The Books I Recommend Most

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Often, when leading a workshop or event, I provide large resource lists of my favorite books, podcasts, videos, and articles. People often ask, "but which are your absolute favorites? What would be your top 5?" So, as difficult as this question is, I'm attempting to share my list of favorites. While I first started with five, I realized that it meant that I forgot two, so I'm landing on my Top 7. 

  • Essentialism: I joke that I just keep reading this book over, and over, and over again. In fact, I just bought another copy last week. It makes so much sense - *and* can be difficult to implement in everyday life, especially for people who a) have a natural instinct toward saying yes (insert hand-raising emoji), or b) who like to do a lot of different things at once (insert hand-raising emoji again). When implemented, I believe that this book has the ability to be life-changing. I recommend reading it once, and then revisiting regularly to keep the philosophy alive in everyday life. 
  • Better Than Before: many of you who work with me know that I'm a big Gretchen Rubin fan and that I reference her research often. Better Than Before is one of my favorite books on creating, maintaining, or changing habits. It's also where she first introduces the concept of The Four Tendencies - a framework I've found to be game changing for many (including myself). 
  • Start with Why: I first read this book and watched the related TED Talk waaaaay back in the day in the corporate world. It's a concept I've regularly used, and loved, ever since. I believe that starting with Why is a concept that we can all apply to every area of our lives....and that if we don't know why we're doing something, it might be an opportunity to pause and tune inward before proceeding.
  • Peace is Every Step: this was one of the first books I read about mindfulness, many years ago, when I was still working in the corporate world. It is a beautiful, easily digested little book - great for reading a few pages at a time - and can serve as a helpful reminder to be more present in our everyday moments. 
  • The Big Leap: this is probably the book that I lend to clients most often (in fact, it's out and about right now!). While there are many great things in this book, the two concepts that I find most powerful are: The Upper Limit Problem (again - this has the power to be life changing if we truly work with this concept) and Einstein Time (weird in a good way, interesting, and highly recommended for anyone who struggles with calendar-related stress and feeling like you never have enough time in the day).
  • The Four Agreements: Disclaimer - I don't love Don Miguel Ruiz's writing style. However, if you can move beyond the writing style, the content of this book is pure gold. I have watched countless clients and workshop participants find game-changing/life-changing impact by implementing some of the concepts in this book. 
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: an oldie but oh-so-goodie. I find that many popular and wildly successful books of today are (either directly, or indirectly) based on the concepts that Covey lays out in this book. This is another book worth reading over and over again. I recommend buying a copy and revisiting chapter by chapter, concept by concept.

What do you think? What are the books that you read and recommend most frequently? I'd love to hear your "top 7" list!

3 Ways to Create More Freedom in Everyday Life

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In celebration of Independence Day, let's talk about freedom. As those of us in the United States celebrate our freedom as a nation and the many freedoms we're afforded by living in the US, I've been thinking about what freedom feels like to me in small everyday ways. 

Freedom is not only something I'm grateful for, but it is also one of my values. When I feel free, I feel happy, and often when I feel happiest is when I feel most free. 

So how can we cultivate more freedom in our everyday lives? Here are a few things that I find helpful.

1. Ask Yourself: What Makes Me Feel Free? Write it Down. 

For me, I feel most free...

  • In nature
  • During the summertime - and in the presence of sunshine and warm weather 
  • When I have time and space on my calendar to breathe, zoom up, think strategically, and be creative 
  • When I have some level of flexibility for impromptu plans throughout my weeks and months
  • When I create time early in the morning to think, plan, reflect, and write 

I have found that I feel least free when I feel trapped by my calendar, trapped by commitments that don't tie to my values or my higher purpose, or trapped by too much back-to-back work-related travel. Identifying what makes me feel free (and what makes me feel least free) allows me to make choices that align accordingly. For me, my feeling of freedom ties directly to my feeling of creativity - and ultimately helps me serve my clients in a more impactful way. 

