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How to Avoid the Compare & Despair Trap

Long Road

It’s easy to get caught in the compare and despair trap when others appear to have more, achieved farther and look better. From this limited perspective, we can always find someone who has “figured it all out” leaving us to judge our own lives harshly in the shadow of their apparent success.

I’m not immune from this, either. I am a relatively newer entrepreneur who is hustling to grow her small business. If I’m tired and allow my mind to compare my business to the myriad of successful coaches, authors and photographers out there, my ego can find lots of proof to support why I am not as spectacular. It’s all in my thoughts and perspective.

Social media is breeding ground for the compare and despair syndrome. Most folks only share the shiny-celebrations unless they’re looking for attention for the misfortunes. Let’s take Instagram as an example. Its purpose is to perpetuate pretty pictures of perfection. Pinterest is similar with its gorgeous, professionally taken photos representing what we assume is an average Jane selling her smart, creative DIY solutions. All germinating admiration and, in extremes, jealousy for what others can do or experience that we can’t or aren’t.

As a former coaching instructor once said, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” Things aren’t always as they appear. We only have to look at celebrity suicides to recognize the picture on the outside doesn’t match the storm raging on the inside.

It’s understandable, though. Our mind is always searching for context and where we fit in the world. Our logical brain is labeling and organizing. Socially, we naturally create a pecking order. So, what should we compare ourselves to if not others?

When you start to judge yourself, my suggestion is to compare your current self to your former self. Where are you now in relation to the past? What do you know now that you didn’t know then? What growth has happened? Where are you better off than before? What skills, knowledge and experience have you gained?

When I can see myself through the lens of former versus current self, I acknowledge the many ways I’ve grown, learned and successfully moved my business forward. I appreciate my accomplishments and challenges I’ve overcome. I notice the powerful impact I’ve made in a relatively short time. I give myself permission to learn from my mistakes and travel at my own pace.

As long as we are moving forward – and everyone who is not in a coma is – then we’re doing this thing called life the right way. Each of us will have a different experience. Pitfalls and setbacks are growth opportunities. Struggles are guidance systems. Happiness is all in our perspective on how we choose to look at it.

Some of my greatest gifts were also my hardest challenges. My hunch is, if you can find a way to give yourself credit instead of tear yourself down with comparison, you’ll also find self-perpetuating motivation and strength.

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How to Find Your Driving Motivation & Why it’s Important to Achieve Your Goals

Lion Scratching Head on Bush

What we think we want is not always what we truly want. Often, there is a deeper desire hidden underneath the surface. When we connect with that driving motivation, it helps guide us more clearly.

The longer I coach and the more people I work with, I’ve realized that most often our root desire is freedom. (The others are either joy or connection. For the purpose of this blog, though, we’ll focus on the most common.)

Take any goal or desire, and ask yourself, “Why? What do I get from that?” until you can’t find another driving motivation beneath the last.

Let’s take money, for example. Often my clients come to me with a goal to make more money. When asked what more money (or a certain goal retirement amount) will get them, their response is “stability” or “security.” When asked what stability or security gives them, they usually respond with some sort of variation of, “the freedom to do whatever I want.”

If I have a client who wants to lose weight, we often find she simply wants to feel confident or accepted. At the root of that is connecting with the freedom to be herself without fearing other’s opinions. Sometimes it’s even finding freedom from her own self-judgment.

Another client wanted to be healthier. What did he think a healthy body would get him? The freedom to do all the activities, and go all the places, he enjoys.

My entrepreneurial clients, who are building their own businesses, are driven by the freedom that enables. They’re free to work on the projects they want to, work with the clients they want to, hire the people they want to, and set their own schedules. They have the freedom to work wherever they want, however they want. That autonomy is much juicier to them than the alternative of working for someone else, who would dictate their time, projects and goals.

Why do people enjoy vacations? Yes, it offers the opportunity to recharge our batteries. It is also a socially acceptable excuse to spend that time completely autonomously.

If you want to lounge all day and dance all night, you have the freedom to do so. You are free to go wherever and do whatever you want (within budget and legal constraints, of course). You are free from household chores, errands, work responsibilities and whatever burdens you carry at home. And if you’re like me, I also give myself the freedom to eat and drink whatever I want because, hey, it’s vacation!

