Life Coach Lauren Handel Zander has a long list of accomplishments, but she’s most known for creating The Handel Method®, a groundbreaking methodology that is now supported by top psychologists, research institutes, and universities. She co-founded and currently runs Handel Group, a private coaching and corporate consulting firm based in New York City. Lauren is the creator of Inner.U®: HG’s brand new digital coaching course. This powerful and proven coaching method has the potential to radically change your life. Inner.U is a great way to begin making personal happiness a priority. She is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life.
With over 20 years of experience coaching a wide variety of high-profile clients and companies, we were thrilled to talk to Lauren and learn how she stays productive while wearing so many hats. Find out the worst advice she’s ever heard, why investing in friendship is essential, and why not being productive sometimes can be a gift.
What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?
What I do the first 90 minutes of everyday varies, depending on my work. However, there are several things I do that are unwavering, that keep me happy, and I swear everyone knows their own 5 or so must do’s to stay true to their highest vision for themselves. For me, one of them is to design my day, everyday.
Every morning, yes, every, I write down what I call a daily design (DD) and send it an an email to a group of my closest friends, who hold me accountable for it. Not only does this practice of designing my day, each day, keep me connected to my nearest and dearest, it has me at the source of my day’s creation, and not simply in response to it. What you put in your DD is an accounting of how you want your best and most fun day to unfold, equipped with attitude and aspirations. Whether you had great sex, told the truth at a meeting and inspired others to do the same, completed all the work you set out to accomplish, had zero traffic, got the best gift ever from your mother-in-law, lost a pound, etc. you get to create excellence that is on point with your dreams. You get to manage and inspire yourself, keep promises, and talk to your life, directing it and practicing the art of authoring it.
What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip?
Planning. Truly, scheduling your day in real time. Not only designing what you are going to do each day, but how you are going to be. Most people don’t plan that way and that well and subsequently get distracted by the day, they check their emails, they react to what comes in versus designing what they are going to accomplish that day and when and end up a martyr to what came their way, versus being a leader and at their day’s helm, sticking to the time, beating the clock and really getting an A. Truly powerful people are ridiculously good planners and stay on point.
Do you have a pre-bed/nightly routine?
Yes. I follow Neville Goddard’s wise though potentially woo-woo (scientific term!) notion from his “The Feeling is The Secret” where he believes that the last five minutes of your day before you enter into your sleep state are the most important five minutes of your day. When you’re sleeping, you are actually imprinting into your subconscious. Therefore, he recommends that you enter into sleep with purpose of using your imagination for informing your subconscious with what you want to have happened and with your biggest dreams realized, whether it’s imagining the new house, the baby, the money, the corner office, etc.!
I so love the concept, I’ve been doing it for years. Nothing more fun (and fruitful) than going to bed feeling your wishes are fulfilled rather than rehashing your day.
#1 Email tip?
Set specific times to check your emails. Most people get diverted all day long by incoming mail, are playing whack-a-email throughout the day, and, all of a sudden, the whole day disappears as you wrote one email three times. Fixers want to fix and answer. The better answer is you block out time for emails, period. It doesn’t mean you don’t peek for some people, but if you’re making everyone happy at all times and checking emails, what conveniently happens to your own potentially more confrontative plan?!
What’s the biggest hindrance to your productivity? How do you combat it?
One of the biggest hindrance to my own productivity happens also to be one of my biggest gifts––big picture thinking, dreaming, pointing at what’s next, and building. But if pointing at what’s next somehow also implies lacking, therein lies my quandary as I’m deeply happy and feel ridiculously lucky with what I have. Hell, I still wear the same jeans I bought in the 90’s.
See: my dilemma.
You see, if I’m not lacking in anything, why would I ever need or push myself to dream bigger? So, how do I combat it? I understand that I won’t fulfill on my own mission to help heal the planet, if I don’t want more. I understand that wanting more wealth for the sake of my company has me have to not only go for more, but respect wanting more.
What have you learned from your failures?
I’m still in recovery from my one of my biggest “favorite” failures. Specifically, I believed I could reach people the same way my dear friend Dr. Mark Hyman reached people: PTV. Oh boy did I get it wrong. I thought I could reach who he reached and impact the planet his way. Needless to say, I couldn’t and didn’t. What I learned from this particular failure was not only needed, but dead-on: I learned to know my lane and my customer and instead of chasing his millions, find mine.
What bad advice do you hear often?
Worst advice ever: don’t tell.
As if the truth is not the key to intimacy, love, and connection. As if lies don’t keep us separate, alone, and not known. As if the age-old saying, “the truth shall set you free,” isn’t age-old for good reason.
What book has changed your life and why?
Almost anything written by Tom Robbins. But, my particular favorite of his, particularly when it comes to LOVE has got to be, “Still Life with Woodpecker.” If you don’t know it, devour it.
The most worthwhile investment in time, money, or energy that you’ve made?
Oh my god, without question, my most worthwhile investment are the incredible friendships I’ve built. No better return on investment, EVER.
What’s your definition of productivity?
Productivity is having a great plan that matches the results you want to achieve and sticking to it with precision, and, dare I say, joy.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
A few years ago, I was at a dinner party with friends and family. And, whenever my tribe (my close friends and family) sit down together we come up with a fun, engaging topic of conversation to have during the meal. For example, one night everyone shared their best and worst vacations. Another evening, we shared about a profound moment that changed our lives. Having conversations like these is a great way to spend an evening connecting with your friends and family, while also learning something new about the people in your life.
During this particular dinner conversation, we discussed the following question: “If you had six weeks to learn anything, and you would have to do it everyday for eight hours a day, what would it be?” Everyone’s answers varied: horseback riding, playing guitar, taking a course in cultural anthropology, singing, golf, and mastering a different language.
My answer? Painting.
I’ve always loved to paint, but would only do it once in awhile. This got me thinking. I should schedule time to learn how to paint this summer.
The following week, I purchased painting supplies including brushes, acrylic paints, and several canvases. I was excited, although I was also well aware that I would have to figure out how to design my schedule to fit in painting. After all, I had good excuses. I am married with three kids and run a company. I also was going to have to deal with the fact that I was probably going to suck at painting. And, who wants to do something they are bad at? Not me. That’s when I coached myself to see that it’s healthy to have a good relationship with being bad at something. And, I wasn’t going to be bad for long. I’d probably get better over time and, certainly, over my lifetime.
So, I committed to spending every Saturday morning painting at my friend, Linda Colletta’s studio. Well, that was 3 years ago and that conversation and subsequent promise changed my life. I now paint at least 4 times a week. I specialize in pointillism (dots), and paint on everything and anything that is put in front of me: canvas, wood, clothes, shoes, purses, hats, wallets. It relaxes me and makes me so happy. It’s not only a hobby for me anymore, I am speaking with a company about putting my designs on various merchandise and clothing.
It’s strange to think that had we never had that particular dinner conversation, I may never have started painting or discovered how tickled it made me.
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