What does your New Year’s resolution look like on March 1st?


If you chose a New Year’s resolution this year, and many years before that – what has it led to? If you are satisfied with the outcome, celebrate! It is rare for these plans to work out.

March 1 photoLet’s look at the science behind making lasting changes. It starts with an overwhelming need to get rid of a habit we don’t like, such as overeating, spending too much time on the internet, not writing that book you have in your head (insert your own version here       ). We make a plan, we get excited about the idea of finally moving on and then something odd and unexpected happens: the change is just too painful and the goal seems not worth it. Add to that the nagging little voices of “well, you tried before what makes you think you will win this time.

So it becomes a battle within yourself and eventually you push it under the rug. Not because you don’t want it anymore but because you don’t know HOW to get there. Here is what neuroscience studies show: it takes 21 days to create a new habit, if you practice every day. After 21 days you have a tender young new habit that has a chance of surviving but still needs to be nurtured to grow up and become stronger than the (bad) habit it is replacing.

Where do you start:

#1 Set a SMART goal and figure out why this is important to you (to you and you alone).
#2 Make a plan, of all the steps you want to take towards your goal.
#3 The A in SMART stands for Achievable, so be realistic – change happens in small increments not by scaling a mountain in one day.
#4 Get a partner who keeps you honest, checks in with you every day to see whether you are on track.
#5 If you don’t stay on track, analyze what happens, circle back to #1: What is it that I want and why?

Almost the same but not quite


dogsWhat attracts us to others? Friends, co-workers, spouses and even random acquaintances? There is a magic formula of “enough sameness” to hit it off. By definition, we will never meet a perfect copy of ourselves and we often consider that our differences make a relationship interesting, enriching and long lived.

Same, same is fun and rewarding, until we hit the “different” area, the issues we do not agree on, where friction happens. One way to deal with this is to truly understand each other – for example, you can use personality tests such as  Strengthsfinder and Keirsey Temperament Sorter.
I was privileged to trie this with a few close friends, and it opened up a whole new vocabulary for our relationships. Here is what happened – one of us in a group of three is a “break the rules” type person who never accepts rules at face value, if they don’t make sense they will be broken, no further discussion. The other lives by the letter of the law, if someone tells her “this is how we do things” she will stick with it. In most circumstances, this issue does not come up – but when it did, we had our first argument ever. Initially, we filed it away and pretended nothing was wrong but once we analyzed the one area we so clearly differed in our believes, it opened up an amazing discussion:
1st, understand that we are not the same & acknowledge that without judgement;
2nd be open to each other’s perspective, maybe we can learn and move closer to the midline on this topic, or as a minimum, be aware of what’s happening;
3rd agree to disagree – we do not have to come to a common view on everything.
4th make sure no one takes the blame or tries to fix things single handedly – it is what it is and we are okay with it.

If you love someone, why would you want to fight? If you love someone, can you embrace her with all her differences? Once we stop trying to fix others or push them to  “get it” – relationships become amazingly simple – at work, at home and at the super market check out line.

You think you are too old to claim a new career?


As a c17 magareer coach, I am routinely confronted with reasons my clients present WHY they will NOT be hired. While this is a well know psychological phenomena – if you expect to be disappointed you cannot be disappointed – it is hard for job searchers to really embrace the idea that they are Employable, Talented & Wanted.

For now, let’s look at one of the  common show stoppers:
I am too old to change careers, I am too old to make an impact.

One of my clients who is 50+ came across this story and encouraged me to share with everyone. There was a news flash about Obama’s chef and nutritional advisor as the Obamas were attending his wedding. Turns out Sam Kass‘ grandmother was quite a power house: Helen Valentine founded Seventeen Magazine in 1944 at the age of 51

She later went on to reinvent Glamour Magazine. Whoa – 51 married to a Manhattan banker and reinventing herself. At a time when Madmen still ruled the world.

Pause – 1944 when women were not captains of industry, the term Glass Ceiling did not exist, and 51 was considered too old to play tennis at the country club, forty years before Gloria Steinem stated “50 is the new 30“.





A perfectionist’s dream


ImageWhat would it be like to be perfect?

It could be eating a healthy balanced meal with very little effort, like this one I had for dinner last night – pre cooked organic vegetables, high quality olive oil and parmesan, ready in 5 minutes. If you are an avid cook this would not be acceptable to you yet for me, at the end of a super busy and productive day, it was the right kind of meal. Which fits my new mantra of the Right Amount of Perfect.

