Warning: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Warning: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Do you ever have a project running along and feel like you have it all under control, then suddenly something comes up and completely derails it?

Have you ever called tech support over a problem which you have worked on for hours and hours if not days and the tech solves it for you in a couple minutes by telling you to do a simple step you hadn’t thought of?

Are you scared to start something because you don’t know what to do and fear failure?

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know. I spent a number of years in the military and we used the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” always to remind us that there were things about the situation which we didn’t know. Really though, this has a much deeper meaning.

The idea is that there are different levels of understanding. You have to have at least an idea of where you are with a particular subject. Otherwise you will be hit by something unexpected or end up spinning your wheels on a subject where you really don’t know much about.

The different levels of understanding are:

· Unconscious Incompetence

· Conscious Incompetence

· Conscious Competence

· Unconscious Competence

In the first two questions, I asked at the beginning of the post, you are operating in unconscious incompetence. For the project, you didn’t know about the outside factor that was going to wreck your project. With the tech issue, you simply didn’t know about the simple solution to the issue you were having that the tech support person had seen hundreds of times before.

Besides wasting your time, the greatest danger from unconscious incompetence is that you don’t understand all of the risks involved with something; just like a child doesn’t realize that a hot stove will burn.

Conscious Incompetence

With conscious incompetence, we move to the place where we realize we don’t know much about the subject matter. This is also the stage where self-doubt creeps in. This can range from learning to drive a car to starting a new job to getting married.

This is where the person who is frozen by doubt and/or indecision is stuck at. The key to moving past conscious incompetence is realizing that everyone is at this point sometime in their life with everything they do. Don’t let the lack of knowledge lead you to failing to start or quitting. You will make mistakes. It’s all part of the learning process.

Conscious incompetence isn’t all bad. By realizing you don’t have a good grasp of a subject you will save yourself time by asking for help. If I haven’t encountered a situation before, I will reach out to my network of friends and acquaintances to see if they have and if they have a solution.

Conscious Competence

Conscious competence is where you have a reasonable mastery of the task. You can perform it if you remain focused and on task. A good example of this is a teenager who has been driving for a year or so. Most teenagers once they get their driver’s license feel that they have complete mastery of driving. However if they get distracted by a passenger, texting, or something they haven’t experienced before the results can be deadly.

The greatest danger of conscious competence is complacency. You haven’t reached mastery and need to continue on with practice and gaining additional knowledge.

Back to my military days, another saying was “as you train, you will fight.” Under the stress of battle, you don’t have the power to concentrate on a particular task. It has to be automatic. This automatic reaction comes from:

Unconscious Competence

Unconscious competence is the highest level of understanding. You know it without even thinking about it. You can perform the skill (at this point, it can be called a skill) with ease even under pressure. You might be driving and have an animal run out in the road in front of you. Automatically you check your mirrors for other cars. At the same time, your foot starts gently braking. Your mind taking all of the factors into consideration has you swerve to the left without slamming on the brakes and you drive on with you and the animal unharmed. All this happened in a second or two. With conscious competence, you would have had to think of each of the steps and it would have taken much longer to react.

This level of performance has also been called muscle memory. Your muscles and nerve connections trained by hours of repetitive movement will automatically move in coordinated movement. This is how world class tennis players can serve consistently and accurately. This is how when I was in the military was able to shoot on the move extremely accurately.

Unconscious competence takes dedication. Once it is reached, it is beauty in motion.

Everything is Unknown…Until You Know It

The key to all this is to understand you are always starting out from a position of unconscious incompetence. Slowly you will find yourself in conscious incompetence. Move past the self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Work at being better until you reach the point of mastery where it just feels right.

Are you at a place in your life that you just realized you were operating in unconscious incompetence or is there something that you want to develop to a point of unconscious competence? Let us know in the comments.

Former Green Beret Mike Martel is the founder of AchieveTheGreenBeret.com and author of Get Er Done – The Green Beret Guide to Productivity. Mike focuses on helping individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses get results and improve productivity. For more information, click here.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

The Perils of Busy Life and What to do About it

The Perils of Busy Life and What to do About it

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”

Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever felt that you have the compulsion to fill your time with something to do? This is as though life is an endless stream of activity in order to keep one fully occupied.  It does not matter the activities that you are engaging in, be it listening to music, playing games on the internet or checking updates on Facebook…as long as you are occupied and busy.

That’s what I had been feeling and experiencing in the past until I realized what was I doing.  It is in the nature of the mind to be restless  and abhor “vacuum”.  The commonly heard phrase “monkey mind” aptly describes it. 

My stress and anxiety level shot up dramatically when I was still leading a busy way of life.  I felt like life was tiring as I was propelled to go through the motion. There was always something that I “need” to do such as by enrolling in a night course while taking a full-time job.  Do not get me wrong here.  I am not against taking a night course to upgrade oneself.  But for myself, I did not see the point in taking the course other than simply to fill up my time and to “feel good” by being busy.  I was really exhausted by the end of the day and almost always had the constant feeling of out of breath.  Not to mention the sleep problems that I had quite frequently in the past.

