Vulnerability can be your superpower!

I sat down with Gary, a tutor and aspiring life coach, to talk about what it means to be vulnerable and how vulnerability can help us, rather than hinder us. I have to admit, not too long ago, I thought being vulnerable (and showing it) was a weakness that would make me seem incapable, less-than and I don’t know, just weak!

I didn’t realize vulnerability was not a weakness at ALL. First of all, there is a BIG difference between being vulnerable and being weak. Vulnerability is being about to open up and let people into your world.

Vulnerability can be the bridge that connects us all together through shared experiences and feelings, such as sadness, worry, happiness, joy, etc. When we can open up about these things, we are allowing others to see themselves in us and and inviting them to share as well.

Listen to the full scoop of this conversation on vulnerability below!

Last year I thought THIS is my year. I’m going to get super fit with killer abs and toned legs and an overall healthy glow. I started off going to the gym everyday, lifting weights, doing intense workouts, making juices, eating salads— the works. Of course, we all know how this story ends, by February I’d missed a few days at the gym, sometimes I’d feel lazy and just want to watch Netflix. I ordered a pizza once for dinner and it all went down hill. By March I was the same old Cat I was back in December 2019. It’s a never ending cycle, every year we make these new year’s resolutions to lose weight, read more, get organized, learn a new skill, save money, and the list goes on and on. In the beginning there is so much momentum and promise and then around February, March, everyone is back to their old ways. The problem is we are going about it all wrong. We rely heavily on our own will-power, knowing all too well that our will-power has failed us time and time again. Why do we think this year will be different if we keep doing the same thing each year? Instead of repeating history, we need to review what works and try that.

You need a system.

Keep in mind, the goal is not the starting point, it is the end point— where we would like to be. The starting point is where we are now. In-between now and the goal is what we need to focus on. Why is that? Because we know what we want (the goal) and where we are now (the starting point) but all the action is taken in-between the starting point and the goal. The actions need to be intentional, repetitive and continual over time— this is a habit system. The habit system is the in-between.

Habit systems work because they are repetitive and automatic, helping us cement the behaviors into our lives. According to Forbes, habits are “a hyper-efficient and economical mode of acting that doesn’t require the high price tag of conscious thought. It’s because of habits that we are able to reserve our brain power for the more pressing tasks that come up.” We don’t give enough credit to our habit systems as the force for accomplishing our goals; yet it is this set of repeated actions taken on a day to day basis that get us one step closer each day.

Start small.

It is nearly impossible to flip your life around from night to day. Instead, focus on incorporating one new thing into your habit system at a time. For example, this year I have the same goal of becoming fit, but instead of trying to do all the things at once, my first baby step is to incorporate some level of movement into my life. To accomplish this, I’ve added it into my morning routine. My morning routine was to wake up between 7-7:30, make my bed, walk my dog, get ready for work. My new routine is to wake up at 7, make my bed, walk my dog, exercise, and get ready for work. Notice I already had a set routine and I am only adding one extra step. In the past I’d try to incorporate all the new habits I wanted to form into my routines simultaneously and would inevitably fail at all of them. Now I just need to put effort into this one task until it becomes effortless and automatic.

Increase gradually.

A good rule of thumb is to be ambitious about your goals and conservative about your process. You want to set yourself up for success and lofty action plans might just do the opposite (remember me at the start of 2020 trying to do too much at once?). Instead of trying to cram all your success into one pretty package, consider making micro-goals that will ultimately lead to your ambitious goal. Using the example above, the ultimate level of fitness I’d like to reach is a daily workout for 30-45 minutes a day, eating healthy, drinking enough water and engaging in active past times like hiking and sports. As someone who currently lacks most of those things, that’s quite a leap! This time around, I’m starting by developing a workout routine. By exercising 15 minutes a day for 5 days, I am building my stamina and the routine of working out. Once I’ve mastered 15 minutes, I can increase to 20 minutes and so on. The point is to set realistic and achievable actions so that you don’t exert yourself trying to do it all at once.

Eliminate disruptors.

Take inventory of your surroundings— what (or who) around you might steer you away from forming your new habits? You want to avoid or temporarily limit your interaction with these things as much as possible. Still using the example above, sometimes I would wake up around 7:30 because I’d hit the snooze button on my phone’s alarm and sleep in a few more minutes. In these cases, I wouldn’t have time to exercise because I spent the time sleeping in. To remedy this, I put my phone on the dresser away from my bed. Now when it sounds, I have to get out of bed to turn it off. This simple adjustment eliminates the snooze button behavior and encourages me to move ahead with my day (because once you’re up, you’re up, right?).

The Bottom Line

Having goals is important and necessary for personal and professional development. That said, they are only half of the story! Building a sustainable habit system is the other half of the story. It is the piece we often overlook or ignore because it is the hardest. Don’t fall into the trap of setting goals only to give up before you even start. Work on your habit systems and your goals will virtually fall into your lap. I’d love to know if you have any tips to forming habit systems. If you’d like to share any, email them to me at here.


Cat Marte is a Success Coach who helps success driven people launch and grow their online businesses. Book your free introductory coaching call today.

