Valuable Time

We arrive in December each year and remark how fast time slips away.IMG_5922.JPG

I hear often, “it felt like only yesterday we were celebrating New Years Eve!”

So as you reflect over the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I’d like you to add something to this exercise. I encourage you to take this opportunity to consider what I call value-based living.

This is a missing component to many people’s reflections I’ve found. I believe it is an essential step to making the most of your time.

What is Value-Based Living?

Value-based living is exactly as it states, living your life by your values. Many of us believe we do this, however upon deeper reflection there is often room for improvement.

I remember growing up hearing the saying that dust bunnies were ok if you had happy children.

The point is that so many of us spend a huge amount of time at work or chasing something that when all is said and done, is not part of our value system.  If you spend all day chasing your kids out of the house so you can clean it and keep it clean and your family is where your values lie….

Can Values-Based Living & Reality Co-Exist?

But E, you say, money is not where my values lie, but I’ve got to make money to live!

I do know this, and yes, you can have a values-based life and make money. The key is to know your values both individually and as a family if you are part of one. In this situation it is more about how much money you “need” to live your values.

The reason this is key is that it gives you a touchstone.

A Fishing Story

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There is a story I love that talks about this perfectly. A fisherman with a small boat went out every day to fish. He would come in from a few hours on the ocean and sell his fish at the local market and go home with some money.

A businessman met him one day and asked him why he didn’t have more fish? The fisherman replied, I have a small boat and this is what I can bring in.

Well, the businessman said, feeling very smug, “Why not get a bigger boat then you can catch more fish and make more money?”

The fisherman thought for a moment and replied, but then I would have to stay out longer and I wouldn’t get to bring my children to school and spend the day with my wife.

The businessman went on to explain the merits of a business plan to catch more fish, make more money, and in the future expand his business and then hire others to do the work and make lots of money.

The fisherman contemplated the plan and said, so when I expand my business and hire other people then I can be home to walk my children to school and spend the day with my wife?

Smiling, he walked away to go home to be with his family with the money he had earned in his pocket.

THIS is values-based living.

I find so many people get caught up chasing things that are not important to them at the expense of things that really are.

It’s no one’s fault, each day we are bombarded, pinged and flashed with things we’re being told are important to us. After a while it is hard to remember that we know in our heart what deserves our time and attention.

I have been through this myself, which is why I can talk about it and how I actually developed this philosophy of values-based living.

I found that the closer I live to my values, the happier I become. I have incorporated this into my work with others and regularly ask them to really think deeply about their values when they are considering a change in their life.

Making Your Time Count

imagesI haven’t found the cure to slowing down time. What I have discovered is that when you consciously match how you spend your hours, days and months to what is truly important to you, your time feels expanded.

I encourage you today to sit down and really think about what you value. Once you have your list as long or as short as it is, I ask you to consider the year that just passed. Did you spend your days in concert or conflict with your values?

Where you find your gaps is where change will bring the most fulfillment and happiness.

 

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Inspiration In Practice

I am always taken aback when someone tells me how inspiring my life is to them. It certainly makes my heart happy that I am helping others consider options that they may not have thought possible originally and I am so grateful for the reminder of the ripples my life generates.

I love to set big goals that most would shy away from because I have learned that there is as much ability to reach an amazing goal as an average one! I have also learned by stretching myself over the years that I am far more capable than I allow myself to believe most days.

I want to let you all in on the whole story though – I have the same fears, insecurities and self-doubts as everyone and I don’t always get it right.

Leaper

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Look, you all have been in my world long enough to know I’m a leaper. I have had tremendous success and a few epic failures. I know there is more than one side to this coin I’ve chosen for my journey.

What fuels my courage?

The possibilities of each leap I take are my main inspiration.  I do a lot of research on the bigger leaps I take, but there is always an unknown. I plan for what I can and anticipate as much as possible, however I have learned that I cannot control the outcome.

I have  learned that control an illusion, and my grandest idea of the best outcome is limited by my experiences. There might be a far greater outcome possible if I get out of my own way and let it unfold!

Epic Failures

I have also had the benefit of failures of epic proportions both business and personal. The benefit to these experiences is that at my lowest point, I was never out. I got pretty low and close to the absolute bottom and I learned that if you jump in a body of water and hit the bottom, you can propel yourself to the top at a speed that shatters a slow swim from the middle!

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Plan B

My sister and I have a history of making plans that somehow might just not turn out exactly as we originally planned. My Type A sister has come a long way and now without any hesitation will say, “Oh well! What’s plan B?”

