1 INSANELY POPULAR WAY TO WRECK THE NEXT YEAR OF YOUR LIFE
yourself: It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our
And yet so often, against our better judgment, we make the wrong choices.
Our pride has us holding on when we need to let go.
Pressure from peers sways us left when we mean to go right.
Negative thoughts provoke frowning on otherwise beautiful days.
And so it goes…
One choice at a time, one moment at a time, we ruin the most promising days of
If you can relate at all, it’s time to answer your wake-up call!
How many times have you thought “this isn’t working” or “something is not
right” or “things have to change”? – those thoughts and words are from your
inner voice. It’s your wake-up call calling.
You really don’t need some scary, life-threatening diagnosis or major crisis to
wake you up. And no one needs to tell you because you already know. Your inner
voice has been trying to tell you for a while now, but in case it’s been a
challenge to find time and space to listen through the chaos, maybe you’ll
resonate with one of these situations:
If your life is on auto-pilot and you’re
always feeling worn down and stressed out, this is your wake-up call.
If you never put yourself first, this is your
If you are constantly numbing out with food,
shopping, booze, TV, or other distractions, this is your wake-up call.
your wake-up call is not the hard part. Answering the call is. Choosing to
answer the call instead of ignoring it is HARD! Right now, it may feel much
easier to keep going, and going, and going. But you know if you don’t find a
way out of the endless cycle you’re in, it’s going to get worse…
Remind yourself that a big part of your life is a result of the choices you
make. And if you don’t like your life it’s time to start making changes and
Based on over a decade of one-on-one coaching sessions with hundreds of
students from around the world, and hearing dozens of personal stories every
year from attendees at our live annual events, here is the #1 way we as human
beings gradually wreck our own lives, and some clear ideas on how to make
better choices going forward:
Decide YOU ARE STUCK!
that’s the most popular way we as human beings hurt ourselves! Take a moment to
reflect on evidence of this in your own life…
Think about ONE self-limiting belief you
have—one area of your life where you believe you absolutely CANNOT make
progress. It can be about any
part of your life you hope to change—your health, your weight, your career,
your relationships – anything at all. What’s one thing you’ve essentially
decided is a fact about your place on Earth?
And then I want you to shift gears and think
about ONE time, one fleeting moment, in which the opposite of that ‘fact’ was
true for you. I don’t care how tiny of a victory it was, or even if it was a
partial victory. What’s one moment in time you can look back on and say, “Hey,
that was totally unlike ‘me’—but I did it!”? Because once you identify the
cracks in the wall of a self-limiting belief, you can start attacking it. You
can start taking steps forward every day that go against it—positive daily
rituals that create tiny victories, more confidence, gradual momentum, bigger
victories, even more confidence, and so on.
yes, I also understand that we all face our share of incredibly difficult
circumstances, many of which are not the results of anything we’ve done. But we
still have choices when it comes to how we’ll respond to these seemingly-random
tragedies that afflict us.
The choice is as simple as it is universal:
Grit our teeth and try to move the immovable
object, and become frustrated and bitter when we realize we can’t.
Answer our wake-up call. Let it be. Let go.
the first choice is easier because it’s our default action. We want full
control because feeling out of control is utterly terrifying.
It’s essential to know how to let go—how to understand the difference between
what you can control and what you can’t.
Empowering yourself to relinquish control of the wrong attachments is one of
the greatest gifts you can give yourself—the ability to exist peacefully and
productively amidst the chaos of life.
If you feel yourself slowly collapsing under the weight of life and circumstances,
we have a proven path to a more peaceful and productive life. We’d love to
share it with you.
French philosopher François-Marie Arouet once said:
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are
not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to think
more clearly, respond to life more effectively, and get ourselves back on
temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he
will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,
he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”1
Nelson Searcy tells of a study that was conducted about the best tasting ice
cream. Members of the control group were blindfolded and given all kinds of
vanilla ice cream to taste—quality brand ice cream, gourmet ice cream, homemade
ice cream, cheap ice cream and everything in between.
It didn’t matter if it was gourmet, brand name, or homemade ice cream,
“The number one determining factor was the percentage of fat in the ice
cream. In other words, the more fat that was in the ice cream, the more
people liked it.”
As Searcy stated, “Now, isn’t that one of the ironies of life? Why can’t
fried chicken, which happens to be my favorite food, be as good for you as an
apple? I have never heard a doctor say—’A fried chicken leg a day will
keep the doctor away.’ The reason they say that is because if you had
fried chicken every morning for breakfast, it would probably keep the doctor
nearby because your cholesterol would shoot up. I guess I’ll have to
settle for apples.”2
And who doesn’t like a good fatty ice cream? As a kid we even used to pour pure
cream over our ice cream. Yum! Yum! We had no idea how unhealthy that was.
