How to Solve Any Challenge You Face (Really!)

It doesn’t seem so long ago that we were all struggling with how to make the right decision about what to do come the Fall. Do we send the kids back to school? Do we attempt a hybrid approach? Do we keep education 100% remote?

And the questions didn’t stop with our kids, either. Questions about whether or not it was safe to return to work, whether our jobs would still be there, if it was possible to shift to entirely remote work (or if a hybrid approach was an option), if we’d end up facing unemployment again, if we could afford to make a change, if now was the right time to make a job/career change.

So many questions. So much uncertainty.

So, if you’re laying awake at night trying to decide what will be the best and safest option for you and you’re your family, this post is for you.

Let me introduce you to our Solve Anything Process. We built the Solve Anything Process, a step-by-step guide, to help our clients expand their awareness of what they want and where they are so they can intentionally and wisely close the gap between the two. We find it works so well that we wanted to share it to help everyone better deal with the challenges and issues of the moment.

The Process Described
First, you start by identifying the focus of your Solve Anything Process. Call it a challenge, an issue, a situation – whatever you want to identify as the focus, write it down. Visualize it. Make it real. This is meant to be broad because the focus is the overall thing you are discussing. For example, the focus could be addressing decisions about school.

Second, you identify your goal. The goal is what you want to achieve. It needs to be very specific so you can easily determine whether or not it was achieved. For this example, let’s say the goal you want to solve in the decision about school is your child’s(ren’s) safety. So, the goal could be: to create a plan to ensure the safety of your son or daughter to/from and at school.

The differentiation is important. The focus is the issue, challenge or situation you’re facing. The goal helps you get clear on what you want to happen.

The reason to do this is to create a clear understanding of what currently exists – the things that are working (so you can do more of them) and the things that are not working (that are preventing you from achieving your goal – so you can address them and achieve your goal).

Here’s what this could look like:

What’s WorkingWhat’s Not Working
– Good at social distancing when given the ability to remain socially distant
– Doesn’t share school supplies
– Doesn’t share lunch or snacks
– Good communication about what happens during the day so you’re in the know
– Social distancing efforts aren’t always an option in school setting
– Doesn’t always keep a mask on
– Unsure what other parents are doing to protect their kids when they’re not at school
– Before/After school routine is unknown

Stop for a moment. You have just created a clear inventory of your situation. You can see where you are (what’s working and not working) and you can see what you want (be safe to/from and at school).

Notice: a clear, calm mind will be able to look at this in a productive way, allowing for the creation of options to solve how to move forward. If your thoughts are anxious and fear-based, however, you use your energy to stay afraid and not develop a sound solution.

The Solve Anything Process is designed to help you respond instead of react to what it is you want to solve.

Next, you’ll tackle the items on the “What’s Not Working” list. These are things that are stopping you from reaching your goal of safety to/from and at school. Don’t try to take care of all of them at once; pick one item from the list and brainstorm ways to make this better. For this example, consider brainstorming how to be better about wearing a mask. No idea should be dismissed; consider everything and get others involved, including your kid(s). Some ideas could include:

  • Identify a specific mask to wear to and from school and one to wear at school
  • Create/buy a custom mask that your kid(s) is/are excited to wear and show off to their friends
  • Create/buy a mask that is comfortable and easy to use

Don’t stop at 3. Keep going until all ideas are exhausted. Then pick one and make it happen.

The Solve Anything Process helps you calmly and intentionally take a look at a challenge, issue or situation and find a solution that makes sense for you. You gather information, you figure out where you are and where you want to be, you identify what’s working and not working and you pick one thing to make better and go do it.

Scroll down to see an example of how to complete the Solve Anything Process Worksheet.

Take Action
Give the Solve Anything Process a try. For it to be most successful, make your goal extremely specific. This approach can help you figure out how to answer a question or overcome a challenge that has been bothering you or frustrating you because it forces you to think and respond instead of react. Taking that intentional step back helps remove some of the emotions so you can think more clearly to use your energy to solve instead of being aggravated, frustrated, irritated or anxious.

This is how to solve anything.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Identifying Your End Goal Can Make It Happen

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How to Balance Working from Home with Kids

Everyone is feeling the strain right now. The truth is that we’ve all been feeling it for months: the need to get your work done when you’re working from home when your kids are also home.

Regardless of how old they are, kids need guidance. Babies need your attention for just about everything. Toddlers can’t be left to their own devices for long. Tweens and teens need encouragement and support, especially as they work through remote learning. And adult children are likely look for emotional support and guidance, especially as they try to work through what all of this means for them and their independence, their friends and their family.

Trying to balance getting your work done while meeting the needs of your children is exhausting. We’re trying so hard to make it all work, trying to do it all. And though we don’t want to admit it, here’s the truth: a balanced life is not real. Time spent on one thing means time spent away from another.

So how do you successfully balance working from home when you have kids?

