Neurobiology and Behavior Raising Capable Kids Self Care

How to transition from work to home

Life doesn’t stop just because you chose to pursue wellness. In fact, trying to maintain momentum during the busier times of life can often feel like the hardest part, right? Your wellness journey does not exist in a vacuum where you have ample energy, time, and resources to devote to your goal. Instead, you have to apply strategies to ensure that even on the longest days you aren’t defaulting back to where you began.

One such strategy is to focus your efforts on the places that will do the most work. You could heave a giant boulder by pushing on it with all your might or you could use a pole and apply leverage. Which would you rather do after a long day?


Are you tired of setting goals only to abandon them after a long day or a long week? It doesn't have to happen like that. Read on for strategies to help you transition from work to home PLUS a free guide containing 8 steps to RECLAIMING your evening after a long day. Read more:


My guess is you’d prefer to use leverage. And today we’re going to talk about a huge way you can leverage your efforts for more effective action even in the midst of a full season. Because here’s the thing: If you wait until life “slows down” then you will likely never actually give your wellness the attention it needs…and you will end up on the burnout cycle over and over again.

Transitions provide space for escaping survival mode

As a mom I have learned the importance of transitions – of helping my kids move from good morning snuggles to breakfast to getting ready to leave the house, etc. When I apply my energy to helping them transition I am helping them move on to the next portion of our day with purpose rather than an aimless wandering.

I have to do the same for myself too. Without attention to the transition between putting the kids to bed and the rest of my evening, I end up scrolling on my phone instead of reading the book I was planning on.

Routine comes in handy during transitions.

As a routine becomes a habit it becomes automatic. My brain comes to expect it so I can skip over the “what should I do now?” and go right into my routine. All the actions that form my routine are grouped together – so instead of needing the willpower to do each individual thing, I complete a series of tasks.

For instance, a routine you might already have is to check social media when you wake up. You don’t have to tell yourself to go from Instagram to Facebook to Twitter to Email. You follow the steps automatically.

What if we used that to help you set a higher standard for your wellness on a day-to-day basis?

The evening transition from work to home is a very important transition. If you work all day it is likely the only time you have to do things outside of your job. But how often does a long day lead to eating whatever is easy in the fridge, skipping the workout you intended, and sitting on the couch the rest of the evening?

I know. Happens to me too.

In fact it’s one of the phrases I hear tossed around the most whether online or in person. It’s hard to do more than stare at the wall or binge watch Netflix.

Honestly? It’s so common we turn it into a verb and make jokes about it.

Heck, it’s so common Hulu uses it in its advertising! And we just smile + nod, “yes I do need Hulu Plus so I can binge watch tv instead of doing something valuable with my time.”

To be clear, “valuable” is not working overtime on your couch. I actually mean carving out real time to do the things you say you want to do – like learning a new song on the guitar or coloring in one of those books you bought 6 months ago or finally having that girls night. Those activities are highly valuable for rejuvenating your mind and spirit. They serve to help you become the person you wish you were.



So how, then, do you transition from work to evening?

An effective transition routine is going to involve attention to three parts: your body, your mind, and your connections.

Let’s dig deeper:

How to help your body transition

Give your brain time to catch up – by zoning out.

All throughout the day you were taking in new information and your brain was trying to process it. This includes how events or people made you feel and your personal thoughts on a new project or team member. At the end of the work day, your brain needs to catch up. The tendency however, is to fill space with a screen of some kind. This ramps up the stimulation – overloading the brain. You need to stare out the window or walk in circles around your yard – just don’t try to direct your thoughts anywhere. No meditating or focus. Just let your mind go. (this takes practice).

Respond to physical needs: hydration, nutrient-dense foods, and restorative movement.

Drinking water and eating a good meal – whether it’s a snack right when you get home or if you go right into dinner preparations – will revive your body. The lull you feel after work might seem like it requires a boost of caffeine or sugar but between letting your brain catch up and nourishing your body, you will experience a revival. Note: if you don’t, you actually might need a power nap.

Restorative movement includes things like yoga, stretching, or a walk around the neighborhood. After a day of sitting it’s important to bring alignment back to your body and increase blood flow.

Finally, you might opt for a harder form of exercise

Rigorous movement can serve an important purpose in expelling pent up emotion and stress. Rather than wasting energy mulling over workplace drama or social media posts do some sprints, a quick kettlebell routine, or hit a punching bag. Trust my experience – it feels amazing. And you’ll walk into your evening feelings more powerful and alert.

How to help your mind transition

A mental download can help you clear the slate from the day’s problems or worries.

Perhaps after zoning out you realize you have a conflict you need to think through, verbal or written processing can help you determine a course of action and move on.

Schedule (or eliminate) tasks that didn’t get accomplished today.

Don’t let unfinished work hang over your head. It can lead to numbing behaviors or agitation toward others if it is allowed to go unchecked. Let this time also serve to redirect your focus. Is the task relevant to your priorities? Can it be saved for later? Can it be passed off? Why do you keep avoiding it? Can it be broken down into more actionable steps? Sorting through your list can save you time and energy later.

Finally, write down your plan for tomorrow

Include any preset appointments, the big tasks you need to get done, and any self-care you plan to do (exercise, time with friends, etc). This is a must-do item. Having a plan for tomorrow is a major way you can keep the stress of today from carrying over into the morning.

How to build connections

Re-establishing a connection with your own purpose and your important relationships is essential to recovering from stress. You are free to make decisions and spend your time in a way that aligns with who you really are and who you want to be when you are connected.

  1. Do a short check-in with yourself
  2. Celebrate the ways you stayed on track or moved forward in your goals
  3. Spend time doing creative expression – color, cook, read a favorite book, write for fun
  4. Remind yourself that you aren’t alone by reaching out to a friend.This is more than fishing for encouraging words or compliments, it’s an opportunity to get a new perspective. It’s valuable to pick your head up and see what’s going on outside of your own life – beyond what someone chose to publish on Facebook for the day.
  5. Encourage someone else.Whether you write a note, send a text, or make a phone call, choose to be what you want others to be for you. Refuse to isolate yourself from the burdens of others and instead remind them that YOU are there for THEM. Because we’re all in this together.

Making this YOURS involves experimentation.

