about the things life is just too short not to appreciate…

  1. A peaceful, mindful present. – The best way to prepare for the future is to take care of the present.  Goodbyes will always hurt a little.  Photographs can never replace the act of being there.  Memories, good and bad, will sometimes bring tears.  And words can never perfectly describe the feelings they represent.  But that’s OK.  Pain is real.  But so is hope.  You have to make peace with your past in order to keep your present and future from becoming hopeless battles. Keep reading →

August 24th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Toxic Habits that Drain Your Energy

10 Toxic Habits that Drain Your Energy

It’s time to break the habits that have been holding you back.  Respect yourself enough to let go of the mindsets and routines that have been sucking you dry.

Bear with me for a moment.  You know when you’re driving to an unfamiliar place, blasting the radio while simultaneously watching your GPS spit out directions?  Then you suddenly get to that one part of the route that’s ridiculously confusing, so you lower the volume even though it has no direct impact on the way you read the directions?

That is your life.  The radio noise you need to cut out to concentrate?  That is the needless, energy-sucking noise in your head.

Turning down the radio in the car re-energizes your mind and offers you clarity when you need it most.  You don’t really think about how or why this makes such a huge difference, you just know that it does.

Now it’s time to apply this same principle to all the other noise in your life, starting with the noise in your head.

But how?

The first step is to eliminate toxic, energy-sucking habits that support this noise.  With over ten years of experience as life coaches behind us, here are ten such habits Angel and I have seen thousands of people struggle with, again and again:

  1. Pretending like everything is OK when it isn’t. – Do you feel overwhelmed?  Do you feel like giving up?  There’s honestly no shame in it.  You are not a robot; and even if you were, you’d still need to stop for maintenance sometimes.  There’s no shame in admitting to yourself that you feel exhausted, doubtful, and low.  This is a natural part of being human.  The simple fact that you are aware of this means you are able to turn things around.  It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there’s no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again. Keep reading →

August 17th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

25 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough

25 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  Because it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
―Maya Angelou

Oftentimes things have to go wrong in order to go right.  In fact, if the road you’re traveling is always easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.  Some part of you knows this is true.  Nevertheless, when life gets especially rough, it can be hard to remember.

So print this post out and let it remind you that, in the darkest moments, every failure is only a necessary step toward success, every discovery of what is wrong directs you toward what is right, every arduous trial today exhausts some tempting form of future mistake, and every adversity will only hide, for a short time, your ultimate path to happiness and success.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when life gets rough:

  1. It is your resistance to “what is” that causes your suffering. – Remember, happiness is allowing yourself to be perfectly OK with “what is,” rather than wishing for and worrying about “what is not.”  “What is” is what’s supposed to be, or it would not be.  The rest is just you, arguing with life.  Think about that for a minute.  This means your suffering only ever occurs when you resist how things are.  You cannot control everything that happens to you; you can only control the way you respond to what happens.  In your response is your power.
  2. Where you are right now is a necessary step. – Sometimes we avoid experiencing exactly where we are because we have developed a belief, based on our ideals, that it is not where we should be or want to be.  But the truth is, where you are right now is exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow. Keep reading →