I was not the master of my mind.  I am a slave to my own monkey mind. 

This went on until I suffered from anxiety breakdown and had to see a doctor.  My life was falling apart and suffered bouts of anxiety attacks.  This was also occurred in the face of demanding workload during the day.  I remembered the doctor advising me that I have to change my busy lifestyle and to be more relaxed.  Fortunately, my situation was not serious and, as such, I did not need to take any medication.

Then I realized that the root cause for my leading this busy life is the feeling of emptiness and discontentment that I held for quite a number of years now. 

At this point of time, I decided that I needed to make a drastic change to the way I lead my life.  I told myself that my primary goal in life is not to chase after materialistic things in life.  I told myself that I could lead a happy and simple life, while still enjoying financial abundance.  I am turning inwards and slowly uncover the spiritual side of me.  In the process, I learn to be my authentic self and to choose stuffs that I like to do.

Practising mindfulness meditation has helped me tremendouslyLife becomes less busy now.

Specifically, I started to practice mindfulness meditation regularly.  The technique that I am using is breathing meditation.  Through being aware of my in breath and out breath, I gradually am able to be more mindful of my busy mind.  Gradually, I learn to pause more often during the day and to take a few deep breaths.  This also helps to strengthen my intuitive ability. In the process,  I could more easily detach myself from my thinking or monkey mind.  I am now more like a spectator to my busy mind; instead of following every single thought or impulse, I allow some breathing space before deciding either to let go of the thoughts or to follow them. This is one of the key methods that I use.

 Having a mind filled with gratitude solves many life’s problems.  Always try to find the positive side of things, no matter how negative it might appear. 

Practicing gratitude is not as easy as it sounds.  How can I be grateful for something negative occurrence? Then I realize that, always try to find something positive in the painful process.  Thought, I might not like certain things that happen in my life,  I will feel worse if I condemn it further. When I make a commitment to fill happy and contented with the things that I have accomplished during the day, I discover that the level of busyness in my life dies down as well.  My mind stops telling me that “Hey, that’s all you’ve got. Do more!”.  I am able to be more relaxed and feel more at home.

Finally, leading a simple way of life also helps.  By having less needs, I find that I am more at ease, more tolerant and having less needs to prove myself; the level of mental noise subsequently reduced. 

Contrary to conventional practice of having to accumulate massive wealth and to enjoy life of luxury, I discover that leading a simple way of life is the way to go.  I have no one to prove myself to.  As I find out later that this simple way of life lessens the frequency of stress and anxiety in my life but the level of the busyness as well.  There is no doubt that financial abundance which ultimately leads to financial freedom is one of the most importants goals I would like to achieve.  However, I realize that one can still lead a simple life.  There is no conflict between the two.


Hi! My name is Mulyadi Kurnia.  Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, I am currently residing in Singapore. To date, I have stayed across several countries, including Indonesia, Singapore, USA (Evanston, Illinois and Ithaca, New York) and Australia (Melbourne).  I enjoy exposing and immersing myself in different cultures.

I enjoy nature and do not indulge in materialistic world.  As I grow older, I find greater interest in the spiritual aspect of life as well

I have started blogging since June 2011. Starting out as stress and anxiety management blog, the content of this blog has expanded to include other topics in the health and wellness sector; I have also created a free e-book “5 Key Tips to be a Happier You”, downloadable now at the blog Stop Stress and Anxiety


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

The Top 5 Reasons To Try Yoga This Weekend

The Top 5 Reasons To Try Yoga This Weekend

We all have hundreds of thousands of thoughts running through our brain every minute. Most of us get so caught up in our daily lives that we don’t take time step back, relax and breathe. This is exactly where the practice of yoga comes in. Yoga literally means to unite [the mind and body] – a practice that helps you get in touch with yourself, cultivate stillness and change your life.

  1. Yoga helps you learn about your body.

Learning about the freedoms and limitations of your body is pretty amazing. The moment that you realize you can bring your nose to your knee is invigorating, but not being able to pike into handstand is quite humbling. Yoga is a lifetime practice. Our bodies [and minds] are different each day. Becoming in-tune with yourself physically leads you to become more in-tune with yourself mentally and emotionally as well.

2. Yoga inspires healthier eating habits.

Once you become more in touch with your body, there is usually an effort to begin watching what you put in it. It may start with kicking your soda habit, maybe even lead to buying your own full-blown juicer – either way, there’s a conscious effort that arises to take care of yourself.

3. You’ll begin reacting to stressful situations differently.

You know those annoying situations that just make you want to scream and pull your hair out? Well, those won’t go away. What will go away is the quick reaction to freak out – through breath and meditation, yoga truly teaches us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

4. Surround yourself with people who will only lift you higher.

Yoga exudes positivity. Once you start practicing you will find that you’re a more positive person, which can really elevate the relationships in your life. It will also draw you to inspiring people who you might have walked right by before.