No need to try to do everything at once (or ever), as you get to know your own needs you will start to see what is most valuable in helping you transition from a long day at work to an intentional evening. The most important piece is that you refuse to accept a dud evening as normal. Might still happen occasionally (I recommend going to bed early then) but you can still raise your baseline. This isn’t a step away from grace for yourself after a long day, it actually shows greater self-love when you refuse to let the stress of today carry over into tomorrow.

What to do next:

Click the image below to get this blog post in step-by-step format. You’ll also be signed up for the Lab Notes Community where we do things a little differently. I’m not going to fill your inbox with fluff – we’re going to work together to move you toward your goals and shift you into action. Click below and get your first taste of survival mode freedom.


Mindfulness and Cognitive Science Neurobiology and Behavior

How to stay focused when learning new things in business

Learning new skills and establishing your footing is essential to surviving in business. But how do you stay focused in a world of information overload?

Let’s say you’re thinking about developing some new products to begin scaling your business efforts and you need to really understand content marketing so you can form a strategy and implement. How often do you head for Google only to find yourself in a rabbit hole in 2 minutes flat? When you finally emerge, you’re signed up for 5 more email lists yet no closer to actually understanding the issue at hand.

In recent posts we’ve talked about the importance of effective problem-solving — when you look at each of these questions (what is content marketing and how does it apply to my business?) as a problem to solve, you increase the likelihood you’ll actually get the answers you need.

In today’s post we’re talking about how to stay focused within the miry bog of the internet. It’s tough work to separate the genuine signal from the noise and on top of all the useless information, you’ve got your own brain to consider. So that’s where I’m coming in – brain science meets creative biz life is where I thrive after all.

Tired of every business question leading to hours of unproductive research (and youtube videos?) Here are 12 tips for maintaining focus and beating procrastination while solving problems like a boss. Plus a bonus template for important “before you google" work to ensure your learning is effective and relevant to your biz.

Cognitive load refers to the capacity of a person’s working memory. The associated theory is applied to learning environments in order to optimize for a common human shortcoming – we can only handle so much new information at one time. Add another layer of ideas to remember without a system in place and you’re bound for information overload.

Luckily, scientists have found useful methods for processing new information and keeping cognitive load low but it’s likely that you’re not employing these methods as you rapidly scroll through google search results.

Here are 12 tips to help you stay focused as you head off to learn new things:

Building awareness

  • Know your signs of overload — It may be feeling angry or overstimulated during or after your work or perhaps your mind goes a little numb and you head for Facebook and start reading unimportant – but funny – posts about hipster princesses.
  • Know your triggers to overload — Are you trying to multitask? Are you tired? Are you diving into google search before you’ve even really thought about the problem? Which behaviors do you see coming before you overload happens?
  • Know how you learn best — If you’re a visual learner but your main source of learning is a podcast you’re going to have trouble processing the information given. Maybe you need to take notes at the same time (whether listening or reading). Maybe you need to map out the problem with pen+paper before you can sit down at your computer.
  • Practice bookmarking or pinning potential resources — We’ve all been there – you’re looking at one post and the author is smart and has back-linked to a different post. It might be interesting but if it’s not actually related to the problem YOU are trying to solve, save it for later. No need to quick learn that information – it’s not going anywhere.

Know the problem

  • Get clear about the big question
  • Brainstorm a list of words / concepts related to that big question
  • Build a list of anchor concepts – the big principles that go beyond online business – to help you sort new information as it comes (useful or not?)
  • Break it into small chunks so you can search in smaller doses with more specific questions
  • Have a clear objective for each of those small dose searches

Pin these related posts for later:
4 steps to problem-solving like a pro
How to stop obsessing over social media

Assess for new understanding

  • Know your intended action (plan to act!) to hold yourself accountable
  • Stay present – checking each new piece of information against the problem / objective (have you solved it yet? Are you staying on task? Are things getting clearer or more confusing?)
  • Relate what you are learning to what you already know – use those anchor principals and your previous understanding to integrate new ideas into your schema. (Move from working memory to long term memory).

How this helps your focus problem

Overload tends to lead to being lost, stuck, or confused. And those are three words you do not want describing your work day. Those words lead to more awful words like procrastination. They lead to dwelling on the unimportant information and tasks that won’t move your business forward. They lead to premature decisions based on incomplete information because you just want to get it over with. You start telling yourself “Just do something!” yea?

Pin this related post for later:
4 mindsets killing your consistency

Following the tips above will help you stay focused on the bigger picture – and the actual problem – while wading into the world of google. They will help you start to systematize your problem-solving, which in turn helps you to stay on top of all the essential tasks of being an entrepreneur. There will always be problems and with a plan (and your free template!!) you can keep solving them like a boss while you wear all the hats / spin all the plates / keep all the balls in the air.

Mindfulness and Cognitive Science Neurobiology and Behavior Raising Capable Kids

How to stop obsessing over social media

Earlier this week we looked at WHY we tend to obsess over social media – clicking over to Facebook or scrolling through Instagram every time there’s a lull in our work. Today we’re looking at HOW TO STOP. It’s not quite enough to tell yourself that you will only check it twice per day…I’ve got 6 conditions that need to be satisfied in order for scheduled check-ins to be successful!

As I said in this blog post (go read it if you haven’t!), our reaction to social media notifications is similar to a drug addicts response to building drug tolerance. So how do people effectively overcome a drug addiction?


We covered WHY you obsessively check your social media...but how do you create a healthy balance between growing your business and not getting obsessed? Many recommend limiting yourself to just a couple check ins per day but that only works if you're satisfying these 6 conditions. Are you setting yourself up for success or are you wasting time obsessing over your social media profiles? Read on to save time.

Pin that image so your fellow girlbosses stop wasting their time too!

If you took the first step and started building awareness around your social media distraction then you’ve moved it from unconscious thought to conscious — that’s huge.

So how do we solve the problem?

The next step in problem solving (after understanding the problem) is to look at other similar kinds of problems and investigate the use of its solution. In the case of checking social media every time you start to feel a little stuck or bored, addiction is a good comparison.

In my searching, genuine relationships appear to be the best form of recovery from addiction.

Relationships provide

  1. a way for the addict to gain better self-awareness,
  2. the support + connection a person is usually seeking under the surface, and
  3. purpose to following through.

