Tom Hanks’s Special Message to Thirtysomethings

One of the greatest lines from Tom Hanks, in my opinion, is in A League of Their Own when he’s coaching a woman on his team who complains that baseball is “hard”.

“It’s the hard that makes it great,” he booms.

I shiver. I shudder. I feel the urge to grab my glove and hit the field.

It’s a great line made even greater by the fact that it’s not really about baseball at all, but everything in life, including life itself.

“Nothing worth anything comes easy,” they say. I’m revved up again.

But I’m not quite ready to grab my glove, so to speak.

See, in the case of baseball, I know what the challenge it and what glory looks like when I get there – cheering fans, a golden glove, a pennant, a world series ring, a bubblegum card.

But when it’s my life, I’m blindly aiming at a target most days.

New job? Different hairstyle? Swipe right? Go back to school? Ignore colleague’s wandering eyes? Vacation or staycation? Retirement savings?

Why can’t it be as simple as hit and throw well. Run as fast as you can. ? .

I don’t have the answer. Life is just hard sometimes. Hard to predict, hard to get through certain days (even certain hours). It’s hard to imagine it getting better and easy to imagine worse.

But “the hard is what makes it great”. Hmmm.

And let me be completely honest – I’ve been watching that movie for years; it’s one of my top favourites of all time. But it’s only recently that I’ve embraced this Hankonian perspective.

Since I turned 30, life has pretty much been a not-so-great box of chocolates. Surprise after disappointment after struggle after a brief bout of delight and repeat.

And now, in my mid-thirties, I finally get the joke – without the hard, there is no delight. And, most importantly I see that without the unknown, there is no hope.

I don’t know if I’m ever making the right choices and I worry about the outcome.

I don’t know if I’m giving the best advice to my friends.

I don’t know if I just paid too much for house insurance.

I don’t know if this time, this yoga will save me.

I don’t know any of it.

But I just hope. Close my eyes and click.

And just when you may be thinking that this is a depressing way to live – directionless and all that. Consider this:

We’re all floundering along, doing our best and still f-—king up and making a mess. Sometimes hating ourselves, sometimes forgiving.

Dropping kids off at the wrong school (hi, Jill) and standing in awkward silence at your first stand-up gig. Keeping it secret that your marriage is a sham, secretly liking one kid more than the other, and spending over twenty-one hours streaming Netflix instead of going to your cousin’s wedding.

Point is, screwing up and acting immature and being embarrassed about our foibles is all part of the game.

My friend Jillian drops off the kids she babysits every day. I don’t know how many days are in a school year, but it’s a lot. But she’s never told me a specific story about it until the day she left the wrong kid at the wrong playground.

And we laughed. OH, we laughed!

We laughed until we cried.

There may be no crying in baseball but there are plenty of tears in life – happy and sad. And I love them both. I’m a cryer so I have no choice but to embrace it if I stand a chance of loving myself fully.

So cheers to hope. Cheers to the struggle. It’s real, so they say.

Life is hard, so play hard. Screw up, and then laugh. Together.

Laughter and hope make it great.

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I’m opening my doors again for personal coaching now for a limited time. If you’d like to see what coaching is like and if you’d like to work together, send me an email at ashewoodz@gmail.com so we can set up a time to talk.

For more on me and what working together is like, visit ashewoodward.com.

😉

Create Negativity for a Beautiful Life?

 

As some of us are gearing up for the holiday season, we are all pretty busy but also looking forward to maybe a little downtime before the new year.

I hope you’re finding time for reflection and thinking big for yourself in this next phase. Personally, 2016 was a building year for me – I met a lot of awesome people, made a bunch of new friends, and learned a heck of a lot about myself and business in general.

I’m soooo ready to take what I’ve learned and create some fantastic stuff in 2017 (and I can’t wait to share it all with you-soon!)

But right now, I too am in busy busy mode: wrapping gifts and wrapping up with clients for the year (see what I did there, lol!).

However, I’ve also left an nice meaty, chewy chunk of space, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to just… BE.

And, man, it’s hard to turn off sometimes. It’s become a world where it feels like if you’re not online, you’re off your rocker.

But I’m gonna try, cuz I need some space.

