Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Success Mindset

I was upset this week when my almost 30 year old son told me that he was not prepared to give something a go because he might FAIL.  Here I am writing a blog about coaching yourself to success and my own child is focusing on the opposite side of the coin - Failure.  Admittedly, at the time of the conversation he had just had a gigantic argument with his boss and was concerned he might be joining the long queue of unemployed, but it got me thinking about the definition of success itself and the reasons why some people fail where others succeed. 

Before we go any further I’d like to define success. 

Success in simple terms means ‘achieving’. 

It is the accomplishment of your own goals, plans and maximising the potential that life has offered you.  Success is not a million dollars in the bank, a beautiful home on the marina or a position of power and prestige. Mind you I wouldn’t say no to a couple of the items on this list.  But you get my drift.  Success is not “a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” – an item in the “mysterious beyond” out of reach that only a few manage to achieve.  The reality is that you are and can be a success simply by continuing to pursue the things that really matter to you. Success is living out your dreams. It is the little steps you take each day on your life's journey.  

Life is no accident, it is a response to thoughts, habits and actions” says Martin Gray in his book Building for Success, “…a learned art that can be developed by any that care to pay attention”. 

I have compiled a list of habits of the mind that can determine your success or defeat.  

Success Mindset
Defeatist Mindset
1.   Persist – focus on your goal and stick at it until you reach it. Remember to celebrate the small steps on the journey.
A. Define success as won, luck or innate – you believe you have no control over it.  It is for the fortunate few whose circumstances enabled them to achieve their dreams.
2.   Listen to alternative points of view – this enables you to critically evaluate your own ideas and broadens your horizons.   
B. Working hard doesn’t get you anywhere but only acknowledge one aspect of work, physical labour.

3.   Co-operate – collaborate and work with others
C. Opportunity – believe they have never been given the opportunity to succeed because of luck and circumstance. Don’t recognise opportunity when it knocks or make the most when they do.
4.   Be a detective – Curiosity did not kill the cat it brought him back.  Ask questions, seek evidence and analyse ideas.
D. Defeatist attitude - make poor choices or have a poor outlook.
“To expect defeat is nine-tenths of defeat itself.” – Henry Mencken
5.   Broaden your perspective – view a situation from multiple view points and be open to changing yours.
E. Quit – tried and did not succeed so gave up. Lack perseverance and self-motivation.
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

6.   Be a Puzzler – use problem solving and decision making to plan, monitor, evaluate and review your progress. Be prepared to change direction or proceed in a new way.
F. Victim Mentality - blame their past, current situation, issues, and circumstances as road blocks for not trying or persevering. Look for obstacles and barriers not conduits and passageways.
7.   Inventive – look for different and creative ways of thinking about something or doing things. Be a live long learner.
G. Take NO for an answer – are pessimism, surround themselves with negativity and Nay Sayers. Let challenges and adversity defeat them.
Successful people know that true success begins in the mind, it is an attitude. Successful people protect this valuable asset (their mind) and realise it is the field where dreams are sown and grown. So be careful of what you plant.

Thank you for reading the list.  If you have any views i'd love to hear from you.  If you think someone else might find this useful please share it with them.  

An aside for my boy-  Nick - Failure is a Mindset not a reality. If you change your mindset your change your reality too. Love you boyo. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Morning Makeover - 6 Tips to Re-vamp Your Morning Routine

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself "if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer had been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something".
Steve Jobs. 

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I am sick of dragging myself out of bed every morning, only to hit the fast forward button and rush around like a mad woman, shouting at the kids and husband to "Hurry Up".  for the Aussies who read this think about the blackboard in  Mr Squiggle's (showing my age here too). Does this morning routine sound familiar to you and your household. From experience I know that if my day starts like this it ends worse, so I decided to give my mornings a makeover and thought you might find a couple of these ideas useful too.  If you choose to start the day in a positive way it sets the tone for the day.

Most of these tips are simple and easy to implement no matter how busy you are in the morning and they pack a punch  that will have you humming all day. 

I'm not going to be long winded about it because I know you are all with it people and won't require a wordy explanation.

