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Life Coach, NYC, Executive Leadership Coach, Personal Development Coach, New York - Coaching Leaders, Entrepreneurs, and Creatives to be more Confident, Productive, and Fulfilled.

Notes from Yourself



Filtering by Tag: personaldevelopment

How to Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter

John Kalinowski

life coach personal development mindset

Your thoughts dictate your reality.

I see it in myself, my friends, and my coaching clients. We are all influenced by what we think every day, in the same way that we're influenced by what we eat every day.

If my junk-food intake outweighs my intake of nutritious food then there will be consequences. And by the same token if I'm thinking a lot of unproductive, negative thoughts instead of affirming, encouraging ones, there will be natural consequences for that as well. 

Productive thoughts are those that open up opportunities for solutions and growth. Unproductive thoughts are those that shut down opportunities for solutions and growth. "I don't know what to do," is unproductive. "I can figure this out," is productive. "I'm a big fat pig," is unproductive. "I have the power to change," is productive.

3 Tools for a Productive Mindset:

  • The Gold Star - Acknowledge yourself for the things you do, even if it feels like you could do them longer, better, or more often.

  • Course-Correct - Have a handful of productive thoughts that you can pull out when you catch yourself engaging in unproductive-thinking.

  • Habits v. Goals - Take some of the emphasis off of the end-goals and focus more on the habits and routines required to get you there.

Your thoughts dictate your reality. More productive thoughts = a more productive reality. 



Rock The Damn Boat

John Kalinowski

life coach, life coach nyc, mindset coach, leadership coach, personal development

If you're walking on eggshells with people in your life, or allowing something to fester.

Rock the damn boat.

Spouses, parents, friends, and bosses... "Because it's not worth it to make him/her mad." 

Rock the damn boat.

I just did some boat-rocking with a good friend recently and yeah, it was awkward, but it was also really good. 

We chatted like grown-ups. No finger-pointing, no defensiveness. 

Also, bottling up your feelings is just not cute anymore.

So, rock the damn boat.

With a little practice you'll be running around tipping boats over left and right, and guess what.

You'll be glad you did. 



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The Wake-Up

John Kalinowski

life coach personal development matrix

"What is... real? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." - The Matrix (1999)

We are all on auto-pilot in some way, shape or form, blindly accepting the "reality" and the programming with which we've been indoctrinated. 

If I were to offer you a red pill to fully wake up, see yourself, your thoughts, your decisions, and everyone around you in perfect clarity, would you do it?

Or would you take the blue pill to stay blissfully ignorant, asleep at the wheel, plowing through potholes oblivious that there's another road entirely?

We all travel 'round and 'round on the same unconscious loops every day. 

Work, money, relationships, and even how you organize your sock drawer - all of these are informed by the programming we've been receiving since birth. 

Question... Everything.

Family, friends, school, religion, media, government, corporate America.

If you've never questioned or renegotiated the primary relationships in your life, then you're probably asleep at the wheel in some, if not all, of them. 

The most integral relationship to renegotiate is the one with yourself and your thoughts. 

Welcome to The Wake-Up - a blog, a Youtube channel, and (soon) an online store.

I'll be sharing my own "wake-ups" and hopefully inspiring a few of yours. Below is my latest:

Cheers to the #redpill!


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5 Minutes to Find Happiness

John Kalinowski

life coach personal development coach

We were all raised in a world where we place a huge amount of importance on what other people think of us. We are still “keeping up with the Jones’”, or maybe now it’s the Kardashians. Whether these people are actually neighbors at the end of your suburban cul-de-sac, or close friends or total strangers, we live in a culture obsessed with acquiring “stuff” and status and importance in the eyes of others, and none of it actually makes anybody “happy.”

For me, it’s so deeply programmed in my psyche that I don’t even realize I’m chasing after the Jones’ until I’m running so fast that I fall on my face. It’s then that I ask if this is just another thing outside of myself that I am hoping will fill me up and “make” me happy? More money, an impressive career, a hot body, a beach house… do any of these things actually help me learn how to be happy on a day-to-day basis? Nope. Happiness only stems from learning to love myself and others on a deeper level. But, I can’t always see that.

Each day I have to practice a mindset of detaching from my thoughts, so that I can see more clearly. My most important tool is meditation. Six years ago I began by taking just five minutes every morning to close my eyes and focus on my breath. When a thought passes through my head, I just keep coming back to the rhythm of my breathing. This practice helps me to listen to myself on a deeper level, which is where the real answers are, and the way in which I continue to gain a firmer grasp on what happiness really means.

