60-Day Review – How is 2020 Working Out For You?

The best way to make things happen is to clearly define them and ensure you constantly track them.

As we approach the first 60 days of a new year, challenge yourself to stop and notice how things are going. Ask yourself:

  • Did you clearly define what you want to do, achieve or be in 2020?
  • What’s working in your actions to achieve what you want for 2020?
  • What’s not working in your actions to achieve what you want for 2020?

Each month can serve as a great review point to help you assess your progress. When things seem to be going well, take the time to applaud yourself for your successes. When things feel stuck or not moving as fast as you’d like, take the time to make any realignments or changes necessary to achieve your goals.

Let’s look at an example to see how you can apply this to your specific goals and actions.

Let’s say that your focus for the first 60 days of 2020 was to listen more effectively to your employees.  Your specific goal was to look at the people you work with when they talk to you to get better at comprehending the information they are sharing while also improving your connection with them. You want to increase your attention by looking at them instead of trying to do several things at once. Good goal.

60 days into this goal, how are you doing?

Before you can confidently state that you’re doing well or not, create a list of what’s working and what’s not working.

Review what is working in the way you are listening. List the changes or improvements you are making and the impact on your communication with others. Why are they working? How will you keep these going?

Then, review what is not working in the way you are listening. Select something from this list and brainstorm ways to improve it. You may consider leaving a note on your computer that reminds you to stop working and look at your employee. You may consider sharing with employees that you want them to remind you when they see you are not present and listening. You may consider making it a requirement to repeat back or paraphrase what employees say to you as means to force yourself to pay closer attention. From this list of options, select one, build a plan and go implement it.

Then use the next month end (or sooner if your goal is more urgent) to review your progress.

Use this approach to check-in on yourself for any goal you identify. If you decided it was important enough to create a goal in 2020, it is important enough to create a review process to assess your progress.

Most of the time, we miss our goals is because our old habits take over. Interrupt your habits by creating a stronger and shorter review process so you are clearer about your progress and faster in your review to be able to do more of what is working or to realign if necessary.

Take Action
Create a goal follow-up process to be sure you are making progress. Celebrate successes. Brainstorm new approaches to missed goals. Know your progress and you will rock your goals in 2020, whether personal or professional.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading You Can’t Improve on Something You Don’t Measure

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Just Let Me Be A Parent

Parenting performance is always a topic that ends up making headlines. Are you too clingy? Too distant? Too risky? Too risk-averse? Regardless of what you seem to do well or where you feel like you run into challenges, someone is quick to have a name for it, and quick to comment.

But do you notice how those with comments, who are quick to define what they see, often don’t provide any actionable guidance? Any productive feedback? It’s always little quips about what you’re doing wrong.

Let’s look at a recent example: Shawn Johnson was mom-shamed for flipping her 3-month old daughter.

I admit when I saw that headline (“Shawn Johnson defends her 3-month-old daughter’s first flip”), my stomach dropped a little. After all, what does a doing a flip mean for a 3-month old? But I read the article and I watched the video – and here’s the important part – before I formed an opinion.

We’ve gotten away from the importance of being informed before we decide to share our thoughts, especially when it comes to parenting. We are quick to react and tell you why something is wrong without any guidance on how to make things better. We’re quick to point out when someone messed up. We’re quick to throw our hands in the air and admit defeat when things challenge us and push us past our comfort zone.

Though this applies everywhere, I feel it’s even more present in parenting. Everyone is quick to tell you what you’re doing wrong or what you should be doing instead. Why is it that we have to constantly weigh in on what others do? Why is it we always think we know better?

This is unproductive.

At the end of the day, we are each just doing our best to figure out, with our unique personalities, interests and abilities, how to live our lives in this crazy world while being tasked with raising little humans to help guide them to find their way, as well.

It’s hard. It can be exhausting. It can be rewarding. It can make you feel 100 different emotions at the same time. Who would have thought “happy tears” come so freely?

But we’re all there together. It doesn’t matter how others may identify you – a helicopter parent, a bulldozer parent, the fairy tale parent – they are just titles that help box you up into a tidy category for people to judge.

