Why You Should Embrace Being Bad at Something

Why You Should Embrace Being Bad at Something

Being bad at any endeavor has become a taboo topic in our social media-obsessed world. 

We only post our highlights, best angles, and most triumphant moments. 

And thanks to the vast reach of social media, there is plenty of extreme talent across all possible realms.

In contrast, you won’t often see reels of failed attempts at anything unless it’s posted simply to make you laugh.

Based on social media scrolling, it would seem that there are only two options for any pursuit: excellence or a failure so comedically significant that it should be entered on the next episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

There is no middle ground. 

But where does that leave you, the curious person who wants to learn new things?

Are there good reasons to pursue something, even if you’re terrible at it?

Today’s post explores why being bad at something is extraordinary and why your emotional wellbeing demands getting out of your comfort zone.

But before we dive into why you need to embrace beginner status, let’s bust a common myth that might be holding you back from trying something new.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy of Canva. Although I am a nurse practitioner, I am not YOUR medical provider. The information in this post is for informational purposes only. It does NOT replace individualized health information from a qualified medical professional. Please see a qualified medical professional for individualized assistance with your health and wellness.

The Talent Myth

Everyone is born with a little bit of talent. 

And talent can vary widely from person to person and across different activities. 

Talent, or a perceived lack of it, holds countless people back from trying new things every day. 

Thanks in part to social media, people believe they must already have a natural affinity before trying any new skill.

Although natural talents can give you a boost when you’re first learning a skill, they can only get you so far.

Hard work is what takes you from “talented” to “extraordinary.”

And in some cases, talent can even hold you back from reaching new heights.

Talent can make the learning process easier.

But it’s also true that “talent” is tough to tease out from “practice.”

In other words, what can seem like talent is actually hours upon hours of practice.

And even the best athletes, musicians, and artists must start somewhere.

New Beginnings

Everyone starts as a beginner.

No one kicks off a new endeavor as a master of the craft.

Even people the world considers prodigies have hours of methodical practice under their belts before their discovery as a prodigy.

Mozart, for example, was surrounded by music from an early age.

His father set up a rigorous musical education program for him beginning when he was a toddler.

Even the concept of being born with perfect pitch is now being debunked by research.

Studies have shown that exposure to certain types of music education at a very early age often results in the child eventually being able to name a specific note when played or sung (perfect pitch).

It bears repeating: EVERYONE starts as a beginner.

There are no exceptions.

When starting any new hobby, creative work, or sport, there is a period in which you will be awful at that thing.

The key is to keep pushing forward.

At this point, you might be asking yourself why you should put in hours of work only to feel like this new pursuit is a complete waste of time.

Although it may feel pointless, learning any new skill has incredible benefits for your brain health, emotional wellbeing, and, in some cases, social interactions.

Benefits of Being a Beginner

Do you remember being in elementary school and being asked to draw a picture?

Maybe it was of yourself, your house, or your family.

You may have had all these ideas about how you wanted it to look.

You thought about it, then put pen to paper, giving it your absolute best.

And how did it look when you were done?

I’m willing to bet that it looked terrible. 

Your final drawing looked nothing like the thing you imagined.

But regardless of what it looked like, you brought it home to your parents.

And your mom gushed over your artistic endeavor like it was the best thing she had ever seen.

In fact, you brought home an endless supply of terrible drawings, and your parents couldn’t get enough of them.

No Expectations

Your parents loved your drawings because they came from you.

Also, they had zero expectations for how your artwork should look.

They were simply happy that you gave it a shot.

It’s the same for any new learning experience.

When you first start something, you will be bad at it.

It’s normal!

You’re not supposed to pick something up and immediately excel at it.

And that’s ok!

Embracing the beginner experience by letting go of unrealistic expectations is one of the best ways to drop your guard and dive headfirst into something new and exciting. 

Knowing that the expectations couldn’t be lower is an incredibly freeing thought!

Build Resilience

Succeeding at anything in life requires that you push through hard stuff.

Regardless of what you pursue, there will be difficulty.

And when you encounter difficulty, you always have a choice.

You can certainly choose to give up when things get tough.

Sometimes, pushing through to the end result isn’t in your best interest.

But at other times, navigating a new challenge is exactly what you need. 

Overcoming barriers builds resilience.

It gives you the kind of self-confidence that some people only dream about.

With every new triumph, you build your reserve of resilience, making the next challenge more attainable. 

Resilience is what gets you through the hard times.

And what better way to work on resilience than by pursuing something new?

Stop Caring What Anyone Thinks

Did I mention that we live in a social media-obsessed world?

Sometimes, it feels as if the world runs on “likes” and “shares.”

But it really doesn’t.

Being a beginner means you don’t have to post anything on social media.

You can do your own thing regardless of what anyone else does or thinks.

You’re free to learn and grow on your own.

There’s no one to impress.

You decide who knows about your new endeavors.

And not everyone has to know about it. 

You can shed external validation and start validating your own achievements.

What could be more empowering than that?

Other Reasons to Embrace the “Suck”

No one likes being a beginner.

But it’s hard to deny some of the benefits that come with beginner status.

There are no expectations.

You get to practice being more resilient, a skill applicable to all aspects of life.

And because you’re so bad at whatever you’ve started, you have the freedom to let go of the opinions of anyone else.

Here are a few more benefits to embracing the “suck.”

Your Brain Needs It

Using your brain in new and different ways expands your ability to think and process information.

Your brain loves streamlining.

But when you challenge it by trying something new and completely different, you build new pathways in your brain.

New pathways mean a new perspective. 

It’s an opportunity to problem-solve from a completely different mindset.

And keeping your brain active as you age is one of the best ways to combat cognitive decline.


When was the last time you did something for the sole purpose of having fun?

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut of “to-do lists” and productivity.

Everything becomes a task that you have to cross off your list.

But that kind of mindset can be a fast track to burnout. 

You need activities you enjoy, but that doesn’t necessarily serve a purpose other than fun.

Focusing on enjoying something rather than your ability to do it is one of the best ways to start living life rather than passively experiencing it.

Release Perfectionism

If you struggle with perfectionism, learning that it’s ok to be bad at something is one of the greatest gifts.

Although perfectionism might seem like a positive trait, it’s a toxic, self-defeating mindset in many cases.

Instead of seeing a world of possibilities, many perfectionists see giant walls at every turn.

These walls keep them from expanding their horizons due to a fear of subpar performances.

Perfectionists may procrastinate and become overly critical of their abilities, often leading to depression and anxiety.

But releasing oneself from any expectation is incredibly freeing!

In other words, having one activity you simply do for fun can set off a chain reaction of self-acceptance.

It takes mindful practice, but learning to focus on fun instead of skill can help you begin shedding the self-criticism keeping you from truly enjoying life.

It’s Your Turn

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to get out there and try something at which you’re absolutely horrible.

Try something completely different than you’ve ever tried in the past.

​It’s a great way to start releasing your fear of failure and dive in!

​And let me know what new and exciting hobby you’re trying in the comments below!

For more great inspiration, check out one of my previous posts:

How to Stay Motivated to Play Piano: Practice Tips

How to Stay Motivated to Play Piano: Practice Tips

Learning to play the piano is an exhilarating journey that opens up a world of beautiful melodies and artistic expression.

It enables you to impress friends, jam with the band, or even earn a few extra dollars on the side.

But whether you’re a beginner or have been playing for years, there are times when maintaining motivation can be challenging. 

The initial excitement may fade, practice sessions can feel monotonous, and progress just feels painfully slow at times. But fear not!

In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips to help you stay motivated and inspired on your piano-playing adventure.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy ofCanva.

Benefits of Learning to Play the Piano

Playing the piano is a unique and rewarding experience that offers numerous benefits beyond musical proficiency.

It enhances cognitive abilities, improves coordination, reduces stress, and fosters creativity. 

There is also ample research to support musicians being able to problem solve more creatively than other people.

And did I mention that whiling away the hours in front of the keyboard is simply a fun way to pass the time?

However, like any skill worth mastering, learning to play a musical instrument requires dedication, consistent effort, and perseverance.

Fostering the qualities that lead to success in the practice room or on stage also leads to success in life.

While motivation can ebb and flow, there are strategies you can employ to keep the flame of enthusiasm alive. 

Whether you’re an aspiring virtuoso or simply enjoy playing for your own pleasure, this blog post will equip you with practical tips to stay motivated on your piano-playing odyssey.

So, let’s dive in and discover how to keep the keys singing, the fingers dancing, and the passion burning bright!

Find Your Why

Achieving anything in life requires hard work.

And no one equates “hard work” with “fun.” 

The truth is that success means hours upon hours of drudgery. 

Even so-called “child prodigies” have logged thousands of hours of practice before showcasing their musical skills.

Although there are ways to make your practice more exciting, real progress demands hours at the keyboard.

And to stick with it, you need a compelling reason.

  • Do you want to play a specific piece of music?
  • Or perform in a live concert?
  • Perhaps you want to make your own YouTube videos.

Whatever the reason behind your desire to play piano, it has to be compelling, deeply personal, and strong enough to carry you through the inevitably dull parts of a daily practice routine.

Do some soul searching and connect with that deeper reason because it will carry you through the inevitable unique challenges you’ll face on your musical journey.

5 Minutes a Day

Five minutes doesn’t seem like much.

But when you compound 5 minutes a day over a year, it equals about 30 hours. 

Think about how much progress you can make with 30 hours of practice. Crazy, isn’t it?

If you find your most significant barrier to practicing on a regular basis is a perceived lack of time, try sitting down for only 5 minutes a day.

Tell yourself that you are only required to play for 5 minutes, but if things are going well, you can extend that time.

Chances are that once you start, you’ll want to spend more time on the keyboard.

Establishing a new habit of practice requires a mindset shift. Still, by making the goal attainable, you’re more likely to find success.

Commit to a Daily Practice Schedule

I know it sounds overwhelming, but committing to a daily practice schedule is the best way to make meaningful progress at anything.

And your daily practice sessions can be short. Even a five-minute practice session counts.

One of the best ways to stay committed to my piano practice sessions is through the Modacity app.

The app effortlessly keeps track of your progress, including the total time you’ve spent practicing, your daily run streak, and the number of improvements you’ve made over time.

Modacity is a simple way to organize your practice sessions and the easiest way to give yourself the extrinsic motivation to keep practicing.

If you’ve never heard of Modacity, check out this post for more information on the app and to get an exclusive offer to try it for yourself!

Create Hygge

Danish culture is credited with the idea of “hygge,” which fosters a sense of contentment by creating a cozy environment.

You can use the basic principle of hygge to add coziness, peace, and tranquility to your practice sessions.

And the more peace and tranquility you can create, the higher the probability you’ll want to come back and play tomorrow.

Think about it. Your life is hectic. Everyone wants something from you, and they want it 5 minutes ago.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where you could just be in the moment? Where you could lose yourself in something without worrying about what anyone else thinks? 

The good news is that you can create this space for yourself. Here are a few ideas for how you can infuse hygge into your practice sessions:

  • Add a lamp (or lights that dim)
  • Hang pictures that you find soothing in your practice space
  • Add a rug
  • Wear your comfiest pair of pajamas during your practice sessions
  • Invest in a padded, adjustable piano bench
  • Minimize all outside distractions during your practice sessions
  • Reserve a mug of your favorite warm beverage for this time of day

In summary, create a warm and welcoming practice space you can’t wait to experience daily.

Be Inspired

Sometimes the best way to get out of a practice slump is to find inspiration.

It might be a performance by a pianist you admire. Or maybe a podcast about the art of practicing.

