Toxic Self Help


If you are a regular consumer of self help content, I would encourage you to watch James Jani’s “Toxic Self Help” video at the end of this post. Well written self help books can make us feel good, and give us a dopamine boost. We momentarily feel better. We set out to change our lives, only to end up frustrated again. The cycle takes us back to our next self help book. I was caught up in this cycle in my late twenties. I bought more of these self help books and programs, than I should have. It all lead to more frustration.

I want to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I have read some great books, and picked up some good information even from the bad ones. Much of it I still use today. The problem is not reading the books, it is believing that any book or program will be the catalyst to transform your life. Any real success is going to come by taking right consistent action over a period of time. You don’t need a book for that, but there is definitely useful information you can take from them.

If you find yourself relating to James’ video stop buying self help books, and move forward with what you already know. Feel free to contact me here. You can use a free thirty minute consult to chart a new course.

Seeing Knowledge Clearly


When I was in my mid-thirties I remember a trip to the grocery store with my wife Diane, who would occasionally read the fine print on the labels.  I noticed that she was holding the labels further from her eyes in order to see them clearly.  I teasingly asked if she needed gadget arms to read the labels.  She appropriately shot me back a look and said, “you wait  your time is coming.” From time to time I would playfully tease her about holding things out so she could see them.    

Several years later I was reading a book, and Diane was sitting next to me.  She said “you are holding that book a little far away, aren’t you?”  I said “no, that is just how I read”.  I began to pull the book closer to my eyes, just to show her I could see close up.  I suddenly realized that the text was really blurry.  The joke was on me, I was about to begin payment for all the teasing I had done, along with a new pair of eyeglasses.

In the same way that eyeglasses allow us to see text more clearly, curiosity can help us to see our knowledge more clearly.  We often believe that just because we understand the basics behind something, that we understand it fully.  I believed that just because I could read the words on the page, that I could see the text clearly from close up. I was wrong.

Often in books or movies, a writer will make us aware of circumstances that the main character isn’t aware of.  We find ourselves really wanting the character to realize that they aren’t seeing things clearly.  Ironically we rarely stop to question whether we are seeing things clearly.  Isn’t it likely that we, like the character in the story, can’t see all the things that have happened beyond our own vision.  Something happens to us and we often react as if we fully understand what has happened.  

This is one of those ideas that can completely change our lives for the better.  It is humbling to realize that we only see and understand a small part of what is.  It is empowering to acknowledge that deficit, and to use curiosity to see some of the things we can’t. Learning to be curious about the things that you experience in life is one of the best ways to grow as a person. If we only look at the surface of things, we are sure to miss important details. 

As a people, we nearly missed the immense benefit of discovering Germ Theory.  In the 1840s Ignaz Semmelweis observed that mortality rates in childbirth were reduced greatly, by simple hand washing by doctors and midwives.  He attempted to publish his work, and it was largely rejected. It wasn’t until the 1880s that Germ theory was developed and gained any traction.  We have also discovered that in the 14th century ceremonial hand washing was likely responsible for a much lower death rate from the Black Plague among European Jews. 

There is always more going on than we realize. While we shouldn’t get caught up in endless details, we should keep an open mind about what is possible.  Who knows what great things you might accomplish, by just getting curious. 

Goodbye Twitter


I decided this evening to delete my Twitter account. Our world is so polarized and Twitter is particularly polarized. I believe that in large part, it is people trying to have meaningful communication in so few words. I had a respectful back and forth on Twitter earlier this afternoon over a polarizing topic. I found it quite challenging to minimize offense in so few words.

I think the short form communication manipulates and emboldens it’s users to say things that feed the polarization. I also don’t get much traction out of Twitter.

Most importantly, I think it is imperative that we get back to having respectful conversations around important issues, as opposed to tweeting offensive blurbs back and forth. Twitters algorithms appear to feed polarization with intent.

