By Chou Hallegra
A great way to set business goals is by looking forward to see where you want to be by the end of the year. Think about things like financial goals, number of clients or services that you offer and ways you could automate certain aspects of your business.
Set yourself an income goal for December 31 and then work out a way to achieve this. You may need to create new products, do some more affiliate marketing or generate some new clients. Or you could offer something new in your business such as a coaching module. Other choices include adding a paid newsletter to your business model or developing an online magazine. Even writing and publishing your own books can help increase your income stream.
Plan out what you will need to do each month to increase your bottom line and then simply take action. Not taking action is one of the biggest reasons why many business goals fail. While it is very easy to set lofty goals, attaining them is a different ball game altogether. This is where freeing up some of your time comes into play.
If you find that you are a slave to your business you might want to seriously consider outsourcing some aspects. What are the things you enjoy doing for your business and what are those things that you don't enjoy? Are you not enjoying them because the tasks are challenging or because they are tedious? Both of these are great reasons to outsource work. Why bother taking hours and hours to work on something that is difficult? Could you use this time to be more productive?
Let's look at an example. Maybe you aren't great with graphics and you consistently require eBook covers or banners made. Why not outsource this job and use the time to be more productive. You might be great at drumming up new clients so why not find a new one and use that money to hire a graphic designer? It really isn't costing you any more money you are just using your time more wisely.
Go through all the things you do for your business each day and see if there are some items that could be automated. Do you post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest regularly? This can be time consuming, why not look into ways that this could be automated. You can then work on this task once a month or once a week and schedule all of your posts.
By implementing small changes such as these you can free up a lot of time. Use this free time wisely to increase your profits. If you are a freelancer you could spend the time writing more of your own content or putting together special offers for your existing customers and clients.
Make time to do a little brainstorming for your business. Look at other players in your area and see if there is a product or service that is not being offered. Then find ways to implement it.
Keeping up to date with changes on the internet is a huge component of running a successful online business these days. Planning is important for any business owner and if you can be the first to market something new, you are going to be well ahead of your competitors.
If you want to thrive in all areas of your life, join us for THRIVE 2020 today!
Chou Hallegra Gabikiny, the founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC, is a Mental Health & Ability Consultant specializing in stress management, suicide prevention, trauma recovery, inclusive practices, customized employment, Person-Centered Thinking, social skills development, and support brokerage. She is also a best-selling Author , Speaker and Certified Life Coach on a mission to help people rise above their circumstances so they can be more and do more in life. Find out more atwww.graceandhopeconsulting.com
By Christina Abernethy
Instead of judging another mom on her parenting skills, we keep an open mind and believe that she’s doing the best she can.
Instead of staring at someone who “looks” or “acts” differently, we wave and say hello!
Instead of watching someone struggling to hold their grocery bags or push their cart, we offer to help them.
Instead of complaining about the things we hate so much, we start showing more gratitude for the things and people we’re thankful for.
Instead of ignoring the homeless man on the corner, we give him a cold drink and a snack.
Instead of saying “I’m fine”, we start reaching out and saying “I need help.”
Instead of making fun of someone, we give them a compliment to make them smile.
What if we take every day as a new day to improve ourselves?
A new day to be a little better than yesterday?
To be kinder.
To be more honest.
To be more caring.
To be more helpful.
What if this year is the year we start accepting and loving each other more?
What if we start changing the way things have always been?
What if we focus on building each other up and not tearing each other down?
What if we supported each other instead of walking away?
What if we all smiled a little a brighter and laughed a little more?
And what if we start today?
Christina is a dedicated wife, mother of three, and passionate advocate for people impacted by disabilities. She has coordinated events to fund research, supports and service dogs for families. She has served on local committees, coached an adaptive cheerleading team, and won awards for successful fundraising endeavors including those for “Team Bubba,” honoring her son with autism. She is the founder of Love, Hope, and Autism and is proud to be the coordinator for Changing Spaces Pennsylvania, a movement to build accessible restrooms with powered height adjustable adult-sized changing tables across communities to promote inclusion. She is working with legislators to pass a bill in Pennsylvania that would require such facilities in hospitals, airports, museums, rest stops, malls and more.
