Archive for the 'Goal Achievement' Category

100 Things to do…

Posted by Holly Stokes on January 13th, 2015

Family Raft Trip“I wonder what this is” I thought as I clicked “100 things to do.” I was surprised to find it was a list I’d made in 2005 before I had graduated from Portland State University inspired by John Goddard, the adventurer.

But I had done it a little differently, I had started the list with things that I had already accomplished and was proud of: I’d learned French, lived in a foreign country and I was a white water raft guide. I smiled to myself as I looked at the list of what I had already done.

Many times we get so focused on the future, trudging onward, looking toward the next summit of achievement and don’t give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come.

As I reviewed the list, I found I could cross a few more off: write a book (actually two), graduate from college and travel to the Bahamas.

Some desires had changed, like getting my motorcycle license, but I think that was really about my ex boyfriend. I haven’t ruled it out, but it’s just not so important anymore.

I was surprised that so many of my desires had stayed the same.

There were only 79 things on the list, so I added a few more things: visit the Mayan pyramids, see Harry Potter Daigon Alley in Universal Studios and swim with the dolphins – just to name a few.

Some of these things may sound frivolous, I grant you that. But I remember a time when I had lost hope for dreaming. I remember when I had a bleak picture of the future and so I allow myself now to revel in possibilities because I know the value of dreaming.

Dreaming is the spice of life, it keeps us young. Even simple dreams have the power to spark something within us – hope. It can raise our spirits and encourage us to engage with life. And it doesn’t have to be grand adventures, our dreams can even be the small things.

No matter where you are in life– we still have a lot of living to do!

And although I haven’t achieved some things on the list that have been there for several years, I still keep room for the possibilities and I feel inspired by the future.

Everyone’s life path is different and our course is guided by the values that we hold dear. Looking back to my 20’s for many years my life was ruled by freedom and adventure. And now I find myself very content with a quieter life filled with purpose and mission.

Looking back on your life, I wonder how far you’ve come? What will you find out about yourself when you make a list of what you’ve already done and accomplished? You may be a superstar but just haven’t recognized it in yourself yet.

And keep in mind, that accomplishments are more than what we’ve done, they are also about who we are becoming. How have you changed and grown through life?

And looking forward into the new year, what possibilities do you see for yourself? What are the values running your life and charting your direction?

The Challenge: Write up your list of 100-ish things. Make the first part about what you’ve already accomplished that you’re proud of, write as many as you can, then write the month and the year, and next list what you still want to do. Then share three things you are proud of and three things you want to do in 2015 in the comments below.


The Power of Intention

Posted by Holly Stokes on July 12th, 2014
Anna was living in Colorado and was tired of being a sales rep for health food stores.
She was tired of working for other people. We were talking one day about her plans.

Anna said, “I want a job that is fun and creative. I want to work with people. I want variety, I want it to be different everyday. I only want to work a few hours every day. I want to be in charge of my schedule. I want….” She went on with her list.

In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Oh honey – I don’t think you can find all that.”

But the Coach part of me knows not to limit a person’s dreams. So I stayed supportive.

A few months later, she called me from Las Vegas.

She said, “Guess what I found everything I wanted. I dress up as Tinkerbell and walk up and down the Las Vegas strip and people give me money to take pictures with them. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s different everyday, I work just a few hours in the evening and I love working with people.”

And Tinkerbell was born.

She went on, “I decided what I wanted and I wrote it down everyday in my journal for a month. Then when I moved to Las Vegas I was looking for part time gigs and found a temp job dressing up as a chorus girl in front of the casinos. I figured out if I had my own costume, I wouldn’t have to work for anyone and I could keep all my tips.”

When you create an intention, you tune your brain to be open to that possibility. As you focus on your intention you tell your unconscious mind to be on the lookout for what you desire.

You don’t need to know the how, all you need to know is the essence of what you want.

Then your mind becomes more aware of the opportunities that match and fill your desire. And you’re more likely to take action when the opportunity shows up.

What would you like to see in your life? How will you use intention?

Now the problem with intention is that it only works if you don’t have unconscious mental blocks.

If Anna had the mental block, “you can’t do what you love” it’s quite unlikely that she would have found the answer to what she was looking for.

How do you know if you have unconscious mental blocks, because they are unconscious – right?

I’m glad you asked. These unconscious mental blocks are the reason we stay stuck or struggle with the same goals over and over again. If you are not getting the results you want, you probably have an unconscious mental block.

Because these are unconscious – outside our conscious awareness, I recently developed a series of quizes to help you identify your unconscious mental blocks.

In the next month I will set it up on the website, but for now, you can read more about mental blocks and unconscious programs on my homepage:

Sign up for my email list and you will get the Beliefs Quiz free as a way of identifying your unconscious programs.

Take the Beliefs Quiz and then call me for a free consultation.

