Stuck? Overwhelmed? Make the 4A’s Your BFF #Resilience

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Awareness – Acceptance – Adjustment -Action


What you are about to read is not a slag to millennials, but rather a compliment!


Dear Millenials,

I know that you take a bunch of criticism from Boomers and GenXers, some if of it deserved 😉 some misinformed and wrong. So to balance out this perception,  I am going to share a good news story with you…

I have just come back to work after a province wide (24 colleges) faculty strike where I had the privilege of waking in circles, for little to no pay, taking a strong stand for quality education (which is super important). No, I didn’t want to be doing this but the cause was irresistible since education changed my life profoundly. Integrity means supporting your beliefs even when it is hard. I want you to have the incredible educational experience that I had so that you too can create your wildest dreams life.

So, we faculty were all very nervous coming back, wondering what we would be met with as the student-faculty paths started to intersect again. What I found was pretty incredible behaviour from you millennials 🙂

So many of you were stressed and overwhelmed, which is absolutely normal since you had no idea what the plan was for you to complete your semester. Within a week, after the plans were clear, the whole campus feeling transitioned from freaked out to functioning beautifully. Students listened, asked questions and started getting back to work and professors listened, asked questions and supported their students. So many of you decided that you would “lean in”, listen and figure out your next steps. You got all gritty and motivated and made the next step toward your success. Nicely done!

My advice to you is look around you at the students who are leaning into their studies, not complaining about what happened (staying stuck) but rather doing what it takes to get their semester completed successfully, one small step by one small step. There are some pretty great examples out there in your classes, sitting right beside you.  I am so impressed with your behaviour and resilient abilities 🙂 


Well, this got me thinking about resilience building and a model that really helps bring the process to life.

Awareness  –  Acceptance  –  Adjustment  –  Action

icon2  Awareness

The first step in building your resilience is awareness.

  • Be aware of what is going on in your body and your brain. Where do you feel tension? Is your body telling you that something is wrong?
  • What are you feeling? Emotions contain information. Notice what they are telling you about the situation and yourself. If you are saying that you can’t do this, well that is exactly what your body is reacting to.
  • Try this! Mindfulness Practice is a great way to get started: Check this Out!

*Overall, awareness is reading your personal signs and knowing that there may be something that needs to change.

icon1  Acceptance

This is the part where you say, “okay, that happened”.

  • Feelings: Accept the way you feel is the way you feel. Feelings are are part of our natural response to experience. It is absolutely okay to feel disappointment, shock, sadness, overwhelmed or incompetent. But…
    • Remember that just because you feel a certain way, does not make it true. You may feel like you can’t handle something or that you are a failure, these are just feelings. Feelings are not facts!
    • Also, you don’t have to stay living in those feelings. Be careful how you interpret the message.


  • Behaviour: Accept the situation for what it is, what you can and can not control. Do something to change the situation or change how you are reacting to it. I had an amazing professor who called staying stuck in things you can’t change as ‘baby wishes’. You can wish and wish and wish, but that will never change what is. This was a very helpful way of conceptualizing my stuck inner tantrum-prone 4 year old 🙂


icon4  Adjustment

This is where the “bouncing back” part of resilience begins.

This is where you start to make adjustments in your approach so that you can improve the situation. Asking yourself, How can I shift my attention and energy to something helpful?

Here are some tools to get you started:

  • Attitude Adjustment:
    • Adopt the attitude of making change happen in your life, not waiting for others to do it for you. You are your own advocate, show up in your own life. #MakeSomethingGoodHappen
  • Radical Acceptance: Check out this funky little therapy trick!
  • Cultivate Clarity: You need to have an idea of who you want to be, what qualities you want to possess and what you would like to accomplish in your life. If you know where you are going, the tough times are easier to navigate.
  • Take on the Challenge: Be a person who deals with anxiety and overwhelming emotions by approaching them, not avoiding them. The very thing that scares you is the thing you need to run toward, not away from. *You can also walk or even crawl because it is the direction matters 🙂

icon5  Action.

