The Power of Others

There is a constant struggle between being independent and doing things ourselves and having the support of others to help us, whether that be in our job, career, business or personal life.  All too often, asking for help is considered a sign of weakness. Our society has positioned us to do things alone, independently of one another. But is that really the best way? Does doing things alone really generate greater positive results and success?

As a Leadership Coach, I struggled with this very concept as most leadership coaching focuses on helping leaders build their own skills and knowledge and close performance gaps. While these are necessary, it’s not necessarily sufficient.

Using evidence from neurosciences and his work with leaders, Dr. Henry Cloud, author of The Power of The Other, shows that the best performers draw on another vital resource: personal and professional relationships that fuel growth and help them surpass current limits.

“Popular wisdom suggests that we should not allow others to have power over us, but the reality is that they do, for better or for worse. Consider the boss who diminishes you through cutting remarks versus one who challenges you to get better. Or the colleague who always seeks the limelight versus the one who gives you the confidence to finish a difficult project. Or the spouse who is honest and supportive versus the one who resents your success. No matter how talented, intelligent, or experienced, the greatest leaders share one commonality: the power of the others in their lives.”

While I’m a firm believer in developing ourselves to become more effective leaders, I’m also very supportive of relying on others to help me achieve greater results.  I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that especially in business, you cannot do things solely on your own. We all need the help and support of others to help us along the way.

The problem becomes in knowing what specifically you need help with and in identifying the best person(s) to help you. For example, when I first started my business, I thought I needed to do EVERYTHING myself. From designing and developing my own website, to the ongoing marketing and the ever-important financial accounting; not one of my strongest suits😊  While I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, I got into coaching so I could help people reach their full potential. Ironically, doing these things was not helping me reach mine. So, I quickly learned that for me to succeed, I needed help.

Think about your own life, career, or business. What are you doing (alone) that you really need help with?  Could you achieve greater success if you had others to assist you?

And sometimes, it’s not help with specific tasks such as accounting, but rather assistance with personal development and leadership.

Mastermind Groups are a great way to work alongside others to help you out of these stuck points. Leaders today realize that they can’t do things totally on their own. Regardless of what position you hold in your job or your business, leadership can be lonely. We all need to surround ourselves with other successful peers who can help us become better leaders and accelerate our business results while enhancing our personal and professional well-being.

If you’ve been working by yourself for a while now isn’t it time you reached out and asked for help. I know once you do, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

Self-awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

We might quickly assume that we are self-aware, but it is helpful to have a relative scale for awareness. If you have ever been in an auto accident you may have experienced everything happening in slow motion and noticed details of your thought process and the event. This is a state of heightened awareness. With practice, we can learn to engage these types of heightened states and see new opportunities for interpretations in our thoughts, emotions, and conversations. Having awareness creates the opportunity to make changes in behavior and beliefs.

The problem for most of us is, we assume that how we see ourselves is how others see us, which isn’t usually correct. Furthermore, we don’t really know what to do to become more self- aware.

Value in Self Awareness

The best thing leaders can to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making. A Harvard Business Review article had this to say about self-awareness:

“Without self-awareness, you cannot understand your strengths and weakness, your “super powers” versus your “kryptonite.” It is self-awareness that allows the best business-builders to walk the tightrope of leadership: projecting conviction while simultaneously remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions. The conviction (and yes, often ego) that founders and CEOs need for their vision makes them less than optimally wired for embracing vulnerabilities or leading with humility. All this makes self-awareness that much more essential.”