Christina also works as a Family Support and Community Engagement Specialist at Achieving True Self, supporting families like hers. Christina is committed to spreading a message of heightened awareness and acceptance of differences, ultimately inspiring hope. For her efforts, she won the ACHIEVA Award Of Excellence for Family Support in 2018 and in 2019 she was awarded a medal by the Autism Connection of Pennsylvania.
She is a two-time best-selling co-author, most recently including “You Are Not Alone: Stories, Resources and Hope From Autism Moms” -- a book that is filled with inspiring stories, helpful resources, and ultimately hope for families to let them know that they are not alone in their journey and that they too were made for more.
Yesterday was just another day. I had to pull myself out of bed, fight through the pain, soreness and tears while I got myself and my kids ready for the day. All I wanted to do was hide under my covers until these heavy clouds passed away, but that wasn't an option. I stood in front of my door, took a deep breath in desperation and perhaps with a tiny bit of hope that today might be different.
After I let out that long sigh, I proceeded to open my front door and what I saw was no short of a miracle. Look at the picture and see for yourself. Words cannot describe it and even this picture does not do it justice.
At that moment, I couldn't help but stop and take another deep breath, and breathe in hope and peace that transcends all understanding. Looking at this beautiful sky almost brought me to my knees (good thing I didn't drop because it would have been another problem to get back up :)
I have taken pictures of sunrises before but this one was different. Today was different. This sunrise painted the perfect picture of what I needed, way beyond the surface. There was my miracle! God knows how to touch those deep spaces in our hearts, those areas where no one can see but Him and sometimes He uses everyday things like a sunrise to remind us that He sees us. He sees me, all of me. And He sees you and all that you need.
As I stood there filled with awe, I was reminded of two things:
1. God's light is progressively and continually breaking through the heavy clouds in our lives, even when all we feel is the darkness that those clouds bring. God is fighting our battles, visible and invisible ones.
2. There's a bright and straight path on the horizon. We will experience the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living and even beyond. Our present sufferings are nothing to compare to the promises we have in Christ.
Can you see it? Can you see the light breaking through the dark clouds? Can you see the bright and straight path? As you look at this picture, I pray that you also see those things through eyes of faith and remember that "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14).
We shall overcome... by the blood of the lamb and the words of our testimony. We. Shall. Overcome.
Blessings to you my friend.
Setting a goal is one thing that is relatively easy to do. The harder part comes when it is time to take action and reach your goals. Many people lack the willpower to do this and give up way too early. Are you that type of person or would you say you had sticking power?
Sticking power boils down to motivation, determination and drive. While numerous people assume that you need to have a certain strength to demonstrate these qualities, that is not true. While not everyone has these qualities born in them, they can be develop if you put your mind to it.
Having the willingness to learn how to develop these skills is going to have a huge impact on how successful you will be with your goals. Is your goal powerful enough for you to overcome obstacles?
If you answered yes to that question you are a huge step ahead of many other people. To learn how to become more determined and focused you want to start thinking in a more positive way.
You have to start believing in yourself in order to reach your potential. By using positive reinforcements you will start to believe what you are telling yourself each day. Honestly, if you don't believe in yourself how can you expect others to believe in you?
Using visualizations is another great way of developing your mindset and your self confidence. Once you can 'see' how you are going to look and feel your motivation will remain high. The minute you let self doubt creep into your mind you are travelling the road to destruction. When you think that something is not possible a shield goes over your eyes and you cannot see the right path anymore.
In order to win at goal setting you need to begin with an open mind. Set yourself mini goals that you need to reach in between. This way you are building stepping stones to your success. With each stepping stones you get closet to your main goal and your energy and determination is renewed.
How to you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start by breaking down your main goal into mini-goals. Then set stepping stones for each mini-goal, then for each stepping stones, set actionable steps you will take. Whenever you perform one of these steps, remember that you are doing something towards your end goal. In time, all of these small actions will build upon each other and they will help you reach your goal. Don’t forget to reward yourself as you are taking those small action steps.
