“I need to stop spending so much money.” Or “I should start eating more healthy food.” We all have a habit or two we’d like to break, yet despite our best intentions, longtime routines die hard. This morning on Radio Times, we’ll talk about our habits – at work and at home – and how we can change them. We’ll be joined by career coach ANNA PAPALIA of “SHIFT,” who helps business professionals adopt new habits and eliminate the ones that get in the way. She wrote a blog series on habits and consults with corporations and universities to nip bad habits in the bud before they begin. We’ll also hear from MITESH PATEL, about his recent research that found financial incentives can be a strong factor in motivating people to exercise. And finally, we’ll talk with licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist AMY MORIN about what we can learn from her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”
There are times in our lives when we have to move on when we are perfectly content, when nothing is wrong and when we have no reason to leave beside the one we create for ourselves. Friends of mine just moved half way across the country because they want to be closer to mountains so they can ski regularly but it was an excruciatingly hard decision to leave all of their friends and neighbors. One of my client’s loves the company she works for but there is no room for her to advance so she must move on to a new job. When my college student’s graduate, they often tell me they don’t want to leave, that moving on is bittersweet.
It’s a tough decision to move on when you aren’t leaving anything bad. A new opportunity is often twinged with a little regret for what you are leaving behind. Just when you figured out your routine, made friends and know all the good parking spots you need to move across the country. Just when you finally found a place that is a good fit, you have to change it all up. Just when you got comfortable in one phase of your life you have to transition to the next.
Clients often tell me that they don’t want to make a move because everything is perfect just the way it is and they don’t want to change anything. I understand that, believe me when times are good I don’t want to rock the boat either but there are times in life when your dreams or your goals or you future calls you and you have to let go. There are times when you have to leave something behind that you love or something that you worked really hard for or you have to dismantle a precious creation so you can make room for another one because you cannot have it all. There are times when there isn’t anything bad about what we are leaving behind, it’s just time to go. You can’t live in the city and ski, you can’t get a promotion if there is none to be had and you can’t stay in college forever.
There is a quote that helps me through times of positive transition, “Do you know what a mandala is? The Tibetan monks make them out of dyed sand laid out into big beautiful designs and when their done after days and weeks of work they wipe it all away. Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can and when you are done pack it in and know that it’s all temporary. You have to remember that, it’s all temporary. Surviving here is all about perspective.”
-Shift into Balance Life & Career Coaching for Professionals 215-901-3088-
You know those people who complain about everything. No matter how great things are they always find something to complain about. Or is that you? Do you complain more than you’d like? Let me tell you, nobody wants to hear you complain. Nobody. Not even other complainers, they don’t even wanna hear it.
Nobody wants to hear you complain.
It’s my opinion that people complain when they feel powerless to fix their situation. The next time you find yourself complaining ask yourself, “What can I do besides complaining to improve my situation?” If you complain about traffic, perhaps you can try a new way to work, or you can approach the problem differently or you could let go of it altogether. If you can’t think of anything, if you are truly powerless ask yourself, “How can I make the best of this situation?” Look for the humor in it or make a game out of it. Perhaps you can take the time while you are sitting in traffic to think or to enjoy the weather or listen to a funny podcast. If you can’t make the best of it, look for 5 things to be grateful for. Instead of using your energy to complain, use your energy to have gratitude. You may love your car or you may reflect on your day and think about all the awesome stuff that happened or you could simply relish in the fact that you are breathing.
What you focus on expands in your experience. When you complain you are making the problem worse. The act of looking for a new solution or having gratitude not only makes you feel better but actually improves your experience. So, give it a try the next time you want to complain ask yourself, “Do I feel powerless? What can I do to besides complaining to improve my situation? How can I make the best of this?”
Are you unhappy at work? Are you struggling to figure out why you are unhappy? Often when we are unhappy it’s hard to figure out why because unhappiness colors our view and makes everything seem awful. If you are struggling with career unhappiness, and you can’t see the metaphoric forest from the trees may I suggest making it very simple- just ask yourself these two questions.
Question 1- Do you like your job? (Meaning the actual work you do, your day-to-day job, your tasks, the projects that take up most of your time and your chief responsibilities.)
If you answered YES, then move on to Question 2.
If you answered, “Well, I like my job BUT I am overwhelmed and it’s tough to do my job because I am so busy and I really would like it better if there wasn’t so many projects.” That answer albeit long winded and full of excuses is still YES and you need to also move onto Question 2.
If you answered NO, it’s pretty simple you don’t like your job and that is quite possibly the reason for your career unhappiness but please move on to question 2.
Question 2- Do you like the company you work for? (Meaning the corporate culture, the management philosophy, the products they sell, the brand and their reputation in the marketplace.)
If you answered yes to question 1 and yes to question 2, CONGRATULATIONS you are in the right job and the right company! You are most likely just going through a rough patch or the source of your unhappiness has nothing to do with your career.
If you answered Yes to question 1 and no to question 2, TAKE COMFORT that you like what you do but you just don’t like where you do it. The solution is simple accept what you can’t change about the company, continue to work there while reminding yourself that you love your job or if you can’t do that, look for the same job in a new company.
If you answered NO to both questions 1 & 2, STOP everything you are doing and start looking for what will bring you happiness. Don’t stay miserable, don’t ignore the unhappiness, don’t live life hating both what you do and where you do it. There are too many great jobs and too many great companies out there for you to be stuck in a career that makes you miserable. As Lao Tzu said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are headed.”
We work for money but often the work that we do costs us more than the money we make. Your job may suck the life right out of you. Is money worth it? Your boss may make you crazy. Is money worth it? You may put your life on hold until you get a raise or a bonus. Is money worth it? You may do illegal things, put yourself in harms way and jeopardize everything. Is money worth it?
What are you sacrificing for money? What are you missing out on just for money? What are you prioritizing over money? Is money everything to you? Is it scary, unmanageable and elusive? What is money worth to you?
What you are willing to put up with for money, has nothing to do with money and everything to do with YOU and your beliefs about money. The worth you give it depends on your attitude and your beliefs about it. To simplify it, money is a tool. A hammer is a tool. It’s used to break things and drive a nail. Your relationship to a hammer will inform your attitude about it. Do you feel insecure and scared if you don’t have a hammer? Put differently do you feel insecure and scared if you don’t have the tool you need to do a job? I am willing to bet you don’t think too much about a hammer. It’s just a tool. You either have one or you don’t and if you don’t you simply go get one, a hammer serves a specific purpose in your life and your identity doesn’t change whether you have one or not. Money can also be seen this way. It is also a tool that serves a specific purpose and does not define you.
If you’re struggling with money may I suggest you re-frame the way you look at it. Take away the emotional stuff, remove your personal feelings of worthlessness and look at it for what it is, a tool.
We all go through life expecting the benefit of the doubt. Expecting that everyone in the world will understand why your shirt is wrinkled. It’s not that you’re lazy it’s just that you were in a hurry this morning. You don’t normally cut people off in traffic, it’s just that you have to get to an interview. You really are patient and thoughtful it’s just that you are starving and have a terrible headache.
We are all under extraordinary circumstances everyday and we believe that others will take that into account but that is not the case. Others do not take your personal situation into account. When you get cut off in traffic, you think that the other person is rude. When you are on a team with a guy who never pulls his weight, you believe that he is lazy and incompetent. When you see someone in a wrinkled shirt, you don’t think that they were in a hurry. You think that they’re a slob. We don’t do this because we are judgmental and mean, we do this because we don’t take into account the power a situation has over someone else, it’s a psychological phenomenon called “ the fundamental attribution error.” Where we see other’s actions (cutting someone off in traffic, dropping the ball in an important meeting and wearing a wrinkled shirt) as a reflection of their character (they’re rude, impatient and lazy) but with ourselves we recognize the pressure of circumstance. When someone drops the ball in a meeting, they are lazy but when you drop the ball in a meeting it’s because you were up all night with a sick toddler.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we gave others the same benefit of the doubt that we expect?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we thought about reasons why a person might be acting that way instead of just assuming that they are rude, impatient and lazy?
A way around “the fundamental attribution error” is to do just that, to imagine someone else’s circumstances before making a snap judgement. There may be a perfectly good reason why that guy is driving slow in the fast lane. Perhaps he was recently in a car accident and is nervous about driving on the highway again. If that were you, you’d expect others to understand. Give it a try, the next time you find yourself judging a stranger, imagine for a moment his or her story and circumstances the same way you’d hope someone would do for you.
The other day I was I was eating outside at a sidewalk cafe when a father carrying lots of grocery bags rushed passed with his daughter following him. When they passed me the little girl said, “Wait up! I can’t walk that fast.” As I watched this, I sensed his frustration. I thought to myself, he’s doing all the work carrying all those bags and all his daughter has to do is keep up and she can’t even do that. Then I heard a BOOM! The little girl trying desperately to catch up had caught her sandal on the lip of a metal basement door sticking out from the sidewalk and fell right on top of it. The sound of her falling on the hollow metal made it sound catastrophic and she was down with a scraped knee and one shoe off.
The father 20 feet ahead looked back and I could see it in his eyes that he knew he had a decision to make; he could insist that she get up and brush herself off or he could walk back and help her. As I watched waiting to see what he would do I imagined myself as the little girl sitting on the hot metal door, embarrassed that I fell and crying over my skinned knee. I imagined that I would’ve wanted my father to comfort me. With my perspective as an adult I also imagined myself as the father annoyed and sick of carrying all those bags thinking, “we don’t have time for this.”
By now, the father was making his way back to her. He no longer looked frustrated. As he got closer he started to unwind all the plastic bags from his wrists and fingers, he slowly put them all down and kneeled next to her. He kissed her forehead and helped her with her shoe. The father who had previously been rushing down the street no longer had anywhere to go. He was there, fully present, taking his time knowing that someday the important thing about that walk wasn’t that he got the groceries home in one trip, in record time but that he was there for his daughter.
I’m in the business of giving advice and that can be tough because as everyone knows no one listens to advice. When I became a Career Coach I thought that that would change because people were paying for my advice but nope, people still don’t listen. I was surprised that even when they ask, even when they agree with me and trust me people still don’t listen to advice.
Not one to give up I researched how to give and receive advice better and what I found is, if you want someone to hear what you are saying or if you want to be open to someone giving you advice then you must accept one truth- You already have an opinion on the matter and you are biased to it. That means that no matter how sound or how expensive the advice is, you won’t take it if it contradicts with your existing opinion. Which is a huge problem because your existing opinion could be the very thing that has gotten you into this mess in the first place. So, how can you remain open minded and set aside your opinion when being given advice? Pretend that you are listening to the advice for a friend and take into consideration what your friend may need to hear. We loosen our opinion bias when we take into account someone else’s point of view. The next time someone gives you advice act as if you are making a decision for a friend and turn about is fair play, the next time you give advice start with the caveat that your point of view must be considered in addition to your advice.