What is it you want? Ask yourself “Why?” Dig into what that thing will give you. Keep asking until you’re at the root cause, your driving motivation. You might surprise yourself where you end up.

Once you find your driving motivation, ask yourself if there are other ways to achieve that right now. Finding that feeling state doesn’t necessarily require reaching big, far-off goals. It can often be found in simpler, quicker ways.

Use this driving motivation as your touchstone for decision making. When deciding between two paths, which one will get you closer to achieving your root desire — whether that be freedom, joy or connection?

I’m curious what you uncover. Please share your experience with this exercise in the comments!

 

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Stop the Pretense of Success to Actually be Successful

Sprout in Hand

Building a business from scratch is extremely hard. AND it’s profoundly rewarding. There’s truth in the expectation that entrepreneurs will invest about two years of solid hustle before their business is profitable. I’m proof to support that.

It’s like planting a seed. It takes time, tender care, the proper environment and resources (sun, water, nutrients) to grow. You may not even see the sprout break ground until it’s time, and yet so much is happening under the surface to get there.

For the first two years of my business, I admit that I didn’t want anyone to know that I only had a half-dozen clients. I didn’t lie about it; I just danced around the answer without giving one. Like somehow not being an instant, rolling-in-the-dough success meant that I was failing.

I knew my clients were glowingly happy with our sessions and offering unsolicited referrals and testimonials. I was learning, growing and building expertise in a completely new industry for me. And yet, I had attributed my value as a coach to how much money I was making…to what was showing on the surface.

I feared that if my clients (or potential clients) knew they were only one of a handful that they’d assume I must not be good at what I do and go find a better coach. (Talk about limiting belief!)

Then I explored Acuity (a scheduling SaaS) and saw the feature “Make me look busy” with the customized option to block any percentage of time available. I realized that I’m not the only one pretending to have more clients than I do. To be a feature, this must be an in-demand need of small businesses. Make me look busier than I really am.

So I started having blunt conversations with my peers. Even the excellent coaches that I greatly admired weren’t as busy as I’d assumed or they let on. They were relieved to know I wasn’t either. Well, imagine that.

Anyone who sells overnight success with a simple and glitzy, new fandangle process is preying upon our desire for instant gratification. Like the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Yes, manifesting is real. It’s not all work. Resting and playing as forms of self-care is an important part, too. And yes, overnight demand explosions happen…but it’s the exception, not the rule.

The Hero’s Journey is real. It requires persistence, patience and passion. If you are passionate about it, it makes all the patience and persistent effort worth it. Coaching, to me, is absolutely worth it. I love what I do. I even love the planning, marketing and learning how to run my business better. I would start at the beginning and do it all again if I needed to because I love being a coach. It’s one of the best feelings in the world when my clients have insights and breakthroughs.

The sooner we own up to the fact that starting a new business takes time and a whole lot of effort, the sooner we can all be more successful because we stop comparing ourselves to others who are also pretending to be wildly successful. We can stop believing that we must be doing something wrong because our peers have more clients than we do. Or thinking the coaches who are charging more must be better coaches. When we release those limiting beliefs, we actually do better and accomplish more.

I’m breathing easier knowing that it’s supposed to be hard and take time. I can relax into the process and allow it to unfold as it is intended to. For all you entrepreneurs out there with a vision, keep going! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t worry about your speed, you’ll break the earth’s surface when it’s time; and when you do, we’ll all admire the sprouting beauty.

 

 

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So What is Life Coaching Anyway?

Counting sea turtle eggs

Our human life cycle is analogous to that of a sea turtle. We have various roles that we play in our career and relationships that end and require our taking on a new, and sometimes unexpected, identity. That could be shifting from employed to unemployed or retired, wife to single parent, mother to empty-nester, or athlete to injured patient. Whatever that transition, this new identity takes a while to fully form inside its egg.

Once it has, there’s a coming out process much like hatching. The new environment feels uncomfortable and foreign at first. After all, habits are hard to break and it’s bright, cold and vulnerable outside of our shell. So we try on the new role by saying it out loud to some of our closest friends or family members. Once we get used to that, we tell the next layer of our people.  And slowly we emerge from our shell and our nest and show the world who we are now.