There are so many sources of inspiration out there waiting to be discovered.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Search for past performances by your favorite pianists on YouTube. Here are a few of mine: Dr. Josh Wright, Yuja Wang, and Tiffany Poon.
  • Listen to completely different styles of music than you generally choose. Try listening to jazz, pop, or rock if you love classical piano.
  • Channel your creative energy into a new project. For example, try working on playing your favorite song by ear if you generally spend your practice time playing from sheet music.
  • Listen to a podcast geared toward musicians. A few of my favorites are The Bulletproof Musician, The Mind Over Finger Podcast, and the Integrated Music Teaching Podcast.
  • Attend a live musical performance. It doesn’t even have to be professional or a piano concert. Even attending your middle schooler’s orchestra concert can be enough to inspire you to take on your own next challenge!

Repetitive practice can become tiresome, but you can keep your engagement levels high by injecting variety into your sessions and exploring different musical genres and styles. 

Take Lessons

Nothing gets you into a piano practice routine like the perpetual fear of embarrassing yourself in front of another person. 

But in all seriousness, finding a good teacher can help you set goals, up your skill level, and attain your most audacious musical goals. 

And some adult students thrive on the extrinsic motivation that comes from the need to prepare for a weekly lesson. 

It’s also true that practice can fall by the wayside when your playing feels stuck or stagnant. 

Although you can make significant progress in learning to play piano by yourself, your progress is faster with a mentor. 

A mentor can help you set small goals and improve your technique in ways not possible on your own. 

And thanks to technology, you can find a motivating teacher in any musical genre.

Your options are no longer limited by geography. 

You can even find a teacher willing to give lessons on a casual basis if committing to weekly lessons feels too constricting.

If you’re looking for more tips on finding the best piano teacher for your interests and goals, check out this past blog post.

Find a Community

Sometimes the motivation to practice can come from watching others.

And a great way to get this experience is by joining an online community. 

Communities are the ultimate place to find new ways to learn, grow, and share.

Chances are that your spouse and friends don’t play the piano, much less any musical instrument. 

And although they may share your joy in finally nailing that entire Beethoven sonata, they don’t truly understand what goes into mastering the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata.

But other people who play the piano get it. They understand the ups and downs of endless scales, chord inversions, and finally, getting what it means to play effortlessly without tension.

And you can find online communities for all musical genres. 

My favorite community is Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course.

This community is built around classical piano and is one of the most inspiring and uplifting ones I’ve encountered thus far.

If classical piano is your jam, check out my course review here.

5 Day Piano Challenge

Do you want to learn to play piano but have no idea where to start?

Join the challenge and receive 5 days of actionable steps taking you from clueless to confident in your piano journey!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Commit to “Learning” vs. “Failing”

    The journey of learning an instrument is filled with ups and downs, and it’s crucial to approach challenges with a growth-oriented attitude. 

    And for perfectionists, a lack of motivation sometimes translates to feelings of inadequacy and failure. 

    It seems as if everywhere you look is a better pianist playing something at a level you feel you will never attain.

    Although perfectionists are often celebrated for their attention-to-detail and high achievements, success often comes at the cost of crippling self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.

    As a recovering perfectionist, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned is the value of “failure.” 

    Nothing in life can be considered a true flop if you learn something from the experience.

    Every situation presents a lesson to be learned and a path to a better tomorrow.

    The same is true of playing piano. There are many valuable lessons to be learned, even if you’ve been playing for a long time.

    And playing should be as much about your enjoyment as anyone else’s.

    So who cares if you can’t play something perfectly?

    The only thing that matters is that you never give up trying.

    If you, too, struggle with perfectionism, here are a couple of powerful books that changed my world in the best possible way.



    Ok, ok. Performing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be an invigorating experience.

    It’s a great opportunity to really learn a piece of music in a way that makes it your own.

    And the performance itself doesn’t have to be at Carnegie Hall.

    It can be a recording for your online piano community. Or as part of a worship band. You can even look for opportunities to perform with others or as an accompanist for a soloist.

    But preparing for an upcoming performance is one of the best ways to infuse motivation into a practice routine.

    And if you want to perform from home, try signing up for an exam.

    The ABRSM offers opportunities to submit recordings for feedback. 

    If you’re looking for a live performance experience, check out the RCM exam. 

    Both offer unique opportunities to advance your musicianship and gain valuable performance experience without leaving the comfort of your home.

    Give Yourself Grace

    Practice slumps, setbacks, and a hectic schedule can nose-dive your piano motivation.

    The most difficult thing about a lack of motivation is that you still have the deep desire to play and improve but can’t find the inner drive to keep playing.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do is rest.

    There are just times when life gets in your way. Your priorities shift, and you have little ones who need you.

    Or when you go through seasons of hardship and loss and don’t have the emotional energy for anything above the basics.

    Those are times when you need to step back from your more audacious goals and use the piano as an outlet.

    Play only the pieces that make you happy. Don’t worry about the mistakes.

    Play what your soul needs to hear.

    Reach out to friends and family for support. Prioritize sleep, good food, and exercise.

    Realize that there will be times when you need to step away from goal setting and give yourself the grace to rest and recharge.

    Because once you do, you will be unstoppable!

    And if you find yourself in a perpetual season of anxiety and depression, reach out for help. See a qualified medical provider for further guidance on the best treatment plan for your situation. 

    It’s Your Turn

    There are so many reasons why practice motivation can nose dive.

    Life is full of peaks and valleys, and learning a musical instrument is no different.

    It’s normal to have seasons when piano practice takes a back seat to other obligations and responsibilities. 

    And there will be times when you don’t have the emotional energy to commit to a rigorous practice schedule.

    Although you may need to adjust by spending less time practicing, never give up entirely on your piano dreams.

    When you’re feeling overwhelmed, scale back. Take the pressure off yourself and find ways to infuse fun into your routine. 

    The most important thing is to keep going and never give up! 

    And if you’re looking for more piano inspiration, check out one of the following posts:

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Journey of Life: Simple Tips

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Journey of Life: Simple Tips

    We all want to lead a life full of joy and contentment.

    But often, the reality of our lives can be far from these ideals.

    It’s so easy to focus on the hustle and grind of doing the work to chase your goals that you quickly lose sight of why you’re hustling in the first place.

    Because when it comes down to it, the hustle is about building a life on your terms. It’s about creating a life you love.

    Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to shift your focus to enjoying the journey rather than only looking forward to reaching your final destination.

    This post brings you 7 simple but effective ways to start living your life with more joy today.

    And by taking ownership of how you live each day through these practices, you will give yourself permission to enjoy every moment along the way!

    This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy of Canva.

    Foster a daily meditation practice

    Life is a never-ending series of twists and turns, with new challenges at every corner. So, getting stuck in problem-solving mode for our whole lives is easy.

    And this type of thinking has its place. Still, a constant focus on problems can suck you into overthinking and catastrophizing. After a while, you’re going through life on autopilot.

    It’s like when you’re driving somewhere you’ve gone 1,000 times before and arrive realizing that you remember nothing of the actual trip from point A to point B.

    My point is that you can’t enjoy life if you’re not living in the moment.

    And meditation is one of the best tools to stay grounded and mindful in your day-to-day life.

    It helps keep you focused on being present and aware of what’s happening around you, which is a very good thing!

    A regular meditation practice helps to cultivate a sense of joy by allowing you to see things from a new perspective and gain clarity on the present moment.

    Plus, a daily meditation practice can also help reduce stress and improve overall mental health.

    Meditation is one of the easiest ways to shift to a more positive mindset. And one of the best things about it is that there are so many free resources for getting started!

    Podcasts and YouTube are great places to start, and if you want to expand your meditation practice from there, try an app like Headspace or Calm.

    Today is the best time to start taking a brief moment to enjoy the here and now!

    Start a gratitude journal

    Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools you can use to increase your joy in life.

    Focusing on what’s good and working in your life is an easy way to start seeing opportunities for joy, even during the most challenging times.

    And one of the best ways to cultivate a sense of gratitude is by starting a daily gratitude journal.

    Every day, take a few minutes to write down three things you’re grateful for. This could be anything from a beautiful sunset you saw to a meaningful conversation with a friend.

    The key is to take the time to savor and appreciate these moments, no matter how small they may seem.

    By taking the time each day to write down what you’re grateful for, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your mindset shifts towards more joy and contentment.

    And the more you practice gratitude, the easier it will become to find joy in the little moments of your everyday life!

    Look for new experiences

    I love a routine as much as anyone, but I’ve found that doing the same thing for a long time is a slippery slope to boredom.

    Living life to the fullest means embracing new experiences. So, make a point to get out there and try something you’ve never done before.

    This could be anything from taking up a hobby like painting or playing music (did someone say something about the piano?!) to exploring a new city or traveling somewhere totally different.

    The possibilities are endless! And no matter what type of new things you choose, it’s sure to bring joy and enthusiasm into your life.

    Plus, the more experiences you have, the more memories you’ll be able to look back on with fondness. And that is something to cherish!

    So don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and look for new opportunities for joy and growth.

    You never know what you might discover!

    Individualize your fitness journey

    Fitness isn’t just about looking good or losing weight.

    It’s also a great way to feel strong and energized – which makes it one of the best tools for finding joy in life.

    But too often, people get stuck in the “one size fits all” fitness mentality and end up feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

    And that’s why it’s so important to individualize your fitness journey.

    Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, don’t be afraid to mix things up and find activities that bring you joy.

    This could be anything from a yoga session to a dance class to martial arts – the key is to find something that energizes and motivates you.

    And once you find something that works for you, make it a regular part of your routine and focus on the intrinsic rewards it brings rather than any external recognition or accolades.

    At the end of the day, it’s about finding joy in movement and challenging yourself to be the best version of yourself!

    Pay attention to the little things that bring joy

    Finding joy isn’t always about grand gestures or big accomplishments.

    It’s also about appreciating the small moments that bring a spark of joy into your life.

    When you start to look for these little moments, you’ll be amazed at how many opportunities present themselves on a daily basis!

    A hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning, an animal in the park that makes you smile, a beautiful piece of art at a museum – these are all little moments that can add up to bring unexpected joy.

    Be open to the possibility of finding these little moments everywhere, and you’ll be amazed at how many times a day you’ll find yourself smiling.

    Whether it’s a squirrel using the crosswalk to get across a congested street or the mail carrier blasting “Livin’ on a Prayer,” there are so many little ways to incorporate joy and laughter into your life.

    So, make an effort to pay attention to these special moments and savor them as much as possible. Before you know it, they’ll become part of your daily life and help you find joy in the most unexpected places.

    Find your ideal work-life balance

    Most of us have jobs that take up a good portion of our day, and work can be an essential source of joy and fulfillment.

    But it’s also important to find your ideal work-life balance. After all, life isn’t just about working – it’s about enjoying the moments in between!

    Take some time to think about what brings you joy and satisfaction, both in the workplace and outside of it.

    Then, use this knowledge to create a balanced schedule that allows for meaningful work and leisure time.

    Achieving balance on a daily basis has proven challenging for me.

    Between working full-time, 3 kids, and hobbies, there always seemed to be little time in the day.

    Trying to find daily balance started to become a source of stress for me.

    But one thing that’s been particularly helpful for me is to consider balance on a weekly or even a monthly basis.

    There will be some weeks when I spend more time on work. And other weeks when I have more time to catch up on housework.

    And still, others when I have slightly more creative energy to pour into the blog and my other creative endeavors.

    Taking a “long game” approach to work-life balance has given me the peace of knowing that everything will get done in its time.