Here’s to Your Health, Happiness, and Success,

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Positive Communications Pattern with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 11th, 2013

With the holidays and festivities also comes more time with family. Family is great when you all get along, and it’s of course difficult when your communications are less than stellar.

Try this NLP process for creating a habit around your communications so that you can come from a healthy space with your communications, creating more fulfilling relationships.

Line out a square of 4 spaces on the floor in front of you, one space for Self, one for Other, one for Observer, and one for Higher Self.

Think of a difficult conversation you had with a person.

Step into square 1: Self, and state your point of view.

Step into square 2: Other and get into the frame of the Other person, take on their view of the world and state their response or point of view.

Step into square 3:Observer, and take the view of an Observer. What is it like seeing the interaction between the two of you?

Step into square 4: Higher Self and imagine a white light shining through you and imagine being your Higher Self, feel the wisdom and insight and notice what you might change in this interaction.

Step back into Self and notice what has changed.

Repeat the process 5 or 6 times going through each of the steps, ending back in Self. Repetition will turn this into a new habit, making it an automatic response for you. This is a great process for difficult conversations, family, friends, and even coworkers!

You can also use it in preparation for difficult conversations to better understand the other’s view and maintain your own equilibrium throughout the conversation.

Changing a Habit with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on October 27th, 2013

Sometimes making a change is simply about remembering to do so.

When you have enough healthy habits, you can enjoy lasting weight loss success. Use this Neuro-Linguistic Programming process for making a new habit.

Think of a change that you’d like to make and think of the context, where does it fit in your routine? For this example we are going to use adding exercise into the schedule after work.

What are you doing now? I come home from work and I sit down in front of the TV.

What change do you want? I want to come home from work and put on my workout clothes and go to the gym.

What is the cue that tells you to run the new habit? Coming home from work.

Read the rest of the blog post here:

Peace, love and joy

Posted by Holly Stokes on September 10th, 2013

All our motivations boil down to wanting more peace, love or joy in our lives. You may think I don’t know what I’m talking about, but here’s how it works.

Think of something that you desire, it can be anything. Now ask yourself, if you had that, what would that get for you? Think of the answer, now thinking of the answer, ask the question again, what will that get for you? And keep asking yourself the question of each answer you get.

Here’s an example. Suppose I want to get more clients.

I then ask, what will that get for me?

Answer: relief

What will that get for me?

Answer: I don’t have to stress as much, I can relax

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can enjoy life more

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can really engage with life

What will that get for me?

Answer: I will be fulfilling my life purpose

What will that get for me?

Answer: I will be at peace.

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can relax.

As you ask yourself the question, what does that get for me, you’ll find that when you get to the peace, love or joy, it will loop on itself. You know you’re done asking the question when the answer starts to loop back through the sequence.

So here’s the secret. You don’t have to wait for peace, love or joy to happen to you. These are feelings and you can feel those feelings just by thinking about them.

It’s as simple of thinking of your memories. Think of a time when you felt really peaceful. Imagine being there vividly, let yourself be back in that time and place, and allow yourself to feel what you were feeling, see what you were seeing, and hear what you were hearing. Let the peace once again wash over you from your head to your feet, then let the feeling wrap around you and become larger, let it radiate out into the space around you. Let yourself just soak up the peace.

Then go about your goal with the new feeling, and you’ll find you flow better with the task at hand. Rather than struggling and fighting the goal, like trying to swim upstream, you’ll find a better feeling in accomplishing your tasks.

Peace, love and joy don’t make your goal go away, but it gives you a better feeling to work from, which allows you to be more productive, insightful, and open to inspiration.

Motivation tip #1: Give your Mind Clear Directions

Posted by Holly Stokes on July 25th, 2013

As a life and business coach, I often ask my clients what they want. In response I usually hear a long list of what they don’t want, “I don’t want to be overweight anymore,” “I don’t want to stress at my job anymore,” “I don’t want to feel like I’m lacking purpose anymore.”

But knowing what we don’t want isn’t useful as useful as knowing what you DO want.

As a white water raft guide, I learned the value of staying focused on what you do want. We had a saying, “where you point your boat, that’s where the river will take you.”

We were on a three day trip down the Deschutes River, it was day two of our expedition and we came up on White Horse Rapid. Now White Horse is a class four rapid. To give you an idea of the rating system; class one is still water, class two is bumps and giggles, class three is you can dump your crew and pick them up at the bottom, class four is you better know what you are doing, class five – nobody runs a class five, except drunk and on a dare, and class six – well, it’s un-runnable.

Before we run the rapid, we park our boats on the bank and walk out to the overlook. As guides, it’s our job to check the flow of the water, pay attention to the current, and pick our path through the rapid from a safe vantage point. So as guides we are mentally marking out our path down the river and talking about the flow of the water.