When I made the transition from corporate employee to entrepreneur, I felt extremely vulnerable. It was a while before I realized what my true purpose in life is and dreamed up what I wanted that to look like and the shape I wanted it to take. I just knew that where I was in the corporate world didn’t “fit” me…and I wanted something that would.

Calling myself a Life Coach felt awkward at first, and I rattled off a whole monologue of how it happened before I ever introduced the term. Not that others asked for it, but it made me feel more comfortable sharing why. After telling a few family members and friends that I had started my own coaching business and no one laughed or criticized, I felt comfortable going more public. (Now I say it with pride.)

After coming out, we begin our Hatchling’s Journey (often called The Hero’s Journey). There are still predators and obstacles to overcome along our path to the ocean. Sometimes we go the wrong direction, get knocked on our backs or find barriers that we can’t climb alone. And when we finally reach the ocean, we’re completely beholden to whatever fate has in store for us until we grow bigger and stronger.

Eventually we reach sea turtle maturity and it’s time to birth a new set of identities. Thus the cycle begins again.

As a Life Coach, I am a sea turtle hatchery. This means that I make all of this struggle easier and the process faster because I offer you a safe space, guidance and helpful tools.

Rather than leaving the nest unprotected from poachers, I create a sacred place for you to come exactly as you are – vulnerable, soft and gooey as you figure out what shape you’re going to take. I use questions to help you connect with your inner guidance to form that new identity. Whatever you share is confidential in this judgment-free zone.

When you’re ready to emerge from your nest and claim this new you, I maintain that safe space while you reintroduce yourself to your people, some of whom may not be ready. And I help you navigate that IF it happens.

As you tune in to your right path, I accompany you on your long journey toward the ocean. I offer tools to keep the seagulls and other predators at bay as you make this exciting and challenging expedition. And when you’re ready, I help you learn to surrender into allowing the Universe coordinate the details of your grand intentions.

All of this so that you can live the life you crave! One that is fulfilling, peaceful and joyous!

You may choose to join my hatchery at any point in this process, and I would be honored to coach you.

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Fear Part I: How to use Fear to Find Your Gifts

Zip Lining in Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, he defines one of the greatest tools in the arsenal of Resistance – the blocker of creative and spiritual growth – is fear. Resistance feeds on our fear. Not only our fear of failure and all the perceived ramifications that would entail, but also fear of success.

“Fear…that we can access the powers we secretly know we possess. That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are…We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are….That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity.”

Why do we fear our greatness? Why do we shirk away from owning our gifts?

According to Pressfield, and I wholeheartedly agree, “We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us.”

I worked with a friend on her fear of owning her clairvoyance. When it came down to it, she was afraid that if she misinterpreted an intuitive hit, people would think she was a fraud. And worse, she would stop believing in herself and her gifts.

It’s the Pandora’s box that once opened, cannot be closed. Once we embrace who we are meant to be – that amazing, fabulous, glittering Self that we are – we have “come out” to the world. And that is scary. I know because I’ve lived it.

It took about a year, but I “came out” as a woo-woo spiritual healer after changing careers to become a Life Coach. I “came out” again to my husband and family as someone who can feel other people’s energy and physical pain as my own.

When I was at a friend’s birthday party, I shared with a new acquaintance about some mind-body connection tools that healed my chronic back pain. His response was, “Oh, so you’re the spiritual weirdo my wife was telling me about.” (And to think I didn’t even tell him about my new and full moon rituals!)

It didn’t bother me, because I knew he wasn’t my people. I’d already found my tribe!

As soon as I had claimed these gifts and embraced what that meant for me and my future, a whole new world opened up to me. All of a sudden, I was meeting new people who shared these gifts. More than I imagined was even possible.

I feel like Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense, except instead of dead people, it’s healers with empathic, intuitive and clairvoyant abilities. (Don’t get me wrong, I now have friends who see dead people, too…but I digress.) They’re everywhere and they’re wonderful!

