“Stopping bad habits works in the inverse way”, `Marie Wold and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Setting boundaries with technology is another habit that I’ve found to make a huge difference in my focus! I have very specific notification settings for all of my most-used apps so that I can get alerted in the event of any emergencies or “fires”, but otherwise, I’m using the tools on MY terms, instead of […]

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Setting boundaries with technology is another habit that I’ve found to make a huge difference in my focus! I have very specific notification settings for all of my most-used apps so that I can get alerted in the event of any emergencies or “fires”, but otherwise, I’m using the tools on MY terms, instead of letting them derail my focus at any moment. For example, I have all of my social media notifications, and I only get Slack notifications from certain team members posting in certain channels.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Wold.

Marie Wold is a wellness coach turned sales and social media strategist for online businesses. She specializes in helping coaches and consultants stand out from the noise and scale so they can reach the next level of success. Marie started making money online at just 16 years old and made her first million by 25 thanks to her signature strategies. Now, it’s her mission to help other ambitious women ‘make bank while making a difference™’.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I’ve had the entrepreneurial bug for as long as I can remember; as a kid, I was constantly wondering what made people tick and how their problems could be solved. That, combined with my love for content creation and connecting with new people, led me to grow a health-centric social media following and making my first sale at just 16 years old. Back then, I saw a need for more easy and quick healthy recipes, so I figured out how to create and publish recipe eBooks and sold them for 10 dollars apiece. From there, my passion for health and fitness grew and I eventually launched an online wellness coaching business that helped millennial women find balance while reaching their goals. As people saw how successful that business was, they begged me to help them do the same, and I pivoted into the business strategy space. Now, my skills and mission have evolved, and I’ve done well over 1 Million dollars in organic sales at the age of 26 — something 16-year-old Marie would’ve never dreamed of!

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I was a totally horse-crazy little girl, and looking back, one of the most pivotal moments for me was when my mom told me “Marie, you’re either going to have to marry rich or get a really good job if you want to buy a horse when you’re older”. Even then, I was already super independent and determined, so I decided that I was absolutely not going to wait for a man to make my dreams come true — I was going to make it happen for myself. Then, as I got older, I realized that making the kind of money I desired would likely take years of climbing the corporate ladder, so I chose to become my own boss.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my parents and mentors along the way. I was incredibly lucky to have parents that believed in me and encouraged me to dream big. I grew up playing volleyball, and my dad would tell me to “work hard, have fun, and listen to your coach” before every game and practice. I wasn’t the most naturally talented (or tall), but I would constantly push myself to do extra reps and be the hardest worker in the room. That paid off, and I reached my goal of becoming a college athlete.

Then, once it came time to graduate, I knew that if I was going to make my fun, entrepreneurial side-hustle into a real business, I would need someone to help me cut through all of the overwhelm and frustration I was feeling. I knew that trial and error wasn’t a strategy, so I hired my first mentor, and she really pushed me to think bigger and build a solid foundation for my business so that I could scale and serve more people. Since then, I’ve never been without a business coach or mentor of my own — it makes all the difference!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

A few years ago, I was building my online health + wellness coaching business, I was really excited to develop a new offer that was the first of its kind. I knew that it was going to be a life-changing opportunity for the people who purchased it, and I poured my heart and soul into the creation process. I set lofty goals for the program’s initial launch and ended up only getting 10% of the way there. It was definitely a wake-up call!

That “failed” launch taught me so many important lessons about sales strategy, messaging, launching, and perseverance, and eventually that program ended up serving hundreds of women all over the world.

It was a great reminder that your first attempt at something doesn’t determine your potential — your work ethic and ability to improve do.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

I think that there’s a lot of pressure on young people to figure out their life’s purpose and choose a career path accordingly, but I’m proof that you don’t need to have it all figured out, you just need to stay curious and try to take the next best step. My business and interests have shifted many times since I started in high school, but with every step forward, I learn more about myself, entrepreneurship, and what I want out of life.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One of the first personal development books I ever read was “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, and it taught me so many important lessons that still stick with me, but his advice about not taking anything personally truly changed my life. At the time, I was still in high school and getting bullied for my social media presence + business ideas, and the way that book shifted my perspective was I huge reason that I didn’t give up. As an entrepreneur (or an ambitious person in general), not everyone has understood or supported the vision I have for my life, and that book really helped me start letting go of the need to get approval from others, which can be tough for any ambitious person in our society.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I currently have the Oprah quote, “you get in life what you have the courage to ask for” as my phone lock screen. I love that it’s a constant reminder to be bold and brave in the pursuit of my big, scary goals. It helps me remember that nobody is going to hand you what you want in life, you have to have the courage to ask (and work) for it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’m currently working on re-launching my podcast, The Grind & Be Grateful Podcast. It will be returning for its second season in January, and I’m really excited about the impact it will have on my listeners. Podcasts have made a huge impact in my own life because they are such a powerful vehicle for learning, inspiration, and change, and I love being able to contribute to that with my show. We already have 80+ episodes and hundreds of thousands of downloads, but I’m looking forward to bringing the podcast back, better than ever, as a trusted resource for ambitious women. We have episodes coming up about business, mindset, finance, confidence, wellness, and so much more.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

I’m a big believer that your life reflects what you do consistently, not occasionally. You’re not always going to feel like showing up and doing the work, so you often have to rely on discipline and habits in order to execute.

