Life Hacks To Be More Productive

Life Hacks to be more productive

 

As girl bosses our to-do lists are miles long, aren’t they? I know that for me, I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my list. Between running your career, your home, your relationships, and your family, it can be downright exhausting and overwhelming.

 

Well, over the years, I have developed some efficient strategies to get more done with less effort and in less time. And I’m going to share them all with you today. Are you ready for my proven life hacks to make you even more productive than you already are? Seriously Boss babe, these really work, and are so helpful that they are like gold.

Here we go:

 

Getting household chores done with ease:

Do you find yourself unable to find the time for market shopping? Who has that kind of time, right? Well, many stores (Vons, Ralphs, even Whole Foods) have a time-saving service to help you out. Go online, place your order, and they will deliver it. For you that cuts out driving time, finding parking, and

aisle by aisle shopping!

 

How about finding the time to tackle the shower grime? There are several new sprays out there that don’t require the labor intensive wiping down. You just spray and let it do its job. The more you can use these types of time-saving tricks, the more time you will have for those tasks that absolutely can’t be done without you.

 

How about the dry cleaning? I find that this one always gets pushed aside. I literally drive around with the dry cleaning for weeks before making it there. It just always seems so inconvenient. Well, there are several cleaners that offer pick up and delivery and get this….at no charge! They even sell these discount cards (I bought one for $40) with tons of discounts to use. I think I made back my $40 in the very first order! They have a set schedule where they pick up or drop off two times a week. I bring my bag to work, and they pick up and drop off there. So easy!

 

Banking: do you go into the branch? Not me! I am a huge fan of the mobile deposit available by most banks. What a genius idea! By using that, I hardly ever make a stop to the bank. It literally saves me a trip, parking, and standing in line for a teller. No time for that ladies!

 

Car maintenance: we’ve got to keep our cars in working order, but it can be tricky to fit that into the schedule, especially if you need your car pretty much all the time. So here’s what I do. I call for an appointment, and schedule a loaner vehicle. It is no charge at all. Then, I drop off my car, grab the loaner and get on with my day. No sitting around in the waiting room, no wasting time. And, on top of that, when I go pick up my car it is serviced and freshly washed too!

 

Prescriptions and refills. Don’t you absolutely hate going to the pharmacy and waiting in line with lots of other sick people to get your refills? There is a way to avoid all of that! Most pharmacies offer an online or phone service to place your refill order. It’s a quick few minutes at whatever time is convenient for you, and then they mail them directly to you! No driving to the pharmacy, no finding parking, no lines to wait it, no germ-infested transactions. This is truly the way to go! You just have to be on top of it to order with enough time to have them mailed out.

 

And continuing with the health to do’s, when you need to talk to a doctor, you may want to try the new concept of “phone appointments.” Now this may not be available by all caregivers, but I do know that Kaiser Permanente offers this. It is a fantastic service! They schedule a time for the call with either your doctor or a nurse practitioner. They are always right on time when they call you. And then, they don’t even charge for that “doctor visit!” Can’t ask for more than that!

 

Still on the medication topic, do you have some pills that you have to take every day? Do you just go through bottle by bottle, one by one each morning or evening to take them? That can be tiresome and takes quite a bit of time to open each, dole them out, etc. I like to use a weekly pill box (with the days of the week on it). And then each Sunday I fill them up for the week. It takes away tons of daily effort. So then, each morning when I’m usually trying to get out of the house to work or a meeting, all I do is open that day and all my meds are right there! One easy step that saves time.

 

Doesn’t it seem like there is always a birthday of a friend or family member? Rather than going to buy each card as the birthday comes up, why not buy cards for the birthdays or events for like the next 3 months? That way, it takes one visit to the store, not 3 or 4. And then you don’t have to remember to pick up a card before the next event. At the same time, I pick up wrapping paper for all of them too! When you can group the tasks, you will be so much more efficient!

 

Whenever there is a festival or art fair, I make it a point to go and buy most of my gifts for the next 6 months. That way, I have them ahead of time which takes away the worry and panic of trying to find a good gift at the last minute. Also the goodies I find are usually unique and artistic, like a beautiful necklace or earrings, etc. something artsy and fun.

 

And of course, I’m a huge fan of online shopping. Yes, I once loved the mall stroll. Going shopping for the day, browsing through stores. But, with the fabulous invention of online shopping, my shopping has become so much more efficient! No more circling the mall parking lot in search of a parking spot. No more traffic headaches. No more trying to find an attendant and then a cashier. I honestly go months and months without ever stepping into a mall or physical store.

 

And my last efficiency tip for maximum productivity is about my travel cosmetic bag. I always keep it stocked with most of my essentials in travel size. So, my face cleanser, deodorant, creams, toothbrush, toothpaste, pain relievers, hair essentials, bandaids, contact lenses…etc. that way, when I am packing to go overnight or on an extended trip, I just have a few items to add. This makes it so much easier. And for the rest of the items I need, I use a handy packing checklist. No more worrying if I have forgotten something!

 

So girlfriends, make great use of your time, because time is the one thing we never seem to have enough of. Treasure and relish the time doing what you love and being with who you love… and get downright efficient about doing all the other stuff.

xo,

Karen

Is Entrepreneurship Right For You?

Have you been contemplating starting your own gig? Are you looking to be your own boss?

 

There are so many upsides to being an entrepreneur. You get to set your own schedule, when to work, how to work, and where to work.  This allows you to set up a remote career if you choose. What exactly is a remote career? It is the ability to work from anywhere you want. You could be sitting on a beach with your laptop—and there you go! There is incredible freedom when it comes to entrepreneurship, since you can create your “office” in basically any setting. For those that want to travel, this can be a much appreciated perk of being an entrepreneur. Imagine sitting in a European café handling your biz remotely. Nice huh?

