Your Beautiful But(s)

5 steps to make your goals and dreams happen faster

If you find yourself saying things like, “I would love to travel to Paris but…” or “I need to exercise more but…” or “I should really network more but…”, here is an exercise you may want to do right away. I outline the steps below and explain it in greater detail with three examples in the video.

This process will help you to

  • Get unstuck,
  • See where specifically you’re holding yourself back, and
  • Identify limiting beliefs.

You can use this for personal goals and dreams, business goals or corporate projects. Anything, really.

A recent strategy session that I did for a business woman prompted me to create this exercise. She said one of the phrases above and then let her voice trail away. I’m sure we can all think of something we’ve said that we’d love to do and then let our voices trail away in much the same way. Left to ourselves, we may never make progress on that dream or goal. It likely seems impossible or not something that’s really doable right now. And that’s not the case. Like I did with this business woman, you can explore the “buts” to find out why you think can’t do something and build an action plan to move forward.

Five steps to get your but(s) working for you

Step 1 – Draw a heart

On a piece of full scap, draw a heart with enough room beneath and around its sides. You’ll be writing in those spaces.


Pro tip: If you turn the heart upside down, it will look like a butt. Tee hee.

Step 2 – Write out your goal

What do you wish you could do? What do you wish you could have? What do you wish you could be? Write that out underneath the heart. Let’s suppose you want to exercise more regularly. Write down the number of times you want to exercise or the duration for each exercise session. The more specific, the better.

Write out your goal

Step 3 – Write out your buts

These are all of the reasons you can think of that would keep you from achieving the goal. Write them down around the outside of the heart. Space them out somewhat evenly.

ID your buts

Many common buts that keep us from exercising are

  • No time
  • No money
  • Don’t like exercising by yourself
  • Don’t stick with it

You may have more or fewer buts, depending on your goal and your self awareness of the reasons you feel you can’t achieve the goal. The total number doesn’t matter, so long as it feels complete for you. You will likely find that you have one or two main buts that are the primary culprits in keeping you stuck.

Step 4 – Brainstorm things that counter the buts

Inside the heart, write out your ideas to counter the buts. At this stage, it is helpful to ask yourself, “What do I need to do, have or become in order to make this but go away?”

Brainstorm responses

Here is what this might look like using the exercise example:

  • No time – get up earlier; experiment adding short breaks into the day
  • No money – cut back on coffee or other expenses that you don’t “need”; save up money for membership
  • Don’t like exercising by yourself – Get an exercise buddy; find a group class to join
  • Don’t stick with it – Get an exercise buddy; work with an accountability partner

Step 5 – Take action immediately

Choose one of the ideas you developed and commit to taking one small, simple and specific action step. Write this action step beneath the goal you’re aiming for. Be as specific as possible about what you will do, when you will do it, and where you will be when you do it. Aim to complete the task either immediately or within the next 24 hours.

In our rolling example, let’s suppose you chose your idea to get an exercise buddy. The action step could be:

  • Send Mary a Facebook message during lunch time asking her to be my exercise buddy for noon-hour walks on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Take action

And there you have it. Within about 5 to 15 minutes, you have taken a “someday maybe” idea and turned it into here and now progress.

  • For a specific example on creating a kick-butt elevator pitch go to 12:20 in the video.
  • For an example on becoming an executive member in your organization, skip to 15:08.

If you want to take this exercise further, or if you suspect you have some limiting beliefs that are holding you back, feel free to apply for a complementary strategy session. You’ll gain so much clarity for yourself.

In the meantime, share this strategy with others. Let’s see how many buts we can get working for us instead of against us. I’d also love to hear about the wins you create for yourself by doing this exercise. Drop me an email at erin [at] erinacton [dot] com to let me know what became possible for you.

When you have no energy to do the BBQ


Sometimes, I just don’t have it in me to bring a marinated meat in a plastic baggie with a hand-crafted side dish to a group BBQ. This week was no exception. So I gave myself permission to “fail” at this BBQ. I phoned my contribution in, so to speak. In this short video, I show you what I ended up bringing as my meat and side dish.

In my #FailFriday posts, I share where I’ve been “failing” (those quotes are very intentional) in my life and business to show others that no one is perfect. Many of the people I work with are high achievers who hate failing, yet feel so much better when they give themselves permission to loosen up a bit, myself included.