2. Free Yourself From Your Inbox

Over the past 5 years, I've had the opportunity to offer leadership-based workshops and courses to thousands of successful professionals across many different industries. Regardless of role, tenure, or working style, one of the most common things I hear is that people feel trapped by their inbox - a constant flood of incoming emails each day, taking their attention away from the things that matter most, and causing them to feel as though they can never catch up.

I believe there is a better way!. And this better way involves putting ourselves back in charge of our inboxes. Here's how:

  • Determine how often you need to check email each day in order to be effective and responsive. I've found that for most roles and industries, people self-identify that the sweet spot is around 4 times per day. For some it is more, and others is less. 
  • Determine, based on the above number, the optimal times to check email. I typically recommend morning - but not first thing, late morning/midday, mid-afternoon, and end of day.
  • Schedule 20-30 minutes at each of these times to check email. Pull out any tasks, to-dos, or follow-up items into a separate list. 
  • Start your day free of intake (this includes your inbox!). Give yourself at least 10 minutes each morning to reflect on your highest priorities for the day before opening your inbox. 
  • Turn off all notifications for your email and your inbox. In this new model, you are now in control of when you check your email; those notifications are no longer in control of you!
  • When you're finished checking email during your pre-determined blocks, close out your inbox entirely, and back away slowly.

I recognize that this entire process may sound terrifying - especially if you're accustomed to having your inbox open all day long, and responding to emails individually as they come in. The process of checking emails all day everyday can have a huge hit on our productivity; research from Gloria Marks at the University of California-Irvine has found that we are distracted, on average, every 11 minutes - and that it can take us 25 minutes to return to our original task after interruption. If we think about this data in the context of our inbox, we can quickly start to understand why it's easy to feel like on some days, we go to work for 8-10 hours per day but get nothing done. 

I've had many clients go through this process, and the impact has been tremendous. (even for clients who were very resistant at first!) Almost immediately, my clients have noticed decreased stress and frustration, and an increased feeling of productivity. 

3. Get Rid of Commitments that Feel Like Obligations 

Do you dread going to committee meetings for the volunteer group that you're a part of? Did you renew your position on the board because you felt obligated to, rather than because you wanted to? Have you filled your calendar with meetings, scheduled months into the future, that don't actually align with your highest purpose at your job, in your business, or overall?

Time is our most precious and valuable resource. It's a resource that we never get back once we spend it. And yet often, we give away our time in ways that we would never give away our money or other resources. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, when we are doing things out of a feeling of obligation, we are simply not having the greatest impact possible - because we are not operating from a place that is aligned with our passion and our purpose. 

When saying "yes" to things that we put on the calendar, I invite you to reflect on the following:

  • Is this a "hell yeah?" In the words of Derek Sivers (and many others since), "if it's not a hell yeah, it's a no." 
  • Does this commitment align with my values? 
  • Does this commitment align with my higher purpose? Am I creating some sort of positive impact through this commitment? 
  • Do I know why I'm here? This is especially important if you're working within an organization that is facing meeting overload. When planning meetings, each participant should have a clear understanding of why they are being asked to participate in the meeting. If you receive an invitation to a meeting and you're not sure that you need to be there, I invite you to be empowered to ask! Several of my clients have been able to reduce meeting fatigue within their organizations  by consistently asking this question for every meeting they schedule. 
  • What is the cost? If I say "yes" to this, what is the trade-off? And am I okay with that trade-off?

If this is hard for you (it's still incredibly hard for me too - even after practicing this diligently for the last five years), I recommend reading the book Essentialism. And then, if you're like me, reading it again...and again. :)

Note: May we remember, as we celebrate our independence, that we are, and always have been, a nation of immigrants.  If you are looking for ways to support families separated at the border, you may consider reading this article for ways to get involved and concrete steps you can take to contact your representatives, and/or supporting one of the following organizations. 

I hope that these strategies are useful to you as you consider ways to create more freedom in your everyday life. I'd love to hear from you if you try some of them out, or if you have other strategies that you find useful. 