Take action and do something.

Do it consciously and intelligently. Use your emotional awareness, even if your choice is not to act immediately. Consider the last time you were in a state of indecisiveness.

How did you feel the moment you made a decision and took action?

What positive changes happened as a result?


Adapted from: 4 Steps for Building Your Resilience


Still don’t believe me that this helps?!?!

Here are some facts to convince you tough ones out there…

PsychNerd TIME!

Brain Nerd

It has been a while!

I just can’t stop myself from dropping some nerd on you today 🙂

Here is some evidence that emphasizes the importance of cultivating the skill of acceptance. I highly recommend adding this to your self-development  life “to-do” list, especially if you want your life to be less overwhelm and drama and more “I got this” and “I can’t believe how this has changed my life”.

Blame my past



Buddhist teachings on happiness have long held that accepting that which cannot be changed or controlled is key to reducing suffering.

So some pretty smart researchers, Broadbent, de Quadros-Wander & McGillivray (2013),  found that “perceived control” is a very important learned ability that fosters life satisfaction, happiness and wellbeing.

Perceived Control has Two Parts: 

Primary Control (External): the ability to make desired changes in your environment. Yes, you need to assesses the situation and see if there is anything you can do to make it better….and then do it.

Secondary Control (Internal): making changes within yourself to adapt to your environment; the acceptance of what can’t be controlled externally. You change your thinking about it, or work hard at stop thinking about it (stop dwelling on it), and start regrouping and designing your next steps.

*Both types of control are EQUALLY important in determining overall life satisfaction. Secondary Control, internal control, helped the research participants to cope with the losses in primary control that they had experienced.


I will end with the words of advice from a very wise woman….

“Bring your best self to whatever the challenge is”

Jennifer (Reid-Bicknell) Trapman 



Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait/work for what you deserve. 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Broadbent J, de Quadros-Wander S, & McGillivray J (2013). Perceived Control’s Influence on Well-being in Residential Care vs. Community Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of Happiness Studies; DOI 10.1007/s10902-013-9452-9

Whoops! Been Procrastinating? Channel Your Inner Badass!

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Well, if you are a student you have probably had a pretty great two weeks of slowly getting back into the academic game and hanging with friends (maybe partying a wee bit too).

But hey, you have had no assignments due, so what’s the rush right?!?

Wait what!??!

How did October get here so quickly!??!



Ok, now that I have your your attention

and your adrenaline is sufficiently high!


There is no need to continue freaking out and making some bad decisions, like pretending that assignments will magically be completed or skipping classes because it lowers your anxiety level. I have some ideas to help you dial down the freakout, channel this energy, use your powers for good and get some traction.


This is the time to SHOW UP IN YOUR OWN LIFE or “Adulting” as some of you like to call it. FYI “adulting” actually means that you have free will, control over your own life, the master of your domain, can make choices on your own, the only one nagging you is you…yada yada…it is a pretty sweet state to be in, so stop the hating and avoiding 😉

Let’s Build an…

Internal Locus of Control


Brain NerdPsychNerd Time!!!

I’m sorry, this nerd just needs to be a wee bit PsychNerdy to make a point 😉

Locus of Control (LOC) is a concept that was developed by a pretty smart social psychologist Dr. Julian Rotter in 1954. It is a social learning theory that has been well tested and still holds up today. LOC considers the tendency of people to believe that control resides internally within them, or externally, with others or the situation.

So I bet you are wondering if you have an internal or external LOC?!?

Maybe not, but stick with me, it is good for you 🙂

Internal LOC

People with a high internal locus of control believe in their own ability to control themselves and influence the world around them. They see their future as being in their own hands and that their own choices lead to success or failure. (Source)

*They believe in their ability to change things.

*They tend to be more confident.

*They can kick their own butts when procrastination gets out of control.

