How to Build Your Self-Confidence and Improve Your Life

How to Build Your Self-Confidence and Improve Your Life

“Confidence is not “they will like me.” Confidence is “I’ll be fine if they don’t.”

Christina Grimmie

We all know that one person who oozes confidence regardless of the situation. The person who walks into a room and is immediately noticed by everyone. And the person who is so deeply rooted in who they are that they couldn’t care less whether anyone else likes them or not.

We’ve all encountered situations where we wish we were more self-confident. If you’re ready to get serious about how to build your self-confidence, this article is for you! Stick with me as we break down how you can start feeling more confident today!

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What is self-confidence?

Self-confidence is more about perception than any actual skill or talent. It’s all in how you think about yourself and actually has nothing to do with what anyone else thinks of you.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

At the core of self-confidence is a belief in yourself and your abilities. It’s knowing your unique combination of strengths and challenges. And perhaps most importantly, it’s loving and accepting yourself for the person you are.

Why is it important?

Learning how to build your self-confidence is crucial for attaining success in life. Without it, a host of negative feelings can take over your thinking and your life.

Negativity such as a constant state of feeling inferior. Fearing any attempt to try something new or to possibly fail at anything. Constantly second guessing each and every little decision in your life. And continuously worrying about what other people think.

Living a fearless, awesome life with that type of negative thinking overshadowing everything is impossible.

It’s not the type of life I want. And since you’ve read this far down, I’m guessing it’s not the life for you either!

Taking the time to build your self-confidence results in a greater sense of accomplishment and purpose. You will be more willing to put yourself out there and to set higher goals.

Build Your Self-Confidence by Knowing Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths (and weaknesses) is one of the keys to building your self-confidence. We are all equipped with a slightly different skill set and finding the intersection between passion and talent is part of what makes life so incredible.

You are you for a reason. Each one of us is unique and special in our own way.

Life is way too complicated to be good at everything and there’s a sense of peace which comes with knowing where you excel.

But figuring out where your talents lie can be trickier than you think. Have you ever heard that saying about being unable to see the forest for the trees? Uncovering one’s strengths can be eerily similar.

One reason for this is that we have all these stories in our minds about who we are, what we do and don’t like and about what we should or shouldn’t be doing. All these stories we tell ourselves tend to cloud our thinking and make it nearly impossible to decipher whether something is a strength or whether we simply enjoy doing it.

And although we typically enjoy activities we excel in, this is not always the case. Discovering talent based upon enjoyment is therefore not very reliable.

All this to say that independently deciphering our own strengths is challenging at best.

But there are a couple of ways guaranteed to bring you closer to uncovering this valuable information.

Phone a Friend

The first is by asking someone you know and trust. Ideally someone who has your best interests at heart because both asking for and receiving feedback can be difficult.

It requires vulnerability, honesty and a willingness to embrace the response.

And the response may take you by surprise. Remember those stories we tell ourselves? It’s entirely possible to get so wrapped up into the story you’re telling yourself that receiving feedback to the contrary may be difficult.

Although it may not be the feedback you want, it may be just what you need to move forward. Those stories may be feeding into a distorted perception of yourself which is holding you back from your full potential and sense of self-confidence.

Sometimes self-confidence is lacking simply because we are not sure where our strengths and weaknesses lie. We are, in a sense, wandering around the wilderness without a compass. Gaining an outside perspective is an invaluable part of figuring out where to move forward with confidence and where to seek additional guidance.

Consulting a trusted friend or family member not only serves the purpose of gaining perspective but it also opens a line of communication and creates accountability. It gives you an opportunity to connect with someone on a deeper level which is yet another way you can build your self-confidence.

Combine this feedback with my next suggestion for determining your strengths and you will truly be unstoppable!

Take an Assessment

What if there were a way you could invest less than an hour of your time and in exchange be given a list of your top 5 strengths?

And what if your results were based upon scientific research?

Wouldn’t it feel incredible to approach life with a greater sense of confidence all because you know your strengths?

I can tell you from personal experience that it feels amazing to know my strengths and to be able to take action because of that knowledge! If you truly want to build your self-confidence, taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment is a must.

Prior to discovering this resource, I had only a vague sense of my strengths. I was completely unable to put them into words and felt as if I was wondering through life aimlessly.

And aimless is almost the direct opposite of confidence.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 changed everything for me. I stopped wasting time worrying about all the areas where I didn’t excel because I knew there were more important areas to focus on. It gave me a sense of freedom and confidence.

Armed with this valuable insight, I slowly began tackling all those stories I had been telling myself for years. I began putting a positive spin on my own self-perception and stopped the negative self-talk.

One of the main tenets of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 is knowledge allows you to focus your energy where you can move the needle forward. It helps you decipher where your impact would be most powerful instead of leaving you to waste time in pointless directions. It absolutely fulfilled those goals for me and as a result, my self-confidence skyrocketed!

Curious to learn more about the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment? Check out my personal story here.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Henry Ford

Failure gets a bad rap. So many people regard it as the worst case scenario and something to avoid at all costs. It even prevents us from trying new things out of fear that we will fail.

But when was the last time you learned a memorable lesson from success? When was the last time you did something perfectly on your very first attempt and felt incredibly accomplished for doing so?

I’m willing to bet never.

Failure teaches us on a much deeper, more memorable level than success ever will. Sure, it’s nice to succeed once in a while. But success often comes only after multiple failures. It requires perseverance and courage.

In most areas of life, failure is a prerequisite for success.

And success is all the sweeter when you have overcome obstacle after obstacle in its pursuit.

Each time you look failure in the eye, stand up, and try again, your self-confidence dramatically improves. No, you may not have had the outcome you had hoped for but you learned something in the process. You came away with some type of information which will only make your next attempt that much better.

I was recently reminded of this a month ago when I encountered a heartbreaking loss which threatened to halt progress in one of my most beloved hobbies. Although difficult, the situation provided me perspective and a valuable lesson on perseverance despite failure. And thanks to the support and generosity of those around me, I’m beyond excited to be starting all over again! Get the full story here.

Build Your Self-Confidence Through Positive Thinking

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Mary Englebreit

Nothing eats away more quickly at self-confidence than negative thinking. This includes chronic negativity, self-criticism, comparison, and unrealistic expectations.

Negative thinking is insidious. It slowly creeps its way into your subconscious, clouding your thinking and eating away at your self-esteem. Pretty soon, the world seems a dark and dreary place.

But you have the power to flip the switch! You can stop the negativity and instead, channel positive thinking.

You may also enjoy this post about how to stay motivated.

Develop Awareness

The very first step is awareness. Pay attention to your thoughts and how you are feeling when thinking those thoughts. Are you feeling empowered and inspired? Or are you in a constant state of irritation and overwhelm?

If the latter is true, then it’s time to dive deeper into the source of the negativity.

Maybe you have deeply rooted insecurities driving the negativity. Or maybe you experienced personal trauma you shoved deep down inside and never dealt with. It’s also possible that you picked up patterns of negative thinking during childhood.

Whatever the cause, it’s time to confront it.

A professional counselor is an invaluable resource when trying to get at the root of negative thinking. Just as it can be difficult to pinpoint your own strengths, so too can it be difficult to independently address negative thinking. An outside perspective is often exactly what you need to get back on the path to positivity.

Change the Scene

Once you become more familiar with the negative nature of your thoughts, start looking for triggers. Triggers are anything in your daily life which set off the cascade of negativity leaving you feeling annoyed and depressed.

One of my biggest triggers is social media. Spending too much time on Facebook and other platforms traps me into a comparison mindset. If I don’t take action to counteract it, a vague sense of discontent and dissatisfaction sets in. Typically it’s not about anything particular. But it is enough to darken my mood and leave me open to a full-on attack of negative thinking.

I’ve learned that I have to limit my social media use and be extremely mindful about the time I do spend with it.

Triggers may also be certain people in your life who are, for lack of a better description, “negative nellies.” These are people who always have a criticism about someone and nothing in their world ever goes right. It’s always raining, snowing, cold, or hailing. They are completely unable to see the positive in even the best circumstances.

If you have a tendency toward negative thinking, limit the time spent with the “negative nellies” in your life. Look instead for people who are positive and are able to find the good in even the worst situations. Those people who always have a nice word to say about someone and who also work hard to keep a positive spin.

Surrounding yourself with positive influences is one of the best ways to immediately build your self-confidence. It’s so much easier to see the good when those around you are also looking for the positive.

Build Your Self-Confidence Through Acceptance

I was listening to an incredibly powerful podcast last week about acceptance and how so much suffering stems from fighting reality. So much time and energy is wasted by wishing things were different.

The truth of the matter is that there is so much in life that we have no control over. Life simply isn’t fair much of the time and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Nothing except accept it. Accept that which is. We can choose our attitude and our response to unfair situations.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we can choose to pick ourselves back up, find a new direction, and move on. We can build our self-confidence by taking back our power over bad situations and negative thinking.

It’s Your Turn

Learning how to build your self-confidence takes time. Figuring out your strengths, learning how to embrace failure, and transforming your thinking from the negative to the positive won’t happen overnight.

But taking it one step, one day at a time is key to lasting and powerful change.

You owe it to yourself to start today.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and where you struggle to build your self-confidence. Are there particular situations where you feel more confident than others? What has made the most difference in your journey toward becoming a more confident person?

One Mom’s Thoughts on The Great School Debate

One Mom’s Thoughts on The Great School Debate

As I write this, we are just around the corner from the start of a new school year. Store shelves are stocked with back to school essentials and kids everywhere are gearing up to go back. In many ways, this year is almost identical to those of the past.

Despite the similarities, this school year is fraught with controversy unlike any we’ve ever experienced.

I would argue that never in the history of public schools have so many parents questioned whether to send their kids back to school. It’s a tough question without a clear solution.

Both sides have valid arguments.

Our Story

My husband and I have wrestled with this question endlessly over the past few months. We both work in nursing homes and feel as if we live, breathe, and sleep coronavirus. Between the constant threat of PPE shortages, potential exposures within the facility, and the social impacts of quarantine on residents, work life is incredibly bleak right now.

Our days are spent figuring out how to minimize risk and maximize quality of life for a population statistically hit hardest by the virus.

It’s not surprising that the constant fear and anxiety about worst case scenarios then follows us home at night.

Home where 3 young kids depend on us. And like countless parents out there, we are doing our best to make the choices we feel are the right ones for our family.

The scary reality is that there’s so much which is simply unknown about this virus. We have no idea what the long-term effects are or which treatments are most effective. There is no vaccine yet or even knowledge about whether immunity would last more than a few months. The medical community can give no reassurance on how to know whether you or your loved ones would succumb to the most severe form of the virus.

Statistically speaking, most people, kids included, seem to recover without incident. But relying on statistics when the consequences are potentially fatal is not reassuring, especially when it comes to your kids.

Especially when your youngest was born prematurely and then spent 3 weeks in the NICU. Or when he has had multiple hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses.

And although he has grown so much over the past 4 years, the terror of almost losing him at several points still haunts us.

Not a Teacher

Despite all the unknowns about the virus, there are valid reasons to send our kids back to school. The most compelling is that neither my husband nor I is an elementary teacher. When schools suddenly closed last spring, I felt completely lost and overwhelmed by resuming their curriculum myself at home.

