People in business and working women ask me how I consistently take action and get things done even when I work full time. Am I wired differently? No, not all. I'm just an ordinary woman with a family, great job and two  businesses that I run efficiently. There are lots of parallelpreneurs like me (people who work and grow a business alongside) and my mission is to help you build your resilience in life and business by sharing my tips. I grew my speaking business by 240% in one year and my wellness centre (a brick and mortar business) by 53% in its 4th year (town population of 10,000). If I can do it, so can you.

My blog will give you tips on how to change your mind set, how to change your patterns, how to overcome challenges and bounce back from setbacks. I'd love for you to comment on my blogs and give me some feedback.


Oct17

Roadmap to a Resilient Mindset

Categories // Blog

Roadmap to a Resilient Mindset

In 2011, George S. Everly, executive director of Resiliency Sciences Institutes at the University of Maryland, was asked, “What’s the difference between those who choose to sink or swim in times of adversity?”

He stated two factors:

  • A lack of perspective stemming from inadequate preparation and tenacity.
  • A negative attitude

I’ve created a roadmap (my new speech) that will guide you or someone you know in creating a resilient mindset and overcoming the two factors mentioned above. I love explaining in acronyms and my new ‘roadmap acronym’ is PROOF™

PROOFmethod

Plan Ahead
Reframe
Obstacle Mastery
Optimistic
Flexibility

Plan Ahead

Fit your life to what you want rather than what you don’t want. In my blog about Roadmap to Productivity, I’ve explained how I plan my year ahead in 90-day goals and then chunk them down further into monthly, weekly and daily tasks.

If I don’t do this then I’ll always miss my target and never get anything done!

When I had made up my mind about taking control of my weight, I realized my default behaviour would be to go to a fast food drive-thru for breakfast so I could eat it while driving.

I changed that behaviour and decided to wake up 15 minutes early so I could prepare a protein smoothie and take that with me while I drove to work and prepare my healthy lunch the night before.

If you’re struggling with getting things done or losing weight or keeping it together, it’s time to ask:

“What specific outcome do I want?”


Reframe

Reframing is about stepping back from what’s being said or done and consider looking at the situation from an alternative lens by effectively stating, “How can I (we) look at it another way.” This is about challenging one’s belief systems around the situation.

Here’s a short video where I explain reframing. (you’ll need to turn up the volume) 

If you’re feeling hopeless, facing adversity or dealing with a co-worker who has a negative attitude about a situation, consider these questions:

“What’s the worst thing that could happen, but may not?”

“In the past, can you recall a negative experience and how did that cause positive things later?”

“What’s great about this problem?”

Obstacle Mastery

Make it a habit to look ahead and take note of any obstacles or barriers that may interfere with your goals and find a way to embrace them rather than complain about them.

By planning ahead and thinking of the obstacles that could occur, you’re learning how to adapt. Once you recognize the obstacles that could occur, your mind already hunts for solutions on how to thrive by finding strategies to overcome them.

Richard Wiseman conducted a large study showing the importance of the way we approach goals. He tracked 5,000 people who had some significant goal they wanted to achieve. He found that the successful goal setters described their goal in positive terms and considered carefully what challenges they would face actually doing the work to achieve it.

If you are shedding some weight, look ahead at the obstacles you might encounter, such as, an upcoming party or a trip you have to take.

If you are working on a project or buying new software for your company, look ahead at what potential obstacles could occur and plan for it.

“What obstacle(s) will I (we) encounter?”

“What can I (we) do to navigate them?”

RR book ad blog

Optimistic

Most people consider optimism as a glass half-full or half-empty scenario. In my opinion, optimism is about the mindsets you have.

When most of us are faced with challenges or feel stuck, our brain focuses on a ‘blame-mindset’. That happened to me recently when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wrote a blog about how I got stuck in the blame-mindset.

How do you know when you’re stuck in a blame-mindset?

When you have these questions swirling around in your mind:

  • Why do I have this problem?
  • Why me?
  • How long will this problem go on for?
  • Is it my fault or someone else's fault?

When you adopt this questioning method (and you really have to be aware of these questions), you’ll feel like you have no choice; you will feel broken.

Being optimistic means adopting an ‘outcome-mindset’ (aka victor mindset). Resilient individuals will adopt a blame-mindset, but they are quick to recognize it and turn it around.

How do they do that? How do they adopt an outcome-mindset?

Consider these questions to help you become more optimistic:

“What do I want and when do I want it?”

“When I get what I want, what else will improve?”

“What can I do now?”


Flexibilty

In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) one of the pre-suppositions we are taught is: “The person with the most flexibility, will have more control.”

This means how to do something different when what you are currently doing is not working. Isn’t this going deeper into what George S. Everly (the person I quoted at the beginning) says?

To have tenacity, you have to be flexible.

To have long-term perspective, you have to be flexible.

To have a positive attitude, you have to be flexible.

Being flexible means that you can modify your behaviour and you recognize that it’s better to change YOU or your tactics instead of spending your time lamenting about it.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, instead of complaining about the food you have to eat, can you be in control by looking up recipes that are more fun to eat and healthy (like cauliflower pizza)?

If you’re struggling with making sales, can you offer payment plans or FREE bonuses to close sales?

If you’re having trouble communicating with co-workers or employees, have you communicated exactly what you want?

Consider these questions so you can be more flexible:

“What resources do I have available?”

“What am I willing to do to make this happen?”

“What am I NOT willing to do to make this happen?”

“Why is this important to me?”

All five aspects (PROOF) are important in creating a resilient mindset in any area, whether it’s health, business, relationships, organizational change or budgeting.

Remember, you’re already resilient because you’ve gone through adversities in your life and have come through with new learnings about yourself.

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Sep26

My Current Favourite TV Series on Resilience, Hope and Re-framing

Categories // Blog

TVBlogImage



When Calls the Heart

Tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coal mining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Season 1 is now available on Netflix (seasons 2 and 3 have been aired on Hallmark Channel)

WhenCallstheHeart

Why I like it:

An episode always starts with a challenge or something drastic, but it's interesting how the town folks come together and help each other out to solve the problem. In the end, one realizes that there is a way if you have hope, support and a positive attitude.

This series teaches you a lot about team work, values, listening, work ethics, embracing change, leadership and resilience.



