What I Did When I Was Sick of Myself

Just a little over a month ago I took a hard look at schedule and my stress level and decided to do something (actually a bunch of things) about it.

I thought it was only how I was scheduling my time but as I looked at it more closely, so much more disgusting puss oozed out of the cracks of my routine.

So ya, I stopped the blog for a while, re-did my website, started a new yoga routine and even started getting up earlier to meditate longer. Oh ya, and I also got serious about eating a strict vegan diet. I call this an ‘Overhaul’ in the Do-over ebook and, let me tell ya, it’s not for the faint of heart!

Thinking I’m indestructible because I know all the strategies and tools that go into making change, I just went for it – full on.

Not smart.

At first I was tired, cranky, uninspired and I knew so many fibres of my being were being challenged and resisting all this change. Then, all I felt like doing was complaining, sleeping, and eating potato chips and wine for dinner – Hey, it’s vegan, right?

I would try to get up early to meditate but I felt so rotten I ended up skipping it all together and hitting the snooze button for another precious twenty-five minutes. Seeing how crap I was at change, it was hard to have faith but I knew I had to keep trying.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow. I just prayed for it to be temporary and hope that it was just the initial adjustment stage.

-Weeks later now I’m like, phew!

As usual, the Universe thankfully has stepped in and is now fully supporting my desires once again. Why did I ever doubt her?!

Since finally crawling out from underneath the covers on consecutive mornings I have full-out and gigantically been stating that I needed to change and up my game. And finally, Timing and Coincidence have ushered in a slew of new players into my life – most of whom I’d call “big-time.”

In the last few weeks I’ve met and connected with people who are on a level I didn’t know existed. I thought I was being ballzy, but these people are here to show me how to really get into the game – stand for my business, myself, my peeps and clients.

Not only that but I seem to be finding better than average blogs and websites, and being directed to much better events and richer, vibrant and more flavourful places for a good time.

All of these things are on the outside of me but I’m embracing them, using them as the key to digging deeper in myself and bringing more of myself to the “Grown-up table”.

And I’m thinking of you today. I’m standing up for you and to you by asking: Are you settling for less in your life?  Have you checked in lately on your standards? Is it possible you’ve let things slide and pass for just okay because you’ve lost faith that things           can be better?

If it’s just not enough, I’d love to show you how to up your game, your vibration and your whole entire gigantic and beautiful life…and stick with it!

Get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com and find out more at my bigger, badder and bolder site: ashewoodward.com

When You Just “Can’t Even”

I need to be totally honest today – I don’t feel like writing this right now. It’s a brisk, beautiful fall day here in Toronto and I want nothing more than to have a glass of wine, my quinoa surprise, and curl up to watch something romantic and indulgent on Netflix.

But I’ve been in this habit for over three years now so it’s become hard to ignore even the smallest of urges to write something about life in my thirties every Sunday night.

So I set a timer today and here I am – showing up for just 25 minutes of writing, I told myself.

And look! I’m writing!

And to no one’s surprise (my own) I’m enjoying it by only the seventh line. I’m off and running and already imagining that these words are falling into the your world and inspiring you to forward your success and happiness. 

As I said, I’ve trained myself to do this, but I also learned this habit from somewhere else, sort of unexpected – the gym.

As many of you I’m sure would agree, we’d very often be doing anything else than going to the gym. But I also know, I’d rather look fit than unfit, so I just tell myself I will go – even for a short workout. Lowest effort possible.

But by the time I’m in my adorable gym outfit, I’m happy that I’m there. I usually end up feeling completely energized and I do a full workout. And the kicker is that it is always when I think I’m too tired that I end up having an amazing workout and breaking my personal records – just to prove my lazy self even more wrong.

So, tonight, as I write here, I do have Netflix and Quinoa on my mind (maybe the next big hashtag?) but I let the habit take me over and, in the end, that’s what I want.

I know that repeated effort will yield results – so I continue to write, go to the gym and do my daily meditations. It’s not easy, but neither is a life of only wishing and dreaming.

