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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Resolve.....Really. Resolutions that Last

  - Pioneer Press

We've all been there. We start off the year making a bunch of resolutions, lists of things we want to change or do differently going forward. Then we start off strong, but come February or March, we're back to our old ways, postponing our promises until next year.
 
Laverne McKinnon is dedicated to helping us change this cycle. McKinnon is an executive life coach, adjunct professor at Northwestern University and the head of television for Charlize Theron's production company, Denver & Delilah, as well as the executive producer of the new Netflix series "Girl Boss" that will premiere in 2017. 
 
Over her 30-year career in entertainment, McKinnon has used the power of story to help creative professionals tap into their talents by exploring their innermost thoughts and feelings. Her approach is holistic, encouraging clients to focus on "being" as well as "doing." 
 
McKinnon's core belief is that lasting change only happens when it's connected with your life purpose and values. I recently talked with McKinnon and asked her to share her top tips for making positive changes that will last.
Ignore tips, lists, or how-to's!
The irony of this first recommendation isn't lost on McKinnon. However, while her top advice is to "not listen to other people's advice," there is a good reason for it.. McKinnon believes too many people create resolutions based on the notion that if they change something externally, they will feel better internally. 
For example they think, "if I just lose ten pounds or get a new job then I will be happy and my life will be better." 
 
For McKinnon, making a positive change means looking inward to figure out what you really need and want. "Be self-reflective," she says. "Spend time with your thoughts and feelings, trying to discover what you really want to change, why that change matters and most importantly what motivates you to make that change." 
 
That means putting aside lists created by other people and consider what is really bothering you about your life, and what you want to do differently. Real change starts from within yourself.
 
Honor your values
This tip goes hand in hand with tip #1. Once you identify what it is you really need, by honor your own values and core beliefs by making a plan to satisfy this personal need. "Values are unique to all of us and the biggest positive change comes from knowing and embracing yours," says McKinnon. "These values are the things that make you feel whole." 
 
McKinnon cites the experience of a friend who loves social situations. The woman thrives when surrounded by people and the energy they bring. So to make positive changes in her life, she incorporates this value and seeks out more opportunities to make new friends and put herself in new types of social situations. 
 
Conversely, those who find they need more downtime with your family, or even to be alone must find opportunities to make that happen.
 
Kick the "Should" voices in the butt!
It's a great visual and even better advice. According to McKinnon, the voices that say "should" actually often hold us back, keep us small and stop us from achieving positive change. "When you hear yourself say 'should,' stop and reflect on what you are really saying or thinking. Often it's a warning sign that you might be living outside your own values," she explains. 
 
Remember that the best way to make lasting change is to do it with intention, making sure it's something you truly want to change rather than a change based on other people's ideals.
 
Live your life purpose
The most impactful way to create positive, sustainable change is to own and celebrate your gifts and talents and explore ways you can bring those talents, skills and abilities into your life. For example, if you loved ballet as a child but stopped dancing once life got busy, consider taking it up again and see if it brings you the joy it once did.
 
Find ways to incorporate things you love to do into your life, soon you will find you feel better, stronger and more content with your world.
 
Don't let perfect be the enemy of good
When creating positive change, consistency is far more important than being perfect. Too many times people become immobilized because they think things have to be perfect. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and anxious and undermine your momentum. If we have learned nothing from 2016 we have learned that life is messy and complicated, and things don't always go as planned. 
 
Effort, consistency and hard work are fundamental to successful changes. But accepting that there is always room for improvement can help you feel more confident and self-reliant.
 
Embrace loss
In many instances, a desire to change often times grows out of a sense of loss. It's important not to run from sadness. Allow yourself to grieve so that changes you plan become a positive recovery rather than an escape. 
 
As a life coach, McKinnon often sees clients after an unhappy significant life event, whether it's the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or even becoming an empty nester. In almost all cases, an undercurrent of sadness colors the event and aftermath.
 
McKinnon says that until you connect with these emotions and face the sorrow it's impossible to move on. So explore why you feel this way and discover ways to make the feelings of discomfort small. Coping with your problems will always make you feel bigger.


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With two offices in Oak Lawn and Oak Brook, Stephen M. Sutera assists clients throughout Cook County, DuPage County and Will County IL including Chicago, Hometown, Barrington, Burbank, Burr Ridge, Chicago Ridge, Darien, Downers Grove, Evergreen Park, Geneva, Worth, Bridgeview, Palos Park, Palos Hills, Palos Heights, Hickory Hills, Midlothian, Willow Springs, Oak Forest, Orland Park, La Grange, Brookfield, Berwyn, Tinley Park, Hinsdale, Villa Park, Clarendon Hills, Westchester, Westmont, Lombard, Elmhurst, Western Springs, Berkeley, Downers Grove, Fox Valley, Glen Ellyn, Willowbrook, Aurora, Addison, Lisle, Forest Park, Bensenville, Wheaton, River Forest, Itasca, Shorewood, Frankfort, Mokena, Naperville, Crest Hill, Homer Glen, New Lenox, Bollingbrook, Schaumburg, Channahon and Woodridge.



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