Now in the middle of this rapid, is a big rock jutting out of the water, and we call it OH SHMACK rock (but as guides we had another name for OH SHMACK). The goal is to find the current that will take you close to the rock, but will carry you around it. If you hit the rock, it could pin your boat against it, and it could cause you grief, it’s not a safe place to dump your boat. So, anyway, us guides are talking about the current and flow of water, and on our way back the boats, I hear our fearless leader Martin, muttering under his breath, “I’m not going to hit the rock, I’m not going to hit the rock, I’m not going to hit the rock.”  It was funny, we giggled, undocked our boats and headed out.

Martin, our senior leader had spent nine years on this river and he was the first one down. He had our gear boat, full of sleeping bags, the stove, and food supplies. He pushed his boat off the bank, sailed around the corner and what did we hear?  “OH SMACK!@!#$!”

We scurried around the corner to find Martin in a sea of gear spread across the water and trying to pick up his load.

So, what happened? Martin was a pro on this river, 9 years of experience. Think of the phrase, “I’m not going to hit the rock,” what does that phrase bring to mind? Hitting the rock! You see a mental picture of it, and maybe see the gear even fly about. 9 years of experience wiped out through one simple phrase.

What we focus on – that’s where our mind will take us. Martin had a clear goal, “not hitting the rock” but this goal speaks to what isn’t wanted rather than what you do want.

This has to do with how the brain works, it interprets our language through making mental pictures. Consciously we understand the word “don’t” but don’t doesn’t translate in our unconscious mind. I’m going to ask you not to do something, will you try not to do it? Don’t think of a yellow butterfly because as you do it will turn blue and fly out the window. What did your mind do? It pictured the yellow butterfly turning blue and flying out the window!

It’s these mental pictures that speak directly to our unconscious mind and primes our brain to focus on what we are talking about. So if you want to engage your unconscious mind to work for you, give your mind clear directions about what you do want rather than what you don’t want.

Think of the phrase, “I’m not going to eat sugar anymore” what does that tune your brain to notice? Sugar! Now think of the phrase, “I’m going to eat healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables” and what does that tune your brain for? Notice your mental pictures.

Cue your brain into what you want to focus on by giving your mind clear directions. Where you point your boat, there the river will take you. Where you focus your mind, there life will take you. You get what you focus on.

Top 10 Tips for Living your Best

Posted by Holly Stokes on July 4th, 2013

Life and Business Coaching are on the rise. Working with a Coach can offer accountability for
your goals, a sounding board for your life’s choices, and a confidante for life’s difficulties. Coaching has grown out of the movement of positive psychology. As a Life and Business Coach, here are my Top 10 Tips for Living Your Best:

1. Make Time for Your Health – Eating right and exercise are foundational to living a happy, healthy life. Remember the old saying, you are what you eat? The quality of your health and energy depend on the quality of foods you are eating. Take the time to plan and make healthy meals. Making the time to care for your body is not only important to your health, but to your mental health as well. Research has found that the effects of depression can be alleviated by regular exercise. You only get one body, best to take good care of it throughout your life.

2. Make Peace with Yourself –Making mistakes is part of being human, have compassion for yourself and others as we are all in the process of learning and growing on this planet earth. Forgiving yourself means taking the learning from your mistakes and moving on.

3. Let Go of the Past – We can get so caught up in the hurts and injustice of the past.  When we think of past hurts, we feel hurt all over again. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean to cover it up and deny it, but rather to see it for what it is, our mistakes or someone else’s, and then being willing to forgive and let it go. Forgiving others frees us from negative emotions of anger, hate, and victimhood and opens us up to more positive range of emotions.

4. Imagine the Best – What is the best you can imagine for yourself? Imagination holds the key to  possibilities. As we open up our imagination, we dream about what is possible, then like magic, synchronicities show up to bring us the possibilities. Airplanes, internet, television, running water, all these things started as a dream in someone’s head. Your reality starts in your head, what can you imagine for yourself and your future?

5. Cherish the Present Moment – Too often we wait for vacations to spend quality time with our loved ones. Cherishing the present moment can be done every day, appreciating the little things in life with our friends, spouses, children and loved ones. It is as simple as asking yourself, “what is there to enjoy here?” and then taking a mental snapshot of it. Whether it’s your morning coffee, the smile of a friend, the laugh of a child, it’s the small moments of everyday that make up a lifetime.

6. Believe in Yourself. Why do we so often define ourselves by the past? The past is only a memory. What if you were to define yourself by the future and what you aspire to? As we think better about ourselves, we feel better and then naturally do better.  You hold the best within you right here, right now. Take an “I can do it” attitude.

7. Have Clear Written Goals – A study conducted at Dominican University found that those who had written goals significantly outperformed those who only thought about their goals. And, those who reported their weekly progress to a friend, significantly outperformed other groups. Having clear, written goals is a cornerstone to your success, and even better is to have a friend that will support you in achieving your goals. Make short term, mid range and long term goals.