I felt completely unprepared to teach my third grader 50 different ways to complete one math problem. Or simplify science to the point where it was both educational and interesting for a kindergartener.

Don’t get me wrong. I love teaching my kids a wide variety of useful life skills and knowledge.

But my kids see me as mom. They see me as the person who meets all their basic needs. I’m the one who buys their favorite snacks, does their laundry, and tucks them in at night.

And although our house has boundaries, I’m also the one they behave the worst around. Between the tantrums and the talking back and the fighting, my days are often exhausting.

But as my husband reminds me, it’s a good thing that they feel comfortable enough at home to let it all out. They are typically very well behaved in most other settings which means they have to get it out somewhere. I’d rather have them fall apart at home than anywhere else.

Being mom and teacher adds a level of stress to the relationship which I simply don’t want. And much of this has to do with my own perfectionist tendencies because I know the added frustration would be on me. Although I am working on these tendencies, doing so with the burden of being solely responsible for the education of my kids is not a positive situation.

My sanity and the preservation of my relationship with my kids demands they learn from their highly talented teachers.

Check out this hilarious video for another mom’s take on homeschooling!

Social Skills

Another incredibly compelling reason to send the kids back to school is their socialization. They need interaction with other kids their age for their own development.

My parents kept me home until I was in first grade and I’ve always felt that this impacted me negatively. Interacting with other kids who weren’t family members was terrifying by that point! I can completely understand the financial aspects of keeping me out of day care and don’t blame them however do feel it stunted my social growth.

To this day, I feel that my natural introvert tendencies were greatly enhanced by the delayed introduction to socialization.

I would hate for my kids to be in a similar position.

Although my kids have been in day care basically since birth, our center closed down back in March when the schools closed. The center did open back up about a month later but we opted to keep them out due to our anxiety over the virus.

Because let’s be honest. If there’s one place where you’re sure to pick up a communicable illness, it’s day care. I don’t care how clean the center, kids are kids and put their mouths and hands on everything.

Our kids have therefore been their own playmates for these past few months and are eager to expand their social circles. I am also eager to get them interacting with others again.

Back to School or Bust

My husband and I both work full-time. I’ve never envisioned myself as a stay-at-home mom or had any desire to be one. I give all the credit in the world to the moms who are able to make it work but I would struggle without the challenges work provides.

Work challenges are admittedly a bit much at times but I love making a difference in the lives of my patients! And having only graduated as a nurse practitioner a year ago, I’m still eager to learn and grow when I walk into work each morning. I’ve worked tirelessly to get where I am and wouldn’t want to lose that even in the midst of a global pandemic.

It’s funny to think back to when I chose this career path over 10 years ago. Beyond a strong desire to help others, one of the reasons I chose healthcare was for job stability. My young and very naive mind felt that even if the world came to an end, people would still need nurses.

Enter coronavirus.

It’s been more than a little unnerving to watch nurses and other essential healthcare workers laid off. The world has changed dramatically overnight and there’s not much any of us can do about it but hang on tight and see what happens next.

All this to say that I’m so thankful for my job and the opportunity to do what I do. Voluntarily walking away at this point is not an option.

Beyond the fulfillment work provides are the student loans I’ve accrued over the past 10 years.

Our budget relies upon two incomes. And I’m not confident I can excel at both working full-time and homeschooling my children.

The Working Mom Dilemma

Unfortunately the pandemic has thrown so many other working moms in the same dilemma. How do you continue providing for your family without sending your kids back to school?

Yet another example of the constant pull between work and home.

Working moms are unfortunately all too familiar with the juggling act required to keep all the balls in the air. But in this situation, the stakes are much higher.

Families everywhere are being asked to choose between health, education, and economic wellbeing. And unfortunately, the current situation makes it extremely difficult to have all three simultaneously.

It’s especially problematic for those of us who are unable to work remotely. And even for those who can work from home, I can only imagine how productive working from home is when you have young kids. Now throw the added stress of schoolwork on top of everything else and it’s one big recipe for disaster.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned from being a working mom, it’s that I can do hard things. I can make tough choices and provide for my family while being an engaged and supportive mom.

It can even be argued that I’m a better mom because I work. And somehow, in some weird way, everything will work out. Today’s tough decisions will turn into tomorrow’s blessings. We will pull through this.

Check out this post for the secret to making working mom life work.

Make a Decision

There is not a one-size-fits-all decision in this incredibly complex situation. You have to seek out the information that you feel will best assist in your decision-making and move forward.

And just because you make one decision now, it doesn’t mean you can’t later change your mind. Maybe your situation changes in a few months and you have to pivot. It’s not a big deal! Life is always changing which means we have to change with it. We don’t have the luxury of staying where we’re at for too long.

Change is difficult, especially when there are so many unknowns. But all you can do is make the best possible decision based on the information immediately available to you.

Take the time to find the most useful information and filter out the rest. Although admittedly apprehensive about sending my kids back to school, my husband suggested we meet with the school to learn more about their precautions.

And do you know what? I felt so much better about our decision after doing so. Our school is taking the health department guidelines seriously and has implemented so many changes to make everyone as safe as possible.

I’m feeling much more encouraged about their new learning environment and the many benefits that come with these changes. Reaching out for help was all I needed to confirm our decision.

Check out this post for tips on finding peace despite chaos.

We Will Get Through This … Together

Do you want to know what will make getting through 2020 nearly impossible? Blame. Division. Wishing things were different. Spending too much time on social media. As moms, we need to gather together and support each other in our very personal decisions about going back to school.

This has been a tough year for all of us. But maybe one thing we can take away from it is how much we need each other. Maybe this is an opportunity to set a new course, learn, and grow as moms and as women.

After all, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to force us into re-evaluating our priorities. The old normal is gone, never to return. But we have an amazing opportunity to create something new.

This is our time to seize the day! We can create a better world for our kids.

And it starts with shutting off the news, stopping the social media scroll, and truly connecting with our loved ones. Have confidence in yourself and your decisions. The back to school dilemma is a tough one but deep inside, you know what’s best for your family.

It also starts with taking care of ourselves, mind, body, and spirit. Do what makes you truly happy and stop caring what anyone else thinks. Work toward acceptance of any situation. Realize that so much suffering in life is self-perpetuated by failing to accept what we can’t change.

We have no way of knowing what the future holds. But we can’t possibly have any inner peace if we are constantly assuming the worst. Happiness comes from acceptance of that which we can’t change.

Choose gratitude and look for something to be grateful for in even the worst circumstances because there’s ALWAYS a silver lining. Let’s all embrace the positive, band together, and start this school year off on the right foot!

And if you’re the one heading off to school this fall, check out this post for authentic advice on going back to school as a mom.

It’s Your Turn

Are you struggling with whether to send your kids back to school this year? Or have you made a decision but question whether it’s the right one? Maybe you made the decision months ago and are feeling incredibly confident about your decision.

Drop a comment below and tell us about it! I’d love to hear your perspective on how the pandemic is impacting your life. We’re all in this together and maybe your story can help someone else on their journey. As always, thank you so much for reading and I hope you have come away motivated to live your best life!

Authentic Advice for Moms Going Back to School

Authentic Advice for Moms Going Back to School

Are you thinking about going back to school as a mom? You’re not alone! There are so many moms out there who have thought about going back for one reason or another. Maybe you love working but have lost that spark. The passion you once had slowly fizzled away. At this point, simply making it through the day now requires all your precious energy. Your job is sucking the life right out of you and you desperately need a new direction.

Or maybe your career was put on the back burner while having your kids but now you’re ready to get back into the game. You feel that you have so much energy, insight, and enthusiasm to offer! Despite all your talent, getting back into the workforce feels incredibly daunting. Your past educational experiences don’t necessarily align with your current career goals and you need additional coursework.

Maybe you still love what you do but long to level up. You know that you’re capable of so much more but the path to your next step leads directly through a new degree.

The decision to go back to school as a mom is not one to be taken lightly. You’ve already got a ton on your plate and taking on even more feels incredibly overwhelming. You have no idea where to start.

I’ve been there. As a mom who has juggled school and work for the majority of my 9 years as a mom, I completely get it.

And I’m not going to lie about the tough choices you have to make when going back to school. It’s never easy.

But you have goals and dreams and owe it to yourself (and your kids!) to go after them. It’s your time!

My Story of Going Back to School as a Mom

My story of going back to school as a mom starts with a fine arts degree and limited job prospects.

After graduation, I found myself married and living in a tiny town where supporting one solely as a freelance pianist and teacher was impossible. And as someone who had always been motivated to have a fulfilling career outside the home, a new direction was in order.

I began to explore different options, finally landing on nursing for its versatility and job availability. Unfortunately, this meant returning to school for a 2 year nursing degree.

Nine months into the 2 year program, I found myself pregnant with my very first child.

Despite a multitude of challenges, I successfully graduated with an associate degree in nursing 6 months after her birth. Since that graduation, I have divorced, remarried, had 2 additional children, and finished a baccalaureate nursing program.

Although I enjoyed my time working as a registered nurse, I felt driven to do more.

Four months after the birth of my third child, I began a graduate nursing program. Three years later, I completed the program and emerged with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in my hand.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past 9 years, it’s that you CAN go back to school as a mom. It just takes a little bit of faith, lots of hard work, and a ton of patience.

Getting Clear on Your Why

I may have mentioned this earlier, but I am not promising that going back to school as a mom will be easy. In fact, it will probably be one of the toughest things you ever do.

While I was going through the graduate program, there were so many people who told me I would look back on the experience and wonder how I did it. They weren’t wrong.

I have been out of the program a year now and still wonder how I made it through. The only answer I can come up with is that even before the program began, I got very clear on my “why.”

I desperately wanted to make it through the program and emerge triumphant on the other side. Failure was not an option.

I knew this degree would open amazing doors for both myself and for my family so I was going after it with everything I had.

Never losing focus of my “why” helped me through all the papers and the tests and the discussion posts. It carried me through the moments when I thought failure was inevitable.

Take some time to get clear on your own “why.” Contemplate what’s driving your decision to take the road less traveled and write it down. Post it where you can see it every single day and be ready to pull it out whenever your faith begins to fade.

Resolve to never give up regardless of what stands in your way and you too will emerge triumphant on the other side.

You may also enjoy reading this post about staying motivated when things get tough.

Manage Your Expectations

Now that you’ve gotten crystal clear on your “why,” let’s talk about expectations. We all have expectations for ourselves and as moms, sometimes those expectations are crazy high.

I’m talking completely unrealistic, never-in-a-million years unattainably high.

And when the expectations we place upon ourselves don’t pan out into reality, we feel guilty. The mismatch between expectation and reality can then trigger significant anxiety and depression.

Can I let you in on a little secret?

In many cases, we perpetuate our own guilt. Our standards are way too high for anyone to possibly live up to. The very first step is admitting how unrealistic our expectations truly are.

Adding school to your ever-growing list of tasks and obligations will feel overwhelming if you let it. But if you lower your standards and (dare I say it!) relax, everything will be ok. Your kids will be just fine regardless of whether they have homemade mac & cheese or Kraft dinner. Extra tablet time is not lethal nor is letting your kids structure their own play.

The world will not screech to a halt if your sink is full of dirty dishes or if toys are perpetually scattered around your house.