5. Yoga encourages a confident lifestyle.

Essentially, yoga helps you find “control over your life.” Physically, mentally and emotionally, you find a healthy balance and self-control. This all leads to a happier life with a more confident and peaceful you.

To get started with simple yoga basics right now, click HERE for super easy & free lessons!


Sam Negrin is an avid yogi and the founder of All Good Health in Los Angeles. She is also the Editorial Coordinator of LEAFtv – a fresh, easy to consume, how-to concept covering all things living, eating and fashion.



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

The One Thing Holding You Back In Life (And How to Overcome it)

The One Thing Holding You Back In Life (And How to Overcome it)

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”


Lisa was dazed and confused. Totally lost in life, she was feeling like she was in a life she hadn’t chosen, feeling listless and trying to figure out why she didn’t feel like herself.

She told me about how messed up her current life was, and how nothing felt right.

“My marriage feels like I just fell into it.  It just… kind of happened. I don’t know how. I was just told that I should be married before 30, so once I hit 30 I kind of panicked and married the guy I was with. In retrospect that probably wasn’t the best choice.”

“My work is a chore. My parents were immigrants that raised me to work hard and pay the bills. That’s what work was for, right?  So I’m stuck in a job I absolutely cannot stand, except I don’t really see a way out. I picked a job for the money, and now with three kids I can’t exactly ditch it just to go “find my passion.”  I did what I was supposed to do, so how come it’s backfiring?”

And finally, she told me about her overall personal life:

“Honestly? It feels like I’ve created someone else’s perfect life… but not mine.  In fact, I feel like it’s all a dream. It doesn’t feel like me. It feels like I just ‘woke up’ and this life was here, husband, kids, job and all. And I feel out of place… it feels weird. This isn’t the life I wanted for myself, but how can I change?


Lisa’s ‘problem’ is an incredibly common one today: It’s what happens when we spend our entire lives doing what we intellectually “should” be doing, rather than doing what we intuitively want to be doing.

So many of us feel dazed, lost and confused because we spend our entire lives trying to create this image of who we should be… without ever considering who we really want to be.

Think about it: many things we do in life are often the result of shoulds rather than wants – we make our decisions based on what others are doing, or what others are expecting of us.

It’s often an unconscious assumption.

Just look at work.

What happens when we’re confused about what work path to follow? We usually look to the people around us.  We get the “safe, secure job.”  We do what our parents told us we should do. Or we just do what everyone else is doing.

What happens when we’re confused about relationships? Lisa told me how she reached 30 and didn’t know what to do next in her relationship… so she just did what everyone else told her she should do – get married and have kids.  She looked around at her friends – they were all married and had kids, so she just assumed that’s what people do.

When I spoke with Lisa, I asked her one question that was the real bombshell:

“Well, what do you want?”

That question was so unusual to her that she didn’t even know how to respond, and she wasn’t quite sure what to say.

So much of her life was formed around ignoring her intuition and just doing what she thought she should be doing. No wonder it was such a tough question to answer.


If you’re struggling to find meaning in life and you’re feeling that you woke up in a life that’s not yours, let me suggest something simple that changed my life:

You don’t have to live your life the way everyone else does.

What do you actually want?

Sometimes it’s not an easy question to ask.

But just think back for a moment:

Is your work something you consciously chose, or did you fall into it based on your college major, something a friend or parent suggested, or just based on the income it would provide?
Is your leisure time filled with things you have consciously chosen that interest you?

And your overall life: Does it feel like a piece of art that you have careful and deliberately crafted, or does it feel like something that just kind of fell together – like paint splattered on a canvas?

What do you actually want?

When you start to consciously assemble your life, it feels like it’s yours, and not just some accident.


What About You?

Whether you’re in a transitional period, feeling lost in life or stuck struggling to find your purpose; rather than trying to do what you think you should be doing, intuitively what do you know you must do?

Deep down, what is it that you really want to do?


Alexander runs Modern Health Monk, a site that shows you how to reverse health problems caused by 21st century life. Check out his free weight loss crash course, or his free courses on fixing lower back pain and chronic health issues.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

3 Reasons Why Other People Matter

3 Reasons Why Other People Matter

If you would like to live a good life and be happy, what are the things that count?  The science of positive psychology is the place to find the answer. … and a big part of that answer is your relationships because other people matter.

A Harvard study that followed 268 sophomores from the late 1930s and early 1940s over the course of their adult lives showed that the single most important predictor of successful aging, defined by physical and mental health and satisfaction with life at age 75, wasn’t cholesterol level, treadmill endurance or intelligence. It was having close relationships. Based on the extensive data collected over seven decades, the author concluded: “The only things that matter in life are your relations to other people.”

Chris Peterson was one of the founding fathers of positive psychology, and a visionary in the study of character strengths and virtues. He wrote a great deal about the Good Life.  He said positive psychology could be summed up in three simple words “other people matter.

There are many ways you can interpret those words and all of them have value.  Here are three reasons why you should follow that mantra.

  • Makes you a more whole person
  • You should see the world from their perspective
  • They need you too

We will describe these in greater detail including some of the thoughts of Chris Peterson. If you apply them, then you will find that your life is indeed richer.