My Current Weekly Review Process

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Those of you who know me, or who have been following along for awhile, know that I love all things reflection-related. Journaling, visioning, intention setting, morning reflection - I love it all, and I do most of it regularly as part of my daily and weekly rhythms. 

That said, I'm not an incredibly structured person - meaning that I often do what I feel like doing, when I feel like doing it, within a general framework that I'm committed to, when it comes to these things. Sometimes it's my favorite notebook and a pen in the morning. Other times it's the Desire Map Planner or the Five Minute Journal

One thing that I haven't been terribly diligent with recently is an in-depth weekly review. I've done various forms of a weekly review over the years, but I hadn't found one that really stuck. Inspired by this article, which my friend Megan sent to me, I decided to revive my weekly review in hopes of creating something that a) would be deeply impactful and b) I'd look forward to doing each week.

I'm feeling quite excited that so far, it seems that my revived weekly review process is a winner. I've typically been doing it on Sundays, and it includes deep reflection on the week prior, as well as planning and visioning for the week ahead. 

Some of the key reflections in this weekly review include:

  • Successes and Things to Celebrate 
  • Things I Wish I'd Done Differently
  • Things I'm Stalling On and Why I Might Be Stalling 
  • Brutal Honesty about Things that Didn't Get Done 
  • Progress on Top 3-5 Priorities from the Week Prior 
  • Identification of Top 3-5 Priorities for the Week Ahead
  • Project Check-In: Are All Projects On Track?
  • Logistical Check-In: Have I Taken Care of All Logistical Items for the Week?
  • Values Check-In: How Have I Honored Each of My Values This Week?
  • Things I Learned
  • My Why and My Stake for the Week Ahead

I've been amazed at the way in which this process has helped me to simplify my weeks, and also get more done, in the time that I've been using it.

Do you have a weekly review process that you like?

Or would you like a copy of the worksheet that I am using for this process? If so, feel free to drop me a note at sarah@zingcollaborative.com and I'll happily send a copy your way. 

Happy Reviewing!

 

 

Lessons I've Been Learning This Year

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This week, I embrace another year of life - a gift I am so grateful for, and something I do not take lightly. What an amazing opportunity we have to live on this earth and continue to create our lives each day.

This week, between eating lemon cremes, lemon macarons, and lemon cupcakes (there’s a trend happening here - it's been my strategy to deal with the April Blizzard we've gotten here in the midwest), I’ve been reflecting on some things I’ve been learning over the course of this past year of life.

Do It Your Way.

This is a lesson I’ve been both teaching, and learning, since I started my business. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, how anyone else is running their business, or what anyone else’s website looks like. What matters is that we are creating in a way that is 100% aligned with who we are and what we believe, in a way that serves the world from a place of our unique genius. If ever I find myself even 2% adrift from this place of pure alignment, I know that it is time to pause, tune in, get quiet, and shift accordingly. And for everyone out there who is building something and has the urge to go look at other people’s websites “for inspiration,” please - I beg you - don’t do it. I promise you, your energy is better spent with your head down and your heart open to your own version of truth and inspiration.

Schedule it First. On the Calendar. Otherwise, It Almost Certainly Won’t Happen.

This goes for time with girlfriends, trips to see family, vacations, yoga classes, date nights, weekend adventures, and all the other things we say we want to do but can’t find time for. We will never find the time. We must create it, and we must create it first.

Go for the Comfortable Couch.

While the mid-century modern apartment sofa looks cool in the living room, nobody (including me) actually wants to sit on it.

When Working with the Right Clients, the Business Model is Easy.

“Work with amazing clients who inspire me” is the majority of my business model, and has been for the last several years. It’s a part of my business model that I never plan to change.

Vibes Matter.

The energy of spaces and places matters. I spent two years searching for a new home yoga studio, visiting almost every studio in my city. I finally found “the one” - based almost 100% on the energy and vibes. A studio that smells like feet, has a crumbling ceiling, or has a waiting area that feels like a sardine can is not a studio that I want to hang out in. Acknowledging the importance of vibes and energy allows me to more easily make decisions about where to spend my time and my money.