    By creating an environment where you can find joy in your job as well as in your personal life, you’ll be able to feel more fulfilled and balanced.

    And that, in turn, will help you to find joy and fulfillment in all aspects of your life!

    The bottom line is that finding joy doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing pursuit. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to living a joyful life – it’s about creating what works for you.

    Prioritize sleep

    I can’t emphasize strongly enough just how essential getting enough restful sleep is for your overall health and well-being.

    Not getting enough quality rest can lead to a host of long-term physical, mental, and emotional issues, which can all contribute to a lack of joy in life.

    Research has shown a correlation between a lack of sleep and an increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.

    If there’s one thing you take away from this post, I hope it is the importance of prioritizing sleep. It’s the foundation on which everything else in your life sits.

    So make sure that you’re setting aside enough time each night to get the proper amount of restful sleep.

    When our bodies are adequately rested, we can be more present in each moment, enjoy life more fully, and feel a significant increase in our overall well-being.

    If your days or weeks have been particularly stressful, take a few minutes to relax and let go. Taking time for yourself can help to refresh your mind and restore balance in your life, leading to a more joyful outlook.

    Final Thoughts

    Life will always come with its fair share of big things that go terribly wrong.

    And inevitably, when you embark on a new life’s journey, you’ll be met with the type of resistance that threatens to derail all your hard work.

    But by taking a different approach, you can navigate anything life throws you joyfully instead of with stress.

    Learning to live life with joy instead of fear is a mindset. It takes a bit of practice, but it is a far better way to live than the alternative.

    And the foundation to enjoying life is caring for yourself.

    Reducing stress through meditation, engaging in regular exercise, and prioritizing your sleep are essential basics upon which everything else is built.

    And if you’re feeling overwhelmed about this list and need a simple place to start, sleep is the best place. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to experience true happiness when you’re feeling well-rested!

    My challenge to you today is to let go of the hustle mindset and instead embrace relaxation, joy, and a focus on living a meaningful life.

    The tips listed above are a first step but feel free to take them further. Shape and mold them into the version that fits best in your life.

    And if you found this post inspirational, check out my other great content:

    Why Routines Are Better Than Resolutions

    Why Routines Are Better Than Resolutions

    It’s that time of year again when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions.

    They promise themselves that THIS will be the year they finally get in shape, learn a new skill, or save more money.

    But statistics show that only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions. Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our lives?

    The answer is simple: we’re not good at change. Our brains are programmed to resist change, which makes keeping your resolutions nearly impossible.

    Although New Year’s resolutions are generally unsuccessful, there are ways to accomplish your new goals. And the best way to achieve your goals is to establish a daily routine that supports your new habit.

    When you establish routines and good habits, everything becomes more manageable. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to do each day – it’s already planned out! This is why routines are better than resolutions – they’re easier to stick to and ultimately produce better results through the power of habit.

    Today’s post is about embracing the person you are instead of feeling wrong about the person you’re not. We will also talk about how to foster new habits without feeling overwhelmed.

    This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

    Where do I start?

    Whenever you’re talking about goals, one of the most important things to remember is that mindset matters. And having a positive attitude can help you overcome any obstacle in your path.

    Here are a few other keys to success to remember when you’re considering ambitious goals:

    • Small habits = big transformations
    • Success takes longer than you think
    • Talent has limits, but deliberate practice is limitless
    • Distraction is expensive
    • Failure is on your terms
    • Heal your past
    • Regular physical activity is essential
    • Release perfectionism
    • Get a hobby

    And for an in-depth discussion on each of the above secrets to success, check out my previous post.

    Why do resolutions fail?

    It all comes down to routines. We’re creatures of habit, and if we don’t establish routines in our lives, then it’s tough to make lasting changes.

    When you create routines tailored to your goals, habits become easier to adopt, and reaching your goals happens faster than relying on sheer willpower.

    Creating routines is also great for staying motivated and focused on your goals. It’s much easier to stay consistent when you have patterns supporting your new habits.

    Not only that, but routines can also help quiet the inner critic inside us who is always telling us we’re not good enough or capable of achieving our goals. Routines allow us to trust ourselves and recognize that we can be successful if we break things down into smaller, achievable steps.

    Start From Where You Are

    Whether your goals revolve around weight loss, taking the next step in your career, or saving enough money for a family vacation, considering your current routines and positive attributes is a crucial starting point.

    A good reason why many people fail to achieve common resolutions is that they need to consider their positive traits. Instead of focusing on what’s going well, they spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative qualities or bad habits they’re trying to change.

    But everyone has positive qualities about themselves, which make success inevitable. For example, maybe you:

    • Never give up until you see results
    • Love learning new things
    • Are super organized
    • Aren’t afraid to embrace a unique opportunity that comes your way
    • Have an incredible support system

    Don’t get so wrapped up in trying to establish a new routine that you forget some of the old habits that are actually working in your favor.

    What is a routine?

    A routine is simply a set of habits that you can do every day to stay on track and achieve your goals.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated or take up a lot of time, either. Routines can be simple:

    • Drinking eight glasses of water a day
    • Eating an apple for breakfast
    • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

    Creating routines also helps you become more organized, so you can easily track what needs to be done and when.

    And routines are great because they give you something specific to aim for each day, which can help you stay motivated and on track with your goals.

    Routines are also much better than resolutions because, unlike resolutions, routines can be adapted or changed as needed.

    Positive attribute + New habit = Success!

    In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear brings up the idea of habit stacking. This means taking one routine that’s working well and tacking another to help you create consistency.

    For example, if you already enjoy going for a 10-minute morning jog, add another habit, like stretching after your jog, and make it part of your morning routine.

    This way, routines become additive and build up over time to help you achieve greater success in the long run. Plus, when routines are built up gradually one by one, they are much easier to stick with and maintain.

    The key is making routines that support your life’s positive aspects while helping you break away from bad habits.

    When you combine routines with a positive attitude, it’s nearly impossible not to succeed!

    Present and Future Versions of Yourself

    One of the fundamental premises of traditional resolutions is that they often negatively hone in on one aspect of yourself.

    Resolutions often focus on one tiny aspect of yourself in a rigid way that may be completely unrealistic. They need to take your life as a whole into consideration to be successful.

    And resolutions are unrealistically future-focused in that they assume the future version of yourself will somehow magically be more motivated and inherently better than your current self.

    Although we all grow and evolve over time, growth takes work. It doesn’t just magically happen.

    The premise behind resolutions is that you’ll somehow wake up on January 1st feeling motivated to hit the gym. Or will suddenly have the resolve to stop impulse buying.

    Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.

    Motivation only comes after taking action. And I can guarantee you’ll never wake up and feel like running 3 miles!

    A better way is to start thinking about yourself as someone who does the thing you want to do in the present moment instead of the future.

    One of the most powerful concepts I learned from Atomic Habits is that if your goal is to get in better shape, you have to start thinking like someone already in better shape.

    For example, would someone in great physical shape take the elevator or the stairs?

    Would they hit the gym after work or hit play on 3 episodes of their favorite Netflix show? And would they rely on fast food dinners or thoughtfully plan nutritious meals that support their health goals?

    Thinking about yourself as someone who does the thing you want to do helps you make better decisions in the present moment. It stops the cycle of future thinking that often causes you to falsely believe you’ll make better decisions tomorrow.

    Making routines stick

    Now that you know why routines are important, here are a few tips to help you create routines that actually stick:

    • Start small – Start with one routine at a time and then add more routines if necessary.
    • Break routines into actionable steps – Break them down into actionable steps, making them easier to complete.
    • Be flexible – Adjust routines when necessary and make changes as needed.
    • Schedule in advance – Schedule routines and ensure you have enough time to complete them.
    • Find motivation – Find ways to stay motivated and stick with routines even when you don’t feel like it.
    • Reward yourself – Whenever you complete a routine, reward yourself with something special to keep you motivated and on track.

    Creating routines is an effective way to reach your goals faster than ever.

    By focusing on what makes routines work for you and starting from where you are, you can create habits that stick and help you celebrate the positive attributes within yourself.

    So, don’t settle for just resolutions this year; establish routines and watch how your life will transform over time!

    And for even more expert advice on the power of habits, check out James Clear’s phenomenal book, Atomic Habits. His writing is clear and concise, and his ideas are incredibly inspiring.

    Final Thoughts

    Routines are a great way to stay on track with your goals, and you can incorporate routines into your daily schedule without taking too much time.

    By understanding why routines are essential, breaking practices down into manageable steps, being flexible when necessary, scheduling routines in advance, and rewarding yourself whenever you complete patterns, you’ll be on the path to achieving your goals in no time!

    It’s important to remember that routines are simply habits, and it takes time for them to become second nature.

    So don’t get discouraged if you slip up or forget a routine. Just take it one day at a time, and you’ll get there!

    If you loved this post, sign up for my email list and have one new post sent to your inbox each week.

    My posts are at the crossroads of piano and self-development, so even if you’re not a piano nerd, you’ll have access to effective personal development content!

    If you’re curious, check out a few of my previous posts:

    Secrets to Setting Yourself Up for Success in 2023 and Beyond

    Secrets to Setting Yourself Up for Success in 2023 and Beyond

    As 2022 closes out, it brings a time for reflection on all you learned and achieved. It’s a time to celebrate all your hard work and the positive impact you had on those around you!

    And it’s also the best time to start looking ahead and planning out your successful year.

    But what is success? And how do the world’s most successful people achieve it?

    Over the past few years, I’ve been on a quest to understand what separates the best from the rest. I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, and scoured social media to uncover the secret of success.

    All my research has helped me develop healthy habits across multiple areas of life. And it’s given me better results than I’ve ever had in the past.

    Although everyone’s definition of success is slightly different, there are a few universal secrets to achieving it. Think of this post as your guide to the secrets of success to help you achieve big goals. 

    If you’re looking for the most effective way to a more successful life, you’re in the right place! And if you’re pressed for time, click the link below to jump to the success secrets most relevant to your personal journey.

    This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

    What is your definition of success?

    The first step is defining what success means for you. This will look different for everyone, so take some time to think about your goals and what you want out of life.

    Do you want to launch your own business? Are you looking to become an expert in a specific skill? Or do you simply want to live a happy and fulfilled life?

    Small steps add up quickly. Choose a couple of areas of your life to focus on at once. Focusing on more than a couple of goals at once can be overwhelming.

    Use the following list to brainstorm possible goals across each of the following areas:

    • Family and relationships
    • Physical health and fitness
    • Spiritual
    • Career
    • Finances
    • Personal development
    • Hobbies and recreation

    Go through your list and rate each goal according to importance. Think about which goals feel most aligned right now.

    Select one or two goals and think about what successfully achieving that goal looks like. Does your definition of success mean working out 5 days a week? Or does it mean publishing 5 blog posts a month? It may mean committing to advancing your piano studies by signing up for an exam.

    Once you have identified your definition of success, setting measurable goals and reaching them will become much more manageable.

    How can you make the most out of this success guide?

    Each of the secrets to success included in this post is highly effective. Use them to form an action plan for pushing out of your comfort zone and toward bigger and better things.

    But you will find that some of the advice is more applicable to your individual goals than others. The best way to use this guide is to take what feels most aligned for you and leave the rest.

    The most important thing is to start small and be specific. Write your goals down, set a timeline, and start taking action. Setting aside 10 minutes daily to work on your goal is a great start.

    By setting goals and making little daily progress toward them, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in 2023 and beyond!

    Secret #1: Mindset is Everything

    One of my favorite quotes ever is by Henry Ford. His timeless advice is, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

    Decades after Ford uttered those famous words, Carol Dweck published an entire book on the concept of a growth mindset. A growth mindset is an idea that our mindsets can be changed and adapted to new situations.

