One of the most difficult challenges my coaching clients face is behavioral change. There are many factors that go into real, long-term personal transformation but if we look at the biological roots of change, it’s easiest to compare our brains to computer programs. Despite the relative grand size or our brains compared to other mammals, there’s a great deal of miniaturization that occurs to get the most bang out of our cerebellum buck.
If our brains had to “think” out each element of every common task we perform, they would have to be more than twice their physical size. To minimize the physical capacity necessary for us to perform so many complex neural functions, our brain reduces our most commonly performed tasks into optimized synaptic transactions, essentially what would be macros on your Word program – little efficiency buttons that show up as habits and routines in the real world.
So, if you begin to work out every morning at 5:30 a.m., over time that routine will link several synapses together and whittle them down into an efficient habit loop requiring little thought to complete – therefore more easily overcoming any mental resistance to exercise. Which is all good and well until you realize that the same is true for that trip to the bathroom or break room that takes you by the reception desk with the candy bowl: now every time you want to stretch your legs or use the john, you’ve hardwired your need for a hundred sugar calories.
The wonderful thing about habits is the bitch about habits: the efficiency that enables us to do so much amounts to a well-worn little brain path trod upon time after time, until that path is free of rocks, grasses and obstacles…your own little shortcut through the forest of never-ending distractions and potential choices or decisions, arriving at a decisive action or habit. That well- worn path is in your brain permanently unfortunately, which may account for my late-night sugar lust, where despite doing my very best at the grocery store to avoid shitty processed foods, instead finds me raiding the chocolate chips my wife bought to make cookies or drinking the orange juice designated for weekend breakfasts.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to create and realign synaptic connections in response to knowledge gained, a new personal experience or injury to the brain (a stroke victim who’s lost use of their left arm can be retrained to call upon those synapses usually used to actuate their right arm). While its study is useful to many disciplines including occupational therapy for stroke victims, in coaching we use neuroplasticity to gain greater control over the habit trails we’d like to abandon and the new healthier ones we’d like to explore.
While the science is in its infancy, what’s pretty clear at this point is that we can’t just “undo” these wonderfully efficient, albeit unwanted synaptic habit trails – we have to write over them with a new habit trail and keep those better habits up, lest our old trail begin to rear its darker path to Skittles, tasty little Snickers bars and those individually wrapped Swedish fish – damn them and their sweet, sublime, squishy jellyness to eternal hell. Our old habits, even when effectively written over with flashy, healthy new ones, still lurk underneath our new, more desirable pathways.
So how do we bury the habit trails that shall not be buried? Well now when I go to the fridge for my late-night sugar fix, I survey the landscape longingly, then reach in and grab the filtered water jug and pour a glass of cool, refreshing H20. I can tell you my water intake has definitely skyrocketed. Instead of reaching for the crackers and cheese, I grab a baby carrot or two. Now this original period of change is no joke – sugar withdrawal is real, but if you can get through the first couple weeks, your cravings will vastly diminish.
Because my new habit has many links in relation to my old, unwanted behavior (going to kitchen, opening refrigerator door) it’s an ideal replacement path to overwrite my unwanted bingeing. Now I still have to make the decision to go for that water or those baby carrots which is another challenge too complex to include in this column. In brief, I use the same mindfulness methods I teach my clients facing similar sugar addictions or emotional eating challenges – taking the time to truly see my behavior as if a spectator or audience member to my own show. I’ll go into this in more detail in following columns.
This powerful habit science isn’t limited to sugar highs and cracker binges. One of the principle mechanisms at work behind the higher success rate for AA over other addiction programs is that members are replacing drinking with meetings. “If you had time to drink, you have time for a meeting” the saying goes. Replacing one habit for another is simplifying the process, for sure…there’s a great deal more that goes into effective addiction treatment and transitioning to a healthy diet for that matter, but understanding the brain science behind our most common habits, good and bad, is essential to begin to build a more positive path toward our life goals.
In the next column, I will explore how you can leverage the power of neuroplasticity to take on new, uncomfortable challenges you’ve been avoiding and create an atmosphere that allows you to forge a new, more productive and fulfilling path while mitigating the accompanying risk and uncertainty necessary to finally realize effective, long-term life change.
Developing Your Plan
One of the most important things a career coach can offer is clarity. I help my clients sift through all of their career options, manage the related stress and anxiety and hack out the path that best serves their immediate and long-term goals. And when I say “hack out a path” I’m referring to motivating my clients to wield that machete and put in the work. The most rewarding path forward in work and life is rarely the comfortable one and can involve immense challenge and uncertainty – slippery slopes, uneven terrain, massive obstacles and the occasional setback. I coach my clients to expect the discomfort that can accompany those first baby steps toward real change, and eventually embrace it. One of the many ways I minimize the discomfort involved in searching for work is by developing personalized career plans tailored to my client’s goals, skill sets and circumstances – including customized exercises and tools to instill positivity, build confidence, fight fear and manage stress throughout the job search, interviewing and salary negotiation processes.