All three of these characteristics are also key to handling any kind of stress well. So it seems plausible to use these solutions for our issue with digital notifications and their effect on our creativity + productivity.

Related: How to turn self-doubt into an asset

Putting the plan into our context

You’ve likely heard others talk about scheduling when they check social media. I think this has an area of validity so if we add a few things to it, it can serve you well in your business. Here’s when I think it works:

  1. You understand the the compulsion to scroll through pictures is due to chemicals in your brain, not because there is anything life-or-death happening.
  2. You are well-connected to other people whom you feel understand you and support your work.
  3. You have meaningful work that is making progress.
  4. As you establish the new habit, you are self-aware of what triggers your desire to jump on Instagram and actively talk to yourself about why you don’t need to do it.
  5. You choose a constructive + creativity-boosting alternative after recognizing you feel stuck or you’re doubting yourself.
  6. You practice having an abundance mindset: social media can wait./

By satisfying these conditions and forming a plan for when they are not satisfied, I think scheduling one or two specific times when you are checking on social media can be highly effective. You will need to test out what you need after you’ve finished. Meditation or a walk or less-demanding work may be necessary to help you transition back into focused + creative tasks like writing. And this can be applied to other areas as well like email and text messages.

So let’s walk through those conditions.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

You understand the the compulsion to scroll through pictures is due to chemicals in your brain, not because there is anything life-or-death happening.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Stress in your work can trigger your fight-or-flight stress response. If you’ve conditioned yourself to mentally check out whenever stress arises – even if just for a little while – you’ll need to build awareness around that behavior. Starting with recognizing that it’s a chemical surge in your brain that is directing your attention to social media. Your brain has been wired to see it as a solution. Whatever reason you tell yourself for why you need to check instagram for the twentieth time today is really just an excuse.

Unless of course you actually do have a reason – but then it’s not just a distraction, right?

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

You are well-connected to other people whom you feel understand you and support your work.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Social media can be a great connector. It can also be a cover for real-life-isolation. Whether you are introverted or extraverted, you need people. Our brains are even programmed to seek out security within a tribe. So if in real life you are feeling insecure in your relationships, the pull to social media – where your followers are praising your work and seeking your engagement – will be stronger.

On the flip side, if you are investing in real-life community — people whom you see face-to-face or talk with over Skype — social media is going to be an easier distraction to overcome.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

You have meaningful work that is making progress.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Purpose is a major influencer. As a business owner you probably had a big reason to put yourself through all the stress of working for yourself. You probably have a future vision in mind that keeps you going when you think about quitting. Are you letting that through in each project you take on? Are you creating a course simply because someone told you to or is it serving your bigger vision? If it’s in line with your bigger vision remind yourself of it! Keep it front and center as you work so you can channel the stress of the struggle toward creating your best work.
If you are struggling and your project isn’t making progress you will be more likely to move on to less important tasks, like instagram or twitter. It’s discouraging to feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Rather than force yourself to struggle (or disengage from the project), look again at the problem you are trying to solve and the outcome you want. Do you have all the information you need? Is there someone you could reach out to who has the skill you’re trying to hack?

Related: 4 steps to solving problems like a pro

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

As you establish the new habit, you are self-aware of what triggers your desire to jump on social media and actively talk TO yourself about why you don’t need to do it.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Stephen Covey talks about how easily we get distracted by urgent, unimportant tasks. He concludes that a sign of a highly effective person is that they focus on the important tasks (and know how to distinguish between types of tasks). What you really want right now is the expected outcome of your project or task – so figure out a way to get that rather than letting yourself get distracted by social media.

You’re not solving the right problem when you disengage from an important task to do an urgent / unimportant one. You’re just wasting your energy.

Related: 4 mindsets hurting your business

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

You choose a constructive + creativity-boosting alternative after recognizing you feel stuck or you’re doubting yourself.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Your creativity is stalling and you’re losing focus because you feel stuck, you’re doubting yourself, etc. That is the worst time to get on instagram and start scrolling through perfectly styled images! Your brain needs a break. So reduce the stimulation and step away. Get present and take a few deep breaths.

Better to go outside and spend 30 minutes people-watching then to scroll through images in rapid fire.

Related: 15 super-easy self care ideas for creative entrepreneurs

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

You practice having an abundance mindset: social media can wait.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

It’s not going to be gone forever. People won’t revoke their likes just because you haven’t responded yet. It can wait.

Really. It can wait.

Not indefinitely – in fact you know exactly when you will get to it. Because it’s scheduled. (And hey! With all the new algorithms, you don’t have to worry about missing your favorites in your feed!)

When each of these conditions are met, you can and should be successful in scheduling 1 or 2 social media check-ins throughout the work day. These will likely be longer because you’ve got an outcome in mind so you aren’t just endlessly scrolling.
As far as the time of day you check, I recommend afternoon and evening based on what I know about trying to create after consuming rapid-pace media but being home with kids all day I’m still working on fine-tuning my own schedule.

So tell me in the comments, will you try scheduling your social media check-ins?

Neurobiology and Behavior

Why you keep obsessing over social media even when you know you shouldn’t (+ free workbook)

Picture this:

You’re sitting at your desk and while struggling through writing content for your new ebook you decide to check Instagram. When you open the app on your phone, a big orange rectangle pops up in the bottom corner telling you that you have 40 new likes, 10 new followers, and 10 comments. A smile stretches across your face. You were testing out some new hashtags and these are exciting results. So you start going through them and momentarily forget all about your writing.

You start to transition back to your ebook (30 minutes later) but your mind is still buzzing with those numbers. You struggle to regain focus. Within a few minutes you pick up your phone again and open up that app and this time there’s another dozen new likes. But inside you feel yourself deflate a little bit. Now when you turn back to write your ebook you find it impossible to stay focused and besides all your inspiration is gone so you start clicking through blog posts about Instagram and eventually anything that catches your eye.

Sound familiar?

Why does this happen? What’s going on and how do we make it stop?

These are the questions I’ll be answering in today’s post.

Do you find yourself on social media whenever you start to drift in your focus? Here we're using the science of human behavior to understand WHY it happens even when you know you shouldn't. Plus download a free workbook and start building new habits that will boost your creativity + productivity. Social media doesn't have to be the bad guy. Regain your focus and your drive. More at

First, we understand.