Enthusiasm Can Have a Dark Side.

My top Strength in Strengthsfinder is Positivity. All of my other assessments cite “creativity, visioning, possibilities, and enthusiasm” as top traits. All of these things have major gifts - especially as an entrepreneur and someone who likes to create and start things. However, they also have downsides; it can be easy for me to get wrapped up in an idea, a possibility, and the potential for what something “could be” versus the reality of what it really is or how much time it will actually take.

We Often Need to Take Our Foot off the Gas to Realize How Fast We Were Going.

2017 was a year of velocity for me. I didn’t realize the speed at which I was driving until I finally paused and took my foot off the gas in late December. Upon doing so, I realized that it had been a thrilling ride, but that the car would eventually run out of gas if I kept driving at that pace. I needed to take my foot off the gas in order for this realization to occur; I didn’t notice the danger of running out of gas while I’d been driving, full speed, with the windows down and the music turned up high. While driving at full speed is exhilarating, I realized that I also need to build in time to take the car in for a tune-up, refill the tank with gas, and even take the slow scenic road at 25 mph once in a while - ideally, before the last week of the year.

The 2017 Conscious Gift Guide

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Happy Holidays!

I find this to be both a wonderful time of year (twinkly lights, time with family and friends, general coziness, and delicious, warm food) and kind of a weird time of year (Black Friday! Shop Small Saturday! Cyber Monday! Giving Tuesday!.....and probably a number of other days I'm forgetting about). It sometimes seems to be a strange juxtaposition: the slow, cozy, inward energy of the early winter, alongside the fast-paced, consumption-focused energy of the holiday months. 

I personally love the act of intentional gift giving - selecting a gift especially for the recipient, and wrapping it up just so. 

I believe that gift giving (if we choose to participate in gift giving) is an opportunity to make conscious choices. An opportunity to support responsible, ethical companies; an opportunity to support local makers and small businesses; an opportunity to give a gift we feel proud of and can stand behind, because we know where it came from and where the profits go. 

Below I've included a round-up of some of my favorite gifts to give, and favorite companies to support this holiday season.

For Self-Development Lovers:

  • The Five Minute Journal: if you've ever been in one of my workshops or courses, you've likely heard me talk about the Five Minute Journal. Simply one of the best tools I've found to support creating/reinstating a daily habit around gratitude and morning reflection. 
  • Essentialism: I've read this book about 8 times. It's so logical, *and* can be so hard to apply in everyday life. Great for someone in your life who wants to spend more time on the things that matter most, and shed some of the things that don't. 
  • Better Than Before: one of my all-time favorite books on creating positive change through building habits. Great for someone in your life who is trying to create (or break) a habit, develop new routines, or create some sort of positive and lasting change.
  • The Big Leap: on moving through upper limits, working in your zone of genius, and redefining your relationship with time.  

For the Planning Types:

  • The Desire Map Planner: my go-to planner for the last 3 years. Gorgeous design and filled with prompts that invite a pause as part of your morning planning. 
  • Jack and Ella Paper: gorgeous, minimalistic stationary printed on recycled paper, along with weekly meal and menu planners for your friend who is organized enough to plan out her entire weekly menu (definitely not me - but I do love to give these as gifts!). Based in Madison, WI. 

For Those who Appreciate Beautiful, Handmade Design:

  • Willful Goods: the most gorgeous color dipped wooden bowls, cutting boards, and accessories.  The only problem is, these items are so gorgeous that it can be hard to want to use them for cooking! Made in Minnesota.
  • Toast Ceramics: "considerate objects to punctuate everyday life." I love the dog bowls, the tumblers, and the bowls. Made in Madison, WI. 
  • Imago Dei Pottery: Vanessa creates her works of art out of her garage here in Madison, WI. She makes the sweetest little planters, perfect when given with a succulent inside. 

