What are you devoted to creating… in the new year? [a worksheet to help you focus & find the right words]

 
 
 

It’s time, my friends.

Time for some planning.

Time to get your priorities on paper.

Here’s a worksheet to help you map out your most important projects and commitments for 2015.

(Want a Word doc version that you can type right into? Here you go.)

Take some time to write down what matters to you.

Because… you know what you are here to do.

And you are not confused.

 


 

DEVOTION: My commitment to myself — and the world — for 2015.

 

My name is ___________________.

 

Starting today, I am devoting myself to the following projects:



 

I am devoting myself to these projects because I care about ___________________.

 

These projects deserve my full focus, attention, discipline and love.

 

Starting today, I am releasing the following [commitments / habits / old projects] from my life:



 

I am releasing these things because I need to create time & energy for ___________________.

 

These things no longer have a place in my life.

 

I believe that the world needs more ___________________ and that’s what I am here to create.

I may not be able to ___________________, but I can do my part to help.

 

The very next step is to ___________________.

 

And then after that, to ___________________.

 

When things feel overwhelming, I will remind myself that my job is simply to: ___________________.

 

I have the power to leave the world, and the people around me, in better condition than I found them.

I don’t have to “reach” for that power. I have it, right now.

Anybody can serve.

 

I am devoted.

I am focused.

I am ready.

 

I know what I am here to do.

 

I am officially signing this agreement — with myself — on [date].

[your signature here]

Every word is true.

 


 

xo.

 
 

GOOD QUESTION: How can I tell if I am just “settling” in a relationship?

 
 
 

Dear Alex,

What are the signs and signals that let you know you’re just “settling” in a relationship?

As in, settling for less than what you really desire.

–M.

 
 

Dear M.,

I’m assuming, perhaps erroneously, that you’re talking about a romantic relationship.

If that’s the case, I have three questions for you:

 

1. Does this person make my life easier?

2. Does this person make my world bigger?

3. Does this person make my pussy wetter / dick harder?

 

If you answered “No” to any of those questions, then you’re probably settling for less than what you desire… and deserve.

If you still feel uncertain, one final question might be:

 

4. Do I feel like the best version of myself — or, like I am becoming the best version of myself — when I am with this person?

 

If you answered “No” to that final question, as well… then what is this relationship providing for you, exactly?

Probably not anything that will keep you satisfied for long. Especially if you are the kind of person who wants to keep growing and evolving into the best possible version of yourself. Which I’m guessing you are.

Those are my questions for you, M.

I hope that they guide you into clarity, connection and good lovin’.

With the person you’re currently with — or with somebody new.

 

“It’s not healthy to go into relationships as a needy person. Better to go in with a full deck.”
–Anjelica Huston

 

Love big, M.

Love with a full deck.

And try to find someone whose deck is just as full as yours.

xo.

 

PS. For those of you reading… have you met the love of your life? How did you know that they were your soulmate, your true love, your anam cara? What were the signs and signals?

PPS. Special thanks to my sweetheart, Brandon, for helping me to devise the questions in this post. And for feeding me homemade ice cream on the regular. You make my life so much sweeter.

 
 
 

Read More good question

GOOD QUESTION: How do I get through resistance and take action?

 
 
 

Dear Alex,

What is your favorite strategy for days when it’s just so hard to start… It.

“It” being the one thing you really, really want to accomplish, but can’t seem to start, work on, or finish?

–Natanya

 
 

Dear Natanya,

A very smart woman recently told me about a little “experiment” that she conducted, a few years ago.

This woman wanted to meet someone amazing and fall in love, but whenever she thought about flirting, dating or (heaven forbid!) putting together an online profile, she felt so much resistance.

After waffling for a while, she had an idea that intrigued her. An idea that felt just a little bit… wild.

 

“What if I go on 52 dates in 52 weeks?” she wondered.

 

No expectations. No pressure. No drama. Just 1 coffee date, once a week, with someone new… for one year.