-Shift into Balance Life & Career Coaching for Professionals 215-901-3088-
*This issue was explored in a paper by Ilan Yaniv and Shoham Choshen-Hillel in a 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. These authors suggested that people who have their own opinion are more likely to take into account advice they get when they are asked to take another person’s perspective rather than their own. Read the whole paper here Exploiting the wisdom of others
“My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well- the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.
I think about the woman I have become lately, about the life that I am now living, and about how much I always wanted to be this person and live this life, liberated from the farce of pretending to be anyone other than myself. I think of everything I endured before getting here and wonder if it was me- I mean, this happy and balanced me, who is now dozing on the deck of this small Indonesian fishing boat- who pulled the other, younger, more confused and more struggling me forward during all those hard years. The younger me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying the whole time: “Yes- GROW! CHANGE! EVOLVE! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in wholeness and maturity! I need you to grow into me.!” And maybe it was the present and fully actualized me who was hovering four years ago over that young married sobbing girl on the bathroom floor, and maybe it was this me who whispered lovingly into that desperate girls ear, “Go back to bed, Liz” Knowing already that everything would be OK, that everything would eventually bring us together here. Right here, right to this moment. Where I was always waiting in peace and contentment, always waiting for her to arrive and join me” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
As a Life & Career Coach I help clients design the lives they have always wanted. What better time than a move to make some overdue changes, establish new routines and let go of all that old stuff that is weighing you down. Here are 10 things to do when you move, to have the life you have always wanted.
1) Do more with less- Have you accumulated hundreds of those plastic grocery bags? Use them as packing peanuts and then get rid of them once and for all and buy 5-8 re-useable bags. Most grocery stores sell them right at the registers. (Check out this Buying Guide- The Best Reusable Shopping Bags) Not only are they better for the environment but they are more efficient because they can hold three times as much and they take up less space. Keep a few in the trunk of your car, so you will always have them when you need them. Coaching tip- Becoming more effective and organized will allow you to accomplish any goal quicker. Where can you be more efficient?
3) Say no- In order to have the life you do want it means you have to learn how to say NO to the stuff you don’t want. This can be tricky, especially if you are easily tempted by coupons, flyers and special offers. So, since you have to change your address anyways, you might as well opt out of all those catalogs while you are at it. Not only will this decrease junk mail but it also eliminates the temptation to buy stuff you don’t need. Coaching tip- Coupons come with expiration dates that cause anxiety. If you decline, opt-out and unsubscribe you will decrease anxiety. (Check out CatalogChoice.com a free service to stop unwanted mail and opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.) What gives you unnecessary anxiety?
4) Establish discipline- If you want to lose weight, get healthy or simply live more consciously throw away your microwave. Microwaves make it entirely too easy to make bad food quickly. Not having the ability to heat and eat in under 2 minutes will give you time to think about what you are about to do. Coaching tip- Convenience might be sabotaging your ability to establish discipline. Use the stovetop directions, your food will taste better and you will make better decisions. Where can you slow down and make better decisions?
5) Clean up as you go- If you bring your old dirty stuff to your new clean place your new clean place will no longer feel new or clean. If you want a fresh start don’t bring your old dirt with you. Before you pack it, clean it. Coaching tip- Your past and Your pain will follow you until you make a decision to feel it, accept it and fix it. “The best way to escape a problem is to solve it” What have you been running from and trying to escape?
7) Make a commitment- Relationships are the most important part of life. If you live alone and you can’t commit to a pet, get a plant. It will improve your air quality and your mood. If you have children, give them a plant as a housewarming present for their bedroom. (Check out these 8 Powerful Plants that Can detox your home.)Coaching tip- Taking responsibility for something other than yourself is rewarding. Why not?
8) Create a routine- If you always lose your car keys, create a new system in your new house. Put a hook by the front door where you will always hang your keys. Put a little dish on your dresser where you will always put your rings. Coaching tip- Create a vision of what you want your new life to look like and then devise a new routine to make your vision come true. What do you want to get better at?
9) Make room for your future- With all the technology we have at our fingertips you no longer need to hold onto your textbooks from college and all those CD’s. They take up a lot of room and they are super heavy to move so let them all go. Recycle the out of date books and magazines. Download your CD’s and scan your old photos- that way they are protected from getting damaged and you will have an electronic copy. (If you don’t have time to scan all those old photos, PhotoBin will do it for you.)Coaching tip- Letting go of your past allows you to make space for your future. Where are you preventing what you want from coming into your life because you are too busy holding onto your past?
10) Surround yourself with what you love- I am always surprised when clients tell me that they hate most of the stuff that they have. Life doesn’t have to be about putting up with stuff we hate. If you want to be happier, surround yourself with stuff that makes you happy. Before you bring that hideous chair to…
1) What happens in your cubicle doesn’t stay in your cubicle! – DON’T USE SPEAKERPHONE
Everyone hears everything and you are always on display. You have to learn how to get along with your neighbors. Being liked shouldn’t be underestimated! Social capital is just as important as your ability to do the job. Coaching tip- Don’t yell or talk over cubicles. The quickest way to lose the respect of your co-workers is by being too loud, too casual and disrespectful.
2) Do not clip, bite, file or paint your nails in the office. – DON’T BE GROSS
After surveying 100 executives I was shocked to find that almost all of them had experienced someone clipping their nails in the office. Don’t be that guy! Coaching tip- All personal hygiene should be done at home with the exception of blowing your nose– you can do that, but be discreet. If you have to do it a lot, you may be too sick to work.
3) The bathroom is not a boardroom. – DON’T WORK IN THE BATHROOM
There is only one type of business that should be conducted in the bathroom. Allow everyone his or her privacy and personal space. Don’t follow someone in there to give them a status update on your project. Don’t try to network and introduce yourself at the urinal. Coaching tip– Keep it brief. Stick to chitchat and don’t hang out in there.
4) Your cubicle is not an extension of your house. – DON’T MOVE IN
I understand that you want to decorate and put up pictures and a poster and a calendar because you want to make it your own but resist that urge. Your cubicle is not your living room– it’s a workplace, so keep it uncluttered. Coaching tip- If the CEO walked by your cubicle, would you be proud of your space? Does it emanate professionalism?
5) “Hello… hello. Can you hear me?” – DON’T USE YOUR CELL PHONE
If you are on your cell phone at work you aren’t working. Don’t tempt yourself. Never bring it to a meeting and never ever check Facebook while you are at work. Coaching tip– If you are tempted, leave it in your car or in your desk drawer. The only acceptable ringer is silent. If you can’t resist the urge to check your phone, TURN IT OFF.
6) Just because there isn’t a door doesn’t mean you shouldn’t knock! – DON’T BARGE IN
Everyone is busy and everyone has work to do. Respect everyone’s space and time. If you want to network with someone, be respectful and ask when they might be available. Then set a meeting and have an agenda. Coaching tip- Act as if you are going to your neighbor’s house. Knock and ask, “Do you have a moment?”
7) “I am sitting right next to you!” – DON’T IGNORE PEOPLE
If you call someone, leave a voicemail. If someone emails you, email them back. Email should not be your only form of communication, especially if they sit right next to you. Make sure you speak to people face to face and learn everyone’s names. Coaching tip- Once you hit send, that email could go anywhere. Make sure it’s formal and professional.
8) Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. – DON’T MICROWAVE FISH
If you heat something up or burn popcorn everyone is going to smell it. Is that what you want to be known for? If someone brings something in for everyone, don’t take more than your fair share and whatever your do, don’t steal anything from the fridge! I don’t care how long it’s been there, or how hungry you are– DON’T DO IT! Coaching tip- Respect the communal space, clean up after yourself and make contributions.
9) “Every time I try to print something the printer is out of paper!” – DON’T BE A JERK
Nothing worse than going to print something and there isn’t any paper in the printer or you go to get a paperclip and someone took them off your desk. Coaching tip- A good team player sets everyone up for success. Even though it’s a public space and it’s just a stapler, you can’t take stuff off someone else’s desk without asking.
10) Your body language and tone of voice says a lot about you. – DON’T GOSSIP
This is not “The Hunger Games,” or reality TV. You will not succeed, win favor or impress anyone by being mean, negative or judgmental. Being liked and respected comes from a genuine interest and sincere concern for others. If you are only interested in people when it’s convenient for you or when you want something, it’s difficult to build trust. Coaching tip- Falling asleep in meetings, avoiding eye contact when talking to someone and wearing your headphones in the hallway are all ways of saying “I don’t care about you.”
Have you experienced an offender of these rules? Have you succeeded in creating great relationships with your co-worker because you have followed the rules? I’d love to hear your experience, thoughts and advice, please comment below .
I had a professor in college that equated depression and sadness with a scab he said, “It looks awful and you want it to go away but it serves a purpose. It’s part of the healing process.” Everyone has pain in their life. The death of a loved one, a lingering heart break and regret over missed opportunities. Pain is inescapable but it’s also temporary and like a scab will go away once you feel it.
Some people avoid feeling it and they end up subconsciously controlled by it. Others are pre-occupied with their pain and they can’t stop picking the scab. It’s a tough balance to strike because you have to process the pain to ensure that it will scab over but if you keep picking at it, it will never go away.
Are you re-opening an old wound or do you trust that it will heal?
Have you ever driven behind someone that doesn’t use their blinker? You naturally assume that they will continue going straight but out of nowhere they make a left and cause you to suddenly slam on your brakes. Using your blinker is a way of communicating your intent, it tells everyone, “I am going this way.”
Communication is pretty important. It’s probably the most important factor when it comes to relationships. If you don’t communicate no one will know what you are doing, where you are going and what you need. It may be difficult to be vulnerable and tell someone what you need but it’s better than relying on other people’s assumptions because assumptions are never quite right.
Don’t assume that everyone knows where you are going. Use your blinker. Stop pretending that everyone knows what you are thinking. Use your blinker. In order to communicate your intent, you need to first know what it is. If you have trouble letting other people know where you are going, stop and figure it out first.
Love is a powerful force of nature. It happens organically. It appears out of thin air. Most often it’s instantaneous but from time to time develops slowly. It’s magical. Love like a hurricane is supernatural and cannot be forced. You cannot manufacture a hurricane and you cannot make anyone love you. No matter how hard you try. No matter how pretty you are or how perfect you act, love doesn’t work that way. It’s either there or it isn’t. It’s a phenomenon. It’s uncontrollable. It’s a mystery.
With all good mysteries we try to solve it, control it, figure it out and predict it. We are all more like meteorologists’ trying to predict when the storm will hit, and what the damage will be rather than spontaneous romantics. The mystery of love makes us crazy. We want to make it happen. Love just like a storm doesn’t work that way. No matter what you do, no matter how much you talk about it and want it, you have no control. You can’t make anyone love you. You can’t make it rain, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. We believe instead that, “If I do this…he will love me.” and “If I buy her this… she will finally see me.” but it doesn’t work. It never works, because you cannot manufacture love, the same way you cannot manufacture a hurricane. It’s either swirling all around you or not. The sooner you accept that you cannot make it happen the sooner you will save yourself a lot of pain and suffering.
