There’s something about the month of January and the New Year that has us all setting goals and new intentions for our health, our careers, and our relationships. Some call it resolutions, others say it’s a lifestyle change. Call it what you will, you will need two elements to make it happen: Commitment and a beginner’s mind.
Here I am, on my yoga mat unable to even touch my toes. Again. Huffing and puffing halfway through my second sun salutation makes it hard to believe that fifteen years ago, I would do 4 hours a day of yoga at an ashram. My inner dialogue is quickly taken over by my inner itty-bitty-shitty-committee. “You’re getting too old for this. Look around you everyone here is gracefully sliding through to the next pose. It’s been ten minutes and you can barely breathe, obviously it’s time to quit. Maybe, if you weren’t two-ton Sally and a size zero like the rest of them you’d be able to actually stay in down dog and not have to collapse into child’s pose instead. This is embarrassing, you are embarrassing. Just give up already.”
Have you ever heard that critical voice in your own head?
It happens to all of us and in a variety of different situations. Cutting out sugar from your diet will make a donut literally talk to you. Choosing to get up earlier to run before work makes 5 am darker and colder than it ever was before. The self-doubt as you sit in front of your keyboard ready to write that book you’ve been meaning to write for years can immobilize your fingers and freeze your thoughts into a block of jumbled words. These are the things that stop us dead in our tracks when it comes to resolutions and lifestyle changes. So how do we mere mortals overcome that inner critic that lives inside every human being on the planet?
The beginner’s mind
It can be very humbling as a grown adult who has the rest of their “stuff” together to find themselves in the start position. You can be very successful in other areas of your life like leading a team at work, running a business, or managing a household with children and a spouse’s schedule to maintain. And suddenly there you are fumbling around without a clue.
I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to say to my children, “If you would just do what I suggested the first time you never would’ve gotten into this mess.” Preventing a mistake is easy when you know all the steps and have practiced them a thousand times before, but the whole point of learning (for our children and ourselves) is to actually make the mistake. Adults don’t like to make mistakes.
Part of the reason we quit on resolutions and change is that we want to get it perfect right away. We don’t want to take the time to learn and we don’t want to look stupid or clumsy while we’re learning. But if we could just embrace that innocent curiosity of a toddler exploring the world and allow ourselves the time and mistakes we can see the beautiful dance unfolding in our inability to march in step with the experts.
It’s been said by many a great motivational speaker, “Are you just interested in (fill in the blank) or are you committed?” I have to admit, I’m interested in learning to mountain climb. Me, who is afraid of heights and can’t breathe through two sun salutations. I would love to scale those majestical beasts here in the Canadian Rockies and take pictures of the vistas from the top of the world… But am I committed to purchasing all of the climbing gear, including harnesses, climbing shoes, helmets, ropes, and carabiners? Am I committed to climbing in the bitter cold? Am I ready to let go of my other hobbies and focus my time and attention on learning this new skill? Not really, not at this point in time. I’m not saying never, just not now.
What are you committed to? What do you want so bad that you can taste it? That you can see yourself in it that you can feel the emotions it will create? The best way I have found to stay committed to something is to know WHY I want it in the first place.
Here’s a great commitment exercise
(which, by the way, you can do on any day of the year multiple times of the year not only on January 1st)
- Take a journal and write out the goal you want to achieve
- Write out why you want that goal. What purpose does it serve? Who will you be when you reach that goal? What will be different in your life and/or in the world?
- What do you have to do or say Yes to in order to reach that goal? What do you have to stop doing or say No to in order to reach that goal?
- Take a piece of masking tape and laying down in a door’s threshold or lay a broom handle on the ground. Read what you wrote in your journal out loud to yourself or a trusted friend or partner and then cross the line. Just like jumping the broomstick in the African and Celtic cultures you will be married and committed to your goal.
Here I am again, on my yoga mat pushing through my shortness of breath inching closer to touching my toes allowing myself to be a beginner and embracing my commitment to my health and wellbeing. Who knows, maybe a year of practicing mountain pose will lead to a commitment to climb a mountain one day.
Are you looking for a little extra support to reach your goals this year? Drop me an email and I would be happy to offer you a complimentary discovery call to see if coaching with me will get you there.
I can’t tell you how many people ask me what coaching really is, or how often they misconstrue it for therapy or consulting. That being said coaching is also quite difficult to describe and much easier to experience. Through a couple of examples I’ve drawn from real-life coaching situations, I’m going to try to show you what coaching can be.
Relationship coaching: My client, we will call her Sally, came to me feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, and resentful at her husband and three teens. She recently returned to a fabulous career after being a stay-at-home mom, and the family was not pitching in with the housework, cooking, or laundry, leaving everything for her to do in addition to working full-time. You know that feeling ladies, when you walk into the kitchen and it’s covered in a huge mess to dig through just so you can find the counter space and pots you need to cook in!