I also instill accountability, providing concrete steps and tasks that over time expand the comfort level of my clients to include what they previously deemed anything but comfortable… like introducing yourself at that meet-up or event, delivering your elevator spiel on a moment’s notice, asking for a business card or proffering one, getting in touch with an old friend or colleague. Working closely with my clients, I build a trusting partnership, providing sage advice and objectivity that help guide and support them through the inevitable vulnerability and sense of exposure that accompany any major life transition.
Managing Your Stress & Anxiety
Looking for work is massively stressful – whether you’re currently employed or not. It can be even more anxiety provoking when you’re returning to work after a prolonged absence. Armed with the right information and some responsive coping mechanisms, my clients are poised to take on every phase in the career transition process, from upgrading their resumes and online presence, to the job search, social media presence, networking outreach, skill upgrades, interviewing techniques and negotiation strategies.
The career search can bring up so many tangled and conflicting feelings regarding self-worth, unmet potential and opportunities missed that we get sucked into a dark and powerful cyclone of rumination and regret, failing to see the calm and beauty beyond the storm and the path forward. We fail to acknowledge that the most dangerous and enduring part of that storm was the part raging in our head, darkening our outlook, and haunting our psyche and sense-of-self. I coach my clients out of the past that cannot be changed and into the light of right now – inciting action and a proactive mindset that will lead to a new, deeply desired outcome.
Resume Genius Difference
Most career coaches offer resume and cover letter suggestions. As a world-class copywriter and one of the premiere resume writers in the country, I create peerless resumes, LinkedIn profiles and cover letters from scratch. I work with my clients to navigate difficult situations including employment gaps, career changes, and issues related to part-time, volunteer or family-related employment. I know when to put your education on top and when to put it on bottom. I help you decide whether one or two pages best serves your immediate interests – and when you’re allowed more than two pages (very rarely btw). Leveraging my peerless copywriting skills, I get rid of boilerplate resume-speak and cut-and-paste looking bullets as I build the narrative that will not only open the door to your next interview, but literally make the difference between you getting paid near the lower or higher end of a company’s salary range for any given position. Most importantly, I put “you” back into your resume, ensuring all the unique character attributes, skill sets and qualifications that make you who you are resonate in your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Mastering Your Toughest Challenge
Perhaps your situation seems bleak: you’ve dreamt of leaving your workplace for far too long and you’re feeling stuck in a dead-end job, undervalued and underpaid. Maybe your situation is less bleak: you really like the company you work for and the people are great but the pay not so much. How do I ask for that raise? It could be that your salary is spot-on but the work you do has either lost its appeal or is boring the hell out of you. Maybe you’d like to find a more interesting and fulfilling career but aren’t sure you can afford the steep salary hit. Where can I go next? What if you’ve always wanted to do something else but never given yourself that opportunity, staying in a comfort zone that’s kept you locked in a career that has become many things – none of them you’d consider comfortable? How can I finally pursue my dream job? Maybe you love your job and the salary’s okay, but your boss or one of your coworkers is starting to make your life miserable. Is there anything I can do? Perhaps you work for a family business and you want to break free; perhaps you work for someone else’s family business and you feel you’ll never be adequately compensated or appreciated. What’s my next step?
Career decisions are incredibly challenging because unless we’re speaking of the ones we make when just entering the job market for the first time, they often affect a loved one and possibly a growing family. How do we balance our own job satisfaction and sense of fulfillment with our responsibilities as a co-provider or sole provider? An entrepreneurial venture can bring financial risk and even ruin – but it can also bring unbridled success and fulfillment, a change of career can result in a salary hit, a switch to a more commission-based job may result in dramatic swings and uncertainty. What if you pursue that graduate degree and all of a sudden decide you don’t want to do whatever it is you thought you did halfway through.
There are a number of legitimate fears that can make you feel tied to your current job or too cautious and insecure to even think about starting your side business or approaching your boss for that raise you know you deserve. And beyond those legitimate fears are dozens more irrational thoughts, doomsday prophecies, and general paranoia whipped up by economic forecasts or coworkers and well-meaning friends and relatives you may have confided in (and then regretted doing so).
I can also help you with the subtler situations like navigating office politics, prioritizing your workday, becoming more efficient, learning how to delegate your authority more effectively, determining the best way to handle inappropriate behavior or bullying, finding out how to get the most out of your team, deciding what to do if a coworker consistently undermines you, figuring out a way to balance your work and professional life, coping effectively with work-related stress so that you don’t bring so much home with you and establishing proper boundaries so your home life is not consumed by your job.