Good Witch

Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell), Middleton's favorite enchantress, and her young-teenage daughter Grace (Bailee Madison), shares that same special intuition as her mom. With her signature charm, Cassie attempts to bring everyone together, ensuring all of Middleton is in for new changes, big surprises and, of course, a little bit of magic! So far, Hallmark Channel has aired 2 seasons.

GoodWitch

Why I Like it:

I talk a lot about re-framing. What is re-framing?

Re-framing is about stepping back from what's being said or done and consider looking at the situation from an alternative lens by effectively stating, "Let's look at it another way." This is about challenging one's belief systems around the situation. For example, you can re-frame a problem as an opportunity or a weakness as a strength.

Here's a blog post I wrote about re-framing.

The character, Cassie Nightingale, is an absolute reframer! The folks of Middleton come to her and share their challenge or problem and she always makes them think by framing it in a positive way.

If you want to learn the art on how to re-frame negative situations into positive ones, watch this show!

What About You?

What is your favourite TV show about resilience and hope? Share it now so we can all watch it.


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Sep12

Spending Time at the Hospital for Day Surgery Made Me Realize How Grateful I Was for Having Had Breast Cancer

Categories // Blog

On July 29, 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer on my right breast. I distinctly remember sitting in my doctor’s office at 3:30 p.m. on that Friday afternoon hoping for my biopsy results to be negative.

ZaheenCancerHeadImageI had my dark moments. I felt like my ego had been slapped. My thoughts revolved around:

  • Here I was teaching people to eat healthy and live healthy, and I own a wellness centre; not to mention I don't smoke or drink alcohol - so why me!
  • This is disrupting my life - will I be going through chemotherapy and losing my hair?
  • How will I feel if I lose my breast? Is the cancer going to spread?

I was scared, but having support around me really helped. I always say, “Support is a basic need too!”

SupportIsHumanNeedOn August 24, I was scheduled for a Lumpectomy (removing part of my breast where the tumor was). As the anesthesia started wearing off, I slowly started waking up to my surroundings and found myself in a room with two other women.

ZaheenHospitalBedThe nurses referred to me as OCP – it was also on my chart! Before I left the hospital I just had to ask what that meant. It stands for: Over Capacity Person! The nurses and I had a great laugh. The woman on my left had been in the hospital for eight days. She suffered from Crohn’s disease and had her colon removed in a procedure known as Colectomy.

I couldn’t imagine having that removed because it affects a person’s daily routine of going to the washroom. That thought alone made me grateful for what I had – a breast is not really an organ inside my body and even if it is removed, it doesn’t affect one’s daily lifestyle. Yes, having a breast removed could affect how one perceives their body image and I’m glad that reconstruction surgery is offered. Please understand, I’m not downplaying breast cancer or Crohn’s disease. I’m only referring to the thoughts I had as I spent the day at the hospital.

The person on my right was a frail, tiny little woman of 94 years. As she spoke to her family, a palliative physician and her friend throughout the day, I gathered the reason she was there. She had severe pain in her abdomen the night before and went to the ER where she was informed that there was a blockage in her bowels.

The physicians in the ER had given her two options:

  • Have surgery.
  • Opt-out of surgery, but that would mean she wouldn’t have long to live.

She decided to opt out of surgery.

heard her ask her daughter, “Will you miss me? I feel bad that you have to deal with all my things in the apartment now.”

Her language and voice sounded like she had given up and she was leaving the world tomorrow. In the afternoon, her daughter and son-in-law told her that they’d be back after 5 p.m. because they all needed to rest. However, the frail lady replied, “Don’t you think one of you should stay back because I don’t have much time left?”

Later on that afternoon, a palliative physician dropped by and started asking her questions about her health and how she felt. I must say I was very impressed with the physician and I was also impressed with the memory of this 94-year old woman.

Five minutes into the conversation, the 94-year old asked, “What’s the point of asking me all these questions? I’ll be gone soon.”

The palliative physician replied, “We don’t know when that will happen, but until then I want to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible.”

In behaviour science or therapy, what the palliative physician is doing, is moving the focus from worry and anxiety to that of acceptance and finding solutions for what the patient wants NOW.

As I was hearing all this, again it made me realize how grateful I was for everything in my life and I have no regrets. I’m living my passion and I’m glad I didn’t give that up.

Do you have any regrets?

Whether it’s going for what you want to do or bringing closure to a situation that happened years ago, or whether its mending a relationship with a loved one whom you haven’t spoken to in years?

Leave your ego at the door and let your inhibitions go.

Did you notice how both ladies made me realize different aspects of my life? The cancer I had in my breast, and the surgery I underwent, felt miniscule, TO ME, compared to what these ladies were going through.

Now that you have read this post, what’s going through your mind? Please share in the comments.


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Aug22

How I was Programmed To Be an Entrepreneur From the Age of Twelve (12)

Categories // Blog

How I was Programmed To Be an Entrepreneur From the Age of Twelve (12)

My mother had a desire to make us entrepreneurs and leaders from a young age when it came to the bakery business. She even taught my sister and me how to drive a car. Once I hit the age of 12, we graduated from doing house chores during school holidays to working at the bakery.

On my first day, mom gave the floor supervisor some instructions then looked at me to say, “Zaheen, you are going to learn how we bake bread and what goes in it. You will listen to what the floor supervisor tells you because in two weeks, you will take over his position so he can go on holidays. Is that understood?” I nodded.

The floor supervisor looked at me and smiled, “Toto ya mama (child of madam), taonesha bakery sasa hiwi (let me show you the bakery first),” he said in Kiswahili as he led me on while the smell of fresh baked bread filled the air.

He took me to the raw ingredients area and spoke in Kiswahili as he showed me how the raw ingredients—sugar, fat, yeast, and salt—were measured ahead of time for each 90kg bag of flour. He explained that this was the most important part of the production because it was the taste of these raw ingredients that made the bread. I nodded as I observed the workers measure and weigh each ingredient on a scale before placing them in a bucket. He then walked me to the mixing area where little buckets of raw ingredients sat near the big dough mixer.

A Kenyan employee picked up the huge bag of flour and dumped its contents into the mixer before turning on the mixer blades. After a few seconds, he added the contents of one bucket that held the raw ingredients as well as some water and then waited for the dough to form.