Here are 3 Ways to Build Self-Awareness:

  1. Test and Know Yourself Better – Having a framework for self-awareness helps to understand your strengths and weaknesses. There are many assessments to evaluate self-awareness and while none are perfect, they do facilitate self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness. I personally like, and work with, the Leadership Circle Profile but regardless of which one you choose, it will help you to understand which core traits drive your decisions and attitudes and what is most important for increasing the probability for success.
  2. Watch Yourself and Learn – Peter Drucker wrote, “Whenever you make a decision or take a key decision, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the results with what you expected.” Drucker called this self-reflection process feedback analysis and credited it to a 14th-century German theologian. He said it was the “only way to discover your strengths.” The key to the effectiveness of feedback analysis is to (a) codify rationale and motivations and (b) reflect and assess outcomes. Such a practice forces one to focus not just on the what, but also equally on the why. When people don’t take the time for reflection, they rely on history and memory. In other words, when things don’t turn out as expected, we tend to rationalize and justify rather than reflect. As it turns out, this is the primary reason why many people don’t progress in their self-awareness and personal development.
  3. Be Aware of Others, Too – Self-awareness is crucial when building a team. Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses helps you to identify others’ strengths and weaknesses as well. Effective teams are made up of people who both understand and compliment each other. The best teams are rarely made up of similar types. Rather, they are comprised of a diversity of excellence and fill in the gaps where you (as the leader) may be lacking. Having the right compliment of people and a supportive learning environment allows you to see more clearly what you do well and what others do well.

In the Harvard Business Review, the article summarizes self-awareness as this:

“…know thyself, improve thyself, and complement thyself. These are common sense principles but are not necessarily commonly followed. Why? Because people don’t always commit to stand in the face of truth. Intellectual honesty, rigorous commitment, and active truth-seeking are sine qua non to any self-awareness process.

Self-reflection and its reward of self-awareness cannot be thought of as passive exercises, new era meditation, or soft science. They’re absolutely essential. There is a reason why in rehabilitation programs the starting point is being aware enough to admit you have a problem. So, too, is the case in business leadership and personal development.”

 

 

The Ongoing Struggle Between Work and Life

The concept of “work-life balance” has been debated for decades. The problem is, everyone has a different concept of what this should look like. In today’s world, it’s more challenging than ever to juggle the demands of your job, your business, and the rest of your life. We are all being asked to do more and work harder even when we’re not physically at work.  As a result, the line between home and work is blurred and the feelings we are left with are stress and overwhelm.

The problem, as I see it then, is that when we use the word “balance” we actually feel as if everything in our life should be equal. When we feel as if one side of our life is using up too much of our energy, we can become stressed, our productivity can fall, and our personal relationships can become strained. So, maybe “balance” is the wrong word. This article will look at providing a different insight about how we can achieve the balance we all desire.

What Is Work-Life Balance?

Before we can attempt to achieve balance we first have to define it. What does work-life balance really mean? First, let’s look at what it doesn’t mean.

  1. Work-life balance does not mean an equal balance – trying to schedule an equal number of hours for work and personal related activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic.
  2. Your best individual work-life balance will vary over time – often on a daily basis. The right balance for your today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.
  3. There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for – The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different values, priorities and lives.

So, What Are The Solutions?

  1. First step: Recognizing what your biggest work-life challenges are?
  2. Defining what work-life balance means to you?
  3. Quality vs quantity – sometimes it’s not how much time we have but how we choose to use the time we do have. If spending time with your family is important, it’s equally important to ensure you are fully present when you do have time together.
  4. Sometimes just having too much on the go and “thinking” you have no choice leads to problems. Re-evaluate your priorities and realize you do have choices.  Allow yourself permission to say no, let go of doing things just because, and ensure you are doing the things you want to do, not “should” do.
  5. Ensure the things you want to do, whether in work or life, are aligned with your values.
  6. Understand and familiarize yourself with benefits offered by your employer i.e. flexible schedules, working from home, etc.

Redefining Work-Life Balance: A New Perspective

Finally, I would challenge you to think out of the box in your work-life balance definition. At the core of an effective work-life balance definition are two key everyday concepts that are relevant to each of us. They are daily Achievement and Enjoyment.  Achievement and Enjoyment answer the big question “Why?” Why do you want a better income…a new house…to put the kids through college…to do a good job today…to come to work at all?

