Happiness in a change of mind!
As a life coach, my job is to help and motivate people to make positive changes to their lives. I truly believe that mind-set is the key to happiness. So I believe that the biggest and most crucial key to making a positive change in your life is to change your thinking about the perceived “problem”.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”- Henry Ford
It’s very hard to change a situation if you are stuck in a negative mind-set. Let’s use the situation of being single as an example. If you hold the belief that “there are no decent men / women out there” or “no one will want me with three kids and a post- baby body”, then chances are your wish will come true. You’ll be unconsciously projecting an attitude and vibes which back up your thoughts and beliefs.
So how to switch? Here are some ways to switch your thinking which can have immediate benefits to your life without actually having to “do” much at all!
Flip your belief on its head
The first thing you can do it simply to flip your belief. Many limiting beliefs are completely unfounded so think carefully about whether your beliefs are positive or negative. To challenge negative beliefs write them down on paper in the opposite form e.g. “there are plenty of decent men / women out there” and “many, many women with three kids and a body with a few extra curves are in very happy relationships!” To strengthen these new beliefs, re-write them out daily. Before long, you will open your mind to new possibilities!
Focus on the positives in your life
We usually begin a coaching relationship with an exercise called the “Wheel of Life” which is like an instant life audit. A circle (wheel) is divided in to eight segments, the broad areas of life: Health, Career, Family / Friends, Finances, Personal growth, Romance, Environment and Leisure.
The client rates their level of contentment in each area on a scale of 0-10 (10 being amazing and it couldn’t’ be better and 0 being the worst it could possibly be). I ask the client to tell me about the things that are going well before focusing on what it would take to improve that area and get closer to or reach 10/10.
Often, people are surprised by what is actually going well! It’s so easy when you feel “stuck” in one area of your life to allow this to take over your thoughts and sap your energy. At times like these, it can be very helpful to take stock of what is going well and put things back in perspective.
OK you may be single but you may have a fantastic family and friends for support, be in good health and live in a lovely home with children and /or pets who surround you with love and a job which pays the bills! Being single is also an opportunity to re-discover yourself, take up new activities and make choices and decisions without having to consult another person.
Keeping things in perspective by focusing on the positives can make a real difference to improving overall happiness and contentment.
“Is that really true?”
Countering this powerful little question is an exercise which has had more impact on my decisions than any other and I challenge you to use it now. Pick something you have considered doing or want achieve in your life, but it seems out of reach. It could be anything, big or small, from taking a very round-the-world trip to becoming a beekeeper, writing a book, changing your name by deed poll, taking up highland dancing… whatever it is write it down.
It’s easy to procrastinate and think of objections but you will soon realise that the objections can nearly always be overcome and are mainly fear based barriers rather than real. Think of your objections and then ask “Is that really true?” Common objections include: I’m too old (there is seldom an age limit except in the mind), I don’t have the money (maybe not yet - money will flow once you commit to something), I don’t have time (we always find the time for things which are really important to us), I have too many responsibilities (learn to delegate), my mother / spouse / kids would never forgive me (that’s his / her / their issue, be empathetic to the concerns of others but firm in your decision), it’s too dangerous (most accidents happen in the home!).
Be happy in the moment
I lot is being splashed on social media and in magazines about “mindfulness” (being present or aware in the moment). For the purposes of finding happiness, quieting your mind to the present can be a huge relief. The past cannot be changed and the future cannot be fully predicted, yet we spend so much time and energy going over what has happened or might happen.
Human nature is to want more. Some of us postpone happiness until certain criteria are met – ‘I’ll be truly happy when I get the perfect (job / relationship / car / house / flat stomach etc.)’. Actually, we could simply chose to focus on the good things we may already have – people (friends, family, children, partners), health, pets, clothes, jobs, even what most of us deem essentials such as clean running water and food on the table. We already have so many good things in our lives our lives and by changing focus we can get more happiness if we choose to gratitude and take pleasure from that.
Also, it’s easy to get into a constant state of anticipation – you’re thinking about what’s for dinner while you’re in a business meeting and when you’re cooking dinner, you’re looking forward to the kids being in bed so that you can crash on the sofa. When “relaxing” on the sofa you are thinking about the 50 things you have to get done at the weekend!
Mindfulness is about focusing fully on each activity during your day and really living and making the most out of each moment. It may seem obvious but you really will have more productive meetings, feel more relaxed and happy and will form better relationships with your children or those close to you if you are present rather than distracted.
