Being an Adult Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

When I work with leaders the issue of stress is front and center of many coaching conversations. Adults have a lot on their plates, and COVID-19 has made it much worse. Well-being is emerging as the #1 issue for workplaces because leaders are finally starting to realize that people-first strategies are what they need to be successful in the ever-changing marketplace. It is almost impossible to be creative or productive if you do not have your physical, mental, or emotional health.

This leadership coaching video explains some of the reasons why it is important to have fun and enjoy life – even if you have to make the time and an effort to do it!

You May Have Doubts

With all the stress that many of us have been under lately, you might be doubting the importance of fun, but let remind about a few “fun” facts:

  1. Fun is the ultimate stress-reliever
  2. Fun bonds people together
  3. Fun makes you more interesting
  4. Fun is the the ultimate Fountain of Youth

Try your own tests at home. I give my clients assignments to have fun all of the time. Why? Because it puts them in a stronger place to solve problems, work through challenges and develop creative solutions. Fun can also repair relationships.

6 of the Most Powerful Happiness Tools: Gratitude, Movement, Play, Purpose, Self-Love, and Kindness.

-Dr. Connie

Blue the Bee Learns to be Happy (free download)

A few colleagues and I published Blue the Bee Learns to Be Happy, an activity guide for happiness in 2018. It takes the science of happiness and turns it into games and tools designed to help increase levels of positivity. You can use it as an individual with your family or even with teams at work.

If you need more than the video or the book, please contact us for additional resources or personalized coaching. We are committed to helping 100,000 leaders create greater purpose and prosperity for people and our planet, and fun is one of the ways in which we are achieving this big, hairy, audacious goal!

Go Wild with Fun!

-Dr. Connie

It is Never too Late

podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-creative-penn-podcast-for-writers/id309426367

In such a difficult and challenging time, we can sometimes question what our next step might be.

One thing I keep hearing from clients is that they are feeling “COVID burnout” and are searching for the energy and motivation to move forward. They also want to do something meaningful with their lives but wonder if they are too late to pursue a dream that has been sitting on the back burner for quite sometime.

One of the messages in this episode of The Creative Penn podcast is that midlife is a time of transition-not crisis. If you are hearing constant whispers telling you it is time for a change, it may be time to listen.

Enjoy hearing some strong voices from people who are creating their purposeful futures in the present moment and in the “middle” of their lives!

Go Wild with Your Future!

-Dr. Connie

Happy Halloween!

I LOVE Halloween!!! It is one of my favorite times of the year, and this year it is on Saturday – extra bonus!!! I am making my costume this year and still have to put on the finishing touches.

As you can guess, I am a big fan of adults dressing up for Halloween. Sometimes, we feel like we are too old to really enjoy holidays. We make excuses in our heads like, “it’s for the kids.” This is absolutely not true!! Halloween is a holiday people of all ages can enjoy.

2020 has been a very challenging and stressful year for most people, and fun relieves stress while helping us connect with ourselves and our families. Halloween may look different this year, but it can still be fun. Let us know how you plan to celebrate and share pix of your costumes 🙂

It’s time to have some fun again, so here’s to a fun and safe adventure this Halloween! Remember, being an adult does not have to be boring!

Below are the pumpkins we carved this year…one of my favorite family traditions! Let us know how you celebrated this one-of-a-kind Halloween!

Dear Dr. Connie: How do I deal with all of this change?

Many of the experienced coaches I know are getting this question from their clients. I have been asked this question in several sessions over the past few weeks. Most of my coaching clients are high-achieving individuals who are finding themselves in situations where they are now working from home while also helping their kids learn and taking care of their parents at a distance.

Yes, we are in changing (and challenging) times. Balancing all the new with the uncertainty of what is happening is difficult for most of us; however, there are things we can do to improve our mindset while also enjoying what this strange present has to offer.

I created a new coaching tool, My WINs for Today, for clients who have needed a little help finding their new grooves. One of the daily challenges I set for them is to have some fun every single day. Yes, this may sound strange to many. However, we know that fun helps strengthen us physically, mentally and spiritually.

Fun: Doing anything that creates joy in your life.

-Dr. Connie

The WINs for Today coaching tool is designed to provide a simple, yet useful, roadmap to help people create and celebrate 3 intentional WINs (Wildly, Inspired, Natural Actions) each day that support their lives now and into the future. For overachievers, times like this can be very difficult. Why? They are never quite satisfied about how much they accomplish. Times like these can be super-stressful because productivity is challenged by all of the other items they have added to their plates. I know from my own experience that working with kids who are learning at home is something that takes a few new braincells and mindfulness techniques to balance.

Intentions are whatever we truly want to make happen. What we intend will happen. Actions support honest intentions; therefore, all true intent is realized. Intentions become the outcome.