“There are lots of hermit crabs in the tide pools near my house. They’re interesting little creatures. A hermit crab will find a shell that fits him, put it on and live in it. After a while, he grows and the shell no longer fits, so the crab scurries along the sea floor and finds another shell to live in. He crawls out of his first shell and into the shell that fits his new needs. This scene repeats itself again and again throughout his life.
Learn a lesson from the hermit crabs.
Just because a decision was right for you yesterday, doesn’t mean it meets your needs today. People grow. People change. And sometimes we have to let our safe little places go, in order to grow and change.
Are you holding onto something that doesn’t work anymore, just because it’s safe and what you know? It could be a behavior pattern- such as feeling victimized in all your relationships or wearing yourself out trying to control what you can’t.
Thank the lessons, people and places of the past for all they’ve taught you. Thank your survival behaviors for helping you cope. There is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable and safe- having lifetime friends and a career that serves us well. But don’t’ get so comfortable that you can’t let go and move on when it’s time. If the walls are too confining and limiting and you’re feeling stuck and bored, maybe it’s time to get out and find a new shell. There’s another shell waiting that will fit you better, but you can’t move into it until you leave this one behind.” Melody Beattie Let yourself change and grow
Being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t see you, appreciate you or understand you can take a major toll because although you may try really hard and spend a lot of energy on forcing it to work it doesn’t result in a better relationship, it just results in pain. I married the wrong person and there was a lot of pain in our marriage because nothing we did seemed to work. It was hard to believe that working hard wasn’t the answer. It was hard to believe that quitting was the best solution but I just remember how depleted I felt and that alone made the idea of sticking with it impossible.
After separating, I tried to describe how it felt to be so depleted to a friend, “I felt like a plant that had been abandoned and left for dead in a seldomly used room of the house and when I left, it was like someone put me outside and watered me for the first time in years. I went from being ignored and barely existing to being seen. It took feeling the sunlight and the water that had been deprived of me for years, for me to realize how thirsty I had been. I used to constantly crave. Now, my leaves have turned green because I have exactly what I need. I’ve perked up and I didn’t even know that I could but I started to blossom and not cute little pink blossoms but these big beautiful exotic blossoms that I didn’t even know I was capable of creating.”
I finally realized trying hard wasn’t what depleted me it was that I was trying hard at the wrong thing and once I made a change it all became so clear. Like a plant wilting, my feeling depleted had been a sign that I wasn’t getting what I needed. I could no longer go on without being loved and seen. I used to be mad at myself for not being able to suffer through it, for not being able to thrive on the bare minimum but now I see how crazy that was. How cruel it would be to expect a plant to thrive in a cold dark room let alone expect myself to live my whole life that way. It was a hard way to learn the lesson but I know now that you can’t thrive if you aren’t getting what you need. Do you have what you need? If not, maybe it’s simply a matter of moving closer to the window, and you’ll see there is no longer reason to wilt.
Do you have a habit that you’d like to break? All habits from biting your nails to eating when you aren’t hungry and buying stuff you can’t afford are all formed and created the same way through reminder, routine and reward. If you’d like to make a good habit stick follow the formula. If you’d like to break a bad habit become conscious of the formula and then crowd out your current bad habits with new better ones.
Reward- the benefit. You get closer to where you are going.
The first step in breaking a habit is to think about what the trigger is? What happens right before you start biting your nails, eating when you are bored and buying stuff you don’t need? Every habit has a trigger. You are stressed, what do you do? You are tired, what do you do? You are excited and happy, what do you do? The light turns green, what do you do?
Some habits have multiple triggers and are very nuanced with several layers; eating, smoking and drinking are terrific examples of habits that have many triggers. If you want to be successful in breaking a bad habit might I suggest you start with a simple and straightforward bad habit and work your way up to the more nuanced, deeply rooted ones. Then once you break a small habit, you can go on to apply the same principle to the bigger more complex habits. Once you crack the code, you can break any habit.
Let’s break a bad habit, shall we.
Pick a habit that you want to break, think about it. How does it make you feel? What is it and why do you want to break it? Got it, good. Keep that in mind- now we need to find your trigger.
First step, reminder. The light turns green.
Think about the steps that lead up to your bad habit. If you think back, the clues to what trigger you are in the events of your day. Perhaps before you went on your shopping spree you got an angry email from your boss or you started to feel bad about yourself because your co-worker looked so great in her new outfit, or you had a great day and felt like celebrating?
Coaching tip- The trigger isn’t a tough boss or a fashionable friend or a celebration a trigger is how YOU interpret those things. Nothing and I mean nothing can make you do something, you are in charge of your reactions and your habits are 110% your responsibility. So, when I say trigger I don’t mean it’s something you can blame your bad behavior on. It’s not your mean boss’s fault for making you feel bad or your fashionable co-worker’s fault for making you feel inferior and you can’t you use the excuse that you just wanted to let loose and celebrate. A trigger is just the light turning green, what you decide to do after is up to YOU! (Your reaction to a trigger is what becomes the habit.)
That bad habit you are trying to break, what is it again? Think of the last few times you did it and then think of what preceded it. Write it down or if you can’t remember, the next time you catch yourself doing it ask yourself, “What just happened?” Perhaps right before you started biting your nails a friend told you that the test is going to be super hard.” Stress and anxiety is your trigger.
Second step, routine. You step on the gas.
Now that you have isolated the trigger, the next step is to change your response to the trigger. When you get stressed instead of biting your nails, talk to someone. When you are bored, go for a walk. Crowd out the bad behaviors with new ones. You will never be able to get rid of the trigger, but you can change your perception of it and your response to it.
Last week, I wrote that in order to make a good habit stick you need a plan. “Psychologists have found that if you have decided in advance what action you will take you will be three times as likely to succeed! It’s called “If, then planning.” “If, then” planning, can also be used to break a habit.
Here’s how to do it: If X happens then I will do Y. “If I get an angry email from my boss then I will not take it personally.” “If I see something I want to impulsively buy then I will walk away and wait 24 hours.” “If I want to snack then I will ask myself ‘Am I hungry?” “If I am angry then I will take 10 slow deep breaths.” The idea is to create a new behavior/reaction to the trigger.
If someone asks you to skip the gym and your if then planning (“If Jan tries to get me to go out for happy hour then I will politely decline and I will still go to the gym.”) doesn’t work because Jan is really pushy, and starts to convince you that you need a margarita more than you need to workout, say it out loud, “I will be disappointed in myself if I don’t follow through with my commitments and let myself down.” It’s easier to pretend that you aren’t avoiding your goals when you don’t talk about it and avoid it. It’s much harder to deceive yourself and abandon your goals when you say it out loud and you are staring at yourself in the mirror.
Coaching tip– Ever wonder why there are so many mirrors in department stores? It’s to deter theft, because if you see yourself in a mirror just as you are about to shop lift you will be less likely to do it because we don’t like to watch ourselves do bad things….
Last week I wrote about how to pick a new habit and this week I am going to cover how to make a good habit stick. Habits whether they are good or bad are all formed and created the same way through reminder, routine and reward.
Reminder– the trigger. The light turns green.
Routine– the action you take. You step on the gas
Reward– the benefit. You get closer to where you are going.
A client once asked me, “Why is it so easy to stick to bad habits and so hard to make a good habit stick?” In the most basic terms, “It depends whether or not you want to reward or punish yourself.” If you do stuff that makes you feel bad (bad habits) then you are punishing yourself. (This can be confusing because bad habits might feel like a reward i.e.- when you binge on cupcakes, spend like a Rockefeller or drink like a fish. It’s fun and feels good but that “reward” is fleeting and temporary and in actuality the consequence is a punishment.) So, before we move on ask yourself do I reward or punish myself and if so why do I think I deserve to be punished?
Once, you believe that you are worthy of a reward than you will start treating yourself better and you will make better choices which will turn into better habits.
Now, that we have that out of the way.
Let’s say you want to make the bed everyday, work out more or save money. The first step is creating a reminder that will trigger the behavior. (Now, if you want to break a bad habit that means you must disassociate the current reminder with the current routine. Let’s say you want to stop biting your nails you first have to recognize what triggers you to start biting them in the first place.) Next week I will write about how to break a bad habit but for now let’s focus on how to make a good habit stick.
First step, reminder. The light turns green.
A reminder is the trigger that sets the behavior in motion, the best reminders are things you already do. If you drink coffee every morning attach a new habit to it. “When I drink my coffee in the morning, I will take my vitamins.” Since you currently do it you won’t have to add an extra step to remind yourself. The act itself will be the reminder/trigger to do your new habit. The light turns green, automatically you know what to do next. Since you have to check the mail, go for a walk while you are outside. Since you have to deposit your paycheck, put a little in savings while you are at the bank.
Coaching tip- If you don’t follow a routine may I suggest starting one. It doesn’t have to be anything too crazy and regimented just something to keep you on track. If you need a little inspiration Mason Curry, writes about the routines of famous artists in, “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work,” proving that “a solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies.”
Habits are created by daily discipline, dedication and consistency. The more you do it the more likely it will stick.
Second step, Routine. You step on the gas.
Make a plan. Although, you have good intentions to get the project in on time, workout and not think judgmental thoughts when your day gets going you may get distracted and fall into old habits so to prevent that use good ol’ fashioned planning. Psychologists have found that if you have decided in advance what action you will take you will be three times as likely to succeed! It’s called “If, then planning”
Coaching tip- Here’s how to do it: If X happens then I will do Y. “If it’s Monday then I will go to Pilates.” “If it’s Sunday then I will do my bookkeeping.” “If it’s 8am then I will go for a run.” “If it’s Wednesday then I will make a blog post.” The idea is to create a behavior/reaction to a trigger. What’s the trigger and how do you respond? The light turns green so I hit the gas. I wake up and then make the bed. Go ahead and give it a try.
Third step, Reward. You get where you are going. (Everyone’s favorite step)
The reward is why you are doing all this work in the first place. Everyone wants to have a healthy toned body, money in the bank and the discipline to achieve whatever goal you want. Everyone wants the reward but very few do what it takes to get the reward most just take a shortcut to it. They go right to rewarding themselves. A new car, a fancy dinner out and a lazy day binge watching Netflix. Reward. Reward. Reward. The problem with rewards is that they are too prevalent. A reward is no longer special when you do it everyday. If you continue to indulge yourself rewards wont’ work and when rewards don’t work the whole formula falls apart. Why will you be motivated to do anything if you already have the reward? What will incentivise you? Nothing.
This might be shocking and totally hard to believe but you need to stop rewarding yourself all together so you can get back to the basics.
Coaching tip- Deprivation has been proven to work especially when you are trying to achieve a goal. You will enjoy your one night out a week a lot more than if you went out every night. You will gain more respect for the fancy gadgets that you have if you limit the amount you allow yourself to buy. A nice cleanse will do you wonders.
