Find the Pause Button

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Am I the only one who feels like the energy and atmosphere surrounding all of us is heavy and urgent right now? At first I personally thought it was a reflection of the holidays, my family obligations, and all the to-do’s attached to the launch of my new program. But lately I’ve recognized that while all of those things bring a certain weight and urgency, this challenging energy goes deeper than that.

I’m not one for dramatics or hysterics. I frown on drama for drama’s sake. But I feel like the world is screaming out right now — for something — but it’s unclear exactly what’s expected.  There’s lots of Help! SOS! Pay Attention!  And so because it feels different than usual, I’ve been doing my best to listen to all of it.

In the last month, I have seen so many calls to action at the local, national and global level that, quite frankly I’m struggling to keep them all straight.  The noise and hysteria of it all is blocking my rational thoughts.

I’m very aware now that I do need to act, but I’m taking an opportunity to be mindful about my actions and response. I want to choose where I give my energy and focus carefully, because I want to make a genuine difference. Plus, I’d still like to remain calm and in control of all areas of my life.

So rather than deliver a knee-jerk response, I’ve taken time to contemplate what is going on, how its impacting me and our society, and realistically assessing what I can offer that will help to alleviate some of the heaviness and urgency and ultimately, affect positive change.

I’ve turned off some of the background noise – notifications, emails, alerts — all the things vying for my attention. This isn’t because I plan to ignore them forever, or because I want to stay blissfully unaware until it all goes back to “normal.” It’s because I needed time and space to decide what I think and how I feel.

So often I see others fall into the trap of acting before thinking because they feel uncomfortable with heaviness and urgency, and they look for the quickest possible way to remove the discomfort. Action can be like a bandaid for discomfort.  I fall into the trap of acting too quickly, and without forethought sometimes, too.

But this time the urgency required me to sit with the discomfort and tune into myself so I could determine how I can best participate in a way that stays true to my core values and my personal goals for this coming year.  I am a strategic thinker and I help others create massive positive change, too, both in their personal lives and in their communities.

That’s why I knew that I had to deliver in a big way with Relaunch. Now more than ever, people need to approach an increasingly uncertain 2017 with clarity, knowing exactly how they’re going to live, participate, and affect change in their world.

Beginning on January 3rd, I’ll lead a community of Revolutionary Goal Setters to recognize patterns and notice when the light bulb goes off for them as they review their lives. I’ll assist them in creating a plan of action for next year so they can address the heaviness and urgency in their lives and throughout the world. And I’ll be creating my own plan right along with them.

Maybe you need to give this gift to yourself, too? Hit the pause button, regroup, get specific about your goals, and then go out and truly make an impact next year?  That’s how you become a Revolutionary Goal Setter. I would love for you to join this virtual goal setting revolution. Get all the details here: relaunchyouryear.com.

Set Your Intentions

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Unbelievably time has flown by and it is now June – half way through the year. So I took some time last week to complete a mid-year review. There was a lot going on in my business for the first 6 months – it was a “good” busy. In my end-of-year review of 2015, I was very specific and intentional about who I wanted to work with and that made a big difference. I witnessed the power of naming what you want, writing it down and watching it become reality.

Though I am pleased with the focus on my business, I fell short on the other areas of my life. To be quite transparent – I didn’t meet the goals I had planned for at all. In fact, I had serious trouble completing even the first few action steps I defined for myself. And they were seemingly super simple, easy to-dos, such as buying a pair of exercise shoes – which took me 8 weeks to buy. Yes, I said 8 weeks…to click a button on Amazon.

At first, I felt embarrassed and was resistant in sharing that little bit of information. Then I realized that is exactly why I should share it. Because we all struggle – holding yourself accountable is really hard. Just the act of defining your goals, remaining focused on them throughout the year is ridiculously hard. But that is also not a reason to give up.

There is great value in going through the process of setting your intentions; with time and practice, good habits can be formed. I think back to four years ago when I started the process of reviewing my past year. I spent a few fleeting moments deciding on very vague goals. I, along with my process, have grown so much and as I continue to create snapshots of my past, pull out some learning moments and actively participate in planning my future I know I am progressing even more.

I am aware that I will set high expectations and possibly fall short on a lot of them. But I continue to be intentional about my goals and somewhere in my subconscious I remember them and instinctively make choices to get closer to meeting them.

Because of this, I encourage you to continue where you left off and start setting your goals. There is never a “perfect” time to set goals. You don’t have to worry about deciding what to do first, just do something and you will experience some growth. And if you need some extra accountability or maybe a lot of guidance, let me know. Send me a message at emilycmarko@gmail.com and I can share some services that have worked for me and are working for my clients.

Do you have any tips on setting your goals? I would love to hear them!