 

I actually started my architectural business while raising my kids. The flexibility of my schedule as an entrepreneur was a huge plus so that I could be the one raising my kids as it allowed me to coordinate time to be at all their events and activities. There is something to be said about the freedom that owning your own business brings. You can literally create it in the way that suits you best.

 

Another perk of the “be your own boss biz” is the room for financial growth. There is immense financial opportunity since the sky is the limit. There truly is no cap to the amount of money you could potentially make. Since you are the captain of your own ship, you can decide how to navigate it, what course to set, and the speed you want to take to get there. On the other hand,  as an employee you are typically paid a set amount, and that is your cap.  Working harder does not guarantee that you will make more as an employee. Unless your work is commission-based, you are more than likely capped at your salary.  This benefit can also be a double-edged sword, but we will get to that later.

 

As your own boss, you also don’t really have to answer to anybody else. That can be tremendously liberating. That feeling that you could potentially be fired or reprimanded is GONE! And, you really are in charge of your own career destiny. There is an overwhelming feeling of ownership and pride that comes with being an entrepreneur that is not easy to find as an employee. Feeling that pride in a job well done may be hard to come by as an employee. Yes, you may be able  to feel that on a project you are working on, or the part that you worked on and can take credit for; but you rarely get to feel pride in the entire production, outcome, or process. As an entrepreneur, you connect so much more deeply with your work as it basically has your name on it. That feeling of pride in what you build is rewarding beyond measure.

 

Running your own business definitely gives you the opportunity to follow your dream. You create the vision for your career, and you create the business to achieve it. As an employee, you are typically following your boss’ dream. You may be fully supportive of it, and you may be 100% aligned with the vision your boss has set, but there is nothing like charging after your very own dream. That can be exhilarating.

 

But…there is a downside to consider. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point those out too. In 2015, studies show that only about 5% of the working population are entrepreneurs. That number has gone up to approximately 7% in 2017.  With such a low percentage, there must be some serious downsides or everybody would jump on board the entrepreneur train. Let’s take a look at some of the negatives to running your own company.

 

One of the biggest has to do with money. Here is the double-edged sword I mentioned earlier. As an entrepreneur, you are not guaranteed a steady paycheck which can be stressful. Counting on a regular paycheck becomes a thing of the past when you make the decision to go it alone. And for many new businesses, financial stability takes a while to achieve. Studies have shown that it typically takes a new business three years to reach a profit.  And studies indicate that first time entrepreneurs only have an 18% chance of succeeding. Yikes!

 

Given those statistics, entrepreneurship can be a risky proposition which many people cannot stomach. You must have the stamina to undertake starting a business, since it will not reach profitability overnight. It will take lots of grueling hours, a whole lot of faith in it and your abilities, and the motivation and drive to sustain you.

 

Entrepreneurs can also find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance since you are not really clocking in and out of your work. Most employees apply themselves at work during their work hours, and then can separate themselves from it, leave the office, and enjoy their personal lives. For entrepreneurs this separation becomes a bit blurred. Whether you find it difficult to break away from work or if it stays on your mind well after “office hours,” it can be a struggle to create a healthy balance that your family would appreciate. While many people think that you can work less hours as an entrepreneur, it is completely the opposite. Typically entrepreneurs work much longer hours, with an ever-increasing list of duties. You will have to take on administrative tasks that may not have been a part of your job as an employee, and you now also have the task of managing employees which can be difficult at times.

 

Another downside to being an entrepreneur is that it can be lonely up there. While it sounds exciting to “have it all,” it can be a scary and lonely place when you are the one fully responsible for your company’s success or failure. The stress associated with this responsibility can be a tough one to control or manage.

 

So now that we’ve covered the ups and downs of the “be your own boss gig” do you feel that it is something you want to try? Or have I scared you away?

 

I can speak from experience that while the challenges as an entrepreneur have been great, the rewards have been even greater. Mark Twain says it well…

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Mark Twain

 

If you are ready to embark on entrepreneurship, check out the YouTube for how to start your own gig here….

 

And if you are wondering if you have the personality to go on your own, check out this podcast….

And remember to “like” either one if you find it helpful!

 

Until next time—

Stay inspired

xo,

Karen

Clearing The Clutter

Do you feel overwhelmed by never-ending clutter? Whether it is a cluttered desk, a cluttered closet, for us gals a cluttered handbag, or for any of us a cluttered mind…clutter can inundate and engulf us. It seems to slowly creep into our lives without us even realizing what is happening. Like for example, where do you keep your mail? Is it an ever-growing pile that just gets stacked and stacked, or shoved in a drawer that gets more and more difficult to close? It is so hard to keep on top of it.   Isn’t it?

The extent of our clutter becomes really apparent at certain times like when we are selling or turning in our lease on a car (and trying to clear our stuff out), or digging around in our big stylish fashionista bag for our keys, or when it is nearing tax time and all the receipts and files you need are in cluttered disarray.  You know what I’m talking about...

There are many reasons we collect things. Some of the things we hang onto have sentimental value, others though unused for years, are items we think we will definitely need one day in the future. And who wants to feel silly for just having thrown out something you haven’t used in years or maybe even ever…that a week later you finally need?

It can certainly be a struggle to actually rid ourselves of that clutter. Scientists have even shown that when we let go of something to which we feel attached, the two areas in our brains associated with physical pain actually light up. So that unsettling discomfort when purging these things is real.

But…did you know that it is more detrimental to keep it all? Clutter can have a very negative impact on our brains. It impairs our ability to focus and think cognitively. A study was done at Princeton University in which neuroscientists measured the performance of people in an organized versus an unorganized setting. What they discovered was that the amount of clutter in our surroundings affects our performance because it pulls our attention away from the task at hand.  Excess belongings in our environment result in less effective performance and a higher level of induced stress.