Everything will be ok. Your basic household tasks will get accomplished. The kids will be happy and well-adjusted because you’re a great mom! And you will not only finish your homework but you will graduate to a world of exciting new possibilities.

Expectations about Work

Managing your expectations also extends to your work schedule. Before diving into that degree, evaluate whether your current work schedule will allow you to complete the program successfully. Find out whether students in the program are realistically able to work full-time or whether cutting back is recommended.

There are a ton of different programs out there which can be completed while working 40 hours a week and raising a family. But there are also many which truly can’t.

Be honest with yourself about your ability to handle both.

Although I was able to manage working full-time hours while completing the baccalaureate nursing program, I cut back during the graduate program. Between in-person classes, clinicals, and the extensive academic demands of the program, working full-time was not a reality for me during the program.

I was incredibly lucky to have a flexible position which allowed me to cut back on hours during the more intense parts of the program. Consider whether you may need to find a more flexible position while completing your degree. Cutting back on your workload may mean the difference successfully completing that degree or dropping out.

Have you heard the secret to making working mom life work? Find out here!

Financial Implications of Going Back to School as a Mom

Now is also a great time to evaluate the financial implications of your decision to go back to school as a mom.

Will going back to school result in a pay increase? If so, how much? And if not, is the effort and cost of tuition worth going back? Many people (myself included) return to school to increase their income potential. Others do not place as much weight on this factor in their decision making process. Either viewpoint is completely fine but take the time to uncover your own truth ahead of time rather than look back with regret.

How will going back at this point affect any outstanding student loans? Will you need to take out additional loans to cover tuition costs? Will your income after graduation outweigh your outstanding loans? Does your employer offer any incentives such as tuition reimbursement or scholarships? Are you eligible for other scholarships which could help cover costs?

If you do need to cut back on work hours, how will your monthly budget be impacted? And is it possible to cut back your budget elsewhere so you can work a little less while in school?

Spend time up-front considering all the financial and time implications so you can make the most informed decision possible. Maybe you have too many other priorities right now and don’t feel like you can adequately shift them. That’s ok! We all go through different seasons in life and maybe all you need is a bit more time. Be honest with yourself and you will succeed!

Evaluate Your Current Schedule

Consideration of your why and your expectations in going back to school as a mom are crucial because overwhelm and mom guilt are real. You need to take the time to clarify your own feelings on these topics otherwise it will be very difficult to follow through.

Evaluation of your current schedule is an equally important task because something has to give. I’m guessing that your days are full to the brim with all types of tasks, duties, and activities essential to the wellbeing of both yourself and your kids.

And somewhere in the midst of the chaos, you need to find time to complete the work required for a degree.

Different Learning Formats When Going Back to School as a Mom

In some cases, this may mean allotting time to attend class in-person or it may involve online classes. Depending upon the type of degree you are seeking, it may mean a combination of both.

I have extensive experience with both learning formats and as a general rule, prefer online formats. There are instances when I find classroom more valuable but they typically involve some type of hands-on learning or lab environment which is difficult to replicate online.

All programs have different requirements. Some require clinical time. Others have a heavy emphasis on group projects. It all depends upon the individual program.

Do your research on all the different options out there. Find the program which aligns most closely with your needs and understands the special demands placed upon those going back to school as a mom.

Regardless of the learning format, give yourself time to adjust. Being in a classroom setting after taking many years off as a student can be very intimidating. You may need to completely re-learn how to learn because techniques which worked when you were younger are no longer effective.

Give yourself grace while you figure out how to go back to school as a mom!

Class Schedules

If possible, I wholeheartedly recommend taking one class at a time to start with. Some type of general education course is perfect to ease your way back to school as a mom because those courses are designed with broad learning principles in mind. It’s a great way to practice the skills you will need for success in school.

It can be tempting to load up on coursework to get done faster but this can backfire quickly. Taking on too much too quickly can lead to burnout especially when you have kids.

Although the amount of time you will require to complete homework and prepare for class will vary greatly, you can typically expect to spend about 3 hours out of class for each credit the class is worth. For example, if the class is worth 3 credits, expect to spend about 9 hours a week on activities outside the classroom.

I’m going to let you in on another little secret I’ve learned the hard way. Carefully consider the contribution of the homework assignment or course to your overall goals. Then allot the appropriate amount of time to it.

As a type A perfectionist, I obsessed over every single assignment in ALL my classes. I put so much needless pressure on myself to excel in everything that the price I paid was my own peace of mind.

Anxiety became my constant companion as it slowly sucked the joy out of everything.

Don’t be like me. If the assignment doesn’t really matter all that much in the bigger scheme of things, do what you need to do to finish it and move on with life.

Always choose progress over perfection and you will find a greater sense of inner peace.

You may enjoy reading this post about choosing peace over chaos.

It’s Your Turn

I hope this post has inspired you to consider going back to school as a mom! It’s never easy but taking those first few steps toward a more fulfilling work life is invigorating!

And when work is fulfilling, other areas of your life are so much brighter. Going back to school as a mom means tough choices but it also means being a role model for your kids. It means showing them the importance of being passionate about what you do. Your decision to chase your dreams inspires your kids to never give up on what they love no matter what.

I’d love to hear from you below on what’s holding you back from starting your own back to school journey!

7 Life Lessons from Horses

7 Life Lessons from Horses

Earlier this week, I received the call every horse owner dreads. The call which starts with “there’s been a terrible accident” and ends with uncontrollable sobbing.

Grief and pain immediately take over, leaving you unable to do anything but continuously replay the horrific details over and over again in your mind. In that one instant, all your hopes and dreams suddenly vanish and you are paralyzed with sadness.

Moving on after such an intensely sudden and painful loss feels utterly impossible.

It’s the type of call which causes you to question why you ever got involved with horses in the first place. This one incident threatens to derail a lifetime of passion, perseverance, and hard work.

Even despite the emotional agony, a tiny piece of me yearned for the answer. I desperately needed something to hold onto. Something to get me through the quiet desperation of an unfair situation.

That tiny piece of me needed a silver lining. I needed his legacy to be defined not by his death but by his life and by the value horses have brought into my life.

I’ve heard it said time and time again that horses have the ability to reveal things about ourselves which would otherwise remain hidden. They are a mirror into our inner selves and I sincerely believe this. Every partnership has something different to teach us if we are willing to listen.

In this time of grief, I am choosing to reflect back upon life lessons from horses rather than dwell upon the sadness of his loss. And if you are going through a similar situation, I hope that you too can take comfort in reflecting back upon all the good times. The times which were so incredible that you’d never dream of trading them even if you knew how it all would end.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

My History with Horses

Fortunately (or unfortunately for my husband!) horses have been a lifelong obsession. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by their beauty, strength, and majesty.

Some of my earliest memories revolve around our family’s horses. Although my dad and his brothers operated a dairy farm, we always had a diverse range of horses around. My dad and uncle grew up farming with horses and even after machinery entered the picture, the horses remained.

As did my passion for these beautiful animals. And my own life lessons from horses.

I read everything about horses that I could get my hands on. Subscribed to multiple magazines and watched movies and shows galore. Throughout middle and high school, I rode in 4-H and other open shows. And as a natural introvert growing up in a very small town, horses also served an emotional support role for me.

After high school graduation, my life went a completely different direction. Horses were no longer a central focus and although the passion was still there, it lay dormant for a period of time.

A New Direction in Life Lessons from Horses

About 5 years ago, I began to feel the need to include horses in my life once again. After some searching, I finally found an instructor willing to give me a few lessons in a completely different discipline than I had grown up doing. And I immediately fell in love once again! Since that time, I’ve ridden a few different lesson horses under her careful (and very patient!) guidance, even doing a partial lease on one.

But there’s just something about owning your own horse. Ownership means an opportunity to grow and bond with the animal on an entirely different level.

Although I had seriously contemplated ownership, there were several significant roadblocks (aka my husband) in my path so I eventually resigned myself to leasing.

Until about a month ago when my sister completely took me by surprise with an offer. She had recently acquired a new horse and was wondering whether I was interested in her other horse, Ike.

My sister had purchased Ike about 10 years ago and had gone through thick and thin with that horse. She had taken him from an unruly youngster to a sound and sane partner over those years. Countless hours of patient and persistent work were put into him.

But despite all those hours, Ike simply was never cut out for the type of riding my sister loves. He liked to move out and became bored easily, qualities which do not win in the western pleasure circuit.

But they are qualities sought after in the dressage arena and he was therefore right up my alley.

After about a week of begging and pleading, my husband begrudgingly agreed to the purchase. And I was in heaven! After 5 years of lessons and leasing other people’s horses, I was finally going to have one of my own.

Curious about dressage? Find out more here.

Ike

Although I had ridden Ike a few times over the years, it had been over 5 years since I had last done so. To make matters even more complicated, my sister lives in Kansas, a bit of a trek from my home in Wisconsin. Agreeing to the purchase without even trying him under saddle beforehand was a gamble.

But a chance at horse ownership meant fulfillment of my dressage dreams and even more life lessons from horses. It was a gamble I was definitely willing to take.

After some deliberation, my sister decided to make the trip from Kansas up to Minnesota where her in-laws live on a Thursday and then head to my trainer’s farm the following day.

On that Friday morning, I eagerly waited for her to drive up with my dream horse in tow. Finally, I heard the rumble of gravel and frantic whinnying signaling his arrival.

He was clearly not impressed with the number of hours spent in the trailer over the past 2 days.

Despite being slightly disgruntled, he calmly walked out of the trailer and across the yard to the round pen. After trotting a couple of laps in the pen, he realized there was grass to mow down and he settled right in.

Two days later, I saddled up for the first time and had an absolutely fabulous first ride. I was ecstatic thinking about our future together and the partnership being built.

Little did I know that our first ride would also be our last and in a little over 24 hours, I would be making the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye forever.

Life Lessons from Horses

Although our journey together was incredibly short, Ike’s loss has been a deeply painful experience. I wouldn’t have changed a thing but desperately wish we could have had more time together.

In moments like these, there’s a natural tendency to question why bad things happen. And in truth, we may never get the satisfaction of knowing exactly why things happen the way they do.

But we can make a choice to actively search for the silver lining. We can choose to focus on the good which is present in even the worst of circumstances.

Ike’s loss has driven me to search for the good and the valuable life lessons from horses I’ve gained over the years. He gave me retrospection and the opportunity to appreciate the impact horses have had on my life.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

1. Be Grateful for Life Lessons from Horses

Life comes with no guarantees and tomorrow is not a promise. The key to happiness is appreciating the here and now as the gift that it is.

Too many people in this world spend all their energy wishing for things to be different instead of acknowledging what they do have. I am certainly no exception.

There have been more than a few moments over the past week when I have desperately wished things had gone differently. But no amount of wishing will bring him back again.

And this type of mindset gets you nowhere except bitter and unhappy.

Although there will never be another Ike, there are other incredible horses out there waiting for their human partner. And those lesson horses that I spent the past 5 years riding? They’re still there too.

I have so much more to learn and am incredibly grateful for everything they have taught me thus far.

Choose to be grateful and watch your world brighten.

2. All Good Things Take Time

If you want to truly excel at something, you have to put in the work. There are no quick fixes in life. No shortcuts.

Especially when you are building a partnership. This is true regardless of whether it’s with a horse or with another human.