Remember that some goals are huge and may take longer than one year to accomplish. There is nothing wrong with allowing yourself more time as long as you are working diligently towards it.
Most importantly, you don’t have to struggle alone. Create a support system of peers, mentors, coaches, and even resources to help you achieve your goals.
If you are ready to thrive in 2020, join us at THRIVE 2020 today!
Chou Hallegra, the founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC, is a Mental Health & Ability Consultant specializing in stress management, suicide prevention, trauma recovery, inclusive practices, customized employment, Person-Centered Thinking, social skills development, and support brokerage. She is also a best-selling Author , Speaker and Certified Life Coach on a mission to help people rise above their circumstances so they can be more and do more in life. Find out more at www.graceandhopeconsulting.com
By Cherie Faus Smith
The months leading up to my 50th birthday were filled with emotion. One moment, I was excited and looking forward to the new decade. The next minute, I was filled with fear.
Age is just a number and it certainly shouldn’t define me.I tried desperately to see the cup half full. Time after time, doubt would creep in. I’d begin to feel extremely unsure of myself. Oh, the wondrous power of negative self-talk.
Then, I remembered a conversation with my mom many years ago. Her words of wisdom helped me see the light. She said that after turning 50, she no longer felt the need to ask for others’ approval, she felt more empowered in making decisions, and didn’t care what others thought of her.
What was I afraid of? After all, I have survived three abusive relationships. I’m a melanoma survivor. I live with an anxiety disorder.
Fifty should be a piece of cake.When the day I dreaded finally arrived, it was almost anticlimactic. To celebrate, my husband threw me a party with family and my closest friends. It was an amazing bash and to see so many people in one room having fun, sharing stories, dancing, and eating delicious food warmed my heart.
Nothing untoward happened. My spirit remained intact and all the jokes about turning fifty were kind. Looking at my loved ones around me as we celebrated, I could even see the years as awards earned rather than burdens borne.
I felt welcomed to my fifth decade.As I approached my birthday, I hoped I’d hit the milestone with grace. I certainly didn’t want to become a woman who sees an age spot or gray hair and freak out. It’s super easy to go down that dark hole and get lost in the stories we tell ourselves.
I choose to embrace the changes with my body and be grateful to be alive.
On the practical side, I’ve learned three things since turning 50:
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
We’re all entering a new decade with 2020. So whether you’re embracing a birthday or the new decade, will you share something you’ve learned in the comments, too? Or just suggest a place for a bra fitting. I’d love to hear from you.
Cherie Faus-Smith is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, & transformational coach focusing on women over 50. Her goal is to inspire women (like you!) to live life on their own terms. Cherie’s been a guest on Good Day PA and, most recently, was the keynote speaker at the YWCA's fashion show event to raise money for their Domestic Violence program.
She shares her experiences with surviving domestic abuse and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to inspire women to live life to the fullest, push their comfort zones, and thrive.
Find out more about Cherie on her website. Also, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
By Karima Leslie
For those who suffered in 2019, you are not broken, you are breaking through. It's been a hard year. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
But the yearnings of your heart do not go unnoticed.
Your pain does not fall on deaf ears.
For those filled with dread by the new year, be careful not to let all that you've faced in 2019 fill you with anger or resentment or guilt.
If 2019 was filled with hardship, it's a feat in itself just to say you survived.
Be proud of that. Be proud of you.
You made it through so many challenges, so many hurts, so many unexpected events you wished you could have prevented. And the ache in your heart is not being ignored.
You are loved and being cared for in ways you could not even imagine; you only need to open your heart to that love again.
You are so strong and so brave and now that 2019 has come to a close know that this dark season you are in will eventually come to a close as well.
You will get through this.
How to Have a Better Year In 2020
I’m (your guest blogger Karima Leslie, Spiritual Life & Business Coach) excited to share a series with you on How to Have a Better Year in 2020. Each blog will contain resources & guidance to help you heal, recover, and flourish this year. You’ve faced challenges in your life and things are about to get a whole lot better. I’ll show you how.