Makes you a more whole person

Being a more whole person implies a richer quality of life. How does that come about? Consider your leisure time activities.

Working out alone in a gym is a discretionary activity, and it has benefits, but it is not seen as leisure. The same workout routine, done with others and not just next to them, becomes leisure, perhaps more fun and perhaps more likely to be sustained.

You clearly should be doing the right thing.

If we want people (including ourselves) to do the right thing, we need to encourage agency and communion. We need to do whatever we can to make people happy and satisfied. We need to put a human face on “those” people who may be affected by our actions.

Many of your actions can be improved in small ways. For example you should go out of your way to express appreciation and gratitude for what others are doing. Few of them are mind readers. Let them know that they matter. They might benefit. And you certainly will.

You should see the world from their perspective

It is too easy to assume that other people see the world as you do. As the old saying goes, you should walk a mile in their shoes. Many of them may not even have a friend.

Who in our circle might most benefit from having a friend? Probably not those who are already popular. When was the last time you (or I) set out to befriend a person who was a bit isolated, a bit awkward, or a bit difficult? Maybe you are like me, and the answer would be seldom or never.

Perhaps when they have achieved something they are really proud of, no one else seems to notice. Go out of your way to spot those who deserve a high-five.

. . . even small acts of celebration, as they accumulate, can have large effects. The take-home message is simple: Celebrate with those in your family or class or neighborhood or workplace, in whatever ways make sense within your group. Good things may result.

They need you too

… and perhaps this is the most important reason why other people matter.

It starts with your family. Try celebrating more family dinners

Increase the number of family meals you share. Turn off the television. Catch up with one another. Linger at the dinner table. None of this can hurt. And I suspect it will help your kids be better people.

It’s equally true of other people who are in your networks and perhaps even more so for those who are not.

Why not start off each day with that mantra, Other People Matter, and consider two activities that you will make your best effort to achieve by the end of the day. Those other people will appreciate it and it will do you a world of good.

Author Bio: Barry Welford writes for Next Day Flyers and is a frequent blogger on business performance and Internet Marketing. You can find more on him via his .


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

Understanding Yourself Is Incredibly Valuable

Understanding Yourself Is Incredibly Valuable

Imagine a side of you that likes these things that you dislike. As soon as you imagine it, you might be tempted to make snap-judgments about this side, like how it’s a “poor excuse for a human being”, or “a monster”. This judgmental side is also, just a side of you – maybe it’s a side you tend to agree with more. But what about the other side? Why do they think as they do? Talk to it, try to understand it. It’s got a reason for liking what you dislike – and maybe it’s not so scary or bad as you thought.

And remember, neither side can control you. You can step outside both sides and talk to them. This allows you to question feelings of self-loathing or impulsive behavior or anything, really.

All in all, I can say that understanding yourself is incredibly valuable. Once you understand yourself, it’s like you’ve gained a friend, who you can talk with and share your concerns with. Don’t like your behavior? Try to work out a middle ground with the part of you who acts up. Or settle your differences however you like.

But fighting it isn’t always the best solution. Many parts of you can be troubled, causing them to act up, or have problems that they need your conscious help to solve – if you can help them out of their trouble, then they’ll start acting differently, as they see life in a new way.

Imagine if you had a child. If you held them to extremely high expectations, they might try to meet them, but would probably fall short a lot – not only are they fallible human beings, but they are their own person, too, and you may not know what’s best for them, and they need to discover it on their own. In constantly falling short of your expectations, that child might become discouraged or upset, or even angry and hurt at the way you’re treating them. After all, you aren’t giving them the space to be themselves, aren’t backing off and seeing what they are internally guided to. This is what it’s like to self-loathe.

You are your own child. Or, your inner child is your child. Semantics aside, you have a child-like side to you, and it’s important to pay attention to how you actually thrive and that you may not know everything there is to know about how to take care of yourself, and to let yourself grow. This knowledge, from my experience, is found in your feelings, but feelings are often wordless, and don’t make immediate sense. But if you listen, rather than command, if you open your mind to new possibilities, then you will start to understand your feelings. And hey, maybe you will start to appreciate who you actually are, and learn how to talk with yourself in a spirit of true friendship. So instead of chewing yourself out when you mess up, you’ll ask, “Are you ok? What’s wrong?”

Article adapted from the comments of Oliver Kaufman, founder of The World Within. Edited and posted by Matthew, a happy father and husband. He enjoys working on his website which features cool gadgets (here).


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

3 Steps to Stop Being a Perfectionist

3 Steps to Stop Being a Perfectionist

Sometimes, life gives you exactly what you want. Sometimes, things turn out exactly the way you imagined. When that happens, everything is right with the world.

But that’s not what happens most of the time. Most of the time, life is a whirlwind of happenings, like a shaky rollercoaster on old creaky tracks that goes way too fast or way too slow, with deep dives where you’re holding your breath while slipping a quick prayer under your tongue, and high peaks where you feel like you’re ruling the world.

