Cultivating Courage

There are so many things that keep people from living a life they dream about. There is one thing is more powerful than even the dream itself though.

You probably have experienced this in your life, it’s the thing that prevents you from asking the pretty girl out or talking to that handsome guy. It’s the thing that prevents you for asking for the raise or promotion or starting your own dream business. It stands between you and what you really want.

It is FEAR

When I hear of this it breaks my heart because, although I’ve been stopped by fear too, I have learned to cultivate courage and because of this, a whole new world has opened up for me.

I would love to encourage you to explore and enhance your courage.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is the making of action in spite of fear.

– M. Scott Peck

So how do we cultivate courage in the face of fear? There are several methods – what I do is; Name it and face it head on (not for the faint of heart!)

A prime example for you. I had a fear of drowning, so I did what every normal person does and signed up for scuba diving class. My thought was the best way to conquer this was to put a load of heavy stuff on my back and get dropped into the ocean where the bottom was forty feet down.

I know, for most people that is crazy! And for me, it was even a bit crazy, however all my fears disappeared when after having what felt like twenty pounds of equipment on my back where I could barely stand up, imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get below surface! My instructor had to come over and put more weight in my vest!

It turned out, and has almost proved true every time since, that usually my fear is completely made up out of my imagination. I have learned that I have an incredible imagination and one that works even better when I have few facts involved.  If I gather  more facts about that which I fear, I can sometimes ease my fear.

How about you?

If you begin to really think about something you are scared to do in your life. Regardless if this “thing” is small or large and really research it or look into it in detail, you might find out that you are making fake news about this “thing.” By looking into the real details you might find it no longer quite so scary. In some cases combatting your imagination with enough truth will allow the fear to subside enough to make a step.

Another technique I use is the best case/worst case scenario. I often find myself developing this worst case scenario which is (again with the incredible imagination) a spectacular fail. You know the kind, where you don’t only fail, but you have an epic fail where your whole life crumbles in one fell swoop.

I have come to realize – through many failings – that I rarely, if ever, have I failed this spectacularly. If I did, it would make a great story and one you would certainly one day find here, but alas, it has yet to happen.

The converse of this worst-case scenario is what would happen if you spectacularly succeed? We often get so caught up in preventing an epic fail, we hardly look at the benefits of taking such a risk. The benefits are usually great (which is why we want to do the “thing”) however we spend little time with our imagination focused on what life will be like if we succeed – even a little.

The final question to ask yourself is, what will your life be like if you never try? When I took my scuba course, I got a certified teacher and went though all the classes and guess what? I didn’t drown and I’m a certified diver and have been all over the world diving and I absolutely love it! My life is forever changed by the opportunity to explore a part of this planet that not everyone gets to see.

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

– Benjamin Mee

So I encourage you to work through one of these exercises in your journal, muster up your twenty seconds of courage and try something you’ve been afraid to try. The amount your life expands when you overcome a fear is fantastic and it leads you to the knowledge that you are truly only limited by your own thoughts.

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Falling Leaves

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When I was a child I remember being told about a story where a man was tying leaves back onto a tree in the autumn. As a child I thought that no one would ever do that, but as I grow, I watch people attempt the same every day.

Change Is Scary

We happen to know that leaves must fall off a tree, there is no benefit to the tree or anyone by tying these back on the branches. In fact by doing so, especially in the regions that get snow, you could likely cause more harm then good.

Looking at the leaves as a metaphor though, how often do we argue with nature? How often do we feel that what is naturally happening should not happen and attempt to altar it?

From what I observe, it’s often.

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Attachment

I find that when I am attached to something my attachment does not leave room for change.

If this is a person, does that not allow them to grow?

If that is a location, does that mean progress is always bad?

If that is a goal, can it not evolve?

I’ve learned that attachment often harms more often then it actually preserves what I am attached to. I’ve learned that the more I hold loosely and observe what I love about something or someone, the more room I give it to breathe and become what it is designed to be or become.

Living In The Moment.

The less I am attached to something in its current form, the more I can simply appreciate it. I can always love those initial things that drew me to it and at the same time allow appreciation of how it transforms or evolves.

Does this mean I don’t enjoy permanence? Absolutely not! I l have favorite things that travel with me all over the world and I have many long-lasting relationships. I find that I enjoy more of these relationships by allowing them to be what they are in any given moment. If that is a day-to-day experience, or if it becomes a once-in-a-while experience, I don’t spend the time bemoaning the time I don’t have so I find more enjoyment in the time I do have.

Your Turn

I encourage you to take this time to reflect on the leaves you might be trying to tie back onto the tree. What might be in your life that you might be so attached to in its present condition that you might miss what it could become. Is there a change that has clearly taken place that you are not acknowledging because it will mean you’ll need to break out the rake?