Dr. Connie in SMARTER Intentions & Authentic Goals (2014)

There is only so much we can do in a day, so keep it simple until you feel like you are in a good place to do more. Create some momentum, and learn from each day. Try not to judge yourself too harshly, and get some help if you need it!

You can download the My WINs for Today Coaching tool for FREE by clicking on the following link:

You can also preview the My WINs for Today coaching tool below. Let me know how the tool works for you. I would love to hear how you are all navigating the present to create a new future!

Have fun creating your WINs!

-Dr. Connie

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How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

I am really curious about how other people celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband and I have now been married for 20.5 years, and we are always looking for new ideas. We usually have a fun celebration at home with the kids because they love celebrating holidays with us.

We make some heart-shaped foods and enjoy a nice meal together. Then, we exchange a few small gifts – even the dogs get some extra treats! However, it is time to mix it up a bit! So, I am looking for ideas!!

How you spend Valentine’s Day?

Looking forward to reading some great ideas!

Here’s to having more fun today and everyday!

-Dr. Connie

The 30 Day Bucket List Challenge

Are you ready?

It is mid-January, and time is already flying by in 2020! Have you made progress on your New Year’s resolutions and goals? I know it is easier for me to DREAM BIG and be accountable when other people are taking the trip with me. If you need some motivation, accountability and bold thinking, join our 30 Day Bucket List Challenge!

How will you fill your bucket?

Sign up by clicking on the “Join the 30 Day Bucket Challenge List” button below. We are kicking off on February 1, 2020. Sign up now to receive the 30 Day Bucket Challenge workbook. Then, start filling your bucket with whatever you want to accomplish, experience and achieve in 30 days!

Get ready to Go Wild and Have Fun!

-Dr. Connie

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What 100 Things have You Accomplished in the Last 10 Years?

We are ushering a new decade, which means it is a great time to reflect on the past while preparing for the future! It is easy to move on to the next goal, intention or resolution; however, I encourage all of you to take the time to remember, honor and celebrate what you have already achieved – in the last 10 years. Yes, you read that correctly – the last 10 years!

What 100 Things Have You Accomplished in the Last 10 Years?

Why 10 years? This decade stretching coaching exercise is designed to tap into your memory banks while providing a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Investing time and effort into this process will also strengthen your motivation and confidence. This can be especially important for high-achieving individuals who feel like they are getting older and are interested in or working towards a life transition or transformation. Achievers tend to move quickly and overlook what they have accomplished. This exercise was intentionally designed as a slow, yet insightful, process that helps us see how much we have grown and changed over the course of a decade.

The first few may or may not come easily to you. Expect the process to get a little more challenging as you add more accomplishments. Ten years goes by quickly, and we tend to forget all we have experienced and achieved. If you get stuck, refer to your planner, calendar and pictures for ideas. Use your social media accounts, colleagues and friends to trigger your memories. Think back to fun times and feelings of joy. And, think broadly! This is not an exercise focused only on work or career. Think about the whole of your life as you go through this exercise. Below are a few thinking prompts:

  • How did you invest in yourself?
  • Where were you, and what were you doing, 10 years ago?
  • Where are you, and what are you doing, now?
  • What experiences did you enjoy?
  • Did you have a child(ren) or grandchild(ren)?
  • Did you try a new hair color?
  • What type of physical exercise did you try or grow?
  • Did you write your first blog post or record a podcast?
  • What romantic encounters did you experience?
  • What vacations did you experience?
  • What classes did you take?
  • What hobbies did you develop?
  • How did you volunteer or freely contribute your talents?
  • What did you do for exercise or self-care?

Stretch your thinking and have some fun with this exercise. You may just surprise yourself! Download the 100 Things I Have Accomplished in the Last 10 Years Coaching Tool below by clicking on either the text or the 100 graphic. Make the time to complete the list, and then let us know all about the 100 accomplishments you have achieved in the comment section below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers to all of you!

-Dr. Connie

What 100 things have you accomplished in the last 10 years?

World Mental Health Day and the Power of Play

Today is a great day to celebrate the importance of mental health. While I was hosting the Rural Futures Podcast, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Howard Liu about mental health. Dr. Liu serves as the Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He is also the Director of Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Even better than his training, experience and titles? Howard is a dedicated husband, father and all around super-cool human being!

Part of the interview focused on mental health disparities and shortages in rural areas; however, we also talked about the importance of fun and play for both children and adults.