Life is not clean. No matter how rigorous you are, how manicured your lawn is or how clean your house is, you can’t fit life into a neat, clean, organized mold that you can control. No. Life is messy. Look at children, and you will see life. They’re messy, all over the place, and go from bliss to terror in 0.2 seconds.

How do you take life? Are you able to just go along with it, allowing yourself to break down when you can’t take it anymore and live it up when things are good? Do you just trust that it will take you where you need to go even if the road is rocky? Or do you get frustrated, and end up trying to fit your life into the clean image you carry around in your dreams?

As tempting as it may be to ignore it or call it “good work ethic”, perfectionism is far from being good for you. It puts undue pressure on your soul and prevents you from fulfilling your potential and enjoying the wonderful, if messy, journey that is life.

Here are some techniques that will help you let go of your need to make everything perfect and learn to just enjoy the ride.

  1. Let your artistic side out

Art of any kind is not only messy, it comes from the soul. Perfectionists, with their burning desire to control everything, keep a very tight leash on their soul. But in order to be happy and live a truly vibrant life, you have to allow yourself to take off your masks and be naked, authentic. Using your artistic side is a very good way to allow your true nature to come out.

Don’t look for the artistic activity that feels comfortable. Instead, look for something that excites you but intimidates you at the same time. The combination of excitement and slight fear is a perfect sign of something that will help you grow by pushing you out of your comfort zone just the right amount. As a general life truth: If in doubt, always choose the option that is exciting yet slightly terrifying.

Your assignment

Go out and find an artistic activity that freaks you out but makes you feel kind of excited as well. Use your intuition and try to not let the fear of others’ judgment hold you back. Then do it at least twice a week for at least a month, focusing on feeling it rather than getting the technique down.

  1. Embrace failure

As a perfectionist, I bet you already feel your pants on fire. Before you close this page, hear me out.

Failure is the bread and butter of growth. In your clean and controlled expectations, failure doesn’t have a place. But guess what? Like I said earlier, life is messy. One of the most important parts of enjoying life is learning to enjoy the failures along the way because of what they represent – growth lessons.

You can’t make your dreams come true without failing. Failure is an essential building block of success. If you want to be successful and live a fantastic life, you’re going to have to not only accept failure, but embrace it and actively look for it.

Let me give you an example. I am a relatively young life coach. Yet, for the past 10 years I’ve actively sought out my fears, doubts, and inner demons. I consciously put myself in situations where I might make a fool out of myself, get angry, or get frustrated. By doing this, I acquired the life experience that many don’t get until much later in life. By doing this intentionally and always looking for the growth lessons, I was also able to extract priceless wisdom from those failures very early on. Was it tough? Hell yeah. Was it worth it? Oh yes. Would I do it again? Most definitely.

Your assignment

Designate one day as your “brave day”. On this day, seek to fail. Engage in personal conversations, be silly, don’t clean the house, and order pizza for dinner. Put yourself in tough situations and don’t do the things that you normally do for control comfort (like compulsive cleaning). You will learn some valuable lessons, not the least of which will be the fact that failing ain’t so bad after all. Repeat periodically until rolling with the punches feels like second nature.

  1. Make gratitude a part of your life

You are blessed. Look around yourself. You have a place to live, and an amazing life. You might have expectations of what it should be like or different goals and disappointments. But that is just your perception of your life. Your perception is flexible. You can change it at any moment by choosing what to focus on. Instead on focusing on the fact that your daughter just threw a temper tantrum, you can focus on the fact that you have a daughter, that she’s beautiful, smart, and outspoken. You can marvel at her wonderfully strong personality. You can remember the days when she was as long as your arm, and think ahead to the days when she’ll be stealing your shoes.

Gratitude is about realizing that you have a choice. No matter what happens to you, you have a choice as to how you interpret it. Instead of being annoyed that your husband didn’t organize the dishes efficiently in the dishwasher, you can instead be grateful that you have a husband who did work you would have otherwise had to do. Every situation has a silver lining. Every. Single. One.

Gratitude is also about loving life as it is. It’s about realizing that you don’t have to change the people around you or to control everything. You can appreciate what happens to you just as it happens, and everyone around you just as they are. You can welcome every moment as a gift from life, rather than trying to shape it to fit the mold of your expectations.

Your assignment

Every day for a week, start and end your day with gratitude. Before you get out of bed and before you drift off into sleep, take a few moments to think of all the things that you’re grateful for. Don’t just list them out, actually take the time to go deep into the feeling of gratitude. Feel grateful with every fiber of your being.

In addition to this, schedule at least one day a month as a “gratitude day”. During this day, no matter what happens to you, find the reason why you’re grateful for it. On this day, don’t say anything negative to yourself or other people. On this day, be kind – especially to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up or blame yourself for anything. Practice being grateful not only for everything and everyone around you, but especially for yourself.

Before you go…

If you follow these three tips intensively over the course of at least one month, I guarantee you will see results. You will enjoy life more and little things will bother you a lot less. You will be more open, accepting, and loving towards yourself and others, and will see positive results in your life from allowing yourself to connect with your intuition and soul.