If you can relate and know others will too, make their day and share this post. Let’s give ourselves permission to fail more often.

How have you failed with the BBQ lately?

Building a business can feel a lot like blackberry picking

Building a business can feel a lot like blackberry picking.

From afar, it seems like there are so many juicy berries to choose from. Wow! So many leads and prospects.

Then when you get there, you realize the best ones have already been picked and the ones left over aren’t ripe yet. You can see some great ones, but they’re out of reach. You’re strong, you’re determined and so you go after them only to scratch yourself silly and only get a few good ones.

When you work with a business coach, you can build strategies to pick at the best times, to find bushes others haven’t, to assess which berries to pick and which ones to leave to ripen a little longer, to take advantage of tools that lift you up so you can see the bush from above, or to extend your reach.

That’s how I support people.

To find out if we would be a good fit to work together, apply for a confidential strategy session. In it, we will clarify your goals and identify what’s getting in your way from reaching them so that you can choose your best next step forward.

You’ll feel silly when you say this out loud

And it may be the best thing for you

How would you feel if you had made a couple of deals involving at least a couple million dollars? I’m guessing you’d probably feel pretty good. I know I would. However, a woman I spoke to the other day did not feel good or the least bit positive.

Only compare you to you

She felt like crap. She was upset by her lack of progress and was beating herself up about it. She wasn’t making the sales and that she wanted to and in her eyes, she wasn’t at the level of others around her. It was significantly impacting her. She was frozen when it came to making cold calls that would help to generate new leads for her business.

I was curious to know more about one guy in particular that she was comparing herself to, and who had been doing incredibly well in his business.

Me: How long has he been in business?

Her: Three years.

Me: How long have you been working your business?

Her: One month.

As soon as she said this, and heard the words out loud, she realized how silly it sounded. Yet until that moment, she really, truly believed she was failing in her business. And this after one month where she had already closed a couple of significant deals.

I’m sure we can all relate to her experience in some way. We see someone else rocking it in life, their career or their business and we look at our lives, careers and businesses and wonder why the heck we aren’t seeing the results that they are. We beat ourselves up and the little voice inside our head starts yipping. And not in a good way. Here are the most common voices my clients and I tend to work on together:

I must be doing something wrong.

I’m not good enough.

I’m lazy.

I’m stupid.

We conveniently forget everything that we’ve accomplished and focus only on the things that apparently prove what failures we are.

This is poison. It seeps from our minds into our actions. We achieve what we believe. If we believe we’re pieces of crap, we’ll behave in a way that proves this and we’ll end up getting what we believe we deserve. Our beliefs manifest in our words, our actions, our tone of voice. They lead us to get a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. To start clicking through the part-time job postings when we should be making client or prospecting calls that will help our business thrive. They keep us from doing the most important things that will help us to achieve what we most want.

Here are the critical elements for you to remember.

You have no idea what the other person has been doing. You have no idea how much they have hustled to get where they are now. You don’t know how much work they needed to do to create a winning mindset.

If you’re like most everyone else, there will always be someone who is more successful than you. There will always be someone who is less successful than you. And there is someone right now who is looking at what you have achieved wondering why they haven’t yet done what you have. Really.

It can help to remember that everyone feels like they aren’t good enough from time to time.

It’s completely and absolutely in your best interest to change your mindset. Immediately. To believe inside and out that you can do this. That you are doing the right things. That you are making progress. That you are smart.

It takes time and a concerted effort to address this.

The only person you need to compare yourself to is you. That’s it. Be better this week than you were last week. Get more uncomfortable today than you were yesterday. Stretch more in this minute than you stretched the last. Focus on each and every win.

Keep a diary or a journal or a white board of all of your successes. All of them. Write all of your wins down and post them where you can see them. Keep them prominent. Honour those wins. Be grateful and thankful for the wins you’ve achieved so far. Review those wins every day. Review them when you notice you’re comparing yourself to others, and smile. You are making things happen for yourself.

And that is a beautiful thing.

If you found this valuable, I would be grateful if you shared it with others who may need to hear just this message today.

I spent my whole day working on something I had no business doing

Recently I found myself hours into a project. It seemed so simple when I started, and yet it became this thing. It grew and became more complicated that I thought in the first place. I’m sure we can all relate to a moment like that. Where we start something with good intentions, or with the intent to save ourselves some time and money by just doing it ourselves. And then realizing we had it totally backwards. That we completely wasted our time, and by default our money, by doing something that we didn’t have any business doing in the first place.