In fact, a term I hadn’t heard of before – “puddle parent” – recently came across my desk. A puddle parent is described as letting “their kids veer off the regular, prescribed path and forge their own way.” Why does this have to be defined? Why can’t this just be parenting? Our role as parents is to help our kids discover who they are, understand their world and find their place in it. Each kid is and will be different. There is not one “right” way to make this happen, but if we are responsive, supportive and encouraging of both our kids and of the parents who show up in whatever way that is with their kids, imagine what we could create.

So, before you share your thoughts on what’s wrong, take a minute to remember we’re all doing the best we can. What works for you might not work for others. What works for someone else might not make sense for you.

Before we can raise our kids to be happy and responsible humans, we have to be that first.

Take Action
Take a minute to check in on how you judge yourself and others. Consider how you could instead assess your parenting and be sure it is helping your kids find their way in their way. And as you look at other parents, find greater patience and less judgment knowing that they are trying to figure out how to help each of their kids find their way. Patience and support is what we all need.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading I Don’t Believe in an Identity Crisis

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Don’t Just Capture the Moment. Be in the Moment

Technology – it is like a Dickens novel; it is the best of times and the worst of times. It can do so many great things for us while simultaneously turning us into zombies who move through life capturing where we are but never really experiencing it.

We have all become chroniclers – more ready to tell and show people what we are doing and experiencing instead of actually doing and experiencing. We rush to post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter without realizing we’re only sharing part of what really happened.

Before you say, “That’s not me!” think about it. Go to any great party, national monument or famous place. Eat at an amazing restaurant. Stand on the shores of a great beach. Fly over the mountains. See your son or daughter take their first steps. See a famous painting or sculpture. See something really unusual or unique. In all of these, do you reach for your phone to document what is going on so you can share it?

We spend so much time trying to record the moment that we forget to be in the moment, to really experience it. All of the emotions, sensations and observations.

Memories come from experiences. Sure, we can look back at a picture, but it would be better to spend less time trying to get the perfect shot in favor of being fully present to what the moment, location and experience is giving you. Smell the aromas. Taste the environment. Connect with the people. Feel the wind, the breeze, the rain, the sun, the snow or whatever else is part of the moment. Each of these make the moment. Each of these contribute to the memory. These are the things a picture or video can’t give back.

Just for a moment, presume you don’t have access to your phone or tablet. You have no way to document this exact moment other than to be fully present to it – to notice every detail using all of your senses. Take a breath and take it all in. This exact moment is making a great recording in your mind that will show up many times in your life. Moreover, this moment will feel full – exciting – joyful. You see more, feel more and experience more than if you act as if you are on the tour bus trying to get the best shot of the Eiffel Tower or a Dutch windmill. More will happen in this moment than you can capture in an image. Be in the moment to gather all it has for you.

Our technology gives us amazing abilities. But just like with anything, there are often challenges that come from too much good. In this case, too much technology can rob us from our personal connections with others (face-to-face conversations) and the things we experience in the moments of our lives. Wouldn’t it be better to share a story of all that you fully experienced instead of quickly showing a photo? Others will experience more of what you experienced as you fill in the details of the more robust experience. Help them feel what you felt. Help them experience what you experienced. That can only happen if you choose to experience it instead of focusing on recording it.

Take Action
Challenge yourself to put your phone down for a set amount of time during the day. Maybe you start by saying no phones at the dinner table. Maybe it’s for one hour after dinner while you read, do something around the house or pursue a hobby. Each day, add 5 minutes to that time. You’ll find in just a few weeks that your phone is a piece of technology you value and appreciate instead of lean on. You’ll find you have a greater sense of self and your relationships will benefit by putting the phone away. You’ll find you have greater memories of each moment you got back that week.

Give it a try. Tell us how it goes.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Your Check Engine Light

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Create a Thankless Day Celebration

Holidays are great. They serve as reminders of the important things that interrupt our busy schedules. But when you take a deeper look at most holidays, they really suggest a different perspective for the entire year, not just on the specific holiday. Look at Thanksgiving, for example.