Most of us already have a good grasp on the meaning of Achievement but what about Enjoyment. Enjoyment does not just mean “Ha-Ha” happiness. It means Pride, Satisfaction, Happiness, Celebration, Love, A Sense of Well Being …all the Joys of Living.

It’s important to understand that you cannot get the full value from life without BOTH Achievement and Enjoyment. Focusing on Achievement and Enjoyment every day in life helps you avoid the “As Soon As Trap”, the life dulling habit of planning on getting around to the joys of life and accomplishment “as soon as….”

If we strive to achieve and enjoy something every single day in all the important areas of our lives, life will deliver balance and the value we desire.

Finding Balance in Your Life

Ah summer! Just saying the word brings vivid images of sunshine, relaxation and enjoying time with friends and family. But life and work don’t come to a halt just because the weather is nicer. In fact, in some cases it gets even busier.

When life is busy, or all your energy is focused on a special project, it’s all too easy to find yourself off balance, not paying enough attention to important areas of your life. While you need to have drive, and focus if you’re going to get things done, taking this too far can lead to frustration and intense stress.

The fact is, most of us are not good at creating a work-life balance state of being. Many of us struggle with over committing either in our work or in our life, which can impact our personal relationships, our commitments, and lead to feelings of burnout, stress and overwhelm.

So how do we bring things back into balance?  We need to step away from being in our life to taking a “helicopter view” of our life so we can see things more clearly.  The Wheel of Life, a tool commonly used by coaches, helps you consider each area of your life in turn and assess what’s off balance. As such, it helps you identify areas that need more attention.

The Wheel of Life is powerful because it gives you a vivid visual representation of the way your life is currently, compared with the way you’d ideally like it to be. It is called the “Wheel of Life” because each area of your life is mapped on a circle, like the spoke of a wheel. The concept was originally created by Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation® Institute, Inc. Click below to download your personal copy of the Wheel of Life.

Wheel of Life

Using the Tool

  • Review the 8 areas on the Wheel of Life. The Wheel must, when put together, create a view of a balanced life for you. If necessary, you can split categories to add in something that is missing for you. You can also re-label an area so that it is more meaningful for you. The usual suspects are:
  1. Family/Friends
  2. Partner/Significant Other/Romance
  3. Career
  4. Finances
  5. Health (emotional/physical/fitness/nutrition/well-being)
  6. Physical Environment/Home
  7. Fun/Recreation/Leisure
  8. Personal Growth/Learning/Self-development
  9. Spiritual well-being (not necessarily religion – can be sense of self)
  10. Others could include security, service, leadership, integrity, achievement or community.
  • Think about what success feels like for each area.
  • Now, rank your level of satisfaction with each area of your life by drawing a line across each segment. Place a value between 1 (very dissatisfied) and 10 (fully satisfied) against each area to show how satisfied you are currently with these elements in your life.
  • The new perimeter of the circle represents your ‘Wheel of Life’. Ask yourself, “Is it a bumpy ride?”
  • Now, looking at the wheel, here are some questions to ask yourself and take the exercise deeper:
    • Are there any surprises for you?
    • How do you feel about your life as you look at your Wheel?
    • How do you currently spend time in these areas?
    • How would you like to spend time in these areas?
    • Which of these elements would you most like to improve?
    • How could you make space for these changes?
    • Can you effect the necessary changes on your own?
    • What help and cooperation from others might you need?
    • What would make that a score of 10?
    • What would a score of 10 look like?

Taking Action

Now you have a visual representation of your current life balance. You can repeat the exercise thinking about what you’d like your ideal life balance to be. What are the gaps? These are the areas of your life that need attention.

And remember that gaps can go both ways. There are almost certain areas that are not getting as much attention as you’d like. However, there may also be areas where you’re putting in more effort than you’d ideally like. These areas are sapping energy and enthusiasm that may better be directed elsewhere.