Morning Make-Over Tips

  1. Get a good Nights sleep - old saying early to be early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. A good nights sleep enables us to wake up feeling energised and refreshed.  If you're a night owl then you might need to gradually change your nightly routine so you can get to be a bit earlier.  As adults we need 7-8 hours sleep each night to allow our bodies to rest and regenerate cells. Remember that your sleep routine, bedtime habits and lifestyle choices can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.
  2. Brain Gym - Jessie Hays a kinesiologist coach recommends you use the following kinesiology technique to switch yourself on first thing in the morning to help you become clear, connected and centred: Side to side switching - hold one hand on your navel and with the other rub under the inner end of the collar bones; top to bottom switching- hold one hand on your navel and with the other rub the top and bottom lips; Front and Back Switching: hold one hand on your navel and with the other rub the base of the spine. 
  3. Drink a glass of water - this will help hydrate you after fasting and help eliminate toxins from the body.
  4. Exercise for at least 15 minutes- Go for a quick walk around the block or do some yoga (the Sun Salutation can be done relatively quickly). this will help to get the blood flowing and is a natural way to destress.  
  5. Eat A Healthy Breakfast - Try to add some protein to your breakfast as it will help you to feel fuller longer and is great fro the brain. 
  6. Dress to Impress Yourself - Choose a favourite outfit or select a beloved piece of jewelry.  
If you don't think you have the time to incorporate all these elements into you morning routine then cut it down to a size that suits you are do some preparation the night before.  I have found that putting in the effort to develop an intentional morning routine has improved my whole day (and improved the morning of my family too).

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Remiedy for The Daily Grind

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the daily grind we forget why we are doing what we are doing in the first place. Everything becomes a drudgery and it feels like we are wading through mud and getting nowhere. More of the same day in day out. Getting nowhere. If that's how you're feeling then perhaps you've lost sight of the BIG picture - your goal/dream. There is an old saying "can't see the wood for the trees".
  1. Meaning: If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or because you're too closely involved. For example: If everyday you focus on the small things you do without associating it with the larger goal then you can get lost in the micro ecology of your life. (Ooh that sounded profound even for me). 

    So I recommend you look up occasionally, not only to check your bearings and ensure you're still on track , but to enjoy the view and contemplate the endless possibilities that are open to you.

    Stop, look up and take a breather - even for one moment - it will revive you.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Art of Being Youself

As a child I can distinctly recall my mother offering the following advice to me as I set out on my first day at a new high school - "Everything will be O.K. Just Be Yourself".  This line was suppose to make me feel reassured that by the end of the day I would be surrounded by friends and accepted as a part of the class group.  Did I feel reassured - Hell No.  "Just Be Myself when I felt fat, had pimples galore and was not even dressed in the right uniform".  I'd stand out like the proverbial 'dog's balls'.  I was certain to spend the day alone - a social outcast.   Everything was wrong about me. My mother was obviously delusional.

Even as an adult I can still fall into the deficit thinking trap - wasting time thinking about the things I should do or worse should be - I should exercise more, I should ear more healthy, I should stick to a budget, I should be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend.  I should be more generous with my time, I should be more patient or I should be more grateful.  The list goes on.

However I have come to realise that a preoccupation with what we should be distracts us from the things we are and prevents us from valuing ourselves.  Always wishing or trying to be something we are not also prevents us living to our fullest and having authentic relationships with others.

Guidelines for accepting yourself as immeasurably, utterly and completely fine as you are - warts and all:

  1. Accept Yourself Body and Soul -
    Do you look in the mirror and compare yourself to a younger version of yourself? Well STOP that right now.  Instead take a Good Look (positives and negatives) and make a real appraisal of how you look now.  Be realistic. Look at your list. Now you have a choice -  If you are dissatisfied with the way things are then you can either accept them or take action to change them. Recently, I decided that keeping all my old size 10 clothing (in case I lost weight) was in fact weighing me down and holding me back from being who I am now.  Not only was I never going to get back into them, they no longer suited my style.  What is holding you back from being the CURRENT you. Spend some in front of a mirrortime reflecting on all those 
  2. Know your Own Values -
     Our values guide our action and choices. If you know what is important to you and stay true to that then you will feel more satisfied. . In addition, you are more likely to connect with other people who have similar values to you.  This often leads to long term friendships and greater satisfaction within the relationship.Steven Hanel, The Emotion Machine , provides a  5 minute activity to help you determine your most important values. Give it a try. 
  3. Don't Pretend to Be Something You're Not  (or like something you don't) -
    Keeping up with the Jones is an exhausting game for anyone to play.  If being part of a crowd requires you to ACT a part, then get out of the play before you are caught out as a fraud.  There will be no applause, only tears if that happens. Focus on your own dreams and goals. Think about what is important to you and where you want to go.
  4. Know your own Strengths and Stretches -
    We are all comprised of an alloy of our merits and our imperfections. Acknowledging our liabilities without blaming someone else leads to acceptance and capacity to grow. Equally important is the identification of our strengths.  I don't mean bragging about how good we are at something but knowing what skills we possess.  A quick way to discover your strengths is to take the “Brief Strengths Test” created by Martin Seligman.  This test takes just a few minutes to complete and measure 24 different strengths. 
  5. Be Aware of Your Own Thoughts-  
    We can all get caught listening to the little devil on our shoulder telling us that we just aren't up to scratch.That we just don't cut it. We should be more or less than we are.  Being aware of these thoughts and more importantly know how to respond to them.  If that inner voice is telling you your 'not good enough' - what do you do?  Well, you can try and ignore it - but if your inner voice is anything like my kids, the more I try and ignore their harping, the louder they get. Alternatively you can test, challenge and change your self-talk. You can change some of the negative aspects of your thinking by challenging the irrational parts - take the inner voice to task and question the validity of what it is saying (Is it true? Does it make me feel good? Does it help me reach my goals?) Or try replacing them with more reasonable thoughts. Doing this will enable you to feel better and to respond to situations in a more helpful way.  Ben Martin in the article  Challenging Negative Self Talk  provides a list of  challenging questions to ask yourself. Free Self-Esteem Worksheets  can be downloaded Self -Esteem School.