I included a portion of the transcript that focuses on the importance of play and taking risks below. You can hear the entire episode by visiting the Rural Futures Podcast web site:

Rural Futures Podcast Episode 14: Psychiatrist Howard Liu intersects mental health, workforce, access

Dr. Connie:  I do a lot of work, of course on strategic foresight and futuring, but part of that is creativity, part of that is innovation. And it’s really hard for people to be creative when they’re just focusing on a to-do list and a massive amount of activity, rather than being very intentional and using discernment on what’s really important, what can you say no to, what’s maybe not in your wheelhouse, how do you engage a team around these things and create different systems that really support the ability to be creative? So many organizations say, yes, we want to be innovative, we want to really be competitive in the future. But they really aren’t designing the lives of their employees to be that way because innovation does start with the individual.

Dr. Liu: It really does. I think it does start with the individual, but I think it’s fed by the culture, or stifled by the culture.

(laughing)

Dr. Connie: No, that’s true! That is absolutely right.

Dr. Liu: And I know you’re someone that’s a futurist, and so you really think ahead, and I have no doubt that you found ways to really carve out that time. I believe in two things. As a child psychiatrist, and also as a parent of four kids myself, I think that adults often don’t take the time to play in the same way that kids do. And there’s something that, I don’t know if you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, but Mr. Rogers actually was quite a profound thinker, as it turns out, and then one thing he said is sort of like, play is the work of childhood. You really are trying things out, you’re processing things. We notice in kids who have been through traumas, well, often you’ll see in the play some of the terrible things they’re trying to work out, and what happened, and reenact, and so on.

I believe that for all adults, you have to have some time to play, but that entails two things. One is, it takes some risk, right? Because if you’re going to play, you might mess up, because you’re probably not the world’s expert in that thing, you’re sort of processing in the back of your mind, or balancing off a couple other people.

And then, second thing is then, if it’s going to be risky, you have to be ready to fail, and that’s have to be okay, right, with the organization, with your unit, with your boss, whatever, or your colleagues. And I think for a lot of people, those two things are hard, because it’s a little bit of a risk, and you don’t want to put yourself out there.

I recently read a book. It’s about the founding of Pixar, and written by Ed Catmull, the president, I believe, and it really said the manager’s job is not to prevent risks, is to make it safe to take them, and I really like that, because it makes you really think about, well, as a leader, am I stifling creativity by saying, oh, you messed up here, do better next week, or do I say something different, wow, it looks like you really put yourself out there. Maybe it didn’t work this time, but I’d love to see you keep trying new things. I think there’s different ways we can approach it, and kind of buffer that risk for our employees and our colleagues.

Dr. Connie: So the culture norm is to be so serious, and really stiff.

Dr. Liu: Right.

Dr. Connie: It’s nice to see some of that changing that, but, a lot of the high level leaders I’ve coached, that’s the thing that is missing from their lives so often, and part of coaching them is to encourage them and help them create some time, and make that time to actually play. I mean, there’s nothing more refreshing than a snowball fight with your kids, even. Go sledding, go do these things.

Dr. Liu: Yes.

Dr. Connie: They’re actually fun, or if you were a musician and you haven’t picked up your instrument, like you had mentioned earlier, for years, reengage that part of your health because it really brings out the best in you. And when I used to say that, people would look at me like, oh my gosh, she’s talking about having fun, and we’re talking about leadership and futuring and all these things, but then, it’s like it clicked, and people are like, okay, now how do I do that? Because it was really lacking from their life, but I always say fun is the fountain of creativity, but it’s also the fountain of youth.

Dr. Liu: I have this philosophy about workforce, future workforce, future people in any field, and it’s that, kinda like what you were saying, you can’t just do the routine things if you’re going to flip something, there’s not enough people in any field, right? So otherwise, in 25 years, guess what? Exact same thing, if we’re going to use this same approach. But there’s some science, and I do believe there’s some art to it as well. So my first job in this department was, the only formal title I had was to help build a psychiatry interest group, which was medical students, and there was only one in the interest group, so it wasn’t very successful.

(laughing)

Dr. Liu: But I had in my fellowship, encountered a really outstanding mentor. Her name was Dr. Paula Rauch, who’s a child psychiatrist. And when were trying to learn development, normal childhood development, she would invite all the fellows over, there were nine of us, to her house for breakfast for I think six or nine weeks. And we’d go sit around the table, and she’d serve us a very simple breakfast —just bread and peanut butter, and whatever, and we’d talk about development. And one of the things that we then did was go to see a preschool where her kids had gone to school, and then  just see what they did in their sort of all day recess. And that experience always stuck with me for two things because one is that it takes a little courage to open up your home to trainees, or to colleagues, whatever. It’s an extra step, but two was I never have forgotten it, and I think others have never forgotten it either. Many of us remember it fondly as one of the best parts of our training. And I realized that when I started here, and there’s one person going into psychiatry, and that we needed to do better than that. And so I started hosting things in my home, and we’d invite students and faculty, and you really see outside of the work environment, people really let their hair down. It’s best if they can show up in their shorts or something, and it’s casual, and they can just relax and get to know each other, and I think as the students get to know the faculty, then I think that we’re also sort of unconsciously sort of auditioning them as future colleagues. They’re looking at their lives, and sort of auditioning their lives. Is this the kind of person I want to be? Is this the kind of balance I want to pursue? And as it turns out, the latest study on why students choose psychiatry, work life integration and balance is one of the top three factors. So the only way you could show that is definitely not in your office, but by showing them that thing. Maybe it’s piano, maybe it’s something different. It needs to be something that gives them some sense of who you are outside of work.