Once a year, we force ourselves to remember to be grateful for how much we have, a departure from most of the other days when we dwell on what we don’t have, what is missing, what is wrong or what is disappointing about life. But on Thanksgiving, that one special day every year, we refocus on what is going right, who in our lives are amazing and, overall, how blessed and fortunate we are.

So, here is an idea. What if we had one day to celebrate everything that is wrong with our lives, our relationships, our work and our choices. Just one day. And then for the remaining 364 days, we focused on what about work and life was good, upbeat, successful and engaging. I know that for those who implemented this and did it with intention find they could start their day off with a list of the things they are grateful for, to see past the negative and focus on the positive.

So mark you day on the calendar – your Thankless Day. Celebrate it any way you want. Complain. Cry. Vent. Scream. Get it all out.

But when it is over, it is over for 364 more days. Committing to a Thankless Day, and to do it with intention, would allow us to not just look at the people in our lives, but to really see them, to see how they add value and make life better. We would look at the things we have and notice how much we have, not what is lacking. We would see others for their potential and not for their flaws. We would notice the remarkable quality and choice of food we have instead of complaining about what we don’t have.

Over time, with both practice and intention, you won’t see the need for a Thankless Day. You’ll start to see life as neutral; that it just happens and is not out to get us. You’ll start to see past the aggravations, frustrations and irritations that mark most of our days and instead see all the good.

Take Action
Make it your intention to adopt a thankful mentality for every day of the year. Start small; make it an intentional effort for the first few days of the New Year, bringing your thankful mentality with you after the holidays are done. See how you feel. Notice how others around you are impacted and respond.

Commit to seeing the value, greatness and possibility in your life. Don’t make the thankful days the exception; make thankful days the norm and make the thankless days the exception. Over time, you will not find the need to have a Thankless Day.

By Jay Forte

This article originally appeared on Thrive Global on February 3, 2020: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/create-a-thankless-day-celebration/.

Consider reading Your Check Engine Light

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Own It

I recently caught up on Schitt’s Creek. For those of you who haven’t seen it (and I highly recommend you do!), here’s a quick summary: a very wealthy family loses everything due to [intentional] errors from their business manager. They move to a small town called Schitt’s Creek that they bought as a joke years before. They experience a variety of quirky events and learn how to be a family.

One of the greatest storylines that I honestly feel is underplayed is the relationship between David and Alexis (siblings). Though they argue and tease, their appreciation for each other runs deep. In one scene in particular, David calls out Alexis, claiming that her whole life has been easy, saying that she just “skates through life.”

She responds, “No I don’t. I walk through life in great shoes.”

This whole interaction was amazing. Not only was it incredibly funny and touching, but it also served as a great reminder of the impact a single person can have on you.

Look at David’s statement: “you skate through life.” In his mind, his sister had it easy. She never had to work hard, never had to figure things out for herself to make a situation better. He felt the responsibility was always on him. He represents the external view – what others see and think of us.

Alexis’ response is a very strong and productive internal view. She is so confident and sure of who she is that she knows how life really is for her and owns it. She takes what comes her way and does what she needs to with it to continue living her life according to her terms. She knows how to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. And perhaps the most important part of this exchange? She was not swayed by his comments. She answered him confidently and moved on.

Just imagine if we could be this way with ourselves. Unphased by what others think of us. Unphased by who the world tells us we need to be, how we need to think, how we should live. Imagine if you could confidently own your life. I like the phrase “personal philosophy” that Psychologist Michael Gervais wrote about in Harvard Business Review. He explained, “Most of us go through life with a general sense of who we are, and, in a lot of circumstances, that’s enough. We get by. But if you want to be your best while being less fearful of people’s opinions, you need to develop a stronger and much deeper sense of who you are.”

Take Action
Our mission in 2020 is to gain clarity about who we are and what we want our life to be like. Take some time this week to really challenge yourself to define who you are. What are your greatest likes? Dislikes? What is one thing you are most confident doing? Why?

Start to build a clearer picture of who you are. Get to know the real you. And own it.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Year to Get Clear

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3 Ways A Coach Can Help You Succeed

We all have a lot on our plates. Work, life, relationships – the responsibilities never end. Even on good days, our responsibilities can leave us with little time to think, plan or achieve beyond the bare minimum. We get stopped by challenges and obstacles. We get overwhelmed by commitments. We get blindsided by the unplanned or inconvenient. And every night, we fall into bed wondering what happened, and how did we get here.