Real-Time Motivation & Accountability
Not only will I help you answer all the difficult, life-altering questions above while coaching you into that more rewarding, higher paying dream job, but I will help you develop the strategies and skills necessary to navigate and alleviate the tensions in your current job (the one you may be dying to get out of) – and by doing so, make you more qualified (and more resilient) for your next position. Jobs are another form of relationship and if we fail to tend to our shortcomings in our current one, we can’t help but bring that same luggage into our next opportunity. There will always be new things to learn, more skills to master and better methods to employ, and our many attributes and deficits will inevitably travel with us; I help my clients sharpen and market their attributes and winnow down their deficits into a handsome set of Tumi carry-ons they’d be proud to take anywhere.
By developing custom-tailored career plans and combining them with responsive coping tools to combat stress, fear and anxiety, I motivate my clients to power through the deceptive “comfort” of remaining in their dead-end, underpaying or dissatisfying job and begin to move onto and eventually master the uncharted path toward discomfiting, transformational change. I keep in touch with my clients via text messaging throughout the coaching process, providing real-time motivation and accountability. By adopting the concrete steps, action plans and behavioral modification tools I provide, you will begin to experience incremental, measurable results that will gradually morph into the massive change necessary for you to successfully navigate your career transition.
When it comes to our health, general fitness and body image, it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into well-meaning, scientifically proven, yet utterly ineffective weight loss and fitness regimens promising washboard abs, Kardashian buns and Hemsworth biceps. There’s the latest fad diet, that sick new workout, the New Year’s fast, the wedding and reunion purge, the hot yoga sweat-off, the Keto this, the Paleo that, and on and on. There’s a bazillion hard-bodied Instagrammers and YouTube stars hustling the latest new 5-minute buns, guns and fun workout, not to be confused with the same star’s 45-minute butt, biceps and back routine. Lord, please deliver me!
On the whole, there’s a tremendous amount of quality information out there, not to be confused with all the total, utter shit (and downright dangerous) advice mixed in. Do we really need a calorie counter app to tell us: fettuccini bad, salmon good. Will another article on the health benefits of green tea over Diet Coke really stop us from guzzling the latter.
In my wellness coaching, I work on my client’s body image, their relationship with food, the way they talk to themselves, how they cope with stress and how they relieve it: in the real world, amidst their real life including a hectic family and work schedule. We explore all the cutting-edge science surrounding a healthy diet and proper fitness routines, but the concentration is always on little, practical, incremental changes that will result in the formation of life-changing habits that enable lasting results in the real world – where heavy work travel affects diet and exercise routines, where pizza luncheons and office candy bowls predominate, where there’s a coworker birthday with ice cream cake every damn week.
Our bodies don’t add unhealthy weight overnight and the self-harming coping mechanisms that we’ve developed over the years in response to increasingly complex life stressers took time to develop into the hardened patterns and routines that fail to serve our best interests. The tiny little changes that ignited our less desirable habits are the same little changes we will leverage to undo them, one mindful step at a time.
I use a balanced approach, combining bleeding-edge behavioral modification strategies culled from established journals with scientifically proven, peer-reviewed mindfulness exercises founded in thousand-year-old Eastern traditions. You won’t be gazing into a crystal ball, or placing 45 aromatherapy candles around your bathtub – although a couple couldn’t hurt – you’ll be given little routines that you can fit into the smallest cracks in your busy day. By giving you little doable exercises we will slowly chip away at those seemingly small things you do in a day that over time lead to larger, long-term changes in weight, health and overall life satisfaction.
One of the hardest truths to come to is that self-acceptance leads to change. Yes, the science has spoken and that self-pat on the back will go a lot further than that self-kick in the ass. You can leave the metaphorical ass-kicking to me. If self-loathing and toxic self-criticism led to formidable butts and cut pecs, well hell, we’d all have Kardashian asses and Hemsworth boobs. But we don’t. And we won’t. Because we’re not Kim, Chris, Chloe or Liam or the rest of that hard-bodied brood. We’re you and me. And we can have our own incredible Instagram ass or guns, if that’s our primary goal, or we can get into the best shape of our lives so that we can spend more time with our loved ones, our kids and grandkids, our selves. We can become healthy enough to travel more and go on hiking, cycling or kayaking adventures.
I work closely with my health and wellness clients, developing targeted, agile plans taking your personal and professional lives into account. I create personalized guided meditations of varying lengths that speak to and motivate you on a conscious and subconscious level, improving your relationship with food, eating, and exercise while also providing stress management, mindfulness techniques and self-reflection. We will work as a team to rewrite your self-dialogue into a helpful conversation that serves your ultimate narrative rather than punishing you for caloric misdeeds or gym routine lapses time and time again. Together we will discover your root causes of stress eating and dietary relapse and patiently design responsive behavioral and habit formation strategies to address them. The guided meditations will serve to underscore the coaching session discoveries we will make together and keep you on track – not just throughout the coaching process, but for the rest of your life.