Near the dough mixer was the kneading area where two workers were cutting a small amount of dough, weighing it on a scale, kneading it into an oval shape, and throwing them into loaf tins. I couldn’t believe how fast they were, and I was hypnotized by the speed and continuous motion.

BreadTableKenya

“John, how many loaves of bread do you get from one bag of flour?” I asked the supervisor in Kiswahili.

“Three hundred and forty,” he answered.

“How do you know how many loaves of bread to make for today?” I asked curiously. John smiled and explained that we have orders from businesses, and we also go by an average number from previous sales.

We arrived at the second most important area, where the bread was proofed and baked. John pointed to the proofer and explained that bread has to rise to a certain level before it’s baked in the ovens. I stared at the large deck ovens that were higher than even John, and as the baker opened one of the doors, the humid air became even hotter. The golden brown loaves of bread were removed from the ovens, and the smell made me want to take a loaf of bread, rip it open in the middle, and grab the soft whiteness and devour it.

ZaheenEatingBread

“Smells good, doesn’t it?” John asked in Kiswahili as though reading my mind. I smiled.

“Here’s the last stop in the production process,” he explained as we arrived at slicing and packing. One person was weighing the baked bread to ensure it met food standards and then passed it on to the person in charge of two slicer machines that vibrated loudly. As the bread was sliced by a slicer machine, it was whisked up by the workers who placed it in a plastic bag, tied it up, and placed it in large square crates.

“What you saw is only the production system, which you have to understand because it is the foundation of all the other systems,” John explained in Kiswahili. I looked at him in confusion and he explained further. “After the loaves of bread are packed, we have the loading system where each truck takes a certain amount to sell. This way we can then keep track of how many loaves of bread we made, how many were sold, and the sales we should make based on those numbers.”

When John left on his holidays, Mom quizzed me on what I had learned—the amount of yeast, fat, sugar, flour, and the number of loaves that must come out from one bag of flour. And if we were to make a certain amount of loaves for the day, how many bags of flour would that be, and how many hours would that take, and so on. The next few weeks were exciting and challenging as I supervised adults, which increased my self-confidence, but also taught me a lot about being a leader. At 14 years old, I had graduated from floor supervisor to balancing the production and sales sheets. If these didn’t balance, then there were holes in the system, and it was my job to find the leak.

These experiences not only taught me how to be an entrepreneur, but they taught me about the value of systems and organizing when building a business or a company.



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Jun21

Your Roadmap to Productivity: How to Get Things Done

Categories // Blog

Your Roadmap to Productivity: How to Get Things Done

Do you find yourself overloading your brain with things you have to do? Sticky notes are great, but they will only get you so far in organization.

I’ve had clients tell me the following:

“I usually have twenty to-do items on my list, but I can never get to all of them in one day, and I beat myself up for it.”

“I set unrealistic expectations for myself, thinking I can get it all done, and when I don’t, I feel like a failure.”

“I don’t get me-time even when it’s on my to-do list. I jump around my list of tasks and get distracted.”

how to get stuff done

Do any of these resonate with you?

The problem here is not time-management, as most would think! The issue is this: How can you be the most productive? The solution is found in creating an efficient system that works for you so you can get things done.

Being a working woman with a family myself, I found it difficult to get things done and pursue my passion at the same time. I used to have the very same frustrations that my clients have shared with me, but finally I found a system that worked.

My Road Map

Imagine you are going on a road trip. You already have your destination in mind.

However, to get there, you first have to hop onto a major highway, take a secondary highway, and then exit onto a street that finally leads you to your destination. You park your car in the parking lot. Notice how your roadways got chunked down as you reached your goal.

I use this analogy to map my yearly goals. Just as a highway has two to three lanes, I chunk down my yearly goals into 90-day goals. Each lane is considered a 90-day chunk (except September to December). I tend to stay away from creating new goals in July and August because I’d like to do less during that time.

Highway


For that 90-day period, I print out a calendar for each month (for example, the months of January, February and March) and stick it on the wall behind my computer.

Now the time has come to get onto the secondary highway, which means chunking down your tasks further into weekly tasks. At this stage, I look at my week and write down any commitments I already have, but I also make a list of things that have to be done or delegated to my team.

If you notice in the example below, I only have five things that I have delegated to myself. If I were to add more, I’d just overwhelm myself and procrastinate or feel like a failure because I wasn’t able to get them all done.

Secondary highway


I do the same for my 90-day goals. I pick only one to two major projects I’d like to work on alongside everything else I do. Similarly, for your week, only choose five to seven major tasks that are delegated to you.

On your road trip, you’re almost approaching your destination, and it’s now time to take the exit that will lead you to your destination. This exit is usually a street and it’s even smaller than the secondary highway; in fact, it’s only one lane, which means you can only fit in so much.

At this point, I take my tasks from the weekly planner and assign days to the tasks. This is where the printed calendar on my wall comes in handy.

Street


Now that my week is filled up on my wall calendar, it’s time to chunk it down even further!

As you get to your destination, you swing in and park your car in the parking lot. Similarly, I park my tasks for the day into specific timeslots alongside any other commitments I already have. This is important for the following two reasons:

  1. I’m training my brain to see the task and to go get it done. If I see it on my agenda, I’ll do it.
  2. I’m learning how to hold myself accountable.


Agenda Parking lot
You may be thinking: “What happens if I can’t get to my task or if an emergency occurs and I can’t get to it?”

Life will throw curve balls at you; this happens sometimes to me, too. One of my major goals this year was to record my audio book. Fortunately, the project started according to plan, but after three chapters in, I was told by my audio editor that I have to start all over again!

I have moved this goal into August now because I’m visiting family in July. Yes, I’m sad that it’s taking longer than expected, but I have to accept that I can only do so much; plus, I can always schedule it for another week or month, knowing I can get it done if I make it a priority.

It’s time to get organized and efficient so you can accomplish your goals instead of having stress and anxiety. It’s time to get out of this vicious cycle of feeling like you never get things done to now having the flow and freedom that comes when you are in control of your life.

Are you ready? Download your




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Jun13

The Single Biggest Reason I saved $4500 During My Tax Audit

Categories // Blog

The Single Biggest Reason I Saved $4500 During My Tax Audit

Three years ago I received the dreaded letter from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for my taxes filed in 2009. I owed $5000!