Does this sound like you?

Life comes at you fast. That isn’t going to change – in fact, it will likely get faster. What can change, however, is how you get ready to be in this game of life – to live it like it matters, to achieve your goals and live to your potential.

The good news is you have an ally in this game to help you implement this change: a professional coach.

Working with a coach gives you access to getting clear on what you want most in life. Through a guided, thought-provoking conversation, you start to better understand yourself – your strengths, passions, liabilities and triggers – and understand how to overcome any obstacles that may be stopping you from getting whatever it is you’ve identified as what you want most in life. Whether it’s a small goal or navigating a big life change, whether it’s something at work or in life, a coach can help you get clear and stay focused on what you really want. But the really big differentiator of hiring a coach is that they hold you accountable to your actions so you can reach your goals.

Working with a Forte Factor coach takes this a step further by giving you access to the only tools you’ll ever need to navigate real life: awareness and confidence. Forte Factor coaches are trained to help you discover, develop and live your potential by expanding your self-knowledge, self-belief and self-confidence. These help you become more aware of yourself, your world and how to connect the two for your greatest impact.

So what does this really mean? And what does this look like?

Here are three ways a coach can help you succeed:

  1. A coach helps you see things clearly.
    • Develop your awareness and self-awareness to more accurately see and understand your world and yourself, and more wisely connect them to achieve your goals.
    • Identify and focus on what’s important and meaningful to you personally and professionally.
    • Clearly define and state what you want (your goals) and honestly review your current performance (what’s working and not working) so you can build a practical plan to close the gap between the two.
    • See and understand your strengths and talents to know what to lead with to achieve your goals.
    • See and understand your challenges, triggers and blind spots that get in your way from achieving your goals so you can manage them.
    • See the limits you impose on yourself to empower you to move past them.
  2. A coach encourages expansive thinking.
    • Imagine and see what is possible instead of just what is.
    • Discuss potential and possibilities instead of doing enough to get by.
    • Understand limits you impose on yourself and what life and work without limits could look like.
  3. A coach holds you accountable.
    • Create meaningful and realistic performance expectations and the commitments needed to achieve the expectations.
    • Create clear performance metrics and measurements to assess progress and performance that come from knowing you well.
    • Communicates candidly, clearly and directly about achieving defined expectations.

Life is difficult. There is so much coming at you from every direction that it is easy to get overwhelmed, distracted or to even feel like giving up. By working with a coach, you can get the guidance to keep things in perspective, learn how to be confident in a noisy and distracting world and achieve the things that really matter to you.

Take Action
Start a conversation with a Forte Factor coach to learn how our coaching approach can help you develop greater awareness of you, your goals and your current situation, and guide you to moving yourself to the areas that will make work and life successful for you.

Read our case studies and client testimonials.

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Kindness Spoken Here

In places where multiple cultures are prevalent, or if it’s a frequent vacation destination, it is not unusual to see signs that say si parla Italiano, se habla Espanol, or even English spoken here. It is a welcome sign when you are in a place that does not speak your language. You know this is a place where you will be understood.

This had me thinking. What if in every household, workplace and commercial location, there was a sign posted, Kindness Spoken Here. Here, we watch, listen, care and respond with kindness, concern and respect.

Imagine how things would be different.

I travel during many weeks every year, so many weeks that Southwest Airlines and Marriott really like me. But it’s not the reward points that I review at the end of each trip, it’s the behaviors of those around me. In all of my trips speaking to groups, organizations, parents and CEOs, I routinely have the opportunity to witness how we interact and communicate with each other. Most of us are moving through life on a mission – head down and pushing ahead or looking at a phone walking in a way that would not pass a sobriety test. We are unaware of others, bumping into them, racing to beat them to a line, ensuring that we get what we want before assessing or responding to what they want. Rarely do we watch for the places to help others, let alone even acknowledge them. If one of the most important things we can do in life is to notice, encourage and support the greatness in others, it can’t happen if we aren’t aware of and committed to kindness in our interactions. Kindness is the key to the door to connection and relationship.