Simply put, the days where you wake up feeling unmotivated and tired are just as important for your success as the days where you wake up feeling ready to conquer the world.

There have absolutely been times, especially early on in my business, before I had a team, where 0% of me wanted to put in the work, but I was able to rely on my wellness and productivity habits to help me show up anyway. Thankfully things like bookkeeping, customer service, and admin are taken care of now, but I had to run a one-woman show for quite a while before I could delegate those things! Habits really helped me stay on track and still get those things done, and now they help me tackle even bigger obstacles on a daily basis.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Some habits I’ve cultivated help me feel good (and therefore make the work feel easier), while others help me get the work done, regardless of how I feel.

As I mentioned, consistency is absolutely key if you want to hit big goals, and habits are ultimately what support consistent action.

For example, I really focus on essential wellness habits like getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and moving my body, which really help me perform at my best.

But I also have specific habits around productivity like time blocking and batching my days, which make all the difference when it comes to digging in and doing deep work. I’ll explain more about these in a minute!

I can share more specifics about all of these in a moment!

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Through my years as a coach and entrepreneur myself, I’ve found that the MOST important thing when developing good habits is making the right choice EASY. So whatever habit you want to create, ask yourself ‘how can I make doing _______ as easy as possible?’, and do what you can to make your environment and headspace conducive to executing that habit.

For example, if you really want to start eating more vegetables and less ‘junk’ food, how can you make that EASY? Maybe that means prepping your lunches and healthy cooking ingredients ahead of time, putting all the healthy options at the front of your fridge and pantry, getting healthy food delivered weekly, or finding new recipes that make vegetables more appealing.

Stopping bad habits works in the inverse way — how can you make the ‘wrong’ (or undesired) choice HARD? Going back to the same example as before, you could eat less fast food by taking a different way home from work that doesn’t pass your usual fast-food spots, or putting all of your ‘junk’ food on the highest shelf of your pantry, so you can’t just mindlessly grab them.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Cultivating optimum wellness is often overcomplicated, especially in the mainstream media. Before I shifted to business coaching, I was a wellness coach, and I helped hundreds of people gain energy, lose weight, create confidence, and feel amazing in their bodies, and 80% of their results came from the most simple things.

The top three habits that we would work together to create would be fueling their bodies with a balanced diet, seeking out intentional movement each day, and managing stress levels.

A balanced diet will look slightly different for everyone, but it ultimately comes down to being able to listen to your body and having enough nutrition knowledge to make mindful choices about how you fuel your body. For most people, that means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, being intentional about getting enough protein, and incorporating moderate amounts of carbs and healthy fats. I see so many people going to extremes with their diets in order to get quick results, only to fall off track again — an ‘all or nothing’ cycle — when in reality, you don’t need to cut out any food groups or restrict yourself to reach your wellness goals, you simply need to find your own version of balance! You can start with one small habit, like adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal, which helps train your mind to look for nutritious options instead of immediately restricting the ‘unhealthy’ things.

When it comes to intentional, daily movement, the options are endless — you don’t need to put yourself into a box! Whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood, a hardcore weights session, a restorative yoga class, chasing your kids around, or dancing in your kitchen, it counts! The most important thing is that you get some sort of movement in each day and that you can stay consistent with it. Again, make the right choice EASY! Hint: it’s easier to stay consistent when you’re doing something you ENJOY, so don’t fall into the pressure of doing the latest and greatest workout class or whatever your friend swears by. When you move your body YOUR way, you will enjoy better moods, improved energy, and better performance in all other areas of your life.

Last but not least, managing your stress, which is probably the most crucial element of overall wellness. It’s often underplayed because our culture glorifies hustling, but when you manage your stress, ALL wellness markers improve. Studies have shown that stress impacts both short-term markers, like energy and decision-making, as well as long-term markers, like blood pressure and heart disease. One of my favorite stress-management habits is setting boundaries around work and technology. We often feel pressured to be constantly available and productive, but having time AWAY from the pressures of work and social media actually makes us better at what we do. An easy way to create boundaries is to have a cut-off time for using screens at night (ie 1 hour before bed) and using the screen-time features on your phone to track and limit how much time you can spend on certain apps throughout the day. I also recommend turning off your work and social media notifications as much as possible, even if just for a portion of the day.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

See above

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Something I learned as a college athlete was the power of visualization; my coach would always lead us through a visualization before every game and it gave me so much more clarity and confidence on the court. Now, I do the exact same thing for my business goals, whether it’s visualizing my big, long-term goals coming true, or simply how I want to show up and do the work for that day.

