By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
I was at my 12 year old, Ethan’s, basketball game a few weeks back, and the most amazing thing happened! Altoona was down by 2 with around 40 seconds left in the game. Ethan was fouled, which put his team in to bonus. For you non-basketballers, as I was until my sons became players, this means Ethan went to the free throw line where he got one shot attempt for sure and a second one if he made the first.
Free throws are a major weak spot in 7th grade basketball. As is common in basketball, games are often won or lost based on the outcomes of free throws. After losing a game earlier in the season by 6 points correlating with 6 missed free throws, Ethan started practicing his free throws nearly daily. As Ethan went to the line with the potential to tie the game, it was time to see if this work paid off.
Second ball up...swish.
Game is tied!
Fast forward to 4 seconds left in the game with the score still tied, Altoona inbounds the ball to Ethan. He dribbles in, goes up for a lay up, and IN! The game winning score!
It was very exciting but I wasn’t proud of Ethan for making his free throws or the game winning shot, and I made sure to tell him that. Before his face fell too far, and before you all come and stone me for being such a meany, here is what I said to Ethan, “Ethan, I’m not proud of you for making your free throws or the winning shot. I’m excited for you, yes, but I’m not proud of you. Know what I am proud of you for?”.
“What?”, Ethan asked, trying not to look disappointed.
“Ethan, I’m proud of you for putting in the extra work when no one was looking so you were prepared to make those shots when your team needed you to, “ I said. He looked up, a little surprised. “You see, Ethan, no one made you do the extra practice. But, I guarantee it was that extra you did when no one was watching that gave you the skill and confidence to pull off those game-tying free throws and the game-winning lay up. That is what makes me proud of you.” While I wanted Ethan to revel in a few minutes of being the hero, I didn’t want him to miss the big lesson, that it was his extra commitment to extra practice to improve his skills that allowed him to pull this off. Wins fade, there’s always another game to play, so to speak, but this life lesson will stick with him long after.
Why am I sharing this, DreamChaser? This is an important life lesson for all of us, too, not just Ethan! The victories feel good, right? We all want that end result, the big win. But, it takes a lot of effort and practice and, gasp, failing and do overs behind the scenes to have the moment in the limelight. It’s these small, everyday victories of putting in the time when no one is looking that is the difference maker, that is setting you up for success, that is getting you prepared for and closer to your victory. Last second, winning plays, or any victory in life, doesn’t just happen without the effort behind the scenes that no one witnesses. You just have to stick with it!
Choose an attitude that you won’t give up, no matter what. Embrace the mindset that failing is fine but quitting is not. Love the journey because, let’s face it, any goal or dream worth having has a longer journey than reward. Find fun and gratitude in the practice. And, above all, believe you will get to the finish line. Because, guess what, you will if you just keep at it and keep going.
By Jackie White
The hustle and bustle of everyday life and the busyness of busy can encompass you to a point where you feel you are living in constant chaos. It's draining. It’s unfulfilling. It’s exhausting. So why do so many of us still do it? Maybe it’s now a bad habit? You have become so entrenched in the stickiness of it all that you don’t know where to start to end the chasing of each day. Today, I want you to stop in the name of self-love and make the choice that you will stop allowing your busyness to take over your life.
How Will You Experience Life?
Start fresh with a new point of view. Each day you are given 24 hours to experience life. How you experience life has a lot to do with how you manage yourself. When you allow appointments, errands, favors, work, and/or social media to take up your gift of time, you are creating a negative and stressful experience. You in effect, have prioritized all of those things over that which likely you would deem the important stuff in life. Stuff like relationships, love, fun, joy, happiness, and YOU!
Stop the Insanity!
To stop the craziness and step off the hamster wheel, you need to give yourself a moment of peace to decide how you want to spend your time each day. It all begins with a slice of time you give yourself to clear your mind and think about what’s really important. Take a moment right now to schedule an hour with yourself to have a frank discussion with yourself on what is really important. This time needs to be uninterrupted, so set it aside with the parameters that someone else is watching the kids, the phone is put away and so are other distractions.
Where DOES the Time Go?