So get to doing this week and let me know how it goes by emailing me directly (see below) or sharing on Facebook.

For more on this idea and effect, I recommend reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. It’s not my favourite self-development book, but the main idea is one of the most important if you want to be successful at anything. Period.

And if you’d simply like a synopsis from yours truly and a little bit more about how I’ve turned small daily habits into 2 successful home businesses, I’d love to have a chat. Get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com.

And remember to grab your FREE guide to adulting in The Thirtysomething’s Guide to Successful Goalmaking HERE

#NetflixandQuinoa

What Are Your Daydreams Trying to Tell You?

For the longest time I actively worked against daydreaming because I saw it as the opposite of productivity.  Every time my eyes started to cloud over with fluffy fantasies I would snap myself out of it and get back to “real” work.

Well, as they say, “Be careful what you wish for.”

It was at the beginning of this year that I noticed my self-discipline really taking hold because once I stopped the daydreaming, I got really focused on practical work. So much so that I never took breaks and sometimes went two or three hours without getting up from my computer or taking even a sip of water!

Surprise, surprise, it all caught up with me. 

Sure I’ve been productive as all hell but I’ve learned that it’s nothing without some reflection.  Not only do we really need to reflect in order to improve oneself and check in but also to acknowledge the work and achievements that have been going on.

And, duh – reflection and self-checks all happen in the daydreaming realm.

By shutting out daydreaming I haven’t been shutting out pointless thought webs, I’ve been stifling my brain’s way of sorting and healing.  Not only that but I’ve stopped it from refreshing itself by adventuring and exploring.

And the worst part is that as a Creative (capital C) I can’t believe that I ever thought that was a good idea. How dare I try and stifle my Creative brain!  It’s literally my money maker and how I make my living – writing the blog, creative marketing, and, most importantly, working through people’s questions doubts and helping find creative solutions.

Daydreams are where the imagination goes searching for the next idea and the answer to current questions. At times these derailments may look like innocuous jaunts down Ryan Reynolds Lane but eventually, if we let them run a little longer, they just might take us to Breakthrough Avenue.

And since cutting off this free flow of ideas I feel as though I have an injured muscle.  Even though I’m letting the daydreams take me away again, I’m rehabilitating slowly.

In other words, I’ve been off my game. You may have noticed that I didn’t post last week. Don’t be fooled. This has been going on a lot longer than that, it’s just that it hadn’t affected my post writing yet because I had a stockpile of ideas from months ago.

And now, since I’ve figured out my problem, I’m back in business – literally! Mercury is flying forward and so am I. Ideas are flowing and solutions are no longer floating somewhere beyond my reach and I vow to my Creative Spirit to never shut out daydreams again.

—-well, not never; a girl’s gotta work sometimes too!

The point is, daydreams are rich with ideas and to stifle them is to block your full creative power and potential.  Never fool yourself into thinking that they are the enemy, as I did.  You’ll only block yourself further and perhaps miss out on your big aha.

So, how are you letting your creativity flow these days? Have you ever had an epiphany through a daydream?  What was it? I’d love to hear i the comments.

Or, if you really want to talk about how daydreaming and exploring your creativity can solve some of your adulating problems, get in touch for coaching at

support@ashewoodward.com.

Is It Really More Mature to be Modest?

While I was at a friend’s house the other day, her teenaged son emerged from his bedroom, barely said four words and left out the front door. 

My friend shook her head and said, “He’s so arrogant right now.”

Of course we all know that teenagers have their phases, and celebrity-level self-importance is one of them, but I also know a great deal of adults who haven’t moved on from this phase either.

But I wonder…

Is it more adult to be humble and modest, or is that how we’ve been taught to follow the pack and settle for average?

My friend’s son left the house and went where he wanted, without permission.  He just took it. Freud would say he’s acting directly from his Id where pure desire is king.  Yet, that grab life by the ‘you-know-whats’ is very enticing.