Somewhere deep inside, we each know the answers. Happiness is nothing you can acquire, it comes from unearthing the calm peaceful loving core that exists in each one of us, and using it to navigate all of the challenges we face. It’s one challenge at a time, one day at a time. But, the more we practice even just five minutes per day, the easier it becomes.

Have a beautiful week!


Waiting For Life to Start

John Kalinowski

life coach personal development coach

One of the biggest traps we fall into in this achievement-focused time is the idea that everything will be better when... Everything will be better when you meet that soul-mate, when you find or quit that job, when you fill up that bank account, when you buy that house, when you have that child, when you publish that book, when you catch your big break, or when you retire. The truth is whatever you’re waiting for will never bring the happiness you expect because you have to be able to be happy now in order to be happy when.

Marianne Williamson says, “the top of one mountain is just the bottom of the next.” There will always be a mountaintop we’re trying to reach, but the key to happiness is finding joy and fulfillment in the climb. Everything in the outside world is temporary. Happiness is simply a mindset. Marriage, parenthood, homeownership… all of them hold the allure of security. But, the reality is, security is a myth. The only thing we can truly control is how we respond to the constantly shifting terrain of life.

Sometimes I think about how happy I’ll be when I have reached a certain level of financial comfort, while other times I look in the mirror and think how much happier I’ll be when I can see the outline of those abs just a little more clearly. But, it’s not true. I can be just as happy anytime I want. I can choose to affirm and embrace my body or my life exactly as it is, while still working to improve it. “I love my life just as it is, and am working to make it even better.” That’s where confidence comes from. That’s where happiness comes from.

What if this whole adventure comes to a screeching halt tomorrow and you’ve just spent a lifetime waiting for all of the things that symbolize happiness? And all you had to do to be happy was be willing to look at it differently, to find the Gratitude where you didn’t see it before? Though it’s not always easy, it is simple. It’s about making it a daily practice of being your own life coach, showing up for the climb, being fulfilled by the journey, and allowing the triumphs to be beautiful moments to savor. 

Have a beautiful week!


I Hate Waiting

John Kalinowski

Personal Development Life Coach Patience

Not that long ago I was returning from a long weekend and found myself stuck on the subway stairs behind a woman who was walking at a snail’s pace because all her attention was transfixed on her phone. I finally found an opportunity to move around her and said, “get off your fucking phone” as I brushed past. I can’t say I don’t still feel somewhat justified because people do wander the streets like zombies with their phones these days, and it can be pretty damn annoying. But in this instance, was it really hindering my pursuit of happiness to slow down a little bit? Was it going to negatively impact anything at all in the long run? No. In fact, it might have been a missed opportunity.

Intellectually I’m not really bothered by the idea of waiting, but emotionally I see myself react to it all the time. As soon as I step onto the end of a long line at Whole Foods I feel my chest clench ever so slightly before I take a breath and rein myself back in. It’s such a funny thing to witness, not to mention self-important and ridiculous. “Oh you poor little baby, you have to wait a whole 5 minutes to buy some of the most expensive groceries on the planet to take them back to your apartment in one of the most expensive cities on the planet.” Pull it together.

Being forced to wait or slow down can actually be a gift. People complain all the time about how busy they are and how they don’t have time for anything. Yet, we’re given these little moments to slow down, take a breath, and maybe even find some gratitude. There’s so much science these days behind the benefits of taking a few deep breaths throughout the day. It helps with stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and a myriad of other things. For myself, I’m working to make a habit of it, because it’s far more productive than getting annoyed. That said, do me a favor and don’t text while walking, cuz I might still cuss you out.

Happy Wake-Up Wednesday!



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Life Without TV

John Kalinowski

Personal Development Life Coach Life Without TV

April 1 was the day I decided to "Cut the Cord and Run." 

Two months without a television; two months of feeling more productive, engaged, fulfilled. 

More reading, more writing, more friends, more fun, more balance... I’m calling this new level of productivity “The Zone."

To stay culturally aware I stream “Game of Thrones” on my iPad. And Chelsea Handler's new talk-show gives me a chuckle.

There have been some restless moments that TV could fill. Instead I filled them with daily solo dance parties.

Oh yeah - there’s WAY more music happening. More singing, more dancing…

I honestly have no regrets about dumping the television.

Kinda feelin like a rockstar.


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Trust Yo Self, Trust Yo Life

John Kalinowski

Personal Development Life Coach Trust Yourself


Life is a river, a current you can float on or fight against.

There’s no need to fight your way upstream. The current will take you where you need to go, but only if you can float.

If you’re thrashing around trying to hold onto the current, trying to direct it and make it give you what you want - you will sink.

Floating requires a mindset of trust… being open, being vulnerable, being love - without resisting, without resenting, without fighting, without blaming.

