Networking Hacks for Introverts on Brit + Co

I partnered with the incredible Brit + Co to bring you"6 Brilliant Networking Hacks Every Introvert Should Know" - did you catch it? You can read the full article over on Brit.Co & then head back over here and let me know what you think in the comments. Are there any tips of your own you'd add to the list? 

As always, thanks for reading! 

My 2016 Summer Reading List! Join Me?

Summer… ahh travel, sunshine, picnics, beach, margaritas, mojitos, iced coffee and if you're anything like me...good books.

I'm a total personal growth junkie when it comes to reading and I get a lot of requests to share my favorite books - (which I totally plan to do in the future so stick around) but this week, I want to share what books are on my “to read & re-read” list this summer so that you can read along with me.

Check them out and let me know in the comments below the post if you plan to read along - also, find me and follow me on periscope @amykhall to catch live broadcasted book discussions all summer (!!!!) <- that's me being very excited about Periscope. 

Summer Reading List 2016


1. Sacred Economics

by Charles Eisenstein; this book is absolutely first on my list and I plan to savor it. I mean s-a-v-o-r it.

If you're like me and you find yourself constantly questioning the evolution of our economy and you've found yourself calling money evil only to realize it's the meaning that people attach to it that makes it evil and then you wonder how we got here in the first place?!?! This may be a book for you.

I haven't had the joy of finishing this book just yet so I'll leave you with the description from Goodreads.com: “Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.”

2. The Four Agreements

by Don Miguel Ruiz; this is an oldie but a goodie. I have a rule that when I hear the name of a book three times, I have to read it and this is the first time I've applied this concept to a re-read but the mention of this book has popped up on social media, in a podcast, and in another book I just finished so I am going back in. Spoiler alert:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

2. Don't Take Anything Personally

3. Don't Make Assumptions

4. Always Do Your Best

are the four agreements that you'll read about and the emphasis is on identifying and eliminating limiting beliefs. How perfect for anyone who's in the midst of a transition and let's just be honest, here. Who isn't?!

3. The Mindful Brain

by Dan Siegel; I'm really eager to dive even further into my mindfulness studies with this book. It's written by a psychiatrist and backed by tons of neuroscience research which I'm always uber fascinated with. Stay tuned to the blog for many more mindfulness posts following this read ;)

4. Rising Strong

by Brene Brown; she's a genius. Her research is genius and she's such a kind, vulnerable, compassionate human. I love when you can feel someone's personality in their writing. If you haven't yet been introduced to her, check out one of her uber inspiring TED TALKs, here -- and then read this book with me, no?

5. The Universe has your Back

by Gabrielle Bernstein - you can pre-order Gabby's newest book here. This has been a big universe year for me. I've been really focusing on letting go of my urge to control so many outcomes and just trusting in the universe so this book is coming at the perfect time. If you pre-order the book, you’ll get a free workshop (live in person or live streamed - your choice depending on location) and I'll be there. Let me know if you're coming. I'd love to see you there! 

Let me know in the comments if any of these reads strike your interest and you plan to read along and don't forget to follow me on periscope - live book scopes and so much more are coming soon. 

and as always, thank you so much for reading the blog. 

Enjoy your summer reads!  

How to Make Time for Mindfulness

“I’d love to meditate, practice mindfulness, journal, make a vision board, etc. but I have no time.”

That has to be one of the most common statements I hear with my clients and in consultations.

As much as I can relate, it just simply isn’t true for myself or for you.

We each have the same number of hours in the day (same as Beyonce ;-) and we each have a choice of how we spend those hours. We catch ourselves saying things like: I don’t have time to meditate -- but the more truthful version of that sentence is: I choose not to meditate. It works the same for a lot of things in your life. We say things like…

I want to exercise and eat healthy but truthfully, I choose not to exercise and eat healthy.

I want to save 10% of every paycheck but truthfully, I choose not to save 10% of every pay check.

I want to reduce stress and anxiety and improve my concentration and focus but truthfully, I choose not to invest my time in that.