    Having a growth mindset means you’re open to failure. It means you embrace rather than avoid challenges. And it means you’re willing to work harder than anyone else to achieve your goals.

    In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck contrasts the growth and fixed mindset. Through a series of stories and elements of research, she emphatically proves that with the right mindset, success is inevitable.

    Setting yourself up for success means changing your beliefs about what’s possible and being open to learning the lessons failure teaches.

    Change how you think and talk about yourself, and you’ll see dramatic improvements in your outlook on life. If you take only one thing from this post, I hope it’s a firm belief in the importance of a growth mindset.

    Secret #2: Small Habits = Big Transformations

    Small habits are the building blocks of success.

    It’s easy to get excited about setting big goals and immediately jump into action, but frequently this leads to burnout. Instead, breaking down each goal into small achievable tasks that you can complete daily is a more effective strategy.

    For example, if your goal is to write a book, setting a goal to write 500 words a day is more achievable than setting the goal of writing 1,000 words in one sitting.

    Creating small habits will help you stay on track, and it also enables you to set realistic expectations for yourself. The key is finding manageable activities, so your daily progress adds up quickly and eventually leads to success.

    In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear outlines the easiest ways to incorporate small changes that lead to big transformations in your daily life.

    His advice has helped me find unique ways to fall in love with the daily habits needed to achieve my goals. The book has also helped me understand the impact environment has on whether you adopt positive habit changes or not.

    And his thoughts on being 1% better every time are inspirational and approachable. Atomic Habits is a must-read for the new year if you haven’t read it.

    Secret #3: Success Takes Longer Than You Think

    Crossing the finish line of your goal will always take longer than expected.

    And it’s so easy to get discouraged because everywhere you look, there are countless stories of overnight success and the promise of a silver bullet solution that will solve all your problems.

    But all the best stories in books and movies involve the hero overcoming a seemingly insurmountable challenge. You get sucked into stories with obstacles at every turn, and failure seems inevitable.

    The truth is, setting yourself up for success takes dedication and hard work. And the journey rarely looks like you thought it would.

    My advice is to be patient and celebrate progress, no matter how small. One of the most profound ways to do this is by comparing your progress with where you started rather than your end goal.

    It can be disheartening to think about where you are now compared to your ultimate goal. But it’s inspiring to consider how far you’ve come since your very first step.

    Success isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon that requires consistent effort over time.

    Secret #4: Talent Has Limits

    One of the most persistent myths out there is that of talent. There’s this assumption that people who are the best in their field are at the top because they were born with a specific skill set. And it’s this skill set that naturally puts them ahead of anyone else.

    Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool explore one of the most famous examples in their book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. In the book, they dispel the persistent myth that Mozart was a child prodigy born with the gift of music.

    The more likely explanation for his uncanny abilities was hours upon hours of practice. And through research study after study, Ericsson and Pool methodically dispel the idea that sheer talent has put anyone at the top of their game.

    Instead, they focus on deliberate practice as the critical path toward greatness.

    The idea that countless hours of deliberate practice will yield improvement in any skill may not seem motivational to some. But it’s one of the most hopeful ideas I’ve ever encountered.

    It means that with the proper focus, you can succeed regardless of the roadblocks ahead.

    Secret #5: Distraction is Expensive

    One of the most challenging parts of setting yourself up for success is avoiding distractions.

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of daily life and let it derail your progress. But it’s important to remember that every moment you spend doing something other than what you should be focused on costs you valuable time, money, and energy.

    The key to setting yourself up for success is staying focused on your goal, no matter how many obstacles come. The best way to do this is by setting boundaries around what you will and won’t focus on.

    This could be setting specific times during the day dedicated to working on your goal, limiting how much time you can spend checking emails, or creating systems that help keep you focused.

    No matter what your plan is, setting boundaries will give you the clarity and focus needed to stay on track and get closer to your goals.

    And for the best advice on combatting distraction in your daily life, check out the book called Indistractable, written by Nir Eyal. It’s an eye-opening book on how distractions impact your ability to achieve goals and your overall life experience.

    Secret #6: Failure is on Your Terms

    Only you can define what success and failure mean to you.

    Some of the most successful people in the world refuse to acknowledge failure as part of their vocabulary. When they don’t achieve the desired outcome, they assess the situation and make a calculated decision about their next best move.

    Sometimes that means trying again. At other times it means pivoting to something different.

    Either way, successful people don’t let the people around them define failure. They don’t listen to the chatter from those around them about their actions.

    People who are successful write their own stories. And you can do the same by embracing the inevitable challenges between you and your goals.

    If the goal you’re chasing means something to you and feels aligned, then embrace that you will get there slowly.

    And if you’re looking for more success mindset advice, read Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover. Grover has worked with some of the world’s top athletes and is the expert on what it takes to be the best of the best.

    Secret #7: Heal Your Past

    Did you know that your brain loves patterns? Your brain is wired to look for patterns to minimize effort.

    Although this can be a good thing when you’re practicing a new skill, it can be a massive detriment to your emotional well-being.

    The reality is that most of us experienced trauma as children. This trauma occurred when we were not emotionally mature enough to process the world around us. And our brain coped by developing specific thought patterns to protect us from further trauma.

    As a result, you have likely adopted maladaptive coping patterns, which can exacerbate anxiety and depression and cause self-sabotage.

    To move forward, you need to unpack what happened in the past. And you need to start recognizing the role your maladaptive coping has on the challenges you’re currently facing in pursuing your goals.

    Talking with a licensed counselor or mental health provider can be immensely helpful in making sense of your emotions and thought patterns.

    Another resource that can help you unpack your past is a book by Dr. Nicole LePera called How to do the Work. I’ve read several books on learning to manage your internal world, and this is, by far, the absolute best.

    Secret #8: Move Your Body

    Physical activity is an absolute must when setting yourself up for success.

    Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being, which in turn will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Exercise also helps increase energy levels, which can be incredibly beneficial if you work long hours.

    Regular exercise improves your sleep at night. It also has the power to give you an immediate sense of accomplishment, which can be difficult when it seems as if your to-do list has no end.

    Both of the above reasons are why I make it a point to make exercise part of my daily routine. It feels great to say that I conquered my workout, especially when my workday doesn’t go as expected.

    But don’t feel like you have to go out and join a CrossFit gym! You can find enjoyable ways to move your body that fit your interests and lifestyle.

    So whether it’s setting aside 15 minutes a day to do yoga, or taking regular walks with your dog, just focus on moving your body in some way every day.

    Secret #9: Release Perfectionism

    As a recovering perfectionist, one of my favorite mantras is “done is better than perfect.”

    Believing that you can attain perfection in anything is one of the fastest ways to invite defeat into your life. And believing the myth of perfectionism is a downward spiral into low self-esteem and anxiety. It’s a path paved with procrastination and self-sabotage.

    When you dig deeper into perfectionism, you often find an intense need to control situations and avoid failure. At its core, perfectionism is about the ego. It’s about appearances and what others think about you.

    But you are the author of your story. You get to decide the meaning behind everything that happens to you, good or bad. And only you can define success and failure.

    But you have to be fair to yourself. And chasing a vague and ever-rising bar isn’t fair to anyone, least of all yourself.

    If you struggle with perfectionism, develop a new habit of being realistic with your goals. Make your goals measurable and attainable.

    And once you accomplish them, celebrate!

    If you’re serious about ridding yourself of perfectionism in the coming year, read The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar. It completely transformed my outlook and gave me a roadmap to living without the burden of perfectionism.

    Secret #10: Get a Hobby

    It may sound counterproductive, but having a stream of different hobbies is the reason for my success.

    I’ve always been multi-passionate, and hobbies allow me to dabble in a little bit of everything.

    Pursuing interests outside of work keeps your passion alive, especially when your work may be essential but less-than-thrilling. It gives you something to look forward to when things get tough. And it can teach you many lessons that would be otherwise difficult to learn.

    Hobbies push you outside your comfort zone. They encourage you to approach the world with a beginner’s mindset. And they teach you that failure is the best opportunity to learn something new.

    And, who knows? A hobby could turn into a side gig that eventually transitions into a full-time business.

    So, find something you love and make time for it. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, it will pay off dividends in the long run.

    Final Thoughts

    Success is a personal definition. It’s something that looks a little different to each person.

    But setting yourself up for success in the upcoming year and beyond requires setting boundaries and staying focused on your goal. It requires refusing to accept failure as part of your narrative and understanding that talent has its limits, but hard work pays off.

    These are just a few secrets I’ve used to set myself up for success. What works for me may not work for you, so always take time to find what methods and approaches suit you the best. 

    These secrets can be applied to any goal you set for yourself, and if used correctly, they will put you on the path toward success in 2023 and beyond.

    This post was inspired by several great books that are required reading for anyone serious about setting themselves up for success. Clicking the convenient links below will take you directly to Amazon, where you can check these fantastic reads out for yourself.

    And if this post inspired you, make sure to check out my other posts:

    And if you’re looking for piano inspiration, check out these posts:

    How to Tell When You’re Overwhelmed

    How to Tell When You’re Overwhelmed

    You’re here because the thought that you’re overwhelmed has crossed your mind. You feel the overwhelm slowly creeping in but somehow can’t acknowledge what’s truly going on. Between all that you’ve got going on at work and home, it’s not surprising that you have questions.

    No one ever sets out to intentionally overextend themselves. And overwhelm is sneaky. In most cases, the physical signs alert you to the fact that something isn’t right. Because although your mental state is often the first clue, it’s also the most commonly ignored.

    But physical symptoms are not as easily ignored. Maybe you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. Or your ability to concentrate has taken a nose-dive.

    And that nagging cold that just won’t go away? Could it be something more than just your kid who makes it his life’s mission to constantly sneeze in your face?

    It’s one of those things where you’re fine one minute. But in the very next, you find yourself googling “how to tell when you’re overwhelmed.” And so, here you are.

    You’re not alone. Overwhelm is real and can make life feel like a drag. But there are also real steps you can take to start feeling better.

    This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliates of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All images courtesy of Canva.

    Overwhelm or Something Else?

    Symptoms of overwhelm can mimic a variety of health conditions. If you’re consistently feeling down, depressed, or have had changes in sleep, appetite, or other areas of your life, it’s essential to see your primary care provider.

    Although I am a nurse practitioner, I am not your nurse practitioner, and this post does not constitute medical advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. You and your healthcare provider are the only ones who can collaborate to diagnose and treat underlying medical conditions.

    Once you’ve ruled out medical issues, it’s time to take back your life and put a stop to the overwhelm!

    Physical Signs That You’re Overwhelmed

    Although mental or emotional signs of being overwhelmed often appear first, they can be the easiest to dismiss. The physical symptoms often cause you to stop and question what’s happening underneath all that unchecked anxiety and a general sense of crankiness.

    Shortness of Breath

    If you’re a runner or are active in other ways, you’re probably familiar with the heart racing, short-of-breath feeling you get when working out. But if you get these feelings outside the gym, it could be a sign that you’re overwhelmed.

    If you have shortness of breath accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or a sense of impending doom, please head to the emergency room ASAP!

    But if you find yourself chronically short of breath and your heart and lungs are fine, it could be a sign that your body is chronically stressed. In other words, your brain is getting the message that danger is everywhere. And it’s trying to compensate by releasing chemicals that make you feel a certain way.

    Our bodies have amazing coping mechanisms to balance in the short term. But these coping mechanisms have a shelf life. After they’ve expired, you can be left with long-term damage that’s difficult to reverse.