For the perfectionists amongst us – is it your wildest dream to really be perfect in everything you attempt, get all the tasks done you set out for yourself, be a perfect Stepford wife?
Or how about a Stepford wife with a career? As Sheryl Sandberg states: It is the Holy Trinity of Fear – the fear of being a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad daughter. To this you can add your own flavor of perfectionism – perfect hostess, best friend, fitness goddess, mistress of a spotless home.
I hear this dilemma from my clients often – never enough time, never good enough, never finishing your list. Whether it is at work, at home, or both – our mental treadmill never stands still. Sometimes you feel relief if you just write it down and make a plan instead of letting it jumble through your head all day long.
And I am one of you – always wanting more than is humanly possible, always over estimating my capacity. The truth is you cannot ask a perfectionist to let go of perfection. But she can choose the Right Amount of Perfect.
The Right Amount of Perfect is a lovely tool to apply to everyday goal setting and time management – it allows you to make progress towards your goals, acknowledge that progress – not completion – is what you chose for today. It does not ask you to drop tasks from your list, rather take control which ones you dedicate your available time to.
Running behind the eight ball is throwing all your goals at the hours of the day; the outcome is frustration, stress and a sense of failure. For many people this becomes the reality of who they are and since we all more or less follow the same pattern of “out of control is normal” it becomes a conversation item that never seeks resolution, we nod at each other and understand. The irony is that it hits people of all ages and all status – whether you are an executive or a stay at home mom, you have little power over your time and if I could sell you two more hours in a day you would pay me handsomely.
Management trainers and coaches are starting to preach a different paradigm – since we know there are no extra hours, something else has to change. Read Tony Schwartz on “The way we are working is not working.” He cites that 74% of employees are experiencing a personal energy crisis.
* When you seek the Right Amount of Perfect you acknowledge that you cannot expand time.
* You take control over what you do with your time.
*  It means letting go if things, choosing priorities and asking for help.
The paradigm change it that the Right Amount of Perfect is still Perfect.
Drop me a line how this thought works for you – for an hour or a day. See what it’s like to not run behind the eight ball.


Today I want to be my dog



It’s raining hard with gusts of wind slashing water sideways, dark enough at 7am to turn on the lights. If it were Sunday, I would turn over and snooze another hour.

Then I take a look at my dog and marvel at her curled up on a soft cushion, inside yet overlooking the yard. Today I want to be my dog – or any day, for that matter.

As I went about my duties of driving to school, picking up the dry clean, turning on my computer I mused – why not be my dog today and what would that be like?

   I would depend on someone to feed me and provide water and shelter. If I do not misbehave, it will be ok.    Sort of like working for the government, being tenured.
   I get to chase all bunnies that cross my path.   I am having fun.
   I will bark at intruders.   I am fearless.
   I get to snooze in a little girl’s soft bed.  Like having a massage every day.
  I get petted, I get treats for doing silly tricks.   I got your number!
  I can roam the hillside off leash.   This world belongs to me.
  Sometimes I am bathed but I got over that, it only happens once in a while.   Sort of like not leaving the house in PJs and brushing my teeth.

Asking yourself what would you choose if you were your dog, is a bit like the Steve Jobs’ mantra of “Is this a day you want the rest of your life be like.” It’s about not postponing the things that matter, it’s about not taking on one more project you do not enjoy because someone gotta do it. It means to run off leash and think that’s a perfectly normal way of spending the day.

If you have a career you love, you will choose to go to work – not because you have to but because it’s what excites you, it’s where you want to be. People often ask me: “How do I find a job I love?” The one key question to finding your dream job is – will this place, this job, this career, allow me to honor my values and can I do what I am best at?

It’s not about the type of job, or the industry – yes, build upon your experience, training and connections, but do not get stuck on one direction. Picture what it’s like to shop at Costco and know people get paid $20 per hour plus health insurance for bagging your groceries, instead of Walmart where you know they cannot make a living wage.

If this is too radical to consider, you may start with one small change Today. Just for one day, seek out the people, the tasks, the environment that make you happy, relaxed, engaged and at ease. If the nay-sayers call upon you, tell them you’ll get back to them later. By taking control of just one element of your day, you can turn it into a perfect 10. And don’t be surprised if this is your most productive and creative work day.