Replacing “I want to” with “I choose to” is a really powerful way to quickly remind ourselves of the power of choice that we have in our lives and make some serious steps toward creating good habits.

I really want to challenge us all this week to take a good hard look at the positive changes that we want to make in our lives and start actively choosing to invest our time in things that will better us, lift us, and lighten us. Get really real with yourself.

How are you choosing to spend (or not spend) your time?

With all of that being said, I know that although we have the same number of hours in the day, we still only have 24 hours in a day. If we estimate that we sleep approximately 8hrs and work approximately 8hrs, that leaves us with 8 other hours for things like: getting ready, commuting, running errands, attempting a social life, dating, relaxing, TV, hobbies, and insert your daily activities here. That is a lot to do in a very small amount of time.

That’s why I wanted to close out our Mindful May series by bringing you some tips for implementing a mindfulness practice without adding one more thing to your “to do” list. I hope these tips will inspire you to start your practice today – it’s so easy.

1. Leave your cell phone behind.

Ahh… our cell phones. I love them but they have to be the biggest time suck and mindfulness block of all. It’s so easy to pick that thing up, unlock it, and mindlessly scroll through e-mail, apps, games, etc. and the worst is when you unlock it and you have no idea why you picked it up.

Pick a few of your already scheduled daily activities and leave your cell phone behind. For example: if you normally use your phone on your commute to work, try just sitting peacefully and focusing in on your breath. If you normally go for walks to get coffee with your co-workers mid-day, leave your phone behind and try being fully present to the conversation.

2. Download the app, Moment.

For most of you, this will be a frightening experience. It sure was for me but awareness is the key to every great change, my friends and when a friend told me to put this app on my phone, I was shocked to learn that in one day, I spent 7 total hours on my cell phone – and I was sure that was a light day.

Moment constantly runs in the background of your phone and it tracks how much time you spend on your phone, how many times you unlock your phone throughout the day, and you can even set a daily limit to how much time you want to spend on your phone and the app will alert you when you’re getting close.

So, download the app and enlighten yourself to just how much time you are spending on your cell-phone and then try to convince yourself that you don’t have time for a new habit.

3. Awareness & Breathing

In an earlier post, I noted that Dictionary.com defines mindfulness as a technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.

In your standard daily activities, bring awareness to your thoughts and use your breath to bring your back to the present moment when it escapes you.

Whether you’re reading, brushing your teeth, walking, watching tv, seeing a movie, catching up with an old friend, completing a task at work, sitting in on a meeting, leading a meeting, etc. notice when your mind has drifted or wandered and focus in on your breath – slow it down and bring yourself back into the present moment.

Also, realize that when you can notice that voice in your head drifting off and thinking about the past or the present, that you are not that voice. If you can identify it, then you are an observer. Once you become and observer of your thoughts, it becomes much much much easier to change them.

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Let me know how your mindfulness practice has started or grown over the last month and of course, anything else you’d like to add.

Thank you all for reading along with this month’s mindful series!

5 Actions to Build on Your Mindfulness Practice

If you’re following along, you already know that all of May’s blog posts are dedicated to creating a mindfulness practice. So far, we’ve talked about 4 simple tools you can use to create a habit of being present (specifically related to scaring away your Sunday Scaries) and The First Step in Creating a Mindfulness Practice. (Spoiler alert: like the first step in creating any good habit, the answer is awareness!)

Last week, the assignment was pretty easy: Enter your week bringing awareness around when you find yourself in the present moment and when you find yourself not in the present moment. (As always, feel free to share your findings in the comments below)

I shared that I often find myself caught up in the what ifs in life – what if this happens, what if that happens, what if that would have been different. Keep reading and I’ll share the kind of embarrassing way that I get myself out of my what ifs. I also shared that I essentially use my TV for noise. I’ll turn it on and “watch” something while I scroll through my social media feeds, or while I’m cooking dinner – you get the idea!

Well, awareness is really truly just the first step. There’s a really great quote I love:

“Common sense is not always common action”

That just means knowing and awareness isn’t enough on it’s own. If we want to make change or create awesome new habits, we have to take real intentional action. So… this week, I’m giving you 5 actions that you can take (ASAP) to build on your mindfulness practice.