Once you have identified the areas that need attention, it’s time to plan the actions needed to work on regaining balance. Starting with the neglected areas, what things do you need to start doing to regain balance? In the areas that currently sap your energy and time, what can you stop doing or reprioritize or delegate to someone else? Make a commitment to these actions by writing them down using the following as a guide.

Things I will START doing to regain balance in my life Things I will STOP doing, reprioritize or delegate
 

 

 

 

5 Life and Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Dogs

I never had any pets growing up but for the last 28 years, we’ve had three dogs. We adopted our first dog soon after we were married from the human society. He was a golden lab named Hooch who was extremely playful and loyal. Our second dog Mackenzie, was a golden retriever and we adopted him at five years of age from a family who could no longer care for him. He was incredibly faithful but somehow missed out on the “retriever” part of his heritage. He was extremely lazy but loved you to no end.  Our current dog is also a golden retriever named Rally. We also adopted, or should I say rescued, her at five years of age from a breeder and has been with us ever since. Rally turns 12 next month and sadly is transitioning into the last stage of her life.

It’s hard to imagine our life without her as she has given us so much love and joy.  But aside from being such a wonderful family member, I have learned a lot from her both from a life and leadership perspective.

Here are 5 leadership lessons I have learned from my dogs.

  1. Be Loyal

Dogs are fiercely loyal. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, how successful you are or what position you hold, dogs just love you and want to be with you. Dogs are always with us and by our side no matter what happens. A dog’s loyalty never wavers. This is a great leadership quality because success isn’t easy. There will be rough patches in both work and life. Learning to fail and rise again is largely in part due to the support network we have around us. You want to surround yourself with the people you can count on and trust.

  1. Always Look for the Best in People

Whenever you come home, dogs are always there to greet you and have a smile from ear to ear. And this isn’t just for the owners! No matter who you are, dogs think you are the greatest person in the world. This is a great leadership quality because people perform their best when they are set up to succeed, treated fairly and with respect.  Great leaders always look for the best in people, help them identify their strengths and watch them thrive.

  1. Enjoy the Simple Things

Rally has always enjoyed her toys and especially her food and treats. Even her medication is a treat for her. Just mentioning that it’s time for a walk or dinner gets her all excited, as if it’s been forever since her last walk or meal!  Life and leadership is about the journey. The journey is the reward, and it’s important to recognize the little things along the way that made that journey so special. Often, we get so caught up in the daily grind or zero in on what went wrong and we don’t take the time to acknowledge all the wonderful things that happened along the way. Great leaders know that you need to take the time to celebrate the small wins which help to keep the bigger goals in focus.

  1. Be Happy

Dogs are always happy and you can tell because their tails are wagging all the time. But what makes dogs happy the most is knowing that we are happy. In any work environment, it’s a well-known fact that it’s all about the people. When people are happy and engaged, they will do great things. They will go above and beyond what is expected and happy to do so because they know they are appreciated and valued.

  1. Know What You Want and Need

Dogs do not send mixed messages. When they need to go outside, they bark or paw at the door. When they want to play, they carry their toys around and when they are hungry, they circle around the cupboard where their food is.  The advantage of a dog’s directness is that it leaves no room for confusion. Leaders should operate in the same way – making an effort to clearly communicate expectations and equally clear when expectations are not met.

 

Finding Happiness During Times of Transition

Many of us fear change or transition but what is it about transition that makes us feel that way? In many of the books I’ve read, it seems that fear – regardless of the type of fear we experience, stems from one of two things.  The first, is the unknown and not having a clear picture of what’s coming next. The second, is a lack of control or feeling like things are not how they should be.

The fact is, there are times in all our lives when we are at a crossroads and we do experience change or transition. But change is a constant which we cannot escape or always control. So how do we remain happy during these turbulent times?