The cost of not dealing with shame


Recently, I had several conversations with women who told me that they had an experience they are so ashamed of – they could not share it with anyone. These were not terrifying life threatening events but  emotional setbacks that hurt deeply. What struck me about their stories is their feeling of being completely alone in this, an utter failure professionally and taking full responsibility for it.

Does that sound familiar to you, have you walked out of a meeting or a job interview where are all you could do was not fall apart?

Let’s look at these events with different perspectives. I one instant, an accomplished sales exec was told by the CEO that she was not aggressive enough. Yet her closure rate was in line with the sales team, and her long term deal retention rate was stellar. She invests a lot of effort in communicating with her customers, bringing all stakeholders on board, and relentlessly pursues top quality service for her clients. You can see what’s really going on – at quarter end the management was in need of quick short term sales and knew her method was not going to yield that. There could have been an open discussion about sales tactics but instead she was stabbed in the back in front of her peers for not being aggressive. What’s even more fascinating is that she did not see any of this, only walked away with a profound sense of failure.peace

Gaining perspectives on unpleasant encounters is possible when you are in a rational state of mind. Once you have become emotional you REACT, it depends on your nature how you deal with things – one person will get into a heated argument, another will let it eat them up.

Here is the good news: in a safe and supporting environment, we can go back to a shameful event and calmly examine it, gain perspectives and PRO ACTIVELY work out a strategy. You can let the pain energize you to take control. Working with a coach or trusted mentor, you can deal with things rationally.

One client told me how she felt unable to share her job worries with one of her best friends because the friend is a go-getter, highly successful and she did not want to appear weak in front of her. Comes back to why your friend cannot be your coach.

What is the real cost of not dealing with shameful emotions? 

For sure, it will happen again. And instead of being a stronger, more tethered professional, one will be flapping around again and again as people – on purpose or accidentally – push that same emotional button. Whatever it is, not being aggressive enough, not being innovative enough, not being well prepared, being over cautious… the list is endless and I am sure you can name your own shame.

I was surprised how often this happens – as a coach, people talk to me about their shame and we learn to deal with it, move through and onwards. This week’s conversations reminded me how pervasive this problem is and all the people who do not seek help from a professional.

What is the dollar cost of this behavior? A lost job opportunity, a deal not pursued, a hunch not followed – because you were 2nd guessing yourself and not a the top of your game.

I routinely ask my clients: “What’s the worst possible outcome?” Ie. what can possibly happen if you screw up a particular task. You would be surprised to learn that the world will not end, but that the alternative – not trying, not pushing for what you know is right – is very costly.

For today, take a short break, and think of an event that was deeply shameful to you. Write down what happened, and use several different perspectives to describe the event:

* actions as clearly seen from the outside
* emotions as experienced by you
* emotions as imagined by you
* intentions clearly stated
* intentions interpreted by you

The picture will be quite different and the shame will slowly turn into something else that energizes you to take control.

Leave me a comment about how this works for you.

Tomorrow will be better



I just returned from living abroad for three years and getting used to following US politics on a daily basis again, I am very curious about the Government Shutdown. In India, chaos is the daily news: politicians go to jail and continue to rule from their cells, corruption is so rampant that there is no infrastructure except for privately funded projects, yet the Indian government knows how to watch the money. Right now, they are seriously limiting the amount of petrol as they do not have any oil of their own, rising petrol prices bring the Indian Rupee into a downward spin which an already ailing economy cannot afford.

Here, in the US of A, no one around me shows any concerns. Unless you are one of the furloughed government workers – I met one so far. The rest keep going as if nothing were the matter, and today stocks shot up on the news that “talks are looking more promising.” Observing this, makes me ponder what’s behind the common belief that “tomorrow will be better” and therefore it’s okay to live on the fringe, one tiny step away from disaster.

I learned from a financial adviser that one in ten who is seeking her help, will come back after hearing some hard truths. In other words, they come looking for a quick fix in their late years of earning, never having considered the power of compound interest. High earners are living hand to mouth because the stock options will save them, even if they don’t have any now, the next job will bring the bounty. Some will try a quick monetary diet on their own, such as cancelling the $2,000 earthquake insurance policy while driving a $100,000 car. She had a term for that – small time scrimping and big time screwing up.

Another one told me that routinely people have to take out a loan to pay the taxes on their stock gains, long spent the previous year without concern for their tax obligations.

