Some questions I will be asking on “Live! With Lisa Radio”:

  1. Once I have a goal, I can usually plan how to reach it
  2. I have personal standards, and try to live up to them
  3. I can usually find several different possibilities when I want to change something
  4. I have trouble making plans to help me reach goals
  5. I have so many plans that it’s hard for me to focus on any one of them
  6. It’s hard for me to notice when I’ve had enough (alcohol, food, sweets)

1 point each for numbers 1-3. -1 point for numbers 4-6.

These are from a self-regulation questionnaire. Source: A psychometric analysis of the self-regulation questionnaire
Kate B. Carey*, Dan J. Neal, Susan E. Collins. Addictive Behaviors 29 (2004) 253 – 260.

A few questions:

  1. 1) If left to your own devices, would you eat the dessert at around 6pm, and then have dinner later around 8pm or so OR the other way around?
  2. If you have two credit cards overdue (one has $300 due and the other $1,200), which do you make payments on first?
  3. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up or get to work: check email or attend to the most important things?
  4. Do you prefer to exercise in the morning or later in the day?

What do you think today’s post is about?




It’s about finishing!

negative imageI have a presentation to give, and I’ll tell you my style – I’m not sure it’s the best style. I finish the thing that is quickest to finish and then move on to the harder part. That way, part is already done.

  • I exercise in the morning – or I feel guilty toward myself until I do.
  • I eat veggies first – except on the weekends! I am like a negative image of myself on the weekends! I do everything the opposite – no exercise, lots of sweets. Two different people: weekend Senia and weekday Senia.
  • I pay off the easier to pay off due amounts first. So in the case above, it would have been the $300.
  • BUT … I check email first. Just to make sure there are no fires. And… this is probably one big mistake because people are different, and people are productive at different times. I am productive early mornings and late afternoons. I should be – for productivity reasons – going straight at the papers and research in the morning, and then doing the emails as a fun break around a later breakfast. So on this email/good work habits spectrum, I know where I am, and I know where I want to work towards. I sound to myself on this post like Dave Seah and his productivity tips! That’s cool!

I’m not even certain these are all on the same spectrum. I would assume these are the easier steps (exercise early, eat veggies, pay off $300, and don’t check email), but I do the opposite on the last one. How about you? What do you do? 1) Exercise, 2) veggies, 3) pay off amount, 4) email or prioritized work?

I like to finish. One year, my NY resolution was about finishing. Since I like finishing, I like learning tricks and techniques to finish. One of them so far is doing the easier thing first, and then the harder thing.

You can make a major difference in your industry now. Right now.
How do I know?

At the start of a DVD, the warning says the movie’s been formatted to fit your TV. Well – at my home – one person dislikes that announcement, and each time jokes, “How do they know the size of MY television?”

I do know about you and your industry. Why? Because:

It’s when things are bad and you keep going, then you can actually beat everyone, most importantly yourself. You could be in any company-cycle, and especially, you could have been at point A but point B is just an opportunity to get to a higher point D, and beyond. Yes, if you’re like most people, you are likely in your work and in your finances at a trough, at a point B if not C. BUT. That’s the time when you can be the differentiator. That’s right – it’s just like the Terminator, but it’s the Differentiator.

Is that why 20% of twitter’s current membership joined in the past 60 days? Are people trying to connect and move forward in new ways?

Frog that turned milk into butter and livedThere’s a time for rigor and a time for mortis. You have a choice to put more effort in when it gets harder, or to say, “Man, it’s getting harder.” Be the little frog who turned the glass of milk into a glass of butter rather than the little frog who didn’t and drowned.

What I’m aiming to do: write the shortest post possible, get back to fun writing, and write what’s really me.

Dalai LamaTibetan chuba dressI went to see the Dalai Lama on July 17, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in NY. It was completely packed, and the room has 5,933 seats. It seemed that about one third to half of the women, men, and children in the audience were dressed in Tibetan formal wear – beautiful attire in exquisite print.

I was sitting in a good seat, part-way to the front, and as soon as the Dalai Lama let us know that that he would be answering some audience questions, I thought that since I had read most of his book on happiness, I would love to hear his impromptu thoughts on what makes him happiest. So I wrote on a piece of paper a question in large capital letters and gave it to a man collecting questions near our aisle.