Why Life Coaching Works
The best life coach will help you embrace your role as the sole cog able to set things in motion in your life and overcome difficulty and distraction to create the life you want to lead while also mitigating the effects of internal and outside criticism, doubt, derision or negativity. I am that coach.
Coaching empowers you to seek answers from within and take ownership of problems and challenges you may have consciously or subconsciously determined to be too overwhelming or difficult to access or act on with the consistency and effectiveness necessary to produce the desired long-term results. With the help of a coach you can realize your true potential in any number of areas through this “ownership” process. In this way, successful coaching results in your ability to extend what you learn throughout the process into your personal and professional life well beyond those initial 6 coaching sessions. It is truly the most important investment you can make.
Coaching, when done effectively, works in different ways for different people. Some clients thrive when provided with the real accountability coaching provides – having to show up and report on the effectiveness of the exercises, assignments or tasks assigned in the previous session. I keep my clients engaged through a motivational text or email, making sure they stay on track. Most clients will be looking to achieve specific goals or overcome nagging obstacles, but may have alternate learning modes or respond completely differently to “tried and true” coaching techniques. I customize every behavioral tool, communication technique or habit formation strategy to each client, factoring in their learning style and comfort level. This client may perform better with a pat on the back, that client a metaphorical kick in the ass. Pats on the back and kicks in the ass provided as required. The reason coaching works, is that the best coaches treat each client individually, calculating their acceptance of or resistance to certain forms of learning or coaching and developing customized, responsive and creative solutions that factor in the individual’s personality, motivational needs, comfort level, potential pain points, persistent blocks and additional resources or skills required to break through. I am that coach.
Two Types of Coaching
There are two primary types of coaching: performance coaching where I hone in on sharpening a person’s execution of a given job or task, for example coaching someone’s sales performance, whereas development coaching concerns itself with developing the individual, improving the way they think and address different situations in their personal and professional realms. The two often overlap, but the distinctions are important. If we use the example above, I can coach someone to exceptional sales results using performance coaching techniques and also teach them to better handle rejection in a sales career through development coaching.
Clients I help
My life coaching clients come from all walks of life, seeking all kinds of different things. I coach high-performing Wall Streeters, entrepreneurs and C-level executives struggling through a plateau. My small business clients often need help with their marketing campaigns or web content. I’m a peerless copywriter, on par with the top “Big 6” ad agency scribes. I coach transitioning college grads, moms returning to work and nine-to-fivers seeking a more lucrative or meaningful career. I am a resume genius. I coach women, men and couples having relationship troubles. I coach busy professionals on how to achieve a better work / life balance. I help people of all ages find their dating confidence. I teach dating fundamentals and totally revamp online profiles. Other clients need help managing difficult family relationships. A number of my clients come to me for coaching that helps them lose weight, improve their body image and acquire a permanent physical fitness regimen. Some of my clients come to resolve stress, overeating or an addiction to cigarettes or alcohol. Many of my clients seek help with a number of things above – and many other issues too numerous to list.
How I help them
How did coaching help the clients mentioned above? Well listening is one hell of a start, for sure. I listen closely to the various goals and challenges my clients present, peeling back the onion, not in therapy terms of digging up the past, but tracing back the tangled roots that lead to underwhelming, problematic or unsuccessful outcomes. Often, the presenting problem or obstacle (in the path of continued progress or success) as conveyed in an initial session turns out to be a red herring, and the underlying issue is actually something quite different than the client may have imagined. In coaching, as in opposed to therapy, we focus our attention on the here and now, and the way forward. We may look backward to find a root cause that will inform a customized, responsive solution, but we don’t stay in the past, rummaging around back there. In my coaching practice, and in coaching in general, we do just enough backward investigation to find the most efficient and effective path forward–to your desired end goal. There are times when therapy is a good supplementary option for a client and I have quality recommendations when applicable.
Once we work together to identify some of the obstacles or challenges presented on the path toward my clients’ ultimate goals, I design customized habit formation strategies and behavioral modification techniques tailored to strengthen their resolve, improve their confidence and empower them to acquire the precise skill sets necessary to thrive in their cherished personal and professional domains. I provide ongoing motivation, supplementing the findings we come to in our sessions with text message, email or phone support. My clients know that I’ve got their back while they expand their personal comfort zone to seek out and master pretty damn uncomfortable change in a number of areas.
Most importantly, I reinforce the key findings unearthed in our coaching sessions by writing and recording customized guided meditations that reach my clients on both a conscious and subconscious level. By listening to these recordings, a client can take in a wide range of beneficial information and alternate strategies tailored to promote ongoing momentum and positive change in a number of personal and professional areas.