Consider these four tips:

First, identify your one big thing for work and home life that you want to achieve each day. Regardless of how many action items you have outstanding on your to do list, pick just one thing for work and one thing at home that, once done, will make you feel like it was a good, productive day.

Second, create a routine. This is as much for you as it is for them. Get used to starting your day the same way. Identify your work time. Identify school time. Identify free play time. Consider starting your day with a family meeting, maybe even over breakfast. Talk to each other about the day ahead. Communicate big events (like important work calls) or deadlines. Share frustrations and concerns. Make it a daily event and it will start to come easy.

Third, establish boundaries. When you’re working, it’s work time. No interruptions (except in extreme situations, and be sure to define what those are). When it’s school time, everyone is engaged. No excuses. Clearly define what “free play time” means and, if needed, put limits on screen time. I have found that having a brief family meeting each morning is a good way to reconfirm and remind everyone in the house about the boundaries, including a consequence for not supporting them. This is, after all, critical to making things work at this particular moment.

And finally, create a mental well-being space. Give a name like, Me time. Down time. Relaxing time. Whatever you choose to call it, make sure you build it into your day. You cannot pour from an empty cup (and I think most parents right now would say they operate on about 50% battery power on a good day).

These four tips – identify your one big thing for the day, create a routine, establish boundaries and create some mental well-being space – are how to get your arms around this working from home thing.

Whether this is temporary or permanent for you, it will require your thought, focus and intention to build and sustain something that works. Defining it and bringing everyone into knowing the approach will help ensure its success.

Take Action
Being told that the way to be effective working from home means doing more work can sound like a lot, but take it one step at a time. Start with the one thing from tip #1. What would a productive and successful day look like for you? Set your intention for the day, for both work and at home. Focus on getting those two things done and you’ll feel empowered to try the next tip.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Staying Productive When Your World Goes Quiet

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Don’t Be An Ostrich

We’ve all heard the news about the potential spread of Coronavirus. I’m the first to admit, I wasn’t paying attention to the news around it for too long, so when the announcement was made yesterday (February 25) about the potential widespread threat, I panicked. I thought about my husband working in the city. I thought about my kids at school. I thought about my Mom and mother-in-law, both teachers. I thought about my Dad who travels a lot. I thought about my sister who works in a hospital. I thought about my new niece who is just starting daycare. I thought about a lot of things.

And I panicked.

But here’s why: I didn’t have all the information. I jumped to conclusions based on one news source.

And that’s the problem. People are all too ready to accept one piece of news as fact, without getting the rest of the information. I’m reading a book called The ONE Thing and in it, the author talks about the idea of “truthiness.” The idea was coined by Stephen Colbert meaning, “truth that comes from the gut, not books.”

Basically, truthiness is the idea that something seems like the truth so you roll with it, without confirming that it is in fact reality. This is why I encourage my clients to always ask themselves: Is this true? Or do I believe it to be true? With immediate access to any type of information (thank you Siri and Google Assistant), we do very little critical thinking. We don’t research, assess, evaluate or analyze because we aren’t required to in order to function. When we hear something, or let the Internet tell us something, we allow ourselves to believe it is true and we run with it.

We’ve all become ostriches, burying our heads in the sand, committed to believing what we hear at face-value, not willing to spend a few extra minutes to get more information to validate what we hear.

So, now you’re aware. What can you do to increase your world-awareness on the things that matter to you before you jump to conclusions and make hasty decisions, potentially impacting your life and the lives of those around you?

Don’t be an ostrich. Immediate access to an infinite amount of information gives each of us the opportunity to be well-informed. Take the time to find the truth. Then make decisions based on what is true, not what is loud, popular or trendy.

Take Action
Whatever you use for a news source, open it up. Read through today’s headlines. Now and stop and notice how you feel. Regardless of whether that feeling is a negative emotion (anxiety, worry, fear) or a positive one (happy, interested, excited), challenge yourself to learn more about the headline that most caught your attention. Explore other news sources. Expand what you consider. Be sure your sources are committed to accuracy. See what people are saying about the topic on social channels. Build your information before you decide the best response to the news for you.

And always remember to check in with yourself by asking: is this true? Or do I believe it to be true?

You’ll be amazed how much wiser your decisions will be.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading 3 Ways A Coach Can Help You Succeed

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How Not to be an Eeyore

By Jay Forte

I was recently chatting with a friend about why everyone seems to be so unhappy and why they turn to drinking, diversions and drugs (the 3 Ds) as a means to find happiness (or at least feel happy for a short time).

As a coach, I regularly discuss happiness with my clients and why it has seemingly become so elusive. For example, think of the last time you were really happy. More than likely, you can more easily remember the last time you were mad, sad or scared. Why? Because we default into mad, sad and scared but have to use intention to find happiness.

