December 2016


“Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons.  Love yourself, trust your choices and everything is possible.” – Cherie Carter Scott from the book One Choice

Happy New Year! I hope you and yours had a great Christmas or Hanukkah. Now that the Holidays are behind us, we can pause, take a breath and examine what lies ahead. I don’t have to tell you that this year was a tumultuous one for our country and the world.  We lost an unusually large number of beloved citizens, the most recent being Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds. And many of us said goodbye to our own dear loved ones, as well.

With so much loss, rancor and division swirling around us, it is important to give yourself time to sit quietly and reflect on your own personal 2016 outcomes before you move on. Like mine, I am sure your year was a mixture of joy, heartbreak, challenge and triumph. By taking stock of what happened, you can discover important life lessons that will help you create your 2017 to be all that you want it to be.

In my 12+ years as a Personal Success Coach, I have been blessed to help over 600 clients reach their Big Goals, so I know what it will take to make your next year turn out even better than this one did. Creating your 2017 your way requires a two-step process and NOW is the ideal time to begin:

Step One: Complete the Old Year.  You can’t create something NEW in a space that is cluttered with old stuff. So, if you want 2017 to be more than just a replay of the same things you experienced this year, you must first complete your old year to make space for your new intentions.

The Reflections Exercise

A great completion process is simply to sit quietly and answer a series questions that make you think deeply about the outcomes of your past year – the good, the bad and the ugly. Answering them honestly will clarify your underlying beliefs, expectations, attitudes and actions that influenced the results you got.

This exercise is designed to help you look objectively at what you did (and didn’t) do that influenced what happened for you last year. Determining accurately what caused your past outcomes helps you to identify new ways of thinking and being that will cause you to take NEW actions.  Taking new actions will bring you new results, while continuing on “auto-pilot” inside of the same thought and behavior patterns pretty much guarantees that next year is going to bring you more of the same.

Longtime readers will remember the thought-provoking list of 30 questions my coaching colleague, Sue Koch, and I have used for many years, called the Reflections Exercise. 

However, this year, I have winnowed the list down to just 12 KEY questions, in hopes that you will take the time to actually answer them!  If you are thoughtful and truthful, it should take just 30-60 minutes to journal your answers. And, if this introspection sets you up for a new level of success and happiness in the coming year, isn’t it worth making such a small effort?

(NOTE: If you DO want to take on completing the entire list of 30 questions, bravo!  I have provided a link at the end of the blog to all 30 Reflections Exercise questions.) 

Here are my selected 12 thought-provoking questions to help you gain perspective on the year just ended and prepare you to create a more successful year to come:

Part 1 – Questions to Complete the Year

  • What promises did I break to myself and others in 2016?
  • What did I do that did not work out?
  • What do I wish I hadn’t wasted my time and energy on?
  • What do I wish I HAD expended my energy and time on, but didn’t?

Part 2 – Questions for Acknowledgment and Acceptance

  • What promises did I keep to myself and others in 2016?
  • What accomplishments and milestones am I celebrating?
  • What is the BIGGEST lesson I learned?  What’s important about that lesson?
  • What am I thankful for regarding this year?

Once you have completed the eight questions in these first two sections, you are ready to take on Part 3 – Questions for Creating Your New Year, including:

  • What do I intend to do differently in 2017?
  • What new skills or practices do I intend to put into place next year?  How would that make me feel?
  • What would I most like to learn or master?  How would that make me feel?
  • What do I intend to accomplish next year that will matter most five years from now?

If you are ambitious, click or paste the following link into your browser to see the entire 30-question Reflections Exercise for powerfully completing your 2016: http://wp.me/pttZj-j4

NEXT WEEK I will share with you my all-time favorite method for co-creating your new year with God/the Universe to be all that you would like it to be.  It’s a great adjunct to the Reflections Exercise. I have loved doing it for myself every January for the past 12 years and I know you will too!

If you would like your own F*R*E*E subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift! 

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

“Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us.  In all likelihood, it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed, other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better.” – Stephan M. Wolf

‘Tis the Season to show heartfelt GRATITUDE for all the good in our lives by doing something to pay that grace forward to those who are less fortunate or who simply need a reason to smile right now.

This past week, my readers told me even MORE great stories about their Pay-it-Forward Challenge results, and I just had to share a few of them with you.  Here is the final installment of your joyful acts of kindness, generosity and caring.  I wish I had room to include every single one!