Effective change is nothing more than a new habit, and the way we create effective new habits is to overwrite the undesirable habits that have blazed distinct neural networks in our brain with little new habits that we tend and strengthen until they grow to subsume those old unwanted patterns. Forming a new habit is difficult because it requires a combination of executive brain functions to construct what will essentially become a shortcut key or hot button that is the habit. During the formation process you’re drawing on different areas, so you become more vulnerable to relapse as you construct this little programming cue, but if you stick with it, executing it time and time again, it effectively becomes solid state and overtakes that unwanted behavior. The problem is, some of your least desirable habits have also been wired into a solid state, efficient little process that can reemerge if not consistently trod upon by your newer, more desirable habit. I teach my clients the most effective methods to understand and take on their highly efficient, bossy brains, while trouncing bad habits and building more effective ones that serve their long-term interests.
Putting It All Together
I employ a compassionate mix of leading-edge brain research, proven behavioral science and customized goal setting, system-building and habit-forming methodologies to motivate clients from comfort to accomplishment, from procrastination to project completion, and perhaps most importantly, from “shit happens” to “I make shit happen.” I utilize the latest high-performance and development coaching techniques, but do so in an accessible way that resonates with clients looking for down-to-earth, relatable and scientifically proven methods to overcome personal and professional obstacles and break through. Whether you’re struggling to realize goals you’ve imagined for years or simply looking to reenergize and connect with yourself in the midst of “outward” professional success, I’m your coach.
The coaching community is filled with jargon like “never provide an answer – lead the client to their own answers to create lasting change.” Now there is truth in this statement, but it’s also total bullshit. It’s incredibly important for clients to take ownership of the process, or the tools I employ–the work we do together–may only work “in this or that instance”, or fail to work at all. But here’s the thing, life doesn’t conform to coaching jargon, some clients respond better to different techniques…ones that fly in the face of every coaching school maxim. Sometimes a client is so stuck in their present destructive habit loop, or incredibly successful yet afflicted with a nagging feeling of “something’s missing” that some immediate answers spur action, and action is the key to progress. So, hell yes, I have the answers after doing this for so many years, and damn right I’ll provide them…but I’ll also make you work your ass off to find your own way, so you not only achieve your desired results, but you develop a custom tool kit that will help you through your next challenge, and the one after that…indeed a lifetime of challenges.
Oh yeah, and if it’s not painfully obvious by now, I’m a New Yorker, whose specialty is helping small fish, big fish, old fish, new fish, all-frickin’ kinds of glorious fish swim with (and eventually dine on) the sharks in this big New York City pond…or your pond, wherever that is. Employing a patented mix of “loving pat on the back meets motivational kick in the ass,” my BS-free life coaching style was forged in Manhattan over two decades, helping turn an eclectic mix of international executives, salespeople, actors, the LBGT community, abuse survivors, artists, persons with disabilities and corporate professionals into high performers in their personal lives and fields of interest or expertise.
Financial gain and high performance don’t automatically equate to happiness or even satisfaction however, so I apply a holistic approach to coaching that focuses on creating client-specific work/life integration strategies, self-esteem boosters, procrastination remedies, fear-fighters, anxiety countermeasures, self-compassion techniques and mindfulness exercises that ensure personal success doesn’t come at the cost of personal well-being. Relying upon proven techniques and exercises derived from the latest developments in High Performance & Development Coaching, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as well as bleeding edge breakthroughs in Neuroplasticity, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, I stir all that tasty alphabet soup up, adding a heaping dash of “whatever the hell works for you” to create a customized, personal program tailored to get you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.
You’ve probably asked yourself at some point, “Could that date have been any worse?” or “Why do I let another bad date get to me?” And of course, you already know the answer: whom you choose to date leads directly to whom you choose to spend your precious life with – which is, without a doubt, the single most important decision you will ever make in your lifetime (every time you make it). To which you rightly respond: “Holy crap, Frank, are you trying to freak me out- cuz I’m frickin’ freakin’ out!”
Well, no, I’m not. I’m trying to bring into the hot glaring light of day the real stuff that may be lurking behind your understandable dating anxiety… the first step to calming all that negative (albeit legitimate) crap down. Yes, it is true, dating will determine your partner who can play a significant role in determining where you live, what you earn, whether you pursue that new career path, what you do in your free time, whether you travel or not, how you feel about yourself, whether you have children, the friends you keep, make or lose, whether you pursue an advanced certificate or degree, and so much more.
To which you rightfully respond, “for the love of god, Frank, so now my life isn’t worth living without Princess Perfect or Captain Wonder Pants?” To which I say “no, don’t buy into the fallacy that you must have a life partner to lead a happy and fulfilled existence – that kind of b.s. is propagated by plenty of people working on their umpteenth divorce preaching all kinds of shit their first, second and third spouse never listened to either.” In fact, I will tell you that the best way to attract an awesome match is to master the art of truly enjoying and thriving on your own first, getting to know your healthy boundaries and strengthening your sense of self – a process we will work together on as we totally revamp your dating approach enabling you to find the right mate who will complement and enhance your already-thriving life.