Then when you remove the automatic reward system and start over the most amazing thing will happen, the reward no longer needs to be a fancy dinner out or a pair of shoes. The act itself becomes the reward. Simply doing your new habit will make you feel victorious….
We all have habits, whether they are good or bad they are formed and created the same way, through reminder, routine and reward. Today, I am going to cover how to pick a new habit and next week I am going to talk about how to make your new habit stick.
Pick One- You can only change 1 to 2 things at a time. You can’t try to stop smoking, diet and make your bed everyday. So, focus on one and then when you make reasonable progress start working on the next. Coaching tip- Do not fool yourself into thinking that you can “force yourself” to do it all. Willpower is a limited resource and doesn’t create a habit. Habits are created by daily discipline, dedication and consistency.
How to pick- Often we choose to work on the thing that drives us crazy about ourselves (like nail biting) or we get peer pressured into working on the thing everyone in our family wishes we didn’t do (like hitting the snooze button 10 times). Instead, pick a new habit that is most meaningful to YOU and one that is not the hardest but not the easiest. Coaching tip- If it’s too hard you will feel overwhelmed and if it’s too easy you will get bored. So pick a new habit that is just right.
Focus on the bigger picture- If you take pride in not having cavities when you go to the dentist, you will be more motivated to floss. If your end game is to buy a house, you will be more motivated to stick to a budget and bring your lunch to work. Coaching tip- Along the way you will lose motivation because creating a new habit takes work. If your new habit is part of a larger goal it will inspire you! So when you lose motivation you can remind yourself why you are doing it. “Bringing my lunch to work may be boring but I am saving a lot of money so I can buy a house.”
Lives don’t change over night. True change takes time and creating new habits requires daily discipline, dedication and consistency. Coaching tip- “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” In other words, trying even though it’s not perfect is better than not trying at all!
Have you had an experience in picking the wrong habit to work on and failed? Have you succeeded in creating a new habit? I’d love to hear your experience, thoughts and advice! Please comment below and stay tuned next week for how to make your new habit stick!
Everything in your life is a reflection of your choices. Everything you do is a choice. Whether it feels that way or not, it’s still a choice.
You can let others make a choice for you but that is choosing to let others decide. You can do nothing, but that is choosing not to make a choice. No matter which way you slice it, whether you actively choose, have someone else choose or do absolutely nothing- IT IS YOUR CHOICE!
If you want a different, new and improved life you must make different, new and improved choices. The only way to be different is to choose differently. If you want to be better, make better choices! It’s your choice, choose wisely!
How often do you do things out of spite? A) Always B) Sometimes C) Never
Your knee jerk reaction may be NEVER! The word itself prompts us to feel defensive, because it means to inflict harm at our own expense and no one wants to believe that they would do something to hurt someone let alone hurt themselves. For example, let’s say your neighbor blasts their music and keeps you up late tossing and turning. They’re normally pretty quiet and you don’t want to call them because you tell yourself it’s not that big of a deal but you can’t fall asleep. Instead of calling them to ask them to turn down the music you toss and turn and stew. A few days later you are up early and the thought dawns on you, “I know they are asleep now, so I am going to blast my music.” You don’t even want to listen to music. In fact, music is the last thing you want to listen to let a lone loud music but righting the wrong from the other night is more important to you. “They kept me up so I am going to wake them up,” even though listening to music right now would be annoying to you too.
Spite is about righting a perceived wrong even if it will hurt you. Spite is about hurting someone the way you have been hurt and most often they don’t even know they’ve hurt you. Spite is doing something you don’t want to do and don’t need to do but you do it because you want to inflict harm on the person because you want them to suffer. Spiteful people feel hurt, and believe that they have to hurt others to seek a sort of revenge, right a wrong or balance the dynamic of the relationship. (Spite is often acted out in the name of fairness, “he blasted his music so I’m gonna blast mine.”)
Now, on the surface spite looks nasty, unkind and nothing anyone wants to admit about themselves but all of us are more spiteful than we want to believe. Spite is a strategy used to protect ourselves and it’s hard to see what kind of defense mechanisms we use, just like it is hard to see where we deceive ourselves.
So here are a few ways to know if you are acting out of spite.
Ask yourself- What is my motivation? Did this person or place hurt me in the past? Is my reaction to this particular situation valid? Am I trying to right a wrong or seek justice? Do I feel good about this? Will my actions hurt me? Do I really want to do this or am I just telling myself I should? Do I feel spiteful?
Have you told yourself- Well, she hurt me before so I am going to do this to hurt her. I will not stand for this. They will not get away with this. I am going to protect myself by making my point, louder and clearer. I don’t care what the consequences are, I need to make him, her, it understand.
After answering those questions, you may realize that you have done a spiteful thing or two in the past to get what you want, make your point and so “no one can get one by you” but in a new study social psychologists have found that spiteful people don’t really gain anything. Spite may temporarily feel good because; you “got even”, “proved a point”, or “leveled the playing field” but spite, they have found is a zero sum gain. If you want to succeed in relationships you must take a broader view, play fair and know that spite hurts YOU more. Acting out spitefully in the short term can prevent you from having a long term?
I am a problem solver by nature. A lingering issue constatnly beeps on my radar and never escapes my attention. I can’t ignore a problem, I want to solve it as quickly as possible. I want my life to be problem free because I have this belief that my happiness is directly correlated to how many problems I have. 0 problems=100% happy.
The other day I caught myself tallying up my problems. “I wish I could find a razor that actually works. Why can’t I find a good dry cleaner? How can I make that presentation better? I am sick and tired of shopping at both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I wonder if I should upgrade my Internet service. When will I find a pair of shorts that doesn’t make me look like a dweeb?” And then it hit me, THESE ARE NOT REAL PROBLEMS. Nowhere close. If problems were a bad neighborhood my issues were the gated community across town.
Problem – a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
Sure, I guess I could argue that all of this stuff is unwelcome and needs to be dealt with. Yes, I need to deal with finding a better dry cleaner and good razors and figure out grocery shopping once and for all but that isn’t harmful, I don’t need to overcome these things. They are just an annoyances. In fact, if I had real problems I probably wouldn’t even notice these things. I have had real problems, so I do know the difference but somewhere along the way, I confused the two and started treating annoyances as if they are problems. I realized that I have been weighing problems and annoyances equally.
Annoyance- A cause of irritation or vexation; a nuisance.
What I have is a couple of nuisances. Seeing the difference gave me an enormous sense of relief and palpable gratitude. Becoming aware of this also made me see that happiness isn’t contingent upon how many problems you have, happiness is more about your perspective, how you see your “problems.” I am much happier now that I see the difference. I don’t have less issues since my realization just a different perspective now that I put my annoyances in their place. So, I ask you do you have problems or annoyances?
I often think about how much time I spend waiting. In line at the grocery store, in the lobby of a restaurant waiting for a table and at a red light, just killing time before the next thing. As I write this, my best friend is ten days late with her first child. She has been pregnant for a long time and she’s done waiting. Who could blame her?
I don’t answer my phone or emails when I write so I can focus and get it done but today my phone won’t stop vibrating. I flip it over to turn it off but a text from best friend’s husband catches my eye, she has gone into the “early stage of labor.” I can’t believe it, as I am writing about waiting I get the text we’ve all been waiting for. I am so excited for them that I get distracted for a few minutes but then the words, “early stage” brings me back to reality. I know that delivering a baby can take all day and I figure we will be waiting a long time. So, I go back to writing about waiting….
It’s a 25 minute wait for your table, follow me your table is ready, wait for your server, order, eat, wait for the check, pay, leave. Get in your car, wait at the red light, go on the green, wait again for the old person in front of you to make a left, keep waiting, go faster to make up the time you just lost waiting. Get home and wait for your favorite show to come on at 9. What are you going to do until then? Kill time and wait.
I used to think that killing time was a bad thing. That every moment should be filed with multi-tasking, thinking about what’s next and doing something to make what you want to happen, happen faster. Nag the hostess for the table. Wave the server over to get your order in quicker. Beep at the old person to drive faster. Go, go, go. Waiting, is something I used to think suckers did. I used to think that I didn’t have time to wait but I have realized that waiting isn’t killing time it’s part of the process and we are only making ourselves stressed and crazy by rushing around like lunatics and deluding ourselves that any of that makes a big difference. OK, sure, you might get the table a few minutes earlier, or make the light if you speed but at what cost? Is waiting really that bad?
Well, apparently it is that bad for me and everyone else waiting for this baby to be born because my phone has started to vibrate again. There’s no news just everyone checking to see if there is news.
No one likes to wait. No one likes to be in limbo. Waiting is uncertainty and no one likes uncertainty. We all want to know what is going to happen and when so we can feel like we have some control over the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we have a lot of control over our destinies and I ascribe to Emerson’s philosophy of personal responsibility that, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” However, I also believe that we take this delusion of control a little too far when it comes to waiting. You may be in control of what YOU do but there are greater forces at work and you have absolutely no control over how and when stuff will happen.
I also believe that everyone gets what they need and if it hasn’t happened yet it doesn’t mean that you won’t get it, it simply means that like my best friend you are in the early stages. Life is a process and waiting is an important part of the process. When baking a cake you can’t leave out part of the process. You can’t skip the flour. Waiting is the same thing, it’s the flour, it’s essential to the recipe. Waiting is like the universe is saying, “Savor this. Take this in, in a moment everything will be different and life is all about moments. Don’t wish them away or fill them with too much stuff so you can’t be in this moment because this moment is all you have. Wait carefully. Make time.”
She’s been admitted to the hospital. I have to take another break to text a few friends and check Facebook. Progress is at a standstill.
Waiting for a baby to be born reminds me that stuff happens when it’s supposed to happen. Your dream will come true when you least expect it or it will morph into something you never even imagined. Waiting allows us to anticipate what’s to come and change our mind if we need to. Waiting is important, it’s a built in time delay, a pause in case you need to make a course correction or if you need to enjoy this moment a little longer.
So, I make dinner and call a friend. We have one of those great conversations that seem to only happen when you’re waiting. Ya know, the kind when nothing significant is really said and you are just enjoying each other’s company because you have the time. A lot of life happens during non-events when you’re just killing time and that’s what we were doing, when it happened. He got the text first and in the middle of his story about something that happened at work he said, “It’s a BOY! 7 pounds, not sure of inches. Lev is his name!”
It’s been a long day of waiting and as I sit down at my computer to finish this right before bed I realize that it’s almost midnight. Normally, I would have been done with this hours ago but all the extra time I took away from writing today wasn’t a waste. My former impatient self would’ve been mad that I didn’t meet my…
Have you ever seen a red flag at the beginning of a relationship and ignored it? Have you been in a situation that you know isn’t going to end well but you just can’t help yourself? Dating and choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend seems to be the area where most of us turn a blind eye to signs of impending doom because when we are in love we aren’t thinking straight. Scientists who research love and the effects it has on the brain routinely find that the chemical make up of lust impairs our judgment. So, in fairness when you disregard important indications of trouble ahead, it has a lot to do with your biological inability to see them because you are crazy in love.