Temptation, too, can have an overpowering attraction and appeal. It can look
fabulous and at first taste very inviting—but in the long run its effects are
deadly. It reminds me of an extremely beautiful fish that is found on the Great
Barrier Reef in Australia. It’s only very small but its sting is incredibly
painful. It needs to be avoided at all cost. Same with sin. Regardless how
attractive it appears, its end result is deadly so it needs to be avoided at
all costs. As Searcy said, “When we give in to temptation, we always
regret it because in the long run we always give up something greater for
instant gratification right now.”3
Suggested Prayer: “Dear God, please help me to remember that while sin’s
temptation can be very appealing, it always pays self-destructive dividends.
Through Your Spirit please give me the strength to resist the lures of the evil
one—and the good sense to always depend on You and not try to fight it in my
own strength. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in
Jesus’s name, amen.”
Don’t just rant online for a better world. Love your family. Be a good neighbor. Practice kindness. Build bridges. Embody what you preach. Today. And always.
About a decade ago, at one o’clock in the morning, my grandpa who was suffering from Alzheimer’s got up, got into my car and drove off. Angel and I contacted the police, but before they could find him, two college kids pulled into our driveway with my grandpa. One was driving him in my car and the other was following in their car. They said they overheard him crying about being lost at an empty gas station 10 miles away. My grandpa couldn’t remember our address, but gave the kids his first and last name. They looked him up online, found our address, and drove him home.
I was randomly
reflecting on that incident today while sitting near the edge of a beautiful
ocean-side cliff in San Diego. As I stared off into the distance, the sudden
awareness of footsteps behind me startled me. I turned around to see a young
lady who was almost in tears slowly walking to where I was sitting. I jumped
up, walked up to her and asked, “What’s wrong?” She told me she was
deathly afraid of heights, but was worried about my safety and wanted to
get over her fear because she needed to make sure I was okay.
“You were sitting so
close to the edge, and with a such despondent expression,” she said. “My heart
told me I needed to check on you—to make sure you were in a healthy state of
mind.” Her name is Kate, and her braveness and kindness truly warmed my heart.
I’ve spent the rest of
the day thinking about what an extraordinary person Kate is, and about those
amazing college kids who helped my grandpa, and about what it means to be a
kind and giving person. As Kate and those kids found out, being kind isn’t always
easy. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile, or face your biggest fears, or
stand up against your own negative tendencies to make a positive difference in
someone else’s life. Let this be your wake-up call today. It’s time to start
doing the hard things—the right things—for others…
1. Start being a source
of sincere support.
The closest thing to
being cared for is to care for others. We are all in this together and we
should treat each other as such. The very demons that torment each of us,
torment others all over the world. It is our challenges and troubles that
connect us at the deepest level.
If you think about the
people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life—the ones who
truly made a difference—you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that
tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems. They’re the ones
who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a
shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers,
but stood beside you anyway. Be this person for those around you every chance
2. Start giving people
your undivided attention.
There is greatness and
beauty in making time, especially when it’s inconvenient, for the sake of
You don’t have to tell
people that you care, just show them. In your relationships and interactions
with others, nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere,
focused attention. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without
anticipation of results is the ultimate compliment. It is indeed the most
valued gesture you can make to another human being.
When we pay attention
to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and
affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow wiser and
stronger. We help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s growth. So
give someone the gift of YOU—your time, undivided attention and kindness.
That’s better than any other gift, it won’t break or get lost, and will always
3. Start respecting and
supporting people who are different than you.
privilege is to become who you truly are. You have to dare to be yourself, one
hundred percent, however anxious or odd that self may prove to be. The people
who support you in doing so are extraordinary. Appreciate these people and
their kindness, and pay it forward when you’re able.
Never bully someone
into silence. Never victimize others for being different. Accept no one’s
close-minded definition of another person. Let people define themselves. You
have the ability to show
people how awesome they are, just the way they are. So act on this
ability without hesitation; and don’t forget to show yourself the same
4. Start being willing
to be wrong.
The mind is like a
parachute; it doesn’t work when it’s closed.
It’s okay to disagree
with the thoughts or opinions expressed by others. But that doesn’t give you
the right to immediately reject any sense they might make. Nor does it give you
a right to accuse someone of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you
don’t like what they are thinking and saying. Learn to recognize the beauty of
different ideas and perspectives, even if it means overcoming your pride and
opening your mind beyond what is comfortable.
and human interactions are not a power struggle. Be willing to be wrong, while
simultaneously exploring your truth.
5. Start giving
recognition and praise for the little things.
A brave, extraordinary
soul recognizes the strength of others. Give genuine praise whenever possible.