 

“It will be an experiment!” she decided. “Best case scenario? I meet the love of my life. Worst case scenario? I have 52 interesting little adventures. What have I got to lose?”

 

She made the commitment, told a few friends about her plan, and then… began.

Once she set the intention — and started taking action — the experiment quickly took on a momentum of its own.

While she wasn’t “counting on it,” she did, in fact, meet her future husband. (He was date #5. She never made it to 52).

 

The moral of the story?

 

The best way to get through resistance is to give the situation a whole new description, title, label… or name.

A “name” that represents the essence of the experience.

The way you want the experience to feel.

 

You’re not dating. You’re in the midst of an amazing 52-week experiment.

You’re not marketing. You’re connecting with people who need you.

You’re not blogging. You’re creating little miracles for people.

You’re not paying taxes. You’re writing a big “THANK YOU” letter to the government — along with a nice, big check — to show your gratitude for the roads, the schools, the libraries, the parks, the infrastructure & amenities that you adore and enjoy, every day.

 

Whatever you’re resisting, Natanya?

Re-frame & re-name it.

 

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
―Tom Stoppard

 

Your words can, as Tom says, “nudge the world a little.”

Or even provide a much-needed nudge… for yourself.

 

xo.

PS. What’s one thing you’ve been resisting — writing, exercising, dating, marketing, saving money — that needs a new name?

How will you describe it, from this moment forward?

 
 
 

Read More good question

GOOD QUESTION: What should I say to a friend who is constantly flaking out?

 
 
 

Dear Alex,

I live by the idea that your word, your reputation and your personal integrity are not just ideals, but your currency in business, relationships and life. I can’t stomach flakiness.

That being said, I’m having an issue with one of my friends.

I feel she is flaking out in our relationship — not responding to texts or cancelling at the last moment, despite expressing that she wants to see me.

Any advice on how to broach this awkward topic?

–Stephanie

 
 

Dear Stephanie,

Ten years ago, I was a miserably flaky person. My cell phone was my personal “eject” button.

If I felt tired, insecure, shy or just plain lazy, all I needed to do was fire off a quick text — “Sorry, can’t make it tonight!” — and I was off the hook.

Or so I thought.

One day, the persistent flakiness came to an end… because of a friend who cared about me. A friend who was sick and tired of my nonsense.

It was the usual dealio. She invited me to dinner at her place. I enthusiastically said “Yes!” An hour or two before dinner, I sent a pathetic text — “Soooo tired and there’s so much traffic. Can we reschedule?”

She was not having it.

She called me and said:

 

“I am very disappointed. I went to a special grocery store to buy a special Cornish Game Hen and I have been cooking all afternoon. I love when we spend time together, but you are constantly flaking out. Do you want a relationship with me, or not?”

 

Her tone was loving, but firm. I could hear the disappointment percolating through every word.

I felt sick to my stomach. Panicked, even. Because I knew she was right. I was behaving like a dolt.

It was the High Holy Truth Smack that I needed.

I apologized profusely, got in my car, and got my ass to dinner.

I made a solemn vow to myself, in that moment, to eradicate flaky behavior from my life. Because it’s gross. Because it’s disrespectful. And because — with a modicum of self-awareness and thoughtful planning — it is unnecessary.

You asked, Stephanie, how to “broach the topic” with your friend.

How do you broach it? You pick up the phone and just… broach it.

Tell your friend exactly how you feel.

Don’t scream, shout or be cruel. Try to remain civil and calm.

Just say the truth:

 

“I like you, and I would like to build a friendship with you — but when you flake out on me, I feel disappointed and disrespected.

I understand that we only have 24 hours in every day. If your life is currently too busy to include me in your circle of friends — or spend time together on a regular basis — that is OK.

But if that’s the case, please just tell me, ‘I can’t make it’ or ‘I can’t commit to that’ or ‘I think you’re great, but my life is too full right now.’

I don’t want to keep getting my hopes up and then feel let down. I would rather know the truth. Honesty from now on, OK? Deal?”