Two thousand and nine, was the year I had decided to educate myself on behaviour science and at the same time use my own money to put up events across Alberta to teach Law of Attraction and The Wealthy Mind. While putting out thousands of dollars on educating myself and speaking for $500 here and there – I wasn’t turning any profit. I guess that raised a red flag.

saved on my audit

“I don’t owe them $5000 and I don’t know what to do?” I told my accountant.

“Do you have your paperwork?” he asked

I had kept all my paperwork and started tracking all my expenses and income on an excel spread sheet to present to CRA. I was nervous – I didn’t have $5000 lying around in my bank account and we had finally got rid of my husband’s retail store and had paid off everything we owed. NOW THIS!

I was panicking alright, but my husband urged me to speak to a person he knew who had just retired from the CRA.

“Do you think you owe them this much?” Retired Mike asked (not his real name).

“No! I was ethical about all of it – any cash I made went straight into paying off my credit cards. Why are they coming after someone like me – why can’t they go after those who are not ethical!” I exclaimed (I felt my values were being violated)

“Then go all the way. If you believe in yourself, appeal,” he stated with confidence.

It was what Retired Mike had said: “If you believe in yourself” that gave me such a boost of confidence. I no longer panicked. In fact, I was so sure of myself and I had all the evidence.

During my meeting with an auditor, the amount owed dropped from $5000 to around $2000. Now if you were me, what would you do:

  1. Be relieved and pay it off. After all you saved $3000!
  2. Appeal further


RR book ad blog



Well, I went for the latter- I appealed, even though I was told by many close to me to pay off the $2000 and let it go, I decided not to because I believed I didn’t owe that much either.

CRA asked for more evidence that I couldn’t present before, but I dug deep by calling the merchants I had dealt with and asking for copies of my invoices. It worked!

During my appeal, I had to really prepare myself. Do you agree that your mindset also controls your physiology and your voice?

When someone is upset or frustrated, you can see it in the physiology – clenched teeth and turning red.

When someone is sad or depressed, the physiology mimics the mindset – head down, walking slowly and cries easily.

I knew I wanted to sound confident and sure of myself, and I had an intent. My intent was to win. With that mindset, my physiology improved – I held my head high and made sure I spoke with a strong confident voice.

After seeing the evidence and hearing my case, the officer dropped the amount owed from $2000 to around $500! WOW!

When you believe in yourself and you live within your values, you will stand by your word and do what is right – no matter what.



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May23

4 Reasons You Procrastinate and 7 Strategies to Beat It

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4 Reasons You Procrastinate and 7 Strategies to Beat It

All of us procrastinate. We put things off that we know we need to do. For many, the word “procrastination” conjures up the idea of being lazy, which implies a value judgment - if you procrastinate, you’re doing a bad thing. However, it’s alright to put off something for tasks of more importance as long it doesn’t lead to:

  • Avoiding making timely decisions.
  • A slow start to important projects.
procrastination strategies

Procrastination is undesirable when it makes us play small and keeps us from living a richer and more fulfilling life.

Have you worked on something at the last possible minute? What was that like?

Have you had difficulty accomplishing important tasks because of interruptions? What were the results?

Have you felt too tired to start something new, even if the task was important? How did that feel?

Reasons You Procrastinate:

1. Feeling Overwhelmed – Do you imagine mountains of paperwork or picture your full calendar or even twenty tasks on your ‘to-do list’, and feel there’s too much that needs to be done? This feeling could paralyze you from even taking the first step towards achieving it.

2. Task is Unpleasant – You view the task as boring or tiring or think it will make you feel uncomfortable in some way.

3. Fear of Failing – This is a vicious cycle because if you take action towards reaching your goal and yet fail to realize them, you fear you will be seen as a failure. This fear of failing stops you from taking that very action.

4. Lacking Motivation – You find no internal motivation or benefit for doing the task, and there’s no penalty for not doing it, leading you to not do it at all. The cost in terms of time and energy seem to outweigh the benefits.

RR book ad blog

Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination:

1. Linguistics – Your choice of words affects your results. When I first started my studies in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), the first lesson was all about words and how they affect our actions. Here's a video of five (5) words I changed instantly. The words you use will have a strong influence on your perception. Positive words yield positive results.

2. Work in Reverse – Most of us work well with deadlines. Having it on my calendar helps me work backwards in creating smaller deadlines. For example, when I was writing my book, my deadline was July 1, 2015. I worked backwards and realized if I did four chapters a month (one a week), I could have twenty chapters in five months, which is the typical length of a non-fiction book. Therefore, I started writing in February and created small deadlines every week for each chapter. Many small steps are what get things done.

3. Have a Smart Schedule – Our brain works in a funny way. When you know you have less time, you’ll act on it. I print out my yearly calendar, month-by-month, and stick it on my wall. Thanks to my mentor, Hugh Culver, for suggesting this. I fill up my calendar by scheduling non-work related activities first like vacations, weddings, family activities, and personal development. Next, I add my web show dates and any speaking engagement dates or hold dates. Lastly, I pencil in any campaigns or courses I’m running.
Since the time when you can work on important tasks will be limited this way, you will have a tendency to make the most of the time available. “If I have less time to do this, I’ll act.”

4. Work in Peak State – You’re most productive when fully focused. Distractions, intense emotions and other concerns undermine our focus and productivity. I know I’m most productive in the early morning between 5 and 11 a.m. I can work faster and focus on my content without any distractions. When are you at your peak productivity? Learn more about how I became a morning person.

5. Make Your Own Rewards – Promise yourself a treat once a certain task is completed. It doesn’t have to be food (even though I’d love an ice-cream once in a while), but when I work on small or medium projects, I treat myself to a latte. Imagining that latte makes me want to get it done.

6. Reframe its Importance – If you know a task has to be done, but it’s not emotionally important to you, find a way to make it important. I hate to admit this, but I don’t like cooking! However, I have to reframe its importance because I want my family to eat healthy instead of eating out (and spending oodles of money) or going through a fast food drive-thru. This reframe makes me want to be creative when it comes to cooking so I can enjoy the process too.Learn more about reframing here.

7. Uncover Start and End Points – Once something has a beginning and an end, it’s a lot easier to start filling in the middle. Define the start and end points of your task so you know how big or small it is.