Take some time to think about the trees in your forest and make sure you are allowing ample space for nature to breathe and follow its course versus trying to control it.

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In Pursuit of Crow Pose

I have recently returned from a week away at a yoga retreat.  This was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, had never actually done.  I can’t even tell you how I heard about this event, or why it came across my radar, but when I saw it something said I needed to do it now and this was the one.

Our initial evening we were asked to write our intentions for the week.  What did I want to get out of the week?

I was stumped!

This goal girl had no goals for the week, except, maybe to finally get into crow pose for more than a millisecond before toppling.

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Toppling crow

As I pondered this question and searched my soul to figure out my goal for the week, I realized it was just to have this experience.  My goal was to let the week unfold and teach me what it wanted and for me to just be curious and a allow myself to be a novice in this experience.

Now you all know, I am an action person, I like to set goals, make plans, allow them to change but always I seem to have my eye on some prize, some goal.

I have begun to explore another way, to see if there may be times when I would benefit by allowing life to unfold for me. The idea to not drive my life every step of the way and to allow the path to reveal itself with each step is new for me and I’m seeing how much it might benefit me to listen, watch how each move I make changes the landscape before me.

I’m not saying that I believe sitting on a couch eating bon bons is the way for me, nor do I believe you can just OM your way to a fulfilling life. I am saying, maybe releasing my grip on the driving wheel might have some benefits at this point in my life. How about you?

The challenge for me is to find a way to both allow life to unfold while still having a strong direction and taking action and steps. Lord knows I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to me – I’m never going to be THAT chill!

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For example, the action I took was to attend the yoga retreat, the release and the unfolding was that when one came across my plate and it struck me, I didn’t question it and I jumped on board. Once I determined I was in a safe space, I further released to the unfolding and allowed all of the people I came into contact with during that week to teach me and share whatever it was they chose to share.

I did not have a list of questions to ask others nor did I have any agenda of accomplishments I hoped to achieve. I did not have to be the best yogi, I did not know anything about the topics that were being taught.  In fact, I knew very little about the stories that were shared or any of the activities or rituals that occurred during the week. I was in a “child’s mindset” which I could have embraced or fought – I chose to embrace it.

Curiosity Is Action

What I learned during this week was precious and not entirely what I could have thought to put into an intention at the beginning.

One of the most important items I continue to learn as I practice my crow pose, is to take careful assessment of how I feel, align myself well, take my time as I move and concentrate on the moment as I look forward, let go and trust myself.

Although you may or may not be a practicing yogi, I believe these lessons may prove helpful in all that you pursue.

Are there places in your life that you are safe enough to let go of the driver’s wheel, be a novice and just be curious? Are there times when you are so busy setting goals and being the best you can be that you miss what others share with you?

I encourage you this month to consider where you might loosen your grip on the driver’s wheel in your life to trust and allow some of life to unfold for you and show you what it has to teach you.

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A Digital Nomad Defines Home

I had an interesting revelation during my last trip.  I discovered the term home has lost its traditional definition for me.

Please don’t misunderstand me – Yes I grew up outside of Boston and that will always be where I come from and since it is where I grew up and the bulk of my family still lives, I absolutely still consider it home (don’t take this the wrong way Dad).

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What I have discovered is that the more I travel the more I consider the globe to be my home.  It is not the house I was raised in, it is not the town I grew up in; home is no longer a place but a feeling.

Home is Familiar

No matter where I am, there are always a few familiar things like chain stores and restaurants across the globe.  Because I often repeat travel locations, I find there are familiar faces to each location and now, because I am connected with the digital nomad community, I am likely to find a familiar face in an unfamiliar location. This provides a sense of belonging and in a way a feeling of home.

Although primary languages may be different depending on where I am, it seems that in a global society multiple languages and dialects are more common in any location than to hear only one language.  I can be in Boston, San Francisco or Rome and I hear multiple languages, so hearing different languages just feels normal to me now; the unfamiliar has become familiar.

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3 Carry-On’s And A Dog

It’s no secret my life needs currently fit into three carry-on suitcases. I’m not trying to promote simplicity or minimalism, it is a lifestyle of convenience for me at this time.  I simply don’t want to lug a whole bunch of stuff around the world with me and there are few tangible items that have great importance to me.  It is the memories and experiences that I treasure and these take up much less space in my luggage!

Home As A Reflection

Most people have a more permanent home than I and in the course of their lives they create one that reflects their values and things they hold precious.  Designing and decorating to create a space that provides comfort, respite and safety for all that is important in their lives.  They collect items to remind them of travels and happy occasions, mementos of events and their history.

I guess I’m different in this way (surprise!). Although I love when my screen saver on my computer scrolls through my photo collection and fond memories pass by, the pictures on my wall are mostly the art of any given landlord I have.  I don’t keep my memories on my wall, I have them in my mind and they are as portable as I am.

So as much as I no longer have a home in the traditional sense, I have a home that is as vast as the globe. I am able to move about the world in a way that is both exciting, like seeing people and places you remember and miss, and comforting, like being in an old familiar space.

Almost all of us have had several locations which we have called home over the course of time, be it a family home that moves, a college dorm or your first apartment.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to think about what made these home for you. I wonder if I am not alone in feeling like home has less to do with the place than the feeling created within?

Once you have your definition, I encourage you to think about how you might carry that with you throughout your journey.

What To Do With A Little Funk

I’m going to be honest with you all, I’ve been having a bit of a tough time lately.  Yes, even Life Coaches have their days or weeks when things are just in a funk.  It is not that there is one specific thing that is wonky for me, just a bit of everything all over the place.

I recognize that this feeling has come up before and it often occurs when I am working on a major transition, namely a move to another country.  So good news, I am aware of what likely kicked it off.  I also have the benefit of knowing it is not something that will last and I know I have been here before and I moved through it. Knowing this is great, however it doesn’t change the feeling of unease and general funk.

What To Do?

In the past I have dealt with this type of feeling in a very active way.  As some of you know, my mother was never one for coddling us girls, she was more of a “pull up your boots and get on with it” type of woman. So, with all the grace and gentleness of a bull I have usually just plowed through my days just doing everything I needed to do to get to the other side.

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There are many benefits to handling life and its challenges this way.  First, you get a heck of a lot done because you are working so hard at getting through “it” you are like a freight train at top speed.  While moving so fast to get through the days that will land you on the other side, often times additional things get swept to the side and left unnoticed by the side of the road.  Trust me, not dealing with those items today does not mean they won’t pop up again (usually at a most inconvenient time)!

A Different Approach

Today I’ve been focusing more on just being.  Sitting with the feeling of funk, trying not to label it good or bad, just observing and feeling (even the stuff that just sucks to feel) and letting it teach me what I need to learn so I may move through it.

This is not easy for me by any stretch.  I’m an action person in all senses of the word.  I like to move and create and that requires me to do stuff.

I am finding though that by sitting with things – even the wonky things, there is much to be gained. By allowing the feelings to wash through me and journaling,  I can sometimes hear the message in the mess.

The Benefit

These times cause me to get out of my head and stop plowing through my “to-do” list and listen to the world around me.  I’ve realized that sometimes (I know this will come as a surprise to you) I am so busy moving forward I’m not looking at where I am or not paying enough attention to those around me.

Being in a funk always slows me down and brings me from my head to my emotions.  It’s in these moments that I can be open to the possibilities that although something might not be going as I wished, that doesn’t mean it is not going the way it needs to go.

When I stop rushing, running and doing and begin to just observe what is going on around me there is opportunity to receive.  When I slow I create more peace and I can often begin to see what would have just been a blur had I been trying to push through to get to the other side.

Where Are You Today?

So I encourage you to take stock of where you are today.  Yes, we are midway through the year, so review where you stand for your goals this year, and then just sit with the information.

Don’t rush out to make a plan to make up for lost time or set about 10Xing your next six months, just sit with the information from your review.  Spend some time in meditation and maybe a walk on the beach and see if there is information that comes to you about where you are.

You might just reinvigorate your desire to pursue this goal and come up with a great new idea, or you might find that the Universe has been trying to tell you something but you were moving so fast that you couldn’t see the sign.

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Making U-Turns On The Road Of Life When Necessary

archery-weekendsEveryone in the goal achievement space talks about how important it is to have a clear vision and specific idea of what you want to achieve – even me.  However, I have a number of clients coming to me saying, “I want to work with you, but I really don’t know what my goals are or should be.”

Sometimes the hardest part of achieving your goals is figuring out exactly where you want to go. I’m telling you, although it is helpful, it’s not necessary and I don’t want that to stop anyone anymore!

I’ll let you in on my journey – when I started out, I had no idea where I was going and what I wanted out of life.  All I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, was that I didn’t want to be or stay where I was at the time.

That knowledge was just enough to start on a plan, before that I was just complaining and we know how far that propels you!

The reason that knowing where you don’t want to be works is much like a GPS.  I don’t know about you, but when I get in my car and set my GPS it tells me to start out going south or west or something.  I don’t know where my south or west is, I barely know my left and right some days!

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So you know what I do? I just start in the direction my car is pointed and the GPS redirects me as necessary.  My experience with the GPS is the same in life, you get those same nudges if you set out in a direction that isn’t a match for you regardless if you have set a clear direction or know your south from left.