The chemical cocktail of lust that messes with your brain and creates a strong desire and almost obsession with the person you are in love with is left over from our caveman days. A primal drive that doesn’t allow room for logic. Caveman didn’t need to think about how and why they picked a mate they just needed one. Now a days however we don’t need a mate yet we are still hard wired with an out dated operating system that tells us we do. Love feels like we have no choice but is it really love if you have no choice?
In this day and age, how do we trump biology and choose wisely? How do we think logically about who we fall in love with when we are crazy in love and can’t think straight? Can you think straight when you are crazy in love? The simple answer is, we can’t. You can’t fight Mother Nature. You can’t fight your primal drive so you might as well ride it out and while you are enjoying the first flush of infatuation understand that it will wear off and make sure you don’t make too many concessions a long the way.
At the beginning chances are that lust and attraction has made you blind to what you have compromised but eventually you will wake up and when you do ask yourself this-
Does this person meet the criteria I think is important? Which is to say did I settle because the sex is good or because they make a lot of money or because I feel lucky to be with them because they’re ridiculously good looking? Make sure you’re with someone for the right reasons like; compatibility, common interests and similar lifestyles. Compromising your values and what you need is not a good long-term strategy. Settling because you are lonely will end in disaster.
Ask a close friend what they think about the person you are dating, you will get the benefit of an objective set of eyes. Often, we don’t do this because subconsciously we know what we don’t want to know. Fight that. Disregard for a moment all the wonderful stuff and get objective. No one wants to willingly look for potential problems when everything seems perfect but you must so you can see reality for what it is. If you can’t see anything wrong ask your friends and family, I guarantee they see what you can’t.
What are my true motivations? Of course you want to be loved, we all do. Of course you want to be with someone, we all do. Those are basic motivations when it comes to relationships however sometimes we manipulate a situation so we can get what we want. Sometimes, we say we are doing something to be selfless but the truth is you are really just doing it to be close or get something you want from the one you love. Are your motivations truly selfless or are you doing what you are doing to get what you want? If you see that the one you love is pulling away, have a frank discussion about it instead of going out and buying them that fancy gift they’ve always wanted in an attempt to manipulate them into staying with you. There is a difference between our true motivations and what we tell people they are. The next time you justify something to someone listen to yourself, I bet you know why you are really doing it. Pay attention!
And lastly and most importantly is a statement rather than a question, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Maya Angelou
Isn’t funny that we are nicer to our friends than we are to ourselves? If your friend has a bad day chances are you will say something nice to them, something like, “Don’t worry. Tomorrow is a new day.” Or “This too shall pass, it’s going to be alright.” Yet when we have a bad day our inner monologue isn’t as supportive or forgiving. We instead say to ourselves, “You should have known better.” Or “This is what you get, you should have done it the other way.” We support and encourage our friends and anyone outside of our heads but when it comes to our own self-talk we criticize, over analyze and focus on the negative.
If you find that your inner monologue is more of a critic than a cheerleader perhaps you could benefit from practices that cultivate self-compassion. For example an exercise I give a lot of clients, is all about (no surprise), shifting your perspective. Here’s what you do- at the end of your day write a short letter (or email or journal entry) about your day as if you are your own best friend. Write in a tone that is supportive and re-assure yourself the way you would re-assure a friend. Do this for one week.
Get yourself into the practice of being kind to yourself and letting yourself off the hook because research shows that having an inner critic isn’t what makes successful people successful, it’s self-compassion. So, if you want to be successful, be nice to yourself. If you are kind to yourself you will be more likely to get up when you fall, try harder on the stuff that doesn’t come easily and you will succeed in ways that your inner critic never imagined possible.
I read a study a long time ago that found that coffee greatly reduces suicide risk. It found that coffee drinkers were much less likely than non-coffee drinkers to kill themselves. At first, the findings seemed odd, scientists assumed that perhaps there is some ingredient unknown until now in caffeine that might be found someday to stave off depression or other mental disorders but that wasn’t it. It’s much simpler than that, coffee drinkers have something to look forward to everyday.
As we all know, life has its ups and downs. Everyone, no matter who you are, has good days and bad days and a chief characteristic in persevering through life is having something to look forward to. We all know this intuitively. That’s why we fill our calendars with holidays, celebrations, weddings and events because everyone needs something to look forward to. Coffee drinkers have something to get them out of bed everyday.
At the end of a bad day, when you go to bed what do you have to look forward to the next day? If the next big holiday doesn’t do it for you, perhaps you need to create your own thing. Book a vacation, get excited about your favorite author’s next book, countdown to your next haircut, order a magazine subscription and get jazzed when it comes in the mail.
If a small cup of coffee can prevent suicide, it proves that it isn’t the size or the significance of the event that you look forward to, just that you have one. So, whatever you do have something to look forward to. Find your coffee.
Everyone has lost their car keys, misplaced their sunglasses and simply can’t find that thing they need. Everyone has looked for something. Everyone has experienced that feeling and wandered around the house saying, “Where the heck did I leave that…” Finding something is pretty simple, remember the last place you had it or where it belongs it, re-trace your steps and look in obvious places. But how on earth do you look for something when you aren’t even sure what you are looking for?
Clients often come to me with this very question, “Something is missing in my life and I am not sure what it is. How do I find something, when I don’t even know what I am looking for?”
It’s my job to lead the search party.
First things first, looking takes time. Have you ever watched someone look for something and they give up too easily? They look too quickly and as they continue not finding what they are looking for frustration and panic builds and they start complaining that they can’t find their keys. Instead of using energy to complain, use your energy on doing something. Complaining about where you are isn’t going to get you where you want to go. If you want to find something, slow down, take a deep breathe and settle in for a good search. Don’t expect to find it immediately because when you don’t you will get annoyed and it will derail your motivation to keep looking.
How’d the sunglasses end up in the trashcan?
Second, get creative. Think about the thing you are looking for, think about its size and where it would fit. Sunglasses might not belong in the trashcan but they certainly can end up there accidentally. You may not believe that you belong in a boardroom or a hospital or a classroom but you may realize that the very thing you thought you would never do is exactly where you will be the happiest. Don’t avoid looking in weird places just because you think it doesn’t make sense. Don’t avoid the jobs and the hobbies that you originally said no to. You might surprise yourself and end up somewhere you never thought to look.
If you were a remote control where would you be?
Third, use a central location. If you lose the remote chances are it’s managed to wedge itself down into the cushions of the sofa or it walked into the kitchen and you can almost guarantee it’s not outside. In order to find something you need to have a search area. The center of the search area is you, your personality, your hopes and dreams- orient from there. Knowing who you are will help you navigate toward whatever you are looking for. If you know that you are extroverted and optimistic and enjoy building relationships maybe what’s missing is a more dynamic role where you can use your natural skills. Think like the thing you lost.
You will get frustrated if you look in the wrong places and only the obvious places if you want to find something that you don’t know what you are looking for you must go places you’ve never been and take your time.
I had a conversation with a friend recently who told me that interviewing is like acting and he won’t take any part in it. He refuses to network or sell himself and he was unwilling to budge on creating a personal narrative that was persuasive and upbeat. To him, being able to do the job is more important than being able to interview well. He doesn’t want to be forced to sell himself. He simply wants to be hired on his merits not his ability to interview.
As an ex-recruiter and now Career Coach, I have seen this approach play out in interviews. It comes across as smug, defiant and arrogant. I don’t know about you but I don’t want anyone to think those things about me and not many people will hire someone who acts like that. Aside from being able to articulate why you’re the the best man for the job hiring managers are looking for someone they like and someone who “gets it.” Your ability to do the job won’t get you hired, your ability to interview well will.
For some this feels like “acting” because they are uncomfortable selling themselves. I say, “If you can’t sell yourself, who will?” It’s the most important part of getting the job and I agree with my friend it has nothing to do with your ability to do the job but everything to do with getting the job.
You see, in order to interview well you must use a different skill set than the one you use to do the job, you need to use emotional intelligence. In Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ he writes, “People who make an excellent first impression, for example, are adept at monitoring their own expression of emotion, are keenly attuned to the ways others are reacting, and so are able to continually fine-tune their social performance, adjusting it to make sure they are having the desired effect. In that sense, they are like skilled actors.”
My friend is on to something, he probably has seen a few of his less qualified friends get jobs purely on their “acting abilities.” Some people are so adept at making an impression or getting people to like them that they become what Goleman calls “social chameleons, who don’t’ mind saying one thing and doing another if it will win them social approval” i.e. getting the job and that does happen all too often, leaving my friend annoyed and distrustful of the hiring process. Which in turn has affected his performance in interviews.
I encouraged my friend to use his emotional intelligence to stay true to himself without isolating his audience. Interviewing I told him, isn’t about telling someone what they want to hear because you have no idea what someone wants to hear. It’s about highlighting the best version of you in the most authentic way possible. Goleman goes on to say, “If interpersonal abilities are not balanced by an astute sense of one’s own needs and feelings and how to fulfill them, they can lead to a hollow social success- a popularity won at the cost of one’s true satisfaction.”
There is hope for my friend who is stubborn and would rather interview like a jerk than a “social chameleon” because he already has the capacity to be “true to himself, which allows acting in accord with one’s deepest feelings and values no matter what the social consequence.” Such emotional integrity will lead him to landing the right job because he will be unwilling to settle for something that isn’t in line with what he wants, but in order to get what he wants he must soften his edges and use his emotional intelligence in the service of good rather than evil. He must shift into balance.
1) What do you like? BE HAPPY Let’s start in the most obvious place, what do you like? What’s your favorite class? What excites you? Coaching tip: The likelihood of you excelling in a field that you don’t like is very low. If you want to ensure career happiness, do what you love. What do you love?
2) What are you naturally good at? BE NATURAL Everyone is a natural at something. Where are you a natural? Are you outgoing? Are you detail oriented? Are you naturally inquisitive? Are you responsible? Are you funny? Are you a great writer? Coaching tip: Take clues from your natural gifts.
3) What happens when you fail? BE DETERMINED Have you faced adversity? Have you set out to accomplish something and failed? Oftentimes we uncover strengths we didn’t even know we had when we fail or face adversity. Coaching tip: Think about a time when you failed and brainstorm all the ways that it made you smarter, braver and wiser? “Whether you succeed or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.” Jim Collins
4) What do your friends/teacher/mentors say about you? BE OPEN Self-awareness is all about knowing who you are and how you come across to others so what better way to find out then by asking those that you are close to. Coaching tip: It can be scary to ask for feedback because you have to be vulnerable. In fact, you might avoid it because you don’t want to know if you are failing. If so, that’s OK. Go back to #3 and think again about all the things you learned the last time you failed. Failures are great teachers.