External LOC

People with a high external locus of control believe that control over events and what other people do is outside them, and that they personally have little or no control over such things. They may even believe that others have control over them and that they can do nothing but obey. (Source)

*They tend to view things happening TO them and having little or no control over the situation.

*They tend to passively accept what is happening and do nothing about it.

*They tend to just give up when life gets rough, or until someone kicks their butt for them 😉

Take LOC Test!

This is the first step in understanding your explanatory style, or way understanding the world and being in the world, so that you can start to build resilience (Internal Locus of Control). It is a shift in thinking, reactions and skills.

So Now What.jpg

Whoop There it Is!

*whoops my 90s child slipped out 😉 Just for fun…

Ok, now back to semi-serious stuff. Check out this goal setting system that is scientifically proven to get you moving on your next steps toward badass-ary.



“WOOP” is a strategy that Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, a professor at New York University (NYU) and her colleagues developed. It is a scientific badass approach to getting your life on track and reaching your goals. WOOP stands for…





*The less-catchy term is “mental contrasting.” Ok, no more nerdy stuff from me 😉

Getting Starting WOOPing

Listen to This

Template_KeyClub_Cyan earphone doodle.png


Hidden Brain Podcast

“WOOP: 4 Steps to Achieve Your Goals”

Watch This

Read This

WOOP In My Life

Make today Awesome.jpg

Tell me stories about your badassary!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Wanna Change? Give Mistakes a Huge Hug!

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Last week I wrote about Prospective Hindsight as a means to better manage our lives by understanding our behavioural patterns. If you missed it, take a moment to take a peak, especially the advice delivered by a 4 year old around goal setting and self-compassion. So insightful!

Which leads me into my blog post today. Your gonna need a self-compassionate mindset to tackle all those goals you have set for yourself this year. So many people give up their learning and growth plans because of one slip, one setback, one bad experience or one mistake. PLEASE DON’T!  Because learning and change takes time. It is an evolution. It is all about direction NOT perfection. So set those goals, head in your desired direction and enjoy the journey.

Do Something that You've Never Done.jpg

Mistakes are not tools of mass self-concept destruction; they are wonderful little tools to help us clarify and learn so much more about ourselves.


If you don’t believe me, check out the very reputable Huffington Post and learn about 9 Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes. See! Even they agree 🙂

Pull Up A Couch

16542-luxury-customizable-red-sofa…and check out this great TEDTalk from the fantastic, and very popular author, Elizabeth Gilbert.

Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating

Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress,” devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple — though hard — way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

Even she experienced setbacks, mistakes and disappointments. So if we want our lives to be different, lets pull on our gown up pants and start looking at mistakes as guides, sherpas, teachers…not self-esteem wreckers.



For Studentsinspirational-quotes-you-were-given-this-life

Over the next few weeks, I am going to start uploading a series of videos that I have created to help enhance the learning process. I truly believe that any type of life training, whether that be in a conventional school setting, on the job or in your life, learning can change everything for the better. For me, school profoundly changed by life by allowing me to gain greater control over my ability to support myself and my destiny. I believe that people can learn and grown and the following topics are what I know to be the most fundamental skills needed to succeed in any learning endeavour.

  • Project Managing Your Academic Experience: Organization & Time Management
  • Note-Taking Strategies: Capturing the Knowledge
  • Leaning into Your Studies: Attitude, Learning Style, Active Learning and Memory Enhancement.
  • Being Tested: Strategies for Writing Quizzes, Tests and Exams.
  • Learning to Communicate: Research and Writing Skills
  • Presentations: Learning the Tips & Tricks
  • Working in Groups: Strategies for Making the Process Smooth and Effective


There is no need to base your entire student self-esteem on past experiences. When you know better you do better. So let’s start making some mistakes together, feel a wee bit awkward and then start enjoying your new found success skills!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success



Prospective Hindsight: Fancy Word for “How to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2017”

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Well it is 2017!

Happy New Year!