Here is my takeaway for you.

Don’t do it.

That thing you think will take you 30 minutes or an hour that would cost you $20, 50, 100, will cost you much more in your time. Because we both know that it’s going to take a minimum of double or triple that time. Time that you can spend with your loved ones or doing something that you love like (ahem) drinking wine.

Your challenge the next tine you face this decision: hire someone else to do it. Cough up the cash, save your sanity and just get it done.

I look forward to connecting with you on Instagram and Snapchat. Follow me or send me a connection request. I’m @erinacton in both places.

Want to leave your job? Watch this.

I speak to a lot of people who daydream about leaving their current job to start a business. Alison Forster is someone who has done just that.

do it

After about 20 years in corporate world, it got to a point where she could no longer keep doing what she had been doing. She saved up a nest egg and made the leap, leaving the corporate world and its accompanying six-figure salary, moved across the continent, stopped what she calls “destination obsession”, started her new business, and began her new life.

In this interview, she shares how she made it happen. Enjoy.

Alison’s company, OOMPHATICO™, works exclusively with clients who are committed to unprecedented change, facilitating an elite process of accelerated subconscious reprogramming uniquely designed to transcend willpower, determination and positive thinking to:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Release post-traumatic stress
  • Re-perceive fears and phobias to feel at ease
  • Eliminate destructive habits & behaviours
  • And more…

oomphatico at gmail dot com

+1 (250) 891 6060

No time for you? The one essential move to find it.

How do I find the time to __(fill-in-the-blank)__? I get this question a lot. Or clients will ask, “How do I do all of these things?” Or they’ll say something like this: “Everything I do is important! Everything! And I don’t have time to get it all done! Never mind adding something extra like going for a walk!” Sound familiar?

No time

The question of how to find the time came up at a recent speaking engagement I gave to a group of businesswomen.

“How do I find the time to go for a walk?”

Most of us tend to believe that we need more time. I’m guilty of this myself every once in a while. Wishing for more time.

“If I only could get this stuff done, then I could do that little something for me.”

What you don’t realize is that if you magically happened to get an extra hour, you would most likely fill it with more work. More email. More laundry. More dishes.

And you’d be happy about it!

For a little bit, at any rate. Until the hour is over and you realize that the emails will keep coming, the laundry and dishes will keep piling up, and your to-do list will keep growing.

At its core is the, “if/when this happens, then I can” thinking.

When we approach life with this mindset, we end up spending a lot of time wishing and waiting and having things happen to us. We become responder. We are at the mercy of things like time and circumstances.

Here is the other thing. And you may not like this.

People don’t realize they’re really asking this, “How do I set aside time for me when I continue to choose to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own?”

You don’t have the time to do everything for everyone and everything else like your family, your job, your business and still have time left over for yourself.

You really and truly don’t.

Here is the essential move to change this. It’s not necessarily easy. But it’s incredibly simple.

You MAKE the time.

You make it. You decide. You choose. No one else. Email doesn’t control you. The dishes aren’t howling out for you to wash them. No one is putting a gun to your head to reply to those emails. You control and choose where you spend your time.

Time is not something that happens to you. It’s not something that you manage. You manage yourself within the time that you have.

You don’t have the time. You make the time.

You may need to take time away from something else. You’ll have to make what may feel like difficult choices. I know what that’s like. To get vulnerable: when I was struggling with stress, overwhelm and burnout it really felt like I NEEDED to answer email immediately. It felt like there was no way I could take a walk because I was terrified that something would happen while I was away from my computer and wouldn’t be able to respond right away. I did not have the time. What I didn’t realize is the stress left me in a near-persistent fight/flight mode, and left me incapable of making good decisions while lack of sleep further impaired my judgement and slowed my reaction times. I realized I needed to make a change when had a close call driving to work one day.

I had to ask myself some really hard questions: what good was I to my job or my family if I was dead? How much could I contribute and live my purpose if I wasn’t healthy?

It was my responsibility to make a change. Not just for me and my future, but for my family. I needed to make the time.

Choosing to walk instead of answering emails were incredibly tough those first several times. But when I realized that I could go for a walk without the world ending, it got much easier. And it will for you too.