5) What energizes you? BE OBSERVANT Pay attention to how you feel when you do something, do you feel invigorated or drained? When you know the difference you can choose a career that is fulfilling rather than draining. Coaching tip: Ask yourself in the morning when you look over your schedule, what am I excited about? Chances are your strengths lie in what makes you feel GOOD!
6) What makes you feel useful? BE SATISFIED Understand the difference between fear and being bad at something. Fear is always the first step. Just because you are afraid of making a presentation doesn’t mean you aren’t good at public speaking it might just mean you need more practice. Go back to #5 and figure out if it invigorates you or drains you. Coaching tip: What do you do that makes you feel useful even if at first it might make you feel scared? “Decide that you want it, more than you are afraid of it.” Bill Cosby
7) What can you do to find your strengths? BE PROACTIVE We discover new things about ourselves when we do new things. Don’t wait around and expect opportunities to fall in your lap. Ask yourself, “What am I capable of that I don’t know yet?” Coaching tip: It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone but if you do that you will not grow. The best way to broaden your skill set is to broaden your horizons.
8) What is your biggest dream/goal? BE CURIOUS Dreams come from your intuition, which is a combination of your life experiences and education so trust that if you have a dream it is for a reason. Perhaps the answer to what your strengths are lies in your dreams/goals. Follow your intuition. Coaching tip: Don’t be afraid to dream big and believe that you will succeed. “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, YOU are right.” Henry Ford
9) What do you care about? BE MOTIVATED Where does your heart lie? Are you passionate about helping people? Do you love animals? Are you fanatical about math? Passions shouldn’t be reserved just for hobbies. No matter what career you choose it will require long nights, early mornings and tough problems to solve and you will be motivated to do all of it if you are passionate about what you do. Coaching tip: What are you passionate about? What do you want to dedicate your life to?
I am in the business of helping clients change. This time of year, many people make resolutions to change something. They want to lose weight, get a new job, save more and eat less. The most common resolutions follow the same formula, find something you hate and vow to change it. I love that idea but in reality it doesn’t work because hate is a terrible motivator. Hate makes you feel worse and when you feel bad you fall back into the same pattern of making yourself feel better by eating too much, complaining about your job, shopping and avoiding the gym. You see, it’s a cycle. If you feel bad you do something to make yourself feel better. So, to truly implement change you must break the cycle.
Let’s first look at how the cycle works. Keep on hating….
The cycle starts when there is an event (trigger) that makes you feel uncomfortable (e.g. anger, sadness or any unwanted emotional state that you think is unpleasant) and you just want that state to go away so you reach for the closest remedy (anesthesia) and then there are (consequences) that lead to (guilt and shame) and back again to step one the (trigger). You hate your fat thighs so to make yourself feel better you eat a cupcake. You are ashamed that you let your debt get out of control so to feel better you go shopping. It is a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself over and over.
As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” That is precisely why New Year’s resolutions don’t work because a resolution is made from the same consciousness that created the problem in the first place. Instead of replacing the over eating with healthy behaviors you expect that sheer willpower will create the change but willpower is a limited resource that’s why resolutions work temporarily because willpower only works temporarily. (Read more on willpower) Now, not only do you feel bad about your fat thighs but now you feel ashamed that you don’t have enough willpower to lose weight, leaving you feeling worse off than you started and the cycle starts all over again.
How do you break the cycle? The only way to truly change is to first change your thinking.
If the cycle always starts with a trigger/pain you have to remove or minimize the trigger all together. The trigger is the way you THINK about an event or the way you THINK about yourself. Your thoughts are the trigger. Your thoughts are the basis for your emotions so if you think better thoughts you will feel better. You see, if you start from a place of hate or anger you are going to trigger a lot of pain so instead of triggering pain how about triggering pleasure by thinking positive thoughts, by loving what is. I know, I know it’s tough to love your fat rolls but trust me it will feel better to love them than to hate them and if you feel better you are less likely to reach for the Krispy Kreme.
Instead of wanting to change who you are or what you have use that same energy to love what you do have. Love and hate both have compounding cumulative effects it is your choice, you can either send yourself down the shame pity party spiral by hating what is or you can rocket into appreciation, gratefulness and even devotion by loving what is.
The only resolution that works. Love what is.
When you love yourself fat rolls, debt and all you are more likely to make better choices, stop seeking comfort and feel better altogether about yourself because you won’t be in a constant battle to avoid pain. Once you accept yourself you find peace and that is where real change is born. Not from shame or guilt or unhappiness but from an authentic place of acceptance that we can all access just as easily as hate. This year, make the choice to break the cycle and stop hating yourself because it is a choice, it is a road that splits into two and you can choose to love what is or you can choose to hate. This year I hope you become a pioneer of love not another soldier of hate. This year, I hope that that road of hate that you have gone down so many times before has become boring and over done, I hope that you are desperate enough to seek another way, the way of loving what is.
Loving what is means letting go of the “shoulds” and embracing what exists. Loving what is means allowing what’s happening to happen and resist nothing even if it feels wrong, messy or inadequate because when you love something for what it is, a true shift occurs. You shift from hopelessness to hopefulness.
So this year, love what you used to hate. Take a look at your resolutions and instead of losing weight, gain acceptance. Instead of getting out of debt, appreciate where you are. Love your fat thighs. Honor the kooky relationship you have with your parents because it is, what it is. Love where you are instead of obsessing about how far you have to go. Respect the mess, the accident and the mistake. Appreciate your failures because they hold more lessons than successes. Beginnings and endings get so much attention, but there is so much joy to be found in the middle of things. Sing the praises of the ordinary, the mundane and this step in your process. No matter where you are, if this is the first exciting step or a boring middle step- choose to love it.
I am going to embark on a journey of unabashed love for what is, will you join me? I guarantee it will be more fun than wanting something to be what it isn’t.
Talk is cheap because anyone can talk, it’s action that speaks louder than words because not everyone takes action. Phonies are easy to spot, they are the ones talking a lot about what they are “doing” instead of simply doing it.
If you feel as though you talk more than you “do” perhaps you are a phony? Perhaps, all that talking is really you trying to convince yourself that you are “doing” something. Unfortunately, you are only fooling yourself because everyone knows the difference between “doing” and talking.
Get honest with yourself. Are you really doing it or are you just talking a lot about it?
I have a bunch of old clothes that I don’t want anymore for a variety of reasons. A pair of linen pants from Banana Republic that I love, on the hanger but when I put them on I look like a wrinkled square. A few dresses that were expensive, a few interesting vintage pieces and two Coach bags I never used, I love them but I never used them. I suppose, I could donate it all to Good Will but I think they are too nice for that. So, I took them to a consignment store, where I was hoping I could re-coup a little cash. They weren’t interested. I was shocked!
I first thought it must be because the woman buying the items didn’t know what she was doing. So, I took my bags to another consignment store but I got the same results. As I hauled the bags back to my car for a second time I was annoyed, I didn’t understand why no one saw the value in these things the way I did. That is when it hit me, I was valuing these things more than everyone else. It wasn’t the woman’s fault for not buying my stuff it was my fault for assuming that it is worth more than it is because things are only worth what people are willing to pay for them.
You see, we place value on things all the time that has absolute value to anyone else. For some reason, my old Banana Republic linen pants seemed valuable to me but not to anyone else. Have you ever done this before? Misplaced value on things that you own because you are emotionally attached to them despite the fact that they no longer serve you? Take a look around and ask yourself are you placing too high a price on the things that are weighing you down rendering your incapable of letting go?
Life is long and sometimes it feels like we have all the time in the world and we take it for granted. We wake up late, we waste our evenings watching bad TV and we put off what we really want to do because we believe that there will always be time.
Stop wasting time. Stop putting it off, your life is now.
Stop thinking about it. Stop saying you will. Stop saying you are going to try someday and try today! Do it now. Whatever it is that you want to do, do it. Don’t put off what can be done today. Don’t wait until the time is right. Go after it. Make it happen. There is no time like the present because the present is all you have. Nothing is guaranteed and life is meant to be lived, not endured.
If you have been wasting your precious moments, you are wasting your life. Do you want to wake up in 30 years and think, “Man, I wish I had….” No, I am sure not. What I am sure of, is that this moment, right here, right now is all you have and life is created from moments. What you will become and who you will be is a culmination of moments. You cannot devalue any moment. Are you doing the most that you can with your moments? Your life is right now. What your life will become is born from this moment. Are you squandering them on things that don’t matter?
Today, be a little more honest with yourself about what you are doing and how you are spending your time because before you know it there won’t be any more time left.
Unhappy people wait for something to be happy about. To unhappy people, happiness is an event that hasn’t occurred yet and is always fleeting. Whereas, happy people are grateful for what they have, their happiness isn’t contingent upon what might happen it is based on an appreciation for what they currently have. Therefore, happy people have the most. Which furthers the myth that having things is what makes you happy. When instead, it is gratitude that makes you happy and it is gratitude that creates more abundance! “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.”
So, if you want to be happy- start where you are and be thankful for what you have, right now! The transformative power of gratitude will bring more things into your life to be thankful for! Shift your focus from waiting for something to be thankful for, to simply being thankful!
I walked into a public bathroom today and there was a note on the sink that read “For the person crying, I hope your day gets better!” I hadn’t been the one crying (this time), I assumed it had been the woman before me and I hoped that she saw the note. I hoped that it made her feel better that someone thought enough to leave a note. That a perfect stranger who just happened to be in the bathroom, and just happened to overhear sobbing in the stall next door did not try to comfort her or intervene because she knew that if she was crying in bathroom (and who hasn’t been there) she needed privacy. However, she also knew that she needed to know that she wasn’t alone. It was the sincerest form of empathy I have ever witnessed. She didn’t want to know why she was crying, she didn’t offer to fix her problem, she simply acknowledged that she heard her and she hoped her day got better.
Sometimes, when our friends and loved ones are upset all we need to do is say “I hear you and I hope your day gets better.”
“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”
There have been numerous studies conducted on the connection between smiling and happiness, and all of them have routinely found that when you smile you feel happy.
“In 1989, a psychologist named Robert Zajonc published one of the most significant studies on the emotional effect of producing a smile.” Julia Layton writes in Does smiling make you happy, “The reason why Dr. Zajonc’s research is so significant in the field is because he proposes a detailed, physiology-based explanation for the cause-and-effect relationship. According to his hypothesis, the facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness.” Before Robert Zajonc, Charles Darwin proposed that our facial expressions not only reflect our emotions but cause them.
However, we have been conditioned to believe that we need to have something good happen to us for us to feel happy, it seems counterintuitive that an expression without a cause can make us feel the same emotion. Even though it might not make much sense to us, the research backs Darwin and Zajonc up. Multiple psychologists have proven over and over that if you smile you will feel as happy as if a positive event just occurred, that the bio-chemical reactions are the exact same whether you are “faking” the smile or it is genuine. This research, cuts out the middle man, it cuts out the need for an event that will make us smile.