So while I didn't believe it when my Mum told it to me all those years ago, with the benefit of hindsight and the experience of years, I now know it's true. "Just Be Yourself"  because the people who know and care for me will LOVE YOU just the way you are - warts and all.  

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Getting the Most out of Your Day

Too many of us throw planning out the window when we retire or reach a certain age and just let our days wash away with the fading of the evening sun.  A recent incident with my mother -in- law who is in her mid 80's and lives alone reinforced my belief that life is short - and we should, not only plan our day, but focus on putting joy and meaning into everything we do - no matter how menial a task is - as it gives life meaning and brings us closer to achieving our dreams.

So what happened with my mother -in- law? Well, I went early to visit her as she was having trouble getting her newspaper. The delivery boy was throwing the paper too close to the road and she had been unable to collect it.  It was about 8.30 am in the morning. As I walked up to the front door I could see her sitting in the lounge chair and I thought she had seen me, but as I approached the door she did not move.  I knocked on the door lightly and she still did not move, so I knocked louder. I could see her eyes were closed and her mouth was open so I thought perhaps she was asleep.I tried the door and it was unlocked so I opened it slightly and said "Hello Mary". She still did not move, so I shouted louder.  When she still did not move - I started to get really worried - you can imagine what I was thinking. As I walked towards her she awoke and sat up straight.  I blurted out "Thank God, I thought you were dead".  She just smiled and said "I must have dosed off. Can't think why when I have only just gotten out of bed. Still I don't have anything to do today anyway". After sharing a coffee, I went home.  This incidnet go me to thinking about how important it is, no matter how old we are, to make the most of every day. As a baby boomer, I know that my time is limited so I need to make the most of each and every minute.

While there are a myriad of posts about this very thing, I figure I have some additional pointers for people in their prime who may no longer be in the workforce full time or are not quite as directed as they once were when family commitments dictated the daily schedule. I know that when I became redundant in my early 50's, I initially struggled to find a reason to get our of bed early or plan my day . Since then I have reclaimed my day by utilising the following simple self-coach tips.

Self-coach Tips to Making the Most of Your Day

  1. Starting the Day right the Night Before: Get a good nights sleep
  2. Create a Morning Routine - Your routine will vary from mine but it might include rising at a regular time,getting some exercise like going  for a walk or doing some yoga, eating a healthy breakfast, meditation or prayer, perhaps reading the local paper and getting up to speed on what's happening in your community.
  3. Plan your Day - spend  15 minutes checking your diary/calendar and making a "to do list".List the most important 3 tasks for your day - must be done. If you get on to the other items on your list it's a bonus. 
  4. Going for Your Goals - Don't let the dream get lost in the nitty gritty of the daily grind. Allocate some time each day taking a step towards achieving one of your life's larger goals. You might have a couple of these so choose one for the day and go for it. I have a dream board and a Ready Set Goal Chart above my desk to remind me of where I'm heading. I can already cross off one of my big goals - to complete a through walk. Yeah-ya.
     5. Do Something Enjoyable - In the hub hub of the day we can often fall back into "accomplishment mode" where everything is about getting things done as opposed to just doing something for the "fun of it." If you forgotten what that is - spend some time reconnecting with the inner you and find out what that "thing" is. I love to garden and scrapbook.
  5. Get Together with Others - Go for coffee with the girls or hang out with your mates for an hour.  Connect with a family member.   Have lunch with a work colleague. If you are house bound then pick up the phone or get online (yes even us oldies can Facebook). Connecting with others improves our health and makes us live longer.  But don't make it all about you.  Ask questions and listen to the responses - become fully engaged with the other person and their worldview.
  6. Be Grateful - It's good for the soul to remember our blessings. No matter how bad our situation is there is always something to be thankful for.   I like to jot down a couple of things that I am thankful for each day (see tip 9) as it helps me put things into perspective and think positive.
  7. Manage Your Energy - find your Prime Time - the time of day that your have the most energy and set the most challenging task for this period.  Also identify the time of day where your energy levels or concentration drops off choose activities accordingly. 
  8. Review Your Day -  Create a simple routine for the end of the day. I like to look back over my to do list and see what is left to be done.  I also like to journal about the my day recording the highs and lows. This reflection process enables me to plan for tomorrow and keeps me on track towards achieving my bigger goals. It's a bit of a brain dump which clears my mind of all the task orientated matters of the day so I can start to relax before the evening meal. 
  9. Unwind-  Before bed (actually when I am in bed) I like to read. At the moment I am doing a 90 devotional for women "Daily Steps for god Chicks by Holly Wagner.  My husband likes o read the National or Australian Geographic.  He generally falls asleep mid article.   
The University of Washington have created a quick tip that also includes a couple of additional hints like : 