Now it’s time to tackle my remaining fears, one of which is public speaking. The fact that Resistance is using my fear against me only means that it is something I must do. It fits into my purpose and is a step up in my spiritual growth (and potentially helping others with theirs).

Now is the time to act. To be brave. To be a courageous bad-ass. Using all the coaching tools in my arsenal, and asking others for help, I’ll beat Resistance – because I must.

What is your fear? Coaching can help you tap into your gifts and beat resistance! Let’s talk!

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Green Friday

Finding the Gifts Inside

There’s always been something that irked me about Black Friday. I finally realized what it is.

We go from giving thanks Thursday to shopping-gluttony Friday. From focusing on family and creating memories to insatiable consumption of stuff. All in a matter of hours.

I want to start a new tradition. I’m going to call today Green Friday, from the heart chakra color. I want this time of year to be focused on love, compassion, empathy and generously giving of my gifts, time and attention. I want today to be dedicated to opening my heart up to hold those who feel a lack of it in their lives.

To anyone who is feeling down, sad, or comparing-and-despairing…call, email, or message me. I’m here to support you, hold space for you and listen non-judgmentally.

For the month of December, I am offering FREE coaching to anyone in the U.S. who is unemployed and actively looking for work, U.S. Military/Veterans, or those who make less than $50,000 annually. If you or someone you know meets one of these criteria and could benefit from coaching, please submit your info with “Green Friday” in the “What keeps you up at night?” section.

From my heart to yours, let’s make this a compassionate time of year!

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What Nike’s new Campaign has to Teach Us

Zip Lining in Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls

I’m digging on Nike’s new ad campaign! Yes, I support everyone who stands up and out for what they believe in. Yes, I admire those whose resolve to be extraordinary and continually do better in the face of adverse circumstances. Yes, I stand beside those who are willing to be honest about what needs to be fixed in our society. Yes to all of that! AND…I love:

“It’s only crazy ‘til you do it.”

This motto goes well beyond sports and representing the specific athletes’ voices in our current news cycle.

It stands for anyone who has ever dared to live boldly. For everyone who has pushed beyond societal expectations and known in their heart of hearts, “I want more! I deserve more! I can be more!”

Think of any inventor in the history of innovation and I guarantee you that someone earlier on in his/her life had said it was impossible and that anyone trying to achieve it was “crazy. It’s a waste of time, intelligence, skill, whatever…”

Electricity. The telephone. Flight. The Internet. (Only to name a few.)

So I ask you, what have you yearned to do (within legal and ethical boundaries, of course!) that others have told you you’re crazy to even consider?

I left the corporate world (and corresponding guise of stability and wealth) to become a life coach. What most believed was risky and a complete waste of my MBA education and 16+ years invested in a career path.

Crazy? Maybe crazy in love with what I do. Obsessed over the coaching tools? – absolutely! In admiration of my clients’ progress? – completely!

And the freedom – wow the freedom – is the most stable I’ve felt in a vocation ever.

I’m not alone in this, either. I hear examples all the time of people turning passion into a vocation.

My PR friend’s client who turned her love of cupcakes into a small business run out of her garage to then opening a retail shop, and is now opening her second retail location.

My own client whose hobby of family photography went from something she might consider doing to booked solid three months out, even after increasing her rates.

Those who call it crazy are speaking from fear. They’re well intentioned; they just can’t see the big picture. They don’t have the vision. And that’s fine – for them. Don’t let their fear dampen your flame for greatness.

You were given your passions and talents for a reason. Use them. Boldly reach for what lights you up.

Sure, there may be things you still need to learn and skills that need to be honed. So do it. One step at a time, make your way up that staircase.

Serena, LeBron and Kaepernick didn’t start out as athletic stars. They worked for it. And while they were tested and challenged along the way, their passion made that work feel like play. That inner fire fueled them on.

Tap into yours and use that to set you on your course. Forget the naysayers and crazy-talkers. Let them wallow in their fear-based limited life and remain cogs in the system. This is YOUR life. Your one and precious life. Use it.

“It’s only crazy ’til you do it.”

If you’re afraid to take the first step, or if you need help identifying which direction to go, coaching can help. Let’s talk!

