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Archive for July, 2014

Do you HAVE to? Or are you choosing to?

I have to wake up early tomorrow and take my kids to school. I have to go to the gym this week. I have to attend that function at work. I have to lose some weight. How many times do we tell ourselves we have to do something? Upon further inspection, what do we really have to do?

This list gets pretty short if we are really honest with ourselves. You don’t even have to wear clothes when you leave the house! Would you get some odd looks? Maybe get arrested? Sure, there would be consequences, but you don’t have to wear clothes. You choose to wear clothes.


 How do you feel when you have to do something? Thinking in these terms creates a feeling of resistance and of being a victim. When we get pushed, whether it is by someone else or even from our own doing, it is a natural reaction to push back and negative consequences are inevitable. Below are just a few examples of the consequences we may experience:

–         Procrastination

–          Excuse making

–          Poor work

–          Complaining

–          Withdrawal

–          Minimal effort

–          Negative self talk

–          Anger

–          Resentment

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When you say you have to do something, what you are really saying is If I had my way, I would be doing something else. But I don’t have my way, it is beyond my control. I am powerless. It is also often associated with an “or else” consequence driven by fear. Your reason for going through with the task comes from a negative place of avoiding some undesired consequence.


It may seem like a small shift, but when you choose to do something, it releases energy inside of you and it is based on free will. It is your idea, your choice. You are in control. You have the power and freedom to act and are a willing participant.

How do you feel when you choose to do something? There is a sense of ownership and empowerment. You are in control and it is your choice. The natural by-product of this attitude is:

–          Striving for excellence

–          Energy

–          Determination

–          Resolve

–          Resilience

–          Clarity

–          Action

It what areas of your life are you feeling resistance? What are you avoiding and putting off?  Are there things you feel you have to do? When you find yourself feeling like you have to do something, ask yourself:

What would happen if I don’t do it?

Am I ok with the consequences?

What are the benefits of my taking action?

Why is this really my choice?

What are some of the things in your life you feel like you have to do? How is that perspective holding you back?

What would it look like if there were no more things you have to do?

Your partner in excellence,

Josh Paulsen




Stop “shoulding” all over yourself!

I really should lose some weight. I should clean my house, I should make that Doctor’s appointment.  I should get going on the (fill in the blank) project.

How often do you SHOULD yourself?

If you are like most people and you were to keep score on a daily basis, you would probably be shocked at the end of the day with your final tally!

We are usually great at recognizing what we should do, but not so great at actually doing it.

But does it matter?

You bet it does! You see, when you tell yourself that you SHOULD do something, you are recognizing and highlighting that there is a problem, or that something needs to be done – but you have very little intention of ACTUALLY DOING IT.

I am sure you have realized by now that shoulds get down when we feel like it, are in the mood, or when it is convenient, but in many cases not at all.

Using the word should is constant reinforcement to yourself that if you were a better person, or had the will power, were strong enough, motivated, smart enough (or whatever is your favorite limiting belief) you would take action, but you are not.

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You aren’t just procrastinating, you are lowering your self-image while you are procrastinating and more importantly – reducing your chances for success in the future.

Instead of telling yourself all the things you should be doing all day long, pointing out what your better self would be doing, I suggest you take one of two paths.


If the item, task, or behavior in question is truly important to you, my first suggestion is to simply replace the phrase “I should”, with “I am going to”. Notice that I haven’t jumped off too big of a cliff here and actually suggested you PERFORM the task. Let’s not get crazy! By all means, if it is something that can be done right away, get off your duff and do it. That often times can be the best solution, but I have found with many of my clients that “should” is often used for future tasks, those things that we procrastinate on over and over again.

A simple statement like “I am going to lose some weight”, or “I am going to make that Doctor’s appointment”, starts to put the power back in your court. No longer are you admitting defeat and bemoaning your weakness. You are speaking with certainty and verbalizing your commitment. It may sound like a subtle change, but give it a try and you will be amazed at the difference.