The fact is, we cannot, nor should we expect to be, happy all the time. Yet, many expect that we should. I believe the problem results when we look to the outside world and start to compare what we have against what others have. In other words, things on the outside appear as if we “have everything” and yet, we still experience unhappiness. This leads us to feeling ungrateful (for what we do have), unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. It may even lead to deeper feelings of failure, not good enough, sadness, or depression.

It’s no wonder then, that most of us tend to resist change. I work with many clients experiencing transition, whether that be in their personal or professional lives and the most common comment I hear is that they feel they don’t have any control over what’s happening. And while this may be true to a certain extent, the fact is, there is always a way to have some control. The one thing that is absolutely true is that clarity leads to greater self-control.

To help you in embracing change, especially during times of transition, here are some tips to help.

Five Steps to Finding Happiness During Transition:

  1. Describe What You Want
    You cannot get what you want until you can describe what it is. What do you see yourself doing if there were no perceived obstacles in your way? Give yourself the freedom to brainstorm and the answers you are seeking will come.
  2. Explore Your Options
    What did you learn from Step 1? Take your realizations and turn them into real choices. If you are transitioning to a new career, begin researching and using contacts you know today, or people you haven’t met yet, to help you.
  3. Create Your Game Plan
    Take what you gathered from the exploratory process and then put these steps into your calendar.
    a) What I want.
    b) When I will get what I want.
    c) The actions I will take to get there.
  4. Implement Your Plan
    Keep the momentum going. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Persistence and forward movement is what will help you reach your goal.
  5. Reach Your Goal
    You made it! Applaud yourself for your hard work and effort. Congratulations on discovering you can handle anything that comes your way.

As you can see, each step relates to the one before and it all begins with gaining clarity. Taking this first step will guarantee that you do have the ability to control some things which will leave you feeling powerful and confident.

 

The Power of the “Mind-Closet”

Often spring is thought of as the time of year for cleaning out the closet and forward thinking. It’s almost like a new year. We turn the clocks an hour forward in order to have more daylight and begin to realize that we should be taking advantage of life. Yet old habits die hard, don’t they? As we attempt to de-clutter various rooms in our house sometimes what we really need is to clear out our ‘mind-closet’.

The self-limiting beliefs of last year are still not getting us anywhere. In fact, they simply hinder our progress and encumber our development. If spring is about moving forward, I wonder, why don’t we embrace the leap? This is when reality sets in and our self-limiting beliefs return to inhibit us. We find ourselves as inactive as before, with a fading memory of how spring had momentarily inspired us.

Take a moment to think and ask yourself these questions.
What beliefs about myself or the world do I carry with me? Then ask yourself, are these beliefs having a positive influence in my life? If yes, keep them up. In fact, encourage and nourish them. If no, DITCH them.

We all have our doubts, our insecurities and our self-limiting beliefs – so this spring start UNPACKING, and allow yourself to lead a lighter life. Look within yourself and recognize that the voice in your head, the monkey on your shoulder and the gremlin lurking in the shadows are only there because YOU allow them to be.

So what am I asking you to do?
1. Be honest with yourself.
2. Allow yourself to acknowledge and experience those inhibiting thoughts and beliefs.
3. Then, make a conscious choice to disengage with these beliefs.
4. Forgive yourself if you find this difficult.

The fact is if you want to, you can. We all have the ability to choose our thoughts so you can listen to the self-defeating negativity or you can choose to listen to your higher self, which is self-affirming, loving, giving and abundant. Anyone can do anything. Allow yourself to open your mind, bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. See the world for what it is; a place of opportunity, rather than letting yourself be shadowed by your fears. Life is about choice. Take control of it. Make the choice to clear out your ‘mind-closet’!

How Whole is Your “Whole Life”?

This is the title of a chapter in Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.  In this chapter, she talks about really living each area of your life full out at 100%.  So what exactly does that mean?

