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 →

August 13th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Choices You Won’t Regret in 10 Years

10 Choices You Won’t Regret in 10 Years

I don’t regret the things I’ve done.
I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.

In the end, more than anything else, we regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.

Think about it…

The big opportunity you procrastinated on.  That friend you never called.  Those important words you left unspoken.

You know what I’m talking about.

Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret.  But it’s not too late to set things straight.  We’re still here breathing.  Today we have an opportunity to change tomorrow.  Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years.

It’s time to make the best of each and every day.  Here are some ideas to get you started – ten things you can start doing now that you won’t regret 10 years down the road:

  1. Explore what YOU love, and own it. – If you spend your life trying to define yourself by what someone else loves, you’re going to be miserable.  Try things – try everything.  Explore.  See what makes you hear music inside and what makes your heart swell, and then go do it.  Find out everything you can about it.  Find other people who love it too.  If you waste time pretending to like something just because other people you think are “cool” like it, you’re going to end up with the wrong people and circumstances in your life.  Love what you love and be yourself, and you will end up with a lifestyle and relationships that make you truly happy. Keep reading →

August 10th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You

Your behavior is a little thing that makes a big difference.

In our line of work, Angel and I hear from hundreds of coaching clients every month.  Through this experience, we’ve come across scores of toxic behaviors that push people away from each other.  And we’ve witnessed the devastation these behaviors cause – to relationships, to personal and professional growth, and to the general well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone in their life.

Let’s be honest – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another.  None of us are immune to occasional toxic mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives.

Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.

The twelve most common toxic behaviors we see are:

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  1. Being envious of everyone else. – Don’t let envy (or jealously) get the best of you.  Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  There is nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior.  So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s.  Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Keep reading →

August 6th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

40 Things We Forget To Thank Our Best Friends For

40 Things We Forget To Thank Our Best Friends For

I don’t need a certain number of friends,
just a number of friends I can be certain of.

Some of my best friends are family, some I’ve known since I was a kid, and others are newer friendships that continue to grow stronger by the day.  Although they are all very different, every one of them is extraordinary.  I wouldn’t be who I am today without these people in my life.  And despite the fact that I know this, I often take my best friends for granted.  I forget to thank them, for almost everything.  So here’s my attempt at setting the record straight:

  1. “Thank you for making so many ordinary moments, extraordinary.” – Yes, sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary, just by doing them with the right people.
  2. “Thank you for always giving me the extra push I need.” – A best friend is someone who will inspire you to be who you always knew you could be.  Keep this in mind.  Anyone who helps you make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through kindness, commitment and teamwork, is a keeper.
  3. “Thank you for telling me the truth.” – Remember, being honest might not always get you a lot of friends, but it will always get you the right ones.  Too many of us prefer gentle lies to hard truths.  But make no mistake, in the end it’s better to be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie.  Best friends tell each other the truth, always. Keep reading →

August 3rd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

20 Bad Excuses Holding Good People Back

20 Excuses Standing Between You and What You Want

Live by choice, not by chance.  Make changes, not excuses.  Be motivated, not manipulated.  Work to excel, not compete.  Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.

Over the years, likely without your conscious knowledge, you have adopted self-limiting beliefs that are quietly sabotaging your best efforts for personal growth.  If you pay close attention to your self-talk, these beliefs will reveal themselves in the form of excuses.

Truth be told, if you really want something, you will find a way.  If you don’t, you will find an excuse… and then you will live with that excuse every day of your life.

This is precisely what makes so many of us unhappy.

Angel and I speak with hundreds of coaching clients and blog subscribers (subscribe here) every month, and this one self-defeating ailment always rears its ugly head eventually – excuses, excuses, excuses.  And I’m not above the excuses either.  I catch myself making them sometimes too.  But that’s the key – we have to catch ourselves before our excuses become hopeless regrets.

So let this be your wake-up call.

Stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen.