As I am coaching the spouses of high earners, women who had the privilege of staying home to raise their children and now want to start a new career, one of the most common obstacles are their husbands telling them not to rock the boat. Stay where you are, take care of the kids a few more years, and then look for something. Or reminding them that as they are already in the highest income tax bracket, any additional earnings they bring in means very little real money.


But here is another story, of a woman who kicked all that aside and is now working her way into a new business she started, learning and making adjustments along the way, steadily picking up new clients and making a real difference to her family budget.

There is no better tomorrow than today – connect with me to see how you can tackle your new career, financial freedom and finding recognition outside your home office. The first step is moving beyond all the myriad reasons why one should not even try, and then power up to see yourself succeed.

Read more about The Top 10 Things every woman should know about how to get started in a new career.



My mentor Steve Mitten introduced me to the teachings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell was an American mythologist and professor at Sarah Lawrence College who made a lifelong study of mythology, religion and myth, in cultures all over the world. Campbell is perhaps best known from being interviewed by Bill Moyers in the PBS special titled “The Power of Myth”.

From his lifetime of studies Campbell came up with the concept of the Hero’s Journey, as an archetypal pattern reflecting some of the most predictable stages of change present in the sacred teaching stories in all cultures.

The work of the Hero’s Journey rise out of the observation that the principal journeys we take in life follow a timeless theme. There are recognizable stages, important thresholds, natural consequences, mysterious forces and extraordinary outcomes.

In a typical Hero’s Journey, the hero (or heroine) gets called to an adventure, and must overcome their reluctance and many obstacles along the way. Fortunately, they can also run into helpers who can support and encourage them. Eventually they end up facing their principal ordeal, which is a challenge they cannot overcome being who they currently are. The Hero must transcend or grow beyond their current limits, doubts and fears to move forward.  This always involves going within, and bringing forth the treasure, strengths or gifts there.

Once the hero finds the way to bring forth their best, the principal ordeal is resolved, and they can move on to complete their journey.

Inevitably, the hero succeeds and returns wiser and more fully alive.

The Hero’s Journey is exactly what everyone embarks on who wants to make a significant change in his or her life. It is not easy to make changes and here is why: we are hard wired to maintain the status quo. The 2nd oldest part of our brain is the emotional brain and its main job is to do what is known and safe. This is quite useful when you drive home without thinking about the route or find your socks in the closet. But when you have rationally decided that it is time to change something, the emotional brain is not your friend.

Here is an interesting fact: only one in seven people will make a change they rationally want.

Based on a study by Harvard professor Robert Keegan we now understand how hard it is to make lasting changes. Check out this video for a quick introduction to his work “Immunity to Change”.

If you work with an ICF certified coach, you stand a much better chance to become the one in seven to make a lasting change than trying on your own. As a coach, I am here to assist you to develop realistic goals – no point in trying to change somebody else but focus on what is under your control – learn tools to avoid the voice of sirens luring you back to your old ways and claim the life you always wanted.

Many people ask me what made me move to India, leave a comfortable life behind, uproot my family and move to unknown shores. For starters, I thought I knew India because of previous travels but within a few days of living there I knew that was not the case. Living in a place without infra structure (yet appearing to be glitzy and fast paced), dealing with a very different mentality and culture, missing friends and clean air – it quickly came down to: what is the opportunity here?

For my teenage son, it was making his mark in a fresh social group, doing community work and growing resilient against the onslaught of daily mishaps such as no shower or electricity. My husband became a thought after public speaker and certified yoga instructor (in addition to his day job of running a 2000 people facility). For me it was letting go of a lot of baggage such as defining myself by my corporate career. I found a new career I love and discovered the joy of running my own business.

The key was to remember and honor the goals that had made us leave our home, observe what was happening and adjust course as necessary. Just the like the Hero, it was a rough ride but at times hilarious and for sure, I met some guardian angels on the way who I will never let go off, no matter how many miles or difference in upbringing separate us.

Part 2 – Meeting tricksters along the way,  to be continued.




Imagine a square and its four corners. The idea is to touch each activity or component at least once a day and observe what effects this new habit has on your day. If you touch all four of them you will have a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and simply feel good about your day. On the contrary, if you are having an off day and feel overwhelmed or sad, or just like it was not a day to brag about, you will notice that you did not touch all four corners. The key is to “own” this new habit, which takes some practice. It helps to put a reminder to touch the Four Corners in a place that you frequently visit, maybe your desktop, your fridge or your bedside table.

1st corner: Making progress towards a goal.