Slowing down and focusing on the present moment this can actually alleviate a lot of stress. Worry is simply picturing things in our heads which may or may not actually happen and more often than not is completely unfounded. There is certainly a need for planning ahead but not if it prevents you from enjoying the only thing that any of us truly has – the present moment.
Many of us find habits very hard to break. There are all sorts of articles and theories on the internet and in books and journals on why this is.
I have my own theory and that is, you have to REALLY, REALLY want to make the change. Sometimes, the pain of not breaking the habits need to be bigger than the pain of carrying on as you are. Once the pain is big enough, then breaking the habit becomes infinitely easier. You mind needs to be changed first.
For example, in my late teens and until the age of 21, I smoked cigarettes.
Then (age 21) I got pregnant with my first son. No withdrawal symptoms, cravings or difficulties in doing so. I stopped instantly. The thought that I might hurt my unborn child was too painful for me to contemplate and the decision to stop came easily and effortlessly. This is why I believe that having a good motivation is key to breaking a habit.
It is when quitting the habit or changing the lifestyle, becomes easier or more palatable than dealing with the consequences of carrying on in the same way.
For those of us who have not reached a defining pain point and don't necessarily want to wait!, here are my five top tips for breaking a habit an they all begin with the letter "R" to make them easier to remember!
So you want to run a marathon but you don't even own a pair of running shoes. Don't worry, as Nike said, you can do it! I was in the same position ten years ago and I ran a (OK it was a half) marathon. It took me 8 months to train and I did it by starting with a small, realistic goal. The small goal was to run around the block (about 1 km). I added a km to my longest training run, every couple of weeks building up to 18km a week before the 21km race. There is nothing wrong with having a big goal in mind, in fact, the bigger the better! (another blog post required for that topic I feel!) but for the most chance of success, it's good to be realistic in your time frame for achieving the goal, and to set a manageable mini-goal/s, given the resources and ability you currently have.
When trying to cut something out such as cigarettes, caffeine, sugar or sleeping tablets, cold turkey works for many but it's just one solution. Another way which feels more possible for many people is to REDUCE the item gradually. For example, if you want to stop smoking and you currently smoke 15 a day, cut down by 2 cigarettes a day each week. Within 2 months you will have reduced to zero. Even cutting down on a negative habit will usually bring big health benefits so consider this as an option if stopping altogether feels impossible right now. Slow and steady wins the race!
Habits are harder to break when they are associated with something, for example, if you always light a cigarette when you get into the car or you always have a biscuit (or a packet of biscuits!) with a cup of tea in the evening. When reducing or quitting a habit it's a good idea to have a REPLACEMENT activity ready and prepared in advance. e.g. keep chewing gum in the car and pop it in your mouth instead of a cigarette. Empty the biscuit tin and fill it with a healthier snack items such as mini bags of nuts, raisins or plain popcorn or even better, get out the crossword or Suduko instead of munching with your cuppa.
Rewarding yourself for breaking a habit can be very motivating. One example, if you go to the pub and stick to soft drinks, put the extra money you would have spent on alcohol into a jar when you get home. When the money has built up you can treat yourself to some retail therapy and feel good about doing so and for making healthy choices. Other rewards might include: going to see a new movie, spending a few hours (or a whole day) by yourself and doing whatever you choose (not involving the habit of course!), joining a club or taking up a new hobby you have always wanted to try, taking a long hot bath with candles and music, giving someone a massage, facial or manicure and asking them to return the favour, going somewhere new (restaurant, walk in the country, visit a new town, gallery, museum etc), planning a holiday... you get the idea! Write a list of you own favourite treats ready to reward yourself on a regular basis as you break your habit.
Finally, relax about the outcome. If you break the habit for while but go back to it, don't beat yourself up and resign yourself to failure. For example, if you eat healthily all week then succumb to pizza and ice-cream on Saturday it's not the end of the world! Instead of giving up, just start eating healthily again at the next opportunity. Small changes will add up to big changes over time but trying to get the end result too quickly is not realistic. Be more relaxed and kinder to yourself. Know that you can and will break this habit, reach your goal or carry on with a good habit.
A final note on breaking a habit. It's good to get into the mode of feeling what it's like to have achieved your goal or kicked your habit. Close your eyes and create a mental picture of yourself achieving your goal and really imagine being in the mind and body of the happy, healthy new you. To further help: write the goal down on paper, have a vision board with photos of you achieving your goal, put post it notes around your home, on the fridge or on your phone with reminders, motivational quotes and affirmations and tell others what you are doing so they can support you in quitting your bad habit or reaching your goal.
