“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.
Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?
- Growth & learning
- Daily relaxation
This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:
1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.
But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.
I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all.
2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.
Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.
3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)
When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.
”Be in a state of gratitude for everything that shows up in your life. Be thankful for the storms as well as the smooth sailing. What is the lesson or gift in what you are experiencing right now? Find your joy not in what’s missing in your life but in how you can serve.” ~ Wayne Dyer
What do you do when life gets messy? Your schedule is blown out of the water…people don’t respond as you expected…LIFE happens.
Do you crawl back into bed? Retreat into a movie marathon? Become paralyzed in inactivity and depression?
OR…do you know how to let go and see the beauty in the experience? If you’d like to handle change in this more positive way, then you are going to be blown away with the exercise I’m going to share with you…
Our brains crave order and simplicity; so change throws us off-balance. You want a “perfect” or ideal world. You want everything to be smooth sailing. So when you run into choppy water and the ride starts getting bumpy, it catches you by surprise every time.
How do you adjust your grip on life so you can hang on and still enjoy the ride? It’s a matter of learning how to let go and re-center on the positive. Counterintuitive isn’t it? Learning how to let go in order to hang on!
No, it’s not simple. But it’s a system for life that you master if you practice long and hard enough. Here’s how you do it…
How to Let Go and See the Beauty in Everything
- Notice when you’re getting anxious or frustrated. Are you tired, hungry, cranky, or have unexplained pains as your body is trying to communicate with you?
- Recognize that the problem isn’t the external situation. (Don’t play the blame game.) The cause of your anxiety is coming from your internal ideals. For example, you want order, but your high ideal for orderliness (that isn’t being met) is causing frustration and anxiety.
- Breathe, re-center and calm yourself. This helps you become mindful in the moment, with no ideals, seeing the situation with new eyes and an open heart.
- Let go of the ideal that is causing you pain or discomfort. Visualize it floating out of the room or away on the breeze.
- Own the fact that you have the power to create a new ideal for the situation at hand. Instead of looking outward, take some quiet time to look inward.
- Start seeing your current experience as perfect. That’s right! No matter how messy or uncomfortable it may seem at first, look for and see the beauty in it.
These steps are easy to say, but not easy to do. Why? Because we fight change. We hate to relinquish control. It takes real effort to see beauty in chaos. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to open up and soften yourself. How do you do that?
- Feel the hardness in your heart when someone disappoints you. Feel the frustration in your neck and shoulders when someone interrupts you or makes a mess of things.
- Notice your resistance. You either don’t want to let go or you can’t yet see the beauty in the moment.
- Consciously and deliberately open your heart and mind. Even if it’s just a little bit. Work at being more accepting of what’s happening. Maintain your attitude of gratitude. Look at it from the other person’s point of view. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Look for new opportunities that have suddenly opened up for you. Look for ways to express kindness, love and joy.
Change is hard for so many people. Sometimes you just have to get tough with yourself and make yourself do it. Would you like some help in mastering the messiness of life? I’d love to help you learn to let go of your ideals and focus on the beauty. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s work through the rough patches so you can more fully feel the exhilaration of life.
“Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a ‘nervous system’, to coordinate its actions” ~ Bill Gates, co-founder Microsoft
Are systems really that different than goals? On the surface they sound similar, don’t they? Yet how many goals have you set but never achieved? How does that make you feel? Like you’ve failed and are always starting over, right? In contrast, systems for life are daily habits, routines, processes, or practices you implement to support your intentions. And day-by-day, you reach your desired result in a much softer way.
For example, perhaps you set the goal of losing weight by a certain date. You may achieve that goal, but soon the pounds creep back on. Why? Going on a diet implies that at some point the diet ends. A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is a system of healthy eating and exercise that is ongoing and has lasting results.
Over the years, I’ve focused a lot on setting and achieving goals, developing small measurable steps and developing a buddy system. All of this is important, but it’s not effective if my strategies to achieve these goals aren’t successful ones.
What does it mean to develop systems for life?
Let me give you another example: Imagine that you want to go to the gym at 6am three times a week and you commit to doing that. You prepare your gym clothes and shoes the night before so getting dressed in the morning is a breeze. Your gym bag is ready and your water bottle is full and available.
It looks like you’ve set yourself up for success, right? But what if you decide to stay up late because you want to read 10 more pages of your book, or your friend calls and wants to talk about her ex one more time? Will you be successful at getting up when the alarm goes off the next morning?
And what if deep down you hate the gym? How long will you be able to sustain your commitment? When you associate displeasure with exercise, you unintentionally train yourself to stop doing it. If you force yourself to do it you end up using your limited supply of willpower. So what happens as a result? When you’re tempted to eat junk food you give in, negating the good that you accomplished at the gym.
How much better to create a system for being active every day at a level that feels good, while experimenting with different methods of exercise until you find the one you love. Maybe it’s something as simple as using a pedometer to count your steps. Before long your body is trained to crave that psychological boost. It builds a natural inclination for challenges that gently nudges you toward becoming more active. 10,000 steps today…12,000 steps tomorrow. That’s a sustainable system!
Don’t get me wrong. Goals are fine for getting a project finished. But they have their limitations…
- Goals remind you that you’re not good enough. You’re starting from that negative state and basing your happiness, not on the present, but on a future, which you may or may not achieve.
- Goals make you feel guilty when you don’t achieve them.
- Goals foster a yo-yo of short-term results, instead of a steady flow toward long-term progress, because as soon as the goal is achieved you revert back to previous practices.