Maybe for you it’s not about a social media fast – maybe it’s something like going on a complain fast, or just taking some alone time for taking up a new hobby, just to challenge your brain in a different way.

The idea is that you’re creating some negative space, just like a painting.

For those of us who aren’t artists, it’s probably been a long time since we’ve heard any art theory terminology. So, just as a refresher…

Negative space is the non-painted or non-object area of a piece of art. It should always be taken into account when observing a piece because it can be as interesting as the piece itself or the painted portion itself. In other words, it’s not as negative as it sounds – it’s actually a really good, and really important part of creation.

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And, of course, I’m gonna say that it’s the same in life.

The part where you’re being creative, planning your strategies for success, taking action, celebrating achievements, raising kids, paying bills etc. is all the positive space – the obvious stuff that everyone sees.

In life, using your negative space is more like creating something other than your main ambitions to colour and fill in your life, all the way to the edges.

It’s the life you lead maybe when no one is watching and the life that you’re doing and not getting paid for. It might be some of the best stuff, actually.

So where in your life have you left space for the best stuff?

Where is the breathing room and the space to just BE?

Where have you created a beautiful space that makes you feel even more amazing?

This can be anything you conceive it to be, from your environment and the people you choose to keep around you, to the space you leave on your calendar for ‘movie and a pizza’ night.

Because, while it’s great to have a full calendar, it’s also important to leave some space to allow what you’ve created to stand on its own and be remarkable.

Without downtime and a step back at what you’ve done, it’s hard to see what amazingness you’re doing.

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And while it may seem important to ‘get out there’ and surround yourself with lots of people until you find ‘the one,’ or ‘the perfect client,’ it’s also important to be surrounded by great people that light you up.

That’s the job of the negative space – to highlight the positive.
(And, yes, that works for a lot of other areas in life too – cool, huh?)

So this year, when you’re reflecting on your 2016 and looking into 2017, ask yourself where can you see room to beautify your negative space and make it as interesting as the positive.

Where can you surround yourself with more love and beauty, more relaxation?

Where can you weed out some bad notches that never seem to bring out the best in you?

I’d love to know more about how you’re clearing your space and surrounding yourself with the more interesting and beautiful in this upcoming year. So leave a comment below or on the Facebook page.

And speaking of which…

I will be leaving some negative space between now and the New Year to refresh and recharge. I will still be keeping in touch with a weekly post and you can find me on Facebook and Twitter but the blog will resume in January 2017.

Thank you so much for reading this year, thirtysomeone. I love and appreciate all of your support and I’m honoured to be part of your crazy-amazing journey through your thirties.

Now, let’s cheers to this year and get ready for even bigger and better things in 2017.

Cheers!

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As always, you can find out more about me and what I do at ashewoodward.com. And to help you make solid goals for 2017, got to ashewoodward.com/downloadables to get your copy of The Thirtysomething’s Guide to Successful Goalmaking. It’s YOUR guide to a great year ahead.

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What Kind of ‘December Person’ Are You?

I don’t need to tell you that this is a stressful time of year – crowded malls, Christmas music on loop, and getting in the last morsels of the year before we start all over again.

But beyond the shopping, headaches and travel, there might also be another source of anxiety on your mind…depending on what kind of person you are.

Maybe you’ve noticed it too, but it seems that depending on how ambitious you are or how serious you are about your goals, at this time of year, everyone falls mainly into two categories at the beginning of December:

  • Person 1 will focus on the holidays and family but also use this busy time as an excuse for why she has let her dreams and goals shift to the back burner. She just doesn’t have the time.
  • Person 2 isn’t slowing down. This kind of person aims to get it all in and not only achieve most of what’s on his resolution list, but also may push himself so far that he “doesn’t have the time” to find the perfect gifts. By January 1st he has many of his goals achieved and is ready to amp up his performance in 2017.

You may be thinking that you really wish you could be like Person 2, but you may want to think twice.

Sure, Person 1 seems to be making excuses, giving up and giving in. This could inevitably stall momentum at a great time of year for doing business. If you have a product or service, this is the best time to advertise your stuff as gift ideas or as ways to start off the new year just right. And even if you don’t work for yourself or in sales, you could always do just a tad more than the guy beside you so you grab the boss’s attention at the holiday party for promotion considerations ASAP for next year.