The physical clutter surrounding us causes our stress levels to spike as it overloads our senses and distracts our minds. Our ability to think clearly, be creative, and complete projects are dramatically affected by physical clutter.

But clutter doesn’t just come in physical form. The physical is the clearest to see, it is apparent to everyone who walks by your desk, gets in your car, or comes into your home. But it is the mental clutter that has exploded upon us as of late. The Facebook notification, the latest Twitter feed, and our addictive tie to our cell phones is just an example of the mental overload we feel. It is digital clutter and it is everywhere!

When we are mentally overwhelmed by our schedules, the compiled to-do lists we store in our heads, or the relentless pull of social media, our minds are not able to fully engage in the creative flow or the process of synthesizing our thoughts. Our thinking becomes splintered as we try to mentally multi-task. Our brain feels divided and our memory, ability to stay on task, and thought processes suffer. Physical and mental clutter have the same negative impact on our well-being.

 

They can give us the unwelcome feeling of overwhelm and chaos. Now let me tell you how much I dislike chaos, and why I strive to keep chaos out of my life as much as possible. Chaos is “complete disorder and confusion.” It is like a constant and annoying mental tug of war. It clouds our thinking, clutters our thoughts, and confuses our reasoning.

Did you know that there really is something called chaos addiction? It is real. While most people try to avoid drama, research shows that others have figured out how to trigger the body's stress response, just for the rush. They have come to rely on that rush…it somehow makes them feel alive. Chaos junkies feel that rush when chaos is happening around them. It is the adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) that they crave. As they become dependent on this substance, they develop the addiction. And soon enough, their chaos becomes a way of life. They begin to replace one chaotic event with another in an endless cycle.

Chaos addicts are typically always about 15 minutes late to wherever they are going. That’s because they tend to do just “one more thing” before heading out. This makes them late, which causes stress and induces chaos—just what they are looking for. They also typically have a mess that surrounds them. It can be their closet, their surroundings, their desk, you name it. This tends to make them lose items, like not know where their keys are, or their cell phone. Again stress inducers that feed their need for adrenaline to feel alive.Take the test and find out if you're creating chaos in your everyday life!

 

Directions: Answer the following questions ‘True’ or ‘False’

 

* Do you usually raise your voice and scream to make your point?

* Do you ramp things up to win every argument or discussion?

* If you get sick, do you feel that EVERYONE should know about it?

* When you argue, do you ever break stuff or knock things over?

* Does being calm or bored sound like the worst possible thing to you?

* Do you ever scream at strangers when you feel that they are in your way?

* Do you hate it when you are not the center of attention?

* Is there usually a crisis to solve in your life?

* Do you break up or threaten a break up with a mate often?

* Are you usually the one who starts fights or arguments?

 

Results: If you answered ‘True’ to five or more of the questions above, you are addicted to chaos!

 

 

In light of all this, what we inherently need and should actively strive for is clarity

This is my mantra:

                                                                Clear the Clutter

                                                                Clear the Chaos

                                                                Clear the Chatter

When I am designing a space, whether it is an entire home, a kitchen, or even a small workspace at home, I strive to create a clear place for everything. I like to include a built-in space to charge electronics, a drawer with perfectly placed outlets at the vanity for the blow-dryer, curling iron, etc. a cabinet with a pull-out drawer for the coffee pot so it doesn’t clutter the counter, a laundry chute that lands right into the laundry room so no hampers needed, etc. Anything I can think of! The more thought out, the less clutter later.

“Clear the physical clutter and you make room for simplicity and ease.

Clear the mental clutter and your soul makes room for inspiration and joy.” –K.O.

So Girlbosses, this week free yourself from the clutter and the chaos surrounding you, whether it is physical, mental, or even emotional.  Clear your mind from all that doesn’t serve your dreams and aspirations. Streamline your thinking by streamlining your surroundings and lifestyle. Embrace peace of mind and patience. By letting go of the drama that chaos stirs up, you can begin to create a new normal—one that brings clarity, calm, and renewed focus.

xo,

Karen

The Beauty of a Personal Invitation

The Beauty of a Personal Invitation

In this tech-savvy day and age, most of us send out and receive invites by email. Yes, it’s convenient and efficient. But, there is something so intimate and personal about receiving an invitation in the mail. Don’t you agree? It definitely feels thoughtful and sets the right tone for the event or gathering. The invite alone speaks about how formal or casual the event will be. Things like the selection of paper and fonts are the very first thing a guest will see, and they set the tone for the event.

 

But I know Girl Bosses how busy we all are. Our days are filled with to-do lists a mile long, and we are running around trying to accomplish our goals, balance our work and home life, and not miss a beat. So what if I shared a life hack with you today? What if you had a really easy way to create invites that spoke volumes in terms of creativity and style, but they were as easy as 1-2-3?

 

Recently I came across a company called Basic Invite, and they really are anything but basic! Their templates, selection of beautiful incredible selection of colors, font and layout options sparked my creative juices instantly. They literally have more than 180 color options. It’s like the huge Crayola box we used as kiddos!

 

Since I am a bit of a perfectionist, I really like the fact that you can see previews of your invite instantly online where you can make lots of changes and see what it will truly look like. And even better, they let you order a printed sample of the invite you design so you can check it out before your guests would. You can feel the quality of the paper, the printing—it takes all the guess work out of the process.

 

The other feature that got me excited is that you can have the recipient’s address printed directly on the envelopes. Fancy! There is no added charge when ordering your cards. Crazy right? And the envelopes come in so many beautiful colors. 40 color choices!

