In last week’s newsletter, I shared the video of a young man who
mastered the art of riding
a bicycle
just about anywhere – over the tops of fences or on
bridge railings. It was an amazing example of mastery and it reminded
me of a prior newsletter I’d written about squirrels and the genius of
persistence. If you need a little motivation to stay to a dream or
goal, or to master something new, you might want to take a page from

Outside my office window I have two bird feeders that
attract all kinds of birds. One is designed for birds like yellow
finches, and the other is for larger birds like cardinals and blue jays.
The feeders also attract squirrels. In the past, before they invented
squirrel-proof cages, I had an interesting time trying to keep them from
cleaning us out of food.

The first time I saw a squirrel climb
the pole to the feeder and eat to its ’s content, I knocked on the
window to scare him away only to find him back two minutes later having a
feast. Then, I came up with what I thought was an ingenious solution. I
greased the bird feeder pole with cooking oil and the next time a
squirrel tried to climb the pole, I smiled to myself as he gently slid
to the ground. After three or four attempts, he scampered away, but of
course, came back with a vengeance and quickly figured out how to climb
the pole!

Squirrels are very persistent little creatures. They do
whatever it takes to achieve their goal. When squirrel-proof cages
finally became available, I was sure this new device would do the trick.
And it did for several weeks. Time and again I’d watch the squirrel
climb up to the feeder, try every which way to get at the food, and when
he couldn’t succeed, run off to a new yard. Then, one morning, as I sat
in my office watching the birds, a squirrel ran to the pole, climbed to
the top of the protected feeder, hung upside down above it, and
gingerly shook the feeder until birdseed fell to the ground. Once he
served himself enough food, he ran down the pole and sat below the
feeder to enjoy his meal. That’s when I decided that if he was that
persistent (and clever), he deserved the darn food!

There are
times in life when we set our sights on something that’s deeply
important to us yet, when we hit roadblocks, setbacks, or failure, we
make a premature decision to give up. The message this week is simple –
if you know in your heart that your goal is right, be persistent. Hang
in there and be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. If
one approach doesn’t work, circle around the situation, and look for a
new way of achieving your goal. To help you gain a fresh perspective,
try this:

1. Imagine that you’ve already achieved the
Then, look back from this perspective and notice what you
did. Don’t over think your answers, just write down whatever comes to
mind. You’re looking for strategies or ideas that may not have occurred
to you yet.

2. Imagine that you’re just one step away from
achieving succes
s. From this perspective, ask yourself, "What
one word best describes the step I need to take next?" Trust your
subconscious to give you an answer and again, write down what comes to

When I used this exercise with a friend who was ready to
quit nursing school, the word that occurred to her was "tutor." When we
explored this word further, she admitted that there was one class, in
particular, that made her feel anxious and inadequate. This exercise
helped her to see that she needed help to get through the class.

If someone offered you a thousand dollars to take three outrageous
steps toward your goal, what three steps would you take?
don’t over think or censor your answers. Just notice what comes to mind
and write it down. Even though your answers may seem unrealistic, I’ve
found that when clients answer this question, they often come up with
ways to try a new approach.

Of course there are times when
quitting is the right thing to do, but before you give up, make sure you
discuss your situation with someone who believes in you. Do they see
something you don’t? Is there a step they suggest you take before you

Finally, make sure that you’re not giving up out of fear or
frustration. It’s not uncommon to be faced with the greatest challenges
at the point when we’re about to reach the finish line. Send yourself a
free e-self-care card with the message "Hang in There" from here
and let it remind you to do what it takes to stay true to your soul’s

Take Action Challenge

This week, use the steps
above to find a new approach before letting go of a goal or dream. Find
someone you can talk to about what’s going on so you have an objective
perspective on what’s next. Then try take a new action and watch for
signs that you’re on the right track!

This week’s video was sent
to me by Shana. I love animal videos. Take a look at how much fun this
orangutan is having! Thanks, Shana…

House, Inc.

Life Makeover for the Year 2009(sm) is written and produced by
Cheryl Richardson.© Copyright 1999-2009 Cheryl Richardson, P.O. Box
13, Newburyport, MA 01950,
All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Have a question for
Cheryl? Call in during her live Internet radio show — Coach
on Call
— on the Internet at
The show airs live on Mondays at 5pm ET (2pm PT) and is replayed
throughout the week.