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Tell Me A Story

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My mind has always been pulled towards a good story, lately I have been thinking about why that is. I believe for me, stories are how I relate to other people whether connecting with family and friends or building new relationships with clients. Stories help me find commonalities with people I meet, but also teach me more about who they truly are as a person.

Although we all come from different walks of life, I find it rather easy to befriend a person when a story is shared – theirs or mine. Sharing a part of yourself  – whether with a stranger or someone you are close with – requires a degree of honesty and vulnerability, but that is why I can relate to another person.

Early this month, I took a road trip with my dad to pack up my daughter’s dorm room.  A lot of stories can happen in a 4 hour drive. We talked about plenty –  best chinese restaurants, bad drivers, vacation plans, kids and reminiscing about the past. What stuck in my mind is how well my dad tells stories – it is a natural gift for sure. Between his delivery and subject matter, he tells stories that I want to hear over and over again! This instance, he shared several stories from his time in the Air Force while stationed in Vietnam. Though I can’t relate to being part of a war in a foreign country, sharing amazing and mostly funny stories about himself did make me feel closer to him.  I definitely can relate to his drive to experience different things in life by taking advantage of new opportunities.  Those experiences gathered throughout our lives can tell a great story, often times it is all in how we piece those experiences together and share them.

One of the things that I love helping people with is exploring and shaping their own story, especially when they feel like they don’t have a story to tell.  Using my visual storytelling tools, I can help you draw out the parts of you story that will really help connect you with others. Whether you are a small business owner looking to connect to customers, or a non-profit looking to share your story with the community that cares about your cause, using visual tools to open up to your story can help you translate it into an accessible format that people will really connect with.  And while my Dad’s natural gift is telling stories, mine is helping you to find your unique story to tell.

If you’re looking for someone to help you find and tell your unique story, I’d be happy to help.  Contact me at emilycmarko@gmail.com to schedule a call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.

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Process is My Friend

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I’ve had several discussions with clients around process lately – the uncertainty of needing a process, the distress from lacking a defined process, the anticipated pain, time, energy to figure out a process, and then the sense of relief, ease and confidence once the process is defined. Who knew process could bring so much emotion with it?!

For years in my professional life, process brought up a lot of emotion for me as well. I was a creative and I was sure that process would make me seem and work less creatively. I tried to steer clear of process as much as possible. Yet everywhere I seemed to work, I inadvertently became involved (and passionate) about process. Most of the situations were identifying an ineffective process and then creating a much needed improvement for it. I really just wanted to do my job without involving acrobatics every step of the way.

I found myself creating a booklet on how to do my job duties, creating databases to more efficiently gather information and designing new or improved processes for my work groups to follow. I was even assigned as a member to a process improvement team – eek, my worst nightmare! Now, I have since accepted the fact that I am a creative person and also a process junkie – though it did take me nearly a decade to realize this.

A few months ago I read Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. In a chapter named First There’s Grope, Then There’s Rote, MacKenzie discusses how to maintain creativity and uniqueness by embracing the unknown and chaotic – groping for the answer. He continues to explain that once a routine (or process) is formed, you become rote, predictable, and…..uncreative. Ugh!

So I wasn’t necessarily scared of process, but I was scared of becoming rote. Once I accepted that I could still be creative while passionate about order, I began to truly appreciate its value. Through all my work experiences, I found a way to be creative by using process as a very focused tool.

When used appropriately, defining a process can be super powerful. It can help clarify the unique way of how you do your work – and turn that into a selling point. Process can create guidelines to follow so that you can consistently offer quality work – that is definitely a brand image you want to project to clients. It is a great way to build a strong foundation for your work and effectively get things done.

I am now proud to say that process is my friend.

How about you? Do you love or loath process?

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Find your Spark

match imgs_wordpress.jpgI was in desperate need of some downtime as February rolled around this year. It is a rough month after all the holiday celebrations, plus the not-so-sunny weather. It was a bit quiet, but I guess that was necessary for me. My focus has been on aligning my work better with the other parts of my life – quite frankly that has always been my focus – or struggle.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

This Secret of Adulthood, from Gretchen Rubin’s was replaying in my mind all month. So I took the downtime to really help me reflect on what I want my days, weeks and months to look like in all areas of my life. It must have done me some good because I started off March with a refreshed feeling. The hint of Spring can do wonders for an energy boost. Throughout these last couple weeks I have been finding little sparks to build on that energy everywhere it seems – conversations, books, events and client work.

I realized these are the sparks that need to be infused into my schedule regularly. For me, adding consistency but also a variety of perspectives is most important to fuel my mind so I can build upon my ideas. It is similar to when a match is lit. One continues striking the match (consistently), and changes the angle they hold the match and then the amount of pressure they push on the match (switching perspectives) until finally, it catches fire!

I have a little fire burning now and continue to find new ways to add sparks into my days. I am always looking for new sparks though, if you have any please share!

How do you find your sparks?