 

What about the working Mom on the go that’s trying to throw together a great graduation party for her teen? Basic Invite’s got you covered! They have a treasure trove of college graduation ceremony invitations, beautiful graduation announcements, and so much more! The Hollywood Graduation invitations and / or announcements are the cutest way to make your teen feel like the star that they are! When I saw those, I was suddenly wishing that my kids were graduating again so I could throw them a cute Hollywood themed celebration!

 

Well, with fun summer get-togethers around the corner, lots of graduations to celebrate, wedding showers etc., this may be just the personal touch your party needs. I know that for me, I plan to send out my “change of address” and housewarming invites this way when Jeff and I get to Arizona. Oh, and for the procrastinators amongst us, it is not a lengthy turnaround time. They literally arrive in 5 days.

 

When you want to entertain with style and flair, hop on over to check out all their fun options. If you use this code 15FF51 you will get 15% off.

And what Girl Boss doesn’t want to be the hostess with the mostest?

 

I’m all about bringing creativity and style to everything I do.  And celebrating accomplishments and special moments in life are what leading an exceptional life is all about! By the way my lovelies, if you have a fabulous party—don’t forget to invite me! :)

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XO,

Karen

The Great Balancing Act

Today’s BLOG topic is Balance….isn’t this the age old issue? How often do you feel pulled in too many directions—work, love relationship, family, friends, etc. What is the key to juggling it all and feeling like it is a well-balanced composition?

So my girl bosses the first question to ask is What does it mean to be well-balanced? To me, it means that you have a handle on the the various elements in your life and don't feel that your heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated.

The very first thing is to acknowledge that you are the CEO of your life.  Life does not just happen to us….we happen to life.

We are the designers of our lives, and we don’t just r-e-a-c-t to life, but rather we c-r-e-a-t-e it.  So step number one is accountability and responsibility in regards to the composition that is your life. Though you may think you don’t, you have the control over your life rather than your life controlling you.

Everything in life is a distinct choice that we are given. Sometimes we are headed on a path and we vigorously push ahead until we realize that our life is slightly off-kilter—that it lost its balance because we were pushing so hard in one direction that the other aspects of our life got left behind…

If there is one portion of  your life that is drawing a disproportionate amount of energy, other parts of your life will undoubtedly be shortchanged. That can throw you off-balance. We have to deal with any areas that are consuming too much energy and put them in perspective, in alignment with all the other parts of our lives. Imagine walking a tight rope or the balance beam like in gymnastics. If you are feeling a pull too far in one direction, you get wobbly and you try to regain your balance, but chances are—you will fall. There is no doubt that creating and maintaining that balance is no easy task!

Sometimes,  we are weighed down with what we think is a necessary routine. Working long hours at a job that feels unfulfilling, with very little sleep and little to no leisure time, or relationships that feel unhealthy, draining and not good for us. We may feel like we are all over the place, and generally out of balance.  That reality doesn't have to be the norm if you truly long for something more. You probably have a dream life you aspire to. And you think that one day you will get there. But, creating this balance in your life will get you there sooner and with more clarity and focus.

Your best and most exceptional life won't look like someone else’s best life. We each have distinct needs, desires, strengths, skills, and talents that make us who we are, and for that very reason we each have different visions for our lives.

 

So, how do you begin the balancing act? Here are 5 ways you can begin:

1. Self-care is the first step.

Everything starts with a solid foundation. This is essential for health and well-being. As much as we know we should practice healthy habits, we often let them slip. Do you find yourself prioritizing the needs of friends and family, without remembering to make time for yourself? You need and deserve a healthy foundation in order to thrive. This means restful quality sleep, fresh and healthy rejuvenating food, consistent exercise, time in nature, and space for quiet, mindfulness, and reflection.

2. Envision what balance looks like for you.

Having a vision for your very best life that is unique to you is what will keep you on course and guide you to reach your goals. But it must be accompanied by— consistent inspired action. Once you identify your goals, and plan them into your life, you can take the inspired action to set them into motion. I’ve got a great little quiz to determine if you have the balance you want in your life. The link is below…

 

3. Smell the roses.

Don't neglect the joys and pleasures of life NOW. Often we can be so focused on the future, on the goal we want to achieve, that we are not truly present. We can unfortunately tune out the here and now. There are inspired moments and beauty wherever you look. Spend time with loved ones and friends who lift your spirits. Let yourself laugh. Choose relationships that invigorate, engage, and excite you rather than leaving you drained. Make time for playfulness. Be sure to incorporate joyful moments that nourish you.

4. Let it go.

 Don’t consume your energy towards anger, regrets, resentment, or grudges.

Carrying around anger, resentments, and grudges slowly gnaws away at you, creating emotional and psychological stress, and even physical ailments . When you clear this baggage and let it go, you allow space within you to open and room for a better balance.

 

5. Schedule it ALL!

Set aside a time for each aspect of your life. Assign an appropriate time for each activity based on priority.  Develop a schedule that you will stick to.

 Create a distinct time for each aspect of your life.  It’s not about doing everything all of the time, because that can just make you go nuts! It’s about moving back and forth between aspects of your life. Lateral movement versus only linear one-directional movement is the key.

Let me give you an example:

If you don’t have the intimate love relationship you dream of, then you need to commit to some time where you are in pursuit of it.  For example, create a time where you can do some online dating or networking. Maybe make time for a new interest that may help you meet new people.

If you are in a relationship—make it a point to prioritize that relationship each week.  As you all may know, I’m a huge fan of date night. Get into the habit if spending quality time to nurture and maintain that relationship.

There is no doubt that life is inherently a balancing act. We try to move ahead, pursue our passion and purpose, achieve our steadfast goals, and never lose sight of the balance we seek for all the various aspects of our lives.

Let me give you a metaphor or an image that I think explains this really well.

