Whole Life Challenge Day 1

It’s the morning of the first day of the Whole Life Challenge, and I’m off to a terrible start!

Nutrition Fail

This morning, as I took out eggs (for my healthy breakfast of poached eggs), I discovered some communal pizza leftovers. It wasn’t until thirty seconds of microwaving later, when my teeth were making their way into the cheese, that I remembered about the nutrition part of the challenge.

Then I decided I didn’t feel at all bad about eating pizza in the morning, so I had second slice with my poached eggs. Continue reading “Whole Life Challenge Day 1”


Filming a podcast with Joe Sondow!

This post probably isn’t interesting to anyone but me. But I committed to posting a snippet of my work in progress everyday of this week, so I’m cranking this out before I hit the hay.

Today my friend Joe Sondow and I filmed the first episode of our podcast! Wow, what a thrill!

We both wanted to practice being in front of the camera. Joe also loves to entertain, and I wanted some footage of my coaching and acting. So we just had to do a project together. Continue reading “Filming a podcast with Joe Sondow!”

Your Inner Crew of Champions and Committee of Saboteurs

Sometimes I feel like I can conquer anything, and sometimes I’m convinced I am destined for mediocrity.

It took me years to realize that neither of these states is “the real me” or “the fake me.” They’re just different versions of me taking the helm at different times.

Co-Active coaches use a technique that involves personifying these versions of ourselves, e.g.:

  • The “I’m awesome!” Inner Leader
  • The “I’m no good” Inner Critic
  • The “Why bother?” Inner Existentialist
  • The “I should” Inner Nag
  • The “Everything is so wonderful” Inner Appreciator
  • … and many more

Personifying and putting a name to each of these voices makes it almost trivially easy to spot and then manage that voice.

Whenever you feel motivated, it’s a sign that your Inner Leader or one of her Crew of Champions is in charge.

Petone Rowing Club, 1961

Look at that sheer power and alignment! This is how you feel whenever your Crew is cranking.

On the other hand, whenever you feel a sort of ick, an old fogey on your Committee of Saboteurs is in charge.

Still from the film 12 Angry Men, one of my favorite movies

Look at that inertia! These are the guys running the show when you procrastinate, hesitate, or give up.

I’ll talk more about the Crew and the Committee — how to recognize, interpret, and manage them — in the next blog post. For now, see if you can spot members of either group as you go through your day.

On new domains and homesickness

Just got my first website and domain, sonicali.com. My web developer, May, did some research on best hosting and domain options, and our conclusion was to go with PCMag’s recommendation for InMotion hosting.

My criteria for hosting options, in order of priority:

Reliable for users

I didn’t want a site that was buggy, slow, or down often. PCMag claims InMotion has great uptime. I guess the rest is up to May!

Easy to maintain and change

Both May and I need to be able to make tweaks fairly easily. I still have no idea what that will involve on InMotion. We’ll see!

We considered using one of the template-heavy sites, like WordPress or Wix. Still not sure at this point if templates are more of a help or a hassle.

Blogging usability

I like WordPress’s blog-writing user experience, so I’m glad InMotion hosting has WordPress preinstalled.


Signing up through the PCMag article (linked above) gets you a bit of a discount. I’m paying $3.59/mo for hosting + $10/yr for domain registration privacy. Also, 90-day refund guarantee!

Hosting: Most hosting services are $8 to $30 per month. WordPress is $8, domain not included.

Domain registration: GoDaddy is the most common place to register a domain name (but the hosting service has bad reviews). However, InMotion takes care of the domain registration, so I did have to use GoDaddy.



Owning the sonicali.com domain also allows me to create email addresses that end in @sonicali.com! So far, I have coach@sonicali.com and actor@sonicali.com. Try emailing me there!

After setting up my emails, I entered this ugly email client:

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.50.04 PM

And I felt something akin to homesickness. I thought, “I have to work out of this instead of gmail for the rest of my days??” We can get so helplessly attached to our habits, no?

Then I found this client setup instruction page, and my heart sank even lower. Where was the gmail??

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.53.01 PM

But then I found the gmail setup page, followed the (buggy) instructions, and all is well now.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.00.25 PM.png

I’m now using my sonica.y.li@gmail.com gmail account to send and receive email for both my @sonicali.com accounts. Yay, technology!


So much to learn

The control panel for my hosting site is quite overwhelming. The default look-and-feel added to the homesickness:

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.04.54 PM.png

The blue gradient…*shudder.*

But then I discovered you can switch the look-and-feel:

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.46.21 PM

And once again, I was surprised to find my spirits significantly lifted.

As a former engineer and product manager, I can only imagine the headaches that the product manager must have gone through to convince the engineering team to postpone other important features in order to change the look-and-feel.

PM: Prospective users complain that the cPanel looks dated.
Eng: Seriously? You want me to create a new skin instead of fix any of these urgent bugs or add any of these critical features? If someone’s making a website, they should be tech-savvy enough not to care about how the cPanel looks.
PM: A lot of our users aren’t tech-savvy. But even if they were–
Eng: If they’re not tech-savvy, they should get web developers.