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May16

3 Questions To Help Reframe a Negative Situation into a Positive One

Categories // Blog

3 Questions To Help Reframe a Negative Situation into a Positive One

In my last blog post, I explained the principle of reframing and was asked if I could elaborate on it some more.

Reframing is about stepping back from what’s being said or done and consider looking at the situation from an alternative lens by effectively stating, “Let’s look at it another way.” This is about challenging one’s belief systems around the situation.

3 questions blog

I was at a writer’s conference in California during the month that Baltimore was in chaos. Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American resident of Baltimore, Maryland, sustained injuries following his arrest by policemen. Gray died on April 19, 2015, after going into a coma.

At this conference, I was sharing a hotel room with another conference participant that I had only met on Facebook; I’ll call her Mary. Mary is an African-American. From the time she arrived, her eyes were glued to the CNN channel, and during that time, CNN kept showing the riots in Baltimore.

As she watched the news, she got more depressed and angry and wished she hadn’t come to the conference. I finally asked her why she felt that way, and she told me how she had lost both her young adult sons in one day, and that these riots were bringing back memories.

She went on to explain that fateful day to me where one son died of natural health causes in the morning and the other son was shot in the back by a police officer that afternoon. I couldn’t imagine what she had to go through to mourn not one but two children dying from different circumstances. She had braced herself for the son she knew would not survive because of his health condition, but nothing had prepared her for the more immediate loss of the second boy.

Mary sought justice for wrongful arrest and the death of her son, and she won. She became a celebrity in her own town, and she was featured on the news. As she showed me the news clip of her being interviewed after she had won the case, I saw a woman who was strong, standing tall, at peace, and who believed in her cause.

“Mary,” I said, “when I see that clip, I see someone who has been able to hold herself with integrity even after losing two sons on the same day. You fought for justice, and you got it. The Mary I see here today feels like she has lost again and she’s angry.

She answered, “A part of me thinks, what if I had been there and was able to stop my son from getting shot, but I know if I had not been at the hospital either, I’d not have spent the last moments with my sick son. A part of me gets angry that I didn’t really get a chance to mourn as I fought for justice.”

RR book ad blog

I wanted Mary to enjoy this conference and snap out of her negative emotions so I reframed the situation by asking her this first question:

“What do you appreciate about your sons and this whole experience you had?” I asked.

“I was told that my sick son would not live past his seventh birthday, but he lived into his early twenties and also became a father himself. I’m glad he got to live his life into adulthood. I’m glad that the justice system was on my side, and my other son’s reputation remained intact.”

I reframed again with my second question:

“What’s the worst thing that could have happened but didn’t?”

“My sick son could have died when he was a child, but he didn’t. In fact, he left me a gift – my grandson!”

I reframed with my final question:

“How did this situation cause positive things later in your life?” I asked.

“I realized I’m a stronger person and can fight for my rights. I had other women who were in the same position seek me out asking for my advice. That is why I’m at this conference. I want to share my story through a book,” she answered.

“Mary, instead of getting angry and feeling negative when you turn to the news channel, appreciate what you had and what that experience has taught and given you. You’re not going to get your sons back, but your experience can help other mothers and their sons. Take your mess and turn into a message for others.”

Mary enjoyed the rest of the conference and gave me lots of hugs when we departed. These questions don’t have to be in any order, but just asking one or two can help someone look at a problem as an opportunity, or a weakness as a strength.

Try them out on yourself or someone you know and share your experience with me.



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May02

4 Traits You Require to Cultivate Resilience in Life and Business (and Help You Succeed)

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4 Traits You Require to Cultivate Resilience in Life and Business (and Help You Succeed)

Cultivating resilient traits in life and business is more important now than ever before with changing economies, new technologies, and a new generation emerging. Every day we hear about a new app or a new way to market our services, and we have to keep up with this trend. It’s not going to go away.

There are times that you may feel overwhelmed, exhausted or frustrated; I know I do. However, these four principles, which are found in resilient individuals and organizations, will help you get through in life and business. Also known as POOF – Plan ahead, Obstacle mastery, Optimistic and Flexibility.

4 traits you require

PLAN AHEAD.

Do you build a house without a blueprint?
Do you start a business without a business plan or capital?
Do you start eating healthy without purchasing vegetables and fruits, or having a few good recipes?

PLANNING AHEAD IS CRUCIAL FOR SUCCESS IN ANY VENTURE!

When my husband and I decided to open up a wellness centre , we had to face a few harsh realities. One of them being that we would not get a truckload of customers walking in on day one. This is a service industry, and it takes time to build customers’ trust when it comes to their health and wellness. Here’s a list of what we did to plan ahead:

  1. Have a website (keep it updated), a social media presence and a blog.
  2. Build an email list and sending out regular emails to our clients.
  3. Have an Open House a month after we started and offer a preview of our services for a minimal price with an upsell of enticing packages.
  4. Offer seasonal and monthly specials to our email subscriber list.
  5. Door-to-door campaign with a marketing company a year after we opened without adding any of our own capital.

These actions alone grew our customer base by 200 percent in six months, and referrals started coming in! We were nominated Best Business of the Year in 2014, just four years after we opened our doors.

OBSTACLE MASTERY

Make a list of things that could go wrong and for each one ask, “What strategies or resources could I implement here?” Don’t come up with just one; think of two or three.

For example, when you start eating healthy, one obstacle maybe that you have to travel and may not have access to healthy foods during that time. What would be some of the strategies you could implement here?

Mastering obstacles is important to practice because it keeps you in control of the situation and consistently allows you to take action.

OPTIMISTIC

Richard Wiseman conducted a large study showing the importance of the way we approach goals. He tracked 5,000 people who had some significant goal they wanted to achieve.

He found that the successful goal setters described their goal in positive terms (Plan Ahead) and considered carefully what challenges (Obstacle Mastery) they would face actually doing the work to achieve it.

Wiseman further explained that the successful ones were able to list concrete specific benefits they would get from achieving their goal (Optimistic). In one of his examples, he said, “They wrote them down and explained what each benefit could bring, like enjoying two evenings with friends and visiting one new country each year.”

Now, make a list of specific benefits for the strategy that you chose in Obstacle mastery and notice the outcome you desire.