Five Actions to Build on Your Mindfulness Practice:

1. Eliminate a distraction

Have you ever noticed how many of the little things we do are just distractions from real life or even distractions from the things that we really want to be doing? For example: I love reading. Love it! I’d probably read so much more, if I eliminated just one distraction.

So this week, pick one thing that you’ve noticed is a pure distraction in your life and eliminate it for just a week. Try measuring how much of your time you’re about to get back and see if it’s a distraction you want to give up permanently or at least limit.

Remember how I discovered that I essentially use my TV as background noise?! Well, this week, I’m giving up watching TV for the entire week (I know I know… first world problems but I bet you can relate in some way shape or form, even if your distraction isn’t TV.) As embarrassing as this is to admit…I did the math and by giving up TV for the week, I’m getting back approximately 7 hours this week. 7!!!! I have a stack of books by my bed and I really cannot wait.

2. Give up multi-tasking

Ok, I get that sometimes “multi-tasking” is inevitable. I'm just asking you to try giving it up when and where you can for just a week – we can do anything for a week, right? And the only exception to the rule is human interaction. This means, if you’re having dinner, you’re not also watching TV but you can have a conversation with a human because that is human interaction. Ya see?

Also, want to hear a fun fact about multi-tasking? Studies have shown that only 2% of people can actually multi-task effectively and the other 98% are probably doing more harm than good even attempting to multi-task! (See this Mashable infographic here.)

3. Meditate

I talk and write about meditation a lot. It was such a crucial step in my mindfulness practice and I attribute better listening, clearer thinking, less stress, better relationships, and more thoughtful responses to my meditation habit. Since I talk about it so much, I’m going to leave you with a really easy way to get started – in case meditation is new for you.

  • To start, sit in an easy comfortable seat (Can be on the floor, on a meditation pillow, in a chair – just don’t lay down.)
  • Set a timer on your phone. I recommend 20 minutes per day but you don’t have to start there. You can start with 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and as little as 1 minute will benefit you so start with what feels right for you.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Don’t alter your breath, just notice it for the duration of your timer.
  • Your mind will start to wonder. When you become aware that your mind has wondered and you are no longer focusing on your breath, just bring your awareness back to your breath.

*A lot of newbie meditators think that they are meditating wrong or they’re bad at it because of how much their mind wonders but I’m here to tell ya, bringing your mind back to the breath, that is the meditation. Overtime, your mind will wonder less (maybe!) but the exercise for your brain happens when you become aware that you’ve wondered and you return to the breathe.

4. Start a journal

A journal will help you to create another really valuable habit: Introspection. Introspection is the most direct path you can take to self-awareness and as we know, self-awareness is the first step to building a mindfulness habit. Take the action of starting a journal to maintain a constant flow of introspection – learning to look within before we take actions outwardly.

You can journal in the mornings by reflecting on your day before and setting intentions for your day ahead, at night ending with a recap, or even try it on your lunch break! I use a combination of all of the above. Mostly, I journal in the mornings and I also keep a running note on my phone and when I’m feeling stuck, or down on myself, I’ll list somethings I’m grateful for – it’s such a great way to throw things into perspective really quickly and turn things around.

5. Narrate your mundane activities

Ok, this is that kind of embarrassing habit that I mentioned earlier. I’ve noticed that I tend to zone out of the present moment the most when I am doing the typical daily mundane activities like: brushing my teeth, showering, walking to the train, waiting in line somewhere, etc. So, when I realize that I’ve zoned out, in order to bring myself back, I’ll (quietly, in my head, to myself) narrate what I’m doing to keep my focus locked into the present. Similar to meditation, it gives your brain the exercise of becoming aware that you’ve zoned out, and bringing our attention back to the present moment. I realize this may make me sound like a crazy person but I can guarantee you it works.

Ok, people! It’s time to take action: Those are your 5 actions you can take this week to build on your mindfulness practice. Let me know in the comments which actions you’re taking on this week & wish me luck breaking my obsessive TV habit & bonus points go out to anyone who takes on all 5 actions. 