Notice how it is not about checking off a goal but acknowledging progress made towards something important to you. You can break up your goals into milestones, or you can use the “rule of three” by setting three realistic goals for your day. We all know that perfectionism is just another definition of insanity but inadvertently we become unrealistic about our daily goals.

Look at your calendar, see what’s happening today and make a plan that can work. And if it does not, analyze the cause; what distracted or derailed you and how can you learn from it?

2nd corner: Connecting with people you love and inspire you.

People who inspire you are like a warm ray of sunshine – they lift your mood, they make you more self-confident, the world just feels better. It can be the minimum wage worker who opens the doors to your favorite coffee shop early in the morning and always smiles at you, it can be a colleague who brings energy to a boring meeting. It can be a child playing in the rain with that pure self-absorption only little ones carry. Actively connecting with them rather than standing by will release some of their energy on you.

Picking up the phone or sending an email to someone you love but never make time to talk to is just as important. Saying thanks to a person or an organization that helped you, or writing a review for someone who did. Do not just think about them but actually do it.

One of the most successful management consultants, Marshall Goldsmith makes it one of his daily habits to say thanks to someone from his past.

3rd corner: Making a contribution.

This one can be connected to the other two but is also a goal in itself. Whatever you are passionate about in the world, make a contribution towards it – the environment, improving people’s lives or simply making someone’s day by helping out or listening.

Once again, this does not have to take up a lot of time. Being aware of it and pro-actively seeking out the opportunity to contribute is all it takes.

4th corner: Self care

Now this is a hard one for many people. While the 1st three fall neatly within our goals and acceptable things to do, self-care does not. If you have ever experienced putting on your exercise clothes in the morning and never made it to the gym or out on the trail because other stuff took longer than expected you know what I mean.

BIG mistake. By engaging in the activities and experiences that you love you become more energized, better able to handle stressful situations and serve the people you love. Whether this means to exercise, meditate or sit and watch the birds, it is like taking your car for a tune up.

Just recently, one of my clients told me how she survived a very confrontational business meeting because she had made the time to run on the trail earlier in the morning. Even more so, after the meeting the head of the group came up to her and invited her to explore more opportunities with them because she showed such amazing grace in the eye of a storm.

Let me underline this with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “I meditate every day except when I get busy then I do it twice as long.”

Lipstick Money


Image Last week, I went to a women’s group meeting, where the term Lipstick Money came up repeatedly. By women who described the various part-time and substitute jobs they have held while enabling their husbands’ careers, moving across the US, moving across the world.

Here is my calculation: personal assistants and nannies get paid 20 – 30$ per hour. Let’s assume the women only worked a 40 hr work week in their PA/ nanny jobs aka being a stay at home mom, their annual wages are 40 – 60K. If their husbands would have hired someone for this job, this would have been paid out of after tax income so the real earnings for stay at home moms are close to 100K pear year.

Hardly lipstick money.

This group had been reading  Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg which is a very empowering book for women who are in the workforce and love to learn how to be more successful. But for women who chose to stay at home, leave the workforce for a while, the book makes them feel like they have achieved nothing,  if they worked it was for lipstick money.

Sandberg points out one of the key pitfalls young mothers get trapped in: at the time their children are young, the investment in their career can be a negative return. See above, 100K earnings spent on a nanny, and sometimes 40 hrs won’t cut it because your job requires you to travel. That explains why women with post-graduate degrees – who easily earn 6 digits income – drop out of the workforce the fastest: 50% after 15 years from graduation. Sandberg argues that you should look at the investment over the life time of your career.

What she forgets to mention are the women who truly love to stay home with their young children.

At another meeting last week, this time with a high-powered delegation of US women business leaders, I repeatedly heard the speakers say: “Whatever you are facing at the office is never as scary as raising two teenagers.” Thank you for sharing the truth!

They also meant, as women in the workforce, remember how strong you are at home, how good you are at keeping the Big Picture in mind, juggling emotional and real upset while on a tight time budget. So take that skill to work with you.

And don’t be afraid to look at the gap in your resume, smart employers will know the difference. There is never a gap in a-work-at-home woman’s life. To get you started on using your real life experience in a resume, take a few moments and write down:

– what are my tasks and responsibilties as a mom
– what are my biggest achievements
– what do I enjoy most about being a mom

Then, turn these personal statements into real life job descriptions, you will be surprised to see who you are in a professional sense. To learn more about how to go from stay-at-home to having a fabulous career, please connect with me.