This is a great time of the year to do this because you can see what has been taking up your precious time. You can ascertain if what you are focusing on is what you really want to focus on. In order to be real about how you spend your time, you need to track your time. I know that sounds like a pain, but if you even track for a day or two, it will become apparent what’s going on. Pay attention to how and what you are spending time on for yourself.
One Beer, Two Beers, Twelve Beers
You get your head around how much time you are actually online. It’s sort of like a drunk who says they only had two beers when in reality it was 12 beers. We undercut how much time we are letting be sucked from our lives into our screens. So, if you are going to turn this around, you have to accurately account for all the things. Another miscalculation many make is they overestimate how much they actually are working. So, keep yourself honest.
What Really Are Your Priorities?
Take time to decide what is really important in your life. Are you spending quality time with the kids? Is your spouse taking a backseat? Are you volunteering for others and can’t find time for yourself? This needs saying even though it might seem obvious, um, YOU are a priority too!
It’s All In Your Mind
As for the current situation, 2020 was a big crap sandwich, so let’s realize that as we turn the calendar, the world isn’t going to magically be better, ah, but we can be. That starts with your mindset. Making decisions to be happy, positive, productive, intentional, and mindful are decisions you should make. Importantly, you also need to be a self-advocate. That means, you count too and you deserve to be a priority. All of these things will have a huge impact on how you experience life daily. Choose wisely.
Set Your Intentions
Once you have tracked your time at least for a day or so, and you have set your mind straight about what it takes to have the best life experience, it is now time for your re-imagined life to start. Begin with the priorities, schedule them in, but remember you are a default priority, so get yourself on that list too.
The Life of Your Dreams
The life of your dreams can be yours if you slow down and take some time to assess, refocus, and choose to be intentional with your time. Choose to get yourself on the list because you can hardly have a happy life experience if you don’t start with loving yourself.
By Jackie White
It’s a new year and it is a time when many of us are making resolutions to become better. One way to get at this is maybe looking at things a little bit differently. What I am talking about is intentionally developing your own personal brand. That doesn’t mean you are selling something rather you are becoming the person you really want to be.
The definition of a personal brand is a widely recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions, and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, this is about how you are doing your living. That’s a key difference. Your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world from the inside out. It’s not just about superficial presentation, it’s the frame that defines who you are. This frame is defined by certain parameters you set.
Defining a personal brand is for everyone. If you are a stay-at-home mom or employed outside the home, everyone should think about their personal brand.
Parameters to Utilize When Crafting Your Personal Brand
Your Core Values:
When defining your personal brand, a great place to begin is with the foundation of your core values. Core values are values we hold that form the foundation on which we conduct ourselves. The core values are the basic elements and practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do. For more on core values go to www.FindYourSoulShine.com/Resources
Another important part of your personal brand is the vision you have for yourself. That vision should be aligned to your “Why”. Your “Why” is what internally motivates you to do what you do. It’s the thing you are excited about and it’s the thing you are emotionally linked to deep down inside. For more on your” Why” Go to www.FindYourSoulShine.com/Resources
Look to Others for Inspiration:
A great way to define your personal brand is to look to others. Are there people you are drawn to because of the way they present themselves? Do you admire certain characteristics or traits in others that you’d like to emulate, then incorporate those into who you want to be.
When you are intentional with how you move in the world, you are using your time wisely, you are being true to yourself and you are accomplishing those things that are important to you. It’s important to know who you are and what you stand for. The old saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Tightening up what you are about makes doing life so much easier because you have defined the kind of person you are and what you will and will not tolerate.
Put It All Together:
When you put together all the parameters, you have described the kind of person you want to be. You may have some of the elements to your brand already down, but others are aspirational. That’s ok because we are ever-evolving and need to reach for more.
Bumper Sticker It:
Just for fun, what would your bumper sticker say about you? Would it say:
You are following a fun and creative, get-er-done kind of person!
You are following a lackluster ball dropper that accomplishes little in life.
You can put all this together in a nice package with a bow, but if you do not live by the words, they mean nothing. Take action and live out your personal brand so that when others think of you, they are sure to know just who you are. This year, kick it off right, be intentional and bring your personal brand to life.
