“Set small goals helps to keep you motivated” with Amber Stephenson

Setting small goals helps to keep you motivated, by giving you small, frequent wins. It also helps to show what individual steps you can take. So if you wanted to get better at volleyball, you might start by practicing your serve, and then work on setting, and then spiking. As a part of our series […]

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Setting small goals helps to keep you motivated, by giving you small, frequent wins. It also helps to show what individual steps you can take. So if you wanted to get better at volleyball, you might start by practicing your serve, and then work on setting, and then spiking.

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

Amber is a Master Health and Life Coach who trained at the Health Coach Institute. She’s happily married with four kids, and loves to play video games with her husband. Amber’s goal is to empower women to be their most confident, sexy selves and make all of their dreams come true.

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 was born and raised in California, and moved to Ontario, Canada just before my 12th birthday. As a kid, I wanted to be a doctor so I could help fix people like my mom, who lives with chronic illness.

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

I’ve always felt compelled to help people, but I’d never found a way to really help them that really fit me as a person. Two years ago, I had two beautiful babies and was completely overwhelmed by trying to care for two babies as well as myself. I got a lot of bad advice. I also developed post-partum depression from isolation and lack of taking care of myself. Things started to improve with treatment for the depression, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t satisfied with my life, or the way I spent my days. So I went to the internet, and I discovered HCI and the existence of an entire community of people dedicated to helping people become the very best versions of themselves and creating true happiness. It felt like coming home.

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 met a lot of wonderful people at HCI, but the one who stands out most is my friend Jessica. She was my lab partner throughout our Mastery program, and she’s helped me to become an amazing mother and an amazing coach.

There was a day a few months ago where I had a Facebook Live scheduled for my group, but my husband had been injured at work and I went back and forth about whether or not I should cancel the video (It was a minor injury, but I was freaking out because he had been rushed to the hospital). I didn’t, but about 2 minutes in I felt like I should have. Jess texted me afterwards and was like ‘Girl, you were on FIRE! I’ve never seen you stand in your own power like that!’ and of course I was crying because it had been an emotional day, but it made me feel better about going live that day.

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?

The thing is, I don’t really believe in mistakes. The word mistake implies that you’ve done something wrong.

I’ve changed specialties a couple of times in the course of my career, but I don’t see my past specialties as mistakes. I see them as steps that led me to where I am today. I learned a lot about myself, how I want to work, and who I want to serve in that time — and without that I wouldn’t be the person and coach I am now.

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?

If I could give a young person only one piece of advice, it would be that it’s ok to change your mind. You see something, and you want it, but then you get it and it’s not what you thought it was. And it’s ok to go ‘actually, I don’t really like this. I want to do something else with my life’. Figuring out what you want is like dress shopping — it may be gorgeous on the mannequin, but not be the right size or cut, or maybe it’s just uncomfortable. You’ve got to try on a few dresses before you find a winner.

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?

I could literally spend all day talking about books! One of my recent favourites has been Un#ck Your Intimacy by Faith G. Harper, PhD. Dr Harper shares a lot of my views on using trial and error and keeping an open mind. And we agree on one key point — meaningful change starts on the inside. Dr Harper makes a point of telling readers to experiment with what feels good to them, before trying to communicate that to their partner. Because its really hard to ask for something, if you don’t actually know what that something is.

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

This is actually difficult because there are so many I really like. One of the founders of HCI, Stacey Morgenstern, has one that comes up for me almost every day.

“If what you’re doing isn’t working, try anything else.”

It reminds me of Thomas Edison and the light bulb, which I also really love. Because the truth is, every single person is unique and so the diet, or habit or routine that works for Suzie might not work for Nikki, and it’s up to every single person to find what works for them through trial and error and intuition, and recognize what does and doesn’t work for them.

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

Right now I’m working on a really exciting new program called Awaken Your Inner Goddess, which is all about increasing confidence in every area of your life, from your job, to your body, to your relationships and everything in between.

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?

Habits make up over 90% of what we do in a day. Think about when you drive home from work. You go out to your car, you pull onto the road, and you take the same path every day. You pick the path that’s fastest, or the one with the fewest left turns. And taking the same path every day means you aren’t sitting in your seat going ‘ok, take a right on Edward St, and then a left on George…’ you just make the turns automatically, which means you have brain power available to watch for light changes and pedestrians. The same principle applies to everything we do in life — how we deal our emotions, how we take care of our bodies, and how we do our work.

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

With four kids and a coaching practice, every day is borderline chaos. It’s really easy to get lost in the little things that need to be done and not do the things that actually make a difference. What’s helped me the most if journaling at the beginning of the day — I set out my intentions for the day, my priority tasks and to do list, and do some belief work. It felt really silly at first, but now it’s become an essential part of my day. I’m more focused, I get more things done, and I work on the things that actually make a difference in my business and in my life.

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

The best way to develop good habits is to take small, easy steps and be gentle on yourself when you don’t get it ‘right’.

Habits are like muscles — you don’t wake up one day and deadlift 200 lbs, the same way you don’t suddenly shift your entire life. You start small, by adding one glass of water a day, or going to bed 30 min earlier.