Imagine now that you have done it. You have quite the habit. How good do you feel? What's next?
Last week I heard a statistic that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by 8.02 pm on the first Friday after the New Year. Any surprises there?
“I want to get fit”, “ I want to lose weight”, “I want to save money” etc. starts in the right way. Joining the gym, Googling the latest fad diet, whizzing up green smoothies and by-passing the bakery... All the intentions are good and we start with a flourish. But a few days later, on Friday night after a long, hungry, frantic week at work catching up, what happens? It’s cold and wet and the temptation of staying in, watching the box with a glass of wine and a takeaway is too much for even the strongest amongst us!
By Saturday, we shrug our shoulders and return to our usual habits, briefly berating ourselves for having no willpower and say “what the hell, there’s always next year!”
So what is the reason for this? Why are so many of us unable to keep resolutions and fall off the horse at the first hurdle? What can we do to stay on track and reach our goals? Can we do anything to stay on track or should we just settle for what we have?
The reasons we fail are these: We don't want it enough, we set ourselves fuzzy, unrealistic goal and we try to take the fastest short-cut to success.
I will repeat this in a different way! If you set yourself New Year resolutions and have failed already, the chances are YOU DIDN'T WANT IT ENOUGH, YOU DIDN'T SET YOURSELF AN ACHIEVABLE GOAL/S WITH A CLEAR OUTCOME and / or YOU CHOSE A ROUTE THAT WAS TOO HARD TO MAINTAIN.
Here are three steps to achieving a goal, and TAKE NOTE! Step one has to be there before 2 and 3 will work!
Breaking your goal into small, manageable steps, is more likely to get you to the end result. Going back to weight loss as an example, semi-starving yourself for a month may allow you to drop a stone in weight but it will be very hard to do and even more difficult to keep up long term. You may end up feeling weak, hungry, deprived, antisocial and unhappy in the process. Isn’t it better to make small daily changes to you diet e.g. eating cake as a treat once a week instead of four times (or more!), dishing up smaller portions at most mealtimes and avoiding takeaways in favour of home-cooked, healthy meals? Over the course of a few months, these changes will see the same benefits as the crash diet but with less pain and effort. It’s like climbing the mountain the sensible way!
DESIRE – YOU HAVE TO WANT IT ENOUGH
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Driven and Time- Bound
TAKE THE WINDY MOUNTAIN PATH TO THE TOP INSTEAD OF THE STEEP ROCK FACE
Many of us find decision making very difficult and procrastinate, hoping that someone else will make the decision for us. For example, staying in an unsatisfying job until one day, we get a promotion or get made redundant, which forces a change.
The reason we find decisions so hard to make is usually attributed to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of overwhelm, fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of making a mistake, fear of losing something or someone, fear of upsetting others… And there’s nothing wrong with any of these emotions! They are perfectly normal human feelings and nearly everyone experiences them.
Are you aware that not making a decision is a decision in itself and will have its own consequences. The consequence is usually the fact that someone or something else will change and will affect your destiny rather than you being in control of your own life to some extent.
In her book “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, the late Susan Jeffers suggests that no decision is a “wrong” decision as you will experience learning outcomes from any action (or inaction) that you take. With this is mind, how can we assertively make a decision, stand by it and move on?
Here are 5 steps for confident and informed decision making:
1) Is there a time limit? If yes, use the time to do some homework around the pluses and minuses of the decision, who will be affected and the likely consequences. If there is no time limit then either, relax, the answer may come in its own time, or if the issue is important enough to you, set yourself a time limit and continue with the next 4 steps!
2) A list of the Pro’s and Con’s can be a very powerful visual tool for decision making. Quite simply fold a sheet of paper in half long ways and list the Pro’s on the left and the Con’s on the right. Seeing it on paper can bring real clarity. If the Con’s can be dealt with quite easily then maybe you need to ask yourself what is really holding you back?
3) Seek professional advice where necessary. First, beware that even professionals have their own agendas and often, they also want to profit out of giving advice (think financial advisors). However, taking advice from someone who has successfully achieved what you are seeking to achieve with your decision can have the benefit of avoiding some mistakes along the way. e.g. If you wish to launch into property investment, and have a property in mind, asking the opinion of a successful property investor before taking the plunge, may be useful for avoiding pitfalls you hadn’t thought of. You can ask the opinion of friends and relatives but BEWARE! What is best for other people is not necessarily what is best for you.