FLEXIBILITY

Even after planning ahead, thinking about what could wrong and having strategies in place, things may not work out the way you want. This is when improving and reframing comes into play. Improvising is all about looking back at what you’ve done and figuring out what you can do better!

Reframing is about stepping back from what’s being said or done and consider looking at the situation from an alternative lens be effectively stating, “Let’s look at it another way.” This is about challenging one’s belief systems around the situation. For example, you can reframe a problem as an opportunity or a weakness as a strength.




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Apr18

The 3 Reasons You Don’t Take Action (and How to Take One Step at a Time)

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The 3 Reasons You Don’t Take Action (and How to Take One Step at a Time)

As human beings, we are motivated to take action because we are in pain or because there’s a reward to be had.

However, you may be scared of taking action based on these three reasons:

  1. It seems unfamiliar to you so you stay inside your comfort zone; or
  2. You don’t know HOW to move forward; or
  3. You think it’s hopeless (believe that you’re not capable).

Here’s a secret: As you tackle the first two reasons, the third automatically changes from, “It’s hopeless and I’m not capable,” to “I’m capable and it’s worth it!”reasons you dont take action

In the 2006 movie The Secret (featured on Oprah), the teachers spoke about Law of Attraction. That was the first time I had heard about this universal law, and I was intrigued, but what I felt was missing from it was the idea of taking action. The movie mostly spoke about visualizing your future and being positive, so you manifest easily. The intent of the movie was great, but I believe the message did not come across clearly.

It’s a great idea to visualize your awesome future because it creates positive feelings, but nothing will manifest if you don’t take action toward making that future become real. Taking action consistently is the key to building the future you want.

How do you start taking action?

First, by knowing what you want and why you want it. When you go shopping in the mall and are looking for a particular store, you go to the mall directory so you can find your way.

The first thing you look for on the mall map is the sign that says, “You Are Here.” Next, you look for the store name and trace it on the map and then you find the easiest way to get there from where you are. Whether you know it or not, you just took a few solid action steps to get from your current state to your desired state.

When I decided I wanted to write a book, I was scared and excited. I was at the “You Are Here” sign and had no idea where or how to get started, let alone have a finished book in my hand. I was terrified about pouring my life out to strangers and for them to get to know me intimately; plus, I was worried about negative book reviews. This is similar to reason number one, isn’t it? The fear of unfamiliarity stops me from stepping out of my comfort zone and keeps me where I am, but something rattled my cage.

One hot summer day, when I was driving from an inspection I had to do on my job as a health inspector, I was lost in thought about my future, and at that time, I knew I wanted to chase after my passion of speaking and sharing my message. The windows were rolled up and the air-conditioning was turned up slightly, but it was serenely quiet as I drove down the lonely highway.

I recall talking to myself, in my thoughts, “Zaheen, you have to write a book so it adds to your credibility, but what can you write and speak on specifically?”

All of a sudden, and I know this sounds eerie, out of nowhere I heard a whisper in my right ear, “Fear.”

My heart raced as I pulled myself up in my car seat and literally looked in my rear view mirror. As I drove, I tried to dismiss it as my imagination, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. To this day I feel, that just for a second, there was a presence in my car that wanted me to hear that message. I don’t know what or who, but that soul-searching rattled my cage, and I knew I had my WHY!

All my life I had spent in fear, feeling I didn’t have a voice. And up to a few years ago, I still felt I didn’t have a voice, and that I wasn’t capable. But I kept stretching my comfort zone; I kept visualizing my future as an author and a speaker, and I kept taking small action steps to move toward that goal.

I want you to find your voice and rise above. I want you to live your life loving fear instead of hating it. I want you to know the endless possibilities outside of your comfort zone, and I want you to know that there’s always a way when you are tenacious, ready to improvise and take one step everyday toward your goal.

When you are at a big mall and moving toward your goal of getting to your store, you may get distracted and go into other stores along the way, but you will get back on route and keep moving toward what you came to do in the first place. Similarly, life may present you with a barrier, but you can find a breakthrough and get back on track and move toward a goal if you are passionate about your WHY.

My goal was to have my book completed and to be able to share my message. It took one chapter at a time, but I took action by making the time to write every Sunday morning.

Look at your calendar, write down one action you will take each day or each week to get there. Set the intent and watch this video (under 2 minutes) where I share a set of smart questions to get you taking action NOW:




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Apr12

2 Ways Resilient Individuals Manage Change

Categories // Blog

managing change


In this day and age, change is inevitable.

From the global economy to technology to marketing. The Universe and our history are great teachers of change and resiliency and yet we fear change.

Why do we fear change?

  1. We're unsure of what lies on the other side of change.
  2. We doubt our capability to cope with change.

Successful and resilient individuals look at change differently:

  1. They get curious.
  2. They look at change as a challenge rather than a threat. How have you managed change? Share your story with me.

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Apr04

7 Tips for Being Productive and Successful

Categories // Blog

7 Tips for Being Productive and Successful

7 productivity tips

1 - Have a Victor Mindset

Most of us are stuck in the “blame mindset” when we are faced with challenges. In this mindset, you may catch yourself saying things such as:

  • Why do I have this problem?
  • How long will I have this problem?
  • Whose fault is it that I have this problem?
  • What's wrong?

Using the above questions, makes you feel broken, stuck, and you’ll lack choices. To create a victor mindset, ask the following questions instead:

  • What do I want and when do I want it?
  • When I get what I want, what else in my life will improve?
  • What resources do I have available to help me with this challenge?
  • Can I utilize these resources to the best of my ability or do I require extra help?
  • What can do I now to improve the situation?

Using these set of questions not only helps you move forward, but it creates hope and allows you to have choices with your solutions.

2 - Start Small and Then Build Up

Successful companies and businesses will test a product or service first by offering it in beta phase or offering to a small percentage of users. Once its a win, they will build up from there. This is very similar for writers, entrepreneurs, facilitators, coaches, online marketers and creators alike. Where are you willing to start in an area of your life?

  • If you want to build strength, can you start with 5 squats?
  • If you want to release weight, can you start with replacing soda with water?
  • If you want to wite a book, can you start with a blog?
  • If you want to have a career in speaking, can you start visiting a Toastmasters club?