8. Take Small Actions – Take one small positive step everyday that will move your life forward. Success is built one step at a time, it’s all the small steps that add up rather than a singular heroic effort. As you take small steps every day, you build a solid foundation for your success.

9. Stay Positive – Research has found that optimism increases longevity, health, job successes and higher scores on  achievement tests according to “Research Affirms the Power of Positive Thinking” by Daniel Goleman, published by The New York Times. When you practice the power of positive thinking, it helps you stay focused on what you want, helps you find solutions to your challenges, and empowers you to take action toward your goals. Plus, it may also benefit your health as researchers found that pessimists were more susceptible to depression and disease. Keep a scrapbook or journal in which you write only your successes and moments of happiness. You can include pictures, great quotes, your experiences, and this then becomes a great pick-me up anytime that you need a mental boost. As you think about the good experiences, it primes your brain to remember more good experiences, and create more positive experiences in the future.

10. Build Your Social Support – Positive relationships are key to enjoying life. As you cultivate your positive relationships with friends and family, you build a social support that can promote your health and well being. Making time for friends and family can decrease stress, provide mental well being, and even promote better health. A great way to meet new people with like-minded interests is to join groups on

Whether you are working on your own or with a Coach, as you implement and practice these tips, you’ll be thinking better and feeling better in your life.

Leave comments with your tips for living your best!

Here’s to your Health, Happiness, and Success!

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Instant Confidence with NLP Tool in 5 Minutes!

Posted by Holly Stokes on April 12th, 2012

Have you ever walked into a new situation with people that you didn’t know, a new job, speaking in front of a group, or even attending a party with people you don’t know? You know that feeling of being uncomfortable, nervous and withdrawn?

I used to get the heebie jeebies speaking in front of groups. In fact, one time as a teenager, I was supposed to speak in front of my church, I had memorized a poem, and I felt pretty comfortable with it. I stood up in front of the group and about ¾ of the way in, I was so nervous that I totally forgot it. My mind was so blank – I could not (more…)

New Video: Train your Brain to Curb your Cravings!

Posted by Holly Stokes on September 26th, 2011

I just uploaded a new video to youtube: Train your Brain to Curb your Cravings. We just took the video on Saturday from the class, and we are running a 6 week Train your Brain to Lose Weight series on Sat. Oct. 1 in downtown Vancouver: 205 E 16th St. uptown Village, email to reserve your place if you can join us.

Watch  the video to discover how our brain can get in the way of our weight loss goals and what you can do about it – to train your brain to work for you rather than against you!

Self Sabotage

Posted by Holly Stokes on September 15th, 2011

Have you ever experienced self-sabotage? You may have felt, “It’s as if a part of me wants to and a part of me doesn’t,” or it’s as if the devil is on one shoulder and an angel is on the other and you find yourself caught between the two.

If you’ve struggled with the same goal or challenge over and over, it’s because a deeper part of your mind doesn’t want the change. When these automatic programs are working against our conscious goals, what we experience is self-sabotage.

By using the language of the unconscious mind and working with your deeper awareness, you can engage your deeper mind to work for you rather than against you.

I was teaching a healthy lifestyle class and it was week four. As my students filed in, I started class with the question, “So what are you doing for exercise?” I got blank stares. “It’s week four now, you know you are supposed to be adding in exercise.” More silence.

Suddenly, one of the ladies blurted out, “If we liked to exercise we wouldn’t be here!” My NLP ears perked up and I asked, “Okay, so when you think of exercise what comes to mind?” The ladies took turns: “Sweaty!” “Stinky!” “Hard!” “Yuck!”

Because of their history with exercise, these ladies had negative feelings attached to the concept of exercise. Our unconscious mind scans through the history, both positive and negative, and sums it up with a feeling. If we have negative feelings connected to an activity, we are less motivated to do it. Our unconscious mind usually speaks to us through feelings. It’s also active when we are sleeping and often uses symbolism, imagery, and metaphor while we sleep.

We can update the automatic programs our unconscious mind operates by speaking its own language: using images, pictures, symbols, and feelings more than words and logic. This is why guided visualizations work so well: we are speaking to our unconscious mind using its own language.

The next time you experience procrastination or self sabotage, start giving yourself positive mental pictures about what you’d rather be doing, the actions that you want to take, or even how you’d like to feel. As you picture it in your mind, it speaks volumes to your unconscious mind and you can get it working with you rather than against you!

The tools of applied psychology are expanding quickly and we no longer need to spend years struggling to create personal change. It’s easier than ever to update old habits and patterns and take charge of your health so you can enjoy living your best life!

This is an excerpt from my book, Lighten Up Train your Brain to Lose Weight, see more details here: