Friday, December 25, 2009

Is The Time Right?

Is the time right...?

This week has been exciting, with the debut of Avatar. (Wait, this is not a movie review. In fact, I've yet to see the movie!)

What this is about is going for it.

James Cameron had the idea for Avatar at least a decade ago. He wrote the treatment for the movie back in the 90s. (Yeah, last century!)

Until now, technology didn't exist to create his vision.

So, what dream have you had on the back burner because the time wasn't right? Perhaps techology didn't exist that would help you create what you wanted. Perhaps you didn't have enough time or money. Maybe you were just paralyzed by fear.

But you have a dream, an idea, something cooking on the back burner. And I'm the time right now?

One person responded to this question by saying he'd leave the country, maybe via a cruise, for the first time. Another said he wanted to take a trip with his wife, the honeymoon they'd never had. Another is actually going to start writing. Another is going to complete a web site. One person said this is the year she pays off the last of that credit card debt.

I'm not talking about a resolution or a new habit, something you might beat yourself up about later.

What I am talking about is a dream, something intense and real, something you want to create.

And I'm asking, again, is the time right?

If so, here's to you, here's to "going for it," here's to your Avatar!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Outsmart Your Brain!

It’s definitely that time of year, when we start to think of resolutions, of new habits. This will be the year I finally…

Well, unless we understand how our brains work and harness that energy, that change may be more difficult than we counted on. In less than a month, we’ll be back to our old ways and dreaming of next year.

Changing our behavior is challenging, but it’s not impossible. And the rewards make the effort more than worthwhile. Think of the feeling of accomplishment of meeting your goals. Think of the empowerment, the rewards, and the impact on your self-esteem.

First, let’s understand the challenge. We don’t change without first having the thought that we want to change. The desire attached to that thought determines whether the change we want will actually work for us. As Napoleon Hill says, "Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything."

The region of our brain called the basal ganglia controls cognition, learning, voluntary movement, and movement coordination. This is the place we “store” repetitive behavior, such as driving a car, so that we don’t have to consciously think of each step when we get behind the wheel.

Here’s the tricky part. New skills and ideas, as well as information, has to go through the prefrontal cortex. We move skills, ideas, info into the basal ganglia through repetition. Sounds easier than it actually is. Since the prefrontal cortex uses a lot of energy, our brains resist this. It’s easier to do what we’ve always done. (This explains why we give into temptation and sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of getting up and going to the gym!)

So how do we outsmart our brains? Repetition, repetition, repetition.

As Nathaniel Emmons says, “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.” We’ve heard it takes twenty-eight days to establish a new habit, and that’s a great place to start.

To really create new neural pathways, we need to do something for sixty to ninety days. And guess what? It takes up to 180 days (yep, half a year!) to have the information stored in the basal ganglia.

The good news is, by then, the new habit, the new strategy is second nature. Even better news, we can do this with several items at once. We can learn new eating habits, new writing discipline, and begin a savings plan, all at the same time.

With a goal, with the desire, with the determination, and with understanding how our brains can be outsmarted, success is within reach!

Here’s to YOUR success!

Friday, September 25, 2009

You: Good And Getting Better!

If you’re like me, you don’t have enough hours in the day. Do you ever wonder what you could do with more energy, more pizzazz? Could you accomplish something really great, set the world on fire? Or if that’s a stretch, would you settle for being able to get out of bed without hitting the snooze button half a dozen times? There are days I’d be happy to make it through the day without dragging my rear end to the finish line.

But I’ve learned there are tips and tricks for managing our energy and being more effective.

As women, we have even more challenges. We get to deal with hormones and cravings, along with juggling multiple responsibilities. (Oh joy!)

First of all, ladies, taking care of ourselves needs to be a priority (otherwise we’ll continue dragging our butts all the way to the finish line, never mind setting the world on fire!).

When you’re looking at your energy level, pay attention to the great science being uncovered in this area. We need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is where we rest, rejuvenate, heal and help our hormones balance—and this can help with us having a healthy weight.

Fueling our bodies with healthful foods makes a huge difference in our energy level. By eating every few hours, we don’t end up overly hungry and making choices that don’t support the demands of our busy lives. By eating healthy, we can help our blood sugar levels and avoid spikes and crashes. Darn it, I’ve learned I feel better after a breakfast of a scrambled egg with spinach and a multi-grain English muffin than I do after a cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer.

Regular exercise, including cardio and weight-bearing activities, are a huge help. (Of course, see a doctor before you get going on an exercise program!)

We all need breaks from stress, too. What rejuvenates you? A bath, a fun magazine, a long walk, a chat with my daughter, getting outside, are all things that fill my tank.

Just as we have a daily cup of coffee (or whatever your beverage of choice is) we can establish habits around choices that support, rather than drain our bodies.