What I’m trying to get at is that if you seek out a partner that person will impact every major aspect of your life, irrespective of how independent, self-motivated and successful you are. The wrong partner can become an ankle weight in a raging, unpredictable sea, the right partner, a life preserver that gets you through the storm, enabling your next adventure. You want your significant other to positively impact the key phases of your life, not consume them. You don’t have to find your cheerleader necessarily, but you definitely want the person who will support you, believe in you, carry their own weight and catch you when you fall from time to time.
So yes, there’s a lot on the line, but no, my goal is not to make you even more stressed than you were on that awful date with that narcissist who was 15 years older and 40 pounds heavier than his/her massively Facetuned photo on Match.com. My goal is to empower you, despite what’s at stake, to successfully navigate the b.s. of online or speed dating (or even blind dating–god forbid), work through the understandable fatigue and disillusionment that sets in, and finally begin to thrive again, and have some fun for the love of god! You have to strike the right balance between your non-negotiables and your ideals while still opening yourself up to new experiences. You need to remain agile enough to move your fences to incorporate new landscapes – even though the process itself makes you want to electrify your borders and add razor wire. Dating can become so excruciating that we become jaded, closing ourselves off to a nice evening, a good laugh, an unexpected friendship, some good conversation, a networking opportunity or the rewarding long-term relationship that may come from extra effort, sometimes extraordinary effort.
Yes, dating is very difficult, but no matter whether you’re dating for fun, toward marriage, or recovering from a bad breakup, a long-term relationship or divorce, there are ways to build your confidence and attract the right partner for you, considering your current circumstances and your future life goals. Where you’re at right now will dictate the best approach that suits you. Being able to celebrate dating wins that aren’t necessarily relationship-worthy matchups can be crucial. Allowing yourself to have fun on a date with someone who clearly isn’t a life match is a skill and one you must acquire to get you through those lean dating periods before finally breaking through.
The first thing I work on with all my dating clients is bolstering their dating confidence and building a foundational knowledge of the process itself. Dating confidence is certainly related to your overall confidence, but it also factors in a strong grasp of the process: how to spot when a person has revealed themselves to be quite different than the avatar they’re presenting themselves to be in their profile, a text message or a phone call. You’ll also need to know what to put in your own profile (and of equal importance, what to leave out) and what to look for in someone else’s. You’ll want to know which dating site best fits your personality. How to date off-line, without a dating app. How to get the best out of a night of speed dating. How to network and find meetups or events by opening yourself to a more organic form of dating. When and if you should employ a professional matchmaker’s services. And that’s just for starters.
Beyond the strong foundational dating knowledge I will instill is the more crucial emotional resiliency that will get you through the ups and downs in the dating process, and of course by “ups and downs” I’m really referring to getting you through the “down, down, down, up down” process. Dating isn’t easy. You’ve got to celebrate those ups and let the hell go of all those downs, becoming an “agile dater.” Sometimes, the older and wiser we get the more likely we are to outthink our own best interests or over-protect ourselves from even the slightest possibility of rejection. But if you can gamify dating (not to be confused with treating it like some meaningless game) – honing in on the end goal while keeping your sense of self and sense of humor, you will retain your emotional footing and find the enjoyment creeping out between what seems like concrete misery at times. You can become more accepting of yourself so that you can attract a partner that also possesses the self-knowledge necessary to be emotionally present with you.
One of the key skills I help instill in my clients is the ability to rebuild their resilience and retain their sense of self despite the stress, negativity and disillusionment that can consume anyone trying to date. The hard truth is that the more beleaguered you become, the more likely you are to overlook those imperceptible signals that indicate a person’s fundamental character early in the dating process – for good and bad. You may overlook some key character flaw that you just can’t abide or fail to notice some fundamental strengths of someone you didn’t take too seriously initially. With the behavioral exercises and resiliency tools we work on, you’ll be able to consistently summon your true self and convey your natural energy – despite the ups and downs in the process, which will make you far more efficient at spotting a potential match and quickly breezing past those mismatches.
Confidence is very similar to a habit, in fact it could be said that it’s little more than a good habit, and like all habits the way to acquire it is to start with little sticky habits that then turn into key “transformative” habits with repetition, over time. I will give you exercises that help you reevaluate negative self-perceptions, and gradually expand your comfort zones to include what may once have been massively uncomfortable… like the thought of asking that person out.
In addition to addressing the low self-esteem, self-sabotage and related stumbling blocks we can all throw in front of ourselves while putting ourselves out there, I leverage my copywriting expertise to do a forensic analysis of how you’re representing yourself in the online dating community, what type of person your profile is likely to attract in its current state and how I can help you attract the person you actually want to share your precious life and love with. More importantly, I work tirelessly to come up with new and creative solutions and exercises to refresh self-confidence and combat the understandable fatigue and disillusionment that all forms of dating can instill in even the most optimistic and confident among us. Dating online (or otherwise) is a particularly bruising experience requiring a Kevlar-clad constitution, a high tolerance for some bad company and a healthy sense of humor. I’ll help you keep it real, providing upbeat motivation as you progress from swiping left, left, left, left again and again and again damn it, until, with a bit of hard-won positivity, motivation and guidance, you finally get it right.