How do you develop the Kindness Spoken Here mindset? Here are three ideas.

  1. Don’t be cheap with a smile. This is the best and most inexpensive value builder on the planet. When you smile, you positively affect the moods of others. It is called emotional contagion. When you smile, you subconsciously invite others to join you in a positive and supportive emotion. As you smile and receive one back, you are also benefited from your action. And another benefit: it has the power to relax or undo a negative emotion in someone else.
  2. Don’t be cheap with a greeting or kind word. After a simple smile, offer a kind word. Express interest in them by asking how they are, how their day is, or, my favorite, what is the best thing that has happened to you today? Silent smiles are good, but smiles accompanied by a kind greeting are better. Connecting through actions and words improves the quality of connection with others, whether friends or strangers.
  3. Don’t be cheap with a simple act of kindness. Hold the door for someone. Let someone in ahead of you in traffic. Help someone with a bag, box or suitcase. Chat with them while waiting in whatever line you find yourself in. Express an interest in the lives of others and you will notice how similar we all are: looking to do our best in world that moves fast and can be impersonal.

With a focus on kindness, it’s more likely that you will see the greatness surface in others. As they respond, you are changed for good.

Take Action
Post Kindness Spoken Here at your home, office, car or school. Use the sign as a reminder to always watch and focus on how you speak, connect and interact with others. Lead with kindness.

This week, make a commitment to smile more, use kind and supportive words (instead of critical words), and do things to help others. It will be appreciated and will be paid forward. Great things always start small and catch on because they are great. Kindness can start small and grow into a family, company, school, town or even country that leaves others and ourselves better.

Speak the language of kindness and you will change yourself and your world.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How Your Memories of Childhood Can Improve Your Future

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The Year to Get Clear

If you don’t enter a destination, your GPS is of little service. If you don’t create a goal, you don’t know where or how to focus your energy and activity. If you don’t have a purpose, you get pushed to-and-fro at the whim of the world around you.

With 2020 now here and its reminder of good vision, this is your year to get clear.

Where do you start to get clear? By deciding what you want to have happen this year – what outcome, success or achievement – would make this a good year?  

No one else can define this for you, but it is a necessary first step to help you get clear about you. From there, you can more confidently work on getting clear about what you want, what fits you and what makes life good for you. When you figure that out, you can determine where you are and what you need to do or make happen so you can move to where you want to be.

To help you get started, consider an approach that  I routinely share with my coaching clients. It goes like this: Imagine it is December 31, 2020. The entire year has gone by. You take a moment and realize what a great year this has been.

Now ask yourself: what happened to make it a great year? What were you clear about that helped you to make wise and sound decisions? What were you clear about to help you make progress on meaningful personal and professional goals? How did you grow, improve and make progress to be the best you or to be the person you want to be?

Think Personally

Complete a mental 360-degree walk around your life using the prompts below. Reflect on your response to each of the prompts. Consider recording your thoughts to help you see a more complete picture.

What do you want to happen this year in your life…

  • With your health?
  • With your family?
  • With your friends and / or colleagues?
  • With your finances?
  • With your school, college or other educational focus?
  • With your leisure time?
  • With your career direction?
  • With your sense of life purpose?

Think Professionally

Complete a mental 360-degree walk around your professional life using the prompts below. Reflect on your response to each of the prompts. Consider recording your thoughts to help you see a more complete picture.

What do you want to happen this year in your work…

  • With your career path?
  • With your salary or compensation?
  • With your relationship with the organization and management?
  • With your impact?
  • With your skill development?
  • With your interactions with colleagues?
  • With your retirement?

Take Action
It is your choice. Don’t let others take control of this for you. Make the time to get clear to boldly and confidently define your directions. With this, you dramatically improve the ability to achieve what you want so when you get to December 31, 2020, you can reflect on the year and confidently state that you had a most amazing year.

Need help getting started? Learn more about 2020 Vision and contact us to schedule your first discovery coaching call.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 2020 Vision – The Year to Get Clear About The Things that Matter

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Your Check Engine Light

We don’t come equipped with a user’s manual that gives us the information we need to develop our natural strengths and talents. We don’t come with insight into cheat codes, telling us how to advance to the next level faster and better prepared. We don’t come with warning lights or alarms telling us we’re going in the wrong direction or that we’re pushing ourselves too hard, burning the candle at both ends, as they say.