Doing so is a mighty act of service. Start noticing what you like about others
and speak up. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are
is extremely rewarding. It’s an investment in them that doesn’t cost you a
thing, and the returns can be astounding. Not only will they feel empowered,
but also what
goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re
cheering for will start cheering for you too.
Also, be sure to
follow this rule: “Praise in public, penalize in private.” Never publicly
ridicule someone when you have the option not to. If you don’t understand
someone, ask questions. If you don’t agree with them, tell them. But don’t
judge them behind their back to everyone else.
6. Start giving people
the space to save face.
What others say and do
is often based entirely on their own self-reflection. When someone who is angry
and upset speaks to you, and you nevertheless remain very present and continue
to treat them with kindness and respect, you place yourself in a position of
great power. You become a means for the situation to be graciously diffused and
A spiritual teacher
once told me, “When somebody backs themselves into a corner, look the other way
until they get themselves out; and then act as though it never happened.”
Allowing people to save face in this way, and not reminding them of what they
already know is not their most intelligent behavior, is an act of great kindness.
This is possible when we realize that people behave in such ways because they
are in a place of great suffering. People react to their own thoughts and
feelings and their behavior often has nothing directly to do with you.
7. Start being a bit
Be gentle and
compassionate with those around you. Mother Nature opens millions of flowers
every day without forcing the buds. Let this be a reminder not to be forceful
with those around you, but to simply give them enough light and love, and an
opportunity to grow naturally.
Ultimately, how far
you go in life depends on your willingness to be helpful to the young,
respectful to the aged, tender with the hurt, supportive of the striving, and
tolerant of those who are weaker or stronger than the majority. Because we wear
many hats throughout the course of our lives, and at some point in your life
you will realize you have been all of these people.
Now, it’s your turn…
The bottom line is
that it’s time to be less impressed by your own money, titles, degrees, and
looks. And it’s time to be more impressed by your own generosity, integrity,
humility, and kindness towards others.
Don’t you agree?
Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts.
What part of this post
resonated with you the most?
Though your body might be ready to return to sex after a
miscarriage, are you?
How soon can you have sex after experiencing a pregnancy loss?
It’s a common question among women of childbearing age, considering that up to
20 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage and approximately 1 in 100 in stillbirth. There’s not a standard — or
straightforward — answer. Generally, physicians counsel patients to wait until
they feel ready. But readiness for a woman and her partner can depend on a
number of physical, and emotional, factors.
“From a medical
and practical perspective, the primary thing is to ensure that the pregnancy
has passed completely, the cervix has closed, and that there isn’t an increased
risk of causing infection in the uterus,” explained Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D.,
chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility and an
associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Irving
Medical Center. “The timing for this depends on how far along the pregnancy was
at the time of the loss and how quickly the woman’s body recovers.”
romantic readiness is another question altogether.
roadblocks are a big factor: Women may feel reluctant to engage in sexual
intimacy while still grieving their loss. Miscarriage can also change a woman’s
relationship with her body, and what sex represents to a couple might shift. If
this seems hard to understand, it is: I am a psychologist specializing in women’s
reproductive and maternal mental health, and I didn’t fully comprehend how
complex returning to sex could be until I experienced a second trimester miscarriage
firsthand. Then I understood all too well: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
“There are no
guidelines with regard to telling patients what to expect about returning to
sex after miscarriage. Routinely, we don’t discuss sex after loss unless patients
bring it up,” said Jessica Schneider, M.D., an ob-gyn at Cedars Sinai Medical
Center in Los Angeles. “There’s research about how safe it is to get pregnant
again after a loss, but not about sexual function or satisfaction.” And the
fact is, sexual function and satisfaction can, and do, change.
I talked to
several women about their experiences around sex after pregnancy loss to find
out how they approached returning to intimacy. (The women preferred their last
names not be used due to privacy concerns.)
Some women, like
Ash, 36, felt ready to have sex right away. After experiencing a stillbirth,
she turned to sex for healing. “It was a way to feel powerful in my body,” she
said. “I felt like my body had failed me, and sex was a way to get that back.”
There was one caveat though: She didn’t want to risk another pregnancy. “It
felt better to engage in sexual acts that couldn’t result in one.”
Trying to get
pregnant again is a sensitive topic medically and emotionally. The World Health
Organization’s official stance is to wait six months before attempting another
pregnancy. Recent research, however, suggests that having
sex sooner doesn’t have a negative effect on future pregnancies and could actually help success rates.
“The doctor told
us to wait until we were comfortable,” said Maria, 26, who has had four
miscarriages. “It was nerve-wracking to return to sex. I think because I was
terrified of getting pregnant again and losing it or not getting pregnant
again. It was challenging mentally.”
self-blame can enter the bedroom after pregnancy loss and create trouble where
there previously was none. Hanan, 27, thought she was ready to have sex again
immediately after a stillbirth, though her doctor told her to wait six weeks.