As always, thanks for reading!!

The First Step in Building a Mindfulness Practice

“Most of the things we worry about… never happen.”

That is one of my favorite quotes and I’m not even sure who said it. It just couldn’t be more true.

I can’t tell you how many times I catch myself getting caught up in so many “what if” scenarios. What if I’m late? What if I’m too early? What if they don’t like me? What if everyone else is better than me? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if it doesn’t work? What if I don’t make it home before my seamless delivery? Ha, the scenarios are truly endless and as the quote says: most of those things I worry about never happen.

So, all that time spent worrying?

Wasted.

And on the flip-side of that quote, I won’t even attempt to recount for you the endless scenarios I’ve recounted from the past. Like, what if that would have gone differently? Or if that person would have just done it my way. And on and on and on…

Of course there are benefits of recounting the past and learning from your mistakes—just as there are benefits of thinking about the future and planning. But if we get really honest with ourselves, how many of our “what ifs” are actually beneficial? Probably not very many.  

If you’re not what if-ing your future and you’re not unnecessarily recounting your past, you’re more than likely living in the present moment and this is the sweet spot of life, people!

Pure magic.

Creating a habit of being present was/is truly life-changing for me. Last week, I blogged about 4 tools that helped me to create a habit of being present and for the rest of May, I’m bringing you even more tips, tools, and strategies for doing the same.

Today, I’m talking about what exactly I mean by “creating a habit of being present,” why we should even care about mindfulness, and the very first step in building this game-changing habit.

What does creating a habit of being present even mean?

According to Dictionary.com, mindfulness is: “a technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them

To put it as simply as possible, creating a habit of being present is mindfulness.

Why we should care about mindfulness

I really and truly mean it when I say our ability be fully present is a competitive advantage in our career, leadership, and life. If we want to be successful in our careers, enjoy lives to the fullest, feel happier more often – it all hinges on our ability to let go of the past, become unattached to future outcome, and be fully present in each moment.

This quote by Viktor E. Frankl is the essentially the reason I meditate and practice mindfulness:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl”

My absolute favorite benefit and what I truly believe has contributed to my success and happiness is that magical little moment between stimulus and response where we can actually choose how we want to respond to something or someone. I mean wow. Ok, I’m human so of course I can’t always choose how I want to respond (this is why it’s called a mindfulness practice – practice being the key word!) but developing that moment for myself has brought a sense of calm that I don’t really even have words for.

The first step in building a mindfulness practice

With almost anything in life, the first step in changing or improving any behavior is to bring awareness to the behavior or habit that we want to change. In order to show up more present in our lives, we first have to bring awareness to when we're not showing up present.  

When I first tried this, I kept a running note on my phone and would log when I would catch myself really not present. I noticed that when I would walk to the train, I found myself thinking about whether or not the train would be there, how long I’d have to wait, or if I would make it to work on time. Often, when I would watch TV, I would also scroll through my facebook feed. When I would cook, I would turn the TV on – all of these things are examples of not being fully present.

It's time to take action: this step and exercise for the week is so simple. Start to bring awareness to when you’re in the present moment and when you’re not. I’m not asking you to change any behavior or do anything differently – just begin to notice.

Next week, we’ll take a stab at changing some of our behaviors but this week it’s all about creating awareness.

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Share your thoughts about the article, mindfulness, living in the present – anything that strikes you.

Thank you for reading!

Xo

Am K Hall

4 Simple Tools to Create 1 Life-Changing Habit - and solve your Sunday Scaries

I remember feeling this giant sense of relief when I first learned the term "Sunday Scaries." Every weekend, I would experience what I could really only describe as a sudden onset of overwhelming dread for the work day or work week ahead that manifested into anxiety and over criticizing every move my husband made (you can ask him, it wasn’t pretty) – I just couldn’t put words to it. And then one day, someone said it. I can’t even remember who said it but if you’re out there and you’re reading this and you’re the one who introduced me to the term Sunday Scaries, please let me know so I can thank you.