    Are you having trouble shaking that “didn’t get enough sleep” feeling? It may have more to do with having too much on your plate than getting too little sleep at night.

    Fatigue can permeate every area of your life, making all the things feel way more complicated than they have to be. It can be sneaky too. If you’re a high-achieving type-A person like me, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re simply not getting enough shut-eye.

    But in reality, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. And your brain can’t possibly fathom taking on anything else at this point.

    Constantly Sick

    Do you find yourself battling one cold after another? If so, it’s possible that you’re overwhelmed.

    Our bodies are a fascinating combination of complex systems, all working together. When your brain is stressed, you feel the effects in your body as well.

    As a form of overwhelm, stress sends chemical messages that alter how our bodies function. In this case, chronic stress impacts your body’s immune system. This results in frequent colds and other minor illnesses.

    Although rarely life-threatening, frequent colds are annoying!

    And even minor illnesses can mess with your concentration, mood, and motivation.

    Mental and Emotional Signs that You’re Overwhelmed

    It takes practice to identify overwhelm before it reaches the point where you have physical signs. This is especially true for high-achieving, type-A personalities because, just like Olivia Pope, we handle things.

    We are driven and feel that our drive is the reason for our success. And sure, we feel overwhelmed much of the time, but where would we be without the overwhelm?

    It’s almost as if we wear overwhelm like a badge of honor.

    But what if I told you that overwhelm is stealing your joy? It’s clouding your vision and making you less effective than you could be.

    Would it inspire you to get serious about recognizing overwhelm for its hazard?


    Do you find yourself in a general state of crankiness much of the time? Almost as if you’re ready to go 9 rounds with anyone at any time?

    If so, it’s entirely possible that you’re overwhelmed.

    Irritability and mood swings can be your brain’s way of putting the brakes on your ever-growing list of obligations. Crankiness is also a subconscious way to keep people at arm’s length and guarantees they’re less likely to ask you for favors, thereby increasing your workload.

    Generalized Anxiety

    Do you feel nervous all the time? Maybe you’re overwhelmed. Is the word “relax” not even in your vocabulary? You’re overwhelmed.

    You don’t have peace if you’re running here and there, trying to get things done. You don’t have the time or space to just be. Your brain gets in the habit of being in constant overdrive.

    And because there’s so much to do, you get trapped in this negative cycle of overthinking. After a while, it’s tough to feel any joy because all you can think about is checking things off your list.

    But the more you check off, the more you realize there is still left to do.

    Overwhelm and anxiety feed off each other. This is especially true if you are a Type A personality. The fear of not getting something done, missing a deadline, or doing a task imperfectly drives you and is a big reason you’re overwhelmed.

    You Can’t Stay Focused

    It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to concentrate when overwhelm takes over. Overwhelm, mixed with a bit of anxiety, zaps your energy and makes focusing on anything other than your long list of obligations impossible.

    To get even more done, you may also have started multitasking. According to multiple studies, multitasking is actually your brain quickly switching from one task to the next, a process that zaps your energy at a remarkable rate. Although multitasking seems efficient, your brain can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.

    A tendency to multitask also means that you may tend to ignore the little things in life. You become so focused on becoming efficient that you forget to stop and simply enjoy the little things.

    But the little things make life worth living, thus the reason anxiety, and even depression, eventually take over.

    Now that we’ve explored both the mental and physical signs that you’re overwhelmed let’s talk about how you can start feeling better!

    What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

    Although overwhelm is familiar, you don’t have to let it rule your life. You are in charge of your life.

    Overwhelm becomes a mindset that clouds your vision and darkens your world. But if you take action, the sun will come out once again, and you can finally find peace.

    Watch for Catastrophes

    The language you use matters. It can either build you up or tear you down. Words like “always” and “never” make anything seem worse than it actually is.

    And in those moments when you’re overwhelmed, look for ways to accurately describe what’s happening. For example, which of these two statements sounds more reasonable?

    1. “I’ve got so much going on today. I’m completely overwhelmed and have no idea how I will make it through the day.”
    2. “I’ve got 2 meetings at work today, and I have to finish that presentation by noon tomorrow.”

    The second one sounds manageable, right? Describing precisely what needs to be done and when takes the panic and mystery out of overwhelm. Sometimes, the simple fear of the unknown adds an extra layer of negativity to your thinking. And by taking the time to lay out what’s bothering you, you’ll suddenly realize that it’s actually not as bad as you thought.

    Stop Multitasking

    Along with accurately describing why you’re overwhelmed comes a commitment to stop multitasking. Research shows that it’s not effective anyway, so what’s the point?

    Take time to enjoy the small moments in life. Stop and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Laugh with your kids. Leave your phone inside and stretch out in your backyard, watching the clouds float by on a sunny day.

    Multitasking re-enforces the idea that you have to be doing something every minute of every day. It leaves no time for living and loving life. And it’s fooling you into thinking that you’re making progress when all you’re actually doing is sucking out the joy and feeding anxiety.

    Set Boundaries

    It’s easy to feel like you’re overwhelmed if you’re saying “yes” to everyone but yourself. If you find that your people-pleasing tendencies are taking over your life, it’s time to set some boundaries.

    I’m not saying you should never do anything you don’t want to do. But I am saying that there needs to be balance in life. And you need to be realistic about what you can actually get accomplished in a day.

    A great place to start is by establishing priorities. What areas of life matter most to you, and how can you optimize those areas?

    Whenever new opportunities come up, you can then match them against your priorities. If they don’t align, don’t feel bad about saying “no.” There’s somebody out there who would be thrilled with the opportunity that simply doesn’t feel right to you. And by saying “no,” you open a door for that person.

    Pretty great, right?


    I have yet to find a self-improvement topic that doesn’t involve exercise in some way, shape, or form and this one is no different. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop and move your body. Take a walk. Go for a run. Grab your bike and take a ride.

    Whatever it is, clearing your head with a little fresh air and movement does wonders for shaking out the cobwebs and anxiety related to overwhelm.

    Exercise stimulates the release of feel-good hormones that immediately improve your mood and lessen anxiety. It’s an all-natural way to stop the hamster wheel of overthinking.


    If you’ve never tried meditation, now is your chance! Meditation teaches you the valuable skill of controlling your thoughts, especially important when overcoming overwhelm.

    If you struggle with insomnia, meditation just might be the answer you’re looking for! The practice of meditation helps ground you into the here and near instead of the past or future. Sometimes overwhelm is more about the habit of worrying about the future. But by keeping yourself in the present, you can start enjoying life.

    There are several apps to teach you the basics of meditation. Headspace is my favorite app. It has different meditation to help you with insomnia, stress, and even self-esteem.

    You can also find meditations on YouTube. Give it a try! You might be surprised by how well it works for relieving overwhelm.

    Choose Gratitude

    Your brain is phenomenal at picking up patterns. And your subconscious is always looking for ways to help you out. What this means for you is that your brain will find what it thinks you want.

    If you wake up telling yourself that today will be awful, your brain will find ways to support this thought. When you spill your coffee, your kids miss the bus, and you’re late for the meeting, the message that this day is terrible wins out.

    But if you wake up telling yourself that today will be a good day, instead of being angry, you’ll be thankful that you spilled the coffee on your kitchen counter instead of on your brand new skirt. Or that you’re happy for a few extra minutes with your kids because you have to drive them to school when they missed the bus. You’ll even be thankful that you missed the small talk you hate so much at the beginning of the meeting.

    You are in control of your thoughts. And since thoughts drive emotions, you also have the power to change how you feel. If you feed your brain negativity, you will feel negative. And if you fail to set boundaries and are constantly multitasking, you’ll feel like there simply isn’t enough time in the day for it all.

    But if you decide that you’re in control of your life and your schedule, overwhelm will become a thing of the past. Start seeing the good and stop embracing the overwhelm.

    Find Inspiration

    There are some great resources out there on tackling various aspects of feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few of my favorites:

    , ,

    Be Realistic

    Although gratitude can take you a long way in life, being realistic can bring you the rest of the way. There honestly aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.

    It’s time to accept this truth and set your priorities. If something isn’t a priority, forget about it. Or at least re-schedule it to a more reasonable time.

    It’s ok to let things go if they don’t fit into your priorities at this moment in time. There will always be things that were important to you at one time, but simply don’t make the cut anymore.

    You’ve grown and evolved as a person, and it’s ok to let it go. You can always pick something up again later if your priorities shift.

    The small, daily stress adds up quickly, and it’s simply not worth it if it doesn’t align with your major priorities.

    It’s Your Turn

    Everyone gets overwhelmed at times. But you can take steps to ditch the overwhelm and take control of your life.

    Don’t get fooled into thinking that overwhelm is normal. It’s not. It will steal your peace, joy, and ability to be your best self.

    Hopefully, this post has inspired you to find a new way. Fight the urge to give in to overwhelm. Set your priorities and weigh out your obligations. If something doesn’t align with your major priorities, ditch it.

    And the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, describe exactly what’s causing the overwhelm. Putting language to your feelings helps you realize that it’s not actually as bad as your brain is trying to make you think it is.

    As always, please drop a comment below to tell me your thoughts on this post! How do you recognize when you’re overwhelmed? And what steps do you take to start feeling better?

    If the post resonates with you, please share it with a friend or social media.

    You may also enjoy the following posts:

    Until next time, thanks for stopping by, and best wishes on your personal development journey!

    5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive

    5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive

    How’s life going for you? Is it everything you ever thought? Or are you feeling trapped on a hamster wheel of never-ending obligations that suck up all your emotional energy?

    Over the past few years, I’ve felt stuck. A constant sense that I’m not getting enough done follows me everywhere.

    I remember a time when I didn’t feel this way. Work stayed at work, and my home life was blissful.

    But then I decided to go back to school.

    This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

    A Downward Spiral into Negativity

    From that moment on, I constantly felt the need to be more productive. If I wasn’t checking off a box every second of the day, I was indeed behind at work, home, school, or maybe all 3.

    Deep down inside, I didn’t believe that I could successfully navigate all these worlds. That it was ridiculous even to try.

    The self-doubt eventually spiraled into an all-consuming cloud of negativity. I became obsessed with wondering whether there was enough time in the day to do all the things.

    Instead of spending my time actually being productive, I began obsessing about time. I felt guilty about anything and everything because somehow, nothing felt enough.

    And I was always making wrong choices with how I spent my time. Or so it seemed at the time. At work, I was thinking about how little time I was spending with my kids. And at home, I fixated on the low probability of finishing the mountain of homework always waiting for me.

    After graduation, I thought things would get better. I thought that I would suddenly feel normal again.

    Nope. Those stubbornly obsessive negative thoughts continued to plague my every waking moment.

    After a great deal of reflection, I finally made a decision. My happiness and inner peace depended upon shattering the negativity I had built around time and productivity. It was time to embrace a new perspective on how to be more productive!

    If any of this resonates with you, keep reading because I promise to bring you a few unique solutions to the age-old problem of getting more done in less time!

    1. Cut the Crap to Be More Productive

    What do you actually want to accomplish in life? It’s easy to get caught in a web of “busy.” But “busy” is a very non-specific way to quantify your time. And without a sense of direction, you end up wandering the vast wasteland of coulda, woulda, shoulda.