Instead, we can reflect the emotions that we want to have and our bodies we follow suit. We don’t need to have a great day in order to smile, in fact this suggests that we are more in control than we give ourselves credit. So, if nothing is going according to plan and you need a reliable way to elevate your mood and if you want to be happy, SMILE!
Life is a bunch of experiences. Like packing a bag, everyday we pack more experiences. Some experiences are great, some of them are terrible and most of them are rather mundane but all of them become a part of who we are. Everyday we pack more experiences into our bag.
We pack and we pack and we pack but eventually you have to unpack.
Eventually, you have to stop and make room. Eventually you have sift through everything you have been collecting because experiences don’t make sense of themselves.
You will not gain wisdom and strength from a failure if you don’t unpack the experience. You will not be able to turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone if you haven’t made sense of the problem. The bag will not unpack itself. The process of unpacking allows you to sift through the non-sense and figure out what is important. You can only truly enjoy a trip, after you have unpacked.
Why collect amazing experiences only to let them weigh you down?
As a previous recruiter, I consider myself a pretty good judge of character and adept at seeing someone’s potential and capabilities. However, working with college students has taught me that it is difficult if not impossible to gauge a persons potential when they are in midst of a growth spurt. Going to college, surviving a layoff or a bad break-up are all growth spurts. Growth spurts are times of enormous change, tremendous development and significant transformation and I have learned that it is unfair to judge someone’s future potential while they are in the process of great change. It would be like judging a barren tree in winter. You simply, cannot know how beautiful the blossoms will be until it blooms in spring and to judge the tree when it is a seedling is to rob it of all it’s potential.
Like winter, it passes. The growth spurt will end and the seasons will change but to judge someone while they are growing limits them, it locks them in. Working with clients who are in the midst of great change has taught me to stay open minded because you never know where they are in their process. Wherever they are, it is an important part of their process. Wherever you are, it is an important part of your process. Just because it might look ugly and bare now doesn’t mean that it won’t be bursting with life in the future. Stay open minded, you never know what you or anyone else is going to grow into.
As a Life & Career Coach I work with clients to loosen the hold that their limiting beliefs have on them. Limiting beliefs are those thoughts that get in your way of achieving what you want. (For example, “I am too old.” or “I don’t have the time” or “I am not good enough”) Limiting beliefs are chronic patterns of thought that can be confirmed or disconfirmed like any other thought. There are lots of opportunities everyday to confirm your limiting beliefs. Just call your best friend, talk to a sympathetic co-worker or go see your mother and you will be justified and supported in whatever you are going through. But if you are trying to break a cycle, crowd out a bad habit, or move on from something may I suggest disconfirming your issues by shifting your perspective?
You may not believe that you can shift your perspective. You may think, that thinking differently is impossible. Perhaps, you believe that because you are surrounded by evidence that confirms your issues. That is where I come in, it is my job to show you the other evidence. It is my job to show you that the opposite is possible as well and the best way to get my clients to open up to possibility is to have them actively look for evidence that counteracts their beliefs. So, if you would like to work on shifting your limiting beliefs here is an exercise I give my clients
Go to a pharmacy.
Pharmacies have it all. There is a product made for whatever special ailment you are suffering from. Confirming to you, that it is indeed an issue and it should be sterilized, medicated, wrapped up and paid close attention to but I don’t’ want you shopping for yourself I want you to shop opposite. I would like you to take your time and carefully look at all the products that are made to solve the opposite of your problems.
The goal here is not to confirm your issues but to see what else is possible.
Perhaps you need a vitamin to strengthen your brittle nails but you will discover that there is a lotion to weaken hard nails, to make them easier to cut. The opposite is possible as well. Perhaps you are bald but you will find a shampoo to decrease frizz and add volume . The opposite is possible as well. Eye drops, you can’t get your eyes to stop watering. Birth control, you wish you could have kids. Oily skin, dry skin, combination skin. You begin to notice just how many possibilities there are. Browsing through all the “solutions” to other peoples problems helps you to see that the opposite is possible as well!
Same with your limiting beliefs. Sure, you may believe wholeheartedly that you are “too old” but what if you started to look for evidence that you are “just right!”
If perspective is reality, change your perspective. Start looking for evidence that disconfirms your limiting beliefs. Start seeking opportunities that allow you to see your unlimited potential. Promise yourself that when a belief pops into your head that you are “not good enough” you tell yourself “the opposite is possible as well!”
When I was in my twenties I thought I was ten feet tall and bullet proof. I lived recklessly and made rash decisions. It wasn’t until I had to clean up a few of those rash decisions that I realized that living by the seat of my pants wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. As my thirties approached I began to buckle down. I was contributing the max to my 401K every year, and I even paid off the credit card I got in college for books but somehow managed instead to max out on designer jeans. I learned my credit score, I got insurance and then I got insurance for my insurance. I bought a house and created a will. For the first time in my life, I had a budget and a plan and I was sticking to it.
No more rash decisions. No more carelessness. No more invincibility. The pendulum had swung in the other direction. I was a little too diligent and I spent a little too much time thinking about how to lower my utility bills. Until one day as I was literally counting the money in my bank accounts I realized that I was obsessing about how to save for the life I wanted to live instead of actually living it.
At the time, I was in negotiation talks with my old firm for a big promotion. I remember calculating my new raise, and thinking if I stay at my job that balance will just keep growing but is that what I want for my life? I wondered if I wanted my life to be reduced to a line item on a budget sheet? I wondered if it would make me proud to work simply for more money? I knew the answer instantly, NO! I knew I needed to quit and live out my dream of being a career coach and helping others find their passion. I wanted to start my own company.
When I resigned I told the President “I have a dream and I have the means and I am young and if I don’t do it now I am afraid I will regret it for the rest of my life.” I remember feeling equal parts proud of myself for finally saying it and scared that I had just quit my very reliable and very well paying job. I was also scared he was going to laugh at me and throw me out of his office and tell me that I didn’t have the first clue how to run a business. I braced for his answer. He paused for what felt like an eternity and then put his glasses on top of his head and leaned back and said, “I follow my dreams everyday, that’s what makes me successful. Go and do it!”
My careless twenties weren’t the way and my overly cautious thirties in the corporate world wasn’t the way either but both taught me incredibly valuable skills. I knew how to take a risk and I knew how to finance it. Sometimes, in life we have to swing as far as we can go to stretch our limits, to know what we can handle and where our balance is. For me, I learned that living on the edge constantly is uneasy and living so far from the edge is tedious. I wanted to be a little bit like I had been before I started caring so much yet responsible enough to make it work. I craved balance.
Now, the pendulum swings more slowly. Occasionally, I overcorrect because I am so afraid of making stupid decisions again. Afraid that I will buy designer jeans instead of books, but I remind myself that I learned that lesson and I also have to live my life. I remind myself that it is ok that I used to be impulsive and it is ok that I used to be overly cautious because it all got me to where I am today. I remind myself that if I allow the pendulum to swing too far one way, eventually it it has to swing back the other way. To find balance means controlling the pendulum.
As Kate, the obsessive prude in the movie French Kiss, says after she loses her fiancé “So I was wandering the streets of Paris, penniless, without a hope in the world. And, let me tell you, you can do a lot of soul-searching in a time like that. When, I realized that I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly this situation. And you can’t do it. There’s no home safe enough, no relationship secure enough. You’re setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having an incredibly boring time in the process.”
“We can delegate tasks, but we can’t delegate responsibility, if the responsibility is really ours.
Sometimes, it’s normal to delegate tasks to other people. We may hire people to do certain things for us. We may engage in contracts with a therapist or a healer to help us work through a certain issue. But the responsibility for which pieces of advice we follow, and the decisions we make in our lives, ultimately belongs to us.
You’re responsible for you.
It’s easy to get lazy. We can let a friend, an employee or even a skilled therapist begin making our decisions for us. We can listen to what they say and blindly take their advice. Then we don’t have to take responsibility for our own lives. If the decision doesn’t work out, we can say, “You were wrong. Look at the mess you’ve gotten me into. I’m a victim again.”
Yes you are. But you are a victim of yourself.
We can listen to advice and let other people help us, but if they’re helping us do something that is our responsibility, the ultimate responsibility for the decision still belongs to us.
Get help when you need it. Delegate tasks. But don’t give away your power. Remember you can think, you can feel, you can take care of yourself, you can figure out your problems. Don’t get lazy. Don’t give away responsibility for your life.”
An excerpt from “More Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie
If a singer makes a mistake, misses an important note or lip-synchs it dominates our newsfeed. With social media and the 24-hour news cycle we are inundated with viral negativity. We spend more time talking about the one person who didn’t hit the right note and in the end we miss out on all the awesome renditions out there. All those amazingly brave singers who conquered the toughest song to sing are (pun intended) unsung heroes. No one cares about them. No one cares about all the incredible hard working singers who hit the nail on the head. It is as if we are all collectively rubbernecking, seeking more and more negativity to satisfy our morbid curiosity.
Melody Beattie writes, “All I could do was feel bad about what I saw. I didn’t see one thing, I could possibly be grateful for. Then I ran into a little paperback book that espoused the powers of praise. I read it, and I got an idea. I would put this gratitude thing to a deliberate test. I would take all the energy I had been using complaining, seeing the negative and feeling bad and I’d turn that energy around. I’d will, force, and if necessary fake, gratitude instead…When people suggest being grateful, it’s easy to think that means counting our blessings and just saying thank you for what’s good. When we learn how to practice gratitude, however, we learn to say thanks for everything in our lives, whether we feel grateful or not. That’s when we turn things around”
Whatever we focus on expands in our experience and you can choose to focus on mistakes or you can focus on the masterful and the well done.
Despite knowing that life is full of mysteries and surprises we still try to control and predict how we will feel and when we will feel it. When I was going through a long and painful divorce I believed that I would get closure once it was official. For some reason I thought that once the divorce was final all my mixed up, painful emotions were going to dissolve just like the marriage. I expected immediate relief the moment the judge signed the divorce papers. But, once the papers were signed and the settlement was made I remember thinking that it didn’t feel as good as I had hoped.
I learned that closure is one of life’s great mysteries. Even though, I processed all the emotions, did a lot of work on myself, went on a weekend long empowerment retreat, learned how to meditate and read every self-help book under the sun. Closure never came.
Until today, when on my way to the bank I passed a jewelry store that I have walked by a million times before but today for some reason the engagement rings in the window caught my eye. Since, the implosion of my marriage my ring had become part of a legal battle and a sign of a failed marriage and I couldn’t even look at engagement rings without them triggering a lot of pain. So, I surprised myself when out of nowhere I stopped in front of the window. I thought, “I haven’t allowed myself to look at rings in years” and I couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying it. They were no longer triggering old pain, they were just gorgeous rings and just like that, even though I was alone I said out loud, “I AM FINALLY OVER IT!” No judge, no fanfare, no big moment. Closure finally came on an ordinary Friday afternoon, when I least expected it.
