Increase Your Courage Factor

January 31, 2014 by  
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As you continue with that forward thinking, planning and goal setting for this New Year, consider and think about the level of courage you have and the possibility and methods you might want to adopt to increase your “Courage Factor”.  Why? Because it’s been pretty well established that without courage most of us wouldn’t get very far and our lives would be, and will be, far less than they could be.

So just what is this “Courage Factor? It is being so stubborn that you simply won’t accept defeat. It is the stuff that makes champions in sports, heroes in war, huge successes in business, and highly accomplished individuals in life. With it you can do almost anything.  Without it even a brilliant person accomplishes very little.

Our English word “courage” comes from the French word for heart. Whether you call it great-hearted, stouthearted, or strong-hearted, the people who accomplish what they are after and leave the world a better place along the way are people with courage and, of course, a lot of heart.  Criticism won’t turn the courageous from their path. They are too self-assured as well as being willing to take responsibility for their choices whether they result in failures or successes.

So this week as you continue working on plans for what you want to accomplish in the coming year, remember that “courage factor” and try to make yours stronger by pushing yourself to do what you want to do, not what other’s want you to do! See how that feels and if it feels right, hey, just keep on doing it!

Next week I will talk about my personal definition of courage and some more ways to improve your “courage factor” so you are the unstoppable force in your life that you know you can be.


Small Risks Take on Big Fears

January 24, 2014 by  
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Fear. It’s something we all deal with on some level. Some fears are good for you and can save your life such as the fear of falling off a cliff so that we keep a safe distance from the edge or the fear that pushes us to panic a bit, to hide, run or climb a tree depending on what dangerous animal or person we suddenly run into.

But there are those illogical fears that really don’t help or protect us; in fact many fears keep us from enjoying a much more rewarding life. Probably the biggest fear that holds us back is the fear of trying something totally new. It could be anything from giving a speech to a large group of people, playing a brand new sport or traveling to a faraway foreign country for the first time.

Why do we have such life constraining fears and what can we do about it?

I think the “why” is because we think we may fail and/or make a fool of ourselves or, in the case of flying to a foreign country, we fear all the unknowns, like whether the people are mean and dangerous or whether we might get lost or if the plane may crash. (By the way, the fear of flying is one of the biggest yet more illogical fears people have. I read sometime ago that if you were to fly on a commercial jet every single day, statistically you would fly for 29,000 years before you got on a plane that crashed.)

So what does a person do to overcome the fear of doing or trying something new? Susan Jeffers suggests in her book Feel the Fear and Beyond that you try “expanding your comfort zone”. And if you set about doing what she suggests on a regular basis you will gain a ton of confidence and greatly reduce your fears.

She says “one way to easily expand your comfort zone is to take a little risk each day.” When she’s talking about taking risks she’s not talking about physical risks but rather the risk of facing your fears and trying something new. The first step, as she advises, is to come up with thirty risks you could do in a month and write them down. Then each night, pick one to take on the following day and add it to your schedule by placing it on your calendar or daily planner just as you would a doctor’s appointment. As you do this, you will begin to slowly expand the size of your comfort zone and your world and then will be much more likely to face and conquer much larger fears.

So why don’t you sit down right now and see if you can list thirty risks or fears that you want to overcome in the next month? Like I advise with anything, break it down into small manageable steps and you will be able to take on anything.


We All Age but We Don’t Have to Get Old

January 17, 2014 by  
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On January 8th I launched what I call my “90 Day Super Quest”. That quest is my ambitious goal to get myself into the best possible physical and mental shape of my entire life!  My birthday lands on the 90th day of this quest–and I turn the big 70 this year!

I am a week into my “super quest” and I’m right on schedule with my workouts which include tennis, weight lifting, sit-ups, push-ups and stretching.  As for the mental side of my quest, I’ve been doing pretty good keeping up with reading, writing, making new friends and spending lots of time with old friends as well as my family, of course.  But, I’ve noticed a problem.  It’s that old demon … that negative inner self-talk.  Since I’ve set the 90 day goal I’ve been way too focused on my age and the fact that I am getting older. That number 70 has dominated the chatterbox inside my head and not in a positive way.

However, today, I just happened to pick up a book that I’ve read and written about many times and it flopped open to page 55 where the word “aging” jumped out at me.  It’s the book that Susan Jeffers wrote entitled Feel the Fear and Beyond. This is the follow up book to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Here’s what she says about aging and what your inner voice should NOT be saying about the subject:

“I am getting older now.  Aging is horrible. I wish my body were young again.  Look at those wrinkles.  Who could love a face that’s old? I hate it. Pretty soon no one will want to be around me.  When I was young, I could dance all night.  Now I don’t have the energy.  Why do people have to age?  I wish I could be young forever.”