And so on…

You can feel the passive-aggressiveness that went behind the skin-switching feature. They didn’t even bother to make user-facing labels for the drop-down menu:

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.10.29 PM.png

I can’t say I feel a drop of homesickness for the tech industry 🙂

How to actually go to bed when you promised yourself you would

Hello, Daylight Savings! Oh hey, remember that new year’s resolution you made about getting enough sleep / not snoozing / not surfing the web until 1am?

I made this resolution several years ago and haven’t had to make it since. The key to waking up on time is going to bed on time. And the key to going to bed on time is deciding in advance when you’ll go to bed.

Follow along as I coach my favorite client, Sleepy Sammy, through how to go to bed on time.

1. Set an alarm for when you want to wake up each morning for the next workweek.

Just for the next workweek. If you work on weekdays, then decide when you want to wake up on Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Fri.

Sleepy Sammy is self-employed and works 7 days a week with Wednesday and Saturday afternoons off. He also takes a few days off at the end of each month.

He wants to wake up at 6am, but currently he wakes up at 10am… on a good day. So for the next week, Monday through Sunday, he wants to wake up at 9:30am. He sets his alarm for 9:30am.

2. Decide how much sleep you want to get each night

Sleepy Sammy wants to get 8 hours of sleep a night.

3. Estimate how much time it takes you to prep for sleep

Sleepy Sammy:

10 minutes to brush his teeth and do his nightly routine
+ 45 minutes to read
+ 5 minutes to fall asleep
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Total of 1 hour from when he says, “I’m going to bed. Goodnight!” to when he has conked out.

Side note: According to sleep research, falling asleep in under 15 min is a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep (Sleepy Sammy did not need sleep research to tell him this).

4. Calculate what time you’ll “go to bed”

Working backwards:

Wake up at 9:30am
— 8 hours of sleep
— 1 hour to get ready for bed
— — — — — — — — — — — — —
“Go to bed” by 12:30am

5. Set alarms to remind yourself to go to bed

Set a 10 min and 1 min daily alarm. The first is to tell you to wrap up what you’re doing. The second is a BACKUP in case you get caught up in something and forget.

Sleepy Sammy sets an alarm for 12:20AM and another one for 12:29AM.

Aim to finish your activity BETWEEN the first and second alarm, NOT as close to the second alarm as possible. Do not snooze the first alarm or you’ve defeated the purpose of the alarms.

Use a lullaby-like alarm sound. Sleepy Sammy uses Twinkle on the iPhone.

6. Follow your alarm strictly for a week — no analyzing!

If you’re anything like Sleepy Sammy, you like to analyze and tweak your habits as you go. This is one of the leading causes of death for most new habits. Analyzing easily slips into rationalizing, which easily slips into giving up altogether. So no analyzing, and no tweaking! Just do whatever you decided on for that week.

7. Analyze, tweak, and repeat for next week

At the end of the week, make a new commitment for the following week. Repeat until you’re waking up when you want to.

Sleepy Sammy is making the following changes for week 2:

  • Wake up at 8:45am
  • Now that he’s less sleep deprived, it takes him about 15 minutes to fall asleep
  • He’s in an exciting part of his book and might read for an hour at night

So now Sleepy Sammy will start “going to bed” by 11:35pm:

  • 11:35pm Brush teeth, nightly routine
  • 11:45pm Read
  • 12:45am Fall asleep
  • 8:45am Wake up

On Sunday, Sleepy Sammy sets his alarms to 8:45am, 11:25pm, and 11:34pm for the following week.

8. At the end of each month, reward yourself with peanut butter fudge brownie ice cream

Sleepy Sammy doesn’t like ice cream, so he buys a new book instead 🙂

That’s it!

But wait, what if I fall off the wagon?

First, remember that it’s perfectly normal to fall off the wagon. Life is not about striving to become an automaton.

However, if you find yourself failing completely at your sleeping goal (or any goal, for that matter), diagnose and treat yourself:

  1. Take note (literally, write about it) of the exact point at which you fail. Are you snoozing one of the alarms? Did you underestimate how long you’ll read for? Haven’t set any alarms because you just can’t muster up the enthusiasm to start and fail yet another goal?
  2. At this failure point, what emotion are you experiencing? Dread of the upcoming day? Addiction to a certain app? Stress? Depression?
  3. Address the issue. This topic warrants its own discussion, but I’ll just say this: It could be an easy fix once you’re aware of it, or it could be something as large as realizing you need to change careers (yup, this happened to me).
  4. Once you’ve addressed the issue, then retry your sleeping goal.

What if my schedule is irregular?

As an actor, my schedule is often at the mercy of directors. Early mornings, late nights, 14-hour days, you name it. When my schedule gets crazy, I recalculate and reset my alarms on a daily basis instead of a weekly basis.

In general, however, it ultimately comes down to how much you value the benefits of regular sleep vs the benefits of whatever is driving your irregular schedule.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just <insert other solution here>?

Quite possibly! Do what works for you. It could be an exciting book that draws you to bed, an app that gradually turns down the blue light, an accountability buddy, an alarm clock that runs away, … Experiment! But remember not to analyze and tweak too often.

In fact I’d love to hear what works or doesn’t work for you. Message me or leave a comment now or in a month, when you’ve tried the above method. Thanks in advance! 🙂