If you are a fan of Twitter feel free to comment on this post as to why you do.

A short note on political polarization. Several years ago, I unhitched my wagon from politics all together. I did this for two reasons. First and foremost, I believe the solution lies with the people not the politicians. Secondly I woke up to my unconscious bias, and much of that for me was political in nature.

If you really want to make America great again, then learn to have respectful conversations on important issues with people who believe differently than you do. It is also important to remember that you can safely assume that anyone you talk to knows something you don’t know.

Goodbye Twitter!

Are You Interested in becoming a data professional ? Data is the new oil.


As many of you know I am a part time remote life coach, but I am also a full-time Business Intelligence Specialist / Data Engineer. On a typical week for the last couple years, I have had at least one or two recruiters contact me to interview for data jobs. That activity seems to be ratcheting up. Data is the new oil. The one thing I love about my job in data, is the same thing I love about life coaching. It is adding value to people. It also pays extremely well.

I want to help prepare more data professionals to fill the current need. In a free half an hour session, I will provide everything you need to get started.

Here are some reasons you might want to become a data professional.

  • Excellent Pay
  • Flexible Hours
  • Work Remotely
  • Contribute directly the bottom line of you and your employer
  • Regardless of what happens in the economy the need for data services is going to grow

If you are seriously interested in becoming a data professional, I am offering a free thirty minute consult to 2 people per month. Here is what you can expect.

  • Discuss your situation and determine if a career in data is right for you.
  • Point you to quality free resources to kickstart your learning.
  • Provide you insight into the most in-demand platforms to learn.

For those who take advantage of the free consult, and are really serious about becoming a data professional. ( You need show that you have taken action on insights from the initial free consult ) I will provide ongoing monthly training sessions for the same price as an hour of basic life coaching. $65 / month with homework between sessions.

You can drop me a note here if you are interested. Please tell me a little about what you are doing now and why you are interested in becoming a data professional. I will pick two responses per month for the free consult.

A Dysfunctional Alarm Clock


I was reminded of this old post today, as I noticed my mental alarms going off during the day.

Your Remote Life Coach

This post will bring awareness to unnecessary alarms in your life. You can easily minimize these alarms to improve the qualify of your life.

Imagine you go to bed one night and your alarm clock goes off sporadically during the night. The first time it goes off you reset it, the second time you unplug it, and the third time you remove the backup battery. An hour later the alarm on your mobile phone starts the same pattern.

It isn’t hard to imagine having a challenging day after a night of multiple alarms. If this were to happen to you, you would no doubt get to the root of the problem and remedy the situation so that it wouldn’t continue to happen.

You may have this kind of thing happening in your waking life, and not even realize it. Your unconscious, like an alarm clock is a great tool to…

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Small Stuff ?


Small changes over time can turn your life around. These small changes build on each other. Sometimes we think that success happens because of the massive action we take, but we never think about the small things that let us build up to those massive actions.

Last week i got off track and started focusing on making changes to things that were currently out of my control. I let the actions of others get me worked up through the process.

Once I realized what was going on, I asked myself what I could do to get out of that state of mind. I realized was that I hadn’t been taking time to clear my mind, and exercise in the morning. I also hadn’t taken the time to be mindful throughout the day.

These were small habits that made a big difference in my effectiveness and happiness. I really didn’t think they would help that much, but I had to start somewhere. They were exactly the things that helped me to get perspective on what was going on. In a few hours, I was back on track moving forward.

When we want to make changes in our lives we often look for big things we can do to get on track, but the things that really make a difference are the little things. It occurred to me to write this post because I was surprised that getting back on track with just those two small daily habits, would make that much difference.

What are some small positive habits you can start this week?

Starting From Different Places


Have you genuinely tried to make positive changes in your life, and just feel stuck? Have you taken the advice of “success experts”, and still couldn’t make any significant progress? The purpose of this post is to provide both a possible reason and solution for this problem. I doesn’t matter where you are starting from, you can still get there.