    Unfortunately, there are very dark forces at work in your life. And you may or may not even be fully aware of these forces. In her book called How to Get Sh*t Done, Erin Falconer describes some of the invisible constraints holding you back:

    • Women feel a constant need to prove themselves.
    • Unspoken work expectations mean women are saddled with more responsibility (the type that no one else in the office wants!) that will mean neither increased status nor pay.
    • After putting in a full day at work, women come home just to put in more work.
    • People-pleasing tendencies increase involvement in activities you may not otherwise choose for yourself.
    • The joy-sucking power of “should” is constantly playing over and over in your head.

    The first step is always awareness. Falconer does an outstanding job of shedding light on everything that’s cluttering up your life.

    And by doing so, you can start to abandon everyone else’s expectations in favor of your version of productivity.

    Image courtesy of Namara Creative Studio via Canva

    2. Craft Your Unique Version of Productivity

    After you strip away the busyness, what’s left? Who are you underneath all those obligations? Are you someone who thrives among people? Or do you prefer a quiet spot to complete your work?

    What makes you feel alive inside? And what makes you want to poke your eye out with a pencil?

    It’s shocking how little we often know about ourselves simply because we haven’t taken the time. Also shocking is the impact society and those around us have on our aspirations. But when you strip everything away, what you have left is the freedom to make decisions based on you. Not society. And not everyone else in your life.

    But you.

    Falconer guides you through the process of getting down to you in a seamless and thought-provoking way. If that all sounds intriguing, make sure to check out her book.

    3. Comparison Isn’t Always a Dirty Word

    Our culture is all about comparison. It starts in grade school when you learn the concept of grades. And it follows you through middle and high school with sports tryouts. Thanks to social media, comparison continues to follow you well into adulthood.

    But comparison in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and you can use it as a force for good!

    Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist with fascinating advice on flipping the negative to the positive. I recently discovered his work on the School of Greatness podcast and was immediately inspired.

    Dr. Hardy suggests that it’s our comparison to others that results in negative thought patterns. As an example, you see a fellow mom posting flawless pics of her family on social media. Their beaming smiles are brilliantly complemented by perfectly coordinated outfits and a gorgeous fall scene.

    Upon seeing the pics, you take a turn to negative town. After all, your last family picture was taken 7 years ago. Before your kids were born.

    And you immediately feel like a #momfail.

    The truth is, you feel like a failure because you’re making an impossible comparison. You have no idea what else is going on in that woman’s life. We are all fighting battles that we share with only a select few.

    And you have overcome some pretty tough stuff in your life as well. Therefore, the only way you can feel accomplished is to compare the woman you were with the woman you are right now.

    I guarantee that you will immediately feel accomplished!

    So the next time you feel compelled to make a comparison, make sure it’s between the current and past versions of yourself. Because at the end of the day, the only person over whom you have control is yourself.

    If you’re curious about Dr. Hardy’s work, check out one of his books:

    , , ,

    4. Make a Done for Today List

    Have you ever actually finished everything on your “to-do” list? I’d be lying if I said “yes” to that one. Although I always think seeing things crossed off my list will feel satisfying, it somehow never does. Instead, I constantly focus on everything that remains unchecked.

    But here’s a new take on an old and tired concept. I recently heard this advice from an interview with Greg McKeown on the Science of Success podcast.

    At the beginning of the day, figure out 3 things that, once complete, will also complete your day. Once those 3 things are done, give yourself the freedom to relish in accomplishment.

    Reward yourself! Don’t try to use the extra time to sneak in more stuff. Take some time for yourself. Do something that fills your cup. Or do something that lights you up inside.

    But most of all, enjoy the feeling of DONE.

    As a type-A achiever, I never feel “done” with tasks in my day. And I think this leads to burnout because nothing ever feels good enough. I’m always trying to check a box.

    So after hearing this particular tip, I’ve committed to being DONE every day. Regardless of whatever else is on my list, I’ve started celebrating my accomplishments and not only feel more peaceful but also 10x more productive.

    5. A Tale of Two Teams

    In the podcast, Greg McKeown goes on to tell the gripping tale of two teams racing against the elements to be the first to reach the South Pole.

    Each team had opposing views on how to emerge victoriously. And their vastly different approaches made all the difference between victory and death.

    The first team was British. Their leader pushed the team to their very limits whenever the weather was tolerable. On days when the weather was inclement, they camped out and weathered the storm.

    The second team was Norwegian. Their leader determined that the best approach would be to advance 15 miles each day. Come fair weather or storm; they would only travel 15 miles.

    Guess which team made it to the South Pole first? I’ll give you a hint … slow and steady wins the race.

    The Norwegians made it to their goal an entire month before the British. And not only did they win, but they lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the British team.

    Defining Your Daily Minimum to Be More Productive

    Image courtesy of Netfalls via Canva

    Everyone has a daily threshold for productivity, and there’s only so much you can accomplish in 24 hours. The Norwegian team dramatically highlighted this reality by claiming the victory. And the British team just as dramatically highlighted it through their ultimate demise.

    You must set clear boundaries for yourself. Or you, too, will become overwhelmed and burned out.

    McKeown suggests setting daily minimum goals for yourself. Figure out how to make this goal effortless. Making it effortless helps you achieve the goal and will leave you wanting more.

    As an example, I’ve been trying to publish blog posts on a more consistent basis. But I have a mental block about time. My perception is that it takes time I currently don’t have.

    After hearing McKeown’s advice, I decided to set a daily 30-minute writing goal. I have found that I no longer try to procrastinate my writing because 30 minutes feels very attainable.

    And once those 30 minutes are up, I stop. I don’t force myself to keep going even if I’m in the middle of writing flow. Stopping when I’m in flow is crucial because I know when I begin again tomorrow, I will be excited to get started.

    One of the worst things as a writer is a block, and stopping when I’m mid-paragraph, or even mid-sentence ensures I have something to pick up the following day.

    Taking small, daily steps towards your goals increases your odds of success. Find ways to make the process enjoyable, and you’ve suddenly become dramatically more productive.

    It’s Your Turn to Be More Productive

    You define productivity. And with your unique definition comes freedom. The freedom to say “yes” to anything that feels aligned and “no” to everything else.

    Narrow down your big goals to 3 or less at any given time. Go all-in on those goals. And when starting a goal, stop asking “how.” Dr. Hardy explains that “how” is a word that causes procrastination and overwhelm. It immediately adds an element of impossibility to the equation.

    You instead need to ask “who.” Who can help you achieve your goal more quickly? Do you need a coach? Or maybe you need a course designed by an expert in the field. Making investments in someone who is already skilled helps you achieve your goals infinitely faster.

    As important as “who” is the concept of effortlessness. Once your goal has been defined, how can you make it as easy as possible? Greg McKeown offers brilliant advice on finding joy while making goals feel effortless. Sadly, the perception of effort has held me back personally in all areas of my life. I, therefore, adore his philosophy on productivity!

    And remember that slow and steady wins every time. There’s simply no need to make things overly complicated or overwhelming. I would even suggest that if you feel overwhelmed, you need to take a step back. Figure out your priorities. And cut everything that doesn’t make the grade.

    Find the person who can help you. And make it effortless.

    Additional Resources

    If you’re looking for even more resources, make sure you check out any of the following books:

    , , ,,

    And make sure to check out the following posts for even more great personal development!

    Image courtesy of With Faith & Love via Canva

    5 Mindset Secrets to Boosting Your Piano Playing Confidence

    5 Mindset Secrets to Boosting Your Piano Playing Confidence

    “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”

    Carol Dweck

    Learning to play the piano can be intimidating. After all, there are thousands of talented pianists showcasing their skills on YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook. Many of them have studied with the best teachers. And they’ve performed on the best pianos on the biggest stages around the world.

    Watching these performances can lull you into thinking these pianists were simply born talented. It can seem as if you were not born with the same abilities that they were.

    In thinking back to my days studying piano in college, I firmly believed that talent won out. I was convinced that some people are born more talented than others. At that time, I also thought that there was a limit to my improvements. In other words, I completely discounted my abilities to improve through hard work.

    All of these beliefs chipped away at my self-confidence and significantly worsened my existing performance anxiety. Instead of watching other pianists with the intent of learning how to improve my skills, I chose to feel intimidated. Ultimately, this led to less practice time and more shaky performances than I’d like to admit.

    But deep down, I love the instrument! I knew I’d never be able to walk away from it and began searching for ways to improve my piano playing confidence.

    And I’m happy to report that I’ve found an inspirational resource that has revolutionized my thoughts on talent. It’s a book called Mindset written by Carol Dweck, and it’s a must-read for anyone who has ever desired improvement in their life.

    This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.


    “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times of their lives.”

    Carol Dweck

    It’s funny that the most significant in my search for piano playing confidence have, for the most part, occurred away from the keyboard. But perhaps this only drives home the point that mindset matters more than I ever imagined it would.

    Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, has spent her career researching mindset. Dweck asserts that ultimately, “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life.”

    She spends the remainder of the book detailing real-life examples of two opposing mindsets. One is the fixed mindset, and the other is the growth mindset.

    If these are entirely new terms to you, don’t worry! Before reading the book, they were also foreign to me but are relatively intuitive when you understand the basics. Dweck describes the fixed mindset as “an urgency to prove yourself over and over.” It’s the belief that your intelligence, abilities, and personality are fixed and unable to be altered. I would refer you to the introduction for more on the fixed mindset.

    On the other hand, the growth mindset is a belief that you are capable of change. Although the shift often occurs due to effort, hard work ignites a passion for learning. In the growth mindset, “failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.”

    Now that you have a basic understanding of the two mindsets, let’s explore how to improve your piano playing confidence dramatically!

    1. Play to Learn

    “Becoming is better than being.”

    Carol Dweck

    Imagine for a moment that you are preparing to give a recital. You’ve been working on the repertoire for months and feel prepared but struggle with performance anxiety. You’re not sure how you’ll get through it without either throwing up or running off stage mid-recital.

    Luckily, your teacher is a wise woman who always knows exactly what to say. She tells you to consider each of the following statements carefully and adopt one.

    “Everything comes down to this one performance. I can’t miss a single note, or I’ll be found out as the imposter I am. I’ve got to prove my talent for playing because if I screw this up, I lose my right even to call myself a pianist.”

    “I’m nervous about performing but am confident in all the work I’ve put in. This is an incredible opportunity to practice the art of performance, and I’m going to learn everything I can. Even if I miss notes or completely screw something up, I will come away with valuable information I wouldn’t otherwise learn.”

    Now I ask you, which mindset would you rather adopt going into that recital?

    Even if you’re not preparing for a recital, start making your piano practice about learning. Make it about becoming 1% better than you were yesterday, and you’ll quickly see your piano playing confidence go through the roof!

    2. Focus on Yourself

    We live in the best and the worst of times for improving your piano skills. Best in that we have unprecedented access to music and recordings unlike any in history. Worst in that, all these performances can create a tendency to compare ourselves to others.

    And comparison can easily transition to feelings of demotivation and inferiority.

    All those videos may cause you to question whether you’re wasting your time. You may feel like you’ll never be as good as insert name here, so what’s the point?

    The point is that insert name here has spent thousands of hours practicing to get where they are today. They’ve put in the time and energy required to pull off that Rachmaninoff concerto successfully.

    And you can either use your energy to feel down on yourself or to figure out to improve your skills. Stop making comparisons because it’s never fair to yourself.

    Instead of comparing, shift your mindset to one of growth. And keep records of your progress so you can look back and realize just how massive your growth has been. There’s nothing that boosts my piano playing confidence quite like a look back at where I’ve been and where I am currently.

    Don’t have a microphone yet? Check out this microphone for easy, no fuss recording!

    3. Challenge as Opportunity to Skyrocket Your Piano Playing Confidence

    “No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”

    Carol Dweck

    My third mindset secret for improving piano playing confidence goes hand-in-hand with the second. It involves seeing challenge as an opportunity rather than as a roadblock.

