Find Your WHYPower: Inspiration for Breaking Bad Habits


You might recall that, a few weeks ago, I wrote about phone addiction. Shortly after I wrote that post, my friend Reba Riley offered to help me work on it! As Reba and I work through this, I'll be sharing some guest posts from her here, featuring her wisdom and insights, so you can learn along with me. Check out the last post Reba wrote, Strategies for Phone Overuse (and Other Struggles), and stay tuned for more strategies, info, and (hopefully!) progress as Reba and I work together on this! Check out the paragraph below this post for my thoughts on the great strategies Reba has suggested for me. 

Week #1 : Review

In the last post, we talked about recognizing the courage it take to ask for help, and lowering our expectations to create small, doable steps of positive change.

Dani’s first assignments were to practice self-love by “putting down the whip” of mental judgment and giving herself permission (including an official permission slip!) to pay attention to her actions, emotions, and triggers around phone overuse—without judging herself.

As Dani practiced these steps, she found:

  1. Giving herself permission helped her be much more kind to herself
  2. Paying close attention—and often writing down—thoughts, feelings and surroundings made using the phone feel more like work instead of fun
  3. Knowing she had accountability made her question if scrolling was really worth it (knowing she would have to ‘fess up to me!)
  4. Triggering factors included exhaustion, boredom, rewarding herself after tasks, stress, escaping discomfort of any kind, and—especially—going to bed and waking up
  5. Using the phone less opened up space and time for reading (she even read my book), more work, writing and drawing, so she felt much more productive

Also, she became an aunt! The excitement and family time surrounding her sister and the new baby made her to put down her phone, creating a perfect mind reset. She reported “three hours would go by and I realized I hadn’t missed the phone at all. Then when I checked it, I hadn’t missed anything important.” So many positive changes in just seven days! #proudcoachmoment 

I reminded Dani Progress > Perfection, always. Recovery of any kind never goes in a straight line up. It zigs and zags forward and back—the most important thing is traction in the right direction.

Week #2 : Find Your WHYpower

Dani and I talked about willpower, and I explained how it comes and goes—unless you are a machine, like my husband, who has the willpower of Superman. (If you are, you don’t need to be reading this.)

For the rest of us mere mortals, willpower is strongest in the morning and at the beginning of the week, and gets progressively weaker as the day and week wear us down. Willpower is also affected by mood, stress, fatigue—the list is endless.

Basically, willpower is the unreliable friend we can’t count on. Sometimes it shows up, sometimes it doesn’t, which means it alone is not enough to create lasting change.

Fortunately, we have access to something much better than willpower: WHYpower.

WHYpower is what happens when our WHY to change becomes bigger than our why to stay as we are.

I learned about WHYpower when I was writing a memoir, a process that lasted 4 years, 3 months and 10 days. (Not that I was counting, ahem.) My willpower ran out somewhere around, oh, week two—and I realized if I was in it for the long haul, I had to dig deeper. Much, MUCH deeper. I had to find a reason so compelling I would wake up at 5am to write before work, sit down and write until 10pm after work, and work through weekends and holidays. (PS: I do not recommend working 7 days a week unless you actively want an epic burnout; I was waaaaaay too hard on myself back then!)

Anyway. I stumbled over WHYpower out of necessity: I knew I needed to tell my story, but I also knew willpower would not sustain me.

So I plopped on the couch with my journal, and I asked myself: “WHY?” Why do I want to do this impossible thing? The reason I came up with was so strong I can still close my eyes and feel it: For everyone who hurts like I did.

I imagined I could reach forward in time and put my arms around a reader who needed to hear my story, who needed to know s/he was not alone. That was my WHYpower. Every time I wanted to quit I thought about that person who needed me.

Now, not every WHY will be this dramatic, but my story illustrates a larger point. You can accomplish anything if your WHY is big enough.

Find Your WHY PowerYou can find your WHYpower to transform a behavior by asking yourself three questions:

  1. WHY do you want to change?
  2. HOW will this change affect your life (or the lives of others)?
  3. YOUR ultimate goal is what?