If you’re like me, you may have tried marriage or couples counseling at some point in your life and found it wanting, and by that I mean next to friggin’ useless. Don’t get me wrong, therapy has its place and is of tremendous help – particularly when building your sense of self and dealing with issues related to past trauma, but too many therapists rely on a talk-only regimen that fails to yield optimal results. As crucial as personal insight is, by itself, it doesn’t lead to actual change… but I know what does. Nano-changes that lead to micro changes that lead to teeny-tiny changes which lead to small changes and so on. Bottom line: change leads to change. And change is action. If you truly want to change the direction of your troubled or failing relationship, you must take action. The key here is, that initial action doesn’t have to be some massively disruptive force; when it comes to meaningful change that lasts, the smaller the start, the more likely you will build traction toward consistent progress, rather than becoming quickly overwhelmed and giving up.
Picture yourself on a vast, seemingly endless sea in a small sail boat. If you move that boat’s rudder just a hair, you won’t notice much at first, but gradually, over time, even an infinitesimal adjustment at the outset of your journey will lead to a dramatically different endpoint. With some further small adjustments to the sail, the wind and keel will enable further course corrections, turning your slight change into a major new destination. But to get somewhere different you’ve got to start with some form of action. If you simply sit on deck with your partner and therapist recounting your profound new knowledge of navigation then postulate how much you’d love to change course and land on that life-sustaining island with the hot-bodied, scantily-clad reality TV stars (rather than the sharp rocks your heading for) what good would all the talk or wisdom in the world do? As you near those deadly rocks, in the throes of your consuming panic, you look at your beleaguered partner and are suddenly struck by another profound insight “Hey, I think this thing actually has a motor and a full tank of gas.” Without starting the motor, what frickin’ difference does it make?
No matter what incredible realizations your marital counselor or therapist may have helped you come to, if you weren’t given concrete steps and behavior-based exercises to turn those insights into action, your relationship counselor failed you. I will not fail you. That is not to say every relationship is salvageable – with my help or anyone else’s, it means that saving a relationship takes more than talk, understanding or even communication. It takes action, accountability and want-to by both parties. Therapy has its place (CBT/DBT in particular), and coaching is not therapy. While therapy often strives to uncover the origin of our behaviors, coaching concentrates on a “from this point forward” approach, delivering exercises, assignments and tools tailored to promote that almost imperceptible course correction (spawned by action) that over time can lead to dramatic life change.
It’s paramount to gain insight, into ourselves and into our partners, but simply “talking” once a week to me or anyone else won’t turn that insight into actionable steps that will lead to positive, transformative change. I will help both you and your loved one gain the critical insight you need and turn that wisdom into concrete action that will ensure you improve your overall communication and build go-to coping mechanisms and bounce-back strategies to employ when you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, unheard, stressed out, angry or resentful.
In my life coaching business, I leverage cutting-edge research and diagnostic skills while I work closely with clients to identify and defuse potential triggers, reshape deceptive self-perceptions, build self-confidence and recognize destructive patterns and habits–all leading to healthier relationships through a healthier you.
When you and your significant other agree to be coached by me, I do a hell of a lot more than just listen intently and ask “how does that make you feel?”. I take in all your emotional intensity, all the feelings conveyed, every bit of detailed information I can before creating practical exercises and tools that I customize to meet both of your needs, factoring in your individual learning modes and personal comfort levels–employing real measures empowering you to tone down your triggers and relieve your pain points. And while I make sure I hear everything you’re saying, I won’t just sit there during our session; I will provide specific exercises I want you both to try and we will work together diligently to review the effectiveness of our joint plan as we continue modifying our approach until you both agree you’re headed in the right direction, a path that moves you forward, rather than spinning your wheels churning up the same old crap.
Sometimes couples come to me seeking an amicable separation and end up rebuilding their relationship, sometimes despite both party’s best efforts to reunite the best the path forward may turn out to be that amicable split. The most important factor is to learn from and do our best to correct the mistakes we make and work diligently to modify self-defeating and destructive behaviors so that we not only give our current relationship a fighting chance, but gradually pare down our very human luggage from that check-in trunk to some handsome carry-on Tumi’s that will not only improve our current situation but ensure we don’t repeat and recycle behaviors that would lead to a similar result in our next relationship – should you determine separation to be the best way forward.