January 2020: Learn to Ask for Help
Don’t wait until things get bad to ask for help. Waiting until your situation gets dire & desperate to ask others for help is like waiting until your teeth start falling out to go to the dentist. It’s never too late to get help but asking for help early on is a sign of wisdom, not of weakness.
It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to need help. You don’t have to go it alone.
Resources for Emotional & Mental Health Support:
Life Coaching & Mentorship
US2-1-1 Crisis support
Low Income Mental Health Services:
2-1-1 Crisis support
Canadian Low-Income Mental Health Services by Province:
Canadian Mental Health Helplines:
Resources for Financial Help:
USAmerican Index for Financial Assistance Programs
American Non-profit Food Assistance Programs
American Non-profit Medical Cost Assistance
Canadian Financial Assistance Programs
Canadian Non-profit Medical Cost Assistance
Certified Spiritual Life & Business Coach, Karima Leslie, provides one-on-one online and in-person coaching sessions to help women kill overwhelm, boost confidence, & conquer fear. She is currently running sessions focused on clarity for life direction, support in creating meaningful goals, assistance through life transition & changes, and encouragement in pursuing all that you want to achieve.
Founder of Arise and Thrive Co., check out her services & resource on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AriseandThriveCo/,
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ariseandthriveco/ , or contact her directly at email@example.com to book a free session and find out your next step is to making 2020 a better year!
What is the reason you set goals? Is it because all of your friends are or do you find that setting goals help to improve your life?
Goals can definitely help you improve your life and they can help you make your dreams come true. Let's look at some of the top reasons why goal setting is important.
Setting a goal can help you measure your progress. The minute you set a goal you become responsible for attaining it. You now have a place to start from and a completion date. This allows you to see how far you have come and how far you still have to go.
Setting goals can help with team building. When everyone involved has a common goal to work towards people come together and work hard to get the goal accomplished. By setting a team goal your entire business can become more productive.
Setting goals helps give you a sense of direction in your life and in your business. Having a clear and specific goal gives you a purpose; you have something to work towards. Who doesn't want to have something to look forward to?
Setting goals defines a purpose for you. This applies to both personal goals and those set by your employer. How many times at work have you tried to look busy? But when you have a goal to reach you are automatically busy all the time as you don't want to be the one to miss the goal.
Setting goals helps you plan out a method for reaching them. If your employer tells you that you have to finish a 20,000 word report by the end of the month, you don't want to miss your deadline. Instead you will focus on how to create a plan so that you make your deadline. If reaching your goal means involving other people to help you then you will figure out a plan to do so.
Setting goals gives you energy and determination. As soon as you set a goal your mind starts to think about them and this gives you increased energy and drive. If you know you have a goal to reach at work, you are more likely to wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle the goal each day. When you don’t have a goal, the thought of going to work each day is without purpose other than to supply you with a paycheck.
Setting goals gives you a sense of pride. Smart employers will know that when they give their employees goals they are filling them with a sense of urgency and pride. Companies that continually set goals for their employees often report that morale is much higher and that their productivity levels are high.
Goals provide you with measurements based upon your performance. This can be great for individuals to measure their progress as well as being a good way for businesses to ensure that their goals are on track. When a result is expected from you, you are going to automatically place more effort and focus on it to achieve it.
Goals can help team members bond together. When people are placed into teams each person is working towards the goal. No one wants to be responsible for not meeting the goal and this pushes people to work together and bond. Employees that do not always get along could benefit from being placed into a team goal setting event. Individual preferences will have to be put aside while everyone works towards meeting their goal.
Team goal setting can also help employers identify possible team leaders for future promotions.
Ready to set your goals? Grab your journal and get started today!
Chou Hallegra is a best-selling author, a sought-after speaker, a Certified Life Coach, and a multi-credentialed Mental Health and Ability Consultant. She is passionate about helping people rise above their circumstances and enjoy life to the fullest. Find out more at www.graceandhopeconsulting.com.