But, this is also supposed to be the time of year for reflection and connection. To push past or rush the holiday season like Person 2, would be to miss the whole point of our cleverly designed yearly cycle. We (well, our ancestors), designed our year to have a beginning and an end, with certain celebrations strategically placed because we crave ups and downs, endings and beginnings.

To rush past the ending would be a waste of the whole year. It’d be like watching the new Gilmore Girls series and just stopping at “summer”! [Note: No spoilers, but seriously, get past “Summer” because Rory has a big moment in “Fall”].

Person 2, however, does have the right idea in some ways – using December to achieve what you promised yourself last January – that’s part of having integrity and loving yourself.

But there needs to be balance. I don’t usually use this vague word but here I think we get it. Our two portraits are extremes but very present this time of year. It’s our job to see which qualities we have in ourselves and make a point of taking a page out of both books.

It’s also integral to success in the future that we take the time now to reflect on what’s been achieved up to this point. Regroup. Celebrate. Acknowledge your support system. And use the reflection (not the stress and the pushing yourself to the limits all month long) to inspire your January 2017.

Let me say that again: use the reflection on 2016 as the fuel to your fire in 2017. Rushing to complete your goals now is possible, but not essential to your success next year. You’ll be more successful if you can acknowledge what you learned in the past year and be grateful for your wins, as well as the people around you.

Sure, there may be some other sub-categories of these two types: I for one can be more like a crazy Person 2 on steroids because not only do I try to overachieve in my career and goals, but I also try to find the perfect gifts thanks to my A-type personality. This usually causes a bit of overwhelm at this time of year.

So a couple years ago, when I noticed this cray-cray behaviour in myself, I committed to having my shopping done before December 1st. I’ve fallen only a little short this year with two people left on my list, but that’s what the Internet is for. The rest of the time I’ll be focusing on my goals, reflecting and celebrating with “special” eggnogg.

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Like all things, it’s about finding a balance and knowing your priorities. It’s sometimes very hard to do it all and get it all in BUT do try these 5 main tips for a more enjoyable and successful holiday season:

  1. Don’t blame the holidays or your relatives for your unwillingness to find time. It’s like I always say, ‘Beyoncé has the same amount of hours in the day as everyone else.’
  2. Buy gifts online to save time. I have some recommendations if you’re curious. Click Here.
  3. Buy thoughtful gifts to thank all the people around you that enrich your life and keep you going.
  4. Reflect on 2016 and use the positives to light you up for the upcoming year.
  5. Draw up your priorities for 2017 based on what you think you were lacking this year. Don’t beat yourself up, just promise yourself to get ‘er done next year.

And don’t worry! I’ve still left plenty of time for new clients this month so you don’t have to go it alone. December is a great time to get started – we can reflect together and plan out your success for the new year together with a solid and strong 2017 success strategy.

Never hesitate to get in touch! Email me your questions at support@ashewoodward.com and find out more at ashewoodward.com.

And for added inspiration when creating your 2017 goals, be sure to have this guide handy!

Download your FREE copy of The Thirtysomething’s Guide to Successful Goal-making

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Did You Know THIS About Your 30s?

Whenever I talk about what I do, the first question people ask me is, “Why do you focus only on thirty-somethings?”

Good question.

I know it seems a little strange to seem to focus on only one age group but there’s so much going on here that there’s lots to work with, and I’m constantly surprised and challenged by my work.

And, to those of you who have wondered the same thing, let me also say that I don’t only work with thirty-somethings. I work with people of all ages, but I do focus on turning 30 as a pivotal moment for where success is at a make it or break it point.

Most importantly, I focus here because since I’ve been in my thirties, I’ve never felt such an interesting dichotomy: While I feel like I’ve come into my own and I have more self-confidence than ever, at the same time I feel like I’ve never been so unsure.

Basically, I’m fascinated by the mindset shift that happens on this birthday – for better or worse.

Personally, I always thought by the time I was 30, I’d have so much of life figured out and it would be pretty smooth sailing. I thought I’d have a secure job, a house, maybe kids and be living happily ever after with my prince charming.

While some of that dream came true, I’d say that there were more surprises than I thought and more exceptions to the rule than anything else.

