Smartful Coaching

Adversity Flip™

Turn Adversity Over to Find Something Good

29 October

This Stress is Killing Me! Maybe Not…

Have you ever felt this way – like stress was killing you? Feeling overwhelmed, wanting to scream, and feeling like you want the world to stop so you can get off?   

When adversity strikes, stress is right there with it. But most of us have the wrong idea about stress. Stress isn’t the enemy. But the way you view stress can be.  


The wonderful Kelly McGonigal (author of  The Willpower Instinct) gives a  fascinating TED talk about stress. The scientific findings she shares can literally help you live longer.  You can watch it here 

As I say to my clients – Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.  This is definitely true when it comes to stress.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.



12 February

Manage Your Work Time, Manage Your Stress

Work is a fact of life for the majority of us, right? Because of that fact, it’s crucial that we manage the time we spend at work — whether you work in a large corporation, a solopreneur operation or anywhere in between. Feeling stressed and out of control at work will not only spill over into your home life, it will impact your attitude before you even walk in the door in the mornings.

Here are my tips on regaining control and managing your time:

  1. Do you love your physical workspace? Is your desk a mess? Even if you don’t have a room with a view, you can make your workspace warm and inviting. Take time to clean the desk if it’s a mess and create a more welcoming environment.
  2. Are you generating too many ideas? If you’re an entrepreneur, idea generation is key… but not at the expense of actually completing the tasks necessary to keep your business viable. Write your ideas down but know that you may have to table some in order to concentrate on the work at hand.
  3. It’s not the quantity, but the quality that counts. Working 12 hours a day doesn’t mean you’re productive all 12, does it? It’s likely that they are not all productive so you need to concentrate on quality of the time you spend at work. If you’re truly productive for four hours in the morning, take advantage of that time. Set a specific end time for your workday and stick to it!
  4. How much are you growing personally? Business owners know that professional growth is a given, but if you neglect personal growth, you will stagnate. Learn a new skill. Make a new habit. Take time for yourself and incorporate healthy habits into your work day.
  5. How do you tackle your weekend? Do you use your weekend to recover from the workweek? If so, this is a habit that needs to be changed and this change will come about once you harness the stress you’re feeling at work. Your weekend should be a time for family and recreation and yes a little bit of planning for the week ahead.

What will you do to take control of your time?

05 February

Make The Decision To Seek Happiness Over Adversity

How happy are you? Is it a stressor when you’re asked whether you’re happy? Do you have to work at happiness or do you wake up in the morning in a stellar mood? What if you could take a few simple steps toward happy and away from negativity or adversity?

The power of positive thinking is an incredible power to harness. Here are three steps I try to undertake when I need to flip my switch in my brain to “Happy”:

  1. Start the day with reflection. Take the time to reflect on the successes of the prior day and plan for success on the day ahead. Take the time to answer the questions: Who are you? What do you want to do? What makes you happy? Answering these questions will steer you toward positivity and help you to reflect on you own existence and its place in the world. When you’re feeling stressed during the day step away for a few minutes of positive reflection – it will help you get back on track.
  2. Endeavor to make one small change a day, every day. Keeping your brain active and engaged is crucial for happiness and success. Break out of a rut. It could be as simple as shaking up your morning routine to completing a crossword puzzle to learning a new task.
  3. Go with the flow. This is one that I struggle with almost daily. You need to let go of anger at interruptions and adapt to the changes. Write down those things that are stopping your “flow.” Determine from the items that you’ve written down: What is within your control and what is outside of the realm of your control? Knowing which are which will help you more easily let go of those things over which you have no control. Take time for deep, meditative breaths or a quick, relaxing walk.

What will you do to make your day a happier, more productive one? What do you need to do to get back in the flow?

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

22 April

How Did It Get This Bad?

My life was falling apart. I couldn’t believe how bad it was & how quickly it seemed to happen.

I searched to find the “one bad choice” that landed me on the dark path I was on.

There wasn’t any one thing.

Simply a series of small changes that individually looked minor & harmless.

But when combined, radically altered where my life was headed.

My job, my finances, my health, my spirit & my attitude – were all a mess.

I didn’t feel like “me” any more.

I was super-stressed, eating poorly, lacking exercise, feeling isolated & sleeping very little. I’d put myself on the path to an early grave. I was beyond anxious to find a new path.

Then I discovered a big part of the problem. I was trying to control everything. In particular, related to making a career change.

“I once had a grip on everything.  It feels better to let go.

~ from the song: I’m Not Over by Carolina Liar

Change careers – I was so ready. But instead of letting it develop naturally, I set it in my mind that I must have a masters degree. Instead making the end goal (career change) the most important thing, I was totally focused on a rigid set of steps that I decided must happen first.

And I’d become so determined & focused on getting that degree that I blinded myself to all the warning signs around me.  Then one day I “woke up” & saw how bad my life had become.

A difficult decision, but I chose to leave school. Immediately my stress was reduced, I found time for exercise & improved my finances.  In turn, my sleep improved.

In hindsight, one of the best decisions I ever made.

I can’t recall the author’s name, but I once read a book that talked about the importance of “choosing the hard no”.  My hard no was dropping school & having faith that the needed events & people would appear in my life when the time was right.

And that is just what happened.

My life fell apart in 2007/2008. In 2009, I got back on the right path. And in 2010, I attended two life-changing seminars (by Barbara Sher).  Those seminars solidified that I was making the right career change & significantly shaped the way I do business today. In 2011 I launched my business full-time.