One of the most enlightening discoveries that I have made while talking to people about their goals, is how our difference in perception of the world, impacts our outcome. We often project our view of the world on others. We understand them through our filter of the world. The reality is people are very different. It has been humbling, but necessary to discover this.

For one person, making their goal so big it is almost unachievable really helps them to persevere. To another person driving toward a goal that big creates nothing but more stress in their lives. That was me.

It all depends on how you interpret the world. For some of us we have to start the road to achievement with much smaller goals, and build on small successes. This goes back to all of those unconscious thoughts that we have that make up our view of the world. Sometimes past failures impact us, and we have no idea that it is happening. If we take time to examine the facts you may find that the same things happen over and over again, regardless of the approach. This is most often unconscious thoughts, that you haven’t uncovered.

If you can uncover what these thoughts are, then you can start to deal with them. In this post, I give you some suggestions to learn to notice these unconscious thoughts.

Some people naturally move towards goals, and others attempt to move away from the negative consequences of their current situation. Any real achievement in life is mostly a result of moving toward what you want, not away from what you don’t want. For those people who are “moving away from” , there is a need to become conscious of that behavior. You start this by setting small achievable goals, and as you have these small successes, your mindset will begin to transform.

The bottom line is that you can set and achieve your goals, you just need to find what works for you. Either way when you are stuck, start with smaller achievable goals, and them build momentum for you.

Is Your Life Full of Stress ?


Have you ever stopped to think about the things in our lives that cause unnecessary stress? In this post I am going to list a few of those stress inducers and some tips to reduce stress in your life.

Mobile Phones

In a prior blog post I talked about dysfunctional alarms. We often associate alarms with things like our alarm clocks, and fire alarms that were meant to startle us to action.

The term alarm can mean anything that creates urgency for us to perform some action. The device that we carry everywhere with us is constantly calling us to pay attention to notifications that are often unimportant. Of course having an unanswered notification causes us to switch the screen on, and check it. Your unconscious has no means of determining the importance of those notifications. It just reacts by breaking your focus.

The constant breaking of focus throughout the day breaks down our ability to focus our attention where we want it. It keeps our brains in a constant state of alarm, but we often don’t realize it.

Do an experiment this week. Keep your mobile device in silent mode for a whole week, and make a special effort to focus a hundred percent of your attention on what you are doing. Doing routine tasks that are second nature to you and purposely and fully focusing on them may bring more enjoyment to them. It will definitely make them more tolerable.

Social Media

Facebook and other social media platforms know what kinds of content you are attracted to by monitoring the kinds of content you browse. They have algorithms that put content in your feeds based on your likes and reading habits. These algorithms know what you believe, and can be pretty accurate. They also know the kind of content that is most likely to get you to respond. This causes you to add more content, and this is what they want.

Advertisers also make their money by knowing what will cause you to respond to ads. If you have particular political leanings, it is almost certain that Facebook will place things in your news feed that cause your mind to overact to something. Something that may be happening a thousand miles away, or not really happening at all. Have you ever read a post on social media and it gave you a sense of dread almost immediately? Was it something that would lead you to believe the world is coming unglued? The algorithms are designed to do this, to get you to respond.

This week I asked you to set your phone to silent, and check it periodically. Maybe next week you can start a social media diet. If you are an active social media user, maybe look at your social media feeds once or twice per day, and stay on for no more than ten or fifteen minutes. This will pay dividends

Unconscious Thoughts

Your mind is constantly working to protect you. All the things that have caused you pain in the past, cause your mind to stay vigilant to alert you to future dangers. This can be useful sometimes, but in our modern world a lot of these thoughts just hold us back.

This week schedule five or ten minutes a few times per day. Consciously stop thinking, and just pay attention to the thoughts that come up without judging them. Another thing I mentioned in the mobile phone section is deliberately focusing your attention on every detail of what you are currently doing. This will also go a long way in helping you to quieting those rogue thoughts.