  • Make use of waiting time - How much time do we waist in a day just waiting - waiting for the train/bus, waiting at the traffic lights; waiting at the doctors; being placed on hold while on the phone etc.  Instead of getting impatient use this time for a mini meditation session (hum a tune or take some deep breaths or do some stretches).  Alternatively do some small task or take a book to read.
  • Unplug - in an ever increasing "screen scene" society it can sometimes feel like we can never disconnect. But hey, why not set some boundaries around when and how long you or family members will use computers, mobile phone, ipads and even the plasma.  We are at the moment trialing a 3 months T.V free week -week-ends only.  It's amazing how a good old game of cards can be loads of fun. 

Enjoy Your Day
While none of these ideas are earth shattering, I hope you can make use of some of them to help you bring a little more sunshine into your day. Have a good one. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Resilience - Stepping up to the Challenge

This is not a Zen Buddhist Story but a Self Coach 2 Success original that I hope will illustrate Resilience in action and inspire others to take steps towards building their own levels of inner strength. 

Hiking/Limping  "The Thorsborne Trail " 

These boots are made for talking; not walking was the song I kept singing to myself when my boots had a “blow out” while hiking the Thorsborne Trail. The Thorsborne Tail is located on Hinchinbrook Island, off Queensland. The trail is only 32 km long but is fairly strenuous. It is not hardened or graded and in some areas is rough and difficult to traverse.  Not for the faint hearted My 20 year old hiking boots had been lost for years in the wilderness of my wardrobe until I pulled them on to test my mettle and endurance on this challenging 4 day/3 night through walk. For the non hikers this means you carry everything with you (tents, sleeping gear, cooking gear, food et).  It was something I had always wanted to do and my family were very supportive.   Hubby and 12 year old daughter were coming too. 

As you know from my past blog posts, this was going to be a real challenge, not only my mental resilience but also my physical fitness.
My  husband, a very experienced hiker, said that out of the three of us, I'd be the most likely person to struggle on this expedition.  Thanks for the confidence Hun.  I suspected at the time he might be right because of my age, am over weight, have feet problems and have been fairly sedentary lately.  Well, there's nothing like proving someone wrong. Right. 

Realistic Planning

To kit out for the trip we went to Anaconda and purchased a large hiking backpack that fitted well and could accommodate 20kg – not that I’d be carrying that amount of stuff – that’s why I’m going with the pack horse husband.  Think Reece Witherspoon in the film Wild and you have the general idea. After getting home with my new pack,  I duly loaded it up with  various items heavy items such  as laundry detergent, sleeping bags, hand weights etc to the weight of 15 kg. The next step in my training program was to walk up and down a steep hill for an hour a day 2- 3 times a week. Just when I stared to think “Yes” I can do this, my pessimistic husband told me that while this was ‘good practise’, the real thing was going to be much more challenging.  He suggested I should practice sleeping on the sleeping mat (a light weight orange mat about 1/2 inch in thickness) as he felt this would really test my commitment.  I declined. Sleeping on a thin mattress could definitely wait until absolutely necessary.

Managing Strong Feelings

Despite extensive planning and groundwork, I was not prepared for the complete failure of my hiking boot only hours after setting out on the trek.  I thought my boots were sound and in good condition for their age, but  as I waded through the first salt water creek (only about 3 km from the drop off point) the sole on the front of my right boot came unstuck.  Husband and daughter wisely kept their mouths shut and only asked what did I intended to do?   I think they both thought I'd chuck a razzy and demand we turn back. I must say though, quitting never entered my mind.  I’m proud of the way I responded.  I immediately when into problem solving mode and thought about how we might still be able to successfully complete the hike.  After some contemplation, I came up with the idea of  putting my sock on the outside of the boot. This would keep the sole from becoming further dislodged and prevent it being a trip hazard. A temporary fix until we reached the camp site. 