Hearing the words, learning that there was a name for it, and mostly? Leaning that I wasn’t alone (!!) was a huge relief for me. The problem solver and self-help junkie in me went to work to get to the root of why these Sunday Scaries were affecting me so much and what I could do to get rid of this feeling.

I tried many things before I realized that all the “things” I tried were ultimately helping to create one incredibly necessary and life changing habit: The habit of being present. Today, I’m sharing the 4 tools that were most helpful in keeping my Sunday Scaries at bay and also led me to a powerful habit of being present.

*Keep in mind: these tools are also helpful for any form of “scaries” and not just your Sunday Scaries.

Before we get into the tools you can use to create a habit of being present, let me first explain what I mean when I say “create a habit of being present.” No one is present 100% of the time. Therefore, this is more than just deciding to be present. Our brains and our genetics are not designed that way. The act of being present is a conscious effort that you have to choose to make, the more you choose presence, the easier the habit will come but keep in mind, good habits take time to create but here are the 4 habits I found most effective:

1.       Practice Self-Awareness

To create self-awareness around your scaries, just simply try to notice when the feeling arrives. When it arrives, start to pay attention to how your breathing, thoughts, and even body language might change. Don’t try to fix anything in this step, just create the awareness so that you start to learn if there are any patterns or triggers. A lot of people I know rely on brunch (which is often centered around mimosas) to put their scaries on the back burner but what those people might not know is that alcohol can actually trigger stress and anxiety. Now, I’m not saying this is true for everyone and I am definitely not suggesting you cut brunch out of your schedule. I’m a huge fan. I’m only suggesting that you start to create some awareness around what may or may not trigger that Sunday Scary feeling for you. That’s all!

I made a huge effort to make myself aware of when that nervous, anxious, Sunday crashing feeling was coming. Self-awareness is one of the hardest things to really know if you have or not. I consider myself a very self-aware person but I found it helpful to have someone else committed to helping me notice when my behavior was starting to change. In my case, my husband was more than willing to help point it out and offer a solution (he’s a good sport & a great guy.) Try to find a buddy that will help hold you accountable to solving your scaires, k?

2.       Take a small action

When I was in my corporate job at a fitness start-up, the work schedule was crazy and I found myself working most weekends. At a certain point, I made the decision to not open or answer email on the weekends. I thought I was taking a big stand for myself to really create some work life balance. Well, after months of dealing with these Sunday Scaries, I started to realize that I was actually stressing myself out more by not checking in on my email. So, I started to spend 20-30 minutes every Sunday morning combing through my e-mail for any emergencies and making a killer to-do list for Monday morning. Woah, was that a game changer!? Yes, it was.  

Scheduling 30 minutes on Sunday to ensure that I was prepared for the week or day ahead really allowed be to actually enjoy my Sunday and be present to whatever I was doing rather than internally stressing and worrying over what I was going to walk into the next day.

Of course, this solution might not work for everyone. This is why practicing self-awareness and really getting to know yourself and your individual triggers is so necessary.

3.       Be intentional with your time

Have you ever had one of those binge-watch-Netflix-binge-eat-delivery Sundays (or weekends?!) only to be left feeling incredibly guilty that you “did nothing” all weekend even though you probably needed the rest and recovery? Oh, me either… ;-)

Sometimes, the reason we feel so guilty about a guilty weekend is because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live our weekends to the fullest until we are back to the grind but that’s a lot of pressure and everyone needs downtime. Try planning your weekends, days off, and downtime – even if it consists of Netflix, pizza, and a whole lot of nothing. I know…it sounds kind of lame, especially if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants type of person but just trust me and try it.

When you plan ahead and you’re intentional with your time, it allows you to be fully present – even to your Scandal marathon. I mean why watch it if you can’t truly enjoy it?

4.       Meditation

When my Sunday Scaries were at their worst, I was starting to feel them on Friday afternoon before I ever left the office. Yes, it’s as frightening as it sounds. This was also right around the time that I started practicing meditation. If you’re a meditation skeptic, don’t stop reading just yet. I was a huge skeptic, too. I can’t tell you how much meditation as helped my Sunday Scaries, my life, my brain, and my ability to choose how I want to respond in almost any situation.