She said she felt arousal and the desire to have sex, and engaged with her
husband in everything other than penetrative sex, while waiting for medical
clearance. But the first time they had intercourse, she wasn’t prepared for her
emotional reaction. “I cried so much after the first time. I felt very guilty,”
she said. “My body wanted to, but my brain didn’t. It felt selfish and immoral
— like I should have been celibate while grieving.”
are especially challenging for women who are actively trying to conceive again.
“I did not want to initiate sex after my loss, but at the same time, I did want
to get pregnant again,” said Maggie, 32. “My vagina became a constant reminder
of the loss.”
Some women said
they resented their bodies for a perceived failure. “After my miscarriage, I
couldn’t be with anyone for over a year,” Zachi, 27, told me. “The fact that my
body failed impacted the way I felt sexually afterward. I carried the baby
emotionally, long after physically.”
While a 2015
survey found that 47 percent of respondents who had experienced a miscarriage reported feeling guilty about it — and
nearly three-quarters thought their actions may have caused it — the reality is
that chromosomal abnormalities are the explanation in about 60 percent of
miscarriages. Pregnancy loss cannot be prevented.
If you’ve been
trying to conceive for a long time, sex following a pregnancy loss can become
especially fraught — even unappealing.
“After my first
miscarriage, we only had sex to conceive. It started to feel like a task,” said
Gina, 30, who has experienced infant loss and two miscarriages. “That mentality
compounded after my second miscarriage and killed all sexual desire for me.”
Sonali, 33, who
has lost four pregnancies, had difficulty returning to the very place she got
pregnant. “Sex with your other half in the bed where you conceived the babies
you lost is so triggering,” she said.
thinking about where I’d be in my pregnancy now; how I wouldn’t be able to have
sex in this position,” Maria said. “It makes me feel guilty to feel great, when
I should be seven months pregnant and uncomfortable.”
can have unintended positive impacts on a woman’s sexuality, too. Zachi said
that she is more assertive in her sex life because of her miscarriage. “I have
to listen to my body now,” she said. “It becomes painful not to. I am a lot
more sure in what I want.” A miscarriage ultimately brought Maggie and her
husband closer together, she said. “During the loss, I felt like I was on an
island,” she remembered. “The first time my husband and I had penetrative sex,
I cried from relief, because I felt so re-connected to him.”
enjoying sex again is really about one thing — personal readiness — which is
what I tell my patients. It’s O.K. to feel grief and sexual desire
simultaneously. “Moving on” is not a prerequisite for pleasure.
If you feel like you’re completely stuck in life right now with nowhere to go, realize you are lying to yourself. You have imprisoned yourself in your own mind by telling self-defeating stories — stories about what your life should be like, what should or should not have happened, and so on and so forth. By doing this you’ve created a tiny space in your mind and you’ve begun to believe you are actually living in it.
But you are NOT. You are alive in a vast world with infinite destinations. Take a moment to remind yourself of this. Go outside. Look at the sky and the clouds. THIS is the space in which you really live. Breathe it in. Then look at your current situation again.
When someone younger than me (or someone who simply has far less life experience) asks me about how to overcome the pain and frustration associated with life’s unexpected setbacks, this is how I explain it to them (Please note that I’m not suggesting YOU are younger than me or have less life experience. This is just an example.):
Look at the circles above. The black circles represent our relative life experiences. Mine is larger because I am older than you and have experienced more in my lifetime. The smaller red circles represent a negative event that has taken place in our lives. Assume we both experienced the same exact event, whatever the nature. Notice that the negative event circles are the same size for each of us; but also notice what percentage of the area they occupy in each of the black circles. Your negative event seems much larger to you because it is a greater percentage of your total life experiences. I am not diminishing the importance of this event; I simply have a different perspective on it.
What you need to understand is that an overwhelmingly painful and frustrating event in your life right now will one day be part of your much larger past (and pool of experience) and not nearly as significant as it seems in this moment.
Hopefully knowing this changes your perspective and gives you a good reason to NOT give up. And truthfully, this is just one small example of how you can shift your thinking and renew your sense of hope. The bottom line is that you can make many small, internal adjustments starting today that will help you feel better, think more clearly, and grow beyond life’s painful setbacks when they happen.
Have you ever felt like your partner was the enemy? In 1969, George Bach felt that way when he published The Intimate Enemy. Bach believed that relationships failed because partners didn’t air their resentments, so he encouraged couples to “let it all out.”
He gave couples foam rubber bats and encouraged partners to take turns saying what they resented about the other person. One partner might say, “I resent you for spending our money on a stupid boat we never use,” followed by a whack with the bat. Then the other partner might say, “I resent you for never having sex with me,” accompanied with a whack.