First, we looked at the chores and meal preparation from the perspective of being overwhelmed and angry, and decided that creative or warm and fuzzy solutions were not coming from that perspective–just more frustration. So we turned the chair and faced a different side of the room, and I asked Sally to tell me about her favorite vacation spot. Her shoulders dropped and serenity washed over her as she described a family vacation at the beach. She recalled how she felt and who she was as a person while there, and even how meal preparation worked better at the beach house. And from that clearly resonant perspective, she brainstormed solutions to her current situation: She wanted to use the slow cooker more often, buy pre-cut vegetables, and re-institute Kids Cook Sundays which used to be a lot of fun for her family. In the end, I suggested a metaphor she could bring to her teens: Think of the family as an orchestra playing in the symphony, if the whole string section doesn’t show up, the piece just won’t sound the same and it is impossible for one person to play every instrument at the same time. The family needs to run like a symphony in which each person plays their part.
Sally left our Skype call session transformed and motivated to move forward with a plan that worked for her.
Career Coaching: My client, let’s call her Jane, wanted to launch a brand new product in her business but she was stuck in the “wait until it’s perfect” phase of her launch. She was paralyzed by her own inner critic. We all have that voice in our head that sabotages our biggest plans, the one that says: “Who do you think you are?” and “What will people think?” or “What if this is a total failure and you lose all the customers you have?” So I asked Jane to build a caricature of that voice in her head to personify him or her, to describe what the gremlin looked like and sounded like and to give it a name.
By really shinning a light on this saboteur, Jane was able to dissociate from the voice, recognizing that it was not her opinion but the saboteur’s opinion. From there I asked Jane questions that connected her to her true self, her wise, compassionate, courageous, and certain self and we explored the purpose of launching this product, how it was meant to affect people’s lives in a huge positive way, what her intention was behind it all, who she was becoming by serving the world through this product, and what was possible.
Jane ended our phone call empowered and successfully launched her new product.
I hope these examples gave you a small glimpse and a better understanding of what coaching is all about and how it can help in your life. Coaching is support from someone (like me) who takes the time to listen to your situation and draws on experience, and mastery of skills to offer unbiased focus (or re-focus) that helps you reach your own conclusion, solution, goal, or objective. Lastly, I often hear “I don’t have any problems and I’m comfortable with my life, why do I need coaching?” THAT is why you need coaching. Coaching is for leaping out of the comfort zone and going after your big dreams. If you are bored, not quite satisfied, and looking for big changes you need a coach like me.
This blog is about honesty. If you are looking for pie-in-the-sky, esoteric, law-of attraction positivity, STOP READING.
The internet is aflutter with posts about resolutions, vision boards, and goals and this year being “the year”. This is the year you are going to get fit and lose 40 lbs, this is the year you are going to make 7 figures, this is the year you are going to meet Mr. Right.
This is the YEAR.
Yet, come February 1st when you haven’t lost 40 lbs in a month and the cheesecake is calling your name, you give up. So do I. It’s human nature combined with today’s instant gratification mentality.
Yet, we all get sucked into the high priced weight-loss programs, the VIP business consultant who is going to make us millions, and the matchmaker to the stars. After all, they are thin and rich and have a loving husband, surely they can make that happen for you. If you throw enough money at a problem it goes away, right?
This has me yelling GET REAL!
I don’t care how much money you pay for a weight loss plan and consultant, you won’t drop 40 lbs overnight. In fact, the statistics the diet industry is not sharing with you is that 95% of diets fail, meaning you either don’t lose the weight or you put it back on within a year. Next time you go to pay through the nose for a weight loss program, ask them for their real statistics not just the glowing testimonials with the before and after shots.
As for making that million, I can attest to how difficult it is to start up a business and become a successful entrepreneur. There are way too many business consultants out there promising you the answer to a 7 figure business who are not telling you that in reality 75% of start-ups fail. Many of them are happy to tell you that they made 7 figures last year themselves, but I am more interested in finding out if that was in their first year, third year or fifth year. How many of their own clients made 7 figures and are still in business 2 years later? All of them? Half of them? None of them?
Now, I don’t want to totally discourage everyone from following their dreams, or seeking healthier lifestyles. All of these goals can actually be achieved. I just want you to be clear that most of the time it is through consistency and not an overnight achievement. Yes, we need coaches and consultants to advise us and hold us accountable. Hey I am a coach, I would never say to not use one! But be realistic in what a coach or consultant can do for you in what time frame. Buyer beware. Ask questions about their failures not only their glowing testimonials.
Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to be in this for the long haul, allow yourself to have the expected setbacks that all human beings face, allow yourself to stumble a little, and then extend your hand for someone to come and motivate you to get back into the game. I am always happy to be that person who walks along your path with you for the long haul, holding you accountable and helping you through the obstacles to a success story of your own defining. And you can be sure that I won’t promise you an overnight success, only genuine lasting results.