    Learning to play the piano is fascinating in that there’s always something to improve upon. I would argue that it’s impossible to learn all the repertoire out there. And there will always be nuances that are more difficult than others.

    As an example, memorization has always been tricky for me. And I could choose to forget about memorizing as no one is forcing me to do it. But I love the challenge of continuing to learn a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me.

    And as a result, I have found that memorizing is now easier than it ever used to be. It’s also become way more fun than I remember it being in my college days! I love taking a piece from sight-reading to memorization because I know how hard I have to work to make it happen.

    And it makes the feeling of accomplishment that much sweeter!

    I encourage you to start seeing the opportunity in the challenge instead of writing anything off as impossible. If nothing else, I hope you’ll understand the personal enjoyment that comes from doing something you once thought impossible!

    4. Identify Your Alter Ego

    Even the most positive thinkers among us have an alter ego. This alter ego loves to remind us of our limitations and past failures. It delights in cautioning us from taking chances to avoid embarrassment.

    And if you think about it, the negative alter ego often aligns closely with characteristics of a fixed mindset. Although it hides under the guise of protecting you from the unknown, it only serves to hold you back from fantastic new opportunities. Or in the case of the piano, it feeds into the energy of low self-confidence, performance anxiety, and imposter syndrome.

    And identifying this negative voice can be tricky!

    But in her book, Dweck gives incredibly useful advice for managing these mindsets. She recommends clearly identifying your alter ego, going so far as to name it. By doing so, you can clearly distinguish between the two mindsets and begin to identify triggers for a fixed mindset clearly.

    In time, you can start shutting down those negative thoughts before they’ve had a chance to take root. And with a firm grasp on growth mindset, I’m positive you’ll see your piano playing confidence go through the roof!

    5. Look for Opportunity to Improve Character and Your Piano Playing Confidence

    “Effort is one of those things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you, and you are willing to work for it.”

    Carol Dweck

    If there’s anything I’ve learned from life thus far, it’s that anything worth having takes effort. And nothing I’ve gotten easily has been of much value.

    So it is with piano.

    I would be lying if I said that I always feel like practicing. Or that I never get frustrated with various technical aspects of the instrument. But at the end of the day, I know all these challenges are transforming me into a stronger pianist. And a better person.

    I hope it’s the same with you. Regardless of whether you’re working through a beginner book or are learning a Chopin etude, don’t give up! Keep at it and look for little ways to stay motivated. Embrace the growth mindset in piano and in life.

    And if you’re looking for other ways to improve your piano playing confidence, make sure to check out these posts:

    I also highly recommend you check out Mindset by Carol Dweck. It’s an easy read and applicable to both piano and life!

    As always, I would love to hear from you! Where are you struggling in your piano journey? Or do you have any secrets to overcoming piano-related barriers? Do you relate to the concepts of fixed and growth mindset?

    Please drop a comment below so I can address your questions and challenges here on Only Getting Better! And until next time, stay safe, healthy, and never stop seeking the best version of yourself!

    5 Secrets to Channeling a Growth Mindset

    5 Secrets to Channeling a Growth Mindset

    I’m not a fan of sports in the traditional sense of the word. And by that, I mean the sense that involves people getting into teams and throwing or kicking balls back and forth.

    Despite being married to arguably the world’s biggest sports fan, I can’t force myself to get into fandom.

    I’ve walked out of multiple professional sporting events without the faintest idea who won. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s tough for me even to care who wins.

    There are times when I wish I could care about scores and teams for my husband’s sake. But at the end of the day, it’s tough for me to emotionally engage in something that has no direct impact on my daily life. Win or lose; my life goes on, so why waste the time or energy?

    Despite a complete lack of interest in the mechanics of sports, there are concepts related to sports that deeply fascinate me. Such concepts include leadership, teamwork, and Michael Jordan.

    This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. All images courtesy of Canva.

    Champions: Born or Made?

    I know what you’re thinking. Michael Jordan is not really a concept. He’s more of an iconic player the likes of which neither basketball nor the world is likely ever to see again.

    And this is precisely what intrigues me!

    How do the best in the world get to be the best? I’m not talking about people who are kinda good.

    I’m talking about the type of skill that even someone 100% sports illiterate can recognize.

    Is it luck? Are some people just born champions, automatically destined for greatness?

    Honestly, I hope not because what kind of message does that send to those of us not blessed with immediately apparent superpowers? Are we all just doomed to a life of mediocrity even despite our best efforts?

    Or are champions made? Do hours upon hours of hard work and sacrifice slowly mold someone into an icon?

    The Myth of Natural Talent

    I have to admit that I’ve always secretly hoped for the latter. I mean, who hasn’t rooted for the one with all the odds stacked against them?

    And isn’t watching the underdog surmount seemingly impossible obstacles more thrilling than watching the character “born to play the game” anyway?

    Despite my love for the underdog, there’s always been part of me who buys into “natural talent.” It’s the same part of me who has always believed smart people don’t have to work hard.

    Or that if you’re meant to do something, it should come easily to you. You shouldn’t have to work hard at anything for which you are “destined.”

    At first glance, being born with a gift for doing something seems completely legitimate. It’s an easy explanation for why some people stand as legends in their field. They are simply “born this way.”

    But a closer look reveals a completely different story. It’s a story of passion, dedication, and perseverance under the most challenging circumstances. Turn on a documentary about any legendary sports figure, and you’ll see hours upon hours of (gasp!) hard work and sacrifice.

    Not a single one of these legends chalks their success up to the luck of the draw. I would venture to guess that many would be insulted at the mere thought that someone would consider them a natural because it dismisses all the effort they’ve put in along the way.

    Although I’m far from uncovering all the secrets to becoming a champion, I am pleased to say that I’ve found a few answers. And I’m more convinced than ever before that champions are not born. They’re made.

    The Evidence

    I know it sounds like a bold statement, but evidence supporting the truth of improvement through effort is all around. As previously mentioned, try to find one sports documentary that doesn’t touch on effort. And there are also entire books dedicated to the topic.

    There is even a book dedicated to making meaningful improvements through the art of practice. And spoiler alert, there will be a blog post coming soon about this topic!

    But this particular post is about mindset. Specifically, growth mindset.

    So if I haven’t yet mentioned this, let me take this opportunity to encourage you to read Mindset. Written by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, it’s a powerful testimony to the impact mindset has on our lives. The book also specifically breaks down mindset techniques applicable to work, parenting, relationships, and teaching.

    I promise that it will change how you think about thinking. It will also challenge how you interact with friends, colleagues, your spouse, and even your kids.

    The book is a complete game-changer! And to demonstrate what I’m talking about, let’s get into what it means to have a growth mindset.

    The Secret’s in the Mindset

    “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.”

    Carol Dweck

    “Mindset” is a word thrown around all the time, but a mindset is simply a way of thinking. It’s how we sort out the world around us. And in her book called Mindset, Carol Dweck explores two specific types: the fixed and the growth mindset.

    In the most basic sense, the difference between the two lies in the states of either becoming or being. The fixed mindset often revolves around continually needing to prove oneself to those around them. It also involves having very “fixed” viewpoints with little belief that meaningful change is possible. The fixed mindset is, therefore, the state of being.

    On the other hand, the growth mindset is about learning. Someone with a growth mindset cares little about what those around them think as long as they gain value from the experience. They are constantly looking for ways to improve and to give goals their absolute best shot. This is the mindset of becoming rather than being.

    The growth mindset is crucial to achieving success in life. This is the mindset that sets champions apart from the rest.

    It’s important to remember that everyone has characteristics of both mindsets. And one may come out more prominently than the other in certain situations. As with most things in life, awareness is the first step.

    Now let’s dig into the secrets of channeling a growth mindset!

    1. Growth Mindset Secret: The Power of Yet

    My very first secret to channeling a growth mindset uses the subtlety of language. More specifically, the addition of one simple word to goals you’re working on achieving.

    And that word is “yet.” Yet is a powerful reminder that your goals are on the horizon of just a little bit more effort. Whether you’re talking to yourself or your kids, including this one small word changes everything.

    As an example, let’s consider a goal to lose weight. Consider each of the following statements:

    A) I haven’t lost 20 pounds.

    B) I haven’t lost 20 pounds yet.

    Which of the two sounds more motivating? Statement A implies a vague goal that may or may not be achieved. On the other hand, statement B frames the goal in a way that feels as if those 20 pounds are right around the corner.

    Language matters. Especially the language you use to yourself. Pay attention to your thinking and how you come across to yourself deep inside.

    Is your inner voice forgiving and encouraging? Or is it harsh and critical?

    Life is hard enough without a strict inner critic catastrophizing every move you make.

    And if you’re looking for more on adding “yet” to your goals, check out Carol Dweck’s incredibly inspirational TED talk.

    2. Growth Mindset Secret: Embrace Challenges

    “People in a growth mindset don’t just seek challenges, they thrive on it. The bigger the challenge, the more they stretch.”

    Carol Dweck

    What goes through your mind when an unexpected roadblock to achieving your goal pops up? Does your brain take a turn to negative town? Do you immediately begin worrying about how you’ll make it through? Maybe you even think about giving up on your goal.

    I don’t know about you, but this is my brain left unchecked. At the slightest hint of struggle, my brain automatically conjures worst-case scenarios. It’s kind of like my anti-superpower. And by that, I mean it’s the exact opposite of an actual superpower because it’s so wildly unhelpful.

    Unhelpful, that is until I learned to embrace it.

    We all have obstacles in our path. Some are physical, and some are mental or emotional. And I’ve learned that I’m often the one standing in my way.

    I know this to be true because, in any given situation, things have always worked out for my good. It’s been the times that stand out as most challenging when I’ve learned the most about myself.

    Challenge means change. It means massive growth on a scale impossible to imagine with the status quo.

    Start embracing the challenges that come your way. Don’t give in to fear. And remember that everything is working for your good.

    3. Growth Mindset Secret: Focus on Learning

    “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

    Carol Dweck

    If you struggle with perfectionism, imposter syndrome, or both, this next growth mindset secret is for you!

    After reading Mindset, it became incredibly apparent to me how fixed my mindset tends to be in certain situations. And I’ve discovered a connection between having a fixed mindset and imposter syndrome.

    As an example, I’ve found that when my mindset seems to be most fixed, it also tends to be a situation when I most fear being uncovered as an imposter. They also tend to be situations when my perfectionist side comes out the strongest.

    But when I started approaching these situations to learn rather than impress others, imposter syndrome has also magically released its hold.

    Unfortunately, I’ve also recognized similar associations in my kids. But emphasizing “learning” rather than “being smart” is starting to transition my mindset and my kids to more of a growth mindset.

    Embracing “learning” over “being” also tells that harsh inner critic to take a back seat because failure is expected when you’re learning. My most valuable lessons have come from some of my biggest failures.

    Start framing your interactions with a learning mindset, and I’m confident you’ll see perfectionism and your fears of being discovered as an imposter melt away. I guarantee that it’s a more free and peaceful way to live!

    If you’re looking for more on freeing yourself from perfectionism, make sure to check out this post.

    4. Growth Mindset Secret: Watch for Success in Others

    This next growth mindset secret goes back to where we started in the beginning. If you want to get better at something, find the best and learn from them.

    Rather than be threatened by success, use it as the path to get where you want to go.

    Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to access their secrets.

    I’m talking basketball, business, crocheting, and anything in between. The core principle of the growth mindset is a belief that you can improve. You can, through focused effort, make strides in your ability to do anything.