It turns out this method only made couples feel more resentful toward one another. “Letting it all out” is not the solution.
Before you even have a conflict conversation in your relationship, I recommend reading Are Love Laws Throwing You in Relationship Jail? Below are five guidelines for making a conflict conversation work: 1. Be on the Same Team People often perceive their partner as dissimilar to them, especially during conflict. They believe they have all the positive qualities and their partner only has a few or lots of negative traits.
When you give your partner a negative quality in your thoughts, try to see that same quality in yourself. And when you identify a positive quality in yourself, try to see that same quality in your partner. The assumption of similarity is what keeps The Story of Us focused on we-ness, not me-ness.
2. Stop if You’re Flooded Couples can only have a constructive conflict conversation if they can manage their own physiological flooding. At its peak, flooding can cause couples to verbally attack each other. Any conversation you have while being flooded will be useless, if not damaging. Regrettable words will be said and partners will put up walls as they defend themselves against one another.
Dr. John Gottman’s research has shown that a simple 20 to 30 minute break can really help you calm yourself down. During that time, do things that help you relax like taking a walk or listening to your favorite music.
3. Postpone Persuasion Trying to persuade your partner to compromise before both of you have stated your position will lead to resentment and an unfair solution. If your partner feels unheard, they will unlikely to be motivated to open up and hear your side of the story. It is only when both partners feel understood by each other that you can begin to work together to find a compromise.
If your partner does not feel understood and accepts your persuasion, over time they may resent you or undermine the solution you set.
Slow down, understand each other, and the solution will last.
4. Express Your Needs As a speaker, it’s your responsibility to express your needs in a way that your partner can do something about that will be successful for you. The trap most people fall into is only expressing how they want to feel: “I want to feel more loved.”
The problem is that it gives your partner no clue how to help you feel that way. A better way to ask for more love is, “I need a romantic date night once a week and an overnight to a bed and breakfast every two months.” Be as specific as you can.
5. Believe Both Points of View are Valid When partners believe there is only one truth, they argue tooth and nail for their own position. That belief is a dead end.
There is only one essential assumption that will make the conversation about hurt feelings or the aftermath of a fight workout constructively: that in every disagreement or miscommunication, there are always two points of view, and they are both valid.
Once you accept that idea, it’s no longer necessary to argue for your own position. Now you can focus on understanding and validating your partner’s position.
Note: Validation and understanding are not the same as compliance or agreement. This process will only work if both partners agree that there are two valid viewpoints, and if BOTH partners are not focused on “facts” but on understanding the other’s side of the event.
These five rules will guide you to stop fighting and start connecting in your relationship. If you find you and your partner’s core needs are at war with each other, don’t fret. Check out the 4 Steps to Overcome Relationship Gridlock here.
Additionally, Dr. John Gottman’s 40 years of research with thousands of couples has revealed an effective conflict blueprint that provides both the speaker and listener with responsibilities for making the conversation constructive.
Do your children feel led or pushed? Or asked another way, are you as a
parent dominated by love or frustration? The two questions are inexorably tied
together. Leading is born out of love and pushing is born out of frustration.
Too often as parents we tell our children that we demand obedience and speak
sharply because we love them and only want the best for them. Most likely our
children are not buying this explanation. It feels to them as if they are being
pushed into doing what mum and dad want.
In contrast, notice the sequence of thought and actions in Deuteronomy
6:5-7: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be
upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit
at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get
First, you are to love God with every fiber of your being, with all that
you have to offer as a human living and being sustained by the grace of God.
Second, the commands of God are to dominate your inner being because of
your profound love for God.
Third, these commands are to be deeply implanted into the lives of your
children during every event and opportunity that God brings to you each day.
So, you as a parent are to deeply love God with all that you are as a
person. This love is expressed by drinking deeply of his commands so that your
heart is permeated with them. Then, this love for God and his commands is to
overflow from your heart into the everyday situations of life that you and your
It is this combination of loving God and living out His commands that
will allow you to impress the love you have for God into the lives of your
children. In this sense no pushing is required. This is what it means to lead.
Even as you embrace this deep love for God that Deuteronomy requires you to
have, your children will be still the same sinful creatures that desperately
need the grace of God. The difference will be that you will not be pushing them
to grasp what remains elusive to you. Rather you will be leading them to the
same place that you long to go – to the cross.
1 SMALL DAILY RITUAL THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE (IN 1 MONTH OR LESS)
it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is
That’s the power of daily rituals.
Now, it’s time remind yourself about YOUR rituals—the little things you do
every single day.
Because these little things define you.
All the results in your life come from these little things.
Regardless of your unique life circumstances, or how you personally define
success, you don’t suddenly become successful. You become successful over time
based on your rituals.