But the greatest surprise of all was that I do feel like I know myself and what I truly want, more than ever before. I never expected this but I personally think it’s the best thing about turning 30 and even a superpower of this decade.

However, using my own story and the story of clients and friends, I can tell you that after 30 there’s a powerful shift that I’ve sometimes gone as far to call a mindfuck (and I’m not one to use that term lightly).

Some say we come into our own, and others may say we get hit by 30 like a ton of bricks.

Many of us start to see the reason for the bumpy road of our 20s. We begin to understand how and why we ended up where we are now. And, maybe for the first time, we see that we have to make corrections.

One of the first places we often look is the timeline and we judge how long it took us to accomplish certain things, probably comparing ourselves to others who did the same or better in less time.

We then likely look at the timeline ahead of us and make a judgement about how long something new, like correcting our course, might take.

But so often we don’t go after something new because

A, we didn’t get exactly what we wanted before so we think there’s no way it’ll work this time.

B, it took so long last time and it still wasn’t right.

And C, this time  we have a spouse and kids to think about before we go gallivanting around just following our dreams.

But your 30s are the perfect time to be ‘gallivanting’ towards success and happiness if you know how to capitalize on everything you’re dealing with – use your superpowers!

*We have more knowledge, experience and resources this time around.

*Instead of being pushed into education and living in the Lala Land of university life or intern life, we have a grasp of the real world like never before. Yes, this is what all that crap was preparing us for.

*Unlike your 20s, we finally have the resources. Chances are, you have a more secure job and a stable group of friends to support you if things go awry.

*You probably also have a bigger WHY than you used to. I’ve heard countless stories about how in our 20s we were ruled the desire to prove ourselves to parents, siblings, teachers, bosses and mentors.

*In our 30s, with our who gives a shit attitude, our ego is much less of what is pushing us. We have other things and other people to worry about (kids, spouse, potential spouse) and it’s their faces and their future that can inspire us to move mountains.

Of course we have to be careful not to feel the pressure; it can be a lot to handle because, yes, this is crunch time. This is really when you could make your mark and have the life of your dreams, and that can be a scary thought.

But, If you can appreciate how special and unique these gifts in our 30s are, you have a magic formula for success.

In my eyes, your thirties are the perfect time to perfect your career path or start your own business. It’s the perfect time to explore new things in all areas because you’re more comfortable trying new things.

Not to say that you are completely comfortable but, compared with your twenties, you are much wiser from your mistakes and much more capable because of your experiences and who you’ve become – the hero of your own story.

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If this all sounds like you and you’re ready to get started on a project for happiness and success in your 30s, I’d love if you’d join me for my FREE webinar on how to really use your 30s’ Superpowers to achieve your dreams NOW. Click HERE to find out more.

Or, come on over to ashewoodward.com to find out more about me, your 30s and how we can work together to get you to the success you’ve been dreaming of for all of your adult life! 

Why This Is THE Summer You’ve Been Waiting For

As summer arrives this week I feel the temptation to really let go. I just want to forget the work, the networking, the goal-achieving, and veg the F out. I want to indulge in patio life and read romantic novels by the pool.

’Tis the season for relaxation, hanging with the kiddos while they’re out of school, and indulging in maybe one too many fruity cocktails after work with friends. The sunshine and faint smell of coconut sunscreen are more than enough to distract us from work, prospecting, thinking of a promotion, or hustling in any way, am I right?

On the other hand, one thing I always say about our thirties is that it’s the perfect decade to get things done and get ahead. This is the time we actually have the means and more knowledge about the ways to be successful.

I may sound like the bearer of bad news but I’ll say it anyway: taking two months ‘off’ now is more than just laziness – it’s a wasted opportunity.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t vacay at all – we all know the importance of downtime and quality time for relationships so we don’t burn out and regret a life of consistent work when we’re on our deathbeds. But, if you’ve been struggling to get ahead for a while now and have been praying to the gods to give you a break or a head start, I have to tell you, this is it.

This is the break you’ve been searching for.

If you have a dream that you’ve been waiting to realize or put time into, this is the ‘right time’ you’ve been talking about.