For example, say you were deciding whether or not to buy a dog for Christmas. If you were to ask your dog-loving aunty who lives in the country and owns three poodles, she is bound to say yes, absolutely, it’s the best thing you will ever do! If you ask your jet-setting, bachelor, younger brother who lives in a tiny apartment and takes 5 holidays a year, the advice will be very different! The point here is that if you seek the advice of others, make sure you ask the right questions of the right people, and be aware that they are answering with their own values, experiences, fears and limitations in mind. Relatives in particular may be worried about you making a “mistake” and want to protect you from getting hurt. Listen to genuine concern by all means as sometimes others can see what we can't see, but at the same time, continue to take the advice as part of the whole picture of what is right for you.
4) What is the worst case scenario? Often, when we put things in perspective, our fears are minimised. For example, if I spend my bonus on a new car instead of paying off some of my mortgage, the worst case scenario might be that I add 6 months onto my mortgage. Be careful around fears and how they continue to impact decisions! My worst fears are that if I were to lose my job or there was a major economic crisis, my mortgage repayments may become impossible. However, at this time I'm pretty certain I will increase my income in the next ten years and the capital gain on my house will more than outweigh the short term cost of the car. If I lose my job, it shouldn't take me long to get a new one. A major down turn in the current economy can't be easily predicted so I will deal with it if or when it should occur. Buying a new car won't stop the effects of losing my job or a recession anyway. Decision: I really want a new car and the feeling of having a reliable and nice looking vehicle in the short term outweighs the feeling of reducing a chunk of my mortgage. I buy the car!
5) Listen to your intuition. Inner guidance is often overlooked but if a situation is making you feel unhappy or uncomfortable or you are constantly drawn to thinking about something new, then take time to feel and listen to your instinct. Simple exercises which can help are: Create a vision board with pictures of how you would like your life to be and what / who / where you would like to be in your life. Do a brainstorm on paper of what you would do in your lifetime if there were no barriers or limitations (money, time, responsibilities, fears). Work out your top 5 life values (come to my workshop or find an exercise online) and think about where you are living in alignment and out of alignment with those values. Write a joy list - all the little and big things which make you happy or give you pleasure. Using these exercises may help you to uncover what you want deep down and help you listen to your "gut" feeling.
So finally: Make the decision and stick with it! Great leaders are often seen as being great because they are decisive, confident and take regular forward moving action. When you look back at great leaders decisions, however, they have, like all of us, make some decisions which turned out to have negative consequences.
How to make a decision: Set a time limit, gather relevant information by: listing the pro’s and con’s, seeking professional advice if relevant, working out the worst case scenario. Then be confident and decisive. Know that you can handle the consequences of the decision and that life will go on (unless you decided to jump out of a plane without a parachute in which case you forgot to do steps 1-4!). Be prepared that there may be negatives, some people may not like your decision, your new puppy might chew up your favourite shoes, you may miss your old colleagues for a while etc. but there will always be benefits, as all decision-making is an opportunity to learn. You never know, it may be the best decision of your life!
I was watching a documentary the other day about Simon Cowell (of X factor and Idol fame) and they described how he only got his first job in the TV/ music industry through persistence. He had a job as a runner ( an entry level role) and when that finished, he just turned up at the studios every day, ignoring the fact that he was no longer employed. They decided to keep him on anyway. He worked his way up in the industry until he co-owned a record company, Fanfare Records. When that nearly went bankrupt, he could have given up. But again, he persisted and got a job with BMG records. He found financial success by persuading actors Robson and Jerome to sign with him and they produced a single "unchained Melody" which shot to no.1 in the UK charts. The rest is history.
I'm not suggesting for a minute that we all should want to be or emulate Simon Cowell or that money and fame are the key attributes of success or that they are routes to happiness. The point of this story is that Cowell had a vision, a dream which nothing got in the way of. He tried and tried again, not giving up until he found the success and lifestyle that he wanted. Persistence was incredibly important, but driving this persistence was a VISION and a FEELING of SELF-BELIEF.
What is VISION? It is nothing more than a thought or picture, in someone's head. What is SELF-BELIEF? A FEELING that something is possible. So to achieve your own goals all you need is the power to THINK (visualise), FEEL (believe) and PERSIST (take action), if action is in alignment with the goal. This can all be controlled by your mind.
However, for those of you who are interested in Law of Attraction, there is an important key feature of these three steps to success. This feature is the ONE thing which engages the universe, putting everything into alignment so that you achieve what you want with ease and flow.