 

If you keep your tone level and calm, your friend will be less likely to go on the defensive, and more likely to hear & feel the true intention behind your words: Love.

Try that, Stephanie. Hopefully, you’ll get the result that you want.

Nobody is perfect, and everybody — myself included — is bound to miss the mark and let people down, occasionally.

But we can all make an effort to do better.

It’s not complicated.

It’s just a choice.

Make the right call — and invite the people you love to do the same.

No blame. No shame.

Only love.

 

xo.

PS. Do you have certain friends or colleagues who are constantly letting you down? How do you handle this kind of situation?

 
 
 

Read More good question

10 ways to answer the dreaded, “Can I pick your brain?” question… gracefully.

 
 
 

“Hey! I like what you’re doing in the world. I want to do something like that, too. Could I pick your brain over coffee?”

 

It’s an innocent inquiry.

It’s driven by a desire to learn, grow and do better.

But for many people, being on the receiving end of this particular question (“Can I pick your brain?”) can create feelings of guilt, stress and resentment.

You want to say “Yes”. After all, you’re a decent person. You want to be helpful and share what you know.

But if you say “Yes” to this person, then that means you have to say “Yes” to the next person… and the next… and so on… and soon?

You won’t have any time & energy left to do your own work or hit your own goals.

Instead, you’ll be running a 24/7 Free Advice Factory for Wayward Souls.

 

Is there a graceful solution?

I believe so.

The key is to answer the question you WISH they were asking.

Not the question they are ACTUALLY asking.

 

I will explain. Here’s an example:

Let’s say somebody writes to me and says:

 

“Hey Alex! You’ve written some books. I want to write a book, too. Could I pick your brain over coffee?”

 

The question I WISH they were asking is:

 

“Hey Alex! I want to write a book. Could you recommend ONE resource that might help me to get started?”

 

So that’s how I’m going to respond.

Like this:

 

“Hey! Many thanks for writing.

It’s wonderful that you want to write a book. Nothing feels better than getting to that final line, on the final page, and knowing, I did it!

I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but I want to share a terrific resource with you:

It’s a [book / blog / video / program] that I absolutely love — an invaluable resource for aspiring authors: [link]

Oh, and last but not least…

If you’re looking for a place where you can connect with fellow writers, bounce ideas around and get support, I would recommend checking out this online community: [link]

I hope both of these resources are helpful to you.

Be well & happy writing!”

 

And then — since “Can I pick your brain about how to write a book?” is a question I get asked a lot — I’m going to save that response in the Drafts folder of my inbox so that I can quickly grab it and use it in the future, without needing to reinvent the wheel every time. Easy. Clean. Fast. Ahh.

 

Here are 10 more ways to address the dreaded “Can I pick your brain?” question… gracefully.

 

1. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but I want to share a resource with you…”

 

2. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but I want to share one piece of advice with you…”

 

3. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but if you’d like to book me for some coaching / consulting, here’s how to do that…”

 

4. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but here’s someone else that you should definitely hire…”

 

5. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but I’d love to answer your question on my blog / advice column…”

 

6. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but if you make a donation to my favorite charity & forward me the receipt, I’d be happy to answer your three biggest questions via email…”

 

7. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but here’s a blog post that I wrote about this EXACT topic…”

 

8. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but please know that I am rooting for your success. If you give me your mailing address, I’d be happy to pop a little postcard into the mail with some encouraging words…”

 

9. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but I have a proposition for you…”

 

10. “I’m going to decline your coffee date invitation, but I hold a monthly meet-up right here in our fair city. Come on by, if you like. I’d love to connect with you then & there.”

 

That’s it. Just answer the question you WISH they were asking.

Offer something valuable — just not the exact thing that they’re requesting.

This protects your time & energy, while still allowing you to be gracious and generous.

Everybody wins.

Their heart is happy & full.

And your brain… can go mercifully un-picked.

xo.

 
 

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