And here is what she says we should be saying to ourselves:

“I love aging.  My children are grown and now I’m free to do the thing I put off doing.  I’m glad I joined the gym.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in such great shape.  I’m going to learn all I can about keeping myself in the best of health.  I have so much to look forward to.  I learn and grow every day of my life.  I wouldn’t want to go back one day.  Why would I want to go back?”

With all my focus on hitting 70, that number became set in my head, like a heavy, unmovable, concrete block.  I have now realized that I need to get rid of that and ask myself the question that I used to ask so often, something we all should probably ask ourselves whenever we think about aging: “How old would I say I am if I didn’t know?”.  When I ask myself this question I can honestly say I come up with the answer of 44.  So I guess on April 8th I will be in the best physical and mental shape of my life as a 45 year old. That sounds pretty good to me!


The Gift of Journaling

January 10, 2014 by  
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One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of a “journal of your life”.  I’m talking about something much more important than just keeping a diary.  Yes a diary is part of it–recording where you go, people you meet and what you experience–but to make it life enhancing and with maximum meaning, you must write and record your inner thoughts, not just what has occurred. Things like your biggest dreams, goals and ambitions will help you define what you were thinking about in prior years. You can find these insights to be extremely valuable when you go back and review those years.  It’s like having your own personal time machine.


In the last few days of 2013 and the first few days of 2014, I’ve had such a wonderful time  reviewing my past experiences including my trips, the people I’ve met, my various goals as they changed and re-focused over the years and, most importantly, my inner thoughts along the way. Think about it–what a great thing it is to be able to relive and bask in all that was great this past year and also have the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons from both the good and the bad stuff that happened. Sometimes it’s like reading about a totally different person; in many ways you are a different person now than you were a year ago.

Also try to take the time–usually at the end of a year or the beginning of a new year– to go back and revisit myself when I was a 30, 40, 50 or  60 years old.  In fact, I can even visit myself when I was 18 and 19 years old since that’s when I started my journal.  Believe me, some of my thoughts back then were down right funny and crazy. Sometimes, especially as I visit that 35 year old Mark Haroldsen I am embarrassed and don’t even like that guy.  Wow, was I ever a hyper driven self-centered business and real estate warrior.  That guy was so full of himself and with so much physical and mental energy! (I’d sure like some of the energy now but without the huge ego.)

If you have not kept a journal of your life before now, it’s not too late. No matter what age you are, be sure to write down what you are feeling as well as your inner most thoughts including your relationships, dreams and goals. Record your successes and failures and what it caused your mind to think. Express in detail your positive and negative thoughts, your great fears and your great strengths.   And when you use your own personal time machine and later review your journal, be it months or years later, I promise you will reap great rewards and learn so much about yourself. You will be thrilled that you took the time, even it is done just weekly or monthly or even once a year. I think to know yourself is probably the biggest “gift” that you can give yourself and to journal throughout your life is one of the best ways to do just that.

The 8 Step Goal Setting Review

January 3, 2014 by  
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Ok … I have to tell you first that I am sitting on Kalapaki beach in Kauai on the last day of 2013 as I write. This wonderful environment is so conducive to reviewing the past year and making plans for the next.   2013 is over and the big, big question is how am I going to make 2014 even better than 2013 was?

I think since we are starting a new year it’s helpful, to me and I’m pretty sure to you too, for me to quickly review 8 good hints that will help all of us to make 2014 a super great year! And, yes, you probably already know some of these and are applying them but a good review and refresher course are always a good idea. So here you are:

  1. Set a big, big over-all goal for 2014
  2. Set lots of small goals broken up into daily and weekly goals so they are achievable.
  3. Write your goals down and review them often
  4. Remember to always keep busy. Research suggests that a broad goal of simply staying busy is better than doing nothing and will help you to stay happy.
  5. It takes 66 days to change a habit and 80 days to develop a solid, healthy habit so keep at it until it does become the habit you want it to be.
  6. Because, when it comes to that “good ol’ self-talk” it has been shown that asking yourself rather than telling yourself that you are going to reach a goal is much more effective! So start asking the question “Can I reach my goal of _______?” Then answer by saying “Yes, I can.”
  7. The key to change and or control is “awareness”. Pound that into your head. Always be aware and observe you internal dialog, paying close attention to what you are thinking. Yes, that’s thinking about thinking and if you do that consistently you will find that it helps you see what you need to change and how to change it.
  8. According to David DiSalvo’s book What Makes the Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite you should spend more time reading about people who use self-control and discipline. By doing that you will boost your own self-control and self-discipline.

Now that you have a list to go by, go ahead! Create those goals and take the steps needed to make them happen!