In my office, we are always working on lots and lots of projects, we have a tremendous amount of work to balance. What I always tell my team is to think of it all as a juggling exercise. For each project in my office,  (or think of it as each aspect of your life), you have to keep the balls in the air. You don’t want any one ball to fall to the ground. So the moment you tend to one, you are throwing that ball into the air, then you have a bit of time to focus on the other ones, before you need to tend to the first one again. For example, you may go on a wonderful vacay to spend intimate time with your significant other, (that’s ball one in the air) then when you get back you will need to focus on the other aspects that have been waiting for your attention…So on and so forth.

So Girl Bosses, know that  the search for balance is a life-long endeavor.  We try to balance our work, our family time, and our personal moments.  When one area of our lives becomes too dominant, the other parts suffer as we fail to strike that balance.  Many of us stay on the endless treadmill that we think will lead us to a happiness triggered by success and achievement. But, we often find that we are running and truly getting no closer to our pursuit of happiness. Instead, we often exhaust ourselves in the process.  Without balance, we feel unsteady.

For this week Boss Gals, look within yourself to understand the elements that are in need of balance in your life. To help you with that,  I’ve got a great balance quiz to determine where you need to re-calibrate. Here is your link:


And remember Boss Gals: Only a life that is balanced is genuinely poised for happiness.

So find your unique balance and maintain it, because it makes all the difference in the world. And until next time, stay inspired.

xo,

Karen

Moving To AZ

We’ve talked a lot this month about decision making. A couple weeks ago, I shared my tips on how to go about making great decisions…from information gathering to intuitive thinking. I stressed the importance of looking at both external and internal information.  But what happens when the decision is not a solo decision, but a couples decision? How do you do that?  That is a whole different thing. A decision with a partner requires a whole lot more synergy, compromise and communication. It’s like going from freestyle dancing to ballroom dancing. You can’t each be flailing all over the place. You’ve got to be in sync.

 

Some of you may know that Jeff and I have made the big, bold, and kind of bad-ass decision to uproot and move to Arizona! Neither one of us has ever moved to another state, so this decision is a biggie. I want to share with you how we got to this decision, what our process was, and how we navigated this as a couple. Hopefully it will shed some light on decision making as a duo.

 

About 1 ½ years ago, I could see that Jeff was getting really dissatisfied about where we live, the changes happening in California, the ever-increasing traffic, and the overall quality of life that California was offering us. Now, this was kind of a big deal since he has always absolutely loved Redondo Beach. He grew up in the South Bay and has said he would never leave!

 

So you can imagine my surprise…

Especially when I had just sold my home in Huntington Beach, and made the move to the South Bay, and we had designed and built our new home which we absolutely loved. I had thought this would be our “forever home,” so I had never even contemplated the idea of moving, let alone to another state.

 

But when you are in a relationship, your partner’s needs matter, and so I wanted to explore the idea with him. At first, Jeff suggested places that were just too far away, like Belize. And while that sounded like  tropical bliss, I just couldn’t move so far away from my grown up kids, and from my California office which I am NOT planning to shut down.

 

Then, on a weekend getaway to Palm Desert for my birthday, the topic came up again. We were floating in the pool when I suddenly thought and said, “How about Arizona?” To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how that thought even entered my mind. It kind of surprised us both!

 

We both love hot sunny weather, it was a quick 1 hour flight or a do-able car ride. And just like that, the minute I said it, Jeff went running with it! Within 2 weeks he had researched lots, had discovered that Fountain Hills (just outside Scottsdale) had the hillside lots we wanted and the small town feel.

 

So the day after Thanksgiving, we drove out to Arizona for our “fact-finding mission.” We wanted a lot instead of a house that was already built, because we figured that we would design and build it, like we had with our Redondo Beach home.

 

And after 2 days looking at about 30 lots, we picked the one on Keota Drive. It had a view of the golf course, 4 peaks, and even the Fountain Hills 500’ fountain! We celebrated our decision by going back to the lot at sunset, sitting on the tailgate of Jeff’s truck, and sharing a bottle of wine. And so it began…

 

We made an offer, bought the land, and I started designing! Once the home was designed and construction drawings were completed (by me and my team), we drove back out to Arizona, and set up a pop-up tent for interviews with 8 different local contractors. We literally created a makeshift office right there on our dirt site.

 

 

 

Unfortunately when we put the bid sets out, we were in for a huge shock! Maybe because these contractors didn’t realize that we are so well-versed in construction (me with my architecture background, and Jeff as a general contractor years ago), they came back with outrageous numbers. Even though Jeff and I are VERY familiar with building costs (in California it is about $300/sf and less expensive in Arizona) these guys were charging in excess of $500/sf! Crazy!

 I suddenly knew that we really needed to wait to build this project until I had established good connections and a solid rapport with builders.

 

But the saga does not stop there…there is more to this story..

 

Jump over to the podcast to hear it firsthand…

 

 

 

And remember…

 

Your life story is written by the decisions you make each and every day

xo,

Karen

Developing A Daily Routine

Build a routine of healthy habits

 

Life is full of surprises, twists, turns, and the unexpected. This can wreak havoc on our mental state—especially if you are a Girl Boss, like me, that likes to be in control of as much in my life as possible. One way to counteract all the out-of-our-control stuff is to create a daily routine which can make us feel more in control, more prepared, and more like the official CEO of our lives.

 

Routines definitely help our mental health, our stress levels, and our overall outlook. And, by infusing your daily routine with healthy habits—you can pave the path for tremendous success and happiness. Here are the benefits of developing  a daily routine.

 

Daily routines have a way of grounding or anchoring us. Unexpected events at work or home can hijack our day, but knowing how your day will begin and end can bring a sense of peace and empowerment. Bringing this kind of structure to our day, helps us to cope with the uncertainty and the inevitable unforeseen events. It literally has a way of reducing our stress levels.