I invite you to ask yourself those same hard questions. What will your contribution and impact on the world be if you keep putting everyone else’s needs before your own? Imagine being able to contribute your gifts to the world at a higher level than you can now simply by making time for you.

For those who are plagued by guilt when you do things for your mental, physical and emotional health consider this. You’re not actually doing it for you. When you make positive changes in your life, it positively affects everyone around you.

So don’t make the time for you about you. Don’t spend an hour at the massage therapist, or sit in a bubbly tub with the door closed and ear plugs in for you alone. Remember what you’re doing it for.

That’s it.

You don’t have the time. You make the time.


If you found this useful, I encourage you to share it. You never know who might need to hear this exact message today.

3 quizzes you must complete to know how stressed you are

You can feel it in your chest, shoulders and neck. You’re wired and tired: strung out from the caffeine and adrenaline but worn out from doing it all. What more can you do? What should you stop doing? How can you know? That’s where a stress test can help you.

hang on by a thread

Image by imelenchon used with permission.

You’ll likely have an idea of where things aren’t working, but when you’re chronically stressed out and overwhelmed, your brain doesn’t function at its best. In fact, the changes are startling.

A stress assessment can help you find out where you are good at supporting yourself and where you could be sabotaging your efforts to get it all done. I’ve been there. When I led the communications for a $50M company, I often felt overwhelmed and stressed out. When I did the assessments, I realized I could adjust in small but significant ways to improve my resiliency and manage stress better.

The assessments

Here are a few assessments from reputable sources that I have found to be helpful:

1. Stress Vulnerability Test by the Stress Management Society out of the UK. It will tell you if you’re prone to negative stress impacts and offers many resources to manage stress.

2. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. This is a well-established scale that measures your number of stress-causing life events. It can estimate how likely you are to become ill in the near future.

3. Stress Screener by Mental Health America. A test that feels more fun than the other ones. They provide links to ten tools that can help to manage stress after they calculate your score.

After taking the tests

Sometimes people can feel devastated or shocked when they learn that they are vulnerable to stress, or that they have a high or moderate likelihood of becoming ill because of it. When you’re a high achiever managing multi-million dollar projects, or running a business, or leading staff members, it can be very hard to believe that you can’t get a handle on your own stuff.

If you’re concerned your scores, take comfort that it’s a normal reaction.

Instead of focusing on any potential label or self-judgement because of your result, look at where you can improve. Implement one to three quick, easy wins that won’t add to your stress. For me, I chose to add exercise, mid-day breaks, and more sleep back into my regular routine. Like so many of the people that I talk to, I had cut back in all of those areas thinking it would help me get more done.

The opposite happens as research and our own experiences show. I followed the advice of the experts and self-help books that suggested I ease back into it. The last thing you want to do is completely change what you’re doing. Big lifestyle changes are not what we’re after here. You want to start with small, slow improvements that you gradually increase over time.

It’s simple. But it’s not necessarily easy. I can tell you from my own experience, that stopping work to take a break can be incredibly challenging. The emails and work don’t go away when we step away from our desks. You can get a lot done in 15 minutes. However, research has shown that people who take breaks during the day are more productive and happier than people who don’t. You can read more about that here in my recent post, “3 awesome reasons to take your breaks – even if you don’t want to.”

Same with stopping work to get some exercise in. All of that time seemingly wasted! Not so, particularly if you take walks. They are the “Best kept secret to stop overwhelm and reduce stress”.

Sleep is proving critical to our daily function. More and more research is coming out countering the decades-old assertion that sleep is only time wasted. For more, read “Don’t skimp on sleep: why choosing sleep makes you smarter”.

Taking it further

Leverage the information you learn from the tests. Apply for a strategy session with me. That’s where, even if we never speak again, you’ll walk away knowing what’s really going on for you right now and you’ll know your best next step to take to get more balance.

You might be thinking that you know exactly what’s going on for you and what’s causing your stress and overwhelm. But people who’ve done the strategy session with me have had a-has that there’s something happening at an even deeper level that’s that real cause. Until you set aside that time to find out what that is, especially with a certified coach—someone trained to hear what you say and what you don’t say—you’re bound to keep repeating your cycle.

If you can honestly say that you’re exhausted from juggling everything, you’re tired of being overwhelmed and you don’t want to be OK with that anymore, let’s talk. I invite you to schedule a strategy session.

Take good care of yourself.