Problem Solving

After making camp, I went in search of a tinker or at least someone who might have some bibs and bobs to fix my boot.  The first offering was some wire which I declined for obvious reasons -  ouch. The next offering was some gaffe tape (silver sticky tape - which knowledgeable husband had packed but we lost somewhere on the trail) which I  accepted and wrapped around the toe of the shoe.  Another camper offered me some plastic garden ties which I thought I’d use if the tape was unsuccessful.

The next day I set off with my sore shoe (wrapped in tape with a sock over top) – which looked quite funny.  This days hike was over 10km of very difficult terrain.  My confidence in the success of this ‘quick fix’ did not last long.  The tape could not endure the rigorous movement required to climb  over large boulders, up cliff faces and uneven ground.  In addition, the sole had now completely come apart from the shoe. So I pulled out the plastic garden ties only to find that my daughter had already ripped one (pulled of the plastic zips off the tie) and we had lost the other one out of the pack.  So I hobbled along as best I could – every so often kicking the toe of the boot against a rock to push the sole back into place. 

Supportive Relationships and Asking for Help

When we stopped for lunch another group of hikers caught up with us. A woman generously offered to lend me her  crocs until I got to camp. She had read somewhere that a group of young hikers had competed this whole trail in crocs.  I was not sure of the validity of this statement but gratefully took her up on the offer wearing my boot on one foot and the croc on the other.  It was ironic as well because their were signs everywhere advising us to beware of crocs (crocodiles). HaHaHa.

Communication Skills

On the third day of the hike I set out in my sock /shoe – another long day according to the track notes.  My feet were holding up really well at this point considering I had to shuffle along to keep the sole and boot together inside the sock. About half way through the day we met up with some hikers from the  Narrabri   Bushwalking Club . I told one of their senior members the ‘shoe saga’. He told me a similar  story of woe and made the following recommendation for which I will be forever grateful:

Cut  holes in both sides of the shoe leather near the toe and heel. Then tie a shoe lace through the holes, under the shoe using the tread to hold it in place and then tie off with a knot on the side.

Confident in my Ability to Finish the Hike

That night at camp, my husband performed surgery on the offending shoe following the above instructions. The next day – the last day of the hike – I set off with my newly stitched and bandaged boot (sock on the outside) feeling confident that not only would we successfully complete the hike, but that we would be stronger as a family unit because of the challenges we had faced together.

As I reflect on the challenges I faced, with my family, on this adventure I am reminded that everyone has to face difficult events and challenging experiences. Most of us react with strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. My husband and daughter feared I’d blow a fuse when my shoe blew out. So this raises the question:  What enables some people to adapt well to challenging situations and stressful conditions and not others? The word that comes to my mind is resilience.

Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant stress.  It means being able to bounce back from difficult experiences. 

 Developing Resilience in Yourself and Others

We can all develop the skills to become more resilient, but it has to be a personal journey.  The American Psychological Association  in its brochure “Road to Resilience” provides some suggestions on how to build resilience. They include:
  • Make Connections - Build positive supportive reciprocal relationships and willing to ask for and accept help from them.  Also be willing to assist others in their time of need.
  • Don’t catastrophize – You can’t change that fact that bad things are going to happen.  However you can change how you think and respond to those events. Try to keep things in perspective.
  • Accept your current situation -Focus on what you can change as opposed to what you can’t.
  •  Be goal orientated – take small steps each day to move in the direction of you target.
  • Look for the Learning – If you have faced a challenge or hardship reflect on what you have learned or gained from the experience.
  • Keep a positive mindset - know your strengths and stretches and work with them not against them. Pat yourself on the back for getting thorough a bad patch - be your own cheer squad. I'm certainly congratulating myself on my completion of a physically and mentally challenging hike under difficult circumstances. 
  • Nurture Yourself – Develop confidence in your problem solving ability and take care of yourself both physically and emotionally


 I'd like to give a big SHOUT OUT to my husband and daughter for all their support and help on the hiking trip.  I could not have done it without them.  I also am grateful for all those people I met on the trail who offered support, advice and various bits and pieces to mend a broken shoe. the whole experience has given me confidence in my own ability to meet lfe challenges head on.

Finally I'd like to ask you what challenges or obstacles have you faced recently and how did you respond to them? I'd love to hear your story.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Life's Defining Moments

It seems to me now that there was a critical period in my life , with it's starting point to be found when I met my first love in the summer of 1975. Well, it is poignant now to see in my minds eye the girl - myself - as I was at that first meeting as a 17 year old teenager in the Kepnock School grounds.  I feel for her, I understand her; and if I could speak to  her now as I wish to do, she would not understand me the journey I have traveled to reach the destination that is my current existence.  I want to offer her some sage advice and be her friend, but that is not possible. She must live the years.