For Kids:

  • MomKind: goods for moms, by moms with gorgeous, simple design that actually look good sitting on your living room floor. Based in Madison, WI. 
  • Girls with Ideas: empowered gifts for empowered young women in your life. 

For Those who Think Globally:

  • Ubuntu Trade: unique goods created by artisans and makers in Uganda and east Africa. A few of my favorite items include the jewelry, the adorable stuffed elephants and bunnies for kids, and the succulent plant holders. 
  • Preemptive Love Coalition: hand-made soaps, dolls, candles, and apparel. Or, purchase a donation-based gift such as a sheep or water. Proceeds support relief and education for refugees across Iraq, Syria, and the United States. 

For Pet Lovers:

  • Janery: fabulous pet beds and accessories. Truly the most stylish pet beds I've ever seen. Additionally, Jane, the founder/owner is absolutely delightful and believes in giving back and shopping in a conscious and ethical way. (She has a great gift guide on her blog, as well). 
  • Fetch WI: apparel and accessories for both humans and pups. Fetch is 100% volunteer-led, and focused on rehabilitation and rehoming of pups that need great homes. Based in Madison, WI. 

For Beauty Lovers:

  • 100 Percent Pure:  huge variety of products made with clean, safe, natural ingredients. They guarantee all of their products.
  • EcoLips: the original organic lip balm. Made in the midwest by a company that does all sorts of good things for people and for the planet. Based in Cedar Rapids, IA. 
  • AuraCacia Aromatherapy Shower Tablets: my friend introduced me to these as a way to have a "spa experience" at home. AuraCacia is part of a member-owned co-op, responsible to people and planet. They also support women and girls through their Positive Change Project. Based in Norway, IA. 
  • Apotheke: luxurious feeling soaps, lotions, and candles. Handmade in small batches. 

For (non-fancy) Jewelry Lovers:

  • The Shine Project: bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry made by inner city youth. Based in Phoenix, AZ. 

For Giving Coffee Table Books with Substance:

  • Simple Matters: ideas for living simply that are presented in an approachable, lovely way. 
  • Chasing Slow: part memoir, part coffee table book, part perspectives on slow living. 
  • In the Company of Women: stories of makers, artists, and entrepreneurs, pulled together in a beautifully designed book. 

A few more ideas in last year's gift guide as well.  Any favorite companies or brands that you'd add to the list?

Happy Holidays!

 

3 Questions to Ask When You Feel Frustrated at Work

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Since starting my company, I've had the opportunity to spend time with hundreds of teams in various locations throughout the US, through our work together related to leadership, people development, and culture.

In this time, I've observed that there are a few key questions we can ask ourself when we feel frustrated with someone at work to increase our own happiness, while in turn creating ripples of positive impact that improve the overall culture of the organization.

1. Have you shared your feedback directly?

"Whispers" have the power to slowly and painfully poison an organization. Talking about each other, rather than to each other, is quite simply, one of the key differences I've observed between thriving and struggling teams.

When I sit down with a leader from an organization who shares feedback with me about someone on his or her team, I often ask, "have you shared this feedback directly?"

In a thriving organization, the answer is, "oh yes - he's well aware of it, we talk about it often, and he would tell you the same thing."

In a struggling organization, the answer is typically "no," "kind of," or "not really."

If you have an opportunity to give someone constructive feedback, I recommend using my mini-formula of Truth + Heart. This means: telling the truth as you have experienced it, from a place of compassion and kindness. This means being honest and straightforward, with the person's growth and learning in mind.

Helpful phrases to use include, "I've observed," "I've noticed," and "I've experienced."

2. Have you asked for clarity?

Frustration often stems from a lack of clarity, or from making assumptions that simply aren't true. This can be heightened when working with people in different roles, in different offices, or with different styles.