Complete this sentence:

I am ready to start______________________ so I can___________________________

3 - Improvise

Successful individuals are ready to acknowledge if an idea falls flat (even though it hurts) and they’re also ready to improvise or tweak it until it’s just about right or they will move on to the next idea. Improvisation is part of resolving challenges and makes you more resilient. Here’s a great tip to help you with improvising:

Think of a mentor that has successfully done what you want to do and ask, “What would (name) do in this situation?”

4 - Have Consistency and Routine

Productive individuals have a consistent routine or system that keeps them focused and be more successful. For example, Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief, AOL Huffington Post Media Group, practices Yoga and meditation in the morning before looking at her smartphone.

Gwyneth Paltrow stays so calm and collected despite the fact that she has a family, a movie career, a business partnership with Tracy Anderson and countless other engagements. She tells Elle Magazine about her nightly routine: “I use a lot of organic essential oils on my pressure points.”

I have a routine for each weekday morning and my day starts at 4:30 a.m. Learn about my routine here.

5 - Celebrate the Small Wins

It’s the small wins that keep your momentum going and gives you the motivation to keep doing what you are doing. It’s when we don’t celebrate the small wins, we feel like quitting or giving up.

Make a habit of having a small pocket-size journal in your purse, jacket, car or bed-side table. Write down small wins as 1-2 sentences in this journal – it’s so powerful and especially useful for those downer days!

6 - Be the Fixer

A fixer is someone who delegates, outsources and asks for help. The mistake business owners or solopreneurs make is thinking that they have to do it all. You will not leap forward if you don’t act like a CEO. If you are working women who is trying to start her business, ask for help from people you know.

Make a list of things you can delegate or outsource. Then go to websites like Fiverr or UpWork and find people who can do it for you. These websites have freelancers that start as low as $5!

7 - Use Tools to Keep You Focused

I’ve been following a lot of successful people and have noticed they use certain apps to keep them focused and productive. However, there are a plethora of other tools they use, but I’m only going to share three common apps.

Evernote – to store web links, random notes, stories, recipes, lists and more. You can also share notes with your team! Here’s what my Evernote account has:

  • My goals for the year and for every quarter.
  • Links to articles or stories that help me when I have a speaking engagement.
  • Ideas for blog or future web shows.
  • Links to awesome recipes I'd like to try.

Nozbe - classifies projects and then helps you chunk them down into manageable pieces that you can delegate or keep track of. I use this for my projects such as a book, online course, event planning and product launches. This app is based on David Allen’s system of ‘Getting Things Done’.

Task and Cal - With “Task and Cal”, effortlessly manage your personal or business tasks for the following days and weeks, in synchronization with your iOS calendar. Only available for iPhone and iPad.


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Mar14

One Strategy I Discovered to Avoid Burnout (and Create Harmony In My Life)

Categories // Blog

zn avoidBurnout blog

Our core beliefs involving love and security are formed in childhood between the ages of three and eight because they are linked to survival. Peter Halligan, a psychologist at Cardiff University, says, "A belief is a mental architecture of how we interpret the world." As human beings, we make meaning out of everything, and these meanings lead to thoughts and beliefs that guide our behaviour. I attached various meanings at the age of five when I had to skip grade 1 and enrolled into grade 2:

  • I am smart;
  • I am different;
  • I can't fail;
  • My parents have expectations of me, and I can't let them down;
  • My opinion doesn't matter;
  • I can't say what I want because I'll get into trouble.
  • I have to work hard to catch up to grade 2 because they think I'm smart.

I became an over-achiever and worked hard to catch up.

These beliefs helped me throughout my life, but they also caused problems with my mental and emotional health. I didn't know how to stop or delegate or work in harmony.

Instead, I felt I had to make it work and prove that I was capable, and in the process, I burned out. There were times that I'd take on so much because I thought I could do it, but overtime, it became overwhelming, and still I didn't complain because I felt I had to be strong. Twice, I ended up crying on the dining table while having tea with my husband, Badur, and the second time, he told me what I needed to hear.

"Why are you crying?" he asked.

"I'm just so tired, so tired," I sobbed and continued. "I work full-time, I help at the wellness centre, and I'm working toward making professional speaking my career, and I don't even have time for me. I like getting my nails done like other women; I want to go to on holidays like other people, but we just haven't had the time. I'm so exhausted." "You know what your problem is? You want to do everything," he blurted out. "You can't do it all. Become an expert in one thing and focus on that. I don't need you at the wellness centre every day, but pick two days you want to be there. And get your manicure because only you can make yourself feel good; no one else can." I looked at him in amazement and kept sobbing, knowing that he was so right.

He continued, "Zaheen, most of all, you need to decide what you want to do because you are dabbling in too many areas."

The people who care about us the most will tell us what we need to hear because they know us better than anyone else. During this time, he also mentioned behaviours that I was expressing that were leading toward burnout.

"I've noticed you start getting irritable first, like we are in your way. Then you get angry or upset easily. For example, if I ask you something, you get upset at me for no reason. This goes on for days, and it's difficult to make you aware that you are behaving this way," he explained.

"It's not that I like being this way. I become more conscious of it when it's too late, like today, and I have to work on breaking this pattern. I have to recognize these symptoms earlier, and you just made me aware of my pattern."

We are so used to behaving in a certain manner that it becomes our default behaviour in a particular situation.

These default behaviours are ingrained in our brain as neural pathways and are difficult to change unless one becomes consciously aware of them or someone makes us aware of them. However, the choices one makes after becoming aware are more important.

The first step to change is noticing how our senses work. My pattern consisted of the following:

  • Taking on too much and then becoming overwhelmed. Here I noticed that I'd create visual images of mountains of paperwork and housework (sensory pattern - visual -V).
  • Feeling irritable and angry. Here I'd start to doubt that I could get the work done and then the fear of failure seeped in. I didn't like feeling negative, so I'd take it out on my family (sensory pattern - kinesthetic -K).
  • Exhaustion and negative self-talk. I'd keep going and ignore the gremlin, but in the end, I'd get exhausted, cry, and wish things were different (sensory pattern - kinesthetic/auditory - A).

The sequence of the pattern is visual (V), kinesthetic (K), and auditory (A).