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How to tell whether something needs to be fixed or totally overhauled

How to know when to fix something versus start over?

As humans, we are naturally programmed to take the path of least resistance and opt for the quick fix. Evolutionarily speaking, early (wo)man’s very short life relied on conserving that energy through taking shortcuts. Even our brain is wired to create shortcuts, called biases, so that we don’t have to process all the information coming at us at once.

For the most part, this serves us well. It requires us to think and act quickly, which takes ingenuity and skill. It’s also the self-motivated pressure that drives us to innovate ways of doing things better and faster.

Yet, it can also keep us stuck in a quick-fix cycle due to escalation of commitment, where we continue to face increasingly negative outcomes rather than alter our course. The idea of throwing away all the effort we’ve spent thus far only to start back at the beginning is too daunting.

So how can you tell when it’s time for an overhaul?

I’ll use my recent bathroom remodel project as an example.

When we first moved into our home, we knew we wanted to eventually remodel the master bathroom. For anyone who has done this, my hunch is you understand what an expensive, inconvenient and time-consuming undertaking this is. So we avoided it.

Six months in, we noticed the bathroom was leaking into our living room. We called a plumber, who advised re-caulking, which we did. When it leaked again, we applied another layer of caulking. And then another.

When I scrubbed the grout and it disconnected from the tiles, my husband said, “Nothing caulking can’t fix.” We continued like this for another year.

It got to the point where we were using band-aids on an amputated leg. And then there’s the issue of water damage. Like most house projects, re-doing one part requires re-doing all the other dependent parts. We’ve now gutted it and are starting fresh with building our ideal bathroom.

Looking at your own life, where are you using band-aids on gushing arteries? What are you grasping at trying to keep together despite an escalating set of negative outcomes? What cycle do you keep fixing that only lasts temporarily?

Once you’ve identified where, become really still, connect with your body and your breathing, and go inward. Then visualize your life five years from now. Don’t worry about how you got there or what had to happen to get there. Focus on the end result. Envision that this aspect of your life was reconstructed. What was repeatedly fixed (ex: relationship or job) has been removed and put behind you. In its place is what – in your heart of hearts – you truly want.

If in your body you feel relaxed, loose and light, then it’s time to overhaul. If you are tense and feeling constricted (and that feeling is not due to worrying about the struggle you might face to get there), then a quick fix might be what you need right now.

If you can’t get past the fear of what it will take to start over (such as leave that relationship or job behind), that’s ok, too. If overhauling is your right path, eventually it will get too painful to keep fixing.

If you’re feeling stuck about whether to fix or overhaul, coaching can help! Let’s talk!

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Be Your Own Hero

Empty Journal

As humans with the gift of language, we are continuously telling a story about what is happening to us and around us. Every action we observe, every circumstance as it unfolds is fodder for this internal narrative. Each waking moment, we’re building this story in our minds.

The choice is your own whether to tell your story from the perspective of a victim or a hero. Victims believe everything is happening to them; heroes believe everything is happening for them.

Which do you prefer?

Think about the books you’ve read, the TV shows you follow and the movies you love. If the plot doesn’t feature a main character with challenges to overcome and obstacles to navigate, my hunch is you will find another activity to occupy your time. (Tell me where I’m wrong?)

Each obstacle and challenge offers the character a chance to grow, learn and bring him/her closer to their happy ending, which is always more fabulous than what the character originally wanted. If instead, the character threw up his hands in defeat at the first sign of trouble and then hid inside, afraid to take any further steps out of fear of failure, it would be quite a boring story. And it would be finished before it really got started.

Take The Greatest Showman, for example. Mr. Barnum knew he had a burning desire to capture people’s imaginations and entertain them. He originally thought that could be accomplished with giant, stuffed, wild animals in a dark and dusty museum. When that didn’t sell tickets, he gathered every non-conforming person he could find to put on a show of exaggerated oddities. Here enters the infamous bearded lady, the tallest man on Earth, snake man and the completely tattooed man.

Then that show’s theatre burnt down. Did that stop him? No. With his new knowledge about traveling performances (which, by the way, was a result of a so-called-failure of another investment in an opera show that cost him all his money and his house), he and his new business partner built convertible tents down at the docks. These eventually became the traveling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that we grew up with. Each mistake, each setback was a lesson in testing and adjusting until it was just right.

