Archive for August, 2010

I am so blessed to be able to witness real shifts in thought in my coaching practice. On occasion it teaches me almost as much as the client! I truly believe that if more people were able to understand the truth behind living through your values we would have a much happier, more peaceful society.

 Life should not be about striving towards someone else’s ideal of what a perfect life is, but your own.

The problem lies in two places for the most part. The first is getting past our need for approval from others, the second in being able to honestly spell out what is deeply important to us and be willing to put the work in to get there.

A spectacular example of this comes from an experience with a client of mine. She is a professional woman, a mom, a wife, and member of a large family and was terribly frustrated and overwhelmed with her life. She felt she just couldn’t get a good grip on things and needed help to move herself forward to a life she wanted to be living.

We did quite a bit of work in laying out her personal core values for her. Seeing these values listed on paper, in black and white, really turned on some light bulbs for her. The experience I’d like to share (with permission of course) is one where she abruptly realized she wasn’t always making lifestyle choices based on these and this was preventing her from creating the life she desired. It was amazing to witness the shadows lift as she felt the deep shift happen during one of our sessions where we delved into some of her frustrations.

It was a during a discussion about time or I should say the lack of time. We had talked deeply about this and I asked her to keep a journal about where she was spending her time during the day for the days between our sessions. Not in any in crazy detail, just an overview. The inkling that something wasn’t quite right happened when we looked at the 3-4 hours of TV watching every evening. I asked her how this fit into her personal values that we had laid out in earlier sessions (we did this for every activity) and I got total silence! After a long pause, where truly I was beginning to wonder if we got disconnected, I got an answer. Truth was, it didn’t fit into any of them. In fact it conflicted with one of her most important values; spending quality time with her family.

While the TV watching was enjoyed by all to an extent, but wasn’t the kind of quality time she wanted during her limited time with her children and husband. It was dead time, no sharing, no interaction and no togetherness. My client was shocked. She had no idea how much ‘wasted’ time was happening in her home.

The result was that she needed to have a conversation with her husband about how to change this schedule so that it reflected their values as parents and family members. Taking the time to understand where your values lie can truly help you to make choices in your life that reflect them. This reduces internal conflict and helps you find real happiness. My client reported that with game night and more relaxed (no TV) time at dinner they have learned a great deal about their children’s lives outside of the home. She is feeling closer to her children and more connected to them and her husband, which is bringing her a great deal of contentment and pleasure. 

There is a great deal of power in knowing and living through your values.  It does take time and energy to do so but it is such a worthwhile endeavour.   When do you find yourself looking to your inner most values to make decisions and lifestyle choices?

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I was enjoying my early morning coffee today when out sauntered my beautiful calico cat.  Katie’s getting on in age at 12 years old but you’d never know it with her silky coat, the easy way she still can spring up  to a ledge 5 times her height with nearly no effort at all. 

I watched her for a while as she made her rounds.  I came to the sudden realization that she has it all figured out.  I’ve been reading, listening and working on my own self awareness and improvement for some time now.  Katie’s got it already going on and has for some time. 

I just woke up to the fact that cats are the ultimate models of belief in one’s self, truly.

As I watched her I became more and more convinced of this.  I saw her amble over to the couch where the dog was enjoying the cushion she likes to sleep on.  Now understand, she is about 9 pounds, he is 130.  This should be a no-brainer right?  And yet, she casually jumped up beside him and stared at him for about 10 seconds fully believing that he should move it.  Guess who is now sleeping on the cushion and who is sleeping under my desk? 

She fully believes that she runs the place and all of us lower mortals should be grateful if she chooses to turn her attention to us.  In fact, she doesn’t just believe it, she lives it.  I can’t even count how many times I’ve stopped myself from getting up to do something I need to do because she’s fallen asleep on my lap and I don’t want to disturb her and lose out on having her cozied up on my lap.  Yet, I have no trouble telling my dog to move it and he does so with no issues or hurt feelings. 

She doesn’t boast or demand.  I’m pretty sure Katie doesn’t have a marketing scheme to promote her fantastic ways and how lucky I’d be to be to have opportunity to be allowed to pet such a soft coat or listen to her purr or anything like that.  (Pretty sure) That leaves how she struts around with the air of truth in what she perceives as the way things should be.  And that really, really works!