Dr. Connie: Oh, absolutely, you get to see the real person. I mean, in so many ways, when we go to work, it’s not really a facade. I mean, I think for some people it is, but you don’t see the family that they’re raising. You don’t see who they are, or the hobbies they have. You don’t see them as a whole person. My previous position before coming to the Rural Futures Institute, I did a lot of team building at the Kimmel Education and Research Center, which is on Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City, Nebraska. We’d have companies come and we’d do things like Iron Chef cook-offs.

Dr. Liu: That’s great.

Dr. Connie: Real active, very fun, but also very purposeful types of activities. It’s the same thing you’re saying, I mean, so often, a lot of team conflict is because people just really don’t know or understand each other outside of the meetings they sit in. So how can we break down those barriers, really understand people as people, and build that camaraderie, but also that compassion, and real like for other people. And we’re more apt to do that if we know them and appreciate who they are rather than judging who they are.

Dr. Liu: That’s really well said.

Dr. Connie: You are a leader in your space. I’d love to know more about your leadership philosophy, your style. There’s a psychologist that said, with any organization, it’s always good to be half in and half out, and what he meant by that was that if you have six different jobs, no one really feels like you’re part of that organization because you’re running around, and you’re not really present, right? And people understand that, right?

Dr. Liu: So you have to be at least half-time in, doing that thing, where people see you, they recognize what you do in that work and that kind of thing. But this goes back to your earlier point about creativity. You have to find that thing, you have passion area, and you have to carve it out. And it may not be there right away, but however you get there, that’s what’s going to create vitality for you in the workplace, is having that thing and for some people, that’s research. For some people, that’s community engagement. I really enjoy that piece, for example. For some people, it’s something different, right. It might be building infrastructure, or could be anything, publishing. But having that space to really carve that out, is so important. And then not being too committed to too many things is very important as well. So that was one principle. Another one that someone told me was, think about your portable skill set, because in a career, you may wear six, ten, many different hats, but what do you take away from each, and have you grown? And as I’ve thought about my career, I came in, again, really just as a clinician, which is a great thing, but I didn’t really know anything about leadership, and so a lot of what I’ve learned has been on the job. But I do try to be intentional about it, and try to write some things down. At some point I realized, there’s some major gaps of what I do and don’t know. I know a little bit on managing budgets, but I really don’t know about healthcare economics in the same way as someone who’s running a hospital does, and if I’m going to ever do clinical leadership, I should probably learn something about that. So for example, last year, I enrolled in an executive MBA program that’s sponsored through our hospital. Having those relationships, what Gallup would say, is the “friend at work” is so important. It’s so easy to neglect, but if you don’t have it, I really feel it So it’s the people that you can go and really debrief with, that aren’t doing it because of your role, but really, they genuinely, you like each other, that you can share your woes, and they can share theirs, that kind of thing. You can’t just create it, you have to find it. You have to carve that time out, and then you have to nurture it once you have those people. I’ve been lucky to have those people here, and it’s so important just for attention and for your own vitality as a leader.


Howard and I had a great time during the interview (I left the “laughing” element of the show notes in tact so you could literally read about the fun we had while talking).

Play and laughter need to be a bigger part of our human experience. We have forgotten not only that it feels good but that it is also good for us, our families, our communities and even our businesses!

This whole idea was the basis of creating a futuring school (F * School) for women in midlife. This creation has come from my many years of coaching clients and working with businesses who have all lost their ability to create their desired futures and engage with their world because fun is typically a distant memory. It may sound a little wild, which you all know that I am totally fine with being. The first module is going to focus on…FUN! Yes, you read that right…the first module is going to focus on the power of play and fun as the foundation for creating your future (while enjoying the present). We will explore a bit about of the science associated with the importance of fun. Then, we will get into into practical steps designed transform life through fun and fulfillment.

If you have any interest in learning to have more fun, please add your email to our list and you will be one of the first to receive the enrollment information. The fun lessons will be absolutely free! The more fun we can get out there into the world, the better!

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Enjoy yourself today and everyday, and remember to…

Go Wild & Have Fun!

-Dr. Connie