Failure occurs in the same way. All your little daily failures (that you don’t
learn and grow from) come together and cause you to fail…
You keep failing to check the books.
You keep failing to make the calls.
You keep failing to listen to your customers.
You keep failing to do the little things that
need to be done…
one day you wake up and your business has failed. It was all the little things
you did or didn’t do on a daily basis—your rituals—not just one inexplicable,
Think about how this relates to your life.
Your life is your “business!”
And your rituals make or break you, gradually.
So, how have you been managing your rituals, and thus your life?
Are the little things you’re doing every day working for you or against you? If
you think the answer might be the latter, you will find incredible value in
this tiny daily ritual:
Wash your dishes.
Yes, I literally mean washing your dishes. It’s just one small step forward:
When you eat your oatmeal, wash your bowl and spoon. When you finish drinking
your morning coffee, rinse the coffee pot and your mug. Don’t leave any dirty
dishes in the sink or on the counter for later. Wash them immediately.
Form this tiny ritual one dish at a time, one day at a time. Once you do this
consistently for a couple weeks, you can start making sure the sink has been
wiped clean too. Then the counter. Then put your clothes where they belong when
you take them off. Then start doing a few sit-ups every morning. Eat a few
vegetables for dinner. And so forth.
Do one of these at a time, and you’ll start to build a healthy ritual of
practicing self-discipline, and finally know yourself to be capable of doing
the little things that must be done… and finishing what you start.
And as mentioned, Marc and I build more tiny, life-changing daily rituals
like this with our students. It’s an active practice of taking life day by day
and and focusing on the little things that make a lasting difference. Above
all, what you need to remember is that nothing will change in your life unless
you make rituals that reinforce what you hope to achieve. Believe me, over the
past decade Marc and I have successfully worked with hundreds of course
students and live event attendees from around the world who were struggling to
achieve things. So, this strategy is well-tested.
If you’re not willing to make it a daily ritual, you don’t really want to
change your life as much as you say you do—you don’t really want to achieve
that “important” life change or goal. You only like the idea of learning to be
fit/writing a book/building a business/selling your art/getting back to
happy/etc. You don’t actually want to do it, every day.
4 KEY ISSUES FOR NEW PARENTS AND HOW TO SOLVE THEM
We all know that having a
new baby presents unique challenges, and research shows that couples are more likely to feel dissatisfied with
their relationship after a child is born. As much as expecting parents plan and
prepare, there is still so much to learn about raising a child while keeping
their relationship with their partner intact.
In fact, according
to research by The Gottman Institute, 67% of
couples had become very unhappy with each other during the first three years of
their baby’s life. Only 33% remained content.
As with any life
transition, challenges are inevitable. It’s natural to disagree with your
partner on issues around parenting, finances, household chores, and marital
expectations. But as overwhelming as that sounds, it is possible to reach a
solution that everyone is happy with.
Differences in parenting
styles are a growing cause of concern in marriage, and issues can
arise between couples even before they bring their new baby home if there is no
established sense of unity and connectedness in place.
Perhaps your partner is
in favor of sticking to a strict parenting routine, while you prefer to be more
lax. Maybe you disagree on how to hold or change the baby. Whatever the issue,
it can become a source of tension in your relationship, particularly if the
problem is brought up repeatedly with an inability to see eye-to-eye.
Learning how to handle
stress and conflict effectively in order to understand each other more clearly
and reach compromise is essential. For example, through empathetic listening, you might realize that
your partner wants to develop a routine so that everyone sleeps better. Once
you understand their views and needs, you could compromise by creating a schedule
that works for both of you.
is key, so be sure to schedule some time to discuss parenting. Incorporate a
daily stress-reducing conversation and a
weekly state of the union meeting—even just 10
minutes a day of quality face time can drastically increase a couple’s
friendship and intimacy.
When you and your partner
disagree on parenting styles, it’s a sign that you both feel strongly about
what’s best for the baby, which is not at all a bad thing, and couples
counseling can help you focus on these positive intentions.
New moms struggle with
hormonal shifts, body changes, recovering from childbirth, and issues like
postpartum depression that can significantly reduce their desire for sex after
birth. While intimacy is an important part of sustaining healthy relationships,
it’s really important to create a situation that both partners feel comfortable
Start by discussing your expectations for physical
touch, affection, and sex openly and honestly with the understanding that you
might both be coming from very different places, eagerly trying to bridge the
gap. Practice a judgment-free zone without becoming defensive and try not to
take denied requests for sex and intimacy personally. Determine how best to say
yes, and how best to say no, so that you both feel understood and respected.
Your partner trusts you
enough to be vulnerable and wants a positive sex life, and it is a crucial time
to respect that trust and vulnerability. And if you feel that you or your
partner might take sexual rejection personally, talk about ways to indicate
that you’re not feeling up to it that you both understand and that won’t be
hurtful to either of you.
distribution of chores
It’s easy for chores to
pile up after a baby is born, and finding the right balance can be tricky,
especially after both partners have life demands to deal with like returning to
work, running errands, trying to exercise, seeing family members (especially
those who haven’t yet met the baby), trying to find a few moments of personal
downtime, and, of course, taking care of the new baby.
To help with the
increased workload of caring for a child on top of everyday chores, a weekly
planning discussion between you and your partner is imperative to coordinate
schedules, share co-parenting duties, and keep the house clean and tidy for the
During this discussion,
you might decide that if your partner cooks dinner, you’ll do the dishes, or if
you complete a job you really despise (like emptying the diaper bin), your
partner will do it next time and you’ll take turns.
Arguing about chores
might seem minor, but disagreements can quickly escalate to become major
sticking points, so it’s best to tend to them on a weekly basis. Voicing your
concerns and complaints early on in a respectful, non-blaming way will keep
negativity at bay and will allow you to effectively resolve your issues
Most people know that
raising a child is expensive. According to a report from the USDA, it will cost a
middle-income family $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015
through to the age of 17. That’s some serious money, and the spending starts
the moment you find out that you’re pregnant. This can put a lot of strain on
your relationship, particularly if one partner is a big spender while the other
prefers to save and be frugal.
Try sitting down together
to create a financial plan for the year. This should
include budgets for groceries, clothes, bills, utilities, medical care, prescriptions,
and other essentials, as well as plans for college savings, family vacations,
and larger purchases. Try to check in and discuss your finances at the same
time each month in order to stay on top of things and make adjustments as
needed. Financial planning is a skill that will serve you well for the rest of
If you can address each
of these issues as part of an overall parenting plan, then you can reduce the
amount of stress you and your partner will experience while adapting to the
life of being new parents. The two of you are a team, and while raising a child
is a big challenge, you have each other’s backs. Stick to the plans you make,
and remember that despite the pressures of parenting, your relationship can
still be a wellspring of trust, love, and devotion.
There are three main paths to adopting. The route you
choose will be based on personal, legal and financial factors.
are two main ways to adopt a newborn within the United
States: through an agency or a private attorney. The latter
is referred to as an “independent” or “private” adoption.
adoption is becoming less common and more difficult, but an accredited adoption
agency or professional can help you navigate the process.
through foster care is essentially free and comes with support — but
make sure you have the capacity to help a foster child succeed.
you are exploring the possibility of adopting a child with a different
background from your own, educate yourself on the nuances involved in forming a
transracial or transcultural family.
adoptive parents must complete a “home study,” the process that will clear
your way to being able to legally adopt.
adoptions today have some degree of contact between birth and adoptive
families. Just how “open” your arrangement is will be determined via a
can cost as much as $50,000 — but resources exist to help offset some
The process of adopting can be a long,
complicated and emotional ride, with far more legal and
financial roadblocks than many people assume. But, as
most adoptive parents will tell you, it’s also a deeply fulfilling
are three main paths to adopting in the United States: through the foster
care system, with the help of a local adoption
agency or private attorney, and internationally. The route you
choose will ultimately be based on a number of personal, legal and financial
your reasons for adopting — and accept your limits.
Before embarking on an adoption process, you should be clear
about your motivations for doing so. “This is a lifelong decision you’re
making,” said Rita Soronen, president and C.E.O. of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, so it’s
important to be honest about any specific needs
you may have. Any limit you identify should not be
construed as a “failure,” Soronen clarified. “It’s an honest
personal assessment.” Below are some of the more common questions adoption
experts suggest you explore to help identify whether and which
kind of adoption is right for you:
Is it important to you to
parent a newborn, or are you open to adopting an older child? How
about a sibling group?
Would your home be an appropriate
fit for a child with special needs? Or an infant who was exposed
prenatally to drugs and alcohol?
If you are matched with a child
of another race or background, are you prepared to educate yourself
on the nuances of forming an interracial or intercultural family?
How much contact are you
comfortable having between you and your adopted child, and his
or her birth family?