Our brains are hardwired with four primary emotions: fear, anger, sadness and joy – you know, mad, sad, glad and scared. But of those four, fear, anger and sadness are our defaults. This is because they are part of our defense and survival mechanism (i.e. our fight, flight or freeze brain) – they are our protectors. This part of the brain doesn’t care if you are happy or successful; it just wants you to be here tomorrow. So if you want to lead a joyful life, you have to shift from habit to intention.

We have to work hard to search through all the aggravations, frustrations and difficulties life sends us to find the joy. Think about it. In the same moment you notice the tough, challenging and aggravating things about life, you could also notice the amazing, wonderful and terrific things. They are there; you just have to learn and choose to look for them on purpose. Be mindful. Be aware. Be intentional.

The world will never stop sending challenging events – that is just life. How you respond to them, instead of react to them, is the key to achieving happiness. It isn’t elusive. It just requires greater effort than defaulting into being afraid, angry or sad, and the benefits are exponential.

Here are some tips to help you move toward happy.

1. Focus on what works before you focus on what doesn’t work. In this moment, notice 5 things that are going right. Notice when your mind wants to bring in what doesn’t work. Don’t judge or get stuck on what’s not working. Instead, try to stay focused on what good things are happening. Do this once every day, and work your way up to doing it several times a day. This doesn’t mean you don’t and won’t notice what’s not working. It’s about making a point of noticing and celebrating what is working, as well.

2. Notice and change your negative self-talk. If you had friends that speak to you the way you speak to yourself, you would end the friendship in a minute. Most of what we say to ourselves is critical and negative. Notice your self-talk. Start to shut down the negative talk and add some compliments, care and applause. Start to say things like, “nice job with that report,” or, “I love how confident I feel today.” If all you ever hear is negative, how could you show up happy, glad and in a place of joy?

3. Ask why. When you find yourself feeling mad, sad or scared, ask yourself why. Sometimes, it’s an unfounded reality, one you’ve created for yourself that doesn’t truly exist. Keep asking yourself why until you have an answer. This mindfulness practice forces you to intentionally choose to respond vs. react to any event in life because you’re getting to the root of why you feel the way you do.

The events of and people in life can’t make you happy. Happiness lies with your response to them. Remember, you choose your response. So why not choose happy over afraid, sad and angry?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. How many times during your day are you glad vs. mad? Why?
  2. What is one thing you can do today to look for what’s right in your world instead of what’s wrong?
  3. How can you start each day with a moment of gratitude about something great in your life?


Consider reading What Does A Good Day Look Like For You?

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Are you a good or a bad meditator?

By Kristin Allaben

I’ll be the first to admit it. When I was initially told to be mindful, to take time to meditate, it made my eyes glaze.

“I’m too much of a busy-body to meditate.”

“I can’t quiet my mind enough to do that the right way.”

“What do you even meditate about?”

 “I don’t know how to do it the right way.”

Just a few excuses I’d use over and over until they became my truth, my limiting belief – I started to believe I wasn’t able to meditate because I just couldn’t do it.

But then I had an enlightened moment. Mindful meditation is not just about quieting the mind and sitting in complete silence. It’s about tuning in to each feeling, emotion, sensation and thought, recognizing them and, when appropriate, asking “how curious I should be feeling/thinking/responding this way.” You start to pay attention, on purpose, to you and your world, with no judgement. Just acknowledgment.

It is in these moments of mindful meditation that you begin to realize how you react vs. respond to various events in your life. Just noticing gives you the opportunity to improve your next moment. For example, mindful meditation could help you become more intentional and thoughtful vs. emotional and judgmental with anything that happens on a daily basis.

The way I started mindful meditation and focused attention was to write down one thing at the end of every day that made me feel happy. Sometimes, it was something funny one of my kids did or a big milestone they reached. Sometimes, it was acknowledging that I had the chance to go for a long, uninterrupted run. Sometimes, it was stopping and noticing that my husband and I watched an entire movie after the kids were in bed and we both made it through without dozing off (little victories!).

Doing this helped me reflect on the day and acknowledge each event without judgement. I choose to write down the happy moments because it lets me go to bed feeling happy, ready to wake up with a positive outlook for the next day.

This is my form of mindful meditation. I’m tuning in, reflecting on my day, and writing it down. It’s helping me realize how often I react vs. respond, which in turn is hhelping me tune in to reactions so I can be more intentional in the next moment.

There’s no right or wrong way to meditate; you have to find what works for you. Whether it’s meditation (in the traditional definition), focused attention or something else, do what delivers the best experience for you.

So the next time you come up with an excuse for why you can’t meditate, ask yourself, if meditation isn’t for me, then what is?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. If you find meditation to be a challenge, ask yourself why that is. Is it a limiting belief? Or rooted in truth?
  2. What is one thing you can start to do today to begin to incorporate mindful meditation or focused attention into your daily routine?
  3. How can you leverage mindful meditation or focused attention to help you become more intentional in each moment?


Consider reading Experience Isn’t Your Enemy

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