I think I could learn something from her feline ways.  This total, unapologetic belief in herself and the expectation that everyone around her also understands this to be true has shaped and created her reality.  I have no idea how this happened or perhaps is this innate confidence something all cats are born with?  Either way I’d like to get my paws..err..hands on some of that. I wonder if she’ll let me?

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The Act of Saying No.

Many of us have trouble saying no to the many, many requests we find ourselves getting everyday. Our lives are already very busy with jobs, family and occasionally needing some downtime. Our time and energy are at a premium! Are we about to say no to everything that comes our way? Of course not. So why is it we have so much trouble saying no to requests we either don’t want to participate in or really don’t have the time or energy for? More importantly what can we do about it?

Believe it or not saying no is a problem for the majority of people for many reasons. However, you can learn to take back control of your time. It may be uncomfortable at first but I promise it gets easier and you will be happier for it.

First let’s get one thing clear. No matter what the request, no matter who is requesting it, a request always has two answers: yes or no. If you are someone who always says yes, your efforts are probably not valued as much as they should be and your ‘yes’ is almost assumed. The first few times you say no will most likely come as a shock to those around you. That is OK.

For those of you who are squirming in your chairs about now wondering how you are going to upset the people around you take heart. Here are some tips for helping you learn to say no, and helping you deal with the initial stress and worry.

Practice saying no. Small no’s can make you more comfortable when the time comes to deal with a more serious request.

•Try saying no to people such as the lady at the perfume counter.
•Say no to the person who asks if you’d like to have the free handout or try something new at the mall kiosk
•Tell the telemarketer no, they may not have a moment of your time
•Instead of rushing, tell the waiter no, you are not ready to order yet.
To avoid saying yes because you feel cornered and obligated

•Defer your answer to a later time..but specify when. A suggested response could be “I’m not sure if I can commit to that right now, let me get back to you by Tuesday. Just be sure that you do get back to whomever you need to in a timely manner.
•Defer your answer until you can check in with another party. This can be anyone from your boss, spouse, or even just your agenda book. “I need to check with my _____, let me get back to you on that.
Try to be firm but polite with a slightly sympathetic tone. If you sound wishy-washy the person asking is more likely to pursue your acceptance rather than accept your no. You do not need to ramble on about some excuse or apologise. You do not need to rationalize your reasons.

•A straightforward no, I can’t, but thank you for thinking of me.
•If pressed a simple “it doesn’t fit with my schedule right now” is a perfectly good answer. Most people will accept this and be understanding.
•Be sincere. “I’d love to but..” sends the message that you think it’s a great project or idea but it just isn’t a good fit for you right now.
•If the person is being pushy or rude simply repeat that it doesn’t fit with your schedule right now and either walk away or change the subject.

Know what your priorities are and value your own time. If you do not put value on it then neither will anyone else.  Do remember that just because you can actually fit something into your day does not mean you must. Every time you agree to do something you are giving up not only your time and energy, but you are giving up whatever else you might be doing during that time. For example more commitments means I may not get to the gym or spend time with my spouse or kids. What is most important to me?  So when someone asks “can you…” they really mean “will you…” and that is up to you.

Saying no to your boss Yikes! We can’t say no to this person right? Well actually that is kind of wrong. It’s not the saying no that is the problem its why you are saying no. If you take the time to explain to your boss that by taking on another piece of work, commitment or meeting you will be stretched too thin and this will put your productivity in jeopardy and possibly be compromising the work you already have, you are putting value on your work. If your boss still insists you take on this project ask for assistance to prioritize your tasks with a reminder that you can only do so much at once. If your focus is on having a strong performance, most likely your boss will be understanding.

As a society we are often under this misguided notion that we have to ‘do it all’. We can’t and shouldn’t try. It’s not healthy nor is it healthy for those around us. Saying yes to things we do not want to do or can’t do only causes resentment which leads to discomfort and distress. Saying no to those things we can’t or don’t want to do is something we need to learn. Just remember to be honest, sincere and polite. You might be looking for some assistance someday and will appreciate the same in kind!

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