When you fall off the wagon, just start over. That is the answer, but where is the motivation to do that? Motivation is a fleeting emotion. It starts off very high and then gradually reduces in potency until we start to wonder why we even bothered in the first place. I’ve seen this many times in my life, especially when trying to pick up a new habit. Sometimes we think to ourselves, “I’ve missed a day or two or ten, it’s no use, I should just give up; What’s the point if I keep messing up?; I’ll never get the new habit to stick.” It’s a whirlwind of negative thoughts that can stop us before we even start. Forming the habit is simple enough, each time we fall off the wagon we start over. If you fell off the wagon on day 15 and missed day 16, 17, and 18, you can start over on day 19- now it is day 1 again. If you have to start over 100 times, you are reinforcing the behavior 100 times. The problem is not “how” to form the new habit, the problem is “why continue to try?” The real question is, “How do I stay motivated enough to start over?”

Anchor yourself to your motivation.

Initially we are motivated by the positive thoughts associated with creating the new habit. You might think to yourself, “If I exercise daily, I will be healthier, happier, more attractive; If I meditate daily I will be calmer; If I budget, I will have more money for me.” To stay motivated, you should make sure your reasons for wanting to develop the habit are strongly grounded in the ideal version of yourself and your values. In this way, your reasons will serve as an anchor to keep moving forward when things feel as if they are falling apart. We need to consistently remind ourselves of the reasons why we started. Before you give up, give yourself a review of the pros and the cons of quitting. Why did you start in the first place? What was your anchor? What will quitting accomplish? How can you turn this around so you can start over again? Do you really want to quit or is that just the easy way out? Asking these types of questions will steer you away from making an emotionally charged decision towards making an intentional decision.

You are in control.

Even with a strong foundation, we may lose sight of the reasons why we started and become overpowered by the negative thoughts. We tell ourselves, “Ahhh I broke the chain, I messed up, I’m just going to give up.” And it serves us to give up because of the beliefs we hold. For example, you might believe giving up will be easier than developing the new habit. You might believe it will take much less time, effort and resources to simply give up. Or you might believe you cannot develop the habit because of a fault in you— you aren’t smart enough, capable, disciplined, etc. Without realizing it, the negative beliefs drain all the motivation right out of you. So how do we get rid of them? First you should adhere to this stoic truth: We cannot control anything beyond ourselves. Otherwise stated as, the only thing we can control is ourselves— our thoughts, our perceptions, or actions. This means we assign meaning to our actions, they do not have meaning in and of themselves. We are the ones telling ourselves that we failed to create the habit because of BLANK. We create the narrative. And if we create the narrative, then we can re-write it.

Try these re-writes when you start to feel discouraged.

Negative Beliefs

  • I’ll never get the hang of it.
  • I just can’t keep up with it.
  • Why even bother?
  • I lack the discipline to master this.

Re-Writes

  • Never say never. I can keep trying.
  • I can start over as many times as necessary.
  • I started because of BLANK, and that’s why I’ll keep going.
  • Discipline is a learned skill, I can learn it.

Rebuild your motivation with positive reinforcement.

The psychologist Ivan Pavlov, introduced us to classical conditioning where something stimulating is paired with something neutral to produce an automatic response. For example, I associate the smell of sunscreen to going to the beach because they have been paired so many times together. Now whenever I smell sunscreen I get a small urge to be laying on the beach. The psychologist B.F Skinner, took it one step further and introduced the term positive reinforcement into the study of behavior. Positive reinforcement is a reward system where you take a desired action and then reward yourself for taking the action. You can use the same concepts of classical conditioning and positive reinforcement to develop your habit. For example, if you want to develop a reading habit, you might pair reading with your morning coffee (assuming you enjoy your morning coffee!). To make it a positive reinforcement, you can only drink your coffee once you read. Overtime, you reinforce the reading habit by rewarding yourself with coffee each time. This is something I use with my coaching clients— we pre-plan how they will celebrate after completing an action step towards their goal.

In review

Forming a new habit only requires repetition. When you brake the chain of repetition, you can always start anew. Keep yourself motivated with a constant reminder of why you started in the first place. Help yourself break out of negative thoughts by re-writing the narrative in your head telling you that you should quit. Turn it into an automatic response by pairing the habit with a reward. And finally, if you need support, look to friends, family and loved ones to help you move forward.


Cat Marte is a Career and Success Coach who helps success driven people advance their careers and launch and grow their online businesses. Book your free introductory coaching call today.

Until just recently, negative thoughts were considered a good thing. You had to be on high alert— one eye open type of living to ensure your survival. Whether the enemy was a pack of wolves, a snow storm, an opposing klan, the black plaque, it just made more sense to hope for survival at best! Nowadays most of us aren’t facing such dire threats. In fact, most people live long and relatively comfortable lives these days (avg. life expectancy is 78 according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Thanks to modern shelter, urbanization, modern medicine, among other factors, our negative thoughts just don’t hold the same utility they used to. Not only are they (mostly) obsolete, often times, negative thoughts are counterproductive to our wellbeing and act as a roadblock in our lives. Unfortunately for us, evolution is a slow and tedious process— meaning these thoughts aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

On the bright side, we can counterattack our negative thoughts and train ourselves to be more optimistic. One of my absolute favorites— the person who reinvigorated my love for Buddhism, mindfulness, and meditation— Dan Harris, talks about this strategic reprograming in his book, 10% Happier. In his podcast, of the same name, he dives deeper into this by interviewing master meditators, healers, scientists, professors, and others alike. This is where I stumbled upon the legendary Joseph Goldstein. Goldstein is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and a master meditation teacher since 1974. A nasal-y voiced, original “JewBu,” Goldstein has taught countless meditation students countless lessons— here is the one that stood out.

Is this Useful?