Notifications – mobile + desktop, push + in-app – are designed to get your attention. That’s kinda the point right? And they do a bang-up job. Whether it’s email or social media or text messages or slot machines (whaaa?? Yes.), the brain science is all along the same lines.

First piece of data: notifications (and slot machines) give what psychologists call variable-ratio rewards. An unpredictable reward that increases your anticipation of receiving it so you return frequently in hopes that this will be the time to receive the reward. Like our example above with the Instagram notifications, your brain is programmed to boost dopamine in anticipation to checking your social profiles because some time previously you received a great reward – like new followers or maybe even a client inquiry.

A study done in monkeys shows the same response. When the monkey does work, he receives a reward. A look at his neurochemistry shows that during the work dopamine is spiking, motivating him to do the work in anticipation of a reward. When a new experiment is run in which the monkey only receives the reward 50% of the time, dopamine skyrockets.

There is greater anticipation — greater motivation to pursue the reward — when the reward is not guaranteed BUT occurs often enough to feel possible.

Important note: we can also convince ourselves of a greater probability. That’s what casinos do – making it appear that the odds are 50/50. If you understood the real odds you wouldn’t give them any money.


Second piece of data: we are always pursuing happiness. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are all chemicals that our brains use to condition our behavior for the sake of happiness. Back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, our brains used dopamine to help us remember where we found food. It uses serotonin + oxytocin to condition our behavior within our group or tribe for acceptance and safety.

The involvement of these chemicals forges a new neural connection instantaneously (where repetition builds new connections gradually). This means that when emotion is involved, we instantly get a new habit and when it’s not involved we have the painful process of practice.

When you are sitting at your computer and struggling to focus on writing your new ebook, your brain is looking for ways to feel happy. Due to the neural pathway formed other times you’ve checked social media, you get this bright idea to pick up your phone. And your brain gets dopamine. You feel happy, even if you haven’t actually solved any problem.

Every time you pick up your phone, you reinforce the habit. That neural connection gets insulated (making the electrical current travel faster) and strengthening the drive to pick up your phone when you’re feeling stuck or doubting yourself.

Third piece of data: the brain is always seeking happiER. Think about drug addiction. We know that the first use can send dopamine levels soaring in the brain. But the next time, with the same amount of drug, dopamine levels do not go as high. The brain seeks novelty. So what does a person have to do when they use drugs again? They have to up the dose.

If you’ve programmed yourself to eat a donut when you feel rejected, soon you will have to eat 2 in order to get the same feeling, or deal with the disappointment of an unfulfilling donut (and assume the shop screwed up the recipe this time).

In our scenario when you picked up the phone a second time your brain didn’t respond the same way. Rational or not, it doesn’t much matter, you feel disappointed. You feel disappointment due to the absence of dopamine (and probably serotonin + oxytocin as well).

This bears repeating: You feel disappointment when there is an absence of dopamine where you’ve experienced it in the past. It is a feeling brought on by chemicals in your brain.
We tend to blame the situation – and ourselves – when we feel down about not getting the attention we were hoping for. But that disappointment is neither selfish nor warranted. It just is.

Second, we make a plan.

Here’s where I’m going to get a little bossy. We all know how easy it is to read a post and walk away unchanged. But if you’ve made it this far it’s time to take action. You’ve got homework, love.

Step 1: Start paying attention.

You need to build awareness around this behavior. I want you to journal or bullet out answers to these questions:

  • What triggers do you see in your thoughts or environment?
  • How are you feeling when you reach for your phone or click over to Twitter?
  • What kinds of projects are you usually working on?
  • How long has it been since you talked to real people?
  • How’s your sleep these days?

If you only go this far, I commend you. Increasing your awareness around a behavior is a vital first step and can, in itself, influence change.

But if you’re ready to go all in and want to develop a healthier relationship with the social side of your business, go on to step 2.

Step 2: Get the free workbook and start building your personal action plan for overcoming social media obsession


Mindfulness and Cognitive Science Neurobiology and Behavior

How to turn self-doubt into an asset

Self-doubt is a painfully common experience for a business owner. From hitting “publish” on a post to developing a new product to holding your hundredth discovery call, even C-level executives have been quoted expressing a continued struggle with feeling like a fraud. The struggle is so real that all the way back in the late-70’s researchers Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes gave it a name –> Impostor Phenomenon. It is now estimated that around 70% of people will experience impostor phenomenon at least once.


As a business owner, there’s good reason to feel like a fraud. As you seek to grow and you step into roles you never imagined for yourself, personal growth becomes mandatory. On a near-daily basis (depending on where you are in your business) you are operating at the edges of your capabilities — an intensely vulnerable place to be. Unfortunately, without an effective response to self-doubt, you can find yourself losing motivation, drooping in creativity, and spending a lot of time on stuff that doesn’t really help your business.


Because doubting yourself is so common and so problematic, this post is all about how to see your self-doubt in a new light. And because I want you to effectively step into your business and keep pushing the edges of your comfort zone, I’ve made a cheat sheet for you to keep on hand for when self-doubt strikes. We’re in this together, ok?

Self-doubt gets a bad rap. But you're the boss of your brain so you get to decide -- will self-doubt crush you? Or will you put in the effort to turn it into an asset? Creatives, bloggers, and business owners rely on creativity + productivity to make a living - unchecked self-doubt derails both. So read on and download the free cheat sheet so you can get started using your self-doubt to your advantage. More at

Pin that image for later, friend! Or click here to pin directly from Pinterest!

What science says about self-doubt

Clance and Imes describe impostor phenomenon as a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” What they saw happening in the women they were studying was that despite great capability and high motivation for achievement, they lived in fear of being “found out.” Sound familiar? Yea, me too.

Self-doubt is stressful. It’s extremely difficult to focus on a task when your brain is telling you that you 1. have no right to be doing it and 2. you’re going to be found out. That is a threat to your security and you are biologically wired to avoid that kind of threat. Your body’s stress response is designed to go nuts at this point to give you the energy you need to get to safety.

But we’re not in the savannah running off on our own from the rest of the tribe and therefore at risk of getting mauled.

A new business adventure may not sound all that revolutionary but for your brain, it’s different than what is status quo. And therefore a threat. Your brain chemicals are quickly transitioning to a stress response in order to prime you for action – to run from the proverbial lion.