But as we grow up we often dim down this behaviour because we’re taught that acting upon pure desire without regard for anyone else is just plain selfish, immature, and makes people not like you very much.  Freud calls this later inner critic the the super-ego. 

Having an inner-critic that reminds us of our values and how to use proper judgement in society and personal relationships (think: the opposite of the Kardashian women).

But again I wonder…

Could it be that this behaviour of practised modesty and humility be exactly what holds us back from exploding with purposeful ambition? 

Is it also what annoyingly stops us from just graciously accepting compliments on our success, without the extra caveat of, “Well, I had a lot of help,” or “It was nothing, really – anybody can do it”?

What more can I say to that?

“Oh, ya, I guess it wasn’t a big deal. Sorry for saying so.”

Really?  Now I’m apologizing for complimenting you?

Not that we should love it when people toot their own horn or think they can walk over others, but it’s so refreshing to meet people who will take a compliment for what it is and appreciate it with pride. These people say thank you with intent and they acknowledge you for acknowledging them.  It doesn’t even seem arrogant – just appreciative and very mature.

Anything less actually makes me feel foolish for complimenting someone in the first place and leaves us both feeling awkward and small.

We may not like it but the Kardashians sure are good at getting what they want and they have no shortage of success – even though it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly that success is in…

Thirtysomethings are struggling enough while we’re defining who we are and what it means to be an adult. Let’s not take away the successes we’re actually having by downplaying them like they’re nothing. 

If you acted bravely enough and grabbed something you wanted, be more than a little proud.

It’s okay!

You don’t look like a selfish teenager.  The difference is that you’re going to accept praise graciously and with class.

Secondly, you are more likely to bring more success and achievements when you are confident in your abilities and what you’ve achieved.  Whether you believe in the Law of Attraction or not, no one – not the Universe or a potential client or headhunter – can deny the attraction to someone who knows what they’re doing and can represent it well.  This goes for everything from being a power player in business to being a great parent, son or daughter, or even friend.

Think about this:  someone notices that you’re being a really solid shoulder to cry on for a friend and they tell you so.  You can either respond with,

“Oh it’s nothing; he just really needs me right now.”

Or you could say, “Ya, It’s what I’m good at so I’m happy to help.” 

If you were the one giving the compliment here, wouldn’t you be more likely to want to be friendly to the second person in future?

There are so many ways to play small and this is only one of them.  Next week’s post will be another look at how we diminish ourselves and shy away from our biggest and brightest game.

And if you’re ready to big up your game right now, get in touch for a FREE coaching strategy session.  In one session we can design a game plan for you that will get you going on the path that’s right for you and wastes no time getting you to success.

Find out more at ashewoodward.com or contact support@ashewoodward.com

Celebrating Our J’s: How to Really Support JLaw and The Toronto Blue Jays

I recently heard somewhere that when a sports team isn’t doing so well people will refer to the team as ‘they.’ Like, “They suck this year,” “They’re not doing so well,” etc. But when a team starts to do well, the language changes to ‘we‘: “We’re doing great this year,” “We’re going to take it all!”bjteam

Of course, I really got thinking about this because of my hometown team scoring a big win this week. And although I truly am
a Boston Red Sox fan, I can’t ignore the amazing energy in the city right now and not want to be a part of it. So I am definitely guilty of this bandwagon psychology, I guess you could say. Go Jays Go!

Anyway, this ‘we’ and ‘them’ stuff also got me thinking about some other hot news this week. Jennifer Lawrence (JLaw), star of The Hunger Games, wrote an essay about her discovery of her lower wages than her male counterparts in a Sony film when Sony was hacked last year. In it she says, “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable f— that!”

As a woman, I admit I have participated in this phenomenon as well. More than once have I stayed silent, just so no one was put out. Don’t cause a fuss is a common thing for us ‘good women’ to think because we don’t want to put anyone out. But, who exactly are these people that women are offending by asking for an equal share? Who is put out by a woman receiving the pay she deserves or what is at least the equal to a man doing the same work?