“Is this useful?” is the question that Goldstein asks himself whenever he is having a negative thought. It is a very simple question, nothing revolutionary, and yet it’s a complete game changer. Think about it. Two paragraphs ago I explained the uselessness of most of our negative thoughts AND, most importantly, how we will continue to have them because they have been deeply infused into our DNA. So why wouldn’t the remedy be as simple as reminding ourself that they are no longer useful? Wouldn’t you stop using the microwave if you realized it didn’t work anymore? Wouldn’t you get a new bike if you couldn’t ride your old one anymore? Of course you would. The difference is that it is blatantly obvious when the microwave is broken or our bike chain is rusted. It’s not so obvious when our thoughts are working again us and that it way we need the reminder.

We cannot reply on intuition to tell us these things because in this case our intuition is working against us. Remember, there was a long stretch of time when negative thoughts were very useful and our evolution as a species has not caught up to the fact that we do not need to rely so heavily on these negative thoughts to survive. Using a gentle reminder, such as asking ourselves “Is this useful?” can help us regain perspective. Here is an example; It is five o’clock on Tuesday and you get told by your boss that you were selected to make a presentation to a client next Thursday. You start thinking about the presentation on your way home and all the anxious, negative thoughts start to swirl, “What if I tank?” “What if the client isn’t happy?” “I’ve never done a presentation, I don’t know what to do.” “I can’t do this.” and on and on. At some point you realize you are exhausted just from thinking and ask yourself, “How useful is freaking out about this presentation to me right now?” The answer is, not at all! The presentation is next Thursday, today is Tuesday so there is nothing benefiting you right now by worrying about a presentation for next Thursday. It is arguably more reasonable to worry about the presentation on the presentation day, especially if it will make you more alert and ready to present. It may even be useful to worry next Tuesday, again if it will make you prepare and practice for the presentation. However, today, at this moment, it is completely useless to worry about next Thursday.

Again, the trick is to make a judgement call on how useful your negative thoughts are. How are they serving you? In the example above I made the point that the negative thoughts may be useful on the day of, if they help you perform better during the presentation. Another example; you signed up for a swimming club but you start to think to yourself that you aren’t that great of a swimmer. This propels you to practice before the first meeting. In this case, the thought was useful because it activated your motivation to become better. Now you are at the swim club meeting and you still think you aren’t as good a swimmer. This is causing you to make silly mistakes and further dampen your mood. Now the thought is counterproductive— it is no longer useful. If you can notice this, you might see the thought as counterproductive and let it go.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that negative thoughts are an integral part of our fight or flight response system. Their basic function is to warn us of danger and help us make survival decisions accordingly. The dilemma lies in that our response is more or less automatic making it difficult for us to tell the difference between an actually life threatening situation and a situation that brings up negative emotions for other reasons. Fear is always a great example because we can fear public speaking (not inherently life threatening) as much as we can fear grizzly bears (arguably life threatening). It is up to us to recognize what is objectively a danger and what we have labeled dangerous in our minds.

Related Article:

Calming Your Brain During Conflict by Diane Musho Hamilton

Understanding the Stress Response by Harvard Health Publishing


Cat Marte is a Career and Success Coach who helps success driven people grow their careers or launch and grow their online businesses. Book your free introductory call today to learn more.

Yesterday I stumbled on a rare sighting: an interview with rapper Joyner Lucas, the artist behind the iconic I am Not Racist song. The first question of the interview was, “Why do you not do interviews?” Lucas said he stop doing interviews when he realized people didn’t really care what he had to say and were just interviewing him for clout. I was crushed. Based on his storytelling style— touching on controversial topics like racism, devilish thoughts, snitching — I knew this interview was worth listening to. I took so much from this interview that I thought I’d share my three takeaways here for those who aren’t familiar with his work or who generally would not run into his music. He has a very familiar rags to riches story that many rappers have, nonetheless, he’s wise beyond his fame and fortune.

3 Takeaways from Joyner Lucas

Be Accountable.

Radio personality and best selling author, Charlamagne Tha God asks Lucas if he feels as if he is not getting the recognition that he deserves as a talented rapper? What Lucas said next surprised me. For Lucas, if he is “underrated” then it’s his own doing. He should be working harder, smarter, trying different things, etc. He takes full responsibility for his outcomes, whereby allowing himself the opportunity to improve and keep working towards the outcomes he desires.This is a classic example of the crossroads between taking a victim mentality vs. a victor mentally. The victim blames their circumstances, their relationships, and everything except them for their situation. While a victor (a victorious person) skips the excuses and uses their energy to find solutions to improve their situation. From his response, you can tell Lucas has a victor mindset. He understands that the only way to grow is to take responsibility for your outcomes.

BE HUMBLE.

In a subsequent series of questions, Lucas is asked how he ended his infamous “beef” with fellow rapper Logic. Lucas tells the story of how he came to realized the beef stemmed from his own jealousy and sense of entitlement towards Logic. He felt he should have been where Logic was in his career and resented the fact that he wasn’t. Once he realized his misdoings, he called up Logic and offered a sincere apology. Logic was so taken aback by Lucas’ sincerity and genuine change of heart that they have since become good friends. What Lucas displayed is a deep sense of humility and ability to evolve as a person. Humility is so essential to growth because it allows us to learn from our mistakes and move past them. Alternatively, if you are the type of person who can never admit you were wrong and always claims to be right, then in your mind, there is no need to grow and evolve because you know it all. This type of person stunts their own growth with their refusal to amend their wrongs.

BE observant.