A lot of people think that mediation is a given amount of time where you’re thinking of absolutely nothing – and while that’s the goal, that’s not entirely true (or possible?!) What I have gained most from meditation happens in those many moments throughout meditation where you realize you’ve stopped meditating and return to your mantra or breathing (all dependent on what type of meditation you are practicing)

Those moments of realizing you’ve slipped out of the present moment and then training your brain to return to the present moment – those moments have been the post powerful for me in creating a habit of being present. Truly, it’s a type of circuit training for your brain.

*If you want to learn more about meditation for beginners and/ or want to see a post on how to get started, let me know in the comments or contact me. I could talk about it all day.

It’s time to take some action: I’d love for you to pick 1 of these 4 tools to help create a habit of being present and try it out this week – or ASAP. As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Which tool did you find most impactful or what tools would you add to this list?

For anyone wanting more in depth coaching on creating a habit of being present and taking intentional action in your life, book a complimentary 20-minute consultation/ mini coaching session and we can talk some serious strategy.

Thanks for reading!

XO

Amy

 

Self-Care. It's a Strategy

I’m constantly talking or writing (or posting quotes and photos on Instagram) about how “self-care” isn’t selfish, it’s a strategy and I want to elaborate on that.

Every airline says it: In the event of an emergency, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help anyone else with their oxygen mask. Not to be morbid but we all know why, right? Because you’re not really much help if you’re not breathing.

Self-Care-its-a-strategy

Well, this is true for our everyday lives, too. I know it. I’m convinced you know it, too. Yet, it’s so hard to practice sometimes. It’s so darn easy for us to put ourselves on the back-burner and work that extra hour before stopping to eat lunch, replace that evening run with a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine, or say yes too many times, that there isn’t a spare moment in our schedules for us and [insert your own scenario here.]

We do this to ourselves but just like the airlines say, we aren’t much help to anyone else if we aren’t taking care of ourselves: body, mind, and spirit – whatever that means to you.

I’ve seen bosses do this. I’ve seen parents do this. I’ve seen partners do this – and I’ve done it. When we do this, the result is never good. We’re subtlety telling ourselves that we’re not important or not worth it, we’re teaching our employees (or children!) that they shouldn’t take care of themselves, we’re sacrificing the quality of our lives, and sooner or later (unless you’re Mother Teresa) we become resentful to our families, our loved ones, our supervisors, our companies, etc. and all because we didn’t have the common sense to take care of ourselves so that we could show up our best selves for the people we love and the jobs we care about.

Self-care really isn’t selfish.

It’s a necessity.

It’s common sense.

And actually?!

It’s the most selfless thing you could possibly do.

“Self-Care” means something different to all of us but regardless of your own personal needs or definition, let self-care be something  that fuels you to succeed, work harder, care harder, and be the best version of yourself. 

Last week, I had my most productive week (since leaving my corporate job 2 months ago!) and I really attribute it to me getting my self-care back on track. My body loves veggies, home-cooked meals, and exercise but I hadn’t been doing much of it. I made it a point to cook (almost) every meal at home and run for at least 20 minutes every day. Those 2 simple things made me feel unbelievable and bred even more productivity. I also make it a point to meditate twice a day, read for a minimum of 20 minutes, and savor a minimum of 3 cups of coffee a day – hey, everyone defines self-care differently, right?!

This is the part where I’ll ask you to get introspective and define it for yourself. Grab a pen and paper, a journal, open your notepad on your phone (whatever method works for you) and answer these questions: What does “self-care” mean to you? What are the things that you need to do every day, week, month, year for yourself so that you can show up to your friends, family, career, as your best-happiest-self?

This article, 45 Simple Self Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul, from TinyBuddha.com has some really great examples, ideas, and jumping off points for you to consider in all three categories of self-care: mind, body, and spirit.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you! What are your definitions of self-care? What are some of the things you’re going to do for you to show up your best-happiest-self? Or any other thoughts you have from the article.

As always, thank you for reading!

XO

Amy