When you told a friend that it wasn’t the ‘right time’ to invest or work together…

Or when you told yourself that ‘one day’ you’ll write that novel…

Or when you say that ‘some day’ you’ll have the time to give that project that will set you up financially…

Well, guess what?

The ‘right time’ is here, and here’s why:

If you’re having thoughts of playing hooky from work or from working on your side project, other people are having those thoughts too.

I don’t have stats on this, but I’d wager that at least half of your competition will be asleep this summer, indulging in their whims and giving in to temptations, giving you a huge advantage for two full months or more.

While others are taking it easy, you can take it up a notch. I know, I know, we don’t want to miss out on the fun or the tanning time. But this is a classic case of a little sacrifice now makes life easier later.

A friend told me once about how she had the choice, like her neighbour, to either work her business or work in the garden all summer. At the end of summer her business was booming. Her neighbour had a nice garden. And while gardens are pretty, they don’t pay the bills or fulfill our dreams – that is unless your business is flowers and your dream is a beautiful garden. You get the idea.

Summer often shows people that their businesses or finances aren’t where they’d like them to be. They see the vacations they want to take their families on but perhaps aren’t financially able. This means that tons of people are looking for what you have to offer. Maybe they need your app, your consulting, or even your novel to read by the pool.

Plus, marketing opportunities are everywhere. Every week is a holiday or fiesta you can join or hashtag to promote your business. And if there’s nothing happening that really speaks to you and your brand, summer itself is a great theme. I’m personally using summer as an excuse to give big bonuses and discounts on my products (stay tuned for that).

If you’re not in business for yourself but you’ve always dreamed of being an author on the side, summer is when it’s possible to find that extra downtime. We have more daylight and, therefore, more energy and more usable outdoor space. Use summer to get outside, be in the outdoor space to finally complete that novel, manifesto or for writing out your five-year plan.

If your goals are personal, like increasing your one-to-one time with your kids, this is a no-brainer. But I personally love a challenge and I think kids do too. Why not accomplish some fun goals together like, ‘Try all the ice cream stores in the city,’ or ‘Ride our bikes as far as we can and then take the bus home.’ This is not only more fun for you but it’s a way to teach your kids the fun of goal setting and accomplishment. Plus, games like this tend to be even more memorable than just going to theme parks or movies.

If your goals are spiritual, the summer weather creates the perfect calmer attitude start a meditation practice, whether you’re on the beach in the park or even longer walks through the city. You could even bring the kids along as well for the challenge; it’s never too early.

The point is, don’t make summer an excuse, make it your secret weapon.

If your’e ready to use summer to your advantage to get ahead in any area of life, let’s take action together. Get in touch to find out how personal coaching can accelerate your results -guaranteed! Inquire to apply at support@ashewoodward.com or visit ashewoodward.com for more info. Talk to you soon! – Ashe

Do You Really Deserve It?

I’m not sure I can think of even one movie that doesn’t prey on our love for the underdog.  We love rags to riches stories and even I, a self-proclaimed chick flick fanatic, can get wrapped up in an action movie about an unlikely hero in a thriller-action movie.

You know the drill:  we get a back story where our hero is either an ugly high school student who becomes princess of a fictional country; or, it’s an excommunicated mob member who ends up helping police save the city from his former boss.  Even though the storylines might seem a little far-fetched at first, we get to know our heroes and we’re led to see their strengths – physical or not – and we start to root for them.

Funny thing is, there are so many of us who have these same strengths and these same wild dreams, but we don’t have as much faith in ourselves.  So what is the disconnect here?

What is it about the big screen that makes us pull for the ugly duckling or the outcast, but get us out of the theatre and in our own heads and we can’t do the same for ourselves?

There is always that point in the movie where our hero questions him or herself for a moment and wonders if they really can pull off what they want to do.  In the audience we get really worried because we know the back story and how hard they’ve worked and everything that’s riding on this.  We start to feel like they deserve to win.  And just so Hollywood is sure you know who the good guy is, they’ll throw in a really good unlikeable enemy so you see the contrast.  I automatically think of The Plastics in Mean Girls.

The point is we’re pulling for our characters all the way, even though the odds are against dorky Mia Thermopolous (Anne Hathaway) becoming the beautiful and poised princess of Genovia in The Princess Diaries; or Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson), a wealthy business man, saving his son by some other way than paying the ransom in Ransom.  Okay, so these are sort of outdated examples, but they just happen to be what I watched this week – but I think that’s the point. 

