My family is full of educators, so fall represents a time for new beginnings as we head into a new school year. In addition to observing my husband with new students, and my daughter gearing up for her junior year of high school, we are also hosting Elena, an exchange student from Barcelona, Spain. Elena is also a junior this year and will attend school with our daughter. She just arrived a week ago. We enjoy observing her as she experiences many new beginnings. I admire the courageit took for her to leave her family to come live with complete strangers for a year.

September is a great month to think about new beginnings. Perhaps that is why we celebrate Self Improvement Month in September...and September 3 has been designated as Do It Day (Fight Procrastination Day).

So what holds us back from just doing what we want to do? I have asked myself that question as I struggle to make changes in some areas of my life, such as maintaining a healthier diet and getting more exercise...and I've discovered a few key ingredients in the process.

What you see is what you get

Humans have this amazing ability to align our actions with our expectations. It's called a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Here is some self-talk that I typically hear coming from my clients...
... I'm so disorganized.
... I'm always running behind.
... I can never find anything when I need it.
...I'll never remember to do that unless someone reminds me.

If you believe in self-fulfilling prophecy and this is your self talk, then what you see (in your mind) is what you get. In other words, if you keep telling yourself that you are disorganized, always late, can't find anything, and forget to follow up, then it's no wonder that this is what you continue to get.

What would be possible if you expected or imagined your future to be better than your present? I bet that your expectations and actions would align to realize the future you envision for yourself! If you’d like to read more about the power of visualization, read my newsletter article, “Are You’re an Olympian Thinker?” at, which tells how numerous Olympic athletes have used visualization to achieve amazing things.

When I wanted to begin an exercise program, I asked myself this powerful question: What will be possible if I promise myself to work out 3-4 times per week? My response: improved strength, weight loss, a more balanced life, improved cardiovascular health, better bone density, improved muscle tone, stress reduction, improved self-esteem, more flexibility, and more energy. Then I asked myself: What will it cost me to NOT make this promise to myself? My response: weakness, weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, deteriorating bone density and muscle tone, stress, poor self-image, less flexible, and low energy. I now have a clear vision of what will happen if I choose to exercise and what will happen if I choose not to exercise.

As we focus on what we want, it's much more likely that our actions will follow suit. For example, if you are driving a car and you begin looking at something off to the right, what happens to the car? You begin steering the car in the direction you are looking! Another example... if I ask you NOT to think of the purple elephant sitting in the middle of your living room, what are you imagining right now? Our actions tend to follow whatever we are focusing on. That's why the movie theatres always show pictures of popcorn and soft drinks just before the movie begins. They are counting on you to get out of your seat and buy what you just saw.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we attract everything that shows up in our lives by choosing our expectations and commitments. If you don't like your present circumstances, you have the ability to decide how to alter your course. You are the sole architect of your future.

The Choice is Yours

One of the greatest challenges I hear my clients complain about is not having enough time. Do you ever feel as if your schedule was in control of you, instead of you being in control of your schedule?

A client once said to me, "I love my work, but I'm working harder and harder and can't seem to get everything done." By our second coaching call, this client realized that it was not her spouse, her kids, her travel schedule, her job, or her commute time that stood in the way of her doing what she wanted to do - it was her own doing! She began to recognize that she was fully responsible for her own choices and actions. Once she quit believing that she couldn't get what she wanted because of someone or something else, she began to make the time for what was most important to her.

Perhaps it's time to renew and renegotiate some of your commitments. Then you'll need to create a plan so you can honor those commitments to yourself and to others.

If you feel like you don't have enough time in your life, take a few minutes to respond to some or all of these questions:

  • What do you really want for yourself over the next six months? Identify what you are most passionate about in your life.
  • What's holding you back from doing these things?
  • What are your expectations for your future? Imagine that things are already the way you want them to be and write down the results you expect in each of the following areas - in specific and measurable terms.
  • What negative beliefs or expectations do you have which could sabotage your results?
  • What will it cost you to not achieve your expectations?
  • What do you choose to consistently do in order to achieve your expectations in each of the areas identified above?
  • When you catch yourself wasting time, what are some other things you would rather do? Make a list of "better things to do." For example, if you surf the Net more than you wish to, have a list of "better things to do" posted next to your computer. If you watch too much TV at home, keep a list of "better things to do" next to the remote control.
  • What requests can you make of family and friends who will support your efforts to achieve what you want?

Planning is an essential part of the formula for any change that you want to make in your life. Create your road map by setting aside an hour each week for planning how you will invest your 168 hours for the coming week. Here are three tips to get you started:

As you live your week, remember your intentions and what the cost will be if you do not follow through. And remember this truth: Every time you say YES to someone or something, you are saying NO to someone or something else. What do you choose to say YES to in your life? What are you willing to let go of in order to make room for that burning YES within?

Author's Bio: 

This article is by Kathy Paauw of Paauwerfully Organized. Kathy's web site is a comprehensive resource devoted to helping busy professionals and small business owners de-clutter their schedules, spaces, and minds so they can focus on what's most important. Kathy is an organizing & productivity consultant, certified business & personal coach, and speaker. Contact her at For free resources and valuable productivity tools visit