Throughout the interview, Lucas said several things that resonated with me, however this is one I’ve been preaching for a while now. He told a story of how he visited Mark Wahlberg and Will Smith while he was in LA and was dumbfounded by the sheer size and magnificence of their homes. According to Lucas, Wahlberg told him that his work ethic and drive would get him a similar house one day. For Lucas, Wahlberg, a fellow Boston native, and Will Smith (the inspiration to his song Will), are his mentors and role models. He observes the footprints of those who come from similar beginning and sees the path in front of him. Whether you’re fortunate enough to befriend the likes of Will Smith, or you simply admire them from afar, it is critically important to have role models and mentors. These are the people who will show you the way and reinforce the belief that if they can do it, you can too.

Often times we are quick to judge a book by it’s cover, but if you listen carefully, you might find inspiration and lessons learned in the places you least expect. I’ll end with a great line from Lucas’ song Zim Zimma where he says “I know a couple of rappers that don’t know the business and all they do is rap.” It’s not enough to be great at the thing you do, you have to work on yourself as well, and study those who came before you. You have to know the business practices of success — accountability, humility, and observance are great places to start.


Cat Marte is a Career and Success Coach who helps success driven people break through their self-limiting mindsets and get to the next level in their careers and businesses. Book your free introductory call today to learn more.

It is the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States, and while it has some controversial beginnings, the holiday is centered around the practice of gratitude. For those who celebrate, it is a time to be thankful for all the collective good in their lives. For me Thanksgiving serves as a prominent reminder of what we should be doing daily. Even in the worse of times, there is something to be grateful for, and a daily gratitude practice is the perfect reminder of this. Not only does it serve as a reminder, it is also beneficial to our mind, body and soul. It can help contribute to things such as lower blood pressure, less feelings of loneliness and isolation, and more happiness— all of which will help you be more successful in life.

How so?

  1. Being thankful increases happiness and positive emotions, contributing to the glass half full mindset. It creates a greater sense of optimism, in turn opening up the mind to the possibilities. Someone who believes things will work out in the end is more likely to take risks and put themselves out there to accomplish their goals. On the flip side, someone who sees the glass half empty believes things usually don’t work out in the end and takes less risks to avoid negative outcomes, hindering their chances of accomplishing their goals.
  2. Being thankful improves physical wellbeing. It is no secret that when you feel good you perform better. Someone who is constantly stressed out or dealing with physical health issues, such as high blood pressure, migraines, etc, will underperform. If fact, according to Dr. Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, people who are grateful are better equip to deal with serious trauma and adversity.
  3. Being thankful increases generosity and compassion. Whether it is due to the tit for tat nature of human beings or the the laws of Karma, the fact is, when you are kind to others, there is a much higher chance that they will return the kindness to you. You will get much further in life by being kind and compassionate than you would being egocentric and closed off. It is a matter of logic that the more people you have in your corner, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

Ways to practice Daily Gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal. 

Pray. 

Meditate. 

Perform a daily act of kindness.

Commit to a few “No Complain” days a week.

Resources:

Giving thanks can make you happier by Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

Why Gratitude Is Good by Greater Good Magazine

Successful people have mentors. That’s the answer. Why successful people continue to have mentors is another question. The answer is that no matter how successful we are or how much influence we have, there is always room for improvement. Throughout our lives, we always have the capacity to grow, learn and evolve. Our mentors are the ones who allow us to see what’s possible as we take note of their success and how they achieved it. With that said, it comes as no surprise a large part of our success can be attributed to our mentors and the people we admire. These people influence our direction in life and the way we view it. Your mentors are people who you aspire to be like. People who exhibit the qualities that you seek to attain. Ideally, you would know these people personally and make them a part of your social sphere, but even if such a person has not shown up in your life, you can still identify people you admire from afar. I’ve mentioned in a few posts my admiration for Dave Chappelle as a successful comedian and all around grounded person. 

I missed the Dave Chappelle show era and only recently discovered him a few years ago. At first he was this mysterious comedian rumored to have lost his mind and hid for 10 years while he recovered, but the more I learned about him the more I was intrigued. From what I could gather, he quit the Dave Chappelle show abruptly and was presumed a failure until one day he rose from the ashes and took back his throne as one of the most dynamic and cutting edge comedians of our time. Whether you like his content or not, it’s hard to ignore his authenticity and dedication towards developing his craft. What I’ve admired most about him was his willingness to push the envelope and take risks. He is fearless in his pursuit of social commentary and the art of comedy. Without realizing it, he became my mentor. 

That is just the beginning. Even more recently, I watched his interview on the Dave Letterman Netflix series, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” I learned he’d left the Dave Chappelle show in an act of defiance as the show became less social commentary and more about perpetuating stereotypes. The essence of the show and his intent in making it had been replaced with what he described as ill intentions— so he walked away. Having not watched the show personally, my understanding is that it was a huge success. It was a breakthrough production for Dave Chappelle and his team. I can only imagine how much courage and self-awareness it took to make that move. Ten points for Dave. In my life and in my life’s work, I aspire to be fearless and grounded in my morals and ethics as my mentor has modeled for me.

Of course, the person that you look to as a mentor does not have to be a public figure; you can admire and look up to people in your own life. For example, I look up to many of my friends because they are motivated, independent, introspective, kind, genuine. They have qualities that I wish to increase in myself or . I also admire my mom for being hard working, extremely resourceful, wise, caring and brave, amongst other things. In short, I surround myself with people I admire, allowing myself to pick out an array of qualities that I wish to cultivate within myself. At the same time, it is important to be intentional about your mentors— people who you can go to when you need advice, inspiration and guidance. I have set people in my life who I look to for advice and when that comes up short, I look to people in the public sphere for inspiration.