By Erika Fehrenbach
Have you ever heard of or read the hilarious children’s book The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt? It’s one of those books that entertains adults as much as kids. Without giving too much away, this kid’s crayons all decide to quit for one justified excuse, I mean reason, or another. Why in the world am I bringing this up? Well, three days from now on January 21 is the average day that people quit their New Year’s goals and resolutions. 3 weeks into the year...donesies. Not this year, DreamChaser, not this year! Quitting was sooooo 2020...knocking it out of the park is what 2021 is going to be about.
If you haven’t noticed yet, your SoulShine Life Connections Inspiration Catalysts have been hitting at some of the big topics to help you on your journey to your best life. Today is no exception...it’s time to get down to basics, the very foundation of getting those goals and dreams, of finding that purpose, of living your fun, inspired, intentional, best life!
I thought so!
I am alluding to none other than core values, DreamChaser. Core values are your fundamental beliefs - the guiding principles that dictate your behaviors. They help you make sense of the world and your place in it. Core values are your highest priorities, your most deeply held beliefs, the fundamental driving force behind everything in your life.
Deep, I know. That’s why they are called core values...they are the essence of you! That is also why it’s so incredibly important to know what these are. Core values are the foundation of EVERYTHING you dream, wish, hope, and go for. If you want to find your purpose in life or really get that life you have dreamed about f-o-r-e-v-e-r, the first stop is uncovering your core values. I’m going to be real here; skipping this step sets you up for a cycle of continued failure. Seriously, they are that crucial to this best life, goal getting, dreamchasing process.
Before you get worried this is going to take a long time, we got you! We are going to walk you through a strategy to uncover your top 4 core values. Why 4, you ask? Because you are building your table! Let me explain.
I find having an image to visualize is very helpful to make these abstract concepts more concrete. Imagine a table. How many legs does that table have? 4, right? This makes it nice and sturdy so that it can stand up to forces and do its job. If you take away a leg on the table, what happens? It becomes tippy and everything on top comes crashing down! Our objective today is to find your top 4 core values to build you a solid table, or foundation, that you can then build your vision, purpose, and goals on top of. Once you have this solid core value foundation, these other pieces start to fall into place. Let’s get to work!
SoulShine Build Your Core Value Foundation Strategy:
Step 1: Quiet Reflection
Find a quiet place to do this exercise. It’s nearly impossible to concentrate and focus amid the chaos of life. Start to get your mindset into discovery mode by considering these questions. You may want a journal handy to jot down what comes to mind.
-What brings you joy?
-What can’t you live without in your life?
-What gives meaning to your life?
-What drives you?
-What do you want to achieve?
This line of questioning often will start uncovering your core values. These also illustrate how core values are the glue that holds your vision, purpose, and goals together!
Step 2: Uncover Your Core Values
Rather than searching for core values or trying to come up with the right words, we want to make it easy, peasy, lemon squeezy for you. We have compiled a list of core values for you here --> https://lp.constantcontact.com/su/v84aAjV/corevalueslist
Download and print this off. Simply go through the list and start crossing off the words that do not resonate with you. This will be easy at first and get progressively harder. Once you get down to 10, the real work begins. Really look at these remaining words, perhaps look at their actual definitions. Reflect on what they really mean and how they show up in your life. Continue cutting words until you have the 4 you could not live without. If you get stuck, take a break to process and gain clarity. As an aside, try not to be upset that a word is being removed; this does not mean it isn’t important to you or doesn’t have a place in your life. It just means it isn’t the core of what makes you, you!
Step 3: Take Them With You
Phew...you narrowed it down to your 4 core values. The more you can keep these top of mind, the better you can continue to align your vision, life purpose, and goals with them. Download this image below. Using your favorite image editing app, add 1 of your core values to each of the table legs. Save to your phone. Now, you have this visual reminder with you all the time
Good job on uncovering your core values! This is a huge step on your goal-getting journey, DreamChaser. Take a moment to celebrate this win! With your core values foundation in place, your table is solid and ready to support your vision, purpose, and goals.
As always, shine on!