- Goals make you feel powerless when you have setbacks. When you have systems for life you know you can pick it up again tomorrow when you feel better.
- Goals make you focus on one thing while de-emphasizing others things you’re committed to. Consequently, you’re more likely to miss out on opportunities that could be far better than your goal.
The interesting thing is that if you never set another goal, but have a variety of systems for living an excellent life, you’ll still achieve what really matters to you. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can mindfully enjoy the moment, while making improvements at the same time.
If you’re having trouble sorting out which system you need to implement first, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Normally, people tend to be process oriented. They write to-do lists everyday and feel like they’ve accomplished something only when they cross a line through one of the tasks. However this does little to overcome a negative attitude. To completely shift away from negativity, it’s important to become a results oriented person – someone who focuses on a desired outcome, not on a set way of getting there.
The results oriented outlook is far superior, for it gives you greater flexibility. You see the end result in your mind and you look for the fastest way to get there. You don’t get stuck when one way doesn’t work. That doesn’t matter. The result does, so you look for another way to make progress.
A results oriented outlook also fuels your passion. You really want the end result, so your energy level rises. The anticipation of the result makes the process enjoyable, even if an individual task is difficult or unpleasant. This can be illustrated by something Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness. To paraphrase his experience:
When he was still a novice at Tu Hieu Pagoda, he had to wash all the dishes for over 100 monks. They had no soap. They only had ashes, rice and coconut husks. The water was freezing cold, so he had to heat the water over the fire.
Today we have comfortable kitchens, hot running water, liquid soap, and special scrub pads. It’s so much easier. It should be a pleasure to wash dishes. In no time you can finish and sit and enjoy a cup of tea.
He said, “While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”
If we view it as a nuisance to get out of the way (a process oriented attitude), we are not alive to the miracle of life during the time that we’re washing the dishes. Thereafter, as we sit to drink tea, our minds would be racing onto the next task, hence not enjoying the moment with the tea.
However, if you want a clean kitchen that keeps your family healthy and happy (a results oriented attitude) you’ll enjoy each step that gets you closer to your objective. Wipe down the stove…that looks so good! Empty the counter of dirty dishes…wonderful! Put the dishes away in the cupboard…absolutely lovely!
Being results oriented will help you excel in whatever endeavor you choose. Here are five things to keep in mind:
Educate yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the information available. Choose the best information you need right now and avoid the rest.
Find role models. Look for the best and use their example to inspire you.
Develop mindfulness. Keep your big picture vision always in sight and daily practice awareness of what your actions, thoughts, and desires are doing to fuel your passion and move you toward your goals.
Make sure you’re in tune with your inner self. Do what you’re good at, that you love, that serves others, and that fulfills your purpose. This keeps your mind, body, and spirit in balance.
Persevere. Don’t let the Debbie Downers cause you to lose focus, but hold onto your self-confidence and conviction as you strive for excellence. Never give up!
Would you like to create more excellent results in your personal and professional life? I’d love to partner with you and you expand your leadership abilities. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” complimentary consultation so we can explore your options.
Do you really want to improve the quality of your life and the lives of those around you? If you do, it’s going to require serious effort to become a better version of yourself. It doesn’t work to keep living the same old stories you’ve been telling yourself for years.
What do I mean by telling yourself stories?
Every day we change for the better or worse. Over time a person can become so beaten down that they lose all self-confidence and start telling themselves that they’re stupid and they don’t deserve any better. It’s just a story, but they believe it and act in accord with it! On the other hand, shy, introverted people can build confidence and become world leaders by telling themselves that they have something remarkable to share with the world. And because they believe it, they actually do it.
As you can see, your story is formed by how you view yourself and how you react to the world around you. It’s very empowering to realize that you are the ultimate storyteller of your life and you can rewrite your story at anytime. Even if you’ve heard negative and limiting things your whole life, you don’t have to believe them.
How do you gain independence from your past self?
Recognizing that there are things you want to change about yourself is the first step. This discontent with self will start you on the path to becoming a new person. It won’t matter who you were yesterday. Do your best as you mindfully live in the present moment.
Yes, this is easier said than done. We all tend to bring self-imposed limitations of yesterday into today. That’s what keeps us stuck. So how do we break free?
Here are three steps to gaining independence from your past self…
- Create a burning desire to change by understanding your “why”. You may want to exercise daily, write a book, or start a business, but until you know “why” it’s so important to you, you won’t have the motivation to make it happen.
- Envision exactly what your life will become. Start planning. How will each day be different? In great detail, list the ways your life will be better tomorrow and five years down the road. It works a lot better to set intentions as you move toward these goals. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll create momentum. Each day you’ll like yourself better. Even if you stumble or fall back into old patterns, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and keep going, because you’ve had a taste of becoming the person you want to be and you’ll see it, not as a failure, but as a learning experience.
- Rewrite your story. Start living the life you want. Trade in your jeans for the dress slacks that make you feel like a professional businessperson. Treat yourself to a monthly massage. Eat healthier. Get up earlier and enjoy more productivity. Speak positively of others and of yourself, not allowing any negativity to enter your story. Step by step, create the life that you want. Believe you can and you will achieve the progress you desire. Because you’re really enjoying the improvements in your life, you’ll look for ways to continue on. Your new story will work for you, because it’s in alignment with your desires and actions.
Don’t allow a moment, a situation, or an experience to define who you are. You may have a moment of depression, anxiety, or anger. But that’s not who you are. You have the power to identify what triggers those emotions and you get to choose how to deal with those emotions. Take my 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment to see areas in your life where you want to rewrite your story to become the best you possible. Click here to download your free copy.