We call ourselves the Plan B Girls now because it never riles us and because we have a goal in mind and we are determined to figure out a way to get to what is important. We have have learned not to waste time with what could have been and go around what is inconvenient or unplanned to reach our end goal.  It’s brilliant!

When Contingency Planning Gets In The Way

I am a risk manager by trade (20+ years in the legal field will do this to you) however, there are times when you can sabotage your goal by planning on “what if’s”.

Sure I recognize that things won’t always go the way I am hoping and planning. When setting goals with others and myself, examining the full picture is critical to be prepared for what might come up.

Be careful though not to scare yourself right out of your dream!

Right before I left California I almost did this to myself. I was halfway done selling all my items and planning my move to another country and I woke up one morning in a complete panic!

What if my clients don’t follow me online?

What if I get to Panama and I don’t have any way to make money?

What will I do if I can’t run my business in Panama?

I worked myself up so much that I actually considered scrapping the entire move and going back to the workforce and getting another paralegal job (gasp!)

My Truth

It was in the moment that I was considering scrapping my business and getting a “real job” that the nausea set in. It was immediate and visceral and unable to be ignored.

The one thing I have learned is that my body speaks to me! In those moments of self-doubt and insecurity when I retreat to the familiar, my body says, “I don’t think so! You don’t belong there anymore, you’ve learned what you were supposed to – time to move on!”

Wow, I’m so glad for this!

Conviction

In the case of my Panama move, well, you all know how that turned out and I am happy to say, I’m having one of the most successful years in my business to date.

I had to do a couple of things to get here though:

  1. Decide that this was the path I wanted and it was indeed possible to succeed.
  2. Determine what markers I would use to signal a need to reassess my move.

Once those two items were in place, I was ready to move on with confidence that I would not hit total bottom and become homeless in Panama before reassessing my options. I further committed to making it work because I believed in my business and I’d seen my clients follow me when I moved from Boston, so I had proof it could happen.

Your Turn

So now I ask you, are you talking yourself out of what you really want to accomplish? Is there a possibility you are selling yourself short?  I am certain you are far more capable than you give yourself credit for!

I encourage you to set your real goals this year, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that maybe you’re even a little afraid to tell others about because maybe they’ll laugh or try to talk you out of them.

As I head forward into a new year in a new location, I am filled with gratitude for this audience with whom share my journey. It is you who continue to inspire me to see how high I might reach and if I in turn inspire you a bit to reach as well – then I am doubly grateful!

Let’s do this!

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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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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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Making Your Own Luck

Often people tell me how lucky I am to be living the life and lifestyle I am currently enjoying and I will agree, in part.

Ask my kids or family, and they will likely tell you it took me a long time to change my luck.

For a long time in my early adulthood I would tell people that I was a dead dog shy of a hit country song. Let that sink in a bit – yup, lost the job, the husband or boyfriend, car got towed, family sick, knee-deep in debt, you name it, if it was some type of hardship I was walking through it.

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After I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I grew to understand at a deep level – lucky or unlucky, I was responsible for all of it. I knew the choices I was making – the good ones and the less good ones were producing the “luck” in my life.

This realization was one of the most difficult things I had to come to grips with however it was instrumental to making changes. The good and the bad luck I was experiencing was created by me.

Once I had this understanding I had the ultimate choice to make; what was I going to do about where my life was headed?   This thinking gave me freedom to change the direction of my life. If my choices were creating bad luck I could change anything that wasn’t serving my needs and make different choices to hopefully move me in a better direction. This is what I set out to do and this is exactly when my luck changed!

I began to make my luck. I got clear about what I wanted and went straight after it. I needed to make a better income to support my family so I looked in my company to find a job that I was qualified for. There was no job, so I identified a need in the company and showed them how I was qualified for that and I got lucky and they created the position and hired me for it. Luck? Yup, I made it myself.

Over the course of my career I have been lucky enough to do this a couple of times successfully in different companies. Another example was how I got lucky enough to work for Apple.

Once again I got focused on what I wanted, I set my sights on that and worked diligently to begin to build my luck. I talked with anyone I thought might have a hiring contact at the company, I scanned their corporate job board monthly and I applied when I saw an opening I was qualified for. The first time I applied for the position I did not get the job or even an interview. But when the same job became open again a few months later, I applied again and was able to move through the process to get an interview and eventually the job.

It’s been said that luck is where preparation meets opportunity and I am living proof of this.

This is a big reason why I believe in goal setting because the entire route to achieving your goal you are doing all the steps you need for your preparation. And if you maintain your eye on your goal while becoming prepared opportunity might just show up for you and you become lucky!

I encourage you as we move into Spring to take a look at what you are striving towards, set those sites and get focused and make some luck of your own.

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