A Surprisingly Valuable Life Skill I Developed In College:Handling Drunk Roommates Was Practice for the Toddler Years
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Sometimes you learn valuable life skills in unexpected places; life skills that you had no idea were going to be so valuable. With Lucy being 7 and 10 years younger than her siblings, I have felt like a first time parent in many ways, well, first time parent combined with the chill “it’ll be fine” attitude of a third time parent. It’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing but figure it’ll work out. Now that we are full-on in the 2 year-old toddler phase, however, I don’t know if I forgot EVERYTHING or Lucy is just more dramatic than her brothers. Holy mood swings, Batman! We go from belly laughing to tantrum to dancing like a maniac in a matter of seconds.
It was during a particularly rollercoastery day of emotional ups and downs that I had an epiphany. This was exactly like handling my over-served, drunk roommates in college. I had no idea the important practice for a future life skill I was building back then. For your enjoyment, I recorded my observations and interactions with Lucy right before lunch and nap time. A hangry and tired toddler exhibits drunk roommate behavior even more stellarly.
Without further ado, here are 10 ways that my toddler reminds me of my drunk college roommate:
#10: I’ll do it myself but then get mad when they can’t perform the action. Do not make the mistake of helping, however, until asked for uncontrollable sobbing may occur...
#9: Says no to everything but then helps themselves to all the things. Water? No. Gets water. Snack? NO! Grabs crackers off the pantry shelf. Want me to pick you up? NOOO! Then, performs a vice-like death grip on your legs, preventing any movement…
#8: Wanders aimlessly from room to room while constantly, but incoherently, babbling their stream of consciousness…
#7: Breaks into spontaneous dancing, sometimes music playing or just the soundtrack of their mind…
#6: Suddenly is found eating something, however, their snack bowl is empty. Hmmmm...suspicious. What are you eating and where did you find it? Response...blank stare and pause in chewing with refusal to make eye contact…
#5: Requires constant supervision to prevent injury as the need to climb on counters as well as stand on coffee tables in an uncontrollable urge…
#4: Grabs things that they aren’t supposed to have then take off running as fast as they can in the opposite direction from you with the contraband item...come back here!!!
#3: Hides contraband item, then immediately can’t recall where they put it...gone forever…sigh...
#2: At the moment you are at your wits end, they snuggle in your shoulder and whisper “love you”...
#1: Though insisting they are NOT tired, they immediately pass out cold, face down with their butt in the air the second their head comes close to a mattress…
See what I mean? Toddlers are exactly like drunk college roommates! I had no idea that I was building a valuable life skill during that time. Want one more? Upon awakening, is VERY offended and angry at the BRIGHT LIGHT hitting their sensitive eyes when the shade is opened. I get you; the wake up after a rockstar performance is rough! By the way, I may have also BEEN the drunk roommate once or twice; you’re welcome, sweet roommates, for the life lesson!
It just goes to show, DreamChaser, that every life experience is a life lesson in the making or fodder for a story to tell...or, in this case, both! Shine on!
What if I told you that there is only one way to find fulfillment and happiness in life? It’s true. There is only one true way to finally find contentment and meaning and that is by asking why. The concept of starting with why is attributed to Simon Sinek and his research on why companies excel over others. His books “Start with Why” and “Finding Your Why” are hinged on the concept that human behavior is best fueled by drilling down to what drives you internally.
Now, hold on a sec, this might seem like a big concept, but we can drill this down very simply to three words. What, How, and Why.
The “What” is what you do. It’s how you spend your time. It’s what you do for a living. It’s what people see you do. The “What” is simply the explanation of what we do every day. For example, a hairdresser might say “I cut people’s hair”.
The How is how you are doing the “What”. The “How” explains, how you do your job. Again, a hairdresser might say “I work at a salon and cut people’s hair”.
This is the goose that lays the golden egg. The “Why” is what internally motivates you to do what you do. The “Why” is the key driver, and it explains why we do what we do. Let’s go back to the hairdresser example. The hairdresser’s "”Why” may be articulated like this: “I cut hair because I love making people feel good about themselves by helping them look good”. Ultimately, the “Why” is the feeling you have attached to what you do. In other words, what you strongly believe about something’s importance.