Acts of Service

  • One reader’s husband built a 5 ft. by 7 ft. sleigh for their church families to take Christmas portraits with. He is a bit disabled, and she feared he took on more than he could handle, so she pitched in and they finished it on time working side by side.  The children and families loved it and she says it was SO worth the effort they made.
  • My friend’s teenage son attends a private religious school that holds a Christmas tree fundraiser each year. I bought two trees and donated them, since I have an artificial tree.  She and her son delivered all their donated trees to various charities, and she sent me a picture to prove that “my trees” had found a good home at Olive Crest, a home for children in temporary foster care.
  • As she does each year, that same friend got up early and spent her Thanksgiving morning serving dinners to the needy before going to her own Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Several of my readers volunteer at local food pantries, which get a load of donations to distribute this time of year.
  • In the news: A deputy patrolling an industrial section of a Northern California city noticed a young African American man in a hoodie walking along the side of the road at night. It’s not an area where you see many pedestrians, so the officer stopped him to see if something was wrong. He was surprised to learn that the young man was “commuting” on foot seven miles each way to and from his nearby factory job because his car had broken down some time ago and he didn’t have the money to fix it.  The deputy insisted on giving him a ride home and later took up a collection among his fellow officers to buy the young man a bicycle and, eventually, a new car.  Now, the young man rides along with the deputy because he is training to become a peace officer himself.

Acts of Kindness and Compassion

  • A reader wrote an individual message on each of her business partners’ Facebook pages about one special quality she saw in them, such as “Leader,” “Motivated,” “Giver, “ They were surprised and delighted to be acknowledged publically by their Team Leader, not just for their accomplishments, but for their character.
  • A reader said the office secretaries at the school where she teaches “do everything for all of us,” but rarely get the thanks or recognition they deserve. She bought each of them a gift card and put it on their desks anonymously, expressing gratitude for their service on behalf of the entire staff.
  • My reader saw a man digging through the dumpster outside her apartment and put together a little “Care Package” for him, filled with personal hygiene items, a blanket, gloves, a couple of homemade sandwiches and some plastic trash bags for him to use when collecting cans and bottles.

Acts of Giving

  • A reader’s young son took all the money out of his piggy bank and she kicked in some more to buy a Christmas gift for one of his class’s “adopted”children in need. “I love teaching him giving early in life. For a six year old to be so excited to give something to another child he didn’t know was amazing!”
  • One reader who works for a children’s therapy services organization coordinated the staff’s annual drive to provide presents for some needy young clients and their siblings. She collected the donated gifts, bought all the wrapping materials and wrapped the presents. Each of the nine children will receive about 10 gifts apiece, for a very abundant Christmas!
  • One reader has collected about $3,000 worth of design books over the years. He plans to donate them to the arts program of a high school in an underprivileged part of his city.
  • A reader knew a couple who both passed away within the last year, leaving their three college-aged sons with little financial support. She continuously donates half of the proceeds from the sales of her skin care products to their college fund, for as long as they need it.
  • My friend Bob Perks used my reader’s generous donation to create the most lavish Christmas party his local American Legion Post has ever had. He sent pictures of the crowd of vets and their families line dancing and enjoying a huge buffet of wonderful dishes, mostly prepared by Bob himself. A singer and DJ, Bob also provided the musical program and arranged for Elvis and Santa to join in too.

Please don’t STOP spreading the joy when the Holidays end! I hope these stories of creative kindness and generosity will inspire you to continue your personal Gratitude-in-Action program far into the future. In fact, let’s make one of our New Year’s Resolutions  to Pay it Forward every day of the coming year!

PLEASE NOTE:  The blog will take the rest of the year off so I can focus on coaching my wonderful clients and enjoying Christmas activities with my friends and family.  A Cup of Caroll will return with a special New Year’s edition on January 1, 2017!  Until then, I wish you and yours Happy Holidays!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on fulfilling them, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

 

 

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words.  Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel 

As this quote reflects and last week’s blog asserted, we truly show our gratitude for all the good in our lives by doing something to pay that grace forward to those less fortunate than ourselves. And after the prolonged personalized, angry and divisive battle that was our 2016 American Presidential Election, I think we all are longing for demonstrations of love, compassion and caring among ourselves more than ever.

This past week, dozens of my readers reported their Pay-it-Forward Challenge results. I was touched, inspired and delighted by the wide variety and creativity shown by their acts of Gratitude-in-Action! Here are a few of their joyful stories of kindness, generosity and caring. I hope they will inspire you to spread even MORE joy during this season of Peace, Love and Goodwill toward others:

Acts of Service

  • A mother and her young daughter collected and shipped 72 pounds of leftover Halloween candy to her cousin in the Air Force in Germany to distribute on base. Many of the donors also included letters and pictures, wishing them Happy Holidays and thanking them for their service.
  • One woman asked on Facebook for Thanksgiving dinner donations for families who are struggling financially. She and her husband collected 30 turkeys and all the fixings and took them to a local elementary school. With the staff’s help, 30 students received a box filled with the makings of a bountiful feast for their families. Next year, her goal is to provide joy for 60 families.
  • In the news: Right before Thanksgiving, Ft. Worth police stopped a number of motorists in older vehicles for minor driving infractions such as not wearing a seatbelt or signaling a turn. As the chagrined drivers awaited a ticket, the officers instead handed them a turkey! Many jumped out and hugged the officers, and some even cried for joy.