This is the Key:
The Law of Attraction states that yes, VISION and action must be accompanied with a FEELING but not just a vague thought that something is possible. It must be the true feeling that the goal has actually happened or is happening now. For example, if you are single and want to meet the perfect partner, it's good to have a picture in your head or to write a detailed list of what that person looks like, how they behave, their personality traits, the type of job they do, their values, attitudes, the way they treat you, their hobbies etc. But according to the Law of Attraction, the KEY to having that person step into you life is to create the FEELING that you already have that person in your life. Create and relish in the feelings of warmth, love, security, excitement, butterflies, friendship, happiness .. Whatever emotions that being in the perfect relationship would bring to you, create them now.
The law of attraction is based on the energy fields created by thoughts + emotions. As well, there is new evidence forming in science that the brain is not the only conscious receptor in the body. Link to an article here. The heart also creates a huge energy field and there is suggestion that it has a thought center of its own. The scope of this topic is outside of this blog, but the best way to test this stuff is to try it for yourself. Strongly visualise a goal, start to take actions towards the goal (if this is possible) and practice daily taking on the feeling that the goal has already been achieved. I did a money creation visualisation this week and have found coins on the ground twice already plus I received a generous gift.
I hope to to hear your success stories soon!
What can coaching do for me? I was recently thinking about my "elevator pitch". What do I do, and more importantly, what can I do for you as your life coach? It was uncanny how all the things that sprung to mind, begin with the letter C! Here goes:
Clarity - coaching helps you to visualise future goals and get clearer on what you really want in life or business.
Calling - for some people, there is a feeling that they haven't yet found their life purpose. By exploring your values and motivational drivers safely in a coaching situation, you can reach that "aha" moment and get started.
Control - and I don't mean control of other people - that is never a solution as every individual is on his or her own journey and will learn life's lessons if and when they are ready. It's about regaining control of your own destiny, taking positive action where needed and also (importantly) learning to let go of things you can't control.
Calm - sometimes we seem to fall from one drama into another drama and we can't see the wood through the trees! Coaching will help you to recognise when you are taking on other people's issues or creating drama for yourself and help you to prioritise your energies and consequently feel calmer and more able to cope with problems in life.
Confidence and Capability- often we procrastinate or never achieve our goals because of fear based emotions. Coaching can really help you to take baby steps towards your goals which seem more manageable. It can challenge limiting beliefs which are holding you back from achieving your goals or change your perspective on a situation so that what once felt impossible, now becomes possible.
Consciousness - I added this last 'C' because I am personally very interested in modern theories about universal energy such as the law of attraction, mindfulness, quantum physics and the fact that our thoughts have the power to affect reality. I am by no means and expert on these topics and I never force these theories onto my clients but I like to observe the many miracles that happen once mindset is positively changed.
If you would like to set up a coaching session or for an informal chat please call me or email me
I look forward to hearing from you.
07736 809 687
I truly believe that this quote is at the core of life and more specifically, our experience of life. How we view the world, our beliefs and the actions we consequently take, determine our happiness and contentment.
You are very lucky. You have a most powerful tool at your disposal. Your mind. It has no boundaries. It can take you anywhere you want to go and lead you to happiness and contentment whenever you wish.
Every man-made object that you see around you, every business or service you can purchase, began as an idea in someones mind. The way that you act and behave, the things that you do every day are driven by your mind, whether unconsciously (blinking, breathing) or consciously (what will I do today?).
It's a rather philosophical thing to get your head around, but if you can understand that "you" are not your mind but that you are actually in control of your thinking, life can be a lot more fun!
Why is it that one person is afraid of heights and won't leave terra firma whilst another will happily jump out of a plane and skydive for fun?
I'm not suggesting for a second that sky diving is for everyone! but just consider this: it is simply a difference in thought processes that differentiates the two people.
The good news is that if you have goals and wish to change your life, you can do this simply by working on your mind. Challenge your limiting beliefs. Ask yourself: "Is that really true?". Don't find excuses for why you can't do something, ask yourself: "Why Not"?. Who is that voice in you head that says you can't? You can! You want to be more confident? Successful? Happy? Choose it. Stop your negative thoughts dead in their tracks and reverse them. "I could never start my own business" becomes " I can start my own business". "I'm too old to start a new hobby" becomes "I'll never be too old to start a new hobby"...
There is much literature on this subject. One site I have found very useful is The Work of Byron Katie
It's free and you can access the link here.
It is said that we have over 50,000 thoughts per day. Most people just take these thoughts for granted and allow then to dominate the quality of their lives, the feelings that pop up, to control of the actions we take or to stop us from taking action ( aka "fear"). In fact, we are totally in control of which thoughts we choose to fill our minds with, which thoughts we choose to entertain and which to discard. We are therefore in charge of the quality of our lives.