One of the most important things I can share about changing is your habits is to not think about in terms of stopping this or that — its always about trying a different strategy. So if I were in session with a client and they wanted to stop beating themselves up over small mistakes, we would talk about acknowledging their effort and intentions, and other things they can try to create success, instead of just not calling themselves a failure.

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.

I think the top 3, universal habits for optimum wellness would be to listen, to practice gratitude, and to practice forgiveness.

When I say listen, I mean listening to your body and to your intuition. Our world is so noisy, with people offering advice and techniques (usually without asking), that our own voices often go unnoticed or ignored. Our bodies and our hearts know what we need, and they’re trying to tell us every day. They just need us to listen.

Practicing gratitude is one of my favourite mindset shifts. Most of us spend all of our time and energy on the things that aren’t working in our lives — no sleep, no money, my job sucks, that sort of thing. And when our focus is on these things, it’s not on the things that are going right in our lives — we’re not thinking about how pretty the sunset is, how much effort our partner put into cooking for us. But when we shift into thinking more about what is going well in our lives, all the small wins we each achieve every day, those things will start to multiply and suddenly your whole life feels different, even though you haven’t really changed your actions.

Forgiveness is probably the hardest thing on this list, because we’re all in the habit of beating ourselves up for every accident and mistake, everything we view as ‘wrong’. But beating ourselves is keeping us stuck in a place where we feel overwhelmed and powerless to make changes. If we were to say instead ‘ok, this isn’t the result I was looking for, what can I do differently next time? How can I learn from this?’ then we’re actually moving in a positive direction instead of staying stuck.

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

I’ve grown to really love journaling. I begin each day by checking in with myself, setting intentions and priorities for my time, writing about what I’m grateful for and how I can step outside my comfort zone just a little each day. There are some amazing resources out there, but it’s important to pick a journal system that feels good to you. And if you’re new to journaling, start small so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

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

The very best habit for improving anything very specific is to do a regular review. Setting small goals and setting yourself for success would be next on the list.

Reviewing your performance is simple, and can be done in just a few minutes at the end of each workday or practice. It’s an ongoing log of two questions, to help you identify habits and patterns that hold you back, and those that help you move forward. The two questions are What went well? What would I do differently next time?

Setting small goals helps to keep you motivated, by giving you small, frequent wins. It also helps to show what individual steps you can take. So if you wanted to get better at volleyball, you might start by practicing your serve, and then work on setting, and then spiking.

Setting yourself for success means making healthy habits the easy or obvious choice. It’s things like prepping your breakfast or lunch the night before, repacking your gym bag as soon as you get home, stocking your cupboards with healthy foods that give you energy instead of weighing you down.

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

Find yourself a notebook that really speaks to and inspires you, and keep it a place that’s readily visible. That might be a prominent spot on your desk, or in the gym bag with your practice clothes. That way you can do your review right away, while it’s still fresh and clear in your mind. Then by the time the next workday or practice comes around, you already have a game plan in place and you can feel mentally prepared for the next attempt.

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

I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record, but journaling is a great way to create way to increase focus. I love using a daily planning guide, where I set my intention for the day, my top priorities, list out my money making activities for the day and spend time on manifestation and mindset. I have to be honest, though — I was really resistant to this practice in the beginning. It felt like a waste of time, like there were better things I could do be doing with my time. But I didn’t start seeing results in my business until I started taking the time to connect and align with myself, before trying to do any work.

Another really great habit for focus is creating a schedule for your time, because like every resource, you need to tell your time where to go. This also allows your brain to relax and let go of things that aren’t related to what you’re currently doing, like worrying over folding laundry while you’re working on a client proposal because you already have a time scheduled to put your laundry away.

Another great way to help your brain relax is to make sure you’re always following through with the commitments you make. So after you make this schedule that you’re really excited about, because it has space for you to do all of the things without being overwhelmed, you actually stick to the schedule. You put the laundry away when you’re supposed to, you write the emails when you’re supposed to, and you take your me time when you’re supposed to. This lets your brain relax into the trust that what you say is going to happen, will happen. And when you can believe that yourself, other people can feel it and they will trust you too.

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

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?

Being in a state of flow is so much more than that. Its about setting up your schedule and your daily activities to follow the natural ebb and flow of your energy, your family’s needs, and your creative zone. Its also being in alignment with what feels good to you, and all of this is a little different for everyone. So the best way to achieve a state of consistent flow is to make sure you’re paying attention to what is and isn’t working in your day to day life, in your business activities and in your family duties and to make adjustments wherever you feel you need to.

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.

If I could only accomplish one thing in this life, it would be to change the way that we as people, as women, as mothers, as entrepreneurs, as humans of any kind, don’t believe in ourselves. I want every man, woman, and child to know exactly how amazing and worthy they are, just for being here and being themselves. I want them to know they are capable and worthy of making their dreams come true, whatever those dreams may be, that they are all valid and beautiful and needed. I want them to know that they have to take up space, to use their voice, and create amazing things, in their lives and the lives of people around them. I want them to never have to doubt whether they are good enough, for anything. Because each and every one of us was born good enough.

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 🙂

Oh jeez. This might be the hardest question yet… I’m going to pick Anne Hathaway, because her roles in the Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted and Valentine’s Day have all really inspired me at different times in my life.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check me out at RadiantLivingCoaching.com

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

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