How to find a mentor.

  • Join a mentorship program. Sometimes these can be part of your workplace or you can find different non-profits or community programs that offer these types of mentorship programs.
  • Spend more time with older, wiser people in your life (people you admire). If someone comes to mind, reach out to that person. Say hello and spark up a conversation. Invite them for a coffee every so often and let them know that you admire them!
  • Reconnect with a teacher/professor or counselor that has helped guide you in the past. Remember that one teacher who always believed in you? I bet they still do! Reach out to them and re-build that relationship.
  • Study someone you admire from afar (as I did with Dave Chappelle). If there is no-one in your present or past that you can think of, you can always study successful, admirable public figures, whether that’s Opera or Dave or Beyonce. Pick someone who truly resonates with you and ask yourself why? Why do you admire this person and what has this person done that you aspire to do?

Do you have other ways of getting mentors? I’d love to know.

TRIGGER WARNING!

Your procrastination is self-sabotage. End of sentence. Period. Point blank.

Okay now let’s unpack.

For everyone who has their ammunition ready to fire and say “I get my best work done last minute!” I say, yeah because there are no other options but do get it done at that point. This conversation is not about how effective procrastination is in your life, it’s about improving your productivity and crushing your goals. You cannot procrastinate on important tasks and get important tasks done quickly — they are mutually exclusive.

Why is procrastination considered a from of self-sabotage? Well first of all, what do I mean by self-sabotage? According to Healthline, self-sabotaging presents itself in behaviors or thought patterns that stop you from doing what you want to do. Sometimes it is obvious and overt, but for the most part, self sabotage happens in the depths of our subconscious. Procrastination, according to Dr. Piers Steel, a professor of motivational psychology and author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” is putting stuff off against our better judgement. The word originates from the Latin word “procrastinare,” to leave until tomorrow, and the Greek word “akrasia,” to do against your better judgment.

The reason why people engage in procrastination, despite knowing it is probably not the best solution, and in fact not a solution at all, is because they’d rather put off the task than have to prolong the negative emotions associated with said task. In the words of Dr. Steel, “People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.” It makes so much sense if you think about it. I put off telling my parents about my first tattoo because I didn’t want to deal with their outrage. I procrastinated on getting my license renewed because I had to stand in line at the DMV and be miserable waiting on their subpar customer service. On the contrary, I was never a procrastinator in school because I enjoyed writing papers (much like I enjoy writing now) and I enjoyed learning and getting feedback. At the most basic level, procrastination is usually exercised when it’s something we do not want to do, despite the fact that doing that thing may benefit us in the end.

We don’t necessarily procrastinate because we are “scared of the outcome” or because it seems like a daunting task. We might procrastinate because the task seems incredible boring (like standing in line at the DMV), or intimidating, anxiety provoking, self-doubt inducing, requiring patience that you don’t have, and so on. The key is to recognize exactly why you want to procrastinate on a given task and then work to overcome the root cause of your procrastination. The DMV example is easy enough— I realize it is boring and sometimes frustrating to go, but if I don’t go with plenty of time, I could risk missing a paper and having to return another day after my license has expired! Other ones are not so simple; why is it that people procrastinate looking for a new job when they really want a new job? Is it the uncomfortableness of being “on the market,” is it self-doubt of your ability to land a new job, is it anxiety over the interviewing process? Whatever it is, this is something you need to uncover because you can job search, especially if you have a job already. Otherwise you run the risk of procrastinating indefinitely!

Strategies to get Moving

Understand your Limitations 

More times than not, our limitations are self imposed. For example, we tell ourselves, I want a new job but I first need to fix my resume, and buy new clothes in case there’s an interview, and practice my interviewing skills, and so on. What we are really doing is stalling. Procrastination allows us to not have to deal with whatever feelings come up when we think about doing something outside of our comfort zone. While the thought of knowing we are procrastinating might make us feel bad, it also feels safer because we don’t have to set outside our comfort zone if we keep finding ways to stall. Other times procrastination is used as an excuse to let yourself off the hook for a job half done. Like when you have a big presentation for work or school, and you wait until the last possible minute to prepare. If you bomb it you tell yourself it was because you waited till last minute but you totally could have crushed it if you tried. If you do well, you reinforce the behavior and do it again next time. Either way, you are limiting yourself from the potential of having prepared, practiced and built the confidence to know you will crush it (and then go out and crush it).

Make a Definitive Choice 

Indecision is the twin sister of procrastination. They like to skip the yellow brick road hand in hand. The only difference is that indecision might drive you crazy— having to think about this vs. that, this vs. that, over and over again. The best advice for making a decision is to separate your self-worth from the outcomes. For example, if you make the choice to ask your boss for a promotion and they say no, it is not really a reflection of your decision to ask, whether you asked or not, the answer would have still been no. Another example: you make a decision at work to go with consultants A vs. consultants B, C or D. Consultants A turn out to be terrible consultants and you have to now terminate their contract and hire consultants B. At this point, it doesn’t matter that you “didn’t make the right choice” because you had no way of knowing the future and either way, you have the opportunity to fix it. The fact is there is no such thing as the “right choice” and indecision will only delay you making a choice whether the outcomes are favorable or not; or stop you from doing anything at all.

Welcome Delayed Gratification

The fact that we live in a world that reinforces instant gratification is nothing new. It’s also counterproductive to personal growth and the realities of how to achieve real influence and success in the world. Jeff Bezo didn’t just become rich and successful. There’s not such thing. Using this same lust of instant gratification, we push back things that we want to do or should do because those things produce initial negative emotions and delayed gratifications. Clear example: the thought of working out makes me feel really icky. I don’t want to sweat, I don’t want to feel tired, I don’t want to get up and do it. But like clockwork, every time I work out I feel great afterwards! It’s the delayed gratification of putting your body to work and doing something good for yourself. The key here is to shift your mindset— think long term. In the long run, it is wiser to get going now so that later you want enjoy the gratification. Don’t think about the initial uneasy, instead think about the final reward.

The Bottom Line

First and foremost, you have to know why you are procrastinating despite knowing you want to do it or doing it will greatly benefit you. Once you understand the root of your procrastination, you can work on overcoming or reframing or by-passing the cause whereby minimizing its effect. We all like to think we know ourselves but we often don’t ask ourselves the hard questions, so how will we be able to overcome something like procrastination? The other piece is to take action. It is not enough to know why, you have to use that information to learn, grow and adapt. What use is it that I know I have fear of failure if I never do anything to deal with it? Use this new wisdom you’ve gain about yourself to make a meaningful change. And if you need help, don’t be shy, reach out to me.

Related:

Part 3: Confidence is a muscle, Learn How to Train It.

From the 3 part series: How to Overcome the Fear of Putting yourself out there.

Achieving your personal and professional goals takes courage and a belief that you can accomplish them— it’s called confidence. In this mini workshop, Life and Career Coach, Cat Marte, will give you 3 life changing tips to improving your confidence plus bonus 3 tips that will help you go from inaction and procrastination to manifestation.

Sign Up to Watch the Free Mini Confidence Bootcamp


Articles Cited: Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control), How Self-Sabotage Holds You Back

I swear by self-reflection, especially the Buddhist philosophy that we separate from our thoughts. Our thoughts do not define us, they are not us, they are separate and independent of who we are as people. One way to achieve this awareness is through meditation— sitting still and metaphorically watching your thoughts pass you by. Soon you realize thoughts are fleeting, we aren’t married to our thoughts as much as we might have thought to be the case. It’s freeing. Unfortunately, like all things worth doing, meditation is hard. The good news is that I’ve found a good gateway drug to meditation through journaling. Especially prompt journaling. Prompt journaling adds a level of intentionality to each journal entry, allowing you to take a deeper dive into your thoughts, ideas, and self-limiting beliefs. You can then take those thoughts out of your mind and onto the paper. Like with meditation, once the words are on the paper, you can detach yourself from them. They are no longer yours, they now belong to the journal.

Example Prompt from my Journal

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. In the example you’ll see below, I am writing in a stream of consciousness format, half having a conversation with myself, half going off topic.

What does self-love look like?

For someone who was a people pleaser nearly all my life, I will resist the urge to say self-love is when I feel loved by others. That makes no sense anyways, but it’s the first thing that popped into my mind. It makes sense to want to feel loved by others having gone into a helping profession, but I think it has to do less with wanting to feel loved and more with wanting to make a lasting impact on someone’s life. It’s about the satisfaction in knowing I was able to be a good influence in someone’s life….Okay I’m rambling on and deflecting.

What does self-love look like? What does self-love look like to me? I think it looks like doing the things that I want to do and sticking to my guns despite negative feedback or discouraging feedback. Like when I was younger and my mom always wanted me to straighten my hair because only “straight hair was beautiful” and I said F-that, my hair is curly and I think that’s beautiful. At the time it was probably more of an F-you to my mom because like most teenagers, I thought she was annoying and controlling. At the same time though, that small act of defiance made me really proud of my hair because it was mine, it was how I came into this world and it was the hand I’d been dealt. It’s really more about accepting who you are and then growing to love yourself for being that way. Something else that just came to me was my teeth…random thought but I’ve always been so self-conscious about my teeth, they were either crooked when I was younger, now I have random gap that wasn’t there before. It’s always something. I used to not smile or laugh with my hand to my mouth because I was so bothered by it. Now I smile despite it. Now I smile and look in the mirror and stare at myself smiling just to get used to my new gap. Again I think it’s more about accepting myself and my “flaws” than it is about the stupid gap.

It’s not just the physical stuff, it’s everything about me. My personality flaws, my life choices, my failed relationships. I think self-love looks like loving myself even if I’m not prefect, even if I look in the mirror and see “flaws” or I look within and see “flaws.” It’s like I am marrying myself, “I promise to love me and take care of me, through the good times and the bad, till death strikes me down.”

Try it Yourself

Pick a prompt below and see how it goes. Ask yourself, how did it feel to release this prompt onto your journal? What did you learn about yourself?

I’d love to read some of your self-reflections! Contact me to share your prompts.

indfulness writing prompts:

  1. What does self-love look like?
  2. How do I value myself?
  3. When was the last time I carved some time out just for myself?
  4. If I could do anything in my life and money wasn’t an option, I would…
  5. The first thing I think when my head hits the pillow is…
  6. What if I cared for myself, as much as I cared for others?
  7. What is one area where I add value to the world?
  8. Describe a day in the life of your ideal self.
  9. If there was nothing holding me back, I would… 
  10. Describe someone inspirational – could be someone you know personally or someone you admire from afar. What about them makes them inspirational? Why them?

Coming Up:

Part 3: Confidence is a muscle, Learn How to Train It.