Turn your mind for a moment to a happy memory. It might be a birthday celebration or a holiday spent on a beautiful beach. Close your eyes and really see, smell and taste the warm sun, the great company or the delicious food which helped make this day so happy. Now return to current reality. For the time that you imagined the happy memory, admit it, you forgot those bills you had to pay, the weight you had to lose, the worry about the relationship, the pile of work you had to do today..
Negative thoughts about bills, for example, can be useful in the short term as they alert us to pay now to avoid fines, but dwelling on them permanently does nothing to make the bills go away and only causes us stress. It seems simple, but we truly have choice over which thoughts we fill our heads with in the present moment. It make sense therefore, that if we choose positive thoughts over negative thoughts then the quality of our lives will be better. Three strategies for eliminating negative thoughts:
1. As soon as you catch yourself thinking negatively, immediately dismiss the thought, mentally, throw it out and refuse to entertain it.
2. If it is possible to do so, take one small step towards addressing the problem which has caused the negative thought, e.g. if the problem is that you don't like your job, take a look on the internet at a job site or an up-skilling course. You will feel better for doing something proactive, however small. Praise yourself for taking a step. Then move on.
3. Reverse the negative thought by replacing it with a positive. "I hate my job" becomes "It's great that I have a job, and if it no longer suits me then I have the ability to look for something more full-filling for the future".
For a great article on how our thoughts create our reality, I recommend this article - click the button below.
As a coach, I believe that I should practice what I preach!
As such, I have my own coaching mentors who hold me accountable
to action and help me to focus on my own goals and what's
important to me, for my life.
I am continually on the look out for new perspectives, coaching tools
and approaches which I can use for my own personal development and to grow my skill set, which in turn benefits my clients.
I really believe in sharing knowledge so that everyone benefits, hence my commitment to continue blogging with any snippets of information, connected to self-development, which have helped me in my own life.
Today, I want to share with you, a link to the website and a very generous, practical and interesting blog I have recently come across.
Colin Hiles (aka The Mindset Guy) offers a number of FREE youtube videos which I believe many people can benefit from watching. For example, in the blog dated 8th Oct 2014, Colin talks about 'Unlock the power of "no" for greater happiness and success'. In the video, he offers a practical and simple tool which you can apply today.
I can get job satisfaction
How happy are you at work?
Rate your overall contentment on a scale of 0-10, zero being “nothing feels good about it right now” and ten being “I absolutely wouldn’t change a thing”
Obviously all jobs have their ups and downs but working in a job, being in a role or working for an organisation which is consistently out of alignment with your values can create a feeling of discord, unhappiness, restlessness or de-motivation.*
When you find yourself dreading going to work or when work is negatively impacting your mood, relationships, motivation and energy on a regular basis, it might be time to re-assess your life values so you can make a change in the right direction.
Satisfaction, happiness and contentment can be linked directly to creating and living a life which aligns with your values and priorities, and these may change evolve at each life stage.
Values are the things you hold important in life. Our values make us unique. They are what make one person a great firefighter and another more suited to being a teacher, a lawyer, electrician, writer, a botanist or an Olympic athlete… Some people are influenced and motivated by a sense of contribution and meaning. Others require security, creativity, autonomy or power. Other values include honesty, integrity, safety, order, belonging, respect and reward, and the list goes on…
Without necessarily being conscious of it we are drawn to roles and situations which match our life values.
There is hardly ever one perfect job for life. The reality is that things change over time. We change, organisations change, the economy changes, our lives change, relationships change, circumstances change, our needs change, our motivational drivers change, our values change.
And that’ OK. The challenge is in recognising it’s time for a change and making an informed decision on what to do next for the best.
Here’s are some examples:
Without realising it, Karen values order, trust and respect and is also motivated by security and autonomy. She trained hard to become an accountant, enjoys her job and has worked for the last 5 years in a small yet established firm with prospects of becoming a partner. Unexpectedly, the owner is taken sick and the company is enveloped by a large accountancy firm. Karen inherits a Managing Director who doesn’t seems to acknowledge her opinions and ideas like her old boss did and wants to micromanage her work. As you can imagine, Karen feels unhappy, powerless and frustrated.