 

Also by developing a routine, you can stop thinking about all the day-to-day tasks you typically do. The routine just flows without mental reminders that can clog up our thoughts. This alleviates our stress while making us feel more in control of our own destiny.

 

When you are the decision to create a solid daily routine, you can build into it the important things that usually get left by the waysides. For example, you know that you want to exercise more but carving out the time proves difficult, so it never really happens consistently. BUT…if that is one of the items in your routine, you will be more inclined to make it a priority that happens daily. All that leads to a MUCH higher rate of success.

 

And finally, establishing a routine is the best technique for time management. When we stick to a schedule, a routine, we are less likely to start wasting our time on distractions such as social media, internet surfing, etc.

xo,

Karen

The Importance of Decision Making

 

Do you break into a sweat when you have to make a decision? Do you go round and round, unable to pull the trigger on a decision? As girl bosses we are faced with TONS of decisions on a daily basis. So….

 

Let me share a story with you about the importance of decision making…..

 

 

A kid walked into a candy store with his dad and was bedazzled by the array of treats on offer.

 

“What should I choose?  What should I choose?  What should I choose?”  He asked himself.

 

“Come on son, we don’t have all day,” his dad said.

 

“These are my favorites.  No wait, these are my favorites.”

 

He walked along the aisles, picking up bags and putting them back.

 

He just couldn’t make up his mind.

 

“Quick son, make up your mind, we have to go,”  His impatient dad said.

 

Frantically, the boy ran around the store, his eyes moving from one shelf to another, but all of the options looked so good and he couldn’t make a decision.

 

Eventually, the dad had enough, grabbed his son by the hand and they walked out of the store empty-handed.  The young boy had tears in his eyes.  He wanted them all, but ended up with nothing because he couldn’t choose just one.

 

We are all that boy and the world we live in is that candy store.

 

We have an endless array of options available to us, but if we fail to make a decision, we too can end up empty-handed. We need to make decisions concerning our work life, our family, our home life, our relationships, our money, where we live, and on and on.

 

And way too often we worry about making the wrong choice. The possibility of regretting our decision instills fear and uncertainty in us. But we need to recognize that the bigger regret will be if we make no decision at all, because this will keep us stuck without any forward mobility. Choosing to do nothing, to not make a decision, is actually a decision in and of itself. The danger is that it usually leaves the outcome to chance. And wouldn’t you rather be the CEO of your life, rather than letting chance take the reins?

 

There is no denying that for so many of us, making decisions is a toughie. Yes Girlbosses, the struggle is REAL! And it often doesn’t matter if the decision is a life-changing kind or a minor one like what you will order at a restaurant. But here is the question and topic for today: Why is it that some people struggle with this so much, while others make it look easy? And, what techniques can you use to improve your decision making skills?

 

LET’S DIVE IN BOSS GALS.

 

Whenever we are faced with a decision—especially an important life-changing decision—the first course of action needs to be information gathering. Find out as much as you can. Research, research, research. Know the facts, get online and dig into the topic so that you know all the factors. Now in this tech-savvy world that we live in, we can quickly get information overload so be careful to not get bogged down with too many facts that you feel overwhelmed and even more confused. You will need to prioritize the information and filter some of your sources. Choose those with the most credibility.

 

In some cases, talking to a friend or acquaintance who might be able to offer more insight can be helpful, especially if you trust them and they know you well. However, there is one thing to watch out for. Don’t simply ask, “what would you decide?” That is not helpful, because they are not you. What would be helpful is to ask something like, “I know you went through something similar—what should I look into or what should I question when making my decision? Were there things that were unforeseen or unexpected that came up for you? What was your experience like and were you happy with the outcome?”

 

The difference with these types of questions is that you are not asking them to make a decision for you. Instead, you are gathering valuable information from a reliable source that may have gone through it. It’s also helpful because it gives you a different perspective. Sometimes we are too close to the problem, and another viewpoint can balance us out.

 

One of the best ways to make a decision is to tune into your gut. This is your internal instinct. There are times that I am faced with a decision, and though I’ve researched it fully, I’m still uncertain. When this happens, I always check in with my body. But here is the tricky part. Your intuition and fear can feel oddly similar, so it’s important to learn how to distinguish the two. And it is absolutely possible to fine tune and improve your ability to discern what your intuition is telling you when faced with a decision.

 

I have three very clear ways that I use to decipher what my “gut” is telling me. These will work just as well for you.

 

The first is to listen to the voice in your head. Now if the voice is high pitched, anxious, and talking a bit fast, then for me I know this is my voice of fear. This is my worrier. And I’m telling you that sometimes I want to just duct tape its mouth shut! This voice is scared to fail, wants more certainty, and is hesitant to take the leap when it comes to a big decision. Yup, that is the worrier.

 

On the other hand, if the voice is low, deep, calm, and steady, then this I know to be my intuitive voice. This voice is my gut speaking to me. This is the voice of wisdom and certainty. This voice feels grounded and centered. This is the voice I really want to hear.

 

Another tip is to quiet your mind so that you can better hear your inner voice. When you are able to quiet the chaos in your head, and quiet the chatter of over-thinking your decision, your intuition will surface.

 

Ok…We’ve established that listening to the voice in your head is the first way to decipher what your intuition is telling you. Now for the second, I check in with my physical body. I ask myself, what does it feel like if I make this decision. I imagine all the potential outcomes, and I observe how my body responds to each. If I feel a pit in my stomach, or a tightening in my chest, or a sense of constriction—then that is my intuition saying it is not the right way to go.

 

On the other hand, if I feel lighter, a sense of expansion, an ease in breathing, and a calmness in my stomach, then I know my intuition is telling me that this is the better choice. Your body will always react to everything, and sometimes with a quicker response than your mind would have. While you are trying to go through the logic and the rationale in order to make a decision, your body already has the answer.