From the 3 part series: How to Overcome the Fear of Putting yourself out there.

Achieving your personal and professional goals takes courage and a belief that you can accomplish them— it’s called confidence. In this mini workshop, Life and Career Coach, Cat Marte, will give you 3 life changing tips to improving your confidence plus bonus 3 tips that will help you go from inaction and procrastination to manifestation.

Sign Up to Watch for the Free Mini Confidence Bootcamp

How to Overcome the Fear of Putting Yourself Out There.

For so many of us, the thought of putting yourself out there can be nauseating. How many things run through our minds before we do something in the realm beyond our comfort level? It’s daunting and it’s anxiety provoking, but it’s necessary. Putting ourselves out there is the only way we can grow. It’s the growing pains. It’s the uncomfortableness that allows us to open up minds, and stretch what we thought was possible.

I recently started a three part series touching on some of the cornerstones of overcoming this fear on my social media channels. The first part is about doing the inner work that is necessary to set yourself free of any emotional or psychological baggage you might be carrying around. Mine, it turns out, had to do with my emotional block and unwillingness to be vulnerable. It took me two years to come to this conclusion, but hey, there’s no time limit on self improvement, right? You can watch part’s of the series below. If you like what you see, watch part 2 under that. If you more, be sure to sign up for part 3, which I’ve turned into a mini workshop. I look forward to seeing you there!

Part 1: My Story

Part 2: Owning Your Story

Part two of the series touches on the importance of owning your story. What the heck does that mean? It means understanding that you are the author and narrator of your story. Perhaps you didn’t decided the beginning or the first few chapters, but at some point the unfinished book was passed over to you to write up the rest of the chapters. Watch part two to learn the power of the pen, and how owning your story can help you reframe the past and build a better future.

Sign Up for Part 3 Now

Part 3: Confidence is a Muscle, Learn How to Train It

Achieving your goals takes courage and a belief you can accomplish those goals— really it is a belief in yourself. In this mini workshop, I will be discussing 3 tips to help you build the conference you need to move your goals forward plus bonus tips to help you go from inaction and procrastination to manifestation. Be sure to sign up here. I look forward to seeing you there!

Click here to watch for Part 3 Now

After close to 3 years, I realized I was actually traumatized by my father’s death. I’m pretty sure I was going through some serious PTSD all of 2018 and 2019. 

I didn’t realize it at the moment, but looking back it seems really obvious. When he died in December 2017,  I didn’t know how to process my emotions,  I didn’t want to face the music; I didn’t want to lean into my own pain and vulnerabilities. I couldn’t even bring myself to cry. It was the result of years perfecting how to control my emotions, so much so, that when a real life tragedy happened in my life, I couldn’t express it. 

But it was not just that, I had a mental block that was not allowing me to be emotional. Part of my mind was telling me that he was gone forever and the other part was telling me it was all a dream and I’d wake up one day and he’d be there and it was all a cruel joke. I was going through the motions but really just waiting for him to show up one day and everything would be back to normal. And sometimes something would happen and I’d think it was so funny or so annoying and I’d almost pick up the phone to call him and tell him the funny thing that happened before the functioning side of my brain would say, he’s gone silly, you can’t call him. It was really hard to process internally because I was stuck in the denial phase, I just couldn’t reconcile all the events in my mind, it was too much. And I couldn’t tap into my emotions because I was emotionally blocked. 

This trauma creeped into my entire life becoming pervasive. I couldn’t get excited about anything at work; everything in my life seems so lackluster; nothing brought me happiness or joy. I don’t think I was depressed, I didn’t feel a deep sadness, I just felt a void, like a deep black hole that was never ending. Relationships failed, friendships fell apart. The patient, level-headed person that I considered myself to be had turned into a grumpy, impulsive, madwomen who couldn’t get a grip on anything. I was also hopelessly lost in my life, I didn’t know what my next move was, I had no direction. Everything felt like it was caving in on me and I don’t think anyone really notices. Now my friends will say “I noticed!,” sit down Sarah, you didn’t notice…I know no one really noticed, because I didn’t notice. I knew something was off inside of me but I couldn’t put my finger on it and I couldn’t quite figure out how to feel or why I was so distraught.

Then something really healing happened. I joined a writer’s group and we met once a week, and I started writing. At first I’d write about just nonsense or things that vaguely interested me. Then I started writing a short story about a daughter who loses her father. The short story became a little long so it turned into a long story, then a novelette. The story started in 2015 and ended in 2017 — 2 years of my father fighting cancer. In the writing group you were meant to write for an hour and then share your story with the group for feedback. So I found myself sharing my most vulnerable moments and thoughts with mostly complete strangers. It felt really healing, like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. I remember writing down some parts of the story and getting really emotional, and then smiling at other parts of the story. It was the self reflection that I never gave myself. It was so powerful to free myself from the burden of carrying all that emotional baggage by myself. I remember my mom would say, you think I’m weak because I’m crying all the time but I’m letting out my emotions and acknowledging my pain and sharing the burden with my loved ones meanwhile you are keeping everything locked inside— that’s more dangerous. And of course she was absolutely right. 

I’m sharing this because I know someone out there can relate to my story and know they aren’t alone and know they will get through difficult times. I really believe human beings are extremely resilient and adaptable. To build up that resilience, it’s essential to do the inner work, whether that’s journaling, mediating, therapy. For people like me, it can be so uncomfortable to reflect on ourselves, but if we just ignore it we would be doing ourselves a disservice as we will be limiting yourself from our full potential.