By Holly Miller
After almost two full weeks off of school and a really nasty upper-respiratory virus, I found myself unmotivated to start a project I so happily signed on for earlier when the world seemed a lot more bright, shiny, and promising; this blog. And every year I have to remind myself that ‘this is just how it is’ this time of year for me. As a teacher who also struggles with anxiety and depression, having my routine shaken up, spending hours of unstructured time alone, and then being thrust back into ‘the real world’ again after winter break can be really tough. And I know it can be so hard on my students too. After the lights are taken down and the cheerful trappings of the season are packed away, the world sometimes looks even darker than it did before the holidays.
And you would think that after over 30 years in academia, I would be used to this – having my routine come to a screeching halt and then having to re-start it again in the new year. But every new year presents the same main issue I always struggle with – starting again. Although it is never easy, I guess I have a good amount of experience in starting again (and getting 150 teenagers to re-start again with me when we return from break). While these are not groundbreaking tips, these are things that are tried and true and always help me struggle less when heading back to school after the winter break or just starting again in general. So whether you or your kids are heading back to school after some time off, here are some things to help.
1. Be prepared.
It always eases my anxiety by picking out my outfit the night before, packing my lunch, and knowing what I’m making for dinner when I come home from school. Having a plan helps push out some unease.
2. Ease back into your routine.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with things I need to accomplish. I allow myself some time just to go to school, put in a solid day, then come home and do nothing else. I try not to overschedule myself. I give myself permission to relax when I get home for the first few days back from break. While things need to be accomplished, giving a little downtime is absolutely necessary.
3. Plan something you look forward to.
One of my colleagues a few years ago started “Taco Night” in our group of teacher friends. Once a month, someone would take a turn to host dinner and we would all gather for a night of food and board games. It was fun to look forward to those dinners after the holidays were over. Something small like a movie night or allowing your student to pick a meal for dinner one night a week goes a long way.
4. Yoke unpleasant tasks with something you enjoy.
Getting back into a routine means getting back to things we don’t always love. I HATE doing dishes. (Yes, our house built in 1955 has never been updated to include a dishwasher). So I set my iPad up above the sink and watch Gilmore Girls while doing a task I dread. Pair something not so great with something enjoyable helps unpleasant tasks go faster.
5. Watch your self-talk.
Somebody once told me “speak to yourself as you would your best friend on their worst day”. I try really hard not to put myself down or beat myself up for things I didn’t accomplish. My mantra for teaching is “you get done what you get done, and whatever didn’t get done wasn’t all that important”. Our to-do lists are never-ending. So recognize good stopping places and congratulate yourself or your student for a job well done.
As we go into 2020, a lot of us may feel overwhelmed at the whole year ahead of us. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I don’t know about you, but looking at the whole staircase raises my blood pressure. But taking the first step, that’s something I’ve done a hundred times and that something I can do again. I am looking forward to a year of blogging about mental health, education, and just being a human. And I just took my first steps into doing so!
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
By Donna Lund
The human brain fascinates me. The information stored in our memory bank is quite remarkable and the triggers that cause memories to be retrieved with such accuracy is even more amazing. I experienced one of those triggers the other day as I read in school news that kindergarten registration is coming up. I felt this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and my heart started to race a little. Kindergarten registration was an exciting time for my 2 girls thankfully. My boys on the other hand, not at all. The memories surrounding my boys starting kindergarten bring back to life the most traumatic school transitions we ever faced. Memories that still are as vivid as the actual events. Honestly, I'd give anything for them to just fade away.
When Donny was set to start kindergarten we did not know he was on the spectrum. We knew something was different certainly, but not exactly what. Nikki was thriving in a Catholic School but we knew Donny needed the resources of our public school district so we decided to uproot her and start both kids in our neighborhood elementary school. Family is everything to us and our kids needed to be in the same school. So during the spring of 2002, a few weeks after Cathy died, I enrolled our children in a new school for the upcoming school year. I remember so well entering the office of Baker Elementary School. I asked to talk to the principal who was retiring that year and I told him something was different about my son and he directed me to the guidance counselor. There I sat in her office. Exhausted, grief stricken and terrified. The tears began to flow as I told her about Donny, Nikki and the cancer ordeal that we had just lived through. I was so fragile during this time I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. As I left the building I saw moms talking and laughing and I thought to myself that this school truly is the beginning of a brand new life for me. I was now sister-less and in a few months I would learn I am an autism mom. I felt like I was being tormented and was yearning for inner peace. Everything I knew was gone.