But before you start working on these exercises, I want to hear from you. Do you struggle with perfectionism? How has it affected you? What would your life be like without it?


Laura G. Jones helps creative grasshoppers find clarity around their purpose, get organized and focused, and fearlessly claim their potential. Click here to download her free training video on 3 key habits that can help you use your failure to fuel success. When not journaling, blogging, or making natural deodorants with her husband she can be found taking long walks in the forest and cudding with her two kitties, a good (non-fiction) book, and a warm cup of herbal tea.



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

Interview Insanity? How to Regain Your Self-Confidence When Advancing Your Career

Interview Insanity? How to Regain Your Self-Confidence When Advancing Your Career

Okay everyone, say it with me…the definition of insanity is…”doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”. We all know this to be true but somehow it’s hard to break out of the insanity when you’re looking for a job.

I bet you’ve heard it’s a numbers game, right? You probably flood the job boards with your resumes, shake hands while delivering your “elevator pitch” at countless networking sessions, write cover letters to people you want to work for, sit in lobbies in your power suit waiting to be called for our turn to interviewed and follow any other suggestions because you want (no, deserve) a brighter future. Argh!

The sad truth is, the job search world is completely insane. Here’s a little known fact, the job description was created by IBM in 1942. These job descriptions have guided our job search and interviewing techniques for over 80 years! But how has our world changed since 1942? Let’s see, we’ve seen Equal Rights evolve, wars come and go, the demise of the Iron Curtain, we’ve seen our world’s commercial borders diminish with the internet, just to name a few. Each one of these events has changed the course of human resource management strategies yet we’re still playing by the same fundamental ‘square hole’ game where the job description is the square hole and we’re trying to be the square peg that fits. Now that’s insanity! So many people feel powerless in this insane world which is the reason I’m passionate about helping people escape this craziness.

The good news is, it’s not you; it’s the system! Now that you know where the loonies are hidden, here’s how you can take this awareness to use it to your advantage.

Know Yourself For The Interview

Ian MacIntosh wrote a blog post here earlier last week, “Knowing Yourself Is Everything and How To Do It”. In it he said, “If your understanding of yourself is not strong, you are doomed to interact far less effectively with family, friends and colleagues.” Ahh…so true. We think we know ourselves but most of us are still identifying who we are professionally by our resumes and any accolades we’ve received along the way. When we’re in an interview or if we’re networking we tend to rave about what we’ve done and, if we’re lucky, how well we’ve done. This is accomplishment driven style must give way to our new economy’s requirement that we speak more about the contributions we’ve made.

We use the simple CAB exercise to help people reframe their accomplishments into contributions. First find 3 – 4 accomplishments you’ve had in your career that 1.) you’re proud of accomplishing and 2.) you thoroughly enjoyed the process. Then take each accomplishment and identify the following:

  1. Challenge: What was the company’s (or team’s) challenge or goal?
  2. Activities: What activities did you go through to meet the challenge or goal?
  3. Benefit: What was the benefit of the accomplishment to the organization?

A word of caution. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what activities you did that led to those contributions because you were in mastery; or as Mike Martel said in his recent post “Warning: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”, you were in unconscious competence. But think it through carefully because it’s important to be able to convey how you contribute to the organizations you’ve worked for.

Ignore the Job Description

Job descriptions tend to be loosely correlated to the exact needs of the hiring manager so take them with a grain of salt. Instead, go into the interview with an openness to learn more about the position. They will greatly appreciate your depth of interest to learn more about their needs and priorities. And you will surely shine above the other candidates who think they’re the hammer and every job interview is a nail.

In order to do this effectively you need to start asking questions earlier in an interview so you can direct your points of strength at the right target. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say the interview starts with the typical “Tell me about yourself” opener. I encourage people to give a very brief summary and then ask for more clarification about the role. Here’s how it looks:

“Well, I have a business degree in Marketing from University of Missouri and I’ve been very successful as an executive recruiter for several years But you have my resume of course so I don’t want to waste our time with things you already know so help me understand a little bit more about what you’re trying to accomplish with this role so I know which direction to take it.”

The more you know about the position the more you can control the conversation. One great add-on response to any answer they provide is “How so? Tell me more.”  This helps you get beyond those wasted one word answers which is where the important information lies. The key is to learn as much as you can about the true needs and priorities. This will get you out of interview kindergarten and move you to Interview 401 which is where you can regain your confidence.

Remember, This Isn’t All About You

Part of lack of self-confidence in an interview happens because people get completely wrapped around the axel worrying if they’re winning or losing the interview. I’ve seen people focus so much on selling themself that they lose their perspective. They forget that the job is open because the company has a problem.

Think about this. How would you react if a car salesman approached you on the lot acting like he knew exactly what you needed? You see, that’s the byproduct of the old school interview dynamics. It doesn’t work these days. Now it’s more important than ever to learn what’s important from the hiring manager’s personal viewpoint. Asking good questions can get to the heart of a manager’s priorities. An excellent question might be:

“If I could ask you to take a moment and think of 2 or 3 of the best people you’ve known in your career who’ve had this job , what do you feel are the traits they possess that made them successful?

This question allows you to veer off the sterile skills, qualifications and background topics. Building your self-confidence will come when you see the positive reaction in the eyes of the hiring manager when you tap into the question this way. This is about listening for the unsaid and intangible aspects of the ideal candidate which is the richest information.

Like I said, the insanity isn’t your fault. Hopefully now you some clarity on this situation to give you more of an edge than you had before. I believe transparency is vital when living in a seemingly insane world. To me knowing what’s really going on gives me more control and believe me, more control makes me much more confident. I hope it will help you, too.


Since 1995, Gail Palubiak has been Managing Partner of Lehman Gates Executive Search, a successful boutique executive search firm working closely with the leadership at 34 of the top investment firms in the US. She recently followed her passion as Founder of Interview Academy, a job search consulting firm designed to help people identify more job opportunities and get more high paying offers. She can be reached @nterviewacademy or at gailp@interviewacademy.org. InterviewAcademy.org


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

4 Quick and Easy Pick Me Ups

4 Quick and Easy Pick Me Ups

When you’re in a bad mood, it’s easy to wallow in it. But wouldn’t you rather get over the funk and move on? Here are some of the best ways to do just that.

Listening to Your Favorite Music

Between Pandora, YouTube and Spotify, you’re bound to find some music that you love and will lift your spirits. Some of the best songs to lift you up, depending on your music preference, include “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, “Scream” by Usher, “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men, “In Da Club” by 50 Cent, or “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. Dance around your living room like no one’s watching and just let all the stress and gloom seep out of you.

Watching Funny Videos or Looking at Funny Pictures

Image via Flickr by Cesar Vargas

Nothing lifts your mood quite like seeing other people making a fool of themselves on video. A quick search on YouTube reveals a trove of videos of guys getting hit in the goods, bike and skateboarding tricks gone awry, and a lot of people just being stupid. Alternately, funny pictures are a great way to laugh as well. Some of the best are the optical illusion pictures where it looks like a girl is naked, but it’s really her friend’s arm, and, of course, any cat that can’t spell.

Laughing at Favorite Sitcoms

It’s been shown that laughter can have a positive effect on your health. It relaxes the whole body, relieving stress and physical tension, and you remain relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter also encourages the body to produce more infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells, helping the body as a whole to resist disease.

Sitcoms are one of the best ways to ensure you’ll be laughing. Go for classics like “Seinfeld,” “That ’70s Show” or “The Simpsons”, or rewatch episodes of newer shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “Raising Hope,” or “The Office.” Whatever comedies you enjoy best, plan a comedy-marathon with your favorite episodes.

Getting in on the Action Movies

Sometimes, instead of sitcoms, you want something with more action. Watching one of your favorite action movies might do the trick. “Men in Black” is always a favorite, with plenty of action and an endless stream of jokes. Jackie Chan has been in a lot of fun flicks that are perfect for laughs, like “Rush Hour,” where you’ll find amazing stunts along with witty dialogue. Other fun action comedies include the Lethal Weapon franchise and the Transformers movies. By the end of the movie, your mood is sure to have lifted.

These are just a few ways to easily and quickly  lift your mood when you’re down. Consider inviting a friend over to join in on the fun. Having a friend to share it with will make you laugh even more. Do you use entertainment to shake off the blues? What do you do when you’re feeling down?


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

The Top 7 Mindset Secrets for Success

The Top 7 Mindset Secrets for Success

I must admit, when I first sat down to write this article, I wasn’t inspired and had no idea what to write about! As a matter of fact, I stared at the blank screen for a while until I decided to just start typing. Eventually, this article came out.

During that process, I had the realization that I’m not ALWAYS going to feel inspired or motivated, but I must still push through the blockages, resistance, and pervasive fear and get my sh*t done anyway.

“Inspiration is negotiable. But taking ACTION and getting your sh*t done is NOT.” [Tweet this!]

Like everyone else, I experience fear, self-doubt, and uncertainty on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s so bad that I hear myself saying, “WTF are you doing???” or “Why aren’t you THERE already?”

These thoughts and feelings are TOTALLY normal. As a matter of fact, they’re human nature.

To solidify that belief, there’s this great quote (but I don’t know who wrote it or where it’s from), “You are born to win but programmed to fail.”

Though that’s the case, there are some mindset shifts that I practice regularly that have allowed me to WIN in my business and life. Thus, I am sharing them with you below!

My Top 7 Mindset Secrets for Success

1. Feel the fear but learn to love it.

When I speak of fear, I don’t mean like “fear for your life because of a dangerous situation”. The most common fears we experience are irrational and originate in our minds: fear of failure, fear of others judging us, fear of ridicule, etc.

What’s the one thing all of these fears have in common? That is, they come from us being afraid of something that hasn’t even happened yet! Most of us live our lives paralyzed by a fear of something that is actually a “perceived danger” vs. an actual reality.

Start creating a loving and productive relationship with your fears. See your fears as an indication that you are on the right track. When you are scared to do something, it means that that’s the exact thing you MUST do in order to take your life and business to the next level!

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Identify one thing you’re afraid to do. Then figure out the next step, just 1 step. Commit to taking that step in the next week.

2. Pay attention to your ego

Be aware of what the voices are saying in your head. Just observe them. Don’t judge or beat yourself up by thinking, “Ugh, there you go again those negative thoughts!” When you do that, it actually gives MORE FUEL to your greedy little ego. Approach it with neutrality and watch your ego start to quiet down.

Also, see your ego as separate from who you truly are at your most authentic state. Thus, you get the choice to believe it or not (though I hope you choose the latter).

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Today, give your ego a name that’s both enduring and hilarious at the same time! You can always use my ego’s name, “That crazy b*tch!”

3. OWN your unique and purposeful journey

You are where you are because that’s where you belong. No matter what your situation is: wanting to be in a relationship, being unhappy in your job, being too afraid to start a business, etc, This is EXACTLY where you need to be. There’s always a reason why you’re experiencing some challenge or hardship. No, it’s not because the Universe hates you or you’re unlucky. It’s there because there is a part of you that needs healing, growth, or evolution so you can become the person you need to be to have all the things you want in your life and business.

“NOTHING in life is free. You earn your successes through heart, courage, tears, & an UNWILLINGNESS to COMPROMISE.” [Tweet This!]

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Identify one area of your life where you are NOT owning your journey but instead are comparing yourself to other people. How can you shift your thoughts so you can approach this area with more compassion and love?

4. Detox your life of negative people

People forget their power and ALLOW toxic people into their lives and even permit their negative energy to bring them down.

It may surprise you that the majority of energy you receive from other people is going to be negative. They’re either complaining or they’re shooting down your dreams.

Which scenario would you choose?

Option A– Tolerate the toxic people in your life AND their drama so you won’t have to feel alone.


Option B– Be a little more isolated but you get to have peace, inspiration, energy, and motivation that comes from NOT having to deal with people’s drama.

So from this point on, I give you permission to detox your life of negative people who just aren’t helping you move your life and business forward.

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Think about one person in your life who just isn’t contributing to your success. How can you start releasing them from your life? You can also read my article on detoxing your life of negative people for more inspiration.

5. The Universe has your back, no matter what

Ask the Universe for help. You’ve got to let go of your pride and ego that’s telling you that you don’t need anyone else and that you can get this done by yourself.

Do you want to take the long, difficult, and painful way OR the easy way?

It is not a sign of weakness to let go and surrender your biggest problems to the Universe. We all deserve support, insight, and guidance. And if you want to get on the fast track to success or to manifesting what you want, it’s CRITICAL that you develop your spirituality and your relationship with the Universe.

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Identify one goal or dream you’ve been putting the DEATH GRIP on. Now, let go of your struggle to “make it happen” by just surrendering the outcome to the Universe. Try this prayer, “Dear Universe, I surrender my [insert dream/goal here] to you. I trust that you will guide me to the right opportunities that are aligned with my highest good.” 

6. You deserve the best and nothing less

As a matter of fact, you are a Queen, King, Goddess, or God, and you deserve to be treated thus! This means being treated with respect, admiration, appreciation, and love from your friends, significant other, family, coworkers, etc.

Of course, that also means that YOU must act out of integrity and treat others with the same reciprocity.

Deserving the best also means to STOP settling in your career or relationship if it is NOT fulfilling you on all levels. And if you’re not sure whether it’s fulfilling you, then just stop listening to the voices in your head and tune into your heart instead.

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Identify one area of your life or business where you are SETTLING for less than what you want or deserve. Commit to taking the next step to start fixing that!

7. Be fully committed

Most people see commitment as a bad word! People often associate commitment with a prison cell, a death trap, a physical constriction in their chest, or the taking away of their constitutional rights.

“Commitment means doing whatever the hell it takes to achieve something you are passionate about & dedicated to.” [Tweet This!]

Commitment, ironically, is a GAINING of freedom. When you STOP devoting energy to your LACK of commitment and the doubts and fears that are associated with that, then you no longer have to waste your energy on wondering if this goal or dream is important enough to you. You just start taking big action that matches the level of commitment to your dream or goal.

Speaking of levels of commitment, if you commit yourself only 99% to your cause but still leave the back door open “just in case”, you’re not going to achieve what it is that you’ve set out to do. So commit 100%!

My “Don’t just talk about it, DO IT!” tip:
Identify one dream, goal, or area of your life that you are NOT committed to 100%. What needs to happen to get you to fully commit?

Now I want to hear from you! What’s YOUR favorite success principle that helps you be total BADASS in your life and business?

Chinh Pham is a coach, speaker, and badass Goddess. She helps people release the crap that holds them back so they can step into the most powerful version of themselves and become total badass in their biz and life!

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To learn more about Chinh, check out her virtual home, Facebook, and YouTube channel!



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.