When I say “your energy,” what comes to mind? At first I thought of it as some abstract, mystical thing that isn’t measurable, similar to the vibes, the auras. What I now realize is that this form of abstract energy is measurable through your physical, mental and emotional energy levels. Let’s consider this scenario; you walk into a room and take a look around to see a series of gloomy faces with hunched shoulders and lackluster eyes. You interpret those physical cues as “low energy.” In contrast, if you walk into a room where everyone is chatting and smiling, laughing, relaxed posture and lively eyes, you interpret those cues as high energy. The relationship is between your interpretation of the energy levels in a given situation and your own energy levels as they become effected by your observations.

The basic phenomena is that as social beings, our instincts are to mirror the energy levels of the things around us. That’s why dogs have been aggressively bred to have big eyes that mirror babies, because babies are generally happy beings, and dogs with their big eyes remind us of happy babies. That’s not a stretch, that’s a fact— according to an investigative article by The Atlantic, dogs have developed specific eye muscles that allow them to open their eyes and lower them in ways that their biological cousins, the wolves, cannot. The point is, like a happy dog, the “energy in the room” can affect our moods and our physical and emotional energy levels.

All this to say, it’s crucial to protect our energy and by extension our time. I don’t think it needs much explanation, but I will break it down into this simple equation— Energy Drain = Exhaustion = Time Wasted Trying to Recuperate. There are some simple and some not so simple things we can do to protect our energy, ranging from mindfulness to cutting energy draining people off.

5 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Energy

Beware of Energy Draining People

Let’s start off with what will likely be the hardest one. As I said earlier, to an extent, we mirror the people in our lives. Sometimes we are so used to the people around us, we don’t realize those very people are draining our energy. A good way to tell is by taking note of your mood and your overall energy level after you’ve left that person. Do you feel tired? Why? Is it because you did something laborious, like a sport or a physical activity, or is it because the person sucked all your energy out? A naturally introverted person might argue that they lose energy talking to anyone, irrespective of the energy they give off. The flaw in that thinking is that it’s only about physical energy, when in fact, a draining person might also shift your mood, or your mental equilibrium as well as your physical energy. If you find friends or relatives draining you in any of these ways, consider creating some healthy space between you and that person.

Counterattack Energy Draining Activities

Examples of activities that can drain your energy are tasks that are stressful, dull, time consuming, cumbersome to complete. Anything that is interpreted in our minds as a chore is something that can be an energy draining activity. Sometimes we can’t escape these (i.e our jobs, or studying for a test) but what we can do is recognize them as energy drainers and work to counterbalance the drain. For example, taking stretching breaks at work; mediating before a draining activity; rewarding ourself with a relaxing activity afterwards. Another way to reduce your energy drain from activities is to be efficient. The more time you spend on an energy draining activity, the more energy you drain.

Be Mindful of Mindless Activities

I’m looking at you social media. Platforms like Tiktok and Instagram are specifically designed to keep you scrolling. If you aren’t paying attention, you could scroll for hours at a time. It’s not the scrolling that is draining, its the mental chaos that comes with it. OMG Megan is pregnant, Oh man look at Tyler’s abs, he’s been working out, oh wow look at that car she’s driving, look at her engagement ring, look at, look at, look at. Often times we sit there and stare at other people’s fabricated lifestyles and compare them to our own, wondering why we aren’t as successful or as skinny or as this and that. It’s draining. The same can be said for TV and movies, video games, etc. Our consumption of “picture perfect” and manufactured realities distort our perception of real life causing us to self-doubt, self-loath and self-drain. A good rule of thumb is if it’s not enriching your mind and body, then it’s draining it.

Declutter Your Space

Our physical space is a reflection of our mental space. Sure there are some people who like to live in a sort of organized chaos, but there’s a big different between appearing unorganized and actually being unorganized. There are those who have everything thrown everywhere and can never find exactly what they are looking for. Their space is a cluttered mess, just like the cluttered mess in their minds. Take the time to declutter your space, and you will start to declutter your mind. What does this have to do with protecting your energy? Your mind is the energy drain. You can’t focus on anything, your mind is all over the place, you bounce ideas and lose focus all the time. That’s so draining. Take 5 minutes out of your day to de-clutter your space, little by little. Then take 5 more minutes to sit in that cleared space and do nothing. You will soon see your mind start to unburden itself from the weight of mental clutter.

Practice Self-Care

Low-self esteem is a silent killer. It’s a subconscious script that we replay over and over again in our minds, reinforcing that we ain’t worth shit. Damn, is that not energy draining? Who wants to do anything or go anywhere when they feel like they aren’t worth two pennies? One way to rewrite this negative script into a positive script is to practice self-care. Self-care reinforces self-love and self-appreciation, in turn boosting our own self-worth and confidence. The ironic part is that once we start to practice self-care, others start to notice. We start to get compliments. Outward positive reinforcement matches our inward positive reinforcement— uplifting our moods and our energy levels.

The Bottom Line

Notice how many different ways we can drain our energy throughout the day? It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? What I’ve found to be the most preserving is to live mindfully. Go throughout my day checking in on myself and noticing my energy levels. Was that virtual meeting super draining? Maybe I should take a 10 minute break and recharge. How long have I been scrolling on instagram? Okay let me put the phone down and do something else. Being cognizant of the things that suck your energy dry will help you start to notice when these things take a toll on you. The end game is to have energy for the things that you truly care about and want to put energy towards.