For most of us, our life just happens without much thought or planning. We have established a pattern of “being” based on habits and we live our life from this same perspective. And, when something changes or we experience a loss of some sort, whether that be a relationship, death of a loved one or a job loss, we feel alone, fearful and stuck.  “Is there anything that can be done to help loosen the grip of this intense neediness that can make us feel whole despite a great loss in our life? If there is, imagine how greatly our fear of loss could be diminished.”  This is a quote from the book and the answer to the question is of course, YES!  …”It’s important to keep in mind that, as with everything else associated with change, it takes a great deal of awareness, patience, and perseverance to break strong emotion-backed patterns.”

So how do we move from feeling alone, stuck and afraid to feeling engaged, powerful and inspired?  The trick is to stop living your life with just one thing being your focus. In other words, if you have lost a relationship (spouse, close friend, family member, etc.) it’s important to remember that there are other areas of life where we can focus our time and energy.

Below is a diagram from the book which is called the Grid of Life. It demonstrates the major areas of our life (feel free to insert your own heading or category that may be more applicable to you).

THE GRID OF LIFE

 

Personal Growth (Self-Care)

 

 

Relationships

 

Career

 

Family

 

 

Spiritual Growth – Your Higher Self

 

 

Friends

 

Contribution/ Giving Back

 

 

Alone Time (Fitness/Well-Being)

 

Playtime (Fun & Recreation)

Copyright © 1987, 2007 Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. All rights reserved. From Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway®

The key to grid is to look at each area and ask yourself: What would I be doing if I were really important in all areas of my life?” And then, commit to do it 100%. Participating at 100% in each area of your life also helps to eliminate boredom.

If you are feeling stuck in an area of your life or if you have suffered a loss of some sort (career or relationship) and need to establish some clarity, here’s an exercise to try.

Whole Life Grid Exercise:

  1. Using the categories above (or pick your own) select one of the boxes to work on. Shut your eyes and visualize what you would like that part of your life to look like. Be very descriptive using all your senses. What would you be doing? How would you be interacting with the people around you? How would it feel? Who would be with you?
  2. When you get a clear picture, write down what your mind created for you and include all the details. You can even draw a picture if you wish.
  3. Complete 2-3 action steps that you need to take to achieve your goals for each area of your life. You may wish to include names of people you need support from and dates by which you would like to complete your action steps.
  4. Repeat the exercise for each area until all 9 areas are completed. Then start taking action and see how full your life becomes.

 

Hello, My Name is Fear

Have we met? I’m sure we have. You seem very familiar to me. Oh I remember, we’ve met several times actually. In fact, every time I face uncertainty, change, or transition, there you are. Although we have seen each other often, it’s always been from a distance. And yet, we are very connected. I must admit, I don’t really like you that much and avoid confronting you at all costs, yet you are persistent and keep showing up. Maybe it’s time we got to know each other better.

Does this sound familiar to you?  How many of you know what your fears are?  This is a question I pose when hosting my Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway workshops. It’s always interesting to me to see how many people really know what their fears are. Most of us don’t. Why? Because really, who wants to be fearful. It’s like the plaque. We do anything to try and avoid our fears. Even disguise them or lie and say we don’t have any.

But the truth of the matter is, we all have fear. However, it’s not really the thing itself that causes us to be afraid. It’s our thoughts. So, unless we are living a stress-free life or not paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, we probably aren’t aware of what some of our fears are. Nevertheless, when a change, transition or loss occurs, these thoughts become loud and clear.

And, it doesn’t seem to matter if these changes are initiated by us or if they happen to us. According to the American Institute on Stress, some of the top stressors include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Career Transition

According to an article I read through the Chopra Centre, “these situations bring up our most fearful thoughts. Fears about being deserving enough, accomplishing enough, fitting in or standing out, being alone, or asking for help. These are all the topics that are sure to come along with any large change, transition, or period of deep letting go.”