In summary, the more time you can keep your mind in the present moment and eliminate distractions the better your quality of life. If you would like to quiet your thoughts, and can’t seem to get there, feel free to reach out.

A Dysfunctional Alarm Clock


This post will bring awareness to unnecessary alarms in your life. You can easily minimize these alarms to improve the qualify of your life.

Imagine you go to bed one night and your alarm clock goes off sporadically during the night. The first time it goes off you reset it, the second time you unplug it, and the third time you remove the backup battery. An hour later the alarm on your mobile phone starts the same pattern.

It isn’t hard to imagine having a challenging day after a night of multiple alarms. If this were to happen to you, you would no doubt get to the root of the problem and remedy the situation so that it wouldn’t continue to happen.

You may have this kind of thing happening in your waking life, and not even realize it. Your unconscious, like an alarm clock is a great tool to alert you to some action you need to take. If you are driving and another car unexpectedly comes into your path, your brain is effective in getting you to naturally take action without conscious thought. It acts in many ways as an alarm clock.

In this post we will discuss other kinds of alarms that you should be aware of. Just like your night of sporadic alarms, they can have a negative impact on your day.

Technology

What is your response when you hear text or email notifications coming from your phone? Do you immediately feel compelled to answer or at least look at them? The pattern created in your brain from responding to constant alerts will naturally cause you to be much more distracted during the day. It will also keep you from developing a healthy natural rhythm to your day, which goes a long way for overall mental health.

How you remedy this in your life is up to you, but one way to do that is to silence all email, text, and possibly even phone call alerts. Instead of hearing the alerts you can check them in the morning, at lunch, mid-afternoon, and at the end of the day. The key, regardless of how often you check them is to put them into a natural rhythm, that you control and can follow daily.

Overloaded calendars and task lists

One of the biggest reasons that tasks lists aren’t ideal is that we put too many things on them at once. With the best of intentions you start your day by making a list of tasks you have to accomplish that day. If you are like me that list gets pretty full, pretty quick.

The act of putting those tasks on paper fills your unconscious mind with a list of things that you are telling it you need to do. Your unconscious will serve you by setting frequent natural alarms that will distract you from what you are currently doing. This will naturally create extra anxiety in your life.

It is important that you learn to focus on one task at a time. I will provide a suggestion here, but once you realize what is going on you can come up with a solution that works for you.

I employ a tactic I call “What’s Next”. In the early evening after my work day, I review and add appointments to my calendar, then I make a list of what will need to be done the next day in order of priority. I put only the first task in plain view for the following morning. In the morning I do that one task until it is done, or I have a hard stop or blocker. I then consciously say “What’s Next?” The bottom line, however you achieve it is to only look at and deal with your tasks one at a time, and do everything in your power to finish that one task before you move on. When you are done consciously ask, “What’s Next?”

Mindlessness

Attention isn’t the problem for most us, it is putting and keeping our attention where we want it. With all the distractions we have in modern life it is easy to become mindless, and let your brain react to your external environment. This challenge is a little more nefarious than the others. It can be hard to recognize when something is chomping at our attention, when we are struggling to pay attention to something else.

It is important to set aside some time periodically throughout your day to relax, take a deep breath, and simply notice the thoughts occurring on in your mind. Mindfulness is much more than a sitting meditation practice. It is simply taking time to relax, focus on your breath, and notice what your mind is doing. If you can effectively do this, it will by far be the best thing you can do for your day.

In Summary we would be well served to control what comes to our attention throughout our day, but in order to control them, we need to be aware of them. This week just take a few minutes a few times per day to just take a deep breath and notice what is going on in your mind without reacting to it. Get Curious about it, and ask yourself questions around the source of it. If you watch your life carefully and listen to it as if it has something to tell you, solutions will often present themselves.