To get to what works for your relationship, I might leverage the latest behavioral science from the West and mix it with peer-reviewed mindfulness exercises based on thousand-year-old traditions from the East. If whatever we come up with doesn’t show promise we’ll either tweak it or scrap it until we arrive at something that does. I work my ass off to discover and deliver the most meaningful results for you. For example, one of many go-to tools I use to help both individuals and couples navigate personal relationships is what I refer to as my “Lock Down Corner” strategy. Based on the need for top NFL cornerbacks – and all premier athletes and competitors for that matter – to retain a short memory (in this case forgetting that just-completed pass in order to successfully defend the next long ball), I work closely with my clients to shorten their retention of information that doesn’t serve their long-term interests. This technique effectively counteracts your trigger pressure, easing your foot off your emotional accelerator so that you can reflect before speaking or acting out in resentment or anger. In our relationships with loved ones, often those few words said or that brief cold shoulder brandished in the heat of the moment is piled on top of past slights imagined or real, adding up to an explosive reaction that dwarves the immediate perceived affront. To maintain more harmonious relationships, I help my clients attain greater mindfulness, addressing the situation at hand like the isolated incident it is, and confronting it without the added-on anger or intensity (or stockpiling) that results from grouping perceived or real slights into a noxious slag of rage that seems to come from nowhere.
When we do our best to shorten our memories and live in the present, we allow our partners the same break we deserve when we too resort to our petty frustrations, annoying nitpicking, occasional bitching or sudden temper flares. It’s a process and it takes a great deal of work to undo all the baggage we’ve allowed to build-up or simply tamped down for so many years – but the results can be extraordinary – if not exactly lifesaving, relationship-saving. And that is only one of the many techniques in my relationship-mending arsenal. Contact me now for a free couples’ coaching consultation.
I grew up in Nebraska where I developed a habit for nodding and saying hello to fellow pedestrians and holding doors open for longer than necessary, skills that didn’t serve me well when my educational pursuits took me from the Omaha Jesuits of Creighton University to the West Village streets of NYU in downtown Manhattan. After graduating with a BFA, in the middle of the 88’ Stock Market Crash, I started rewriting resumes for fellow NYU alums and friends that had visited the campus employment office – yet were still having trouble finding work in a tight economy with resumes I deemed “shitty” at best. I proved a natural, starting my own executive resume and career coaching firm and making every possible mistake in the process. On a lark, I joined my lovely girlfriend at the time in applying for a caseworker job with the City of New York, counseling people with AIDS in the devastated Village and Hell’s Kitchen communities. Because I wrote my own resume, of course I was hired immediately – well before my girlfriend who after that experience entrusted me to write all her future resumes, but enough of that. Counseling dying people who were often not much older than myself proved too much however, for this younger version of me who had yet to have any real counseling or grief coping skills and so I transferred into the Foster Care program after a year, where I counseled kids and foster parents instead. While both jobs proved some of the most rewarding human experiences of my life, 20-something me was perhaps not as ecstatic about this life-altering experience, which among other things included watching the light go out of a kid’s eyes at the age of 3 or 4 when he begins to comprehend the hardship of being “underprivileged” and poor.
Still writing professional resumes, cover letters and ad copy on the side for clients who found me via word-of-mouth, I determined it was time to learn from my mistakes. I found a mentor in Life and Career Coach (and resume guru) George Gruber, where I learned the craft of life coaching, sales, business, bookkeeping and charging what you’re worth. I in turn taught George a few things about persuasive writing before opening my own business a couple years later. I began my business as “Advantage Resumes” when we used to have those things called Yellow Pages and they were alphabetized, before rebranding to The Resume Genius, New York City’s premiere career coaching and executive resume service. I later transitioned the business into a more holistic coaching firm focusing on life, career and dating coaching services, while also handling copywriting, branding and executive resume preparation duties.
My career was cut short by a massive case of shingles that resulted in a lifelong chronic pain disability that would leave me in tears, curled up fetally next to my pit bull and pug. So severe was the pain that when it ripped and burned through my neurological system it also caused “essential tremor” in my hands, basically that tremor you’d normally get when you’re 80. I think “essential” is a prime example of bad marketing as I find nothing “essential” about the fucking tremor. Fortunately, while on a date with a lovely woman many years ago, I was told to “just own it” and I’ve done so ever since (for the most part). Thanks to modern advancements in medicine, I was recently fortunate enough to receive a DRG Implant, a breakthrough technology just approved in the United States that basically serves as a pacemaker for pain, delivering interrupting electronic signals to the dorsal root ganglia nerves in the spine, delivered from a battery in my ass. Although my ass modeling days are over, the device has successfully combatted the most egregious, tear-provoking pain and allowed me to return to the business I love, the purpose I was meant for, that of helping you get over.
My trials with chronic pain and “hidden” disability have given me keen insight into not only what it takes to battle agonizing pain and disability, but how to harness the life lessons I’ve learned and turn them into tools for others with disabilities, often greater than my own. I teach them how to organize their lives, fight depression, summon social courage and return to the workplace when possible. I strongly believe that my trials with chronic pain not only inform other disabled people, but help me empathize with people of all different walks of life facing seemingly insurmountable situations and challenges of all kinds in their personal and professional lives.