This is the time of year that many people view as a fresh start, a moment in their life to try their hand at changing things in their life for the better, setting new goals, taking risks and kicking their own butt.

Every year you probably see the same, very good, advice for how to set resolutions and achieve your goals. I have written on that precise topic. Check posts from 2016:

I know, I know great advice right?!

But…I hear you saying “yeah but”…

Yes the advice is great, but what if you can’t get the changes to stick around? Most people, including me, tend to crash hard on the goal-achieving part sometimes. So, that got me thinkin’, googlin’ and being curious about my own success process when I was awesome at “stick-to-it-ness” and made my goal a reality.

17366832dc4b52a56b00ae4c5955525dWhat I found was super radical.

So, keep reading and join me in shaking it up a bit this year and get all set up for success. This year I want you to do something super whacky


Wait what??!

Yes! Plan to Fail!

Ok, stick with me and check out this fancy word:

Prospective Hindsight

Let’s break it down

  • Prospective: is defined as something that is likely to happen at a future date; concerned with or applying to the future.
  • Hindsight: is defined as understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.


Prospective Hindsight is an attempt to determine the most likely reasons for future failure based upon past experience and create a plan to work around those potential pitfalls.

Check out this wonderful TEDTalk to help you understand a wee bit more about prospective hindsight.

Still Wondering Why You Should Foster Your Prospective Hindsight Ability?!?64820

It is the essence of any risk assessment in the business world because it hones your ability to spot problems before or as they occur. Business people tend to know their stuff because business success depends heavily on refining and streamlining processes. So, be your own business and project manage your life like a pro using Prospective Hindsight 🙂

Advice for Getting Started:

  • When setting goals, brainstorm about what could possibility go wrong in the process of meeting your goals. Explore where you tend to procrastinate, where your motivation tends to drop, what tends to overwhelm you, etc.
  • Try Asking Yourself

    • At what point in the goal attainment process do I tend to be most vulnerable to quitting? 2weeks in? When life gets stressful?
    • What has gone wrong for me in the past when setting goals?
    • What do I think the possible causes were for not reaching the goal that I set? Was my goal to big? Did I not break it down to manageable pieces? Was this goal not my goal, but rather something someone else expected from me? Was I WAY too hard on myself and expected perfection all the time?
  • Play the “Devils Advocate” role in your own life. Look at your growth areas, weaknesses, stuff you are not good at yet, and use this information to make a plan. This can be hard to admit, but this is so important. This is how you learn to work WITH your characteristics or WORK AROUND them. Start by asking yourself what you know about yourself and work WITH your personality and skills, not against them.

Mindset VIDEO

Now that you have started to identify the likely reasons goals have fizzled out in the past, you now have a basis for approaching goal setting differently.

You just need the most helpful mindset to get started. Here is video from a 4 year old who is giving the most fantastic advice for setting goals. I was seriously shocked how insightful (and super cute) this little person was. Check this video out, you will not regret the time spent viewing it 😉

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein
Go out there, use the goal setting strategies, but add a little whacky in your approach, use some creativity and plan to fail!


I would love to hear about your adventures in applying prospective hindsight this year!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Still Procrastinating? Oh Yeah! Well Let’s Grow a “Kick Butt” Mindset!

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Have you ever heard, “if you want something done fast, ask a busy person?” Well, there is so much truth to this. Have you ever noticed that once you have some momentum going, getting stuff done, that it is easy to just whip through a few other things on your list? I do! When I am busy, I am amazing, when I am not busy I am glued to Netflix (or some other distraction), lamenting about how much I have to do. Once I get moving, I am always surprised that I procrastinated longer than the task actually took to complete. Seriously, I need to stop that. I have definitely improved over the years with new strategies and self-knowledge 🙂

stop-making-excusesProcrastination is very normal. Stop beating yourself up about it and just learn more about why you do it and what works for you. Get on with it! It is way worse to be stuck in a procrastination spiderweb than to face any fear that is holding you back.

Mindset + GRIT = Motivation

So enough of all this procrastination. Accept it as a part of life (it does NOT define you), learn what leads you down that rabbit hole and develop a Mindset that makes you a “gritty” person and gets back on track. Let’s start with setting the brain mood and kick your thinker into gear with the “power of yet”. We often procrastinate because we fear that we are not capable of doing the task, or have no idea what to do. The whole purpose of being in school is to learn, so adopt this easy little perspective, “I haven’t learned this yet“. The “yet” part changes the game from “I can’t do this” to “I will learn how to do this”. You can grow! Believe me, I am one of those people who thought that I was lousy at most things until I started to take risks and just try. Yes, some things I was horrible at, but there was always some great learning in every loss and in the many wins.

“Well, great I would love to have a mindset that helped me grow, but I have no idea where to start”,  you say.

Well, I say, check out this resource!

25 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset


Brain Nerdand it’s PsychNerdy Time Again!

“Christopher Wolters and Maryam Hussain performed research on the relationship between grit and self-regulated learning and achievement. Self-regulated learning is the process in which students take an active role in managing different aspects of their own learning. Motivation plays a large role in self-regulated learning because it involves substantial cognitive and metacognitive (thinking about your own thinking patterns) resources. The cognitive resources is the way humans learn through experience and senses”. Source.

Their study found…

  • College students who persevered through difficult times, had higher GRIT qualities and were able to self-regulate their learning. This means that they were able to take charge of their own academic experience and work through the discouraging or rough times.
  • College Students, who reported being diligent and hardworking, were not very discouraged by setbacks, and found value in their coursework.
  • The researchers also discovered that gritty students would be less likely to procrastinate because they were involved in less disruptive and time consuming tasks (Wolters & Hussain, 2014). Students with grit have a long-term goal, and they do not want to stride away from them because it is important.”.

So why am I telling you this?!?

GRIT can be learned. You need to decide that you want to stop being defined by your procrastination. You want to adopt the attitude that you are in a learning process so mistakes are inevitable and valuable. Start saying to yourself that you are in a constant state of “yet” not “can’t”. Learn study management strategies that work best for you and that keep you moving.

Here are some things that work for me:

  • I know that the more experience I get with completing tasks only leads to me being more confident that I will get any assigned tasks done. This is so motivational for me. I know that I just need to get started.
  • When I struggle with getting started, I pair rewards with what I am avoiding. I let myself watch one episode of a series on Netflix and then see now much work I can get done in the same amount of time after the episode is done. If it is a 30 minute episode, I watch that, finish it and then set a timer for 30 minutes and race to see how much I can get done before I can watch my next episode.
  • I always do things in smaller chunks. I know the exact size of chunk that I need because the moment the chunk is to big, my inner 4 year old starts screaming “I don’t feel like working!” (said in super whiney, poor me voice). So, reduce the chuck size and say “I will study for 15 minutes”, “I will just get this small part done now” or “I will just get some/all of my work done now so that I can really enjoy pub night without guilt” 🙂

Yes, growth is uncomfortable, but procrastination hell is way worse for your self-concept. So get out there armed with your “kick butt” mindset, know that you are in a state of learning (how cool is that!) and face those fears of failure. Tell your whiney inner 4 year old that you will feel way better when you are done….so grow up ;-P

Take Dr. Angela Duckworth’s 12-item-grit-scale and see where you are at right now.


We learn and grow each time we challenge ourselves just a little bit. See procrastination as a little communication from your brain whispering to you “pssst…this is a learning opportunity, dig in and see what you can become”.

Today is my birthday so I may procrastinate…just a little…as a gift to me 😉

Next Week:

Join me for the beginning of a Study Management Series!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success



Christopher A. Wolters Maryam Hussain (2015) Investigating grit and its relations with college students’ self-regulated learning and academic achievement. Metacognition and Learning, December 2015, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 293–311

Something Cool to Check Out:

12 Uncomfortable Feelings That Tell You’re On The Right Track


So What is it That I am Interested in Again?!!?

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Choose a Job You Love.jpg

Do you ever find yourself wondering “why am I doing this?” or “where is my life going?”. Well, it is a pretty common dilemma amongst us humans, especially young adult humans. Being 17-25yrs old can be so hard at times. Adults think, you are so lucky because you have your whole life ahead of you; and, you think, “yea! I do!” and the pressure to do something with that “whole life” begins to settle in.

Here is some advice from one of those adults in your life: Confucius got it right. If you find your passion in life, find a way to get paid to do just that, your job will never feel like “work”.

So, finding that passion, where to begin, where to begin….


“When I think about it, the happiest and most successful people I know don’t just love what they do, they’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball: their eyes go a little crazy, the leash snaps and they go bounding off, plowing through whatever gets in the way”

Drew Houston ’05

The CEO of Dropbox, for MIT’s 147th Commencement held June 7, 2013

Dog with Tennis Balls.gif

Sometimes finding your passion can feel like this.

To Help You Find Your Passion…

Guiding Questions

  1. What do I find myself doing? What you spend time doing can also tell you what you should do. Often the things we do without thinking really are things we naturally enjoy or are good at.
  2. What are your superpowers? Ask yourself, “who have you been, when you’ve been at your best?” The idea behind this question is to unpack the combination of personality traits and aptitudes you bring effortlessly to any situation. The filmmaker Tiffany Shlain of The Moxie Institute also explores strengths and natural “superpowers” in her new web film “The Science of Character,” which suggests that if we can identify our inherent character strengths and build on them, we can lead happier, more successful lives.
  3. So what did you enjoy doing at age 10?  Eric Maisel, a psychotherapist and author, says that the things we loved as a child are probably still the things we love. He suggests drawing up a list of favorite activities and interests from childhood
  4. What is your sentence? This is a question designed to help you distill purpose and passion to its essence by formulating a single sentence that sums up who you are and what, above all, you aim to achieve. If your sentence is a goal not yet achieved, then you also must ask: How might I begin to live up to my own sentence?

Source: Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.

surveyHaving Trouble Listing Your Super Powers and Strengths?

Check out the the FREE Via Character Survey  to get you started understanding your personal character strengths.

Learn a little more about finding your passion through these fantastic TEDTalks

Why you will fail to have a great career | Larry Smith | TEDxUW

Throughout his three-decade career here at the University of Waterloo, Larry Smith has inspired legions of students to take up the mantle of economics with his passionate and homespun tales of economic wizardry. A renowned story-teller, teacher and youth leadership champion, Larry has also coached and mentored countless numbers of students on start-up business management and career development strategies.


How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes | Adam Leipzig | TEDxMalibu

Adam Leipzig has overseen more than 25 movies as a producer, executive and distributor. and has produced more than 300 stage plays and live events, and he was one of the founders of the Los Angeles Theatre Centre.




What is your tennis ball?

“We learn who we are in practice, not in theory, by testing reality” Ibarra

Get Out There and Try!


Life becomes so much easier when you have a goal to move towards.

Passion -> Motivation -> Success | Personal Empowerment | Life Satisfaction 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Procrastinating? Since You are Already Down That Rabbit Hole

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Check This Out Now!

Before something else grabs your attention 😉

I am going to get straight to the point today, because I really want you to watch this amazing TedTalk about distraction. The less words I use, the better the chance that you won’t fall into a YouTube binge or a Wikipedia rabbit hole.

Check out Tim Urban as he shares his personal understanding of procrastination. It is seriously funny!



Check out his blog: Wait but Why?


He writes posts every Tuesday every Wednesday about his psychological shortcomings. Super funny and very helpful in making you feel human 🙂



Now go get something done so that you can have some guilt free fun!

Dr. Heather Drummond
, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success