Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't Mute Your Dreams

"Because you will never again be able to keep it (heart) quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you're thinking about life and about the world."

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

What dream are you trying to ignore? Listen to the fire within you - pursue your purpose.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Taking Action

So…creating action. Why are you taking action?

Why is your first question to any action step. Why am I taking this step? What does it mean for me, and what is the payoff that I get? When you can identify the reasons behind why you want something, it becomes more real for you and it’s easier to keep pushing forward in that direction.

BUT when it’s time to make that cold call or run our first 5K or ask for what we want, we freeze right? Fear creeps in. I know it’s happened to me plenty of times! By stopping in your tracks and dropping the idea, you are saying no to yourself before you give anyone else the chance to say no to you. I have good news about fear. The freeze stage is GOOD. It means progress is happening. You are moving out of your comfort zone and most often, the things you are most fearful of are the things that are most worth doing.

Fear can be a really powerful barrier, but it can be a really telling milestone, too. Notice when your fear shows up and how you avoid tackling your next step. Once you recognize that stopping point, it’s easier to identify it and move on through the next time. Shifting your perspective out of negative fear and into a measurement of progress can be a powerful tool toward following through with your action plan.

Fear of failure can be really debilitating, too. When you don't reach a goal, or have a history of not reaching a goal, try not to beat yourself up about it. Rather, ask yourself why (again...back to the why) you are doing the goal in the first place. What has shifted? Is this goal no longer meaningful for you? Did something happen along the way? Is there another goal you need to accomplish first?

The trick to taking action at any time is to keep that goal IN FRONT of you at all times. You can’t hide from it, you can’t say it out loud and then hope it happens. You can "if...then...maybe....when" until you're blue in the face. Sometimes you create your own opportunity. Taking a huge leap of faith isn't always a necessity, but taking the first step toward your goal is.

Be sure to set up measurable steps to reach your goal. Big goals such as weight loss, starting a business or being a better friend can be a little daunting to take in one big chunk. Break them down into smaller goals. For instance your process might go like this:
What do you need to do to lose weight?
Eat better and exercise.

How do you WANT to do those two things?
Walk everyday and buy better food at the grocery store.

How can you start that today?
Go for a 30 minute walk and run by the grocery store to pick up veggies for a stir fry for dinner.

Your next step is to tell everyone you know. When you're held accountable, you will accomplish more. Write it down and put it somewhere you can see it. Here are a few tricks for easier action steps:

Creative thinking when you get a no - there are many ways to drive from California to Charlotte. If you come across an accident that is going to tie you up for a long time, find a different route to get to your destination!

Dream Boards - these are visual collages of your goal that you can revisit everyday.

Index Cards –
write out your goals in positive, "now" language, complete with a set date and time of when you will accomplish them

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield - Read it! - write yourself a vision of what it feels like to have accomplished your goal and set it to send on your projected completion date.

Ask for help -
align yourself with people who can help you reach your goal. It never hurts to ask!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Are you surfing your wave of tolerations, or drowning in it?

On any day, at any given time, we are tolerating something. It might be a person, a location, a job, a broken household item, an old car, etc. At times, our tolerations propel us forward on a fast current. Other times they hold us in place like a buoy in the middle of the ocean.

What is a toleration?

Tolerations are little tasks, thoughts, people and actions for which we make excuses. “My office is messy because I don’t have time to clean it...because my boss keeps me late…because my kids have practice…because I have too much other stuff to do.” This can quickly become a verbal flood of excuses that eventually drown out the positive aspects of your life.

Understanding the Flood

Beginning with the mind, your list of tolerations expands to overwhelm the items you want to do on your priority list. By not filing your mail or keeping up with routine maintenance, a pile begins. Before long that small pile becomes a mountain that seems too big or time consuming to conquer. Similarly, when you cannot say “no,” your schedule is at risk of becoming a toleration. If you stop allowing time for some of things you want to do, your tolerations sneak in and take over.

Next, your friends become weary of hearing the continuous rushing of excuses for why you haven’t just taken care of what obviously plagues you so much. How much of your conversations seem to be rattling off an excuse list, or a “to-do” list? If your answer is “a lot of the time,” then your toleration list is a long one.

Most severe is when your environment becomes contaminated; your mind, your conversations and your actions are all directed by the swirling list of tolerations that have helped you to forget all the free time you once had. Friendships dissolve as they tire of hearing about all the emergencies. You feel exhausted all the time because you are trying to catch up instead of keeping up and your mental and physical energy suffers, which can affect your mood and self-esteem.

At any point during the flood, you must choose whether you:
1. Put off and continue to perpetuate the flood of overwhelming “to-do’s”
2. Give in and begin checking off tolerations
3. Give up and remove the toleration by making a life shift

Put off

Your first choice is to ignore the flow of frustration and continue putting things off. For every day you choose to push aside your tolerations, the flood coming toward you gains speed. Take yourself back before the wall of tolerations began to take over. Would you have stood in that place and said, “In a year, I hope to be drowning in paperwork, treading water in my relationships and hanging out in a sea of unhappiness?” If you choose to put off your tolerations, you stand here, today, and say that for your future self.

Give in
Sit down and put all of the swirling tolerations down on paper in the form of a checklist. Prioritize which items are high-level tolerations and which are low. Begin to wade through the list one day at a time, conquering an achievable mix of large and small items first. Sometimes it’s just a matter of starting. Many of my clients have noticed that soon, some of the “consistent every-day items” can be taken off the list because they become habitual. Like brushing your teeth in the morning, filing your mail each day can be done without thinking about it.

Give up
Ever felt like you were living in a parallel universe? Sometimes you have to give up to make forward progress. Tolerating an environment, a job or a relationship can be overwhelming. When you begin to notice that most of your energy is wrapped up in one area, it’s typically time for a life shift. Life shifts create the nourishment for new growth. They are also the hardest to make. Ask yourself: are you getting anywhere doing what you are doing? Are your conversations focused on one area of your life? Are you tolerating more than you need to? If so, it’s time for an emotional revolution. Dive in, move past the fear of change and check the biggest toleration off your list.

Building the dam
Tolerations can devour your time and energy, or just nibble at you little by little. Think of each toleration on your list as a small crack in a dam. Each crack that you plug secures all that you’ve worked for from the danger of flooding. As you neglect the dam, cracks re-form and water will flow through. Neglect it long enough and you will be frantic to make large repairs. Neglect it for too long and it will break, washing you away with it.

If you need to, call in help. Sometimes you need an assistant, a bookkeeper, a maid, a therapist, a mechanic, etc. Whoever it is that can help you take care of your list, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. There is no weakness in asking for help - even if it’s only in the form of support from friends and family as you tackle this list.

Enjoy the view
Each time you take care of a toleration, reward yourself. It’s hard work! Experience the beautiful calm as you get things done and enjoy the free time you gain. Managing your tolerations allows for a quiet mind, a life with little to no unwanted surprises and a more relaxed lifestyle. If you’re tired of the storm over the ocean, maybe it’s time to buy the house on the lake. Enjoy the view.

Curse of the If...Then, Maybe...When...

Taking that first step is the hardest. I'll let you in on a little secret about life. "Perfect timing" comes very rarely. Having the stars aligned is overrated. You can "if....then," and "maybe....when" until you are blue in the face. Sometimes you create your own opportunity. Taking a huge leap of faith isn't always a necessity, but taking the first step toward your goal is.

I speak a lot about having a vision and it's very important - but it will only get you so far if you aren't willing to ACT on it at some point. Take a step today toward what you want! Create your opportunity and you'll find that others step in to help, support and encourage.

Cheering for you today,
Coach Katie