But we can only go so far to blame the show or the companies or the industry before WE all admit that WE contribute to this outdated treatment of women. Even JLaw admitted that she wasn’t mad at Sony when she found out about the pay discrepancy: “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.” The gist of her reason was that she didn’t want to seem like a brat or spoiled for asking for more money. She writes that she also realizes now that there wouldn’t have been the same thought of a man for asking the same.jl3

Applause to all the men who support women receiving equal pay, like Bradley Cooper for Jennifer Lawrence and like the recent scandal on the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. Martin Sheen and Tom Waterston came forward and agreed that they should receive less pay than Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, two female stars of the show.

Not to get too cheesy, but we ALL need to contribute to empowering ourselves, our team – us humans who want the world to keep progressing into a greater and greater place. This is a human problem, not an industry problem, and WE are all responsible for how we got here and how WE get out.  WE all deserve equal pay.

If you are aware of any woman earning less pay for the same work as her male counterparts, you have a responsibility to yourself and all of us to speak out and correct the error. WE all will be better for it.

And while I have your attention, and in the spirit of a great week in baseball, let’s all stop saying, “He/She throws like a girl,” in a negative way. WE need to set a better example for OUR next generation of awesome girls and support them as strong equals.

For more kick-ass thoughts to fuel your thirties or your next big life change, check out ashewoodward.com for more great articles and the down low on private coaching.

Make your first appointment!

Jennifer Lawrence and bird photo adapted from vanityfair.com/at premier from hitfix.com

Blue Jays photo from thestar.com

Is Your Ego Keeping You Too Safe in Your 30s?

Today was the date of a goal I had set at the beginning of the year. Did I reach it? Yes! Time for celebration, right? Or at the very least, special Sunday pancakes with raspberry syrup (my personal favorite).

But before the celebration could begin, my first thoughts this morning were all about how everything could go wrong. I had the craziest thoughts flash through my head like a horrible YouTube ad you can’t skip. And even my beloved pancakes couldn’t pull me from under the covers.

See, I had this goal to create a course that will give my readers and clients a way to connect and share their thoughts, challenges and achievements in their thirties. Today was the day for me to publish the group and get things going. I am a little ahead of the game, luckily, but for some reason the impact of it is only now catching up to me.

Out of nowhere, I started to see how my dreams of speaking and working with more and more clients would take me away from time with my husband and my family. I even had tears on the move as I imagined how I could die in a plane crash if I eventually took the course on the road. I felt the responsibility of being a good host and event leader press the covers over my head. I curled up in terror at the thought of keeping my life the same, but I shuddered at moving forward and putting myself in danger.

When my alarm officially went off, I was shaking. It was like my body was physically rejecting the change I wanted for myself. I wish I could say that my smart, self-motivating, professional self just brushed it off, but it wasn’t so easy. Even closing my eyes to get on with my usual morning meditation wasn’t helping.

I felt like my world and my dreams were crashing down once again and I’d be frozen where I am forever. And worse, here I am telling the world to go for it and I can’t even get out of bed.

Finally, I took some breaths and used my coaching basics to ask myself:

What’s really going on here?”

The answer I knew right away. My ego was up to its old tricks.

The ego is the self and your identity. The ego knows me as one thing and likes to be comfortable. It’s never crazy about learning new things because it doesn’t often use the subconscious to help it out (which would make things much easier).

My new venture will shake the identity that my ego has known thus far and so she was throwing a tantrum because she was being threatened.

Realizing this helped me to brush the devil off my shoulder and get out of bed but it still left an icky residue with me for the rest of the day. Later on, I thought maybe taking a shower would help. But sitting at my desk all squeeky clean I knew what I had to do to shake off the dirty ego that was acting out.

Take action anyway.

So if you’re in the Toronto, Canada area CLICK HERE to join the Being Thirties Meetup. We’re meeting for a second time this Wednesday and looking forward to the larger course in September.