I wish I could go back and tell my old self that closure will come eventually but you have no control over when it happens. Keep doing the work, chip away at your pain and be hopeful because it does help but don’t have any expectations. Like all of life’s great mysteries and surprises- Closure comes when you least expect it!
A long time ago, a friend of mine was going to grad school in San Francisco and one day he was walking down the street and instantaneously realized he was not living the right life. Although, he loved living in San Francisco he didn’t feel he could stay any longer. He immediately packed up, left grad school and moved. He left his heart in San Francisco.
Moving on happens quickly and we don’t always get a chance to process everything when we are busy with the business of moving on. We simply move on and it isn’t until you go back to that place that you realize, you left your heart there.
I recently re-visited a place from my past. Smelling that ocean air again, made me feel the exact same way it did 5 years ago. It was like all of my old feelings were just waiting for me to come back and claim them. Walking down the same halls, eating at the same restaurant and hearing the same sounds was like traveling back in time but this time I was stronger and braver and wiser. Today isn’t yesterday. Today, I got to feel those old feelings with the courage I have gained and the wisdom I have acquired. It feels the same because it is the same place but I am not the same person.
To fully integrate your past with your present requires that you go back to your old sacred places and re-visit old loves. Not for nostalgia’s sake but to reclaim what you left there because when we leave we are too busy leaving. We are too busy with the business of moving on and we are not yet ready to process the emotions that go along with saying goodbye.
Making peace is best done years later when you can.
I am a big advocate of moving on and I also believe that how far you go is determined by how many pieces of your heart you have left scattered elsewhere. If you are ignoring those old places because you are too afraid of what it will feel like to return, I encourage you to face it so your present stronger, braver, wiser self can forgive your past self. As I walked in the same footsteps of my past, I felt the way I used to and it allowed my present self to process it. I was able to heal old wounds I didn’t even know were still lingering.
Years later, my friend went back to San Francisco and walked the streets and found pieces of his heart here and there. Finally collecting them brought him peace. He was able to return to his life with a full heart and an integrated sense of who he is because he visited who he used to be.
Pigeons, salmon, bees and cats all have an incredible ability to find their way home again with incredible precision. All animals have homing instincts. We tend to forget, that we humans are animals as well and we also have homing instincts, however “You can’t go home again.” Writes Dr. Minirth in Love is a Choice, The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships, “The homing instinct in humans is not geographic. It operates totally within the distant vistas of our minds. Rather than seek out physically the place of our birth and childhood, we seek to reconstruct it in our present lives… We bring home to us. We all possess a primal need to re-create the familiar, the original family situation, even if the familiar is destructive and painful.”
Most of us, know this theory when it comes to relationships. We all know someone who married a guy that was just like her father or someone who is dating a woman just like his mother. I am sure you have sought out the familiar in your own life to some extent. Whether your family was healthy or dysfunctional, familiar feels good because it is what we know.
We do this in our careers as well. We seek out a dynamic in our workplaces that feels familiar. Somewhere, we can act out our past. Where we can finally get closure, make it right or somehow overcome it. But, your office isn’t your old family room. Your new boss isn’t your mother. Your life now, is not your old life. No matter how eerily similar the situation might feel it is NOT the same situation.
The hardest and most confounding realization is that, just because you are convinced that your boss doesn’t listen to you doesn’t mean she doesn’t listen. Perhaps she does listen but you have been so conditioned to believe that women don’t listen, you are convinced she doesn’t. Just because it feels exactly the same way doesn’t mean that it is! Perhaps all those grievances and injustices aren’t really happening?
Perhaps it is all leftover from your past?
Your past is a blueprint. Some of us are lucky and have a solid blueprint but most of us have a blueprint that has been skewed by difficult and even tragic experiences. Leaving us to skew the present, to feel like our past. Dr. Minirth goes on to explain, “20 percent of our decisions come from the conscious reasoning mind. The rest come from deep within.” Those depths can be so skewed that no matter our reality we still see our past. This is how we are able to feel at home again for better or worse, because we convince ourselves that whatever is happening is just like the past.
Perception is reality and your perception is highly dependent upon what you have experienced and you will re-create it over and over again with everyone in your life. For some, that had happy childhoods repeating content fulfillment is a pleasant and wonderful way to go through life. For others, who re-create drama and tragedy it is a heart wrenching cycle full of suffering and pain.
If you are repeating the same mistakes, if you feel like your boss is just like your mother or your co-workers are just like your mean friends from high school perhaps there is something in your past that you need to heal. If you react irrationally to simple requests, you are not reacting to the present. You are replaying old wounds. If you can’t see past your feelings, you are trapped in old pain. It feels familiar albeit terrible.
Perhaps your past is getting in the way of your future?
We don’t repeat our past because we deserve to be punished. It isn’t karmic justice or some evil hereditary gene that is preventing you from being who you want to be, it is a homing instinct. A combination of conditioned behavior and old unfelt emotions. The good news is behavior can be changed, by developing self-awreness and changing your thoughts that accompany the behavior, and old unfelt pain will no longer subconsciously control you once you heal it.
So, yes you can go home again but you can choose what home that is. Will it be the home of your past or the home of your future?
-Shift into Balance Life & Career Coach for Professionals-
Baby steps are awkward and clumsy but that’s not an excuse not to learn how to walk. If you refuse to begin because you are afraid that you will fail, you will never get anywhere. You learned how to walk by falling down hundreds of times. You learned how to walk by taking the risk that walking would get you farther than crawling. Anything great in life is accomplished by looking silly and taking a risk.
So go ahead and take the first steps towards your dream. You will look silly and you will fall down but that is not an excuse not to go for it!
1) A resume is not a list of everything you have ever done, it’s a highlight reel- BE RELEVANT The biggest mistake people make is that they approach a resume like a job description and write out every task that they have ever done. A resume is an overview of your accomplishments not a laundry list! Coaching tip: Once you get the interview you can elaborate on your bullet points. The interview is the place to talk in greater detail but for now, when writing a resume keep it to the interesting important stuff.
2) Get rid of the objective (no one reads it anyways)- BE DIRECT The first thing recruiters look for is your most recent job so do them a favor and put it right at the top. Objectives are outdated and take up valuable space, so get rid of it! Coaching tip: Lead with work experience, close with education and aim for 1 page, 2 pages max depending on the length of your career. Click here to download an easy to use Resume Template
3) Use metrics and provide numbers- BE SPECIFIC Vague ambiguity will not grab the reader the way numbers will. Define your experience by providing facts, figures and statistics. Coaching tip: Read over your resume and add numbers where you can. For example.- Instead of “Worked on reports and made submissions” quantify it “Created 3 bi-annual reports and made 4 monthly submissions to Executive team”
4) Write full sentences- BE CLEAR Just because a resume needs to be concise does not mean you can get away with using fragments and just because it needs to be descriptive doesn’t mean you can get away with run-on’s. Coaching tip: The intention of business writing is to convey information, so stick to the facts. Take out any filler words, remove articles (such as; a, an and the) pronouns (its and their) and superfluous verbs. Don’t just rely on spell check, get a second opinion- a fresh set of eyes will catch obvious mistakes.
5) Tense is very important- BE ACCURATE If you are currently working in the position use present tense and make sure all your preceding experience is written in past tense. Coaching tip: Continuity is important for the interviewer to get a sense of where you have been and what you are currently doing. If your tense is off you might get questions like “Oh, I didn’t realize you were still working there.”
6) Add Additional skills only when pertinent- BE HONEST I interviewed a candidate who claimed to be fluent in Spanish on his resume. When the hiring manager walked in, she started the interview in Spanish. He got all flustered and had to admit that he wasn’t exactly fluent. Elaborating your abilities on your resume might get you the interview but eventually you will be found out, so save yourself the humiliation and just be honest. Coaching tip: Only add an Additional Skills heading if it is pertinent to the position (i.e.; Licenses/Certificates you hold, or Exams you have passed)
7) Bullet points are not all created equal- BE STRUCTURED The first bullet may be the only bullet someone gets a chance to read at a career reception so make it a good one. Coaching tip: Organize your bullets according to the priorities of your position in descending order. For example- if the majority of your job is client advocacy make client advocacy your first bullet and the additional bullets will describe in greater detail what that entails and how you accomplish it.
8) Use active voice and action words- BE CONFIDENT Simply put, active voice is direct and easier to understand and isn’t that the way you want your resume to read? Do not use the word “I” For example- instead of “Monthly financial reports were generated by me..” use instead “Created 5 monthly financial reports..” Coaching tip:Click here for 100 Action words to use on your resume and in your interviews.
9) List dates of employment- BE FACTUAL If you don’t list the dates, recruiters might think that you are hiding something. So be upfront. If you have a gap on your resume when you were unemployed or in school be prepared with an answer. Coaching tip: It isn’t a deal breaker if you have a gap in your job history however it is a deal breaker if you lie about it and/or try to cover it up.
10) Don’t say the same thing twice- BE DISTINCT Even though you have had a couple jobs where you did the exact same thing doesn’t mean you can copy and paste the exact same bullets for every position. Coaching tip: You must diversify your bullets, so you don’t look lazy. Click here to learn how to interview like a Natural
“A belief is nothing more than a chronic pattern of thought, and you have the ability—if you try even a little bit—to begin a new pattern, to tell a new story, to achieve a different vibration, to change your point of attraction. The Law of Attraction is responding to your vibration, and you can easily change your vibrational point of attraction by visualizing the lifestyle you desire and holding your attention upon those images until you begin to feel relief, which will indicate that a true vibrational shift has occurred.”
-Excerpted from the book “Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Health, Wealth and Happiness” by Esther Hicks
I attended an empowerment retreat a few years ago. On the first day, a woman named Marie asked the instructor, “How can I get someone else to change?” Without saying anything the instructor got up from where he was sitting at the front of the room and walked to the back of the room. We all watched him intently and changed our positions to see him better. He then looked around the room and pointed to his new position and said, “You change!”
It was our first lesson in empowerment and it was subtle and powerful. He taught us that empowerment begins with YOU making a change not trying to get someone else to change. It never dawned on Marie that she could change. It never dawned on her that if she moved and if she changed, other people would see her differently and ultimately change. As, we all had done when our instructor moved from one place to another.
Our instructor encouraged us that “There is nothing wrong with wanting someone to be the best that they can be, so long as it isn’t getting in the way of you being the best that you can be.” Marie confided in me after class that she had let it get in her way. That she had wanted to change her husband for so long but now she saw that she had been using it as an excuse not to work on herself.
We all know that people change when they are darn good and ready and we all know that we can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do but that still doesn’t stop us from trying and since we are all going to keep trying then I propose we all try in a more sane and effective way.
Let us change others by changing ourselves!
If you are waiting for the perfect man to give you the life that you want follow Gloria Steinem’s advice and, “Become the man you want to marry.” If you are sick of the system get inspired by Gandhi and, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
When you change, you change the way others see you so go out there and change the world!