There is one more critical piece to this path. While stating that you are going to do something is the first step, there is another step that will help you actually see results and greatly increase your likelihood of following through. The best part is that it is backed by many research studies. It is called utilizing Implementation Intention.

Implementation intention is a fancy way of saying, describe the WHEN and WHERE you will undertake the task or take action. For example, scheduling that Doctor’s appointment we used earlier.

Instead of saying “I should schedule a Doctor appointment.” Choose, “I am going to schedule a Doctor appointment on Monday first thing when I get into the office.” Multiple studies have shown that when two randomly assigned groups are undertaking a task, the group encouraged to decide WHEN and WHERE they would undertake the task were more than TWICE as successful as the group who just agreed to the task. In one study 75% of those who chose a time and place were successful, verses 33% that did not.


I think you will find that not all shoulds are things you are committed to. Sometimes your shoulds are things that originate from other people’s desires, wishes or maybe even societal pressure. For example, you may feel pressure to attend an event because of what others might think, or from some sense of obligation.

The actions for Path two is simple, but not always easy. Identify those shoulds that you are not committed to, are not important enough and that you have no intention of completing. In this case, just give yourself a break! Choose consciously not to add that task to your virtual to do list loop in your head and LET IT GO!

Be ok with the status quo and accept that we all have limited time, resources, energy etc.

The middle ground between the two paths is what causes most people’s frustration. Either choose to make a commitment and set the when and where, or let it go and be ok with not accepting that activity!

Do or Do not, there is no………SHOULD!

Your partner in success


Josh Paulsen

Productivity Power – Make everyday the day before vacation!

One thing I have found is that I seem to produce more results and get more done on the day BEFORE I leave for a vacation, than any other day of the year! I think there are a couple of reasons for this that we can use to increase our productivity on a daily basis.


When I know I have 8-10 hours to wrap up any loose ends before I am going to be out of the office – it gives me laser like focus. I want to walk away from work knowing that I have left no loose ends so I can fully relax on the beach with my Corona. I start the day knowing I must get results and there is no tomorrow to push things off to. This focus takes my productivity to an entire new level. It keeps me from getting caught up in distractions. You want to stop by my office to chat about the game yesterday? I would love to, but sorry, NOT TODAY! I am going on vacation and have things to do!

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My limited timeframe gets me clear in a hurry. I am always able to get clear on what exactly needs to get down before I leave the office. I am also able to very quickly decide what is not important. I write down specifically what it is that must get done before I leave for my vacation and that gives me a clear picture helping me to lock out anything else.


Am I pumped about my vacation, you bet I am! That energy provides an emotional fuel that allows me move at almost twice the rate I normally do. I move from task to task with speed and I enjoy the process. I am thinking less about any activities, especially those that are unpleasant and more about the end result. In this case, it is leaving for my vacation with a clear head and being able to fully leave work behind.


Delegation is something I normally don’t do as much as I could – that all changes the day before my vacation. Am I going to be able to get this done today? If the answer isn’t a solid yes, boom, DELEGATE it to someone else. If I take on this task, will it allow me to complete all my other tasks? If not, boom, DELEGATE. Usually everyone knows you are going on vacation, so delegation is expected and that is one of the reasons I think it comes a little easier for me in this instance. I have a free pass to delegate, delegate, delegate!


The day before vacation, it is all about results. I get clear on what needs to be done and focus like a maniac to ensure those items are completed either by me, or by someone else. There is no tomorrow, so the urgency propels me to work while avoiding all distractions. It is easy to get caught up in a to do list most days. To do lists typically have you focusing on all types of tasks that need to be completed, some important, some not important. I am sure all of us have had days where we mark plenty of things off of our to do list but still don’t feel like we have accomplished anything. It is a recipe for overwhelm. I never have this problem the day before a vacation. I know what results must get done and I know with certainty that they will get done…TODAY!

How do you use this to your advantage for all the other days in the office?