Have you ever started a project or something and everything seems to be against you?  Nothing goes right, there are obstacles around every corner and it just feels like a slog to get this thing accomplished?  Yah, me too.

Now, I ask you, have you ever started something and it all just falls into place?  You have all the things you need and a few extra things just show up and they seem to help you when you weren’t even expecting or planning for them. Everything just feels in flow and like it’s working.  Yah, me too.

That’s what I mean when I say if you start off on a path that is not the best one for you at the time, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.  In fact if you don’t figure it out, in my experience you will continue to get obstacles and barriers until you notice, hey, this isn’t working for me, maybe I should try something else.

I know this and trust this now because I’ve seen it happen countless times both in my life and in others.

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So many people are not sure where to start or exactly what they want and this trips them up and they just don’t start anything.  I can tell you that they don’t figure out what they do want any faster by not moving.

I encourage you to think about a few things you want in your life.  Is it a new job but you don’t know what’s a good fit for you? Is it a new location? Something else?  No matter what you are looking for in your life, take a step – any step and see where it goes next.  Each time you take a step, ask yourself, does this feel right?  Are things seeming to fit?  Am I uncomfortable because this is unfamiliar or because this is not right for me?

You really know what is best for you.  Not me, Tony Robbins or any guru out there.  It’s up to you to discover it by taking small calculated steps to either move you away from where you don’t want to be or to move you towards what you desire – or both!

If you only know where you are is where you don’t want to be, then take a step at a time away from where you don’t want to be, and see where each one brings you.  Trust yourself to pick up on the signs if where you are heading is not right for you.

Of course if you ever need or want someone to talk out your next steps with, you have a goal achievement specialist in your pocket, don’t hesitate to reach out if you want.

Give It Up!

I know that this is not what you are used to me saying.  I know I am usually the one pushing you forward and encouraging you to keep going.

Today, I’m changing my tune a bit to both keep you on your toes and to lighten your load.

Sometimes to keep moving forward you need to look over what is going on in your world.  So let’s examine a few things that might be worth giving up.

I hear all the time that in order to be successful it is a hard road that requires sacrifice and pain. This thought is the basis of the statement that “if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it.”

I’m here to challenge all this.

First off – if we buy into the notion that whatever we’re working on is hard, we look for ways to prove this.  If you are trying to lose weight and you tell yourself how much stuff you can’t have and how hard it is to stay on track – how do you think you feel about your eating plan?  Then, top it off with what everyone refers to as a “cheat meal” and then feel wonderful about that!

If you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time you know how powerful I feel language is.  I believe this is where many people can benefit from a change of mindset and it will make a huge difference in how it goes for them.

If you work on creating a positive atmosphere around what you are doing I guarantee you that it will make even the hardest tasks more pleasant and easier.

For example – when setting out for a long run, I can choose to think about the miles, the heat and the effort the whole thing is going to take me.  Instead in order to get a good run in, I think of the fact I’m doing meditation at the same time, how good I will feel when I’m done, how accomplished I will feel and how strong I am becoming.  I’m not telling myself anything that is not true however I’m just focusing on all the benefits of my run instead of all the challenges.

Status Quo

The other thing that deserves review is this idea of change.  This is a natural progression in life.  Why are we so against change?

I encourage you to give up on the notion that life should be the same all the time.  If we didn’t have ups and downs how boring would life be? [Raise Your Hands And Scream-Aug 2012]  Think of the blooms we would not see if seeds never broke their shells and sprouted their first leaves!  Think of the life you would live if you never grew up and never changed.

Give Up The Story

Finally, the last thing I want you to give up today is the notion that your dream life can’t come true. Please give up the thought that your dreams are too big, you’re too old or that your time is past or whatever is holding you back from chasing that spark that lights you up.

Look, if you are still breathing – even if you’re on life support – it ain’t over til it’s over!

When you give up all the stuff above, you make space for all the greatness that you can possibly hold, and if your arms get full, think about what else you can give up that is not allowing for great stuff to come into your life.

Focus on the benefits you reap from chasing what you truly desire.  Focus on the life that you wish to live and what you look, feel and act like when you are living that life.

Remember that change happens, it is not something to be feared or forced it is natural, doesn’t have to be scary and brings beautiful things like butterflies and blooms. Sometimes there is a spot during this that it feels like life is in chaos however it will pass and just understand it is a temporary part of change.  If you fight it less it will carry you along.

And last but not least, step into your dreams bit by bit.  Nothing is too big or crazy – look, we’ve got people sending cars to the moon and a guy who created the pool noodle.  So get crazy, creative and dream anything you want then take a small step towards it.

Look, you’re going to give up things along the road of life, let’s make them things that have been weighing you down or holding you back from living your dreams, not the dream itself.

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