Building trust takes time and effort.

Things will almost never go according to plan and nothing worth pursuing in life comes easy.

Add in a little patience and you have the recipe for success in the dressage arena and in life.

3. Do What You Love

Want some good news? Opportunity is everywhere in life but it comes with a catch.

Opportunity is everywhere in life.

Confused?

Let me explain.

The world is full of distractions disguised as opportunity. There are choices to be made at every turn. Choices about your work and home life. And choices about how you spend your free time.

In other words, you have to be intentional about your time otherwise you will undoubtedly fill it with mindless distraction.

But if you are truly passionate about something, set your intention and follow it with all your heart.

Life is too short to live in a state of constant distraction instead of with focused intention.

4. Forgive Easily

Any partnership, whether with a fellow human or with a horse, is susceptible to misunderstandings from time to time. We will be let down because no horse or human is perfect.

But if our ultimate goal is a strong partnership, there can be no room for holding grudges. We have to learn to let the small things go for the sake of the bigger picture.

In thinking back to my early days of riding, I had a tendency to hold grudges against my horse for not responding correctly. I would then hold onto this negativity and it would darken the entire riding experience.

Once I learned to let go of perfection and forgive the mistakes, riding became much more satisfying. It took on a lighter and more positive experience when I finally realized that I was far from perfect and should forgive my horse’s honest mistakes.

Forgiveness is central to happiness because bad things are inevitable in life. Learning how to process tough emotions and move on releases us from a cycle of pain and bitterness.

5. Find a Mentor

It’s incredibly difficult to make progress in a vacuum. Finding a mentor is essential if you desire more from your riding, your personal development, or really any other area of your life.

An outside perspective provides unbeatable value when you long for lasting and meaningful improvement.

Prior to starting dressage lessons 5 years ago (and coming from a strictly western background), posting the trot was a foreign concept. Mastering even this very basic technique felt nearly impossible.

Today I am able to not only post the trot but have made huge strides in achieving throughness and collection across all 3 gaits. I have become a much more confident and able rider under the guidance of an experienced trainer.

There’s absolutely no way I would be where I am today if I hadn’t found a mentor.

6. Motivation Comes from Doing

There’s a common misperception out there about motivation. Many people think motivation is the very first step toward achieving greatness.

I disagree.

No matter how passionate you are about something, I guarantee there will be days when you won’t feel like putting in the work. There will be days when you don’t feel like saddling up, hitting the gym, or writing.

Motivation in and of itself only takes you so far and is typically highest at the beginning of your journey. But then a shift happens and you must rely on something else to drive you toward those goals.

At that point, motivation only comes after you’ve put in the daily work.

Doing the work then becomes the thing which motivates you.

Dig deep into your why and saddle up even when you can list 10 different excuses as to why you should skip today’s ride. It’s the small, daily actions which eventually add up to spectacular results.

Check out this post for tips on staying motivated.

7. Life Lessons from Horses Involve Never Giving Up

I’m not going to lie. In those moments after Ike’s death, I seriously contemplated getting out of horses altogether. Losing him so quickly after waiting 5 years to find an equine partner seemed like a sign.

A sign that maybe horses weren’t my path. That maybe I should give up, go home, and just forget about the whole thing.

Except it’s nearly impossible to give up something you’ve thought about every single day of your life.

My earliest memories include horses and even to this day, they are a constant presence in my best and brightest daydreams. Even away from the barn, I am always mentally processing my latest lesson and figuring out how I can do something better next time.

Walking away at this point means giving in to the sadness and letting negativity engulf me. It means completely eliminating something which has brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life. It’s not the legacy that Ike deserves to leave.

And although his life ended far too soon, he was truly loved and that’s really the best a horse can ever hope for.

The silver lining in all of this is that his death has given me the opportunity for reflection and has proven my gratitude for life lessons from horses.

Horses are my passion and I would feel completely lost without them in my life.

If you are going through a similar loss, I hope this article has inspired you to find your own life lessons from horses. I pray that you can take comfort in knowing that your horse was also deeply loved and that the memories will forever live on.

How to Transform Fear into Courage

How to Transform Fear into Courage

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

When was the last time you were scared to do something? Were you able to turn fear into courage or did the fear overwhelm you, preventing action and keeping you stuck?

The definition of courage would have you believe that courage is facing some type of challenge without fear but my experience is that one cannot exist without the other. Fear and courage are two sides of the same coin.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Understanding Fear and Courage

Step one of transforming your fear into courage is understanding the relationship between the two. And although there are a variety of theories on fear and courage out there, the one which rings most true to me is by Stanley Rachman.

His book Fear and Courage outlines courage as being the ability to overcome a challenge despite the presence of fear. In other words, courage can’t exist without the presence of fear.

Think about it for a minute. What do you consider your most courageous feat in life thus far? Could those feats be considered your most courageous because of how much fear was involved?

In my own life, there have been two feats I consider my most courageous. The first is my college senior recital and the second is finishing graduate school.

Senior Recital

This post describes my decision to pursue a fine arts degree in music despite significant struggles with performance anxiety. As you can imagine, the study of music requires frequent performances for both small and large audiences.

For me, performance anxiety meant sweaty, shaky hands and nausea. I would start imagining the worst case scenario which typically involved making a gigantic mistake and being laughed off stage. A close second was fear of throwing up on stage in front of everyone.

And to make matters worse, my instrument of choice is piano which has a long tradition of performing solo repertoire without music. No music as in completely memorized. Nothing in front of you to help get back in track if you lose your spot.

Although I loved the instrument, I lived in constant dread of each and every upcoming performance.

But I dreaded none of the other performances as much as my senior recital. In music programs, the senior recital is a capstone project or a final display of all you have learned throughout your degree.

It’s typically at least 30 minutes of solo music prepared by the student.

A terrifying proposition for someone with significant performance anxiety. In the months leading up to my recital, fear dominated my thoughts. All I could think about was my upcoming performance and the many ways I could humiliate myself.

The fear was overwhelming.

Finally, the day of my recital came. It was a cold day in early December with all forecasts calling for significant snowfall. And snow it did!

I remember walking across campus in my long dress and winter boots, slipping and sliding on the snow-covered sidewalks which hadn’t yet been plowed.

And I also remember the terror growing by the second as the clock inched towards show time.

In that moment, part of me thought about faking an illness, giving in to fear, and heading back home. But the other part of me knew that I would forever regret throwing away the opportunity to be courageous in the face of intense fear.

And when the clock struck 2, I walked onstage. The old familiar sweaty hands and nausea returned as did the intense fear of messing up. But in the midst of it all was a strange sense of calm in the knowledge that this would all be over very soon. This was the moment of transformation from fear into courage.

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to learn piano as an adult.

Graduate School

My career path has been a long and winding road. Although I started with aspirations to teach piano full-time, life’s curveballs sent me down a completely different path.

Shortly after finishing my fine arts degree, I went back for a two year nursing degree. I had a baby, got divorced, married again, had another baby, and finished up my baccalaureate degree in nursing. It was at this point that I set my sights on a graduate degree in nursing.

I remember mailing in my application to the program and being confident that I could tackle this. My grades had always been good so I knew that academically I could do it. Although I was working full-time, my employer was understanding and flexible. I had two kids but as I shared custody with my ex-husband, really only had one on a full-time basis. This program would be a piece of cake.

Ready for the curveball?

Not even a month after mailing the application, the test was positive. We were expecting baby #3.

And suddenly the confidence I had in being able to complete the program plummeted. Two kids plus an infant, grad school, and work seemed utterly impossible! Almost immediately, a sense of fear and overwhelm took over.

Fear haunted me throughout the program. This time around fear revolved around not finishing the program or failing out. It didn’t present in the same dramatic way it had during my music degree but was rather a constant dull ache in the pit of my stomach.

Despite the constant presence of fear, I somehow inched through the program, eventually emerging triumphant on graduation day.

Transforming Fear into Courage

Whether fear surrounds a specific event in your life or whether it’s generalized, courage can’t exist without its presence. We need fear in order to show up courageously. And the greater the fear, the more courage is required to overcome it.

Whether you’re considering a career change, launching a new venture, or going after a hobby you’ve sidelined for a few years, fear can quickly extinguish the flame before it even ignites. It all starts with an idea to try something entirely new and different which suddenly pops into your head one day and you decide to entertain it for a few minutes. Excitement courses through and your mind races with possibility. The “what-ifs” are positive and exhilarating!

But then the “what-ifs” take a different turn. “What if this doesn’t work?” “Will I look stupid?” “What if I fail?” Suddenly, fear takes over and what seemed entirely possible one minute is utterly impossible the next. Your mind races with negativity. All the reasons why it not only couldn’t but WOULDN’T work. And all of a sudden, you freeze with fear.

I have been in this place so many times. The place where even if the idea is positive and will push me in a fantastic new direction, I shut down and overwhelm takes over. Fear crowds out everything and the clear choice seems to be giving in.

Did you catch that? The clear “choice” implying you have a decision among several options. Fear doesn’t control you … you can flip the coin and instead choose courage. It only seems as if fear is the singular option but this is actually an illusion because courage is always there. The hidden path among the overgrown weeds. The lesser chosen option due to obscurity.

Fact vs. Fiction

One of the funny things about fear is that in many cases, we are our own worst enemies. Our mind takes a turn for the negative and begins fabricating all kinds of stories about why something won’t work. We convince ourselves that it’s impossible and then immediately begin looking for evidence to support this outcome.

Throughout my grad program, I had convinced myself that there was no way I would make it through. After a while, even the tiniest inconvenience became a gigantic roadblock which would undoubtedly derail my progress. I had myself so convinced I wouldn’t succeed that the only evidence I took into consideration was the negative.

And do you know what? 99% of my fear was completely made up and not based on any reality. It was a figment of my imagination.

When transforming fear into courage, stop paying attention to the negative. Look for the positive and ground yourself in reality.

Start asking whether what you fear is actually happening or whether your mind is playing games with you. Challenge the negative thoughts and begin actively looking for the positive.

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to achieve a positive mindset.

Embrace Fear

In many cases, our fear of fear is worse than the fear itself. We do everything possible to avoid feeling fear and in so doing, make our situation even worse.

I routinely considered switching majors to avoid performance situations required in the music degree. But I love music and knew that if I switched out, I would forever live with the regret of not trying. And although music does not provide a steady income stream at this point, I will always look back on the degree with pride and accomplishment.

We have to learn to not only live with but to also embrace fear. It is a normal part of our lives and everyone experiences this emotion at one time or another.

And in certain situations, fear may actually save our lives. Fear can be a mechanism of protection or warning that something is wrong.

It can also be our subconscious trying to protect us from something which doesn’t even exist. Remember all that stuff about our tendency to dwell on worst case scenarios even when there’s no fact behind it? Our subconscious can’t tell the difference between true and false. In other words, if you are consistently focusing on the negative, your subconscious thinks it’s reality.

Fear is the immediate response because your subconscious is trying to protect you by keeping you away from danger.

But in most cases, fear is only serving to hold you back from trying something new or accomplishing your goals. Fear leads directly to self-sabotage when you try to avoid it rather than face it.

And even though fear is scary, you have a secret weapon.