Our amazing Dani created a TransforMotion worksheet you can use to find your WHYpower. Once you have it, use your WHY to silence all your doubts and fears, and pull it out when willpower fails.

Create New Goals

Once your WHYpower is in place, you can create new goals (still small, still achieveable, but slightly more challenging).

Dani’s goals for this week are:

  • Change Morning and Evening Routines. Dani identified going to bed and waking up as her top triggers for scrolling on her phone. So we came up with a plan to help her change her am and pm routine to circumvent the habit.

    Barrier method: Put phone in a box out of reach from the bed. Previously, Dani watched Netflix on her phone in bed before sleeping—which meant easy access to scrolling. Then she would reach for it first thing in the morning. To change this, we decided she would watch Netflix on another device, try a noise machine, and keep a book beside her bed.

    Substitute Task: Since she usually gets up with the phone, Dani said she would try to have breakfast and take out Barkley before getting the phone out of its box. Try is key; remember Progress > Perfection!

  • Look For Patterns and Be Willing to Be Uncomfortable. To make more changes like the ones above, Dani needs to continue paying attention to the when, where, why, and how of her phone use. We will use that information to create goals for next week. When Dani finds a trigger or pattern, she needs to pause and be willing to sit with the discomfort of not picking up her phone, if only for a few minutes. Being willing to be uncomfortable (which she definitely will be in the morning and at night), is key to eliminating negative behaviors.

We are all rooting for you, Dani! Keep up the great work!


I'm so thankful for Reba's help. (To connect with Reba about speaking or coaching, email her at!) Week #1 was so amazing, and I never would have taken such positive action on my own. By paying attention whenever I picked up the phone, I learned so much about my habit (and that information has been so essential to continuing to tackle this problem). Week #1 had me feeling like a rockstar, taking note of what I was doing and doing my best not to judge myself whenever spent too much time scrolling. I went into Week #2 feeling empowered and encouraged. Breaking habits is so difficult and it's been so helpful to have Reba's insights and encouragement as I work on this. If you're struggling with phone overuse (or any other bad habit!), I hope these posts are helping you make positive progress! 

5 Tactics for Tackling Pain



For the past few months, I've been struggling with physical pain, something I've never been great at dealing with. (Though, admittedly, I've gotten better at it since 2015, when I had my first surgery!) Waking up day after day with physical pain is a strange experience if you've never been through it before. Obviously the physical part isn't ideal, but the toll it takes on your mental state is even more of a challenge. When pain starts impacting your whole life — where you can go, what you can do, how much work you can accomplish in a day — it goes from unpleasant to frustrating to depressing really quickly, making maintaining a positively present attitude difficult, to say the least! 

Since 2015, I've be dealing with a string of health issues — all of them different but connected to one another — and, needless to say, I'm quite over all of this pain and doctor's appointments and lying around trying all kinds of tips and tricks to see what will alleviate some of the pain. It's both time-consuming and boring, which is a pretty bad combo. Over the weekend I was in a bit of a funk, frustrated and angry and in a bit of a woe-is-me state, when I realized that, once again, I was being handed a perfect opportunity to practice what I preach. 

"What advice would I give someone in pain?" I asked myself, "What tactics could I try to improve my mental state, even if I can't seem to figure out how to get the physical pain to go away?" After hours of avoidance, I finally got myself to sit down and write, and here are some of the things that have worked for me. If you're dealing with pain (physical or emotional!), maybe give some of these a try and see if they work for you.   



When you're not used to worrying about your health, it can be difficult to pay attention to your body. Since my first surgery in 2015, I've gotten better at listening to my aches and pains and arranging my schedule in such a way that I can make myself as comfortable as possible, but it's taken a long time for me to get used to paying attention. When I first started feeling pain, I tried to ignore it, and when it came back again, my mind was like, Nope, this is NOT happening again. Just ignore it and it'll go away. Funny how that doesn't work with physical (or emotional) pain. If you don't face it, and do whatever you can to help alleviate it, it'll come back. Paying attention the pain, no matter how badly you'd rather ignore it, is the first step to making any sort of positive progress.