I’ve included the rest of the article as it lists 9 ways to let go of fear and navigate change and transition.

  1. Rest and Breathe

This technique sounds simple and, lucky for you, it is. During times of loss, transition, and great change, you must learn to slow down. Things that seemed easy at one point will start to take more effort and focus—and that is OK.

Ask the people around you to take some of the load from your daily tasks and help you adjust your schedule to get more rest. If you are having a hard time, people will probably tell you things like “This too shall pass” or “You can only connect the dots by looking back.” As much as you may think they don’t understand, they are right. Take time to breathe and honor yourself. The next thing will be waiting for you; you don’t need to run after it.

  1. Make Uncertainty Your Friend

During transition, it is absolutely vital to surrender control and lean into uncertainty. That way, the more uncertain things seem to be, the more secure you can feel. This is often counterintuitive for people, but every great endeavor or creation has been sourced through uncertainty. When you embrace uncertainty, you embrace possibility, unravel past conditioning, and let go of events and circumstances that are no longer serving you. This is your pathway to freedom.

  1. Acknowledge That Every End is Also a Beginning

If you are stuck in loss, in the fear of letting go, or in the overwhelming feeling of unwanted change, remind yourself that you may be at the end of something, but that you are also at the beginning. Something fresh and new is available and coming your way; find the gift in a new beginning presenting itself. Learn to embrace the cycle of creation (beginning) and destruction (ending) for it is the essence of life.

  1. Be Present

Set an intention to become aware of your thoughts. Are they stuck brooding about something past or obsessively thinking about the future? Bring them back into this moment by fully immersing your senses into the task at hand. Whatever life is presenting you, seek to become absorbed in it, whether it’s:

  • Doing laundry
  • Cooking
  • Going through paperwork
  • Relaxing
  • Talking to a friend
  • Laughing
  • Crying
  1. Clear Out Your Elevator

This is a concept taught by life and career coach Martha Beck. She teaches that when you feel stuck in life, it feels like trying to fit into a packed elevator; it just doesn’t work. When you’re in a time of major loss or change, your elevator is crowded with thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve you.

Often during loss, change, or transition, primal fears about safety and survival are brought to the surface and can keep you from moving forward. It is not possible to force yourself into believing you are safe if you don’t actually believe it. But what you can do is get rid of your crowded limiting beliefs. If you can’t do it on your own, hire a coach to help you find and dissolve beliefs that are not serving you, so you can step onto the elevator and move on with your life.

  1. Focus on Your Dreams

Stop feeding fears about what you don’t want and focus on what you do want. Use techniques to keep you focused on what you want to create next like:

  • Visualization
  • Vision boarding
  • Journaling
  1. Be Kind to Yourself

Resist the urge to beat yourself up or make yourself feel less than. When you experience loss or transition, you tend to dredge up every mistake you have ever made in the past or fear your abilities to weather the storm. You start to become your own worst enemy, which creates a downward spiral. Recognize that none of this negative self-talk has any truth. Go back and practice #4 to stay in the present.

  1. Embrace Your Emotions

When you endure a loss, there will be an urge to stay strong and push through, perhaps for others or sometimes simply for your own sake. At times, this urge will serve you well, but recognize that you must also take time to be with the emotions that are coming up. Emotions exist to be felt.

When you allow this time for yourself and allow feelings to arise, they have the space to be processed and moved through the body instead of getting locked in your cellular memory only to create more pain later on. Embrace your emotional process and once you feel the inevitable sense of relief, which comes from processed emotions, share your experience with someone you love.

  1. Check In With Your Sense of Freedom

If you are going through a period of self-driven heart transition, it can be difficult to make decisions. You may fear if you are making the “right” or “wrong” decision and lack complete confidence in your ability to navigate this transition. This keeps you from letting go or from making changes that must be made.