Whether you want to attribute it to Darwinism or Pavlov’s Theory, we’ve generationally conditioned our minds over centuries to be more motivated to avoid pain than we are to move toward pleasure. We somehow think that if we fixate on avoiding all the things that could possibly go wrong, that we’ll live longer. While that may have been true in the dark ages, it only serves to keep our desires hidden and restricted.

I’m also fairly certain that all the innovations we enjoy today – such as internet, mobile phones, computer animated movies, electric cars, solar-power, etc. – would be nothing more than a wisp of a faint dream locked tight away from the light of day.

If we can change our perspectives to believe that everything unfolding is for our benefit, and if we can take on the role of investigative hero, we will learn our lessons quicker and take steps more fervently toward the life we were intended to live.

You have a purpose. I invite you to write your story as a hero. Be the conqueror of your obstacles. Learn from your lessons and bring your dreams into tangible reality for the sake of all of us to enjoy!

Or don’t.

The choice is yours. It’s your one and precious life, and only you can do with it what you want.

What will you choose?

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3 Words Women Should Eliminate from Their Vocabulary for more Empowerment

Sorry. Just. Like/Um.

Let’s face it, what we say is often not what we mean. And our mouths are frequently on autopilot with words that roll off our tongue habitually. I’m guilty of it and I’ve noticed I’m not alone. However, three words in particular steal our power – especially for women.

#1 – Sorry

Unless you’ve absent-mindedly cut off a chunk of your friend’s hair instead of a shirt tag (or something else equally deserving of an apology), stop saying you’re sorry for things that are not your fault. It’s the equivalent of claiming responsibility for the weather.

Yet, somehow, it has become the first word intro to most sentences without even realizing it. I invite you to count how many times a day you say “sorry” and then notice how many of those instances you truly were to blame.

If you only say sorry when you’re at fault, skip to #2 below. If not, here’s a suggestion:

Take a moment to pause between absorbing information and reacting. Consciously refrain from speaking until you’ve assessed the facts of the situation so that you can formulate what you really mean. (This happens quicker than you realize and others won’t even notice.)

Instead of:                                           Try:

“Sorry, I should have…”                   “In an all knowing world, we might have…”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize…”                 “Looks like…”

“Sorry, I’m allergic…”                       “I’m allergic.”

“Sorry, I don’t know…”                     “Great question. Let’s look it up.”

“Sorry, I couldn’t hear you.”            “Can you please repeat yourself?”

#2 – Just

Use of the word “just” diminishes whatever you’re trying to say or accomplish. It not only reduces the effectiveness of your action, but it also makes you subservient to who ever you’re communicating with.

Nothing about what you’re doing or who you are is just anything.

You are amazing, brilliant, talented and knowledgeable. Own your power; don’t give it away.

Instead of:                                         Try:

“Just checking in on…”                     “What is the status of this project?”

“I’m just working on…”                    “I am in the middle of something right now, and will                     discuss that with you when I’m finished.”

“I just wanted to see if…”                 “Are you (is this) ready?”

“I just thought…”                                Directly stating or asking


#3 – Like (or Um)

Unless you’re using a simile, “like” has commonly become a substitution for a pause in thinking and formulating sentences. Aside from professional speakers and press-trained corporate executives, who have trained themselves out of this habit, most people use “like” or “um” as frequently as blinking.

If you want people to take what you’re saying more seriously, speak as if it’s your job. When you get the urge to say “like” or “um,” keep your lips sealed and simply breathe while your brain catches up.

Pauses are natural. It’s why commas, ellipses, semi-colons and periods were created. They’re not only for the written word; use them when you speak as well.

Those you’re communicating with don’t need a word-filler. They’ll understand you better if you give their brains a chance to catch up, too. Plus, it makes whatever you’re saying more impactful.

Pauses are good for all involved. The effect will be profound on the listener’s opinion of your presence. Fair or not, presence builds confidence in abilities. And confidence builds empires.

Try eliminating these three words from your vocabulary, and then come back and share your success stories in the comments below!