When you’re publishing new, high-value content, developing a new product, or consulting with a new client, your brain is looking at the possible outcome and responding based on prior experiences (imprints – like that time you were called a know-it-all in middle school). It then goes into automatic survival mode. A droop in chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin give you that feeling of fear and loneliness while cortisol spikes your heart rate.


In essence, your brain perceives a need for a safe place amongst safe people and your biochemistry is responding appropriately to get you moving in that direction.


Now let’s talk about why you should not move in that direction and what you should do instead.


Reacting vs Responding to self-doubt

So we’ve talked about what happens in your brain when you try something new, but what about behavior? That’s the stuff we can actually look at in our everyday lives. So what happens when someone is experiencing self-doubt?

  • excessive gathering of informationreading tons of blog posts on mistakes new biz owners make, listening to another podcast about sales funnels, signing up for one more ebook about how to land new clients


  • focusing on the urgent + unimportant taskschecking social media again, reading email without taking any actions or responding, investigating who unfollowed you, checking up on the competition,


  • easily distracted by unrelated mind chatterwhen was the last time I washed my hair? re-organizing your office space, spending excessive time styling a new photo for social media, ruminating on something someone said last week


  • preoccupation with your title (even Marie Forleo talks about this one) – rewriting your about page / social media bios over and over again


The list goes on. Day-in and day-out these behaviors indicate something is going on beneath the surface. You may be unaware of your self-doubt to some extent but as it continues to build up it will become obvious. Because you’ll be literally telling yourself, “You idiot, what makes you think you have any right to do this?”

What you shouldn’t do

  • Blindly listen to the shame gremlins.If you abandon every idea, project, or opportunity that you don’t feel 100% capable of doing (from meeting new people to launching a new product), you’re life will be spent watching everything Netflix has to offer. You’ll be constantly seeking to numb yourself to avoid shame and the deep longing to do something important with your time. But you are strong, brave, and clever. So don’t just walk away, ok?


  • Cover over the gremlins with inspirational quotes.There is inspiration that points us back to truth and grounds us in a bigger purpose beyond our own comfort, and there’s “inspiration” that is completely devoid of meaning and like putting a child-sized bandaid on a gunshot wound. Words like “you got this!” are pointless if they don’t point to concrete evidence.Trying to deceive yourself into doing the work will more likely serve to reinforce the feeling of self-doubt, and possibly even make it true.

What happens if you just ignore self-doubt?

Suppressing internal messages will lead to increased internal pressure. Increased pressure can lead to explosions. Many people talk about the cycle of depression, anxiety, greater loss of self-confidence, frustration, and loss of interest they experience while attempting to build a business. It’s burnout. When you fail to respond to what your body is telling you, your body makes you respond by first shutting down your ability to focus and be productive, followed by real health issues like insomnia, headaches, depression, anxiety, etc.

What you should do

Mindfully approach your self-doubt, seeking to understand why it is there and to learn more about yourself through the process. Mindfulness is a neutral look at your thoughts, feelings, and environment. You’re an observer of what’s going on, gathering information, and taking appropriate actions.

Observations to help you slow down the stress response and choose how you want to respond:


  • “Welcome, old friend”Pema Chondron talks about smiling at fear and welcoming it. You should expect it to be there – you’re being creative and gutsy. You can’t expect to just shoo it away or that you will grow out of it – instead you can let it be a sign that you are daring to do something new and let it sit while you ask more questions. You can say to yourself, “I must be pushing the edges of my comfort zone.” That’s good. As a creative entrepreneur, that’s what you want.


  • Your brain is giving you space to do a gut checkLet’s remember that it is entirely possible that you are an impostor (gasp!). People claim to be more capable than they are all the time. Sometimes it’s with malicious intent and other times it’s simply because they lost perspective.For example: Maybe all the people you follow on Twitter have been blogging about a certain topic – like landing pages – and you decide to do the same. Except that it is a little out of nowhere compared to the rest of your blog content. That feeling you have that makes writing the post hard or makes you feel a little extra self-conscious? That’s a good thing. You’re getting a chance to decide if that’s a direction you want and should take your business or if you got a little bit of copycat syndrome and need to scrap the idea. Our minds get hijacked all the time by the things we see making other people happy. Acknowledge you got distracted and just move on.

    Your brain could also be telling you that you don’t have enough information. Strangely enough, you could be endlessly surfing web pages because you do indeed need more information. But it’s not likely that reading 20 versions of the same post is going to get you what you need. If you’re developing a course for other graphic designers and you realize your understanding is a little shallow in an area, you need to problem solve, not consume more blogs.


Actions to take:

  • Assess your current capabilities and that which is required for the task or project at hand. If you need more information for your course on design, don’t just binge-read Elle & Co blog posts (it’s fun, I know! And I’m not even a designer!), reach out to Lauren and talk shop. That way you can get a better feel for another designer’s process and swap sources.
  • Seek effective support. More than just an instagram post or a “you got this! #girlboss.” Go to one of your favorite Facebook groups and ask a question. Get on the phone with someone and talk about what’s going on. Work with a coach who will encourage you + help you see the path.
  • Take note of your common indicators for self-doubt. What are your specific triggers? What does the downward spiral tend to look like?
  • Never stop learning. You will always have space to grow. You set yourself up for failure when you start to believe you’ve got this girlboss thing figured out. So surround yourself with people who push you to perform at a higher level and make a habit of seriously learning. This is more than scanning blog posts that catch your eye. I’m talking keep a list of problems you keep running into and actually seek to understand the issue. Some things you’ll get to delegate – bless your soul for not needing to know everything yourself. But some things (like understanding “how do people learn best” for that course you’re outlining) are vital to the efficacy of your work.

Did I miss something?

I’m a scientist at heart. The specific behaviors I’ve indicated here are not exhaustive and I’m always gathering more in order to help people (including myself) understand why they do what they do. I also love supportive evidence.

So tell me in the comments – what do you start doing when you’re doubting yourself? What helps you move through it?


movement Nutrition and Meal Prep Self Care

15 super-easy self-care ideas for creative entrepreneurs

Self-care can happen easily within the everyday business life. What it takes is remembering you are human – and that you don’t exist inside a business-running bubble. One way to incorporate self-care into your normal day is to step into the natural rhythms of the world around you – like the changing seasons.


