Category Archives: Tools and Tips



Do you tend to put off some of the things you need to get done? Most of us do, at least some of the time. Yet, we all know that putting things off doesn’t make them go away.  To  push  past  your  desire to procrastinate, try some of these tips:

  1. Stop badgering yourself. Many times people are their own worst critics. But mentally berating yourself only drives you deeper into guilt instead of spurring you to action. In fact, it’s been found that self-compassion actually helps to motivate people more than self-blame.
  2. Since we need to exert a certain amount of self-control to get ourselves to do things that we don’t want to do, keep in mind what we’ve learned in recent years about how to develop more self-control:  self-control, like a muscle, gets stronger with practice. So, the more you practice self-control, the less you will have to struggle to push past procrastination. At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it because your self-control “muscle” needs time to rest and recharge.
  3. Ask yourself what’s blocking you from doing what you need to do and then figure out how to address the issue that’s getting in your way. It could be that the task too big and you need to break it into smaller steps. Maybe you find the task boring and you need to develop a way to make it more interesting. Perhaps you need to get more organized before you can begin working on the task. Possibly you simply need to rest and allow your self-control “muscle” to recharge. Whatever your reason for procrastinating, approach the task in a way that will enable you to address your specific concern and move toward accomplishing your goal.
  4. Remind yourself of times in the past when you’ve successfully accomplished your goals, and think about what strategies were helpful in those situations. Try to apply those lessons now.
  5. If past experience indicates that a particular task is likely to be very difficult for you to accomplish, it may be helpful to  seek out additional information, learn new skills, or look for assistance. Don’t allow negative thoughts about the past to determine your present.
  6. Make a list of your reasons for wanting to accomplish this task. Write down: (1) how you will benefit by doing this; (2) how you imagine it will feel to have it finished; and (3) what negative things will happen if you don’t get this done.
  7. Go public with your goal, and have others hold you accountable. This has been shown to be a very helpful strategy for accomplishing goals.
  8. Eliminate temptations and distractions that can take your attention away from your task, such as the computer, TV, phone, etc. Instead, use those temptations as a reward for meeting the smaller goals you set.
  9. If you are truly struggling to get started, try to take just a small step. Doing even a small amount of the task can dramatically increase the likelihood that you will finish. The small amount you work on doesn’t even have to be the first step in the process either; it’s fine to skip ahead to a part that is less difficult for you to accomplish.

Finally, once you finish the job, think about what you helped you succeed and how you can apply that lesson in the future. And, be sure to take time to recognize your efforts and accomplishments.


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As we head into 2016, many of us think about how we didn’t accomplish some of our  goals in the past, and we wonder if things will be different this year. If this sounds like you, there is some really good news:  we now know that there’s a key  for unlocking your potential, and it’s something that anyone can learn how to do.  Studies have found that the  key to success  is to develop a growth mindset.

In order to develop a growth mindset, you will need to change how you think about yourself, your abilities and your potential. If you tend to believe that your intelligence, aptitude, or any other aspect of yourself is set in stone, then you probably believe that you can’t improve significantly no matter what you do. If you have this type of “fixed mindset,” you might brood over what you see as your shortcomings, and you may feel defeated in the face of setbacks and obstacles. Consequently, having a fixed mindset makes it more likely that you will give up on your goals and dreams.

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Ironically, it turns out that to succeed,  it’s very important to give yourself permission to make mistakes and even to fail. Still more intriguing, studies have found that people who do give themselves permission to make mistakes are much less likely to end up actually making them. When you take on a challenge or begin something new, you should expect that you will make errors. Not only are mistakes acceptable, but they may be necessary to your ultimate success.

Instead of trying to do things well from the start, if you put your focus on learning and improving, you are less likely to feel anxious, overwhelmed or defeated. So, when you are working on something new, remind yourself that it will take time for you to get really comfortable with it, and that you will inevitably make mistakes along the way. When you do make mistakes, or encounter a setback, instead of putting yourself down, add the word “yet” to any negative things you are tempted to say to yourself. For example, “I’m not able to do this yet,” or “I don’t understand this yet.” Rather than trying to prove to yourself and others that you are smart enough, talented enough, or good enough, try to view the process of pursuing goals as an opportunity to learn new things and develop new skills.

If you run into difficulty while you are pursuing your goals, give yourself permission to ask for assistance. Rather than comparing yourself with others, focus attention on how you’re improving. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for what you have accomplished in the past (see “Stepping Stones to Success”). Remember to also give yourself credit for the things that go well now as you pursue your goals, including each small accomplishment along the way. (And, by the way, that includes giving yourself credit when you’re able tolerate making mistakes or when you’re willing to ask for help!)  Here’s to your growth and success in 2016 and beyond!

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If you want more information about cultivating a growth mindset,  you can take a         look at:

or you can read:                                                                                                                               Dweck, C. (2006) Mindset: The new psychology of success. NY: Balantine Books,

                                                             Stepping Stones to Success

As the new year approaches, you may be thinking about making New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you hope to improve your life by  eliminating unhelpful habits and/or by establishing  new positive  habits.  While contemplating what you want to do in the coming year, you might find yourself thinking about resolutions you made but didn’t keep during the past year. Keep in mind that if you only focus on what you didn’t accomplish this past year,  you can end up feeling like you’re not good enough and you may even feel  like a failure.

Beginning a new year with a defeated mindset will only make it that much harder to reach new goals. Instead, focus on what worked well for you this past year and what you achieved. Then lay down more stepping stones.

A good place to begin is with a sense of gratitude. Ask yourself what has blessed your life: health, loving friends, a comfortable home, special family members, employment — you fill in the blank. Also, try to think about your blessings in context. Maybe your job doesn’t pay as much as you’d like, but you find your work fulfilling. Perhaps you’ve experienced some health struggles, but you feel good about the way you handled those challenges. You may not have tons of friends, but the ones you have are truly special. Your family may not live nearby, but you love each other and keep in touch regularly. Take some time to really savor these good things in your life.

canstockphoto29626029Focus as well on giving yourself credit for your own successes, large and small. Even if you didn’t meet all your goals this year,  it’s important to recognize and celebrate the things you did accomplish, and, give some thought to how you contributed to those accomplishments. Of the things you tried to accomplish, what went well?

Next, consider how you can build upon your blessings and your successes. Maybe you want to develop new ways to support your health, such as learning how to make healthy food choices that are also tasty, finding enjoyable ways to increase your activity level, and so forth.  Perhaps you can deepen your relationships by showing your appreciation to your friends and family.  Maybe you can make your work more satisfying by performing random acts of kindness at the office (who left that cookie tray in the break room?), or by finding creative ways to make the work more interesting. Whatever your goals now, you can consider how to develop new strategies, but you can also build upon elements of the strategies you’ve used before that worked well. No matter what you want to do, you can use the blessings and successes from this year to inspire and encourage yourself.

canstockphoto21501545Lastly, set reasonable, incremental goals. Think about your larger goals, and then break them down into smaller steps so you can experience a series of successes on the way to achieving the overall goal. For example, if you decide you want to develop a new exercise routine, but you haven’t exercised regularly in a long time, you can try to begin by walking 20 to 30 minutes 3 times a week, rather than trying to run for an hour daily. Then you can gradually  increase the amount you exercise, if that’s your larger goal. Remember to keep track of your progress, so you will be able to recognize what you are accomplishing and give yourself the credit you deserve.

The same applies to any resolution you set: use small, achievable goals towards your ultimate goals. As you reach your smaller goals, acknowledge and celebrate each accomplishment. You’ve earned it!


As you consider how you would like to build on your blessings and successes in the new year, keep in mind that…


                    SINCE COACHING IS EASILY DONE OVER THE PHONE, YOU CAN  RECEIVE A                                                                  COMPLIMENTARY COACHING CONSULTATION                                                        NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE             



For more ideas about developing a “What Went Well” perspective as the new year approaches, you can also check out


Why do we often feel so stressed during the holiday season? Part of the reason is the busyness. So, try these tips for reducing your schedule-induced stress this season.

Say no. You don’t have to participate in every activity, party and event. Select the ones most important to you and graciously decline the rest.

Focus on the holiday traditions most important to you. Is it baking special treats, discovering amazing gifts, or decorating the house to the nines? Pick one and reduce your efforts on the others. No one can do it all, so don’t expect it of yourself. Even those who seem to “have it all together” frequently delegate or take shortcuts. You can, too, even if for just this year.

TIPS FOR ENTERTAINING: Instead of baking cookies for hours, use pre-made dough or make bar cookies to frost festively. Consider baking a double batch and trading half with a friend to offer greater variety to your family and guests. Host the family gathering at a restaurant or make it potluck to reduce cooking time. If these aren’t options, simplify the menu for your big meal and use more pre-made items.

SHOPPING TIPS: Avoid the harried shopping scene by giving gift cards or shopping online.  Send electronic greetings instead of paper cards.  

DECORATING TIPS: Try some different approaches to decorating this year. If you typically spend hours outlining the house in lights, try skipping it this year. Instead you can go for big visual appeal by, for example, illuminating a large wreath on the side of your house with a spotlight. Or, you can concentrate on the front door, most visitors’ focal point, with a grouping of small, pre-lit trees on the porch or other festive touch. Don’t hang every ornament or set out every piece of decor. Some items can wait a year. Use only the things that mean the most to you and your family.

SELF-CARE TIPS:  Cutting corners in your self-care regular routine results in more stress. Instead, take care of your physical, mental and spiritual by dropping the less important holiday traditions. You function better when you rest sufficiently, exercise and eat right. Schedule time to regularly unwind, doing something you enjoy. Continue to participate in spiritually enriching activities you normally enjoy.

The real joy of the season isn’t about doing more, buying more or even giving more, but appreciating more. Set aside moments to reflect on the blessings of the past year. It’s OK to acknowledge the difficult moments, but try to focus on how they have helped you grow.

Here’s hoping that you have less-stressed happy holiday season this year!






Share any comments or other tips you may have below:


Happiness Tools: Gratitude Exercises

by Audrey Berger, PhD – Coach at Turning Point Life Coaching.

There is growing evidence that appreciating and being grateful for what you have contributes in significant ways to well-being, happiness and resilience. Gratitude has also been shown to reduce depression and stress.

It is clearly true for me that gratitude affects my life in many powerful ways. Of course it’s easy to feel appreciation for positive things that happen in my life.  But, it is also true that gratitude has been an invaluable ally for me during challenging times. It is so easy to lose perspective when things are difficult, but gratitude helps to focus me on the bigger picture, and puts the issue in context.

Sometimes people realize that having more appreciation for the good things in their life would be positive for them, but they’re not sure how to increase their gratitude. If this is true for you, here are a few possibilities that you can try.

As with all tools and exercises, if you find it useful, keep doing it as frequently as is comfortable for you; but if you don’t find it useful, or you don’t like it, look for other happiness-enhancing activities that you prefer.


1) GRATITUDE JOURNAL     canstockphoto2286157

A simple but very powerful exercise is the gratitude journal. At the end of the day, write down three things that happened that day for which you feel grateful. The things you list don’t have to be big; they can either be small things you experienced during the day that you appreciate, or they can be bigger things in your life. Do this for at least a week, and if you begin to see benefits, continue to do it on a regular basis. Over time this will have a positive effect on your well-being. According to Sonja Lyubormirksy (2007), if you keep a gratitude journal over a long period of time, it may not be necessary to add to your gratitude journal on a daily basis. She states that it can equally effective if done on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis, and recommends doing whatever fits best for you.

Instead of making a list of items, it can also be useful to focus on writing more extensively about a particular thing/experience/relationship for which you are grateful.


canstockphoto10361650The gratitude letter is another powerful exercise that can help increase gratitude. This exercise involves writing a letter to someone who has had a significant positive impact on your life, but whom you have not formally thanked. It can be a mentor, grandparent, or anyone who has helped you in a meaningful way in your life. In your letter, describe what that individual did specifically that was helpful, and the impact it had on you. The length of the letter is unimportant, and it’s not absolutely necessary to send it in order for you to reap the benefits of doing this exercise.

Assuming that you are willing to have your letter read by the individual about whom it is written, a really powerful addition to this exercise is to personally deliver the letter and read it to that person.


An approach that can also facilitate gratitude and well-being is to think about what your life would be like without some of the blessings you have. As in the above exercises, it can help to write down your thoughts on this issue.

This exercise is particularly powerful for couples that are going through a difficult period.  It can also be useful for the frustrations sometimes experienced by of parents of teenagers.


Emmons, R.A. & McCullough, M.E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens:
Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.

Lyubormirsky, S. (2007-12-27). The how of happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want. Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Lyubormirsky, S. (2013-01-03). The myths of happiness: What should make you happy, but doesn’t, what shouldn’t make you happy, but does. Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Marsh, J. (2011), retrieved on July 14, 2014.

Seligman, Martin E. P. (2002-10-02). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. Free Press. Kindle Edition.