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Survey says…The top tips for the high school graduating class of 2013

My husband and I were in Virginia Beach last weekend for our nephew’s high school graduation. (Congratulations again, Cuyler!) My hometown of East Aurora, New York, will hold its ceremony this weekend. Some graduates turned their tassels almost a month ago.

Thank you again to all who responded to my one-question survey: As you think back to the “aha” moments you’ve had since graduating from high school, what is your top tip for the class of 2013?

Tips for the 2013 high school graduation class from the "aha" moments of prior graduates - a survey conducted by Donna Hartney, author of "aha" moment self-help bookDrum roll please. Here are the top three most frequent tips in a survey of more than 200 contacts and colleagues, ranging from recent grads to those who had been out of school for decades. As a bonus I’ve thrown in the most poignant tip and the laugh out loud funniest tip.

Let’s do this the David Letterman way. Shall we?

Tip #3 – Focus on your connections

As Anne Rogers (class of 1981) put it, “Always CONNECT with the people in your life!  Whether it is university professors, cafeteria servers, people in your dorm, or the provost, learn their name and make sure they learn yours.  We are all human, we are in this together, EVERYONE needs to connect.”

Tip #2 – Do what you love

“If I had a time machine to bring me back to the day I graduated high school, the one tip I would give to my younger self is do what makes you happy,” wrote Kelly (class of 2001). “Life is too short to live it the way you think you have to or the way society tells you. If you are not doing what makes you happy, inevitably you will live a mediocre life. You are only as rich as you are happy and now as an adult I have truly realized the meaning in that.”

Tip #1 – Be a learner

Ronni Price (class of 1987) summed it up, “Even though you’re graduating, don’t stop being a student.  Become a learner for life. Take each day or year as an opportunity to grow. Seek, discover and engage in something new; learn from an experience.  If you make the effort to do this, life rarely (if ever) gets boring and you’ll most likely always have something to look forward to.”

The most poignant response came from Nancy Maloney (class of 1977 and winner of the random drawing for a $25 gift card).

“When my former CEO,  who had devoted his life to his job (running through multiple marriages, always working, being thrown out by the Board after executing the most successful area merger) died of a heart attack at age 51, I thought, ‘Life is too short. I’ll never again give up the ones I love, the things I love, for a job. I’m going to do what makes me happy, not necessarily what I’m good at.’ I went back to school and became a master cabinet and furniture maker.”

The funniest response came from Mark (class of 1972). He wrote, “Check with your wife before doing something stupid.” Lol! OK, in fairness to Mark, here’s his complete list:

1) If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

2) Your attitude is the most important choice you make every morning.

3) Be thankful in all situations.

4) Check with your wife before doing something stupid.

5) Be on the lookout for opportunities to show kindness.

Thanks again, everyone, and best wishes to the class of 2013!



AHA! Creating change through the power of insight

If you’re in the Buffalo area on Friday, June 14th, I hope that you’ll stop by the ODN meeting. Click here for meeting details.

 Donna Hartney, Ph.D., author of aha moment self-help book will speak to the ODN of Western New York


A Complimentary Summertime Checklist – Prime yourself for a pivotal “aha” moment to make this the best summer ever!

A Summertime Checklist -- A pivotal "aha" moment could make this your best summer ever

 Summer is here. Hooray! Click on the filename to download the quiz: A Summertime Checklist

AHA! Q&A on Experience Pros Radio Show

Donna Hartney author of "aha" moment self-help book is interviewed on the radioA few weeks back I had a great time talking with Angel and Eric on the Experience Pros radio show. Here’s the link if you’d like to listen…

Fast forward to 9:35 to hear Jerry Brown share his story telling tips.

Keep going to 21:20 to hear my answers to these questions:

And if you want to listen through to the end, at 34:40 Jim Blue talks about what baby boomers need to know about the great digital divide.

Happy listening!

Could You Use a Little Willpower? Join the Club!

The Psychological Association released results of its sixth annual survey on stress in America.