Choice Turns Fear into Courage

The secret weapon is choice. Every time you choose courage, you get stronger and the fear gets just a bit less scary. One courageous choice leads to another and another and another and pretty soon, courage is the only option.

Your consistent choice to turn fear into courage makes you stronger.

Choose courage over fear because at the end of the day, there’s very little we have control over in this life. We can’t control the weather, other people, or even the stability of our jobs.

But we can control our own actions. We can choose to live in the shadows of fear, constantly stewing over any and all possible negative outcomes. Or we can choose to step into the light, be courageous, and become a stronger person for it.

Choose courage.

It’s Your Turn

The next time you find yourself staring down a fear-provoking situation, carefully weigh out your options but use fear as a compass to instead find your inner courage. Embrace fear and take time to sort through where the fear comes from. And then make the choice to refuse to allow fear to control your life and prevent personal growth. Embrace courage and hang on tight because big changes are headed your way!

And if you’re looking for a little extra inspiration, check out one of my favorite reads!

Leave a comment below about the last time you chose courage over fear and the impact it had on your life!

Anxiety Relieving Activities Which Actually Work

Anxiety Relieving Activities Which Actually Work

How are you holding up right now? Are you living and loving life? Or are you struggling with overwhelming anxiety and a sense of impending doom?

Recent events have impacted every single one of our lives, to some degree. Whether it’s the virus, social injustice, or a tanking economy, stress is everywhere you look. Anxiety lurks around every corner.

It seems as if each new day presents a fresh reason to stress out!

My own struggles with anxiety have taken me to dark places in my life. Places where it’s impossible to focus on anything other than fear concocted by my subconscious. And places where peace, joy, and happiness are nowhere to be found.

But you can take back control of your life and tame those racing thoughts! Each of the following anxiety relieving activities has a positive impact on my own life and is worth trying in your own.

Much like storm clouds taking over a sunny day, so too can anxiety overshadow your life with negativity. Make a choice to stop the cycle of negativity and give these anxiety relieving activities a try today.

Before we get into it, let’s chat about stress, anxiety, and how to determine when you need help.

Stress, Anxiety, or Both?

Although people often use the words “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably, there are differences between the two. Stress is typically described as a reaction to something happening in the here and now. Anxiety, on the other hand, is worry about the future.

Let’s break them both down a bit further.

Stress

Believe it or not, stress can result from both positive and negative life changes. The birth of a new baby, starting a different job, and buying a house are all examples of positive life events capable of triggering stress.

Any time you make a life change, the potential for stress exists.

An event that one person considers horrendously overwhelming may have little to no effect on the next person.

The physical and emotional effects of stress are also variable from person to person. You may find it difficult to fall or stay asleep at night. It may suddenly become difficult to concentrate. You may also find that you feel extremely exhausted all the time.

Or maybe you’re so easily irritated that the slightest inconvenience sends you in a rage. Some people react to stress with depression. Still others begin overeating.

Although stress is a normal part of life, when left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on your health and your happiness. It can also morph into anxiety.

You may enjoy reading this post about finding peace despite chaos.

Anxiety

Would it surprise you to learn that approximately 40 million Americans have some form of an anxiety disorder? Anxiety disorders can range from a generalized state of worry about any and everything to specific phobias such as a fear of spiders or of flying.

It is similar to stress in that it affects people to varying degrees. Some people experience only occasional twinges of nervousness about an upcoming interview or work presentation.

Other people, however, obsess about the potential downsides of every little decision. What can start out as stress stemming from a life change turns into a hamster wheel of worst case scenarios. Anxiety dominates every waking thought. Soon it becomes difficult to focus on anything other than fear of the unknown and typically, the unlikely.

Physical symptoms often accompany anxiety and may include chest pain, rapid breathing, or feeling overwhelmingly tired.

Although everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, it becomes problematic when it dominates your thoughts and consistently interferes with your daily life.

Even occasional anxiety can cloud your thinking and put you in a negative mood.

But you can break free! Let’s get into some amazingly effective anxiety relieving activities!

Reframe Your Thinking

In any given situation, you have a choice. You control your thoughts. And there are positives to be found in even the darkest situations.

But once anxiety gains a foothold in your life, your thinking skews to the negative. Seeing catastrophic disaster around every corner can turn into something of a habit. Your brain becomes conditioned to block out any positives and to instead hone in on any little thing which is slightly amiss.

After a while, your entire world turns into one of those cold, dreary, miserable January days. I’m talking January in Wisconsin. For those of you who have never been to Wisconsin, January is the absolute worst! The excitement of the holidays is over and the novelty of snow has worn thin. Temperatures average around 20 degrees but are quite often below zero. Even the sun abandons the state around this time every year. Summer seems so far away that it’s painful to even think about blue skies, warm breezes, or green grass. It’s easier to pretend none of it exists than to acknowledge how long it will be before you can experience the magic of summer again.

See what I did there?

Yes, January is a long, dark month. But there is a positive side to anything in life, even January in Wisconsin. Snow means sledding, snowboarding, and skiing. It means hot beverages after a cold day spent outside.

I can tell you from experience that if you obsess over every little negative, January will crawl by. But if you actively look for joy, it will reveal itself and before you know it, spring is right around the corner!

Start looking for joy in your life and the world will suddenly seem a much brighter, less anxious place.

You may enjoy reading this post about how to achieve a more positive mindset.

Ground Yourself

One side effect of anxiety that I find to be particularly challenging is that my mind races. But it’s not in a helpful way like when I’m constructively thinking through my latest blog post. It’s more like that 3 A.M. can’t get back to sleep because I’m re-living every stupid thing I’ve ever said or done kind of way.

Annoying.

Remember what I said about you having control over your thoughts?

It’s absolutely true.

This anxiety relieving activity stops that hamster in its tracks and gives you an opportunity to regain control.

When our mind is racing, it’s often revolving around things which are either in the past or the future. In other words, imaginary things which we can’t do anything about. Continuing to think about them is pointless! It only serves to fuel anxiety and feed into the sense that we are out of control.

Take back your thoughts by using your senses in this incredibly easy anxiety relieving activity.

The next time your mind is racing, remember that you have 5 senses. Next, use each sense to gather one piece of information.

In this moment, here and now, what is one thing you can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell?

Shifting your focus to something tangible is a powerful tactic to distract you from the imaginary. Take back your power and get back on track!

Avoid the Sugar Trap

This next anxiety relieving activity is all about preventing anxiety before it even starts. And as you may have guessed from the heading, it involves sugar.

I will be the first to admit that I love sugar! There aren’t too many things I can claim as my guilty pleasure but sugar is definitely one of them!

And in today’s world of highly processed foods, you don’t need to look far to find it. Sugar is hiding in everything.

I don’t know about you but when I’m feeling a bit drained from all those racing thoughts, something sweet seems the perfect pick-me-up.

But sugar is a liar. It tricks you into thinking you will feel refreshed and ready to take on anything.

And you may feel that way for a short time. But eventually your body will crash, leaving you feeling worse than ever. Worse than before you ate that gigantic piece of leftover birthday cake. Or that chunk of frosted brownie. Much worse.

Our bodies crave stability and predictability from the food we take in. We function best on nutrients which break down more slowly and cause a more gradual energy spike.

Nutrients such as proteins provide a more effective fuel source for your body. Protein will give you a more sustainable energy and won’t leave you with that “hung-over” feeling.

And if your body is fueled adequately, your mind is more likely to follow suit.

Anxiety Relieving Activities Work Best With Help

Although there are a host of effective anxiety relieving activities out there, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Especially if you feel that anxiety is taking over your life. There are many ways to manage anxiety and some people require professional assistance to do so.

Speaking with your doctor and/or a counselor can be extremely beneficial in helping you manage anxiety. Anxiety can be accompanied by other diagnoses, including depression, so it’s important that you receive the appropriate treatment.

Your primary care provider can determine whether medication on either a long or short-term basis may be the right choice for you. Not everyone who has anxiety requires medication but it can be helpful, especially in the beginning, to get things under control.

The most effective treatment of anxiety involves an emphasis on taking care of yourself, body and soul. If you are lacking in one area, anxiety has the potential to creep back into your life.

And a counselor can help you untangle those negative pathways in your mind which are feeding into anxiety. They can help you set a more positive mindset and challenge the false realities you create for yourself.

This past spring has been like no other. If recent events have left you feeling unsettled and drained, please get help! You’re never alone. And there are people out there who both understand and can relate to what you’re going through.

You may enjoy reading this post about living with intention.

Spend Time in Nature

“Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”

John Muir

Of all the anxiety relieving activities on the list, this is my favorite! I am a firm believer in the power of a little sun and fresh air. There’s just something about getting out into nature which feeds the soul.

The beauty and solitude is a reminder that peace exists. There is so much out there which is bigger than we are. A little sun on your face and the wind in your hair is enough to convince you that everything will be ok after all. And suddenly the anxious thoughts once taking over your mind seem insignificant compared with the majesty of nature.

Although Wisconsin winters present a variety of challenges, there are still ample opportunities to enjoy nature. My favorite winter days often follow the biggest snowstorms. Not nice for driving but freshly fallen snow sparkles like thousands of diamonds. Everywhere you look, the world seems shiny new. Paired with a bright blue sky, this view is like nothing else and will take your breath away!

I especially love pairing nature with exercise! It’s the absolute best way to naturally raise your endorphins and banish negativity!

The next time you find yourself reeling from repetitively negative thoughts, strap on your tennis shoes and get outside. Focus on nature all around you and I promise you will be shocked at how quickly the anxiety disappears.

Funniest Anxiety Relieving Activities

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine but did you know it’s actually true? Not for everything, of course, but for certain things it’s unbeatable! Especially when you find someone else to laugh with!

Similar to exercise, laughter releases feel good hormones known as endorphins. It also decreases your body’s stress response leaving you feeling calm and relaxed.

Research has also proven there are long-term benefits of laughter which include a stronger immune system and better overall life satisfaction.

The next time you’re struggling with anxiety that you just can’t shake, take a laugh break! I’ll even give you a recommendation to get you started!

I discovered Charlie Berens about a year ago and I have to say that before him, I wasn’t a big fan of being a Wisconsinite. Between the frigid winters, the quirky eccentricities of small town life, and the state’s obsession with the Packers, it seemed like there was nothing cool about being from Wisconsin. In my opinion, it was the most boring state. Except Iowa, of course. I’ve heard Iowa is even worse on the state cool meter.

Anyway, Charlie has a way of spinning Wisconsin life to make it seem much cooler than it actually is. He takes snippets of daily life in the dairy state and by using humor, oddly makes me feel better about living where I live. Not that I was ever particularly distressed about being from Wisconsin but it’s definitely not as cool as being from New York, California, or Florida.

If you’re unfamiliar with Charlie or small town Wisconsin, here are a few videos to get you up to speed:

1) Confused about what goes in a casserole? Not sure what a hot dish is? This video explains it all.

2) Ever wondered what your husband does while you’re strolling the aisles of Target? Find out here.

3) I’ve never been to an Ikea but after watching this video feel as if I get the gist.

4) Curious about how quarantine in Wisconsin is going? Find out here.

5) Tips and tricks on backyard deep frying.

It’s Your Turn

Anxiety sucks. But there are ways to overcome it and I hope you have come away with inspiration on taming the negativity! Stop letting anxiety hold you back from living your best life. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you are struggling.

Don’t forget to drop a comment below with your tips on controlling anxiety! I’d also love to hear about videos you find hilarious or that keep you sane on a bad day!

How to Overcome Perfectionism

How to Overcome Perfectionism

Perfectionism is sneaky. It often starts as a coping mechanism when we’re young and unable to recognize its lies. Although it disguises itself as a desire for excellence, perfectionism is actually an intense fear of failure.

This fear has the power to destroy confidence, self-esteem, and relationships. It keeps those in its grasp believing that our worthiness comes from achievement. That we could never be valued or loved based solely upon our status as a human being.

Perfectionism is a toxic force which often associates with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.

If perfectionism is ruling your life, it’s time to set yourself free. Ditch the inner critic and choose peace. Start here.

The Perfectionism Myth

Perfectionism has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It’s tough for me to recall a time when I didn’t obsess over every little detail of everything I do. Or procrastinate because I believe that I’ll never complete something to my own impossibly high standards.

It’s funny how quickly our own maladaptive coping strategies weave their way into our lives, blinding us to their truly negative impacts.

At least not until something challenges our inner world. Although I have recently had one of those “reality check” moments, I once regarded perfectionism as my super power. Deep down inside, I secretly believed that my success in life was directly related to my perfectionism.

I believed that my tendency to stubbornly cling to ridiculously high standards drove me to greater heights than I could otherwise achieve.

In fact, perfectionism eventually permeated my thinking to such a degree that living any other way was simply unimaginable. My constant need to control every aspect of my life was exhausting but felt safe. It wove its way into my very being, wreaking havoc on my motivation, confidence, and even my self-esteem.

And it all starts innocently enough, often with the simple desire to succeed. But instead of focusing on achieving success, the focus is on avoiding failure.

Over time, the focus continues to narrow in on avoiding failure. It consumes you and soon it’s nearly impossible to enjoy the journey because you’re too busy fixating on failure.

You tell yourself that you’ll be able to relax once you achieve the goal. Except the goal you’re going after is constantly moving. The bar is always being pushed higher.

And there is no celebration because perfection does not exist and you will therefore never achieve it. This is the myth of perfectionism.

You may also enjoy reading this post about overcoming self-doubt.

Signs of Perfectionism

Perfectionism can take many forms. It may show up in your life as rigid, all-or-nothing thinking. Soon this can morph into the desire for greater control. Then follows the nagging thought that if you only had more control, then you could achieve perfection.

Or maybe perfectionism manifests as having unreasonably high expectations of yourself or others. Thus the difficulties with achieving both inner peace and harmony with those around you. After all, it’s tough to have a sense of calm when nothing ever feels good enough.

It’s that voice in your head which points out every tiny mistake in an endless array of life scenarios. A misspelled word here or an awkward interaction there. Such mistakes may cause you to seriously question your worth as a person. How could anyone ever love you after such gigantic blunders?

Maybe you even find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed but unable to delegate anything to anyone else. After all, there’s no one who can do it like you do. No one else has the attention to detail or commitment to the project. It would only result in you needing to do everything all over again anyway.

Procrastination is perfectionism when you put off tasks due to fear of being unable to complete them to your high standards. You’ll never succeed anyway so what’s the point of starting?

And being unable to accept compliments from others is yet another sign perfectionism is ruling your life. Anyone who compliments you is clearly lying because there are a million things wrong with this project. Either that or they’re too oblivious to realize all the mistakes you made in its completion. And at the end of the day, neither scenario is flattering.

Perfectionism Holds You Back

Regardless of how perfectionism shows up in your life, it’s holding you back. It holds you back from your true potential, from authentic relationships with others, and ultimately, from happiness.

Perfectionism is a mask we use to hide our true selves from others. Something which starts as a coping mechanism evolves into a completely skewed view of the world.

Perfectionism has you believing that your worth is based upon your accomplishments. That you have to earn love and acceptance. And that showing your flaws to others will only push them further away from you.

Perfectionism keeps you from trying new things. It paralyzes you with fear of failure. And it keeps you stuck where you’re at.

The worst part about perfectionism is that it lulls you into a false sense of security. It feeds you the lie that you’re in control and as long as you’re calling the shots, nothing bad will ever happen.

But the truth is that as long as perfectionism is running the show, you’ll never be the person you were meant to be.

The person who simply tries their best and is ok with the rest.

Or the person who can actually kick back and relax without fearing the world is coming to an end.

And you’ll never find the inner peace of someone who accepts themselves for who they are, flaws and all.

As someone who has lived the lie of perfectionism for the past 20 years, my greatest wish for you is to find peace.

The Path to Recovery

If any of the above rings a little too true with you, congratulations! You have achieved the crucial first step of awareness. It has taken me years of discovery, self-development, and counseling to unpack the negative impact perfectionism has had on my outlook.

But I couldn’t have done it without opening up to someone. I had to let someone in so I could finally see that all my self-imposed rules were ridiculous. My goals were unattainable. And all the negativity was only feeding into my anxiety and depression.

Perfectionism tends to keep you locked in your head avoiding action. But opening up to someone you trust releases those thoughts and gives you outside perspective.

Although friends and family are great for support, I recommend finding a professional, at least in the beginning of your journey. A neutral third party, such as a counselor, is essential for giving you completely unbiased feedback.

Loved ones mean well but they often have their own opinions about your life. This can actually be counterproductive when trying to break free from people pleasing perfectionist tendencies. Their feedback has the potential to trigger the perfectionism in such subtle ways that in many cases, you will be completely unaware of it.

A trained professional can help you identify these behavioral patterns. They can also help you develop ways to overcome them.

Although I have been known to joke about my perfectionist tendencies, it is a serious issue which requires attention. Just the other day I read an article about a beautiful woman and mom of 3 little ones who struggled with perfectionism and unfortunately, took her own life. Her family was very clear that perfectionism was a contributor to her suicide.

Get the help that you need now to overcome the negativity. You matter!

Stop Comparing

Comparison is a slippery slope to perpetual unhappiness. There will always be someone out there who is prettier than you. Smarter than you. Wealthier than you. And someone who has a better Instagram feed than you.

Their house is bigger, cleaner, and more tastefully decorated. Maybe their kids are better-behaved and their husband does all the cooking. They’re always driving late model SUVs. And they were recently promoted at work.

There will always be someone out there who appears to be further ahead than you are. It’s a fact of life.

The reality is that we all struggle in one way or another. Perfectionism wants you to believe that you are the only one struggling.

It has you believing that you need to look and act a certain way to gain the approval of others. That you will never receive love or acceptance if anyone sees the messy parts of you.

Perfectionism is a liar.

We all have messy parts in our lives. Everyone struggles, fails, and starts all over again at some point in their lives. Not one of us has gone through life without failing at some point.

There is no such thing as perfection. It doesn’t exist.

So stop the comparison trap. Turn off social media. Take time to do those things which make you feel good about yourself and who you are.

Meditate. Exercise. Journal.

Do whatever it is that makes you feel like the person you were created to be.

You may also enjoy reading this post about comparison.

A Word About Self-Talk

Self-talk is the language we use with ourselves. It includes both the easier to identify conscious and the more subtle subconscious.

What does your self-talk sound like? Is it encouraging and uplifting? Or does it sound more like the mean girls from middle school?

If you’re struggling with perfectionism, chances are good that your self-talk is the latter. It’s time to put those mean girls in their place. Middle school is over. You’re an adult and as a human being, you deserve better than that.

Start paying attention to the words you use with yourself. If you’re having difficulty identifying whether or not your self-talk is positive, write down your thoughts and read them out loud.

I had no idea how truly hurtful my self-talk was until I started asking myself whether I would say the thought out loud to a friend. It’s shocking how clear the nature of your self-talk becomes when you use this filter.

And I became immediately aware of just how critical I had become of myself.

Self-talk is powerful. It can either build you up or tear you down. It’s the most frequent voice you hear so you owe it to yourself to make it a positive one.

Mute the inner critic. I promise that you will miss her even less than your 8th grade bully!

Shift Your Mindset

Once you begin working on your self-talk, it’s time to tackle your mindset. Perfectionism has you believing things are black and white. Gray doesn’t exist. There is only success or failure.

Perfectionism is a liar.

There is a gray and it’s the place where the most growth happens.

Failure can never exist if you instead re-frame it as learning.

Whenever something doesn’t work out as planned, you have a choice. You can either allow yourself to be defeated or you can pick yourself up and try again. Learn from the experience and apply those lessons toward a different future outcome.

Perfectionism has you believing that you are powerless. A victim to circumstance.

But do you want to live your life that way? Wouldn’t you rather be the heroine of your own story? The person who never gives up and never surrenders?

I do.

Shift your mindset. Embrace failure as an opportunity for growth. Remember that failure can never exist if you learn and grow from it.

Ditch the black and white thinking and start living in the gray.

You may also enjoy reading this post about achieving a positive mindset.

Live, Laugh, Love

Perfectionism is an evil cloud blocking out the sun in your life. It’s time to get serious about confronting its subtle lies.

You deserve happiness. Life is messy and unpredictable. But you are more powerful than you realize. You are the heroine of your story and can overcome anything, even perfectionism.

Stop hiding behind the lies and start living. Don’t let its lies steal even one more moment of happiness from you.

Get the help you deserve.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how perfectionism holds you back and what you’re doing to overcome it below!

How to Stay Motivated When Things Get Tough

How to Stay Motivated When Things Get Tough

Have you ever been in that place where you have the best of intentions but just can’t seem to follow through?

You have goals. Big goals that you’ve been working hard to accomplish. But then something happens. Maybe you get sick. Or are asked to put in more hours at work. Schools suddenly close due to a deadly virus and now the education of your children rests squarely in your hands. And by the way, who ever thought that last one would be an actual thing? Definitely not me!

Whatever the cause, you suddenly find your goals pushed off to the wayside.

It’s in these moments that all the hard work we have put toward our goals can quickly be derailed. Our formerly helpful routines are upset and progress grinds to a halt. We suddenly find it difficult to stay motivated.

It happens to all of us at one time or another. The punches life throws seem greater than we can handle. We get knocked down. Thrown off course. Sidetracked.

Illusion vs. Reality

A series of unfortunate events has recently cascaded into my own life, throwing me into a place of emotional angst. Events both at work and at home have taken their toll and I’m just plain tired.

In these moments it’s so easy to let overwhelm take over. It’s tempting to give in to the negative self-talk fueled by anxiety, self-doubt, and fatigue. Giving up on your goals seems like the only reasonable option in an otherwise challenging situation. It even seems as if relief from the all-consuming pressure is waiting just on the other side of admitting defeat.

But is it really?

Or is the relief only an illusion? A figment of your imagination which only exists in the place where it’s created. Is it possible that the relief is only temporary and regret over giving up will soon replace the relief?

Granted, there are situations when we make a conscious decision to shift gears on our goals. Maybe we start down a path only to discover that it’s not the right one for us. Or maybe we don’t actually enjoy doing the thing as much as we thought we would.

Those are not the situations I am referring to.

The situations I’m talking about are the ones where we enjoy pursuing our goals and they fit nicely into our talent set. But life happens and we suddenly decide that everything else is more important and therefore worthy of our time. We lose motivation. Suddenly our goals are tossed aside and no longer prioritized. After a while, we stop actively pursuing them altogether, essentially giving up on our dreams.