I consciously started to change this default pattern of taking on too much. Now when I get an idea or a new task comes on my plate, I choose to do the following:

  • Ask myself, "Can I take it on? What else do I have on my calendar?"
  • I visualize my calendar to see what other projects I have and to check if I have the time. If I know I don't have the time to take it on and/or if I know it is not a good fit for me, I pass (sensory pattern - auditory/visual).
  • While I'm working through the first step, I'm also checking my feelings and listening to my intuition (kinesthetic).

The sequence of the pattern is now auditory (A), visual (V), and kinesthetic (K).

As I started to consciously practice this pattern, I realized how much more freedom I had. In fact, in one year, I delegated more tasks to a team member; I hired a coach to help me figure out my area of expertise so I could focus on one message and get really good at it; and I hired a virtual assistant to manage my queries and create awesome material. I now take time to meditate at 4:45 a.m., and create content between 5 and 7 a.m. Oh yes, and I also pamper myself with a massage and manicure once a month!

Have you gone through something similar? How did you manage? Please share your strategy or story.

Mar01

How the Oscars Reminded Me of Why We Go To the Movies (And What it Has To Do With Resilience)

Categories // Blog

As I was watching the Oscars on Sunday night, I asked myself, "Why do people go to the movies?"

Not everyone enjoys sports or documentaries, but most, if not all people, love going to the movies and I believe curiosity about the story and HOW it affects each one of us, is in the forefront of our minds?
zn oscar blog


As human beings we are faced with different challenges every day. You may be:

  • Seeking to achieve something;
  • Struggling to pay the bills every month;
  • Struggling with family or health issues;
  • Fighting for a cause; or
  • Simply looking for love;


The movies bring forth these very same ideas and metaphorically let you know:

1. THERE'S HOPE.

The story drives emotions in you and I believe this quote from Joseph Campbell (consultant to George Lucas - Star Wars) says it all: "We are seeking to feel alive".


2. YOU ARE RESILIENT!

The nominees for best picture this year had a STORY related to conflict, survival and capability - Martian with Matt Damon; Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio; Spotlight with Mark Ruffalo. These stories not only teach you about your higher self, but they also send you subliminal messages that as a human being, YOU CAN DO IT if you put your mind to whatever you desire.


3. WORRY ISN'T GOING TO HELP, BUT SEEKING A SOLUTION IS GOING TO GET YOU SOMEWHERE.

You'll notice that storylines tend to have a challenge or conflict, but there's always a win at the end. In my book and teachings, I call this Re-program where you move your thoughts to a victor mentality and ask specific questions to get out of a problem or challenge.


4. FAILURES CAN OCCUR BUT DON'T GIVE UP!

All these terrific movies, and even the short films and documentaries, consistently have this simple message throughout the movie - that no matter how bad it gets, keep doing your best. When I do my keynote speeches, I'm always referring to movies as examples because we can all relate to the struggles, to the failures, to the setbacks. But we can also relate the character bouncing back and coming back with new learnings because we have done that too!


What did you learn from the Academy Award nominations about resilience? I know there was a lot of controversy about it this year, but my post is not about the controversy, it's about the story in each of the movies that inspire us and move us.

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Feb02

What do Assassins Have To Do With Habits (and My Pilot Course)

Categories // Blog

I was watching a documentary on Netflix on "The Assassins of the World" (or something like that) and I found it fascinating because they'd talk about the empires that existed between the 10th and 15 centuries and the strategies they used. One of them were the Fidayins whose job was to protect the Alamut Fort and their people. The leader, Hasan-ibn-Sabah, taught his followers specific moves that are taught today in the special forces!

ninja

Two things caught my attention:

  • The Fidayins practiced a fighting style called Janna, which incorporates striking techniques, grappling, and low kicks and they practiced for hours so it became part of their unconscious while using only one weapon - the dagger. 
  • Their fighting strategy consisted of one principle: To assassinate hostile leaders without causalities and innocent loss of life and to do it in disguise when the hostile leader is at his most vulnerable.

What does this have to do with my course on being productive and creating habits that will stick?

  1. The Fidayins had to be so precise and timely when carrying out the job that a mistake could not be made. In fact, they'd create the scenario and practice. This means when creating habits and routine, it takes constant practice so it becomes a routine that you don't even have to think about it. IT BECOMES A PART OF WHO YOU ARE!
  2. Visualize yourself doing the habit or new behaviour and then go do it (this is called the 'Behaviour Generator' in Neuro Linguistic Programming which I will teach).
  3. Implement new habits when there's least opposition, it's in your favour and the environment is conducive to success. The Fidayins would only attack when the enemy was vulnerable. Even in battle, leaders are always finding the weak spot on the enemy's side and strategizing before they strike. Therefore, if you:

  • want to eat clean, you can't have a pantry full of sweets or junk food. 
  • want to get important things done, you can't watch TV or keep checking messages on your phone.
  • want to start an exercise plan, you can't start with a program that is meant for athletes.

If you do those things, then you're bound to accomplish nothing and you'll blame yourself for not having will power or wanting it bad enough. What if you thought like a Fidayin? Now I'm not saying you are assassin, but what if you:

  1. Implement habits when there's least resistance and it's in your favour. For example, most people I know exercise in the morning, but that doesn't work for my lifestyle. I'm more creative in the morning so I'd rather work on my business for 2 hours. However, I'll exercise when my daughter has other activities planned too or is home with her dad - usually in the evening. Moreover, I'll do exercise that I love not the ones that I think I should do. 
  2. Create a strategy that is in alignment with your strengths rather than working against it. For example, I know I'm most creative in the morning than in the evening, so I can work from 5 am to noon and know I can get things done. I'll book other appointments and social engagements after that.
  3. Picked only one thing to focus on implementing rather than 5 different things. For example, The Fidayin picked only one weapon, the dagger, to practice with and became really good at it. 
  4. Create a system that will keep you engaged, focused and productive. The Fidayin had a system of fighting and striking at the right time. Similarly, if you map that into habits, I use a couple of apps and my own Goal-Task system to keep me engaged and focused. 


  Thrive in Life - Be More Productive, Accomplish Your Goals and Keep Balance - Check out my pilot course, signups filling fast!!

Take action and let's get working together. We use my webinar platform to meet every Tuesday at 7 p.m. for 4 weeks starting February 16. 

Register here now




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