So it’s spring now. Pretty great, right? I mean, parts of the midwest got hit with 12 inches (!!!) of snow last week but my tulips have started popping out of the ground and there are robins everywhere. Perhaps where you are winter doesn’t feel like a real season but up here in Minnesota I’m typically feeling the need for a significant change up in our routines once playing outside without 10 extra pounds of gear is possible.


There are certain habits that become “normal” with long + cold winter nights. Delicious + heavy dinners, snuggling up on the couch to watch a few shows before bed, and working long hours – because it’s warm here in this chair and it’s too cold to drive to the gym. Am I right? Well, my gym is upstairs and there are plenty of days where even that feels too cold.


Whatever your winter habits are, changing seasons can be the prompt you need to switch it up and get inspired by a new environment + new routines. So this week I’m going to give you a nice long list of ideas for daily self-care.


We all know we need self-care but what actions with actually help you refuel + refocus? Here are 15 super-easy to implement ideas for the creative entrepreneur. More at

Pin it now for reference later! Hover over the image or click here to pin directly from Pinterest!


Before we jump in to the list let’s define a few things. “Self-care” has become a popular term and can therefore have a variety of definitions associated with it. The way I like to define self-care is the actions you take to prepare yourself to keep going. As a business owner, wife to a start up CEO, and a mom to two kiddos, stressed + tired is just a part of the job I signed up for. Personally, I think the adventure we are on is worth it. And research indicates stress is what we make of it. When people talk about self-care they are often looking for that elusive balance. Instead of balance though, let’s look at priorities. If you prioritize a refreshed + focused brain, your work, relationships, family life, and other hobbies will all benefit. Focus on the right things and the rest falls into place. Ultimately, you have to choose how to spend your energy + make time for the right things.
Related: 4 sign posts for building self-awareness into your day
Self-care is what you do to help you operate at your best. It’s recognizing your humanity and setting the tone of the environment so you can be free to BE HUMAN. For me, I safeguard my sleep. In fact, the other night I actually told my work “goodnight” even though I was still getting bombarded with to-do’s. I know that to be my best for my kids, I can’t be running on anything less than 7 hours of sleep. So on the days I wake up early, I take naps to catch up. It’s one of the big things that make our current life choices sustainable.
Last week I wrote about the positive effects of a walk outside on your productivity. Similarly, this list today goes back to principles of how the human brain works and the positive outcomes associated with practicing mindfulness, quality nutrition, movement, and experiencing nature. Remember, self-care doesn’t have to happen on a designated day. It can easily be sprinkled in throughout your work day. And when you do that – when you take time to release your mind and rejuvenate – you will boost your creativity AND make it easier to focus on the task at hand.
Ok, on to the list! (The ** indicate great options for the mompreneurs who are with their kids throughout the day. Getting yourself in the zone for short bursts of work is hard – use to rejuvenate while with your kids and use others to transition from mom-duty to work mode!)

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Spring-specific tips for self-care

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

  1. **Keep a picnic blanket / towel in your car for a few minutes of sitting in the sun before / after an away-from-home workday or meeting.
  2. **Schedule a walk around the block – take note of the scenery changes as spring progresses
  3. **Read at the park instead of the couch
  4. Schedule active dates with girlfriends – drink your coffee while you go for a walk instead of sitting
  5. **Get to the farmer’s market — start getting to know some of the vendors – human connection win!
  6. **Buy a seedling of cherry tomatoes for a home grown snack through the summer
  7. **Plant some wildflower seeds
  8. Buy yourself some flowers weekly
  9. Drink your morning coffee outside on your steps listening / watching for the birds
  10. Open your office window and take a few minutes between tasks to focus on the fresh air and the sounds
  11. Use the natural rhythm of our agriculture to enjoy lighter, rejuvenating meals — spring time brings tons of salad greens, small radishes, snap peas, etc
  12. If you have a private area – like a deck or patio – try some yoga outside in the morning or on a work break.
  13. **Take some time during a spring rain to just watch the puddles form or listen to the pounding on the sidewalks
  14. Take a short nap (20-30 minutes) in the warm patch of sunlight streaming in on your couch — use that time to empty your mind, like a meditation. Even if you don’t fall asleep, you will feel refreshed. Be gentle with yourself – it takes practice to not just lie there ruminating on your growing list of tasks.
  15. **If you’re a pen + paper kind of planner, do it outside (bonus if it’s while the kids play by themselves!) — And remember to take some deep breaths + enjoy the world around you. It’ll help you get perspective while looking at the mountain you have planned for the day.




Here are a few more ideas that require a little bit more time but could really help you enjoy the changing season. How often does it seem like a season just passed you by (especially the transitional seasons like spring + fall)? Schedule in ways to enjoy the beautiful weather before the heat + humidity makes every activity require a pool or a beach!

Go to the zoo!

Observing the animals (the primates are our current favorite around here) can be a way to force yourself into the present. Don’t feel like you have to spend a whole day on it even if you pay to get in. An hour or two of walking around or even sitting and watching can be a great extended break. Bring a cup of coffee and just let yourself be.

Go on a nature walk!

The trees change so fast from bare to fully leaved. Make an effort to see the buds + celebrate the changes. There are plenty of analogies between the reawakening of the trees + our own human growth cycle. Take time to observe it and express gratitude for the many ways you also sprout + grow after winter-like life seasons. Plus, spring wildflowers are the best.

Clear the clutter in your house!

There’s a reason spring cleaning is a thing. At the end of winter our homes (and therefore our minds + hearts) can feel heavy. Don’t just put your winter clothes back in the plastic bag for next year – use the switch out to remove the items you never wore, are now worn out, or realized didn’t give you that oomph you were going for. Make a list of the things you might keep an eye out for for next winter. You can do the same things with kid clothes + toys. As they transition to playing outside more, think about what toys they will have outgrown by fall and just get rid of them. Or put away some of the ones that will last to be like new again later.

Important note: this will be an overwhelming task if you try to do it all at once. You’ve got a business to run and other projects should accommodate! So make a list of rooms / closets / items and just add a little thing to your list each week or an even littler thing each day. Make your “donate” pile while you fold laundry, separate toys as you clean up at night. When you’re growing a business, the rest of life should be simple. It’s the only way balance will happen.