    I’m not saying that I’m hoping to emulate Michael’s dunking skills, but I strive to be known as someone who works harder and is more passionate about my goals than anyone in the room.

    Figure out your thing and find that person from whom you can learn the secrets of success.

    5. Growth Mindset Secret: Recognize Your Mindset

    “Mindsets frame the running account that’s taking place in people’s heads. They guide the whole interpretation process. The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging. People with the growth mindset … are attuned to implications for learning and constructive action.”

    Carol Dweck

    The last growth mindset secret is the most important of all. It’s vital because you must recognize the difference between the two mindsets in yourself; otherwise, improvement is nearly impossible.

    In the very last chapter of the book, Dweck describes practical exercises for determining whether you’re in a fixed or growth mindset. She even advises naming your fixed mindset and giving it a persona to make recognition easier.

    When I feel vulnerable and “judged,” I’ve found that it means I’m in a fixed rather than growth mindset. When I center myself on keeping the above 4 growth mindset secrets in mind, I find converting back to growth simple.

    Take a minute to think about your own life. Are there specific situations that trigger the need to prove yourself to others? How do those situations make you feel? And what would you rather be feeling in those moments?

    Recognition goes a long way towards improvement, and I truly hope you have found this post helpful in your journey toward a more peaceful and positive life.

    Until next time, make sure you check out Mindset by Carol Dweck and if you’re looking for more positive inspiration, make sure you check out one of the following posts!

    The ONE Thing: A Case for Narrowing Your Focus

    The ONE Thing: A Case for Narrowing Your Focus

    “If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one.”

    Russian Proverb

    If you’re a blogger, a business owner, or someone with varied interests, I’m sure you’ve heard the advice before. “Find your one thing and channel all your energy into it. Niche down or fail.”

    Take a look around, and you’ll see countless examples of wildly successful people. Presumably successful because they’ve gone all-in on their ONE thing at the expense of all else.

    As I write this, the summer 2021 Olympics are just wrapping up. And if you think about it, can there possibly be a better example of niching down than an Olympic athlete?

    Decades of hard work, sacrifice, and intense focus all come down to one moment. ONE moment that ends in either joyful celebration or heartbreakingly devastating defeat.

    And if you’re anything like me, this extreme example is precisely why the advice to niche down falls on deaf ears. I don’t argue the fact that intense focus yields extraordinary results.

    It’s the other half of the equation, or the loss of everything else at the expense of that ONE thing, that scares me.

    This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. All photos courtesy of Canva.

    A Tale of Multiple Interests

    I’ve always had an array of potentially all-consuming interests. As an example, my full-time gig is as a nurse practitioner, but I also have a fine arts degree in music.

    I started this blog to indulge my love of writing and personal development, but I also moonlight as an organist in a few local churches. And let’s not forget my fascination for anything involving horses but especially the art of dressage.

    One could argue that perhaps I put a little too much stock in that old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

    I thrive on variety.

    But at times, it feels like I can’t move ahead in anything because my focus is so broad. And to make things even murkier, throw a husband, 3 kids, and the weight of maintaining a house in the mix.

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that some days feel like slogging through a lake of molasses in January.

    I’ll be the first to admit that the sludge is my own doing through a failure to pare anything down. And my resolve to excel in various fields has only been spurred on by works like Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

    But sometimes, the chaos of chasing so many dreams drags you down. It causes you to look around for an alternate perspective. ONE perspective to fit all those individual puzzle pieces into a cohesive picture.

    I found such a perspective in The ONE Thing by Gary Keller.

    Success Comes from Subtraction Rather Than Addition

    “Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.”

    Gary Keller

    The ONE Thing is a book that frequents top 10 personal development lists. It’s mentioned over and over by self-help gurus.

    The book is written by Gary Keller, founder of the largest real estate company in the world. An internet search reveals his net worth of around $35 million.

    Keller describes his success as partially attributable to figuring out the ONE thing that makes everything else easier. And once you figure out that ONE thing, everything else falls into place.

    Success, therefore, comes from weeding out the excess rather than taking more on. It’s a simple matter of subtraction rather than addition.

    And the concept of doing less is a refreshing one in a culture constantly preaching the philosophy of doing more.

    There is No Such Thing as Multitasking

    Did you know that multitasking is a myth? It’s physically impossible for your brain to process two conscious thoughts at once effectively.

    To prove my point, try this little experiment. In your head, add up 546 and 376 at the same time you spell OUTSTANDING aloud.

    Did you do it? If so, you might have superpowers!

    But if you weren’t successful, take heart. You’re human! Our brains aren’t designed to consciously perform multiple functions simultaneously.

    There are tasks that your brain has learned to automate, such as walking and chewing gum. But neither job typically requires deep thought.

    True success, however, comes from the type of sustained focus that can only be achieved by blocking out all distractions. Regardless of your end goal, breaking each step into pieces and focusing solely on the tiny action steps is crucial.

    Mastery is More of a Journey

    “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.”

    Albert Einstein

    Do you know the one thing that the most successful people in the world all have in common?

    They never give up. No matter what life throws in their way. They keep moving forward towards their ultimate goal of mastery.

    Successful people realize that success isn’t about a destination. It’s a journey.

    Success means showing up day after day. It means putting in the work even when it’s unattractive, demanding, or boring.

    It also means blocking out all else to become truly great at their ONE thing. Sometimes that means permanently shelving other passions or interests for the sake of moving forward in one specific area.

    At other times, success means scaling back on other interests for a season to clear space for that ONE thing which will then make everything else easier.

    A great example of this is pursuing a degree. Being in school means devoting large chunks of time to school-related activities. And because we all have the same 24 hours in a day, you typically must cut down on other activities to ensure success in your academic program. But the hope is that once you finish, your higher level of income will then support your various interests.

    And the journey to mastery never ends because there’s ALWAYS another level. There’s always another post to publish, sales quota to meet, or product idea waiting to be created.

    Mastery means breaking barriers and pushing limits, both complex tasks when your attention is spread too widely.

    Balance Doesn’t Exist When Pursuing Your ONE Thing

    I may have mentioned this before, but my interests have bounced around dramatically for most of my life. Although they have all remained relatively stable, there are certain times of my life when I pursue one more strongly than the others.

    And I’ve found that I tend to chase interests at the neglect of all others. Although I make progress in one area, I then felt a sense of guilt about the others due to the lack of progress.

    It had me questioning balance and whether I was setting myself up for a life of hopeless imbalance.

    This again inspired a bit of guilt, and so the cycle continued.

    Fortunately, Keller’s philosophy on balance differs from most of social media. He asserts that there can be no balance when you’re genuinely pursuing your ONE thing because success depends upon excluding anything that doesn’t involve that thing.

    Imbalance naturally follows mastery.

    It’s a strangely profound and comforting reassurance that my efforts are not entirely off base.

    Living Without Regrets

    “A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the one that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets.”

    Gary Keller

    Although there are many great takeaway messages from the book, one of the most powerful is to create a life free of regrets. And as someone with a huge variety of interests, it can be easy to make excuses rather than feel the sting of regret.

    Excuses about why I’m not as far along as I’d like to be in a particular area. Or excuses about my limited ability to devote time to any one pursuit.

    But the benefit of applying all your focus to ONE thing is that your power is magnified. Focus means you find that thing and forget the rest. And by doing this, you can look back and know that you gave it your all.

    Not some half-hearted attempt at trying. Or a bunch of excuses about why you never achieved your goal.

    You have the satisfaction of knowing you either succeeded or gave it your all in the attempt.

    How to Apply The ONE Thing to Your Life

    I’ll admit that I was skeptical when starting this book. Mainly because I consider myself to be multi-passionate, and I initially didn’t care for the thought of giving anything up.

    On the other hand, I adore seeing progress! I love being able to look back at where I started and tell that my hard work has made a difference.

    And thanks to having my hands in so many pots, I’ve not had that type of satisfaction as often as I would like. Even before reading the book, frustration over not making significant strides has caused me to contemplate simplifying my life a tad.

    I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t read personal development unless you intend to improve your life. There’s so much value out there if you’re willing to open your mind to alternative perspectives.

    And with that being said, The ONE Thing has encouraged me to narrow my focus to improve my impact. The following are specific ways in which I intend to implement what I learned.

    If you too struggle with feeling spread too thin, check out the book. Try a few of these tactics and watch your outlook (and feelings of accomplishment!) dramatically improve.

    Accept Chaos

    If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent your entire life avoiding chaos. You love wrapping things up into neat little packages.

    But the flip side is that you likely feel stressed when life doesn’t go as planned. You spend so much energy fighting the chaos that you have little left over for actually living.

    It’s time to release your need for control. Fighting the chaos isn’t getting you anywhere, so why not embrace it?

    Accept that when you focus intensely on one thing, everything else gets put on the back burner.

    I’m not saying you should forget about your husband and kids to focus solely on starting your business. Or let your house return to its natural state of decay while you spend hours happily blogging away (guilty as charged on this one!).

    But I am saying you can expect chaos in your life when you choose to narrow your focus. And that’s ok.

    Time Blocking for Your ONE Thing

    Throughout his book, Keller embraces the concept of time blocking. If you’re not familiar, it involves dedicating larger chunks of time to very specific activities.

    His more specific recommendation is to chunk out at least 4 hours each day for your ONE thing. He does acknowledge that you may have legitimate reasons why you may need to shorten your daily time allotment.

    The main point is that you need to prioritize the activities that will promote progress in your ONE thing.

    Question Everything

    “What’s the ONE thing you can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

    Gary Keller

    Throughout the book, Keller refers to the ONE question you need to ask yourself to stay on track.

    He recommends asking yourself this question first thing in the morning and periodically checking in with yourself throughout the day. Questioning yourself ensures you stick to the straight and narrow path of focus.

    It also helps to cut down or eliminate all those little unnecessary distractors we all engage in throughout the day by forcing you to remain accountable.

    For me, those distractors include checking email, Facebook and stopping to chat with people during the day.

    Time is our most valuable resource, and we have to protect it continually, or it vanishes without a single thing to show for its presence.

    Say “No”

    And speaking of priorities, Keller is very clear about the need to say “no.” A lot.

    You must keep your ONE thing front and center. Consider everything else a distraction.

    As a serial people pleaser, saying “no” is sometimes incredibly difficult for me. But hearing that saying “no” is crucial to my overall success somehow takes the stigma out of it.

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say again that it’s refreshing to hear the message of less rather than more as a secret for success.

    Toast Your Wins

    As a high achiever, I have a difficult time celebrating success. I tend to jump from accomplishment to accomplishment with scarcely a breath in between.

    Despite Keller’s advice on buckling down and focusing on the task at hand, he implores you to celebrate your wins. Big or small, I wholeheartedly agree.

    If you don’t take the time to enjoy life, what’s the point of working hard? Without celebration, life turns into one obligation after another on a fast track to burnout.

    For your quality of life, you absolutely must celebrate those milestones!

    It’s Your Turn to Find Your ONE Thing

    Whether you’re trying to balance a full-time career with a side gig, have too many hobbies, or anything in between, I truly hope you found this post helpful!

    Despite my initial reluctance to dive into the book, I have to admit that it was well worth the read. I’ve already started implementing a plan to narrow my focus, accept chaos, and toast my wins, big and small.

    For even more great advice, make sure you check out The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. Below are a couple of additional books I consider essential reading for high-achievers.

    ,, ,

    As always, make sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts on the post. Are you struggling with multipotentialite tendencies? Have you ever considered narrowing your focus? And what would you need to get started on your journey toward more tremendous success?