No one likes a cheater, or to become the victim of someone who cheats, and yet many of us are ourselves cheaters. Our victims? Ourselves. Yes, we cheat ourselves in several ways every day. Sometimes, we are aware of it, and sometimes we are not. Either way, one of the worst things we can do to ourselves, outside of depriving ourselves of self-love, self-care and self-motivation, is to cheat ourselves.

"We cheat ourselves when we undervalue ourselves, hide our talents, deny our sense of creativity, and convince ourselves that we are not capable or deserving of better, of more, or, of the best."


I was once cheated out of a deserving salary. It still stings to this day; knowing that I willingly settled for less than I deserved. But never again! It was on the day of my exit interview. (I had decided to take the next step in my career journey.) There I sat in the Human Resources office, answering the basic questions and filling out the requisite forms, when the director looked at one of the forms and proclaimed incredulously, that I had been underpaid for someone of my position and with my level of expertise. The truth is that I knew this already, from talking with my peers in the same profession who also worked in the same geographical location as me. And the fact is also that I had discovered this fact over a year ago but avoided addressing it because I was afraid that if I did, I would no longer have a job - which is funny because even though I still quit, I was more than okay.

When we cheat ourselves, we leave the door open for others to cheat us too. I have no doubt that the powers that be knew very well that they were underpaying me. But who can blame them when I was okay with cheating myself? The way we value and treat ourselves is a good indicator of how we permit others to treat us. So, please, do me a favor and go into this week determined to hold yourself in high esteem. Don't cheat yourself out of the things you need and deserve, and others wouldn't even dare do the same! You have it in you and you deserve to do what you love, and receive what you are worth. Believe it, and others will have no other choice than to believe it too.

Happy Monday! I wish you a blessed and fruitful week ahead.
 
 
Test your knowledge of the correct use of grammar, punctuations and spelling. Spot the errors in the text below. How many errors do you see? Comment below.
 
 
Personally, I have struggled with saying "no" for a very long time, and I know many of us struggle with it too. But it's just that saying "yes" is so much easier than saying "no," and some of us prefer to take the easy way out of situations. We forget, however, that while it might be easier now, saying "yes" so many times also leads to the difficulty of saying "no." And this is probably why many of us now find ourselves overworked, stressed, resentful and exhausted.

Last Monday, I shared some wisdom with you from Shonda Rhimes, from a commencement speech she gave to graduates of her alma mater, Dartmouth College.  In that same commencement speech, Shonda Rhimes reminded us that when we say "yes" to certain things, we are saying "no" to something else. "We can't have it all!" It's either one or the other. The unfortunate thing, for many of us, is that when we say "yes" to others, we are choosing to say "no" to ourselves. But, don't worry, there's hope for those of us with the "yes" disease, and it's this:
"When you say "no," to the less important things in life, you open up that door to your inner essence where all the "yeses" live. So that saying "no" now allows you to concentrate on the things that are most important to you." So, isn't it time for you to start saying "no" to others and start saying "yes" to yourself? Your goals are important too, and your success is essential to your well-being. Of course, saying "yes" to others may be easy now, but is it worth the price of resentment you will feel later? No.
I encourage you this week, to take a look at your to-do list and cross off all the things that do not contribute to the achievement of your goals. You can't do it all if your aim is to achieve a specific goal. Let some things go, and focus on what needs to be done to get you to the end-game.
 
 
On June 8, 2014, TV show Scandal creator, Shonda Rhimes, gave an inspirational speech to graduating students at her alma mater, Dartmouth University. And while everything she said rang true, the one thing she said, that really stood out to me, was that dreams don't achieve, actions do. Well, her actual words were: "a lot of people dream, and while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really engaged, powerful people, are busy doing."

How many of us find ourselves dreaming and not doing? We spend our lives dreaming of what we want to become and who we wish we could be like, and yet our lives as we're living them today are in no way preparing us to the point of action.

Well, Shonda Rhimes went on to share how she dreamed of writing like Toni Morrison while she was still a college student, until one day she woke up and realized that she was Shonda Rhimes, and Shonda Rhimes needed to find her own path. She then goes on to tell of the day she met Toni Morrison for the very first time and all Toni Morrison wanted to talk about was the TV show, Scandal.