Emotion is the Force of Life
The “Why” is all about emotion. Emotions are processed in your brain within the structures of your limbic system. The limbic system is linked to motivation, rewards and learning. Therefore, when you feel strongly about something, it automatically fuels behavior and motivation. That is why it is so important to uncover that thing that gets you excited about life. When you are motivated this way, the things you feel strongly about do not feel like work. They feel more like a passion or purpose. Emotion is really the force of life.
It’s Just Something I Have to Do
Your “Why” can feel like it is a pull coming from your heart and soul. That is true. There is a heart and brain coherence that translates your “Why” into a belief that is strongly felt versus a logical communication. Your “Why” is something you feel deeply connected to. It is something you would do in your spare time and would do it for free. Time seems to fly when you are working in the zone of your “Why”. It is a pull that might feel like something you just have to do. It is powerful and that is why it is so important to figure out what is your Why”.
What is My Why?
If you don’t do any other personal development in life, take the time to figure out what your “Why” is. It will wrap your life in a bow and make it feel like you have finally figured out this thing called happiness can be easily found. It will be the time well spent to do some introspection and find out what makes you tick.
Confessions of a Recovering Know-It-All:Turns Out, There’s a Place for Resolutions and Goals in Your Life
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Alright, confession time, DreamChaser. I am not a fan of resolutions. I would go so far as to say hate, except that I intentionally avoid using that super negative word. With all the goal getting and dream planning and embracing personal growth, this seems the opposite of all that I believe. Nevertheless, it is true. I think my disdain, not hate, for resolutions is two fold. One, resolutions seem so dramatic, an over-the-top-declaration. The other is after this declaration, rarely have I had good follow through. For these reasons, I have always preferred and subscribed to the idea of goals with specific steps to take over resolutions. You can have your resolutions, I’ll stick with my goals, thank you very much.
This leads me to my next confession. Turns out, I have had it all wrong about resolutions. Phew, it is a bitter pill to swallow for a recovering know-it-all to admit they were wrong. Just kidding...it wasn’t hard or bitter; growing your mindset is part of becoming better. You see, since I had written off the idea of resolutions as not my cup of tea, I never dove into exploring more behind the idea of them. I just embraced goals and moved on, which isn’t a bad thing other than closing the door to new ideas that might improve this process. I had a this or that mentality, either resolutions or goals, and I chose goals. Ever hear that the teacher appears when the student is ready? That was what happened to me recently to open my mind to how to use resolutions AND goals in my life
I was listening to “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, because, well, it seemed like a good book to bring more joy and happiness into my 2020 personal growth book list. The idea behind her book and personal happiness project was to spend one year taking intentional action to bring more happiness into her life by focusing on specific areas each month. She made a list of resolutions and goals to map out her plan of action to keep on track.
I honestly didn’t think much about the fact that she had resolutions AND goals until the end of the book where she actually talks about her take on what makes them different. My mindset shift happened with Rubin’s explanation that resolutions serve the purpose of being things that we will strive to bring into our lives but do not have a final destination, like your big vision, whereas a goal has a finite end point with specific steps and milestones along the way. Resolutions and goals, in fact, go together, versus one or the other. Your goals are often pit stops on the journey of your resolutions.
An example may help clear this up. A popular New Year’s resolution is to become healthier. If you think of it, becoming healthier is something that never has an end, right? Even if you have goals to hit like losing a certain amount of weight or training for a 5K, your quest will continue with eating well and exercising even after you hit that initial goal. That’s how resolutions and goals work together. Your resolutions are your big vision, and goals are your steps on your path to get there.
Here is my plan for fitting resolutions into my goal getting and dream chasing strategy. Resolutions will serve as my vision, the big things I want in my life that will not change, like becoming my healthiest self and continuing to be a lifelong learner. Under each resolution, I will align goals that contribute to that vision, like exercising 30 minutes per day and reading 2 books per month. Goals can be further broken down into smaller steps, if needed. Doesn’t that just fit together nicely?!? Seriously, my mind was blown with this revelation, and now I’m like, dude, resolutions...where have you been all my life? (As resolutions throw their hands up in the air and are like, really? Really?!?)