Integrity, authenticity and ambition have always been important to Emma who has worked her way up through the ranks to become Head of Marketing for a major fashion retailer. Since having her first baby and taking time off for maternity leave, Emma is now feeling demotivated and distracted back at work. Her priorities have changed. She is less interested in buying high fashion for herself as a significant portion of her and her partner’s income is now spent on childcare and baby needs. As well, she is struggling to find the energy and motivation she used to have to attend all the after-hours events that are expected in the role. Emma feels conflicted because she wants to give the same commitment to the job but doesn’t have the same passion for the brand that she used to. She feels guilty missing her baby’s bedtime when she has to work late. She doesn’t want to lose her marketing skills and enjoys the creativity and the social interaction she gets through her role.
As a life coach, one of the first things I would suggest to both Karen and Emma is that they evaluate their current life values. An easy way to do this is to take a list of commonly held values and to cross the unimportant and not so important ones off the list until you get to your top 10 values. Some of your values will remain static over the years and others will change, influenced by your age and life experiences.
If you rated your own contentment at work as 6/10 or less, then try checking your values against your current job situation.
Gaining clarity on your top ten values can help you to see where you are living out of alignment and can make it easier to see where to take positive action.
In Karen’s case, if she evaluates her values and can see then identify the lack of respect and loss of job security as the issues, it may motivate her to actively seek a new company with supportive management and offering the security she desires. Alternatively, she may decide to communicate to her boss what her values and needs are so that a solution may be reached. She may even decide to relax her need for security and set up her own business which will give her the autonomy she desires and potentially, better security in the long term.
An option for Emma may be to find a way to combine her fashion and marketing skills by moving away from high fashion adults clothing to a children’s clothing retailer. She may even consider planning and setting up her own online maternity and baby fashion store, which can be started from home. She might decide on a complete change of career direction, take a part-time role or go to full time parenting for a while. Understanding her current values will help her make a better decision on what is right for her and her family right now.
By taking time to learn about and understand yourself you can design the life that matches your unique personal attributes. In this case, aligning your work with your values can really help with overall happiness, success and contentment in a significant area of your life.
* If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety or symptoms of depression, please seek professional medical advice.
1. Acceptance Change is the only constant in life. Even if you were to stand in one place for the whole of your life, your body would still age, technology would continue to develop in the world, trees would grow and die, people would come and go, the sun would set and rise. Accepting change is the first step to adapting.
2. Want It Enough So you want to change a habit, a behaviour, a negative mind pattern, a limiting belief? To do this, you must really, really, really want it! Diet is a popular example. Lots of us wish we could lose weight, know we ought to, should but often times it's not until we have a health crisis that we actually do. Why is that? Deep down, maybe the reasons aren't clear and compelling enough. We need clarity around why we want to change.
3. Accept Discomfort Yes there may be fear, discomfort, effort, mental fatigue, resistance, failure before you move forward. This is GOOD! It proves that you are changing. If you can accept it, go with it, and learn to live with these "inevitables" in life, then change can occur.
4. Not Everyone will Like it. Be prepared. As you change, others around you may respond in curious ways. They will tempt you with food if you are dieting, they will be angry at you for saying no when you would normally say yes, they try to quash your new-found happiness and give you warning advice about the changes you are making. If you expect and prepare for these reactions from people then they won’t hinder your success so easily. The good news is that if you are committed to the change then the people who matter will eventually come around to your new way of doing things. If they were not true friends in the first place, they will move out of your life making way for new friends who do support your values.
5. You Can't Change Others FACT. However, positive changes that you make within yourself, will often have profound affect on the people around you. If you become more kind and giving, you may well begin to receive in ways you never expected. If you learn new ways to communicate with your spouse, you may find that they begin to open up to you too. If you start to treat yourself with a healthy respect (create boundaries), you may find that others treat you with a renewed healthy respect.
What change will you create today?
Photo: "Temporary" Sculpture by Delicia Sampero,
We can learn from the experiences of those who have already been through the challenges we are facing and have succeeded. Here is one for all aspiring entrepreneurs our there!
"The most important thing is attitude. We must strive to aspire and achieve against all odds with integrity, you come up with an idea, you have little or no means, you have all the odds stacked against you, you make it happen and you do it with integrity; to me – that is the definition of entrepreneurship!"
Quote from Lord Bilomoria (Cobra Beer Founder) Click Here for a link to the full interview
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. ~Victor Frankl
Change can often take courage. Today I was reminded of a story. The story tells of a bear who had spent all the days of her life in a cage, pacing up and down in an area, 3 metres square. Many years went by, and one day the keeper died and the door was opened. The bear was set free.
But the bear did not run away and enjoy her new life of freedom in the wilderness. She spent the rest of her days pacing an area, 3 metres square. She had learned to live within the boundaries. She had no reference, no guide, no vision for what opportunities may be beyond. She was bound by her mind.