This story is timeless and is probably part of the narrative going on in your head about your own life too. 

The problem in our own lives is that we are too involved in the underdog part of the story and you’re not seeing the potential – you’re not seeing clearly enough where the story goes.  On screen it all happens in a matter of about 2 hours and it’s probably around half way that you could guess that Lindsay Lohan is going to do something special and that Bruce Willis is going to save Christmas. 

You and I have had years of backstory to deal with and maybe no big success…yet. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to win. We’ve had tons of enemies – maybe not as easy to see as Hollywood makes it seem, but they’re there and we all have the power to defeat them.  We all have those surprising and specialized traits that will help us get the job done.

The trick is, we need to believe that we are the hero of our own stories, see that we can defeat all of our enemies, and see that we deserve to live happily ever after. You know your backstory better than anyone, so let your own story pull at your heartstrings and force you to believe that success is inevitable.

Think hard on this one:  What is the big success you’re going for right now and why do you deserve to win?  What surprising or unlikely traits do you have that will help you pull this off?  What movie have you watched lately that could inspire you to believe in your own hero story?

And if you have trouble putting together all the pieces of your own epic tale, get in touch for a coaching session at support@ashewoodward.com. Or find our more about how coaching can be just like that driver guy that helps Anne Hathaway find her confidence (man, I just can’t help loving that movie!) at ashewoodward.com.

Finding Your Own Formula for Success

There’s a new ad for weight watchers where Oprah looks into the camera and tells everyone that each time she failed to lose weight led her to this moment to try again.  It’s a great message and I’m sure so many people can relate to what Oprah is saying:  it’s okay to try and fail because it’s all part of the journey.

While it is a great message, and almost convinces me to join Oprah and weight watchers even though I don’t think I need to, I can’t help but wonder about one thing:  Why can’t Oprah just apply the success she’s found in her career to finding success with weight loss?

I don’t mean to put her on the spot either, I personally love Oprah.  But love her or hate her, it’s an interesting question that we all might be facing.  Some areas of our life may be exactly how we want them but others never seem to come together or it’s a constant struggle. 

What I find interesting is that if we can’t replicate out own success in other areas, what’s to say we’re capable of replicating another person’s journey?  Even Queen O has trouble replicating her own success just in a different area of her life.  So what is it that makes us think that other success stories will relate to our own?

Perhaps it’s that Oprah can’t see how losing weight and growing a milt-billion dollar company are related.  Maybe it’s more likely that you see a correlation between your business and Elon Musk’s journey, rather than comparing how Oprah loses weight.

So all success isn’t all the same?

So then why are those lists of “Things Successful People Do” and “Top Ten Ways to Be More Like Richard Branson” so popular?

I guess I just like the idea that a formula for success is out there and that I will eventually find it. But Oprah has made me see that trial and error and being ready and in the right place and timing are all part of this equation.  I mean, if she can find it, but not duplicate it, then what hope do we have of duplicating anyone else?

But as I said, maybe it’s all about categories.  Business success is different from successful weight loss.  But that seems not quite right to me either; I think that it’s more about where you put your focus and priorities.  Oprah focused on her career – a lot!  And there were times when everyone knew that Oprah was losing weight again because we saw her in jogging suits on the cover of People magazine and there were health challenges with Dr. Oz on her show all the time.  During those times, she did lose weight so I wonder how she lost her focus…

I can’t speak for Oprah, it’s bad enough that I would die to just speak TO her, but her journey that she’s on, in front of everyone, is worth a look to put our own successes and failures into better perspective. 

The message here I think is: “Lessen your focus on others’ success and focus on your own; only you know how to make it there.  Focus, and you’ll reap the rewards.”  My other biggest believe is that you have to keep trying, testing and failing and eventually you’ll have a Euraka moment.  Everyone knows this quote by now:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison on inventing the lightbulb

So where does your focus lie for 2016 and how will you be persistent in discovering your unique success formula?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments or on Facebook!

To find out how you can uncover your unique formula for success, get in touch to find out more about one-to-one coaching, visit ashewoodward.com.