Another habit I’ve picked up from being an athlete is breathwork, and specifically doing breathing exercises when I’m feeling anxious or stressed. One of my favorite exercises is called box breathing, which is basically breathing in, holding, breathing out, and holding all at the same tempo. So for example, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds before inhaling again. Studies have shown that box breathing is amazing for controlling your body’s stress response and also improving focus!

And last but not least, an ongoing habit that I’m constantly pushing myself with is simply getting into rooms (literally or figuratively) with people who are smarter and/or more successful than me. The first time I experienced the magic of this habit was when I joined a mastermind group a few years ago and all the other women in it made me realize that I was dreaming WAY too small. Now, I make it a habit to always surround myself with high-achievers so that I can constantly learn from and be pushed by like-minded people.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Most of my habits are made possible by building them into daily routines so that they take as little willpower as possible. For example, I try to do a visualization every morning after I’m done sipping coffee and writing in my journal. I never forget to make coffee, so pairing that routine with journaling and visualization makes it easy to follow through and stay consistent!

Consistently taking a moment to check in with my body throughout the day is what helps me stick with breathwork. If I find myself feeling anxious, tense, or taking shallow breaths, that’s a trigger for me to do some mindful breathing and get back to a good baseline!

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

One of my favorite focus habits that I SWEAR by is time blocking AKA work sprints. Science suggests that we can only stay focused for about 30 minutes at a time, so I will set a timer for 25 or 30 minutes, do a work “sprint” where I focus on ONE task with zero distractions, and then give myself a 5-minute break. This is essentially the same thing as the Pomodoro Method, and makes all the difference! I find that I check my phone way less, get more done, and my quality of work is better as well because I’m not trying to multitask.

Another habit I really try to enforce, but am not perfect at, is separating my work environment from my living environment. I work from home, so it’s really nice to be able to partition my work to my home office, and then save the rest of my home for relaxing and personal life. From a psychology standpoint, this habit signals to our brains when we are supposed to be in “work mode” or not, making it easier to focus while working AND easier to “turn off” when work is over.

Setting boundaries with technology is another habit that I’ve found to make a huge difference in my focus! I have very specific notification settings for all of my most-used apps so that I can get alerted in the event of any emergencies or “fires”, but otherwise, I’m using the tools on MY terms, instead of letting them derail my focus at any moment. For example, I have all of my social media notifications, and I only get Slack notifications from certain team members posting in certain channels.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Explained above

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

There are two specific practices that I SWEAR by when it comes to reaching Flow: batching and brain dumping.

I work using a weekly batch schedule, meaning that my days are planned out based on type of activity. For example, Mondays are for planning and organizing, Tuesdays and Thursdays are for meetings and coaching calls, Wednesdays are for moving big projects forward, and Fridays are for creating content and closing loops.

By batching my days by types of tasks, I’m able to really drop into that “mode” and purely focus on one type of work. This really limits distractions and allows me to be so much more productive, often reaching a Flow state!

Then there’s brain dumping, which is a common practice I use to get mental clutter OUT and on paper. I simply make a running document or physical list of all of the “to-do’s” or “don’t forgets” that are swirling around in my head so that I don’t have to worry about holding them in my brain anymore. Once they’re on “paper”, I can either add them to Asana (my favorite project management tool), delegate them, or cross them out if they’re not important. This drastically reduces distractions and helps clear my mind so that I can more easily drop into Flow state and do deep work!

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A few years ago, I was in the midst of HUGE changes in my life — graduating college, starting a business, moving across the country, and also battling health issues. Of course, it was a super challenging time, but what saved me was continually turning to GRATITUDE to keep me positive. Thus, my trademarked mantra, “Grind & Be Grateful” was born, as a reminder that with hard work and the right mindset, absolutely anything is possible. It’s a message and mindset that EVERYONE can carry with them, especially when things get tough. I love that it can mean something a little different to everyone depending on what THEY need, but personally, I also use it as a reminder that even though I ALWAYS have bigger goals and more work to do, I can also be happy and appreciate right where I am.

One thing that 2020 really brought to light for me, though, was how privilege and race intersect with the notion of “with hard work and the right mindset, anything is possible”. I realized that while hard work and mindset ARE important for everyone, they aren’t enough for many. Supporting marginalized communities, especially women of color, has become something that I really value and plan to get even more involved in!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Like many other ambitious women, Michelle Obama is a big role model of mine! While she is best known for being a First Lady / FLOTUS, she completely holds her own in terms of accomplishments, abilities, and leadership, too. I am constantly impressed by her grace, humility, and strength under incredible amounts of pressure! She has been such an incredible example to women and girls everywhere and continues to put in the work well after her time in the White House.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website is currently getting a refresh, but you can find me sharing free value and lifestyle content everyday over on Instagram @marieewold, join the Grind & Be Grateful Community on Facebook for exclusive, weekly free trainings, and subscribe to The Grind & Be Grateful Podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you!

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