And life will start to support you.

The current can be unpredictable, you may get stuck or run into rapids or a rocky patch. So give yourself permission to be in a rocky patch.

Without judging, without being mad, without hating, without forcing an outcome... set the course and allow the journey to unfold.

Trust that you are exactly where you need to be, and every experience is an opportunity to become a better you.

That’s when your wildest dreams will start to materialize.


Be your own life coach. You got this!


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How to Game the System

John Kalinowski

Life Coach Personal Development Coach Game the System

Life is a system… “a set of connected parts forming a complex whole.”

You are in and of yourself a system, part of many other systems - family, friends, business, government… every relationship you have.

When one part of a system changes then everything changes - even the smallest cog can impact an entire system.

If you want to change a relationship with a family member, friend, boss, coworker, or even yourself, then change what you have the most control over.  

Your mindset.

If you want something to change in your life then start by being your own life coach - coaching yourself through one little adjustment at a time.

Just be willing. Be willing to let go of old wounds. Be willing to learn new ways of seeing and doing. Be willing to operate from love instead of fear.

You change and everything changes… You have all the power.

Time to take it back. 


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What If I'm Lazy??

John Kalinowski

Life Coach Personal Development Coach Lazy

I recently had the most liberating epiphany… “what if I’m lazy?” At another time in my life I would have been mortified at the possibility that it might actually be true. And yet, in my current mental/emotional state it feels more like a relief, because it means I don’t have to keep up with anyone or anything else, and I can trust myself to know what’s right for me. What if it’s just how I’m programmed? What if I just move more slowly than other people and that’s ok? It’s not that I’m giving myself an out from doing the work, it’s that I’m giving myself an out from unproductive, unrealistic expectations.

It seems so simple. I mean, I talk to clients all the time about comparing, because it’s really one of the meanest things we can do to ourselves. We’re basically shaming ourselves for not being more like who or what we think we should be. And shaming doesn’t work in the long-term, whether directed toward yourself or others. What does work is acceptance and compassion and positive reinforcement. In this case, accepting myself might mean, “it’s ok if I’m lazy.” Of course, if I’m missing deadlines and upsetting clients then that’s one thing, but if I’m just operating at a slower pace than my self-shaming-inner-gauge says I should, then who cares?

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’ve accomplished a lot, and I plan to accomplish a lot more. I’ve got goals and vision boards and affirmations, and I’m about as prepared as I can be for what I set out to do. But, I am also acutely aware that I could always be doing more. However, doing “more” inevitably comes at the expense of something else. Maybe it comes at the expense of activities that weren’t serving me anyway, which is fine. But if it means sacrificing sleep, exercise or relationships on a regular basis, I’m gonna say “no thank you.” Am I lazy? Maybe. But the better question might be, “What if I’m balanced?”

Slow and steady wins the race!


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Judgment, Bigots, and the NBA

John Kalinowski

In the midst of the whole Donald Sterling/NBA Clippers monsoon, I just keep asking myself what justice really looks like in this case. I’m not going sit here and pretend that it’s not tempting to get all riled up and start calling him names and envisioning all sorts of ugly things happening to him. (In fact, I may or may not have already had that moment.) I mean, wouldn’t the world be better off without another wealthy bigot parading around with cheap gold-diggers? Maybe. But, could we not also agree that the world could be even better if we had a few more recovering bigots out there learning and maybe even speaking about the importance of empathy, compassion, and equality?

The NBA is taking steps to impose $2.5 million dollar fines, lifetime bans, and new ownership of the Clippers, but what will this type of punishment actually achieve? It’s not going to change Donald Sterling. In all likelihood, he will pay the fine or challenge it in court, he’ll feel singled out, wronged, victimized, and probably have a chip on his shoulder for the rest of his life. He’s not going to write out a $2.5 million dollar check and have some gross epiphany about life and race and all the time he’s wasted believing he’s better than huge segments of the global population. Get real.

This system of punishing others is archaic, primitive, and often based on our own hatred and judgment. Donald Sterling doesn’t need to be whipped, beaten, fined, or banned. He needs help. He needs to be subjected to a Dalai Lama-approved compassion intensive, which might include being on the receiving end of discrimination, maybe some face-to-face counseling with His Holiness himself, or whatever it takes to crack open Donald Sterling’s cold dead heart. Because the fact is, he would not be acting like this unless he too had some ugly, painful wounds rotting inside of him. Sure, we can still throw fines at him and whatever else if it makes us feel better. But, can you imagine the benefits to our society if we chose to focus our energy on rehabilitation rather than inflicting further hurt and pain? We can start by remembering that People Are Mean Because People Are Hurt.

Have a beautiful week!