Dalai Lama happiness questionThen many, many pieces of paper were brought to the translator’s desk on the stage. I don’t know how many from about 6,000 people. It looked like a lot of pieces of paper, and I absolutely didn’t think my question would be answered, but eventually after the first two questions – one of which included a detailed answer to ‘who are the protesters outside the event?’ – my question did come up. It was the third question out of four, and it was really delightful to hear the Dalai Lama’s answer.

Here is the question: “What makes you happiest? What makes you the most happy?”

The Dalai Lama’s answer was first a joke along the lines of “I don’t know.” And then he answered: “People make me happiest.” He pointed to the audience and to himself, and said that he thinks this kind of interaction – people speaking to each other – makes him happiest. He said it is “only ‘I,’ not ‘we-them,’” implying that everyone – himself and the audience – are part of the same “I.”

Then he ran through several additional things that make him happiest:

• Sleep – He actually stayed on this topic for a few minutes, describing how he goes to bed around 7pm every evening, and wakes up at 3:30am to be able to meditate before a 5:30am breakfast. He even joked about how his brother makes fun of him for such an early wake-up.

• No dinner after lunch – The Dalai Lama was quite firm about how he enjoys not eating in the evening after the mid-day meal. He said, “It’s good. I don’t get fat like man who looks like woman with baby [pregnant woman].” He mentioned that he always feels very hungry when it is time to eat.

• Vegetarian preference – Finally, the Dalai Lama mentioned that he prefers a vegetarian diet, and that he was vegetarian in 1965 for 20 months, and that he is now mainly vegetarian.

Hi folks,

It turns out that when health news rains, it pours. Recently, these studies and news sources have come out:

  • Eating while watching TV makes you fat – “Studying childhood obesity, University of Toronto nutritionist Harvey Anderson found that kids who watched TV while eating lunch took in 228 extra calories than those who ate without the television on,” says today’s Reuters report.
  • Eat less, live 5 years longer – While the studies are not yet conclusive and while more studies have been done in animals than in humans, directions point to this suggestion: “Eat 15 percent less starting at age 25 and you might add 4.5 years to your life, says Eric Ravussin, who studies human health and performance at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana,” reports MSNBC today.
  • Keep a food diary and lose twice as much weight – “It’s not fun to write down what you eat; it just works,” said study co-author Dr. Victor J. Stevens at Kaiser Permanente Center in Portland, Oregon. The study followed almost 1,700 men and women who were either overweight or obese. The average weight was 212 pounds. In 20 weeks, the group who did not keep a food diary lost 9 pounds on average. The group who did keep food diaries? 18 pounds on average! And how should you keep a food diary? It doesn’t matter, says Dr. Stevens – a notebook, PostIts, on your computer – any method works as long as you write things down shortly after your eat. This report from the today’s Washington Post.

What does all this tell us? Eat less, and be aware when you’re eating (not in front of the TV, and write things down if you want to lose more). Good things to know.

Also safe things to know as we head into summer and ripe low-calorie fruit here in North America. Between watermelons, blueberries, peaches, and nectarines, lower calories are certainly possible in the summertime. Choosing fresh vegetables and fruit over processed pizza is quite inviting in July and August.

Bon appetit!

So the answer to yesterday’s question: “Mike did things – you tell me, how did Mike do things?”

Mike did things … as an example to his kids.

I cannot believe how powerful this concept is.
I cannot believe it.

Doing something as an example to yourself and to others.

Now, I know what you might say, “Hey, Senia, how about internal motivation? How about being internally propelled to completing the activity rather than looking for external validation?” I say, “Yes, you’re right.” But I would also say, “How can you make your habit committed, or public, or accountable?”

How can you make your habit into a commitment? In yesterday’s story, Joe had to think about it each time he considered going to the gym: “Should I go? Should I not?” That entire thought-process takes ten minutes, not to mention that that’s ten minutes you’re not actually doing anything at the gym, or that you’re scratching away at your self-discipline, and making it harder for yourself to resist the next temptation.

How about not thinking about it? One way to not think about a habit is to just KNOW that you do it no matter what. And if you do a habit no matter what, you are in a sense making an example of yourself – if only to yourself!