The inspiration I wish to leave you with, as we go into the new week, is this: Dream your own dreams, for dreaming is great, but find your own path and let that path spur you to action. I've been dreaming of becoming a published author for a long time, and for a long time I've started books but never finished them. I'm glad to say that I finally have a finished memoir, and a novel that is three-quarters of the way done. I'm putting in the work to get there - and some day soon, I will. What dreams do you have, and what are you "doing" to help you get there? Ponder that and let your thoughts and dreams lead you to action - one step at a time. Only YOU can bring those dreams to life.

Happy Monday! I hope you have a blessed and fruitful week,

Best,
Nicole

 
 
In the first issue of Inspirational Mondays, a weekly inspirational newsletter to clients, I talk about how to discover your inner creativity. Read an excerpt below, and then subscribe to receive weekly inspiration in your inbox every Monday morning.

Being creative is not something reserved for artists and writers, we all have it within us. However, it is up to us to create an environment that best suits our creative nurturing. Personally, I'm most creative when I'm quiet. When I lock out the outside noise around me and concentrate on my inner thoughts, that's when I find myself in another world, inside my own mind. That's when I think of all the possibilities and how to bring those possibilities to life. Many of us don't know what we're really capable of creating because we are so focused on all the noise going on around us. The TV noise, the electronic gadget noises, social media noises, naysayer noises; these are all noises that prevent us from earnestly pursuing what lies buried deep inside each one of us. Subscribe  here
 
 
Weather or not you prooffread your articles says a lot about how you view those who will read them. In four words, it says “I just don’t care.” But is that rely what you wont to say to your readers and clients? That you donot care that they have to sift through your use of bad grammar and spelling errors in orda to make sense of what you’re saying?

Thank you for hanging in there, if you have read this far! Apparently my lack of useful grammar and correct spelling has not scared you. Or perhaps, you kept reading because you could not believe I was writing about proofreading when my own writing was ripe with mistakes. Well, prank over, have a good laugh and continue reading, please.

As I was saying earlier, whether or not you proofread your articles says a lot about how you view your readers. It sends a message that you’re most likely not trying to send, without you even knowing that you’re sending it. It shows unprofessionalism, lack of care and lack of basic intelligence, and as a business owner, the last thing you want is for your potential clients to pass you by because you come across as lacking in what they need to get the job done.

So, the next time you hit the “send” or “publish” button, print out a copy of what you have written and read it out aloud to yourself. This will help you to spot those mistakes you wouldn’t have otherwise spotted while reading it on the screen. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m able to spot errors better on a print-out than I am able to on the computer screen. Somehow, my eyes just seem to be trained to seek out errors on paper so that I can see where I have used “cause” when I meant to use its correct form “course,” or vice versa.

Reading your paper out aloud will also allow you to follow your train of thought a little more clearly, and help you analyze whether the reading flows or needs a few paragraphs re-structured. Because people are prone to write the way they speak, a free flow of words is not always the best way to present a written piece of correspondence. There must be a difference between the way we speak and the way we write.

Proofreading will also help you to spot errors in punctuation. Are you missing commas, periods, or closed parentheses? Punctuation can be the difference between “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and dog” and “Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and dog.” The first sentence is exactly what appeared on the cover of an issue of Tails Magazine. What an embarrassment that must have caused them when they noticed the mistake after the publication had already reached several of their readers. Or picture this snafu made by Goodwill on one of their billboards, which read: “Thank You! Your donation just helped someone. Get a job. Amazing.” Versus this one: “Thank you! Your donation just helped someone get a job. Amazing.”

Obviously, as you can see, the proper use of punctuations and proofreading can mean the difference between earning the respect of your readers versus earning their ridicule. And they’ll never take you seriously after that.

Which is why I cannot stress this enough: In order to send the right message as an individual, writer, business owner or website owner, you must ALWAYS read through what you have written before hitting that “send” “print” or “publish” button, because whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, our readers are judging our intelligence and seriousness based on what they read from us. (Just as I am sure most of you would have thought I was a joke of an editor if the errors running through that first paragraph, run through the rest of this article.) A few minutes to proofread will save you a great deal of regret and embarrassment later. So please, please, please, proofread your work before you send it out. Or, if you are too tired to do so, or you simply need help, hire a proofreader to do it for you.