Acts of Kindness and Compassion

  • At the store, the middle-aged bagger was methodically putting each item into the bag very slowly. Feeling impatient and about ready to take over the process herself, my reader looked at him more closely and realized he was developmentally disabled.  Her impatience was instantly replaced with gratitude and compassion: “Thank you SO much!  I love the way you organized everything so carefully.  Now nothing will get broken.”  He smiled back at her with shy pride.
  • A reader mailed Thanksgiving cards to all her customers, expressing gratitude for their support and telling them how much she appreciates them. One of them was her own 80 year old grandmother.  Grandma called my reader’s mother to say how surprised and delighted she was to receive this thoughtful tribute.
  • In addition to letting people with fewer items in their carts go ahead of her in the checkout line, one reader also says a silent blessing for them. “I try to see someone that needs something I can provide in one way or another that will allow them to smile. I feel so blessed that God presents those opportunities to me….I need to start doing even more!”
  • One reader’s office does a 40-day Luncheon Challenge where the staff all take a few minutes out of their lunch hour to write a handwritten note of gratitude to someone who has been a mentor, encourager or helper to them or someone who just needs some encouragement at the moment.

Acts of Giving

  • Many readers love to partner with a church, office or charity to “adopt” an underprivileged family and buy each member a gift on their wish list for Christmas.
  • One reader came across a Go Fund Me page to help pay medical expenses for a former high school classmate with a serious health challenge. She donated and sent him a personal note of encouragement.
  • Like me, many readers love to buy a food or beverage item for the person in line behind them. Some do this at the drive through and make a clean getaway while the surprised recipient learns that a “Secret Santa” took care of them.
  • One reader in the Midwest often swipes her own card at the turnstile for the “El” train, when a rider nearby is fumbling for their card or discovers they don’t have enough for the fare. Recently, a stranger approached her and said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that before!  I am going to start doing that too!”
  • After reading my blog about the positive impact of my own small donation to my friend Bob Perks’ local American Legion’s Veterans Day celebration, a reader with a special soft spot for veterans donated $500 toward a sumptuous Christmas party. Bob says the word has spread and attendance is likely to be huge. I am sure the vets must believe they have a special Guardian Angel looking out for them!
  • A religious high school’s fundraisers for the year garnered $100,000, which was donated entirely to charity. A single day was then set aside for staff, parents and students to make voluntary donations to support the school itself. In honor of her grandmother, who had scrimped and saved to put three children through the school on a very limited income, my reader donated $10,000.

As for me, I got to do something I thought was selfless at the time, but which has blessed me more than I can express.  In an earlier blog, I wrote about our beloved four-footed family member, Samantha, who passed away after a brief illness close to her 16th birthday in early October.

We gave away her bedding, toys and leftover food to local rescue organizations and I vowed never to have another dog again.  The pain of losing her was just too much and I never wanted to go through that again.  Besides, I told myself, now we are free of the responsibility and can come and go as we please.

For weeks, the house seemed SO quiet and empty, and one day, I got a sudden strong urge to research local rescue organizations that needed foster parents for dogs waiting to be adopted.  I specifically wanted to help an older or disabled dog that might be harder to adopt.  I believed I could give temporary comfort and care, without the painful attachment of owning (and eventually losing) another dog.

Well, God had other plans for the Schwartz family.  I found a great organization right in our town, The Little Red Dog, Inc. —  named in honor of a female pit bull that Michael Vick and his dog-fighting “business partners” beat to death because she wouldn’t fight.  On Halloween morning, I emailed them and got an immediate call back. The volunteer said there was a dog that had to be out of the foster parent’s apartment that very day and asked if I would be willing to pick her up immediately and take her to the next adoption fair that weekend.

That’s how we found ourselves driving home on Halloween evening with a tiny, seven year old Chihuahua that had been rescued by the side of the freeway.  “Diamond” is the sweetest, best-behaved dog I have ever known and she delights us constantly with her excited tail wags, wiggles, and running all around the house wanting to play.  Now Diamond Schwartz has her forever home with us and our family is experiencing an abundance of joy this Holiday Season that I could never have imagined on Halloween.

Whatever your own resources of time, treasure or talent are, I hope you get the picture that ALL acts of kindness and generosity toward others demonstrate your sincere gratitude. Paradoxically, when we pay it forward to others, it seems that MORE blessings inevitably flow to us, creating an endless circle of giving and receiving and joy.  I would welcome even MORE stories of your Pay-It-Forward Challenge results!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on fulfilling them, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.