Mindfulness and Cognitive Science

4 steps for in the moment mindset shifts

Once we see the thing that’s really bothering us, how do we move on? It’s hard enough to figure out what’s really going on underneath…what’s the next step? It continues to be a long road of practice for me – to take the useful step of progress as I grow in my various responsibilities rather than wasting my energy getting angry over how I’m not perfect yet. A progress over perfection mindset is essential once you start to grow your level of self-awareness.


You "know" what you're supposed to do and say but what do you do when you freak out, feel anxious, and struggle to think clearly? Here are 4 steps for in the moment mindset shifts including a real-life example of that time I lost my cool over some frozen spaghetti squash. More at:

I was given 4 big + beautiful spaghetti squash. Then I forgot them in my car and they froze solid.

While running errands with my kids I started feeling myself getting angry – snapping at Frey for talking so much (ummm, she’s 3. Cool it, mom?). We were already at our destination by the time I realized it was the “THUNK, THUNK” of the frozen spaghetti squash in my trunk that was grating on me. Resonating sounds of my failure to be a good housewife.


Making mistakes makes me angry. My daughter’s mistakes make me angry. I get angry over being angry. I don’t want to need help and I definitely don’t want to need Jesus.


Since I want to override this frame of mind, I need a repeatable formula of sorts that I can walk through with predictable success. I thought I would share it with you since I know I’m not the only one who struggles to keep a progress over perfection perspective!



Here’s a few things I do to shift my mindset toward progress over perfection:

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

I describe what I’m doing out loud

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Most of the time verbalizing what’s going on exposes my silly expectations. It also helps me see the real problem I need to solve –

  • “I am mad at myself for letting the squash freeze. I wanted to do a good job here and from my viewpoint, I now have to cook all of them right when they thaw or throw them away. I did this last year and I didn’t like the taste. I’m frustrated that I didn’t do this right…again.”

I’m usually saying this to my daughter if I’ve been snapping at her – maybe not all of it but a simple explanation to emphasize “it’s not you, it’s me.”

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

I point out the silly parts and get perspective

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

I honestly don’t like silver lining. I like where reality meets undeserved kindness. As entrepreneurs running a start up, being good stewards of our resources feels like it needs to be perfect. There are consequences to my forgetfulness and I don’t want to gloss over that simply because “self-love.” Instead, I want to practice seeing my mistakes the same way the Lord sees them –

  • “Frozen squash is a bummer but it’s silly to be angry about it. I made a mistake. In this case, the consequences are not dire. Lord, I’m thankful that the consequences here are manageable. I’m thankful for the chance to see how my mistakes impact my attitude towards my kids. I’m thankful that you continue to give us more than enough and that it’s up to you to sustain my family – not me. “

I for sure talk about this with my daughter because when I know she sees my struggle with trying to control everything, I sure as hell want her to see me seeking repentance for it. This is based on my understanding of Paul’s call for us to live sober-minded. I don’t need silver lining to love myself, I need perspective on how deeply the Father loves me and how he can use even this to sanctify my heart and transform me to be more like Christ.

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

I repent

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Since repentance isn’t necessarily clear, here’s an example of what it looks like for me based on my understanding from Scripture and specific teaching I’ve had from pastors –

  • “Lord, I made this about me. I chose to believe that caring for my family is a heavy burden that I bear alone. I chose to believe you are insufficient. Out of that belief I became angry at those you have entrusted to me. I want to turn from that belief, to rest in your sustaining power and the grace that is mine because of what Jesus did. Thank you for your continued forgiveness of my pride and thank you for this sign of grace – this opportunity to practice believing you are who you say you are and you will continue to sanctify my heart.”

I also ask Freyda to forgive me for yelling / giving silly commands / lacking grace with her. We’ve practiced this quite a bit and she seems to understand. {This part is super hard for me because sometimes I still feel justified in the yelling I did – maybe she was actually doing something wrong and I feel anxious that if I am the one apologizing, she will think she was the license to disobey. Praying for better understanding of grace here. Parenting is super hard, man.}

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

We cuddle, tickle, and be silly

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

I have seriously cuddly children. Especially if we’ve been disconnected lately (mom’s been short-tempered), they seek out a lot of physical touch. Which is super tough if I’m still struggling with why I’m angry. By God’s grace this process softens my heart. In the instance of running errands, I pull Frey up to the front seat for a squeeze and some giggle time and make extra effort in the store to engage her (+Arthur) in our shopping. Big idea here: I’m conscious of my children’s love languages and I’m staying present with them in the post-repentence period. For me, it helps me to keep praying and rejoicing in grace which in turn helps me exude love + respect + kindness to my kids rather than going right back into short-tempered.

Sometimes I wonder if I am trying to make up for my yelling – which I don’t want to do. So I’m usually also thinking consciously about what grace looks like in these moments. Frey is usually wanting to do different things to errands more fun and I aim to stay focused on our parenting big ideas – saying yes as much as possible from a heart of grace and also from an understanding of what I really want my parenting to look like. For example, we don’t get treats because we have treats at home. In certain stores she stays in the cart because the aisles are narrow. We giggle and she helps open the fridge doors or helps put items in the cart because that’s how we do family together.

Mindfulness and Cognitive Science

5 benefits of cultivating self-awareness

Let’s talk about why self-awareness is worth your very precious time and energy. What does someone with a lot on their plate get out of it?


When I first began learning about mindfulness and the benefits of self-awareness it felt a little too good to be true. I aim to spend my time (always a practice) following Pareto’s Law (the 80/20 principle) – and here before me I have a clear habit that seems to not only make it into the 20% of my personal endeavors but of multiple domains across the personal and professional spectrum.


Below I’m going to get down into just 5 benefits that self-awareness brings with practice. This is certainly not all of them, nor will it be a complete explanation of why they come out of self-awareness (that’s a very long post – trust me, I tried it).

Let’s get into it.


Self-awareness and mindfulness are more than just feel-good. They change your brain + the way you respond in the moment to setbacks and uncertainty. Read on for 5 benefits of cultivating self-awareness in your personal + business life. More at:

5 Benefits of self-awareness

The 5 benefits I’m highlighting today build on each other. It’s one of those things that I realized as I looked back over their effects on my life – there is a progression that happens when we begin to ask why about our behavior and peel away the layers.