Stay Motivated

Let me ask you this…

If the goal was important enough to pursue in the first place, wouldn’t accomplishing that goal feel infinitely better than any temporary relief from giving up?

But how can you get back on track when everything else gets in the way and your motivation is nowhere to be found?

It’s not easy. I’ve been in that place of defeat so many times. I’m a firm believer that the only failure in life is giving up and having given up repeatedly in the past has only served to make me wiser in the present.

If you too are interested in how to stay motivated when life gets tough, I’ve got you covered!

1. Take a Break

Life is busy and some seasons are busier than others. If you are feeling overwhelmed and are finding it difficult to stay motivated, then maybe it’s time to take a breather.

It’s simply not possible to excel at everything all the time. We are human and regularly need rest, even from our biggest goals.

As a type A perfectionist, I’ve had to learn these truths over and over and over again. For the longest time, I equated rest with failure. I felt that if I wasn’t firing on all cylinders all the time then I was failing.

But the truth is that rest can actually make you better. Rest makes you stronger and is a necessary part of growth.

Think about the last time you woke up in the morning after a great night of sleep. Remember that feeling of being able to take on anything? Now think back to a time when you woke after a terrible night of sleep. I’m not sure about you but on those mornings simply getting through the day seems a task of monumental proportions.

Rest and a clear head enable us to take on anything. Sometimes the inability to stay motivated is a clear sign that we are tired.

Taking a break can also help you to see your goal through new eyes. Stepping away can fuel your passion for the project and give you an opportunity to re-evaluate your goals without giving up entirely.

Make a plan for how long you plan to step away and how you will pick back up again when the rest period is over. Planning out your rest gives you accountability and a sense of purpose, essential components for continued productivity.

2. Stay Motivated By Getting Out of Your Head

Have you ever geared yourself up for something and then talked yourself out of it at the last minute? I can’t even count how many times I’ve self-sabotaged this way!

It goes something like this. Let’s say you’re trying to get back into exercising on a regular basis. Tomorrow is leg day and you plan to wake up early to hit the gym. Your alarm goes off at 5 a.m. as planned. But your bed suddenly feels amazingly comfortable and you have zero motivation to follow through in this moment. You begin looking for every excuse in the book to stay cozy instead of hitting the gym.

And so you tell yourself that rest is equally as important as exercise. You reset your alarm and snooze further and further from your fitness goals.

You’re self-sabotaging.

We do this to ourselves so many times and in so many different ways! In those moments when it’s tough to stay motivated we instead give up and give in. We stay in our heads instead of taking action towards our goals.

Going after a new goal requires effort. Goals often demand change and sacrifice. In most cases, you are setting up entirely new routines and in so doing, are going against those previously set.

Ultimately only you can decide whether accomplishing your goals is worth the sacrifice of change. But if the goal is important to you, accomplishment will likely outweigh the discomfort of change.

Make the goal and instead of thinking your way out of it, take action.

No one feels motivated to work hard 100% of the time. Action is what moves us closer to our goals and unfortunately, thinking often gets in the way of action. Stop feeding into the lie that you must feel motivated to take action.

Get out of your head and take the first step.

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to stop caring what everyone else thinks.

3. Add Some Fun

Is it possible that your inability to stay motivated could actually be related to a loss of fun?

Although accomplishing any goal requires a certain amount of hard work, no one said it had to be boring!

Sometimes we set goals around activities we enjoy. This is not necessarily a bad thing but when we focus more on the goal than enjoying the activity itself, we set ourselves up for burnout. (I’m talking to you, type A perfectionists!)

It can be all too easy to lose sight of why we started in the first place.

Instead of giving up entirely when your motivation lags, look for ways to add fun back into the equation. Focus on the specific activities which brighten your day and add meaning to your life. Do more of what you love and revel in the feeling it gives you!

4. Stay Motivated by Celebrating Your Wins

If you’re the type of person who simply checks a box and moves on to the next goal, it’s time to consider celebrating your wins. Failure to do so quickly adds up, eventually leading to an inability to stay motivated.

This is a definite area of struggle for me. I find myself tackling one goal after the next without so much as time to breathe in between. After a while, accomplishing goals begins to feel mundane instead of triumphant. Goal attainment can quickly become an obligation instead of a privilege.

Taking time to celebrate even the smallest of victories puts the joy back into what you do. It also gives you the opportunity to reflect back upon all the hard work and sacrifice which went into this amazing accomplishment.

Celebrating wins is a new concept but one I’ve started embracing in my own life. It can take time to get used to looking for wins but if you stick with it, the pay-off is huge!

Start incorporating this practice into your life by attaching a reward to a specific behavior. Going back to the exercise example from above, consider a small reward for yourself after completing a certain number of workouts. After hitting your goal, make sure you actually follow through with the promised reward. It’s not enough to simply tell yourself that you will celebrate … you have to actually celebrate!

5. Find Motivation Outside Yourself

If you are still unable to stay motivated after working through all of the above, it’s time to seek outside motivation.

This may come in the form of advice from a trusted friend or accountability partner. You may find motivation in your favorite TED talk. It may also come from your favorite “stop waiting for life to happen and make your own way” kick-in-the-pants podcast.

Wherever it comes from, there’s a ton of great motivation out there if you know where to look. Sometimes all it takes to get back on track is a quick blog post, a list of the most powerful motivational quotes, or a YouTube video.

The motivation is out there but it’s up to you to go out there and find it.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes to get you started!

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Walt Disney

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela

“Well done is better than well said.”

Benjamin Franklin

“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.

Oprah Winfrey

You may also enjoy reading this post about living with intention.

Go Out There and Be Awesome!

The truth is that everyone loses motivation at one point or another. But there is one key difference between those who succeed and those who don’t.

That difference is persistence.

Successful people know that relying solely on motivation when going after goals will result in failure every time. In order to succeed, you must plan for those times when you simply don’t feel like doing the things you need to do to get where you want to go.

You have to be prepared to never give up because success could be hiding just around the next corner.

I truly hope you have found tips to help you stay motivated toward your goals even in the toughest of times! Look for every opportunity to add a little fun back into your life and to reward yourself for all that hard work!

And don’t forget to share this post if you found something useful or drop a comment below with your main take-aways.

Now get out there and be the awesome person you are!

You may also enjoy reading this post about conquering self-doubt.

5 Ways You Can Conquer Self-Doubt

5 Ways You Can Conquer Self-Doubt

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Sylvia Plath

Self-doubt is sneaky. It swoops in, stealing your confidence, your productivity, and most of all, your self-esteem.

There are many ways in which self-doubt can show up in your life. You may have vague feelings that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t handle what life throws at you. Or you may have overwhelming feelings of defeat regardless of the goal you are seeking to accomplish.

Self-doubt shows up in my own life as a place of inactivity. It leaves me constantly questioning whether or not to move forward with new ideas and keeps me stuck where I’m at. This negative mindset tends to feed into my perfectionist tendencies and keeps me stuck in the procrastination zone.

I have allowed self-doubt to creep in so many times. Sometimes I wonder how much farther along I would be in certain areas of my life if only I had refused to let self-doubt take over.

But we can’t spend our lives looking in the rearview mirror. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and resolve to do better tomorrow.

There are many reasons why we struggle with self-doubt. We may be carrying false beliefs from childhood. Or maybe we have had failed experiences in the past causing us to lose confidence in ourselves. After all, we failed once. What’s stopping us from failing again?

Whatever the cause, self-doubt holds us back from our full potential.

After realizing just how much self-doubt was preventing my own growth, I devoted time and research into figuring out how to overcome it. Although there are still times when I give in, my awareness of its effects has increased. Self-doubt is therefore much easier to spot early on which means I can quickly deploy tactics to divert it in its tracks.

1. Conquer Self-Doubt Through Awareness

“Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”

Daniel Chidiac

As with many things in life, awareness is the very first step. It’s tough to fix something if you’re completely unaware it’s an issue.

But how do you know whether self-doubt is what’s holding you back?

Your self talk often holds the answer to this question. During moments of fear, doubt, and overwhelm, do you find yourself thinking any of the following questions?

  • “I’m not good enough to do this.”
  • “I just can’t do it.”
  • “This is too hard.”
  • “I don’t know how to move forward and even if I did, I would probably fail.”
  • “I’ll never be able to accomplish that.”

If the above comments sound familiar, chances are good that you are struggling with self-doubt. Recognition is powerful. It’s the key to changing this negative mindset.

Because the truth is, you can accomplish things. Big things. Hard things. Seemingly impossible things.

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t … you’re right.”

Henry Ford

But first your mind has to be in the right place. And being frozen by self-doubt is decidedly NOT the right place.

Practice identifying the subtle negativity hidden in your own self talk. If you are feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt, stop and ask yourself whether you would say these things aloud to someone else.

Chances are good that you wouldn’t. And if you wouldn’t say them to someone else, don’t say them to yourself either.

Stop self-doubt in its tracks by putting a name to it and refusing to feed into the negativity.

Take a vow to stop getting in your own way!

You may also enjoy reading this post about achieving a positive mindset.

2. Get Back to the Basics

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Lucille Ball

Banishing self-doubt requires confidence in yourself. It requires confidence in your decisions, abilities, and in who you are as a person. And there’s no better way to start than by showing yourself some much-deserved love.

Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually is crucial. You can’t build a house without a solid foundation and basic self-care practices form the foundation of success.

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are all requirements for success. Without these pillars, it’s almost impossible to move forward.

Although there have been times in my life when I have struggled with all three, sleep deprivation has by far been the most personally troublesome. Whether the lack of sleep was related to new babies or stress, those were some of the most challenging times in my life. Sleep deprivation robbed me of my motivation and hung over my life like a haze.

I can still remember walking around like I was auditioning for the part of a zombie extra in The Walking Dead. Waking up utterly exhausted day after day actually caused me to wonder whether I had some type of sleep disorder.

It was during this time in my life that my self-doubt was at an all time high.

I questioned everything. Each and every seemingly insignificant decision became a matter of life or death. From second guessing dinner plans to what I had chosen to wear for work that morning, everything became a big deal. I was constantly doubting myself.

Although I was eventually able to get my sleep back on track, it was a long road to where I’m at now. The road back did start with sleep testing, a story you can find here. It continued with learning everything possible about how to better manage my sleep patterns.

Even today, I am fiercely protective of my sleep because I know what happens when I don’t get enough. And I never want to be in that place again.

Although sleep is my weakness, you may find that self-doubt creeps into your own life when your diet is off. Or when you stop exercising. You may even find that when you stop taking time to pursue meaningful activities, self-doubt sets up a stronghold.

Take some time today to make sure the basics are present in your life. And if they aren’t, what can you change to make things better?

3. Remember Past Success

“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”

Unknown

Our mind plays so many tricks on us. If we listen to the negativity, we are suddenly convinced that we are the only ones in the world struggling. No one else could possibly be going what we’re going through.

And nothing we’ve done has been as difficult as whatever hurdle we’re facing. This is by far the toughest thing we’ve ever encountered. And there’s no way we can overcome it because nothing we’ve done has ever prepared us for this.

But is that actually true?

NO!