When I started career coaching, and started realizing that people don’t DO everything they want to do, I got very involved with the research behind habits and creating great habits. That literature still motivates me, and almost always motivates my clients when they learn about it. I’ve suggested aspects of self-discipline and habit-creation to my clients to these successes:
* One mini-triathlete was created
* Three people became nearly-addicted to weight-training
* Several people have a morning plank-and-crunches routine
* One person has a back stretching nearly-daily routine
* Two people have a work-healthy-eating routine
* Three people now stand up for their beliefs more at work
* Two people created a morning efficient-working-at-the-office routine
* About twenty people now breathe more and stretch their neck, arms, backs more at work

But you can’t be a coach and describe this research and these results without doing it! The best thing I did in 2007 was my exercise regimen. I am bringing it back now, this year, and it’s a slower bring-back. At the same time, I know it is returning – just like the Return of King Kong! :)

I am the biggest advocate ever of doing certain simple things and doing them well:
* Sleep
* Exercise
* Drinking Water
* Eating Vegetables
* Focusing on a Work Goal
And all those in that order.

These habits work.

There is one lesson that stands out far and away ahead of every other that I have learned as a coach. I’ll show you how my good friend Mike and my good friend Joe live through this lesson.

Mike used to get up every morning at 5:45am to make it to the 6am rebounding (small trampolines) or spinning (stationary bicycling) class. He used to go to bed by 10pm in order to be able to get there then next day. And one day, he told me what a particular day looked like: It was 5:40am and the middle of winter on the east coast of America – i.e., cold, dark, and quiet outside. And his alarm had gone off. He was so tempted, so tempted, he said, to just doe off a little longer. But he felt that he couldn’t. It was just before his 6am class and he had to be there. If for nothing else, to set an example for his two teenage kids about getting out the door and to your goal, he said.

Joe has gotten up early when at jobs that required him to get up early. Joe really believed in the individuality of people and in the self-awareness of knowing when and how you want things done. Joe also believed in people thinking for themselves, and he really believed in the rogue thought, i.e. in the idea that contradicts other ideas.
Continue reading

Hello great people,

Last year was … finishing things.
This year is … cohesion.

Last year, 2007, my goal was finishing things, and in the spirit of David Seah’s GHD resolutions tracking, here’s a countdown of whether I did or did not finish things in three domains – editing, teaching, and coaching:

1) Editing.
Positive Psychology News Daily
Finishing things – I wanted to get pos psych news out to the world, and luckily – so did about twenty other writers – thus, I launched the website and ran it throughout the year. There is a lot more to build out, but the things we have so far are:

  • 203 articles published last year
  • over 30 amazing authors
  • over 10,000 unique visitors per month
  • incredible articles – I mean incredible! Here’s the Table of Contents.

Also, PPND owes a great deal of thanks to Dave Seah, Kathryn Britton, and Timothy So – brainstorming, site design, great discussions. Mucho thanks.

UPenn2) Teaching.
Finishing things – I taught for the first time at an Ivy League institution. I wanted to do this, and I put together a good course outline, and gave it my all over the semester. Being an Instructor at UPenn was fabulous – I prepared heavily for each conference call, and so did the students. Over the nine conference calls and many papers, it was just thrilling to have ideas turn into chatting companions. I enjoyed grading papers! The ideas were interesting enough. Positive Psychology Coaching3) Coaching.
Finishing things – There is a system of skills that I have been presenting to my coaching clients. I work primarily with entrepreneurs and people changing jobs. My main system is targeting-assessment-practice. My more detailed system, and the one that I have been increasingly presenting to clients, is personal fitting of tools to their situations. I am making this increasingly process-rich, as opposed to job-shop, and am really excited when these Senia positive psychology coaching tools work best for my clients. Furthermore, my clients are an incredible group of people, and I have been thrilled to be working with them in 2007 and 08.

Coaching achievements by clients in 2008:

  • Businesses started by my clients: two.
  • Jobs attained by my clients: eight.
  • Promotions gained: two.
  • Higher salaries attained by practiced negotiation: three.
  • Clients who increased their exercise regimen significantly: twenty.
  • Clients who aimed to lose weight – and did: two.

p.s. Since I’m writing this – oh! let’s say “a few” – a few days after the New Year, I think it’s only appropriate that I’m emailing you from near Sydney, where among the earliest of the New Year celebrations occurred: New Year 2008 starts in Sydney (just watch the first 20 seconds – notice the fireworks off the bridge – I am going to walk UP the arch of that bridge next week!).

Remember when we talked about how you do anything is how you do everything? Today’s quote is:

“Put your heart, mind, intellect, and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”
~ Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Swami Sivananda left a medical practice to become a monk. He had many disciples including Krishnamurti. Also on his quote bio, “…He wrote more than 300 books on Yoga and spirituality. He died in 1963.”

That’s cool! “More than 300 books!”