It’s easy to seen now that I was trying to control everything out of fear. In this case, my level of adversity had to red-line before I was able to learn the lesson.

The lesson…  don’t get so locked into a way of thinking that you miss what’s going on around you.  Instead, pay attention, have faith, let go, & deal with fear in the right way.  We all arrive where we need to, but we can’t always choose the route.




25 March

Adversity…How Much Change to Make?

“Unfortunately, most of the time, the first thing a person does when suddenly confronted with adversity is decide he or she has to make sweeping changes.”

~ Success is a Choice by Rick Pitino

I’ve reacted this way before. I imagine you have too. It seems like an almost natural reaction, in fact.

But it really is an overreaction.

Adversity is a necessary part of life. It’s not an indicator that you need to make massive changes.

Some times you don’t need to make any changes – just be patient.  Or often 1 or 2 right changes can make a huge difference.

For example, a few years ago I started working on my master’s degree. A big change occurred at my job, significantly increasing the demands placed upon me.  To meet all the deadlines with work & school, I cut out all exercise & was only sleeping a few hours a night. I was massively stressed. I tried to cope with the stress by applying lots of junk food and alcohol. I gained a ton of weight & that stressed me out even more. Everything in my life seemed to be in a downward spiral.

I knew something had to change.

I made the tough decision to drop out of the master’s program. I didn’t feel good about it at the time, but see now it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My stress level dropped right away, I was exercising again, I ate better – & lost most of the weight I’d gained.

That one decision to drop out, helped me right away & also became a catalyst with many of the other positive life changes I’ve made since.

Adversity gives you an opportunity to learn & to grow. How have you taken advantage of the opportunities that adversity has given you?




12 June

I Did it My Weigh

Four years ago I decided it was time.   I started working on my masters degree in psychology through an online university.

It made logical sense.  I was ready for something different career-wise.   I’d heard that looking at what types of books you read can help determine a career direction.  I saw that about 80% of the books I read were related to psychology.  Also, I’d spent a fair amount of my free time over the years, teaching classes through community colleges – I loved to teach and help others.

So, the plan was to get my masters in psychology and become a business/life coach.  The path and destination seemed so clear-cut.

Boy, was I wrong.  The destination was right, but the path clearly wasn’t.

During this same time, significant changes at my workplace raised my stress level very high.  In addition, financially there was stress too.  Besides the cost of tuition, a number of  unexpected expenses surfaced.  In addition to the time spent on my assignments, the online learning environment simulated “class” through online discussion groups.  Between work & school I was on the computer for roughly 12 hours a day…plus time on weekends too.

To find time for everything, I quit exercising and spent less time with friends.  I ate poorly – increased junk food, soda & beer.  Between the extra soda and late nights on the computer – I was sleeping poorly and not sleeping nearly enough.

During an 18-month timeframe I gained 40 pounds.

I was miserable.  I had basically ruined my health and messed up my sleep schedule in a major way.   I knew something had to change.

I withdrew from school.  Deep down I knew it was the right decision, but it was still a difficult decision.  Since then it’s become very clear that quitting school was the right decision and that business/life coaching is the right career for me.  I’ve just taken a different path to get there.

Once I withdrew from school my stress level improved.  No more school deadlines.  A break from the computer.  Time to exercise.  Time to relax.  More time to socialize.  I started repaying my student loans & that reduced my stress also.  I started losing weight.

In the first year after quitting school, I lost 25 lbs.  At that point in my life, I took the approach of  just “out exercising” whatever it was that I ate.  It worked at first.  However, it quit working & since then it has been the gain 10 lbs, lose 10 lbs routine.

So, I tried a totally different approach to weight loss.   It’s been amazing.  I’ll write more about it in my next post.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comment section.








23 December

Bah, Humblog

The Holidays…some call it the most wonderful time of the year.  What if it’s not?

There are many different dynamics that make the holidays challenging:  financial issues, family dysfunction, overeating, overdrinking, unrealistic expectations, etc.

Some people have the problem of too many people around.  I’m going to talk about the opposite issue – feeling isolated. Separation from their family can be due to divorce, geography or a winter snowstorm.  For families of divorce, children are often shuttled from one side of the family to the other.  In extreme cases, a parent and a child may not see each other at all.

Overall I’d come to consider the holidays a major downer.   But several years ago something changed.   I found a book that challenged my way of thinking (I love finding books like this).  Barbara DeAngelis in her book, Real Moments, said:

“Silence nourishes the soul and heals the heart.”

“Aloneness is not the same as loneliness.”

“The word alone is derived from the Middle English phrase ‘all one’.”

Her insights helped me adapt.  I took the time to heal, got to know myself better, and became more comfortable being around myself.  This has made a huge difference.  Not only do I deal with the holidays much better, but more importantly it’s really helped me grow personally.

Shorter day length, winter temperatures & storms can also make us feel more isolated.  If you’re like me, you long for the warmth of summer & more  daylight hours.  The second thing that made a difference for me was this quote by Albert Camus:

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

This quote always energizes me about the potential inside me waiting to come out.  I’ve learned to focus on things that are better suited to this season – writing, reflection, reading or watching movies.  Also, it is a great time to do those things that often get put off.  For example, de-cluttering the basement – which I just finished doing.  Yes!

What things you have come up with to make getting through the holidays easier?   Let me know in the comment section.