Why not start with the rejuvenation piece? You can add more when you’re ready. But for now, can you build in a daily re-charge? If you did, what would that be? How can you set the world on fire? I’d love to hear from you!

--Supporting you…Sierra

Monday, July 6, 2009

One Step At A Time!

I posted a few days ago that I was going to climb a 13-er...a mountain over 13,000 feet tall, in preparation for this weekend's 14er.

The mountain had about 2,800 feet of elevation gain. When you consider a flight of stairs has an elevation gain of about ten feet, you get some sort of perspective.

The hike itself was, round trip, eight miles.

And the strangest thing happened...we had awful weather for the climb.

You name it, horrific wind, freezing (literally) temperatures, rain, icy rocks, fog, even hail. For the majority of the hike, the mountain ahead of us was shrouded with fog. Near the top, I was blown backwards off one rock.

On many trails, the way is marked by piles of rocks, called cairns. We were literally unable to see past the cairns. We weren't sure if we were on the trail or not for most of the final assent.

What I learned from this experience...once you have set the goal, focus on your next step. Make sure you're stepping in a sure-footed way, but take your next step.

If I had been able to see the summit, I'm not sure I would have attempted it that day. The conditions were more than adverse. But I didn't keep looking. I kept moving toward the goal. (Keep in mind, I'm not advocating doing things that are stupid or life-risking. I am advocating taking smart, considered risks, but moving forward toward your goals.) Sometimes, by focusing on small steps, rather than the end result, we can achieve even greater things.

Here's to you reaching your summits!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Celebrate Your Independence!

On this side of the pond, we celebrate the Fourth of July, otherwise known as Independence Day.

It's a day rich in tradition, with barbecues, picnics, watermelon, homemade ice cream, family, friends, and firework displays.

But we can make this day into our own special celebration of independence. And you get to define independence anyway you want to.

I'm celebrating my independence from lethargy by climbing a 13-er (a mountain that's over 13,000 feet tall. Mount Audubon, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area.) And next week, I'll continue the celebration by climbing a 14-er, Mount Bierstadt.

One of my friends is celebrating her indepenence from that extra five pounds she's been lugging around.

Another is celebrating her independence from too much debt.

Another is celebrating her freedom from the 9-5 grind. She's now working for herself. It's a struggle, but she says she's never been happier.

Many of us Western women celebrate our independence, literally. I was on a writing retreat with a dozen talented female writers. One night, we all climbed into the outdoor hot tub, beneath a canopy of stars. From our vantage in the Colorado mountains, we could see the Milky Way. And our conversation drifted to the fact that in parts of the world we would not have the freedom to gather sans men. In certain places, we would not be able to spend a couple of days away from home, frolicking in our bathing suits, getting massages, and talking the night away.

So...what do you want to be independent from? How do you want to live your life? What does freedom mean to you? (Even if you're in Europe or half the world away in Australia, or celebrating Canada Day, how can you make this holiday yours?)

Cheering for you...

Love, Sierra

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Power of Focus

I've been learning a lot about the power of focus as we're trying to get things done.

We live in a world of multi-tasking, and I'm guilty, guilty, guilty!

At the gym, I jump on the exercise bike, plug in my headset to the television monitor, scroll through until the Travel Channel shows up, start pedaling, then dial in the workout I want, sit back and open a magazine, well, I sit back after I check my BlackBerry to make sure I haven't missed a text, call, or email in the walk from the locker room. (If I have, I respond!)

When I get home, I power up the computer even as I open the refrigerator to look for something to cook for dinner.

I was grateful when cell phones became readily available, that way I was able to extend my work day another half hour while I drove home.

One drawback I've found...I'm not always as engaged as I could be in what I'm doing.

Yesterday, I shut off the phone and concentrated on a project for an hour. And something amazing happened...I finished the project. I had allotted four hours to the job, but I accomplished it in 60 focused minutes. Without distractions, I was able to finish a job in a quarter of the time it usually takes.

I will probably not stop multi-tasking anytime soon. But I've learned a powerful lesson about the power of single-minded focus.

So that leads me to my question for you...what could you accomplish in a focused, laser-like hour? (I bet you may even astound yourself!)

Hugs, Sierra (who only answered one text message while writing this!)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Taking Your Own Advice

As a business and personal coach, I'm living the dream, all day, every day. I am fortunate to spend hours with people, talking about their hopes and dreams and goals. Once my client has honed in on the things he or she wants to achieve, we formulate a strategy for achievement.

We'll spend the next sessions focusing, honing, refining, sometimes changing the course, but always we keep the end in mind. We strategize together, talk about "what if," imagine what life will be like when that goal comes tue. Nothing is off limits; thinking big is encouraged!

After a call last week, I hung up feeling strangely dissatisfied. My client was happy; she had a plan and a goal. She was energized, she was creating something new. But I realized I wasn't taking my own advice!