Fear comes along with any heart-driven change. However, the best test for whether or not to move forward on a decision is to check in with your sense of freedom. If moving forward with the decision or situation feels heavy, like someone has put chains on you, it generally is best not to move forward. If you are scared or nervous, but underneath that decision makes you feel like someone has taken the chains off of you, you can be sure it is the right decision.

It is said that the only thing unchanging is change itself. Everyone goes through times of transition and change, and you will face your own unique challenges on that journey. You are never alone. Let this list serve as a resource on your path. And don’t forget, if you need additional support, reach out to trusted people around you. And always continue to follow your heart with grace and ease.

 

Loving Yourself First

Since February is heart month I chose to write an article on love however, this is not your typical love story.  As a young wife and parent, I use to think that everyone else should come first, in everything!  I always dedicated my time to my work, my husband, my home and when my kids were young, they definitely needed all of my time and attention (or so I thought).  I think most of us are familiar with the phrase “it’s better to give than receive”.  And while I do agree with this statement, for myself (and generally women and mothers in particular) I think I got so used to selflessly giving to others that I forgot about giving to myself.  I don’t actually recall having any time to myself and if I did, it was only because other people (my husband) insisted I do something.  I actually felt guilty spending time on myself and convinced myself that I wasn’t a good wife or mother if ALL my time wasn’t dedicated to them.  Wow was I wrong!

As a coach, (yes it’s taken me that long to realize this) I have come to understand that this way of thinking is definitely not worthwhile.  In fact, it’s detrimental; not only to yourself but to the others around you as well.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not implying that you should not devote time to your family and your family’s needs but there definitely has to be a balance between the two.

The same can be said for work.  There are lots of people who feel the need to spend 10-12 hours a day (or more) at work and then do more at home and ignore themselves (or others) around them.  If you are one of these people, the question to ask yourself is “Do you believe that loving yourself first is selfish?”  The way you answer this question will be based on your definition of need and selfishness.  I’ve come to realize that being selfish is really just being responsible to myself.  In other words, try looking at this as a positive instead of a negative.  If you look up the word selfish you will find the meaning is defined as follows:  “looking after own desires, concerned with your own interests, needs, and wishes while ignoring those of others.”  While that definition certainly does have a negative connotation, I prefer to look at it as a positive in that being selfish is really just being self-responsible and being self-responsible is taking a loving-first approach.

When you love yourself first, you:

  •  You learn to define your own worth so that you are not needy and dependent upon others doing it for you.
  • You take care of your own painful feelings so that you are not blaming others for them.
  • You take responsibility for what you need to do to feel happy and joyful so that you are not expecting others to make you happy.
  • You take care of your own needs so that you are not demanding that others take care of them for you.
  • You take care of your body so that you do all you can to not be dependent upon others doing it for you.
  • You take care of your finances if you are physically able to do so, so that you are not dependent on others doing it for you.
  • You do all you can internally to make yourself feel safe, so that you don’t need others to make you feel safe.
  • You have a consistent spiritual practice that fills you with love so that you have love to share with others rather than needing someone else to love you to feel okay.

Lucile Ball, Comedienne and Actress once said: “I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.” Lucile Ball was a very smart woman!

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.” This statement is absolutely true. If you are not loving yourself first, then it is likely that things are not falling into line for you. Consider changing your intent from getting love to being loving – to yourself first, so that you can then share your love with others.  If you find this hard to do, here are a couple of suggestions for you;

  1. Try creating your own appreciation journal. Each day, take a moment and write down one thing that you love about yourself.  Keep building on this daily and you will soon have pages of inspirational words to reflect back on when you need to.
  1. Pick 5 people and ask them to tell you what they love about you. This is actually harder than you think.  Your job is to just listen, smile and say thank you.  If possible, this works best if done face to face.  Realize how you are when receiving the comments.  Just take it in with noticing rather than judging.

When you love yourself first you feel happiness and joy.  Bottom line:  loving yourself is mandatory.  Enjoy!