NO more negativity.  NO more laziness.  NO more quick fixes.  NO more blaming others.  NO more “I’ll do it tomorrows.”  NO MORE OF THESE EXCUSES:

  1. “It’s too late.” – It’s never too late to live a life that makes you proud.  If you don’t learn anything else from this post, learn that.  We get one shot at this.  There’s no age limit on changing your course, and to settle in and be stuck in a life that isn’t authentic is a tragic waste.   Honestly, it’s never too late or too early to be who you are capable of being.  There’s no time limit – you can simply start and stop whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same.  You can make the best or the worst of it.  It’s up to you, so make the best of it.  Do things that startle you.  Feel things you’ve never felt before.  Spend time with people who help you grow.  Live a life you’re proud of.  And if you find that you’re not, have the courage to make a change. Keep reading →

July 30th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Toxic Relationships Mentally Strong People Avoid

10 Types of Toxic Relationships Mentally Strong People Avoid

All failed relationships hurt, but letting go of a toxic relationship is actually a gain, not a loss.

As youngsters we learn about sex education in grade school, the legality of marriage in our late teens, and perhaps some social psychology in college.  But when it comes down to actually handling the intricacies of real-world relationships, we’re given very little formal guidance… or worse, we’re given advice columns in online beauty magazines.

Yes, relationships are trial-and-error from the get-go.  And if you’re like most of us, you’ve experienced plenty of error along the way.

A big part of the problem is that many toxic relationship behaviors are baked right into our culture.  We worship the idea of carefree romantic love – you know, where two people ride off into the sunset happily ever after before they even truly know each other.  And we are raised to objectify our relationships and guard them like personal property.  Thus, our friends and lovers are often treated as assets rather than human beings of free will with whom to share true love and emotional support.

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of scientific research into healthy and happy relationships over the past few decades that have allowed people in the know to build their mental strength against toxic relationships and toxic relationship behaviors.  And that’s exactly what I want to share with you today – ten common types of toxic relationships mentally strong people learn to avoid:

1.  Relationships run by one person.

A relationship is toxic when one person is running it.  Period.

When you feel out of control or a little lost it can be tempting to look for someone willing to take charge of your life for you, just to alleviate the pressure.  But before you do consider this: If you put a collar around your own neck and hand the leash to someone else, you’ll have no say about where they lead you in life.

We should never feel powerless or trapped in a relationship.  In fact, if either person feels powerless or trapped, the relationship doesn’t really exist.  Because that’s what relationships are all about: freedom. Keep reading →

July 27th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

Life is not complex.  We are complex.  Life is simple,
and the simple thing is the right thing.
―Oscar Wilde

When we were young life was easier, right?  I know sometimes it seems that way.  But the truth is life still is easy.  It always will be.  The only difference is we’re older, and the older we get, the harder we make things for ourselves.

You see, when we were young we saw the world through simple, hopeful eyes.  We knew what we wanted and we had no biases or concealed agendas.  We liked people who smiled.  We avoided people who frowned.  We ate when we were hungry, drank when we were thirsty, and slept when we were tired.

As we grew older our minds became gradually disillusioned by negative external influences.  At some point we began to hesitate and question our instincts.  When a new obstacle or growing pain arose, we stumbled and fell down.  This happened several times.  Eventually we decided we didn’t want to fall again, but rather than solving the problem that caused us to fall, we avoided it all together.

As a result, we ate comfort food and drank alcohol to numb our wounds and fill our voids.  We worked late nights on purpose to avoid unresolved conflicts at home.  We started holding grudges, playing mind games, and subtly deceiving others and ourselves to get ahead.  And when it didn’t work out, we lived above our means, used lies to cover up lies, and ate and drank some more just to make ourselves feel better again.

Over the course of time, we made our lives harder and harder, and we started losing touch with who we really are and what we really need.

If you’re nodding your head, here are some ways you’re likely making your life harder than it has to be, and some ideas on simplifying things:

  1. You look to everyone else for the answers only you can give yourself. – For much of our lives – especially at the beginning – we get told what do, how to think, what looks good, what “success” is, etc.  You don’t have to buy into any of it anymore.  Feel free to peel back the layers.  Think for yourself.  Listen to your Self.  Break the mold.  When you stop doing what everybody else wants you to do and start following your own intuition, you will find exactly what you are looking for. Keep reading →