I didn't have a plan of my own, let alone something fabulous with action steps outlined. I wasn't spending time thinking about what I want to accomplish!

Like a cobbler whose children need shoe repairs, I was a coach without a coaching plan in place for my own life. Whatup with that?

And it occurs to me, as a woman, as a busy professional, I, too, get caught up in the 'doing,' rather than exploring, dreaming, thinking, creating, imagining "what if?" I'm so busy on the treadmill that I forgot why I climbed on the machine in the first place.

So my question to you...

You're a brilliant person. Absolutely brilliant. People call you for advice. People come to you with their problems, people listen to you.

You give good advice.

And I'm wondering...what advice are you giving others that you should be taking yourself?

(If you're brave, share it here. I dare you.)
Lotsa love, Sierra

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Loose Id is bringing out "Hawkeye One: Danger Zone" in paperback!

I'll have more deets soon, but this is exciting news!

In the meantime, if you're looking for the e-book...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Achieving Your Dreams

I'm a big believer in setting goals, thinking about what you want, dreaming about it, listing all the ways your life will be better for reaching your goal, talking about it with trusted friends and advisors, being single-minded in your determination to achieve...

But, what next?

Er... Action.

That's a part most of us don't really think about, much less do.

I can think about writing. I can dream about it. I can list all the great things that come from writing, seeing your name in print, looking at the gorgeous cover art, getting a royalty check. I can even attend writers' groups and conferences. I can blog about writing a book. I can talk about it with my friends. Most certainly, I can make a list of the ways my life will be better if I write a book.

But until I sit myself in a chair and put my fingers on the keyboard day after day, hour after hour, missing out on opportunities to go out with friends, skipping activities I enjoy, I can never achieve my goal.

Several years ago (okay, maybe five), I set a weight goal. I did all the things I talk about in my coaching. I made the lists, I talked about how great things would be once I wore a smaller size, I dreamed about it.

But I actually didn't get to the fitness club all that often. And I didn't significantly change my eating habits...until I had an issue with my knee last fall. I ended up in physical therapy. In order to keep up my regular activities, including hiking, I had to make changes.

I hired a personal trainer to teach me to get fit. Since I had to pay in advance, almost a thousand dollars, I had a real commitment to show up for my three-times a week sessions. Then, because I wanted to get the most out of the sessions, I changed my eating habits. (I even learned how to cook brown rice and started steaming fresh veggies every day.)

I had spent years visualizing the scale at that ideal weight. I pictured shopping for smaller clothes. I talked about eating healthier. I strategized how I would achieve my goals. I told people about my determination. I wrote affirmations.

But I took only half-hearted efforts to achieve my goals. For example, I'd eat well for two days, and then have a Coke and chocolate the next. I'd go to the gym once a week, maybe twice if I was feeling ambitious.

Until I made a consistent effort, I held my own, but I didn't make progress.

I'm happy to report that, as of last week, I have achieved my weight goal. (Now I'm going to set another!)

I learned through this experience that dreaming, thinking, wanting, affirming is not enough. To achieve, you have to take action.

What do you really, really want that you haven't taken action on?

Be honest with yourself.

If you want to be a writer, do you write every day? (Or do you only think about it and dream about it?) If you want to be a size smaller, have you checked with your doctor and made a game plan? If you want better financial results, have you made changes to your spending, saving, investing habits?

Where can you take action to have the life you dream of?

Believing in you...

(who has a story out in the new, fabu Night of the Senses anthology from Total-E-Bound. Yes, I skipped fun activities in order to see my name on a book. Some sacrifices are definitely worth it!)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keep On Dreaming!

Last month, we talked about the importance of setting big goals. If we don’t take the time to think about what we want and dream of it, we might possibly never achieve it.

Unbelievably, the first month of 2009 is already behind us. We’re settling in after the holiday insanity. For many of us, real life (RL) has already intruded on our beautiful, bright, shiny new 2009 goals. Some of us may have already resumed some old habits we swore we were giving up in the giddiness of a champagne toast and New Year’s resolutions.

So what do I want for you?

It’s time to restore the luster to your dreams!

I want you to pull back out your 2009 goals. If they’re already dusty, dust them off! If you haven’t opened the file on your computer since last year, open it up.

Re-read your list of dreams, goals, the vision you had for 2009.

And for each of those dreams, I want you to write three to five reasons why you want to achieve that goal.

For example, if you wanted to lose a bit of weight, you might say, I want to live longer. I want to have more energy. I want to feel better. I want to wear a smaller size.

If you want to write a book, you might say, I want the feeling of accomplishment. I want to see my name on a book cover, etc.

Your dreams are yours. They’re personal. Your reasons for wanting those goals should be personal, too. Feel free to write more than five reasons, but please, do write at least three reasons you want to achieve each goal or dream.

Here’s to you and a re-energized 2009!

Until next time,