[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Benefit 1 – Freedom from fear

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]
Freedom from fear isn’t the abolition of fear but a choice to do something even when fear is present. How could we possibly choose to do something when our brains are telling us it’s dangerous to our survival? Self-awareness. You’ve likely experienced this even on an unconscious level – you’re interested in performance and growth, right? At some point along the way you have felt afraid and decided to move forward anyway.


Fear is a natural occurrence. We share it with other animals – a natural instinct to avoid anything that appears to be a threat. As humans, we are capable of higher thinking than instincts. Therefore we can take action based on knowledge of the system we are in rather than an instinctual avoidance of pain. Fear doesn’t just go away – our brains still send signals to indicate threat. And there are certainly instances when we need to react blindly to those signals – like when our brains discern a snake in the path before we have consciously seen it.


What self-awareness allows is for greater independence from our fear in our decision-making. From here we can grow and expand our areas of comfort as we make strategic choices to nudge forward in the direction of our dreams.


[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Benefit 2 – Freedom from procrastination

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Building on top of the first benefit we’re going to talk about procrastination.  We all have those tasks that just sit on our to-do lists. Some are, of course, just not important or urgent enough (and we’ll talk about those momentarily) but others are important and yet they sit there. Why?


Asking why gives you back the power over your behavior. Maybe it’s just really not that important – then move it off your to-do list. Maybe it is important but you don’t have all the pieces – then make the action item about getting the missing pieces (or pass it off to someone else). Fear is another huge reason we procrastinate – freeing yourself from the reaction fear brings will help you get the clarity you need to take action and move forward.


Self-awareness helps you to value your time and energy appropriately. The natural next step once you have that is more care in how you make decisions about spending your time and energy. For example, I grew up getting beef from my grandparent’s farm. And while this made it very normal to enjoy a steak on a semi-regular basis (there were 7 of us…) we grew up knowing that we had it really good. The beef we had was very valuable – and treated as such. Now, as an adult, I still get beef from my grandparents. And we savor the steak – even when we eat it in a normal, everyday meal. We’ve assigned a certain level of value and our behavior matches because we are aware of the value.


You should treat your time and energy like a nice cut of beef. (How’s that for wisdom from a housewife?)


[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Benefit 3 — Greater resilience

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]
It takes effort to actively remember the value you’ve attributed to your time and energy. In the face of a painful situation – like getting your idea shot down by your boss or receiving tactless negative feedback from a client – our gut reaction is to escape the moment. You go back to your desk and start clicking through the internet or you throw up an angry rant on Facebook. Brene Brown studies and writes about shame and vulnerability. She calls these kinds of habits “armoring up” against vulnerability (showing up and putting ourselves out there when the outcome is uncertain). A couple ways we armor up are by numbing (clicking through the internet) or by perfectionism (including getting angry when things don’t go the way we expected or highlight imperfection).
[Comedian Louis C.K. has a great bit about our fear of being alone – you can watch it here.]


So how does self-awareness play in here? Instead of numbing or perfectionism, self-awareness invites curiosity, investigation, and action. It offers the opportunity to put painful experiences into perspective. Why did it hurt so bad when your boss rejected your idea? Maybe it’s because your goal was attention and prestige. Or maybe it’s because the idea came from a deeper desire or dream you have for the world. Getting curious (as Brown calls it) gives you the chance to better understand your true motivations and put them up against your values – to see how this piece fits into the bigger story. Asking why lets you decide consciously if this moment is worth your time and energy and allocating both resources accordingly to take the appropriate action – action that inspires growth. This is resilience – resisting the urge to armor up in the face of vulnerability and instead taking positive action to learn and grow from the experience.


As you ask questions and learn about your current habits of avoiding vulnerability, it’s important to keep in mind that these aren’t innate flaws. It’s your brain’s current pattern of self-preservation and it just needs some fine tuning. This leads into the next benefit of self-awareness.



[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Benefit 4 — Habits

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]
Habits form by repeated action. Your brain uses insulation of neurons (action called myelination) to strengthen any action or thought you have over and over again. A habit might be “when I’m bored, I chew on my fingernails” or it might be the exact movements a pro tennis player makes to perform a backhand.


There are various strategies for both the weakening of neuron connections and the strengthening. Self-awareness makes both possible. You see, our brains have a lot of responsibilities. So they like to be able to shift into autopilot and they don’t much like change. Thankfully, as with fear, we are capable of overcoming that characteristic of our brains and change anyway. So cool, right?


Self-awareness gives us the opportunity to weaken the habits we don’t like so much (after over 20 years of nail biting, I’m a changed woman!) and strengthen the habits we want (systematic practice of all the little movements that play into a perfect back hand).


Bonus :: Applying knowledge of the system also makes some habits come without much effort – paying attention to the right things gives you a snowball effect. I love the brain.



[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]

Benefit 5 — Fruitful response to stress

[kleo_divider type=”full|long|double|short” double=”yes|no” position=”center|left|right” text=”” class=”” id=””]
Stress happens. We hear over and over again that we need to reduce our stress levels – and in some cases, yes! please stop rushing around everywhere at 100 mph. But stress is also a part of life and a very beautiful biological response to our environment. What we need is a more fruitful response to our stress – one that works for us instead of against us.


There are 3 different stress responses – the classic (1) fight-or-flight response to stress; the (2) challenge response; and the (3) tend-and-befriend response. These involve slight differences in chemistry and extreme changes in your behavioral response to stressful situations. Self-awareness lets you pick which one you will go with because as you observe yourself begin to experience stress (or you anticipate it) you can override the automatic reaction (1) and go with (2) or (3) depending on what’s appropriate. We’ll dive deeper into these alternative routes but that is beyond the scope of this post for the time being. I highly recommend Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk (watch it here).


The point is, when you have a developed sense of your feelings, thoughts, and desires you can choose how you react to the environment as it shifts around you. With greater control of your internal environment, you spend less time getting shifted around by the changing winds. You become steadfast in your direction personally and professionally.


Each of these benefits come through the effort of getting to know yourself. Now you’re starting to get a picture of how self-awareness places itself within the vital 20% of the work of your life. Each of these benefits expands your capacity to do work and if your capacity is greater, your likelihood of success is greater. I will spend time exploring each of these benefits more in-depth over the next several months.
How can you begin to move toward these benefits? Check out the sign posts I describe in this post. They are super easy entry points to greater self-awareness.