But something we do come equipped with is a “check engine light.” Feeling out of place? It’s your check engine light telling you the fit isn’t right. Feeling run down and tired? It’s your check engine light reminding you of the importance of self-care. Feeling empowered and excited about something? It’s your check engine light telling you you’ve found your passion, your strength, the area where you’ll thrive. 

Learn to recognize when your check engine light comes on. This is what we call the Stop and Notice moment. It’s a moment when something happens that brings your attention to how you’re thinking or feeling about a situation or event.

The check engine light isn’t always a bad thing. It is just a reminder, an interruption that asks you to pay attention. Stop and Notice what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, what’s happening around you. Consider why you think or feel this way. Consider how it could be better or how you can take advantage of a good situation. Then choose – with intention – how to move forward, how to make the next moment the best it can be with all the information you have. Learn from a challenge or uncomfortable feeling. Celebrate a success or opportunity.

Take Action
Pay attention to what your emotions, thoughts and feelings are telling you. Feeling good? Why? Not feeling good, balanced or happy? Why?

How does your check engine light appear to you? Challenge yourself to identify how your check engine light appears to you. Once you see it, it’s hard to miss.

The check engine light is your signal, your reminder to pay attention to what moves you forward. Without some regular maintenance, you just might break down.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Here’s Your Permission Slip

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2020 Vision – The Year to Get Clear About The Things that Matter

Let me guess: Your days can be chaotic and make you feel like you are running in place. At the end of the day, you are exhausted but don’t really feel like you have made much progress. This could be because you lack a clear vision of what you want to accomplish.

Well, this stops now.

2020 Vision is a commitment to be more mindful and intentional in how you show up to your days – both in work and life. As Stephen Covey shares in habit #2 of his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.” Get clear about what you want, where you want to go and what success looks like. From there, you can assess your current performance and develop a plan to achieve that vision of success.

As you start a new year, consider getting clear about the following areas:

  • You: What are your talents, strengths and interests? Identify your abilities to be able to wisely and intentionally lead with what is best in you. With clarity about who you are, you create the ability bring your best, greatest and most productive self to everything you do. How will you get clear about you this year?
  • Relationships: Who are the important people in your life? What amplifies your connection with them? Identify the relationships you have at work. What does a successful relationship look like? Identify the relationships you have outside of work. For each, define what a successful relationship looks like. Getting clear about what you want in each relationship can help you regularly assess where the relationship is to know how to improve it and move it forward. How will you get clear about your relationships this year?
  • Directions: What do you want to accomplish or achieve in 2020? Identify what career path you want to be on. Do you want to change jobs, get promoted, go back to school, become a manager, start your own business? Identify what life path you want to be on. Do you want to change jobs, go to college, get married, get divorced, have a family, move to a new area? The choices are endless and they are yours to make. But remember: even though there are always a lot of options, only some of them fit you. Knowing yourself and what you want of your relationships will influence your direction. How will you get clear about your personal and professional direction this year? 
  • Blocks: What will get in your way to get clear this year? What habits, assumptions, interpretations and limiting beliefs are stopping you from allowing yourself to clearly define what you want for you, your relationships and your directions? Shining light on your blocks (which could be anything from finances to health to education to job availability or even the lack of self-belief and confidence) helps create the ability to address them to stop them from blocking your happiness and success. How will you get clear about the things that are blocking you this year?

Your life is up to you. You are not a passenger, you are the driver. To arrive where you want to go requires clarity. Your GPS is not much help if you aren’t clear about your destination.

Think 2020 Vision. Get clear about you, your relationships, your direction and the things that currently block you. When you’re clear about all of this, you can set your destination and enjoy the ride.

Get clear to get great results.

Take Action
Consider the benefits of working with a coach to help you get clear about you, your life and / or your work. Sometimes, it’s hearing things said out loud to a neutral third party that can offer clarity to you in a completely different way.

Imagine. Create your vision. Build your plan.

Let’s get started.

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