Unfortunately, I don’t go on vacations every week, or even every month. But what I have learned in that day before a vacation has helped me every other day. To be honest, I might not have the same gusto every day, but I can use the same principles to increase my productivity 5x.

– Get clear on the RESULTS I want. If you are like me, if you ask yourself what needs to get done, there will always be more things than there is time. Instead I ask myself – what outcome or result is most important today? This helps to provide focus and clarity, but most important it has be focused on results and production, not just being busy.

– Look for items to DELEGATE. For me and most of my clients, delegation does not come easily. We may believe that nobody can do it as good as we can, we may be hesitant to off load our tasks, or not want to deal with training someone on how to do it. We all only have 168 hours in a week and are limited in our focus. More importantly, if you are in a position of leadership, or are a high performer, there are tasks that are more critical than others towards your success and that of your organization. Maybe someone won’t do it exactly as you would, but is that so bad? Free yourself up to focus on those items that are most critical to your success.

– Celebrate your VICTORIES. You may not be able to celebrate your wins with a Corona on the beach every day, but take the time to review your accomplishments and acknowledge them. Reward yourself and take off early every so often and spend some extra time with your family or loved ones when you do stay focused and achieve your desired results.

Here is to you treating every day like it is the day before your vacation!

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen


What is your definition of SUCCESS?

What is success?

If you ask someone if they would like to be successful, you probably won’t have to wait long for a resounding YES. How about you, would you like to be successful? Of course you say. But what is success? Most people I work with have a much more difficult time with that question, defining what success is.

Is success about having a good job, a nice house, car, buying the most recent gadget, or making lots of money? I think that is a popular starting point for many people. However, research indicates that after a certain level – money doesn’t correlate to happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people that thinks money is the root of all evil. Money is simply a tool that magnifies your character. The lack of money however can certainly lead to unhappiness.

The research shows that money does in fact correlate to happiness up to the point where you can provide for your basic needs. This is the point where you don’t have to worry about how your rent is going to get paid next month, if you are going to be able to pay your bills and provide for your family. But AFTER that point, once you have satisfied your basic needs, the correlations starts to disappear. That is counterintuitive to what most of my clients think or has been conditioned to believe. It is quite different from what I used to believe as I was graduating from a great college, landing my first job in consulting, buying my first home – doing all the things successful people do. Or so I thought.

If it isn’t money, is success about accomplishing certain milestones or climbing up the corporate ladder? I have seen many people do just that only to be left unfulfilled. I have seen plenty of people land that great promotion, or finally get that job they have been waiting for and then once they get there, they say “is this it?”

To me, success is about staying true to your values and utilizing your strengths in a way that provides that “juice” of life. Whether you have a need for achievement, contribution to others, significance, growth or stability, you are pursuing a path that allows you to meet those needs on a daily basis.

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Success is much more about the journey than a destination. Have you ever looked forward to a great vacation, or life event? Sometimes the planning, anticipation, and build up can be just as exciting as the event itself. You might even find yourself once you are there being a little let down. Your expectations and vision might have overshot the reality of the event itself. Now that the event has come, you have lost the energy and excitement that came from all the buildup. That doesn’t mean the event itself is a disappointment. Our brains are wired to seek, to strive for the next goal, the next area of focus to challenge ourselves and grow.

Many people will spend much more time planning a beach vacation, or purchase of a new car than putting time and effort into planning what it is they really want from life. Maybe it is because we don’t know where to start? Or we don’t know what it is that we really want? Maybe we don’t believe we are deserving, or can actually have what we want anyway?

I believe everyone is capable of much more than they are achieving right now. What are you capable of if you could get out of your own way?

To get you started on your path to success, ask yourself these questions……

  •    What are my top three values? The three things I hold in importance above all else?
  •    What strengths and abilities do I have that makes time stop time for me and I become lost in the moment?
  •    What would my ideal life look like and more importantly, “feel” like?
  •    What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  •    What does success really mean to me?

The worst thing you can do is get to your destination and realize you have been traveling the wrong path the entire time!

 So, what does success mean to YOU?

 Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen