Why is it that most of us are our own worst critic? It seems we each have an automated self-nagging habit. “You should work harder, earn more, lose weight… you’re not good enough, you’ll never get there….” No wonder we doubt ourselves!

Negative mind chatter can really compromise one’s self esteem and quality of life. How can you ever feel good or perform at your best if your internal dialogue is tearing you down?

High ambitions and strong intentions are not enough. To turn your dreams into reality, you must learn to be your own loudest cheerleader.

When I was competing in the 30 km skiing marathon, I had very few people to cheer me on – and they were all waiting at the finish line! As I made my way across the vast terrain, I could only rely on my own internal cheer.

In those quiet hours, I recalled verbal cues from my trainer and supportive comments from family and friends. I motivated myself by thinking of the charities I was supporting. But most of all, I just kept repeating, “You can do it, Julia!” This uplifting internal dialogue was exactly what I needed to push myself to the finish line.

This month, I encourage you to tune into the messages that run through the back of your mind. Make an effort to shift them from criticism to encouragement. Here’s how:

1. Choose powerful words such as “shine,” “connect,” or “relax,” to remind you how to approach your day, or a specific challenge.

2. Take a moment to acknowledge yourself for each accomplishment in your day.

3. When you assess your performance, start with what went well, acknowledge yourself and then look for the lessons.

4. If you feel intimidated, uncertain or weak, encourage yourself with, “I know you can do it!” or “go for it!”

5. Imagine being your own best friend and encourage yourself as a best friend would.