Distracting yourself might sound like the opposite of the previous tip, but what I mean by this is: once you've identified the pain and done what you could do help it (gone to the doctor, taken medicine, done your exercises or whatever else the doctor recommended), it's time to stop dwelling on it. Feeling sorry for yourself might feel like a luxury you deserve when you're not feeling well, but it only brings you down further. Instead of wallowing (as I wasted part of my weekend doing, ugh!), find a (positive!) distraction that will keep your mind off the pain. Anything that brings your spirits up — a new book, a favorite funny film, a friend stopping by — is worth trying. And don't be discouraged if your usual go-to mood-lifter doesn't do the trick. Pain, especially if it's new, might require discovering a new distraction! (To find a new one, consider what's worked in the past. If it's funny films, scour Netflix for a comedy special. If it's a good book, treat yourself to one you've been looking forward to or ask a friend to stop by the library and select a bunch from your favorite genre!)


Thoughts are incredibly powerful, and, while staying positive during times of pain is most certainly a challenge, it's worth every ounce of extra effort. When pain is chronic it can be hard to stay positive because there's no clear end in sight, there's no "take these pills and you'll be better in a week" to hold on to, but there's scientific proof that a negative attitude can make health worse and a positive one can make it better, so, at the very least, you can think of an optimistic outlook as a kind of medicine. If it's really hard to do (and I know how hard it can be when things aren't looking great), think of it a physical (mental) therapy exercise. It's not really fun to do and you don't always see instant improve me, but if you keep at it, it'll most likely help in some way. (The trick to staying positive is to pay attention to your thoughts. If this is hard to do, enlist the help of someone else to tell you to knock if off when you're in a woe-is-me state.)


Sure, you might not feel particularly lucky when you're in pain (in fact, it's probably the last thing you feel), but, cliche as this advice sounds, shifting your focus to all the ways you are lucky can make a hugely positive impact on your attitude. Each time you dread visiting the doctor, focus on the care you're fortunate to receive. Each time you feel like you're missing out on fun things, focus on the small joys of getting to rest and recover (and remember that someone else would probably love to be resting right now but for whatever reason, cannot). Each time you compare your current state to someone else's, remind yourself that you're lucky to have that person in your life. Gratitude can be arduous when you feel down on your luck, but when you start practicing it, it really does make you feel better. 


When you've tried all kinds of remedies and doctor recommendations and you're still in pain, your mind might turn to the fruitless task of contemplating all that you're unable to do. In times of pain, it's not surprising to feel frustrated and unproductive and useless, but dwelling on those feelings doesn't do you any good. Instead of focusing on all the things you can't do — work missed, plans cancelled, dreams delayed — direct your attention to what you are capable of doing. Some days I even write a list of all the things I've done (even if it's just showering, walking Barkley, and reading) so I can remind myself that, even on days when I can't do much, I've still done something. And even if you can't physically do a thing, you can still listen to a podcast or watch a film or daydream about all the cool things you'll do when you feel better. This mindset can be tricky to master, particularly if you're in pain for long periods of time and wonder if you'll ever be able to do certain things again, but when you fixate on what you can do instead of what you can't, you'll be surprised at how much better you feel emotionally.


Over the past few years, I've really gotten a life lesson on just how important health is, and how quickly pain can take charge and change your life. I've also been reminded that pain isn't always visible. Someone might look fine, might even act fine, while combatting a pain you can't see. If you're pain right now, I hope these tips helped in some small way. If you've been through chronic pain (emotional or physical) and have any additional advice to add, I'd love to hear it. In the comments section below, let me know what you do when you're facing pain 'cause you never know when a tip that worked for you might help someone else too! 



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5 Tips for Coping with Workweek Anxiety


Whether you feel love, hate, or indifference for the work you do, you're probably familiar with the anxiety that can hit at the end of the weekend when you know the workweek is upon you. Even though I'm incredibly fortunate to do what I love for a living, I still face that stressful Sunday feeling (though, admittedly, it's much less intense than when I had a typical office job, but that's mostly because I work every day so there's no true start to the week for me!).