Get all the info for the larger course HERE.

And if you’re outside of the area, I’d love to hear your comments and stories on how you’ve conquered your ego or are working on it.

See? Once you just go for it, what’s there to be afraid of?

If you want more examples of how coaching can help you reach your goals, go to ashewoodward.com or email directly at support@ashewoodward.com for private online sessions.

Photo courtesy of rebellesociety.com

The Placebo of Perfectionism: How to Tell the Difference Between ‘Must’ and ‘Maybe Later’.

There are some amazing and unique ways that us thirtysomeones stick out and shine, and one of my personal favorites is our resilience. There are some huge challenges that we face in our thirties and so many of us answer challenges by responding, “Because I have to,” and we inevitably get the job done, whatever it is.

For example, having kids or a high-powered career takes its toll on your time, your resources, your sleep schedule but you know you have to power through, ‘because you have to.’

But since last post, I’ve been wondering how much of this statement is true, and how much is placebo. Do we really have to? Or are we putting unneeded pressure on ourselves? What would really happen if we didn’t do all the things we say we ‘have to’ do?

Do we ‘have to’ make dinner tonight or is it okay if we have take out twice this week?

Do we ‘have to’ finish the to do list at work or can we delegate more and enjoy more of what’ s left of the summer at home?

Of course, we ‘have to’ do certain things to keep our kids, our partners and ourselves happy and alive. But we also have to be clear about what is a need, versus what’s a story we’ve created about the importance of perfection. In other words, are we overusing the words ‘have to’ to fulfil an impossible ideal and run ourselves ragged in the process?

Personally, the words ‘have to’ rule my life when it comes to my work. Because I work for myself, it can be tricky knowing what is positive self-motivation, and what is my overactive perfectionist brain talking. Like a placebo, that perfectionist inside can be very convincing sometimes and it’s only after a while and a bit of stress that I notice I was following the wrong advice. The key to discerning which shoulder is speaking is sometimes easier said than done but here are some key words to look out for – warning words that your perfectionist brain is taking charge of your life.

1. ‘Have to’

2. ‘Should’

3. ‘It’s important’
As I said before, some things truly are important, like feeding the children and walking the dog. But when we hear, ‘it’s important’ before driving to eight stores all over town just to get matching party hats for everyone that’s coming to our kid’s first birthday party that she probably won’t remember… alarm bells…

To tell the difference between authentic ‘have tos’ and the perfectionist ‘have to’ try this:

Ask yourself ‘For Who?’

In the case of moms, many times the answer is ‘me’. Because kids don’t really care. So in the end, you’re putting restraints on your own time, because of yourself. It’s a vicious and often unnecessary circle.

This is also true for a lot of perfectionists in general, myself included. Here’s my own personal rule I have for this that might help you at the office.

If I’m trying to be good at my job and my perfectionism rears its beautiful head, I allow it. But, I don’t let it tug at me when I’ve left the office. In other words, I don’t do extra work at home to pick at it. If it doesn’t happen during working hours, it’s not going to happen and I might have to look at a different area of my own personal development, like time-management.

You can also ask ‘For When?’

Deadlines are great for goalsetting and being productive, but if you’re filling your day with deadlines that are self-imposed, it’s time to rethink the schedule. Try and organize your deadlines and projects for the ones that are truly going to matter for where you want to be in five years. Unless you want to be crazed super-scheduling machine with no downtime, I suggest you move some things around.

It’s funny how we all know that perfection is impossible yet so many of us continue to chase it. If you feel like you’re running yourself ragged, don’t forget to look for the warning words and how your own perfectionism placebo might be running the show. If it is, schedule in some time to evaluate how much of yourself is being given to an imaginary expectation and if you really want that to continue into your future.

Happy August (enjoy the kids while you can!) and have a great week.

Please comment if you have a story or a comment about perfectionism and how you stay balanced. I’d love to hear it!

See more about me and my professional life coaching services for thirtysomethings at ashewoodward.com