How’s it going doing what you know you need to do for your career, your health, your relationships, your spiritual life? Maybe you could use a little (or a lot) of willpower. Join the club.

According to a recent research report from the American Psychological Association (Stress in America: Missing the Health Care Connection), the biggest perceived barrier to change is willpower. (Of the nearly 2000 people surveyed who where trying to make a change or who had been advised to make a change, 31% said that a lack of willpower was getting in their way, followed by time constraints (22%), cost constraints (16%), and stress (12%).)

31% who want to change think they need more willpower to be successful. What worries me about that number is that I’ll bet that most (if not all) of the people who said that are thinking the willpower that means muscling through, putting your nose to the grindstone, sucking it up and making it happen.

Unfortunately, the muscling-through kind of willpower isn’t sustainable over the long haul. (Check out this research summary in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)

So what options does that leave us with? I have two suggestions:

  1. Find your trump. If you’ve played card games such as Spades or Hearts, you know what a trump is. It’s something that has uber power. Play that card, and you win—every time. When you’re trying to make a change in your life, find your trump and you’ll have all the willpower that you’ll need. I used to be a choco-holic until I found my trump. (You can read about what that trump was for me in Robin Madell’s recent article on TheGlassHammer.)
  2. Prime yourself for an “aha” moment. In a flash of clarity you’ll gain all the focus and commitment that you’ll need to follow through. If you don’t know how, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book, The AHA! Handbook: How to spark the insights that will transform your life and career.

Does It Sometimes Seem that You Have Bad Karma When It Comes to Love? Test Your Relationship Readiness with This Quick Quiz.

A Valentine's Day quiz by Donna Hartney, Ph.D., author of "aha" moment self-help book

Click on the filename to download the quiz: Relationship Readiness Quiz

Happy Valentines’ Day!

Do You Want to Get Fit? Test Your Readiness with This Quick Quiz.

Author of "aha" moment self-help book creates quiz to test readiness to get fit and stay fit

Would you like to get fit and stay fit? You’re not alone. Researchers have found that getting in shape is among the top three resolutions.

Test your readiness to achieve your fitness goals with this quick quiz. Click on the filename to download the quiz: Fitness Quiz.pdf

Check Your Readiness to Lose Weight with this New Quiz

Check your readiness to lose weight with the quiz from Donna Hartney, author of "aha" moment self-help book

Would you like to lose weight and keep it off? You’re not alone. Researchers have found that losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution.

Test your readiness to achieve and maintain a healthy weight with this quick quiz. Click on the filename to download the quiz: Weight Loss Quiz.pdf

Test Your Readiness to Stop Smoking with this New Quiz

Test Your Readiness to Stop Smoking with a Complimentary Quiz from Donna Hartney, Author of “Aha” Moment Self-Help Book

 Are you a smoker who would like to quit? You’re not alone. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis found that while 70% of smokers want to quit and more than half of them attempt to stop smoking each year, only six percent are successful.

Test your readiness to kick the habit with this quick quiz. Click on the filename to download the quiz: Stop Smoking Quiz.pdf

Can an AHA! Help You Beat a Cigarette Addiction? You Bet!

As I’ve been working on a press release on the power of AHA!s to break a nicotine addiction, I remember my mom’s struggle to stop smoking. She started smoking as a teenager. Over the next 40 plus years she tried many time to put down her cigarettes but always went back to them. Then at age 60, she decided to quit smoking—cold turkey, and never looked back. Five years later I asked her about her decision. To which she said, “I decided to do it. I did it. It was easy.”

Researchers have found that nicotine is powerfully addictive. How do people suddenly overcome a nicotine addiction in order to stop smoking? An AHA! can make all the difference. Check out this Mutual of Omaha aha moment video in which Christian of sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico, describes why he began to smoke, the moment of clarity that convinced him to stop smoking, and the power impact that AHA! had on his health and well-being.

What triggered Christian’s AHA!? Seeing himself clearly.