I find that this often stems from something seemingly insignificant, that then snowballs over time. Some examples of ways that we can create more clarity in order to reduce frustrations and create a happier, more productive working environment include asking the following types of questions:

  • What is our "in office" policy? Are we expected to be in the office during working hours? What does this look like/what does this mean? What do we consider working hours? If we have options for flexible work hours or remote work, what does this look like and what can we expect from each other?
  • How do we agree to communicate with each other? What are our preferences for communication? What are our expectations for responsiveness? If some members of the team travel heavily, how can we reach them in a pinch, while acknowledging that they might be on a plane or in client meetings?
  • What are the norms of our office? Do we have a stated open door policy where we expect people to work with their doors open, or do we encourage people to shut their doors to create heads-down focused working time? Do we take phone calls from our cube, or encourage team members to take phone calls in a conference room so that the shared area can remain quiet? Do we welcome pets in the office?
  • What are our roles? How can we create clarity in order to fosters ownership and accountability, while also building a culture that encourages an "all hands on deck" mindset?
  • If we have a flat structure or practice a version of holacracy, at the end of the day, who is responsible for making a decision when we are at a standstill? How do we deal with an underperforming team member when our self-managing team is stuck? And how can we balance self-empowerment with a desire for clarity and leadership?

Creating clarity up front is a way to create more easeful, joyful, and productive interactions down the line.

3. Are you assuming positive intent?

It can be easy to interpret a short email as rude, or a direct comment as offensive. However, what if we assumed positive intent - that perhaps the email was written quickly, or that the direct comment was a way of getting to the point more quickly, and therefore saving everyone on the team some time?

When we experience a negative reaction to someone else's behavior (or perceived behavior), it can be helpful to pause, breathe, and remind ourselves to assume positive intent.

Practicing the above strategies will not only help us to feel happier and more productive at work, but they also have the power to create positive ripples of impact within our organizations, which over time, creates the type of culture that we all want to be part of.

When the Inner Whisper Shouts

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The inner whisper. It's the voice inside of us that reflects our deepest desires and biggest dreams. It's the voice that starts oh-so-quietly, sometimes to the point that we can barely hear it. 

Over time, the inner whisper gets louder and louder, begging us to tune in and listen. Begging us to at least acknowledge that it exists, even if we aren't yet ready to take action.

I was talking to a wonderful new client earlier this week who described his inner whisper as evolving from a "low simmer to a raging boil." This is the power of the inner whisper; over time, it strengthens until we have no choice but to listen. 

It often feels scary - terrifying, even -  to tune into our inner whisper. Our inner whisper reflects what we really want, which is often different than what we're currently doing.

For my entire life, my inner whisper longed to teach and create. These are the things I would do every single day as a little girl. I began ignoring my inner whisper during my junior year of high school, on precisely the day that one of my high school teachers told me to "apply to business school because it's harder to get into" instead of applying to the programs I was considering. I continued to ignore my inner whisper throughout college, and on and off throughout many of my years in the corporate world, until finally, one day, I decided it was time to listen. 

While I don't regret and am incredibly grateful for my path which led me to today, I find it amusing to look back and realize that I had more clarity about the desires of my inner whisper when I was four years old than when I was 24. This is true for many of my clients as well; often, we can gain powerful insight about the desires of our inner whisper by looking at the things we were drawn to when we were little. 

If you think your inner whisper might be trying to speak to you, here are a few ways to tune in. 

  • Take 2 minutes per day to get quiet and be still. It's easy to squash the desires of the inner whisper underneath tasks and the whirlwind of everyday life. The inner whisper needs space to be heard. 
  • Ask yourself the question, "what do I deeply desire?" Write down your response, without filtering what comes up. Write down everything that you hear, even if it seems crazy or out of reach. 
  • Ask yourself the question, "if anything is possible, what would I most love to do?" Once again, write down the answers without filtering what comes up. 
  • Ask yourself, "if I could be guaranteed my same salary for the next year and could either a) do exactly what I'm doing now, or b) try something entirely different, what would I do?" Again, write down what comes up without filtering or judging your answer. 
  • After you reflect on the above questions, askyourself, "what is one what that I could honor my inner whisper now, in a small way?" This might mean signing up for a class, going on a micro adventure, learning a new skill, or volunteering. 