Here are 5 key takeaways I don’t want you to miss in this confession…
I’m ready for some serious goal-slaying in 2021...who’s with me?
Let’s Shine On together!
What’s Going to Be Different This Year? Beating The Odds Against Quitting Your New Year's Resolutions
By Jackie White
Hello to the New Year! We have been anxiously looking forward to turning the page on last year! Now that we have been so excited to get out of 2020, I am going to ask you one simple question: What’s going to be different this year? I mean, each year we all profess that this will be the year that we change. We claim that we will be dropping bad habits and are going to be a new and improved version of ourselves! Heck, 2020 taught us a lot about what’s important in life, so we should be able to get it right this year, right?
Yes! I haven’t lost you yet, we still have such excitement and motivation to do better! I love it, but we need a strategy. Strategies are not one size fits all as it pertains to improving ourselves. Sometimes it’s just a different tack or perspective that can make all the difference in the outcome and this is the year for new outcomes!
Ok, so bring your motivated little butt over here, and let’s look at a few different ways we can turn this new year into one we can be proud of. I invite you to try on a few of the approaches and see which ones resonate the best with you.
The Strategies to Success
Traditional Goal Setting: This is where you set a goal by identifying and writing down the actionable steps along with an associated timeline. Goals can be best described as the results that you are looking for. It’s the result of something that you’ve put together based on your thought process. This is good for Type A personalities, those who are very organized or business-minded.
Visualization: Visualizing goals is done by actually visualizing yourself achieving your desires in life. This works because the brain is wired, actually develops neural pathways to believe what we visualize to be true. It primes the body to perform in the ways our brains have visualized. This works best for those who can suspend logic restraints and are willing to spend the time visualizing a new way. Note that taking action is also required to make this a viable strategy for yourself.
Vision Boards: This is another way to add another layer to visualization. A vision board provides imagery to review daily. To make a vision board, you can cut out pictures of the things or words that help you to visualize what you want to achieve. Take all the cutouts and create a collage and then take regular action. This works well for creative or visual types.
Setting Intentions: Unlike goal setting, setting intentions is about the here and now, not the future. Think of setting intentions like how much energy you are willing to put in and the motivation and willingness to do something. This approach may be a softer way to step into achieving goals. This works best for people who are more emotionally motivated.
Word of the Year: The word or phrase of the year is a way to put a theme to your life experience at that time. For example, if you feel your life is lacking joy, then joy could be your word. You would then try to squeeze in joy in most of what you do. This can be very creative where you make a sign or a piece of jewelry with your word on it. This is a great supplement to keeping you aligned on an overall goal.
12 Week Year: There is a book called the “12 Week Year” where a year is condensed into 12 weeks of hyper-accelerated steps that get results fast. This approach can be a bit intense but yields fast results. Go to www.12weekyear.com for more on this approach. This works best for dedicated people who are desiring quick returns.
Setting up Systems to Support Habits: The key to achieving goals is to create habits that become rote after a certain period of time. Habits depend on systems that support actions that will result in creating a habit that achieves the goals set forth. Check out James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” or Brendon Burchard’s “High Performance Habits" for more information. This approach is universally helpful.
Discipline: Toughing it out can work for some. A tight schedule for going after a goal can be rewarding. Programs like 75 Hard can help lay the foundation for disciplining yourself successfully. This is for those who work best under hard set rules.
Day by Day, Step by Step: Taking baby steps every day is a way of thinking, a way of processing information that enables you to make the daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire. Check out “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson to see how incremental progress adds up over time. This is another good for everyone approach.
Manifestation Journal: Manifesting is somewhat like visualization but it adds a level of gratitude. Just as you train your brain to believe that you have already achieved your goal, you can add in gratitude as a way to thank the Universe for allowing things to be done in your favor. An example would be to say, thank you for continued health if your goal is to get healthier or lose weight. You can write your manifestations in a journal to keep them better organized. This works well for those who believe in a Higher Power.
There you have it, 10 ways to get it done this year! I have faith in you that you can make it happen. Believe in yourself too and you will be successful!
Cheers to the new year!
Cheers to the new and improved you!
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.