 "Perhaps everyone looks back to such a moment, but most likely not. I rather think that there are many worthy and contented people who never enter their other lives, who are never forced so far into themselves that they enter a strange country, and on balance I pity them though there are few of them I find I want to know. I think I subscribe to the dreary philosophy that it is suffering of one kind or another that makes us interesting.  Not that I believe in any duty to suffer or virtue  in mere endurance, but we must suffer in order to fully to live."(The Good Doctor, Groom, C., Phoenix House, London, 1995, p.17)

What do you think about critical turning points, the value of reflection and the premise that suffering is a prerequisite  to interesting character development and to fully live?

It is my intention to explore these concepts in more detail over the next couple of posts.I'd like to begin with turning points or defining moments.

Defining Moments 

What is a Defining Moment or Critical Turning Point?  It's the idea that at a certain point, something of significance occurs that shifts our way of thinking, being or doing and is likely to influence future events or actions.  Events or experiences that are transformative have the following characteristics:
  1. We suddenly see our current situation as no loner tenable.  We wake up to the reality of our existence and recognise it is not how we envisaged our life to be.
  2. We sense an underlying in-congruence between our attitudes and beliefs and actions
  3. We suddenly see our world/existence through a different lens 
Defining moments include a wide range of experiences across the life span. They could be the result of chance occurrences (those over which the individual has no control over) or those we have engineered  ourselves (those subject to individual choice and actions).  For example a car accident leading to a new career as a public speaker, a chance meeting at a cafe culminating in a marriage proposal or meeting a mentor who encourages you to pursue a new career in a different field to the one you have trained .  

According to theories on human nature our lives are scripted from early childhood to follow a particular path or life plan. This occurs subtly thorough the messages, both negative and positive with receive from the world around us, particularly the important adults in our lives (parents, teachers, ministers, coaches and other role models). These messages tell  us who were are and who we should become.  I remember as I child being told I was no good at math so I never considered any career that involved this as a part of the skill set, yet my brother became a highly regarded research scientist. He was bought chemistry sets as a child and encouraged to experiment. My father thought education was wasted on women as they would only get married and have children anyway.  I know, a dated view, but still prevalent in the world today subtly if not overtly. Therefore, subconsciously children make decisions based on these implicit and explicit messages which in turn form a life plan or script.  Turning Points occur when our personal life script is challenged and we have to decide whether to "lean into the new information or run away from it".  What turning points have you "leaned into" and which "have you ran away from"?  How do you feel about the choice you made ?

 Gini Graham Scott in the blog post "Do Life's Turning Points Make A Difference" argues that critical turning points may not result in life altering changes. She suggests they might just be an alternative route to reach the same place in life.  "In other words, if you have a strong goal, maybe turning points are really alternate routes along the way rather than being the only life-changing event to get you there. " This also means that obstacles or turning  points that might derail you can be seen as detours or short cuts or just "another memory of what happened while you were on that path." For example, as a teenager I wanted to pursue a career in the welfare sector, but meeting and being with my "first love" took me in a completely different direction. However, years later, after several detours (including marrying and raising a family) I ended up achieving this goal. 

Moment Mapping

An activity I would recommend to assist in  reviewing the significance of a critical turning  point is "Moment Mapping".  This activity will give you a chance to think not only critically but creatively about a particular life event and how it has featured in you life script.  

Sketch Paper
Art Supplies ( up to you how much or little - paint, pencils, crayons, brushes, scissors, glue, magazines etc)

1. Take a moment to sit quietly and think about the following:
  • What have been the critical moments in your life?
  • What moments in your life have helped define who you are? or
2. Which moments in your life do you think have been important in forming who you are?Now spend 20-30 minutes to artistically represent one of those moments in whatever way you see fit. 
3. After you have completed the Moment Map, write a letter from your future self to your  past self during that moment - it can include support, advice or what you have learned about your own life script and the significance of that particular event/person/choice. I love to scrapbook so I did a page including a letter to myself as a high school senior .

 I'd love to see your own Moment Mapping Masterpiece. 

If you enjoyed this post please share with your friends and keep an eye out for  the "Value of Reflection" in the next couple of weeks. 

Monday, 2 February 2015

When Things Go Pear-Shaped

At the recent Queensland State Elections (only three days ago) the Liberal National Party's aspirations to regain office went pear shaped when there was a massive swinging vote towards the Labor Party.  While the politicians and press were expecting a slight change, no one was expecting this particular outcome, not even the Labor Party.  Now everything is Shambolic -lots of high anxiety in both parties and politicians running around like "chooks with their heads cut off".  Stress, fear and high anxiety are the order for the day - for both political parties.