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you--just listen to
The voice that speaks inside. 
― Shel Silverstein

Ways to Stay Grounded During Ungrounding Times

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It's been another week of heartbreak and tragedy in our country.

2017 continues to test our resilience and our optimism. Each time we momentarily catch our breath from one tragedy, it seems, another occurs. 

This cycle leaves us in a seemingly constant state of fight or flight mode. It's hard to create positive change when we are elevated, stressed, and reactive. We create positive change through intentional action. Intentional action requires that we are present and calm.  

We often hear that we must first fill our own cup so that we may fill the cups of others. This is especially true right now. Below are a few strategies that help.

1. Make a list of things that make you feel calm and grounded. Do at least one thing from your list every day. 

My list includes cooking, delicious food, hot baths, time in nature, movement, writing and quiet reflection, flowers/plants/planting things, and time with soul sisters. When I'm feeling ungrounded or overwhelmed by the events of the world, I know that these activities help me feel more grounded and put me in a place where I can more consciously digest what I'm reading and learning.

I invite you to make a similar list - a list of things that are both accessible and powerful. Ideally, they don't require a lot of supplies, travel, or advanced planning. One of my clients keeps her list visible, and references it as a checklist whenever she's feeling overwhelmed.

2. Make a list of the people in your tribe. Connect with them regularly.

These are the people who get you, who fill you up, and who raise your average. These are the people who ask you how you are and then really listen to your response. They are the people who are thoughtful and kind, and who leave you feeling nourished rather than depleted after you spend time together. 

If you are feeling uncertain about whether your current tribe mates meet the above criteria, I lovingly encourage you to expand your tribe. Life is too short for friends who make you feel shitty. Consider attending events or Meet-Ups, volunteering, or perhaps even apps like Bumble BFF - I have a number of girlfriends who are having great success meeting new female friends via this app.

3. Be still. 

Whether it's quiet reflection, prayer, meditation, or just slowly drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, create time each day for stillness. I recommend doing this first thing in the morning  (more here and here on morning rituals and routines). This doesn't need to be two hours. It can be five minutes. And it's more essential now than ever. 

4. Bookend your day.

"Bookending" is a term I've been using for a strategy that I've been experimenting with for the last year or so. The idea is: start and end the day in a way that feels joyful. I've found this to almost always lead to a really good day. The bookends don't need to be fancy - but they should be things that feel fun and nourishing (you may want to consult your list from #1), and ideally they should be one of the first and last things you do each day. 

5. Avoid reading the news first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed. 

If you took my Efficiency and Flow course, or if you've ever been in one of my leadership courses, there's a good chance that you've been part of a passionate discussion about not checking email from bed first thing in the morning. This also applies to the news. Checking the news first thing in the morning or right before bed, especially right now, can wreak havoc on our mood, our sleep, and our productivity. In the morning, I recommend reading the news only after you've completed your morning routine (see #3 and here and here). In the evening, I recommend reading the news for the final time at least an hour before you plan to go to bed.

6. Take action. 

It can be easy to feel helpless and hopeless and think "there's nothing I can do." But there is always something we can do. Make donations to organizations that support the causes you care about. Join groups and organizations that are talking about the issues that matter. Get involved locally. Contact your representatives. Write letters or have a postcard writing party.  Make a commitment to yourself to take some sort of positive action each day, or each week. Enlist members of your tribe (see #2) to join you. We will not create positive change by ranting on Facebook or losing hope. We will create positive change through action. 

7. Connect through kindness.

Make eye contact with someone you don't know. Smile. Buy a stranger coffee. Let someone merge in front of you on the highway. Say "thank you" and "I love you" and "you did great work this week." Send a hand-written note, flowers, or a small gift to someone dear to you. Look up from your device and at another human. 

We cannot control the events of the world at large. But we do have the ability to impact how we engage in our own worlds. We need to be the change that we want to see in our world - and that is an opportunity we have every single day.