It’s a lie fabricated by your subconscious to protect you from the unknown. Our brains are wired to keep us safe. By sticking to what we know, we are lulled into a false sense of security.

But this is absolutely not the case!

It’s in these moments that we tend to forget all our truly amazing accomplishments! The things that you once thought were truly impossible but yet somehow attained.

Moments of self-doubt are the perfect time to recall all of those incredible feats. You have, in fact, done hard things. Very hard things. Even in those times when you did not do what you set out to, you learned. As long as you were able to take something away from the experience, consider it a win.

Write down the actions which have brought pride. Keeping track of your accomplishments and learning experiences will give you a bank to draw from when self-doubt tries to halt your progress.

You’ve done plenty of hard things in the past. And you’re definitely up for the challenge of tackling more in the future!

You may also enjoy reading this post about identifying your strengths.

4. Be You

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

E. E. Cummings

You are unique. There’s no one in this world quite like you. And the world needs your exclusive blend of personality, interests, and talents! The authentic you, imperfections and all.

No one needs some watered down version of who you truly are. We need the real you!

And guess what? You’ll never be anyone else so you might as well be the absolute best version of yourself!

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with self-doubt. I know it may seem off topic but it actually has everything to do with this negative mindset trap.

Just as self-doubt has a greater chance of sneaking in when you’re not paying attention to your health and wellness, so too does it creep in when you’re paying too much attention to other people.

Self-doubt often occurs in relation to other people. Situations in which we either compare ourselves to others or situations in which we are too absorbed in what others think of us.

Either situation quickly fans the flames of self-doubt, causing it to rage out of control.

The truth is that you are you. You can never be anyone else. Comparing yourself to anyone other than who you were in the past is a waste of precious time and energy.

People tend to show us their best sides. Their sunny sides. We typically don’t see the storms or secret battles they wage within. There’s no way of knowing just how much they’ve had to wade through to get where they are today.

So stop the comparison trap. You’ll be happier for it!

And stop worrying about what other people think. It’s impossible to simultaneously please everyone in your life. So please the person who actually matters and who you have full control over … you.

Be you!

5. Conquer Self-Doubt by Taking Action

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Dale Carnegie

Self-doubt thrives in small, dark places. It looks for each and every tiny insecurity you have about yourself and grows it from a seedling of doubt into a gigantic, tangling jungle of negativity. After awhile, the jungle of self-doubt chokes out your confidence and so deeply entwines you in its tangles that it’s nearly impossible to overcome.

Self-doubt, if allowed to grow, keeps you stuck where you’re at. And stuck feels safe. Staying where we’re at is familiar. Our subconscious loves familiar because it knows exactly what to expect. There are no surprises. No possible hidden threats.

Except that one big, hairy gigantic threat. The threat of you believing the lies stemming from your own insecurities.

But how do you overcome the tangled jungle of self-doubt?

You take action.

It starts with the smallest possible step. Once you tackle the first step, move on to the second. And so on and so forth.

With each step, your confidence grows. Every step is an opportunity to chop away at that tangled mess just a little bit more.

But the longer you stay stuck in your head, endlessly pondering worst-case scenarios, the tougher it will be to take a step forward. Stop ruminating! Take action! Messy, imperfect, forward, and enthusiastic action.

You may enjoy reading this post about living with intention.

It’s Your Turn

Overcoming self-doubt is far from easy. It requires consistency and the desire to overcome a negative mindset which is holding you back from your full potential.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain on a consistent basis, it may be time to seek medical care. You may have an underlying condition contributing to your mindset and would benefit from accurate treatment. Getting help just might be the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself!

And talk with someone you trust about what you’re going through. They may be able to give you insight into the mental blocks holding you back. Chances are, they can actually help you dispel some of that negativity and move you toward taking action.

I hope you have found a few helpful tips on your journey toward conquering self-doubt! Don’t forget to comment below about what you found useful and where self-doubt is showing up in your life.

Now get out there and take action today!

Quarantine Truths: What I’ve Learned So Far

Quarantine Truths: What I’ve Learned So Far

Quarantine … like it or not, it’s been here for awhile now.

It’s hard to say exactly how long it will be around but here in Wisconsin, we’re bracing for at least another month.

I’m doing my very best to stay positive and to continue learning and growing through the chaos.

And do you know what?

I don’t absolutely hate quarantine.

But I do hate bats.

I can handle basically any other creepy, crawly critter out there.

Snakes?

I once killed one with a shovel.

Mice?

I don’t like them but they’re not the worst thing in the world.

And spiders?

I’ve probably killed every single one I’ve ever met.

Bats on the other hand … WORST. CREATURES. EVER.

You may be asking yourself why I’m starting a post on what I’ve learned during quarantine with a rant about bats.

The answer is that I was reading an article about COVID-19 in a medical journal the other day and it is believed to have originated in bats.

Our world is a chaotic place right now, all thanks to a disgusting bat.

And did you know that bats carry rabies?

This is a fact I’ve known since the age of 5 and is probably the reason why I’ve always despised them.

It’s a fact my husband has frequently argued with me as he mistakenly believes rats carry rabies.

I laugh every time he tries to argue the point with me.

He’s obviously got this one incredibly wrong.

He even taped a news segment one time about rabies transmission and triumphantly announced that it featured rats.

Except when we pushed play, the news segment was actually about bats.

Boom.

I win again.

Marriage, like an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway, is the place where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.

Much like our world right now.

You may enjoy reading this article about rekindling the romance in your relationship.

My Work Life

Quarantine has changed the way we live.

My husband and I are both considered essential employees and as such are still going to work every morning.

Just like before.

As a nurse practitioner who sees patients in the nursing home, my position involves working with one of the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19.

My husband’s position as a nursing home administrator also places him squarely in the center of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Those of us who work in this setting are doing our very best to make decisions which are in the best interest of the population we care for.

But this is not an easy task in the midst of such an unprecedented event.

The rules are changing rapidly.

Sometimes even on an hourly basis.

Quarantine = Change

And the truth is that no one really knows with 100% certainty what should be done right now.

Although I am new to the position of nurse practitioner, I was a nurse for 9 years prior to graduating with a doctor of nursing practice degree.

In terms of practice area and personality, there are many different types of nurses out there.

But I am the type of nurse who thrives on organization and structure.

I appreciate consistency and clear guidelines.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing right now.

Everyone is in survival mode.

Every morning when I walk into work, the only thing I’m certain of is that there will be some type of change.

Sometimes these changes are big, such as when nursing homes made the very difficult decision to prevent viral spread by prohibiting visitors.

I had honestly never considered a world where families couldn’t visit their loved ones.

And having had a multi-week hospitalization during my last pregnancy, I can tell you how much those face-to-face visits meant to me.

But I do know that the decision to lock down facilities was not made lightly.

On other days I walk in to small changes.

Fewer people to see on a daily basis because hospitals are limiting elective procedures and there are fewer people sent for rehabilitation in the nursing home.

The need to wear masks all day long.

And having my temperature taken upon entry to the building every single morning.

Change is tough!

Especially when uncertainty hangs in the air like a thick, black cloud.

Despite the rapid pace at which these changes are made, I’m surviving.

I’m learning that I can survive, no matter what.

Quarantine Means New Opportunities

Each day brings a new opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and to become a stronger person for it.

And guess what?

You too are surviving massive change.

The world is a different place right now but it’s not all bad.

Pollution over major cities has decreased dramatically.

We are spending more time with our families.

Embrace this time we’ve been given.

If you, like me, are that person who loves structure and organization, now is the best time to practice adapting to change.

Because if you can make it through this with even half your sanity, you truly can make it through anything!

You may also enjoy reading this article about finding peace despite chaos.

My Home Life

Quarantine has impacted my work life in big and small ways but has definitely not spared my home life either.

Two of my three kiddos were in school and the third was happily thriving in daycare prior to the ensuing chaos.

Unfortunately my daycare closed at the exact same time school closed.

Thankfully we have been able to find several awesome sitters to watch our kiddos while we truck off to work each morning.

I couldn’t be more thankful for these wonderful sitters who bring structure and creativity to my kids.

Because my husband and I have no energy left at the end of the day to engage them in any type of project, creative or otherwise.

My social media feeds are filled with pictures of kids actively engaged in learning at home.

I am not that mom.

Household Homeschooling Coordinator

My aspirations have NEVER included homeschooling.

And I have zero confidence this will change at any point in the near future.

Unfortunately, yesterday we officially received word that schools (in Wisconsin anyway) would not open back up for the remainder of the school year.

Bummer.

Up until now, I had been coasting by on the thought that in all probability, schools would be back in session at some point this year.

Surely my kids would not have to depend upon my half-hearted efforts to replicate a lesson plan which resembles those of their talented teachers.

Teachers who have spent considerable time, energy, and effort to hone their craft.

Dedicated men and women who actually enjoy and excel at engaging kids in learning.

Have I mentioned how much appreciation and respect I have for teachers?

I recognize how tough but important their job is and feel ill-prepared to assume anything which resembles teaching.

I’ve been engaging my kids in activities only deemed educational through a very large stretch of the imagination.

Example …

The other night, the moon was huge.

I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for a science lesson.

Because anything involving the moon is science, right?

So I called my kindergartener over and pointed it out.

It took a minute but he finally spotted the gigantic moon through the neighbor’s tree.

He gazed at it for a bit before he asked if he was bigger than the moon.

My obviously very intelligent response (sarcasm) was that the moon was much, much bigger than him.

I’m not sure whether he accepted my answer or not but he shrugged his shoulders and headed off to bed.

As he walked away, I had a moment of guilt and defeat.

“I should have planned out some type of fun learning activity for him instead of letting him sit in front of the TV tonight. Why am I failing at this?”

Parenting Through Quarantine

But the truth is that we can’t do and be everything to everyone.

We have all been given certain talents, time, and energy.

And we have to make the most out of what we’ve been given.

Living in a place of guilt and defeat is not the best we can do.

Figuring out how to use our strengths to the best of our ability is the place we need to strive for.

So what does this mean for my newly appointed status as household homeschooling coordinator?

I am striving to intentionally interact with my kids in ways which also stimulate their minds.

This may be as simple as reading books with them or including them in the preparation of meals.

Going for walks and throwing out math problems are also included.

I am trying to make everyday activities more educational but also giving myself grace to just enjoy my time with them.

If you too are freaked out by the pressure to assume the household homeschool coordinator role, dial down the pressure.

Your kids will be fine, even if school doesn’t start up again until next fall or later.

Do the best you can to be present with them and don’t worry about the rest!

Let’s take this opportunity to support ourselves and do what works for our families.

You may also enjoy reading this article about overcoming mom guilt.

It’s Your Turn

Quarantine is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your own life.

What makes you happy?

Are there aspects of your life which are completely draining you emotionally?

Where are the areas you need change and adaptation to keep moving forward instead of remaining stuck?

How can you become more of the person you were meant to be?

And where do you need to give yourself grace?

Quarantine is a reset button for all of us.

Take this opportunity to celebrate areas of your life which are going well and to re-evaluate areas where change is needed.

Always remember that you’re stronger than you think you are.

You will make it through this a better person than you were before because with each day that passes, you’re only getting better!

Don’t forget to comment below on what you’ve learned since quarantine!

I’d love to hear the big and small changes quarantine is bringing out in your own life!