Donny's orientation to kindergarten was even more fun! Not. As the new students were filling into the school with their moms Donny would not get out of the car. There were a few moms who I was friends with that saw me struggling and they tried to coax him out of he car, even the principal came out to our car but Donny was too stressed and overwhelmed to pull it together. These were the kinds of things Donny would do that made people misunderstand him. I'm not sure how it happened but finally we made it into the building. That's where the details get blurry.
What I do know and will never forget is how remarkable and special those years were for Donny and I. His teacher was so gifted and confident and seemed to make everything ok. She was responsible for Donny's encouraging development and for giving me a game plan for how to deal autism. Donny and I were both learning and adjusting and the fog that felt suffocating was beginning to lift. In many ways I was her student too. I never knew how much a teacher could mean to our family and how that special little school would become a cornerstone in my life. At the most fragile time in my life the staff at that school was exactly what I needed as I began a new life.
Brian's kindergarten registration was completely different than Donny's in that he was already diagnosed and he had attended a special needs preschool. His needs were much different but I was eager, actually excited for him to have the same excellent teacher Donny had. I wasn't adjusting to being a special needs mom anymore and I already knew the players. It was round 2 and I was much more prepared. Of course I was heartbroken, that goes without saying, but I was used to it by now. An autism mom was who I was and probably what defines me in our community. Amazing how times change. In 2002 I could hardly say the word autism without breaking down. 15 years later I'm writing about it and own an autism mom t-shirt! I guess we are all capable of adapting even when we think we can't reinforcing why our brains are so fascinating and powerful.
Sadly, Brian going to Baker for kindergarten was not in the cards. We were informed that he would not be attending the elementary school his siblings attended. We were crestfallen that Brian would not attend the school that felt like family to us and have the wonderful teacher Donny was blessed with. I definitely was not wanting to start over and put down roots in another school. Just as I was gaining some confidence the rug was pulled out from under me and I was back to square one. It was a devastating time but we were determined to adjust and put our best foot forward. Again, as it was when Donny started kindergarten, everything I knew was gone. I have absolutely no recollection of Brian's orientation day. I'm not even sure we went.
Moments are fleeting but memories are permanent. They are a very powerful thing. Some are joyous while others are very painful. I think we share our favorite memories so they do not fade away. That notion is probably why I mention my sister a lot. They keep us connected to the past whether we want to be connected or not. The memories that are stored in our brain; the good, the bad and the ugly create our story and are a reflection of our short time on this earth. They are reminders of what we have lived through and who touched our lives both positively and negatively. I'm grateful for all of them because it means I've had an array of experiences. No one ever said life was supposed to be easy or is promised anything and I'm happy and thankful for each day.
Happy 2020 my friends...….it's time to create some new memories and I wish you all the very best!!
Donna is a wife, mother of four, and loving advocate from Pittsburgh, PA. Both of her sons have ASD. Her contribution to the autism community in her early years focused on fundraising both at the national and local level. In 2011, the Lund family was featured in a documentary, The Family Next Door. The film’s mission was to illustrate the emotional impact of autism on families, and its influence has led to speaking engagements that focus on Donna’s message of compassion. She has been invited to speak at local universities with special education teachers as well as at high schools (including annually at Mt. Lebanon School District as part of their curriculum) to promote professional development. Donna was a speaker at the Robert Morris University Educational Conference and a guest panelist for Representative Dan Miller’s Disability Summit. In 2018, she launched her blog, Labeled to Lunderful. Most recently she was a coauthor for the book collaboration You Are Not Alone. Find out more at http://www.labeledtolunderful.com/