We have all had moments when life has not gone to plan - when things have gone pear shaped for us too. We appear to be going alone just fine and the next minute - "wipe out" . I know how it feels.  When my first marriage ended, I was devastated. Even though things had not been going well for sometime and I knew a break up might be on the cards, it was still a shock when it happened.  It left me reeling for months afterwards as I drowned in grief and loss.  I'm sure you all have had similar moments in your lives. However, it's not always big things, traumatic events or life threatening occurrences ( car accident, bankruptcy, death of a child) that send shock waves through our lives. It can be the seemingly smaller stuff like missing out on a job promotion, a place at university or failing an exam.  You can't rank these "pear shaped events" based on severity because as humans we are all unique. Therefore the impact and how we respond to the event will be different for each and every one of us.

How Do  We Cope

With Other Peoples Life calamities
An important aspect of these "pear shaped events" is how other people respond to our distress.  I think we all have a natural defense mechanism in which we make an art from of ignoring other peoples perils.  We might offer sympathy and a token form of support but we detach ourselves from their pain and try to limit our exposure to their raw emotions.  Not because we are selfish or uncaring but as a way of self protection.  Here are some tips on how to deal with other peoples "pear shaped events".

  1. Try not to over-react. If you panic, you are likely to over whelm them with your own response and make them more upset. Calm down before talking with them.
  2. Let them know you care and will support them as best you can. Spend a little extra time with them.
  3. Assist them to get professional support if necessary.
  4.  Listen and empathize. Be supportive and non-judgmental. Allow them  the time and space to express their feelings. Respect that people deal with crises differently, even those close to you.  Be patient and kind.
  5. Respect their need for privacy and be more tolerant. Give each other space.
  6. Validate the person . Show appreciation, give hugs and offer praise.
  7. Use rituals that can reaffirm  bonds and help the healing process (e.g., leaving flowers at an accident site or organizing a memorial service).Consider planning enjoyable activities for you and your friend/family to help them refocus their attention.  Be sensitive to how you do this or you might cause tension.
  8. Reflect on Change: After some time has elapsed, focus and talk about how each person has changed or grown as a result of the experience 

With our own Pear Shaped Event
“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.” 
Charles Swindoll

  1. Release the Negative Emotion: Don't hide from your feelings.  Scream and shout - Let it all hang out - at least initially. Owing and examining your emotionally response is all part of the healing process.  Talk about it with others who have had similar experiences or seek professional support. Talking is healing.
  2. Trust that you'll be O.K no matter what Happens: You have been through difficult times before so you'll be able to do it again. Be positive about yourself and your future. 
  3. Accept the Situation: No point in getting caught up in the blame game or wallowing in self pity (not for too long anyway) as this will only keep you "treading water" after the wipe out.  Everyone knows that treating water for a long time is tiring and if you don't start to swim you'll eventually drown.  So get swimming .Work out what you can control and what things you are not able to change. Don't expect too much of yourself – everyone falls in a heap at some time. 
  4. Focus on the Lesson: Rick Warren in the "Purpose Driven Life" says that painful experiences equip us for life. It is character building. When ever we try to avoid or escape the difficulties in life, we short circuit the process, delay our growth and development . Denial and avoidance of reflecting on the these seemingly random events stunts our growth and maturation. So look for the lesson in the random event - perhaps the statement "no pain no gain"  applies to more than a gym membership after all.
  5. Stay Solution Focused: After the initial emotional response (anger, frustration, grief, fear) take stock of the situation.  What is the real problem?  How big is it really?    What actions can you make in response to the issue?  If you stay focused on problem solving and looking for a solution you will be able to develop a plan to move your life forward beyond the crisis point.
  6. Take Action: Time now to put your plan into action. Set small realistic goals to help tackle obstacles. Take one day at a time and be kind to yourself. Get as much physical activity as possible. Exercise or learn relaxation techniques or meditation in order to relax and feel rejuvenated. Give someone a hug - touching is very important

Important Note: It is very important to recognize the strengths in yourself but also recognize when you need additional support. Being able to identify your needs and get the assistance you require can help reduce distress. Recognizing the need for assistance and seeking professional support will aid in achieving recovery and the development of resilience.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Pursue your Passion in 2015

Ever sat down at your computer to search for something on the net and then got distracted – menacing you ended up researching and reading something completely irrelevant to your original search?  That happens to me all the time.  I can literally waste an entire day and like Hansel and Grettle get lost in the forest of online information fodder.  After gorging myself for hours reading and digesting tips, tricks and free downloads, I am no further advanced then I was when I first booted up the tower of terror earlier in the day.