 

Have you ever had that feeling in your stomach even before you know what it’s about? I get this all the time. Sometimes my stomach will get that pit…that sinking feeling..or it will feel like it’s in a knot. (My daughter says that is when she feels like an avocado with the pit!) And then I have to ask myself, “what’s this feeling about?” So this really works both ways, you may get the feeling first and then clarify it by thinking it through, or you may have to think about potential outcomes and that will trigger a physical response.

 

My third tip for making sound decisions in a timely manner is to check in with your life vision. I always talk about the importance of having a life plan, a vision for your BEST and most exceptional life. If you have a clear picture of what that life looks like, it is an invaluable guide for all future decisions. When I am faced with a choice, I evaluate it in terms of how it fits into the vision I have created. Will it get me closer to my BEST life? Is it aligned with my life vision or does it throw me off course and threaten the possibility of achieving my goals and desires?   When there is a solid vision in place, you can use it as a guide for making decisions.

 

One thing to watch out for Girl Bosses….Don’t get lost in paralysis by analysis. That is where you overthink the decision to the point of overwhelm, and you are unable to make a decision. This is the moment when too many people falter. They are so worried about making the wrong decision, that they make no decision at all. It is necessary to make decisions, there is no way around it. And sometimes, you may feel like you aren’t fully certain, or that if you wait maybe you will get more information to analyze. But this paralysis is unhealthy, stressful, and will held you back from real success. Avoiding the decision does not set you on the path towards success or real happiness. It keeps you in limbo where you are not really the captain of your own ship. By not making a decision, you allow for the possibility that it will be decided for you, and that may be the worst possible outcome. You need to make the very best possible decision with the information that you have at hand.

 

 

And finally, once you have made the decision, whatever you do—do not look back and question it. Second guessing yourself can become an obsession that causes you to spin in circles. We as women tend to ruminate much longer on decisions. Seriously it’s in the science of our genetic makeup. But ruminating is usually NOT helpful, not productive, and highly stressful. It causes you to question yourself, lower your self-esteem and confidence, and stay incredibly stuck!

 

If you have checked in with all three of the strategies I have laid out, then you are in good shape. You used the information from the external world by “information gathering.” And, you have also checked in with yourself internally for further guidance. So don’t look back. No regrets! Give yourself the peace of mind to positively accept your decision, be confident in it, and move on to the next decision that will inevitably present itself. These strategies will empower you to make solid, well-thought-out decisions that lead straight to your unstoppable success. That’s how you do it Boss Lady!

 

So until next time, stay inspired, make some stellar decisions, and keep on crushing it!

xo,

Karen

Learn To Become Resilient

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

 

You’ve probably been knocked down by life at some point or another.  You’ve probably faced some adversity or hardship, and maybe you even felt like it would take you down permanently with no recovery. But did you rise up from it to where you came back even stronger than before?

 

That is resilience.

 

Resilience is the ability to rise up from the toughest struggle even it feels like you have hit rock bottom. But why is it that some people have this ineffable quality, while others can’t seem to recover or fight their way up from the depths of that dark well?

 

Studies have revealed the factors that are characteristic of resilient people. Outlook is key.  Resilience requires a positive and optimistic attitude, a healthy view of failure as a learning opportunity, and the ability to understand and control emotions. This positive outlook is vital for your resilience. It is the fuel that allows you to propel upwards, to change your course, and to powerfully carry on.

 

Besides having a healthy and optimistic mindset, other factors also contribute to resilience. One of the fundamental factors is being surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends. Being resilient is more likely when you have loving, caring relationships that help with encouragement and support.

 

What are the other factors that contribute to your resilience?

 

1.       Having a positive and confident view of yourself. Feeling secure in your skills, your strengths, and your ability to handle tough situations.

2.       Being well-versed in communicating and in solving problems.

3.       An “I will not give up” attitude is key to your resilience.

4.       The ability to make decisions, create a well-thought out plan, and the resolve to follow through with it.

5.       The ability to step back from a situation (a tragedy, hardship, setback, or crisis) and see the bigger picture. Rather than responding with blinders on, you need to have a clear perspective of the problem.

 

 

So, let’s say you have read the list of factors and you are worried you may not have all of these. What then?

 

Well, the great news is that all of these are abilities that you can develop and nurture in yourself.  It’s not like you have to be born with these traits; you can start now to build your resilience.

 

10 Techniques for building your resilience:

 

1.       Create your own support network.  Making these connections means you need to be proactive in seeking out others to included in your inner circle. Being a hermit or recluse is not an option. Develop close ties with family members and friends. Creating strong connections to people takes time, trust, empathy, and an open heart.  

2.       Develop a tolerance for the discomfort of facing new and difficult situations.  Rather than reacting to hardships  with hopelessness, you need to learn the skill of seeing problems as fixable and surmountable. You may not be able to control what life throws at you, but you can certainly control your response to it.

3.       Develop the skill of making decisions.  Some people struggle deeply with this.  For them, making a decision is so stressful, and they worry they will make a bad decision—so they make no decision.  Being decisive and then following through on your decisions is key.  In order to become more decisive, practice making decisions every day. Start with some small ones and then move on to bigger decisions that make an impact on your life.

4.       Do not try to control everything. Learn the skill of flexibility and malleability.  What I mean is, go with the flow. Do not resist life’s twists and turns; many circumstance you face are not within your control, so understanding that allows you to accept change in a healthier and more resilient way. I think the saying is, “two things in life are certain: taxes and change.” Accepting that change is a normal part of the human experience builds resilience.

5.       Do not sit back and do nothing. By ignoring problems or turning a blind eye to adversity that you may face just makes it all worse. Many people sit back, look the other way, and hope the problems will just disappear. Trust me, typically they won’t.