Foster-adopt: According to the United
States Children’s Bureau, there are over 440,000 children in the
foster care system, over a quarter of who have been legally “freed” for
adoption. This makes foster care “a very real option” for prospective adoptive
parents, said Laurie Goldheim, Adoption Director for the Academy of Adoption
and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (A.A.A.A.). While children who have not
been legally “freed” may eventually become eligible for adoption, Goldheim
stresses that the government’s primary goal in these instances is to reunite
the children with their biological families.
children are in foster care for a reason,” said Soronen of the Dave Thomas
Foundation. Most are school-aged children over the age of 8 who have suffered
some form of trauma or neglect. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has
some resources to help prepare foster-adopt parents for the realities of
parenting a child who has experienced grief.
the best training you’ll receive, according to Soronen, comes once you’ve begun
the certification process. “Every parent is required to complete a home study
and 20 to 30 hours of training,” she said. “It’s time-consuming, but very
educational.” Soronen says this process can also serves as a “reality check”
for parents, meaning you’ll have “plenty of opportunities to decide whether
foster-adopt is right for you.” As a first step, she recommends simply making a
call to a certified foster care agency to begin the
Domestic infant adoption: If you hope to
parent a newborn, there are two main paths to doing so: through an adoption
agency or a private adoption lawyer—the latter is often referred to as an
“independent” or “private” adoption. “Which you choose will really just depend
on how involved you want to be in the process,” said Deborah E. Guston, former
Director of the A.A.A.A. An adoption agency, she explained, typically manages
all aspects of the adoption process for you, from start to finish.
you adopt independently, you will be responsible for aspects an agency would
normally handle, like finding a prospective birth parent through advertising,
and hiring an agency to conduct your home study. “Independent adoptions are
usually good for people who want to be deeply involved in the process,” Guston
said. “Those who don’t mind ceding control may prefer the comfort of an
agency.” Independent adoption isn’t legal in all states, and even where
available, restrictions often apply. Consult an experienced adoption lawyer for
help navigating the laws in your state.
International adoption: Adopting abroad has been
steadily declining in recent years, thanks to the closure of several countries’
international adoption programs. Still, thousands of parents successfully adopt children from
abroad each year. The process for doing so can vary considerably by country. “Some
restrict who can adopt based on marital status, sexual orientation, or age,”
said Goldheim of the A.A.A.A. “Even your body mass index can play a role.” You
can visit the U.S. Department of State’s page on intercountry adoption to
familiarize yourself with individual countries’ adoption laws — be sure to keep
checking back since laws can change rapidly. An accredited provider will
be necessary to guide you through the process.
your adoption professionals carefully.
Finding an adoption agency or lawyer can be
a daunting prospect. As a first step, Becky Fawcett of HelpUsAdopt.org suggests tapping your own
network. “Just start talking about it with people you trust,” said Fawcett.
“Sometimes you’ll be surprised by who has a good recommendation — you never
know who may have been touched by adoption in some way.”
The relationship that exists between
prospective adoptive parents and their professionals is an “intimate” one, says
Guston of the A.A.A.A. “So it really is important to not make your decision
lightly — call several agencies and lawyers and ask lots of questions.”
for the home study.
No matter which adoption path you choose,
you will be required to complete a home study, the process that clears the way
for you to legally adopt. “A good home study will have two parts: evaluation
and education,” said Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of the non-profit
group, Creating a Family. “Your case worker should be assessing your fitness to
serve as an adoptive parent, as well as educating you and providing you with
Though it varies by state and by agency,
home studies generally take anywhere from three to six months to complete and
include: several visits to your home by a case worker, health exams, proof of
income and health coverage, a criminal background check, and the names of
several people close to you who can serve as references. For more detailed
information on what to expect from and how to prepare for the home study
process, explore resources made available by the Child Welfare Information Gateway and Creating a Family.
how “open” you want your adoption to be.
There is a clear trend in the United States
towards maintaining some degree of contact between birth and adoptive families,
thanks in part to ongoing research that has found benefits
for all involved. Just how “open” your arrangement is will be the result of a
negotiated process between you and your child’s birth family. “It can range
anywhere from letters being exchanged once a year on the child’s birthday, to
frequent in person visits,” said Davenport of Creating a Family.
Even in the case of a “closed” adoption,
Davenport notes that children will still be able to access some identifying
information about their birth parents when they turn 18. The popularity of
commercially available DNA testing services, like Ancestry.com and 23andMe, has
also made the process of finding birth relatives so easy that the notion of an
entirely “closed adoption” is now all but obsolete. Creating a Family dedicates several resources on its website to open
adoption as does the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Adopting through foster care is essentially
free and often comes with subsidies. But the costs associated with other paths
can be considerable. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, an agency
adoption generally ranges from $20,000 to $45,000, an independent adoption from
$15,000 to $40,000, and an international adoption from $20,000 to
note for single, unmarried, and LGBTQ prospective adoptive parents.
states have enacted bills that allow state welfare agencies to legally
discriminate against people on the basis of religion: this has complicated the
efforts of some prospective adoptive parents who identify as LGBTQ, are single,
or are part of an unmarried couple. If adopting through an agency, choose one
listed on the Human Rights Campaign’s All
Children – All Families database of
agencies committed to nondiscriminatory policies. The LGBT
Bar Association’s Family Law Institute also
maintains a directory of lawyers committed to diversity.