This story can be an analogy of my life: starting off with the best of intentions to further a particular goal, then getting distracted, side tracked and then completely lost.  Last year I wrote a number of posts at selfcoach2success including this one on Going for Gold on Goal Setting.  And there are a myriad of other similar posts out there that detail how to write SMART Goals and how to action them.  So I’m not going to bother regurgitating any of that stuff here.  Do a couple of Google searches if you are really keen or checkout my post from last year if you want to travel that well-worn path to goal activation.  Last year I set a number of goals and I fully intended to kick ass and achieve them – alas I was a FAILURE – well at least in the goals I set myself – but I transformed myself in other ways that were completely off the charts.  I started this new venture with Merna Soul Sister Circle, created new and inspiring connections with other women and taught myself how to use electronic media ( a big achievement for someone who is technological challenged).

Today, I want to step out of this old framework (SMART Goals etc) and explore some new paradigms. Take a step away from the crowd – this includes my engineer husband, James, who is a goal focused and list orientated person  (almost a slave to his lists in some ways).  He keeps badgering me about what New Year Resolutions I've set for myself. Well, it’s time for me to break the chains of conformity and buck the trend of starting the year with Resolutions (only to feel guilty and defeated when I fail to attain the prize). I have decided to reject these old tried and tested methods of progressing my life - much to James’ vexation.  He is uneasy with my new found philosophy and keeps reminding me that no Goal – no growth or gain.

As I said earlier this year I intend to try something “out of the box”.  It’s called Conscious Creation.  James is shaking his head and raising his eye brows as I write this sentence.  I know what he is thinking – “ New age fangled jangles – Linda chasing fairly dust again.  She’s spending too much time with that friend of hers - Merna.” Maybe he’s right, but I’m bored with treading the same old path year after year.  It’s time for me to try a new route with new thoughts and associated actions.  What to hear about it? Well read on.

Jeannette Maw at Good Vibe Blog   has summarized the foundational principles of Conscious Creation to 10 basic tenets. They are:
1.      Anything we can imagine we can create
2.      We create our own reality – based on how we focus (see last weeks blog – recreating your life through the story we tell ourselves and  others)
3.      Yesterday (the past) has no power over us unless we let it
4.      New desire comes from accepting what we don’t want
5.      We receive from the universe what we are feeling – eg think negative an that’s what you’ll get and the reverse it also true
6.      We don’t need to figure out how we are going to get what we want – that’s the Universe’s job – like this concept don’t you?
7.      Our job is to engage our power of focus
8.      Being appreciative puts us in alignment with all good things in the universe
9.      As we create our own truth everyone gets to be right – we don’t have to agree in order to get our own way
10.  Feeling good is both the target (dream) and also the path.

A bit more interesting than the usual ways of looking at things do you think!  Yes, it is a bit more airy fairy too, I suppose.  Anyway lets explore some of the ways we can go about designing a rich and rewarding future using the science of Conscious Creation?

The Process
1.      Look at your past ( see  last weeks post)
2.      Draft your life timeline – start with your birth and all the interesting events/activities/actions that have happened since then to the current date eg school, relocation, marriage, travel, employment etc.  Helen Anderson at ehow has provided a step by step instruction for this activity.You can also generate an online timeline or printable timeline .
3.      Explore where you are now – detail your current life down to the nth degree
The Wheel of Life activity is used by Life Coaches all over the world to help people explore their current situation and to determine satisfaction and balance in various areas.  I found this one a little bit different and thought you might like to give it a try too or alternatively you might like this one.
 4.      Imagine your personal life purpose – A free e-book on this activity can be obtained at Celestine Chua is the writer and founder of PersonalExcellence.
5.      Articulate a pledge to the future you.  

Some Useful Activities 

Commitment Card – Pledge to Future self

1. Write out your pledge or mission statement on 5 pieces of card. For example: “On the 31 of December 2015 I am celebrating New Year’s eve with two of my new friends”. It is important to write down the date.
2. Share your Commitment Cards with 5 people you trust and respect. If you don’t feel able to do this then post it on your desk top or some where you can see it every day.  Alternatively you can make a pledge online 
 3. Encourage these 5 people to inquire about your pledge. If you are doing it alone, re-read your pledge and think about that future self regularly.
4. Ask the  5 people you shared your Commitment card with to contact you on the date stated on the card to see if you have fulfilled the contract to yourself. 

Vision Boards
A couple of great sites with instructions on the do’s and don’ts of vision boarding.  Christine Kane offers a free booklet on the process or Martha Beck offers some additional  tricks. Merna and I are going to make a video of the process we followed and post it later this month.  Watch this space.

Hope you have found this an interesting alternative to the New Year’s Resolution conundrum.  I’ll be experimenting with this formula over the next month and would love to see your vision boards or response to this New Wave Formula for creating a future self.