6.       Look for the lesson. When you face adversity or hardship, it can be wrapped up in a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself. Resilience can develop new strengths in you that can enhance your life in the long run.

7.       Strengthen your self-esteem.  If your view of yourself is negative, work on seeing your strengths. Pinpoint what you need to work on in order to gain confidence and uplift your self worth.

8.       Build up your intuition and the ability to hear that inner voice. Trust your instincts and the wisdom of your soul.

9.       Build a positive and appreciative outlook.  Try to stop the tendency to complain, and instead see the cup as half full rather than half empty. Write down the things you are grateful for, and each day note one thing that was wonderful about your day.

10.   Latch onto hope.  Remind yourself often that all circumstance can change. If you are facing adversity, know that you CAN guide your way out of it. It does not need to be permanent. There is always hope, even in the darkest tunnels.

 

Bouncing back from any setback is always possible. Overcoming adversity is always possible.

 

Resilience results in recovery.

xo,

Karen

The Art Of Complimenting

Have you noticed that people are a little stingy with their compliments? I’m not sure if women hold back their compliment to other women because there is that hidden underlying envy, or it’s part of the mean girl syndrome…I am not certain why it is, but I am certain that it is!

 

Giving and receiving compliments is truly an art. When done with sincerity and honesty, compliments can have a meaningful and lasting impact. Let’s dive into this subtle art form.

 

So—here is my philosophy on giving compliments. If you are thinking something kind in your head, why would you not share it? Let’s say you are out meeting your girl squad. If you see your gal pal and her skin looks radiant—radiant enough for you to notice—then voice that. I make it a point to voice those thoughts. It makes people feel good about themselves, and the fact that you noticed makes you observant, caring, and engaged. The person receiving the compliment definitely benefits from your kind words, and you do as well. Sometimes you will even get a great tip from the person you are complimenting. Like maybe she will let you in on the latest and greatest skin care product she is using.  

 

Here’s what it says about you when you give a genuine compliment:

You are observant and aware, you pay attention and you take notice.

You are not self-focused, you really look and acknowledge others.

You are confident with yourself to not feel envy or jealousy.

You are caring and choose to make others feel good about themselves.

Your character and spirit is kind and giving.

 

The art of complimenting is a very powerful form of communication. If a compliment is genuine and heartfelt, it has the ability to bring positive vibes to both the giver and the receiver. It has the force to make a person feel noticed, appreciated, acknowledged, and truly seen. The best part is when they are given freely, genuinely, and not coerced or somehow obligatory.

 

I can’t stress enough the importance of being genuine when complimenting. Don’t lower yourself by giving out a phony compliment, because it is usually quite obvious or transparent. A false compliment will only seem dubious and will have others questioning your motives.

 

 

Now let’s talk about receiving compliments. It is truly unfortunate that many of us just don’t know how to receive a compliment. When someone tells you that you look fantastic, do you say something like, “thanks, but I feel so ugly and disheveled today.” Or do you say something like, “Oh, this old thing I’m wearing?”

 

The problem with those responses is that not only do you deflate the compliment instantly, but you also invalidate the other person’s observation or feeling. They love how you look, so why would you strip them of that feeling or sentiment? When you negate their compliment, it makes the giver feel that you don’t think highly of their opinion, that you somehow diminish their observation or make it invalid.

 

 The very best way to receive a compliment is to do so with grace and appreciation—and a smile. You should say a genuine “thank you,” and allow yourself to feel the compliment, to bask in the joy it brings and how it makes you feel. Don’t shrug away a compliment given to you. There is tremendous positivity and energy in a compliment, and if you allow yourself to soak it in, you may even feel it affect your mood and outlook in a positive way. It can quite literally be powerful enough to make you feel like a million bucks, am I right?

 

Compliments can motivate, acknowledge, validate, uplift, and inspire others. So don’t let that moment pass when you are thinking wonderful thoughts about someone. They deserve to hear it, and will appreciate your kind candor. And without a doubt, their “feeling good” meter will surge.

 

Way too often our comments are soaked in criticism or complaints.  Instead, be generous with your compliments, and be uplifting with your words.

 

Here are some really great compliments to consider. Think about how these would make you feel:

 

I love doing life with you.

You had such a beautiful and endless capacity for being kind and caring.

I love how you inspire me always.

Your laughter is infectious.

You have the very best smile.

I love your outlook on life.

It’s amazing the impact you have on everyone around you.

Your skin is glowing.

You really light up a room.

I absolutely love your sense of style and grace.

That is a great color on you. It makes your eyes light up.

You are such a good listener. It’s so clear that you are.

You always have such great ideas!

I love your creativity!

You are one smart cookie!

You are more fun than bubble wrap!

You are stunning!

You sizzle in that outfit!

You are truly a breath of fresh air.

Looking good Girlfriend!

And one of my all-time faves, “Damn that confidence looks sexy on you!”

 

 

While doing my research for this blog, I came upon a story that touched me, and I wanted to share it with you all.

 

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

 

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much" were most of the comments.

 

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

 

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

 

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

 

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

 

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

 

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

 

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

 

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

 

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

 

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

 

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."

 

And then the teacher cried. She had never known the power of her assignment, and the lifelong impact it had on her class of students.

               

 

 

Now that is powerful stuff. That is the power of compliments.

 

 

You know I always like to leave you with a quote to ponder…

Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

 

 

So—when you are thinking good thoughts about someone, don’t shy away from complimenting them. Don’t miss that opportunity to uplift those around you.  Be genuine and make someone’s day….

So girlbosses, let’s not be stingy. Let’s master the art of complimenting….and start to dish ‘em out Ladies!

xo,

Karen Otis