We are very much creatures of habit. Some of who we are is possibly genetic but we learn from our upbringing, our parents our situation, education and our culture the "correct" way to behave and act. We are influenced by others; "Don't climb that tree in case you fall!", "Rich people are pompous idiots!", "Sail round the world? Why would anyone want to do that?".
We also place limits on ourselves, based on the media, what we read, the company we keep, compounding life experiences, and beliefs and fears which develop over time.
For many people, to move outside of the cage we wait until it's enforced on us – such as a redundancy, a health scare, separation, divorce or a death.
But what if you were enlightened enough to be constantly looking outside the boundaries? Challenging your own perceptions and beliefs about what you are capable of doing and where you are capable of going and who you are capable of being?
What if you took baby steps, and then great strides away from the cage. Could you reach the horizon? And what is beyond the horizon?
You have a choice. Will you be the bear, pacing 3 square metres for the rest of your days? Or the bear who ventures far and wide seeking greener pastures, warmer climes, the freshest water, the most beautiful vistas?
Change coaching can help release you from the boundaries of your cage.
Imagine I needed you to fundraise $200 to help my son's soccer team to buy some new balls. Could you do it? What activities spring to mind? How long would it take you? Who would you ask to help?
Now imagine I ask you to fundraise $1million to buy a machine which will save many lives.
What are your thoughts on that? What activities now spring to mind? Is it possible? How would you do it? How long would it take? Who would you ask to help?
What did your mind do? Did it search harder and further when asked to raise $1million? Did you still think it possible? If so, were the ideas for raising the money bigger, better, involved more creativity and people?
Why in our own lives do we only think small when we could think big? Whatever thoughts you place in you mind, your subconcious will begin to think up solutions to get you there. So think bigger, not just about raising money and financial abundance, though that is a start. Think bigger in health, love, challenges, happiness, career, lifestyle, friendships, home...set big goals, write them down, maybe post them on a vision board, think about them daily - watch what happens!
Fear is a natural instinct which can be good when confronted by a lion in the jungle, but can hold us back in modern 21st century life!
Consider this: All the great performers, presidents, pioneers and change makers, (think Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, even Madonna!) feel / felt fear before during and after making decisions and taking action. What is the difference between them and you?
The difference is that that accepted fear as part of life, didn't let it detract from their visions, and found a way to move through it.
If you want to learn how to "Feel the Fear and do it Anyway", then read this excellent and, possibly, life changing book by the late Susan Jeffers. Click here for the link.
Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist. In 1906 he developed a theory that 80% of his country's wealth was owned by 20% of his country's citizens. Over time, this 80/20 principle / pattern has been noted to be true in other areas of life, and in particular, has been picked up by the business community. For example, it is said that 20% of your clients provide 80% of your income, 20% of your staff are responsible for 80% of your production, 20% of your time produces 80% of your results... There are many articles on Pareto's Principle, and once you are aware of it, it can help you to focus your time and resources more productively.
Below is a link to an article by Yaro Starak which expands on Pareto's Principle perfectly and explains how it applies today.
Personally, I'm a great believer that most of our creative thinking (80%!) is done in our subconscious mind, while we are away from the task. Often our best ideas come to us after or while exercising, dreaming, resting, meditating, playing, shopping, fishing or some other form of down time. These activities may also be called "procrastination" but in fact, time away from a task / business, is essential for renewing creativity and thinking up solutions to problems.
As with all new information, once you are aware of Pareto's Principle, you can take the parts which relate to you / your life / your business, and then use it to your own advantage.
To attract great friendships and maintain great relationships, we must mirror the behaviour of the people we want in our lives. Do you want a friend who gossips? Do you enjoy a partner who criticises? Is it useful to be told what you should or shouldn't have done?
Before you speak, THINK!
T - Is it TRUE?
H - Is it Helpful?
I - Is it Inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?
Be the person you want in your life :)
CONFIDENCE TIP No. 1
If it's something you have never done before, go on a date with yourself, by yourself. Yes, a date with you! Go to dinner, a movie, ice skating, a concert, theatre, tenpin bowling... choose something you know you will enjoy but have never done alone.
Write the date in your diary and keep to it, commit to it, but go alone.
If this idea fills you with fear or dread, do it anyway. What is the worst that could happen? What's the best that could happen?
Try to be detached and curious about your feelings before, during and after the date. Write down these feelings. After the date, was it as difficult as you thought it was going to be? Would you do it again? What were the good things that came out of the experience? Have you learnt anything about yourself?