Settling my brain down on Sundays is a challenge, but I've finally come to the realization (after over a decade of working, ha!) that it's not something that's going to ever go away. So, rather than fight it each week, I've spent some time thinking about how to cope with it the best way I can. Here the five tips that help me the most when it comes to coping with the anxiety that seems to pop up right before the workweek begins...



There's an old saying, "A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content," that I couldn't agree with more. What you do on Sunday can really set the tone for the week. For this reason, I do my best to do something relaxing and soothing on Sundays. Ideally I'd have a fixed ritual — maybe a warm bath, a walk through the park, or a creative activity — that would signify the end of the weekend and the beginning of the week, but, for now, I just try to do at least something relaxing. (I also try to work less on Sundays, if at all, but I'm still struggling with that creative work/life balance!) If there's a way to do the same relaxing activity every Sunday, I'd highly recommend it. It'll be a nice treat for you and a great way to positively transition from weekend to workweek. 


When it comes to combating anxiety of any kind, one of the most helpful things I can do for myself is to be as prepared as possible. The more prepared I am for what's to come, the less I have to worry about on the big day (even if the "big day" is just a typical Monday at work!). Whenever I've had an office job (or when I have client meetings), I always prepare my outfits the night before so I don't have to think about what I'm going to wear the next day. I set everything out on garment rack and that way I can just grab what I need and I won't have to stress about what I'm going to wear. Same goes for things like lunch, to-do lists — if there's a way to prep them ahead of time, do so! It can be a bit of a pain doing the prep work, but it'll really help you start off a stress-filled day on the right foot. 


If you're stressed about the week ahead, it's challenging not to worry about it, particularly on Sunday nights, when it's looming ever closer. If you're a worrier or anxiety-prone, it can be tough not to let these thoughts get the best of you (even when you know they're not good for you!). One of the best ways to combat worrying about the future is to stay in the present. Schedule engaging activities (checking out a new restaurant with friends, trying some sort of exercise you don't usually do, or creating some kind of art) that'll keep your mind in the moment and distract you from your worries. If you're doing the same old routine right before a stressful day, it's going to be tough not to worry, so find something that'll keep your mind on the present moment.


When you do find your mind venturing into that worry zone, thinking about the workweek and all you have to do (or all you've not yet done! ahh!), challenge yourself by trying to turn your attention from what you don't like (aka, what you're worrying about) to what you do like. If you don't enjoy your job, this can be tricky, but, even when I've really, really disliked a job, there's always been something positive about it — like the people I worked with, the things I was learning (about the work and about myself!), the praise I received for a job well done, etc. No matter how unpleasant the job, you're learning something, and that's worthy of your gratitude. Plus, you never know where a job will lead you, so keeping an open mind to the good things (however small!) can help combat any anxiety you might be experiencing. 



It's tempting to chat with a friends or partner and bring up the topic of dreading the workweek, but it's not helping you or them to spend time venting about how much you dislike Monday. The "I hate Monday" mantra is an easy way to bond with others, since most of us experience some level of workweek anxiety, but the more you say it, the more you reinforce it. Your words — and thoughts! — shape your reality. In an ideal world, you'd look at yourself in the mirror every Sunday night and say, "I love Mondays!!!," but, let's be real: you're not going to do that. So, absent of adopting a pro-Monday mantra, one of the best things you can do for your workweek anxiety is pay attention to how you think and talk about the upcoming week and, if you don't have anything positive to say, at least do your best to keep in neutral.


If you experience workweek anxiety, you're not alone. Having had the cry-every-Sunday-night kind of job and the I'm-so-lucky-to-what-I-love kind of job, I've encountered quite a range of workweek-related emotions, and I've come to the conclusion that, no matter what your job and how you feel about it, the start of a new week can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. I hope these five tips help you cope with any workweek anxiety you might be facing, and I'd love to know if you have any additional tips, too. Let me know what you do to cope at the start of the week in the comments below! 



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