Reflection Challenge

reflection

As we start the new year, you will find me writing more and more about reflection and resetting intention. While I feel that reflection and intention setting should happen more often than just once a year, I do feel that most of us do a pretty good job of pausing at least during this time of year to evaluate where we are and think about where we would like to be.

As you spend time reflecting on the past year, I would like to issue a challenge. While you are setting your intentions for the upcoming year, I want to challenge you to move from the idea of who you should be to the idea of who you really are and who you want to be. This shift will force 2 issues:

1.       External influences vs. Internal influences

One of the areas that this shift will impact is external vs. internal influences. In order to move from “should be” to “are and want to be” we have to place more importance on our internal needs and desires and less on what others think our needs and desires should be. We spend so much of our life trying to live up to what others think is best for us that we lose sight of what we know to be best for us.

2.       Personal needs

We must also pay attention to our personal needs. Let’s say you set some goals last year that you haven’t completed yet. If they aren’t complete, then take a close look at why. If the goals are still valid and important, then you need to recommit and create a plan to make them happen this year. But, if you didn’t reach your goals because your needs have changed, then you have to be fluid and not so tied to the original goal that you don’t recognize that it isn’t valid any longer.

In summary, I want you to ask yourself these two questions when reflecting on last year and setting your intentions for this. I want you to ask (1) Are external influence or internal influences driving my goals? and (2) Are my incomplete goals still unfinished because my needs have changed?

Answering these two questions will allow you to move into the new year with more clarity regarding what you need to accomplish and why it’s important to you.

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“Self-Care Isn’t Always Glamorous!” – Ash Ambirge

Hearts

I love this statement by Ash Ambirge, Creator of The Middle Finger Project. In the day and age of the popularity of self-care as a topic, we generally think of bubble baths, massages, mani/pedi appointments, and time for meditation. We think of “me” time and things that feel indulgent and luxurious. And while all of things are important and a valid means to self-care – which by definition is what we do to take care of ourselves – not all of them are fluffy and glamorous.

Ash writes in a recent post, “But, you know, I don’t think we’ve got the right idea. I think the concept of “self-care” has been trivialized into mud baths and Bridget Jones marathons, when in reality, it’s not just a self-indulgence: It’s self-preservation. And self-preservation isn’t always glamorous. Actually, most of the time, it’s really, really uncomfortable.”

She goes on to list the things that really make a difference in self-care.

·       Doing the thing you least want to do

·       Letting go

·       Forgetting about the money

·       Finally stopping what doesn’t work for you

·       Prioritizing joy

·       Letting other people down

·       Coming through for yourself

·       Making a budget

·       Sticking to your guns

·       Giving up…sometimes

·       Being selfish

·       Acting on your curiosities

·       Being selective

·       Choosing differently…despite your past

·       Doing the things you want without regard for how it will seem, or appear, or be talked about by others

If self-care is really about self-preservation, then maybe the bubble baths and justified clothing expenditures (while deserved) aren’t really what will do the trick. Maybe, as Ash says, it’s the big, difficult, unpleasant things we must do in our lives that are actually the most beautiful and beneficial.

Thanks to Ash for challenging us to look at self-care from a different perspective. Creating a life we don’t want to run from may be the biggest form of self-care we can possible do for ourselves.

The Lost Art of Self Validation

self validation

I haven’t written a volleyball story in a while. For those of you new to my blog, our daughter is a volleyball player. She is very committed to her sport and plays year-round. Not only do I love watching her play, I love watching the life lessons that come from a team sport and often the lessons I observe her experiencing spill over into my blog posts. And today is no different.

The high school volleyball season recently wrapped up and now we are on to club season. While our daughter loves playing for her school, she faced some challenges this year with her coach that she has never experienced before.

You see, our daughter is a pleaser. It is something we identified in her very early on and is a characteristic that greatly impacts her relationships and her motivations. I can go into all of the pros and cons of being a pleaser but that’s not really the point of this discussion. It is what it is and that understanding just gives us greater insight into how she operates and how to guide her.

Back to volleyball. Our daughter is a pleaser and felt throughout the school season that it was impossible for her to make her coach happy. This perception crushed her spirit to the point that she pretty much lost all confidence and on top of that, her love and passion for the game. (This statement is not in any way an opportunity to blame the coach – it was my daughter’s perception, not necessarily the truth.)

It became so bad – her loss of confidence and love of the game – that she stated that she wasn’t going to try out for club this year. She said she felt really burned out and thought she needed to sit out a year to figure out if she still loved the sport enough to pick it back up again next fall. She stated that her coach took her joy for the game away from her and she needed some time to see if she could get it back.

As a certified life coach, I was pretty empathetic. I mean the kid has only had three weeks total away from volleyball in the past year. It’s really easy to see how she could be burned out. So, I was pretty empathetic until I heard “she took my joy for the game away from me.” What? No one can take joy, peace, love, happiness, etc. away from anyone. You give it away. People don’t take it away. We have a big issue here. Why in the world did my daughter feel she was powerless to keep her joy? Why did she feel someone else had the power to give and take those things from her? Clearly, she has not been paying attention to my ramblings over the years!

The more I think about the situation, the more I believe this is about her lack of ability to self-validate instead of her willingness to give her personal power to someone else.

From a very young age, we are told not to pat ourselves on the back. That to celebrate and congratulate ourselves is the truest sign of an egotist. And while this is true to a certain extent, self-validation is a healthy and important part of empowerment and a positive mindset.

In reality, most of us have lost the art of self-validation. We don’t want to appear full of ourselves or to have huge egos. So, instead, we seek validation from others – especially if you are a pleaser or if “significance” is at the top of your list of basic human needs. Needing others to validate us is dangerous because it does give our power to others. It does allow others to determine our worth, our joy, and our happiness.

If self-validation is a lost art, then it means it can be found again. It all begins with a conversation in the mirror. Combat any self-limiting or damaging thoughts by speaking the opposite to yourself in the mirror each morning or each time you pass one. For instance, if you seek validation for your public speaking skills then self-validate in the mirror. “I am an engaging public speaker. I am a frequently sought-after speaker.” Simple right. In our daughter’s case, it might have been, “I am a good volleyball player. I had 12 kills in our last game and served 5 aces. My teammates appreciate the effort I make on the court.”

It may seem kind of cheesy to start this way but we all have seen the scientific research around the power of positive thoughts. Being able to self-validate is as important to us as teenagers/adults as it is for infants to learn how to self-soothe.

The great thing about this technique is that it spills over into other areas of your life. Start a new habit of congratulating yourself in all areas of your life on a daily basis. Take the time to recognize when you’ve done something well or you’ve made an impact or made a good decision (like to not have that piece of chocolate after lunch).

The next time you feel like someone has taken your joy, happiness, peace, love, etc. away from you, ask yourself this. Ask if you feel this way because you’ve given someone the power to take them away (you’ve gone into victim mode) or if you feel this way because you are seeking validation. If the answer is validation, then take a few moments each morning in the mirror to work on self-validation. Not only will it manifest in the immediate area of concern, it will manifest itself in all areas of your life. 

Surprising Habits of High Performers

high performers

Brendon Burchard, one of the most followed personal development trainers in the world, has released a new book called, High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way.  I had the privilege of listening to an interview of his a few weeks ago where he covered a few of the findings that he included in his book. I found them interesting and wanted to share them with you as food for thought as we wrap up 2017.

Many of us think that creativity is a requirement for success. We seem to believe there is a correlation between creativity/innovation and high performance. Interestingly enough, Brendon discovered through his research that creativity is not strongly correlated to high performance. Rather, execution, consistency, and showing up are more important than creativity.

As part of that execution, consistency, and showing up, the following items are common themes for high performers.

  1. High performers seek clarity: they define the feeling they are after. This is interesting because they aren’t defining the what, they are defining the how it feels, therefore keeping themselves open to different opportunities that can help them achieve that result. They aren’t tied to the path, only the outcome.
  2. High performers view high performance as a necessity: they believe they must do well and are excited, not scared, about that fact. High performance is an expectation they set for themselves.
  3. High performers self-talk in second or third person: they coach themselves like they would coach others. For instance, a high performer self-talk conversation may sound something like this: “So, Stacy (to myself), I know you try to do too much at one time and the multi-tasking keeps you from being as efficient as you need to be. It also keeps you from doing your best work. Today, I’m going to challenge you, Stacy, to be completely committed and focused on only one thing at a time so that you can create the highest quality content for your new workshop.” Then, 45 minutes into my first task and I’ve already gotten side tracked, the conversation may sound like this: “Come on Stacy, you can do this. Refocus and let’s knock this out of the park.” It sounds kind of crazy, but this is how high performers do it.
  4. High performers release tension and set intention: they are able to meaningfully transition from frustration to purpose in order to refocus and get back on track. And you can bet that they use second person self-talk to make it happen.
  5. High performers are satisfied people: they take joy in the moment and allow themselves to feel satisfied. It is important to note that satisfaction does not mean settling. It means they are satisfied with what they have and where they are even though they expect to keep pushing and growing. On the flip side, dis-satisfied people burn out and quit before they become successful.
  6. High performers generate joy and happiness: they understand that they are responsible for their own joy and happiness and that it comes from within.

It is possible to determine if you have the aptitude for high performance just by taking stock of your personal feelings. Do you feel full of engagement, full of joy, and full of confidence? All of the time? Some of the time? Never? These feelings are high performance state feelings and you can elevate your performance by focusing on achieving these feelings on a consistent basis.

So, if you desire to be a high performer, ask yourself each morning, “What can happen today to derail me and how can I meet it head on to keep it from stopping me?” Addressing this each day will most certainly add you to the high performers list.

Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

overcoming limitations

Self-limiting beliefs. Those little inaccurate conclusions we have made about ourselves that keep us from realizing our potential. They show up in all areas of our life and convince us that things will never be ideal.

Overcoming these negative beliefs is critical to achieving those things we desire in life. Unfortunately, to overcome them we must identify exactly what they are first. Seems, pretty easy, right? Except for the fact that they live in our subconscious mind. How are we supposed to identify them if we aren’t even aware of them?

In last week’s post, I shared three steps you can take to uncover your self-limiting beliefs. First, identify an area of your life you feel you are not living to your potential. Then get really clear on the exact results you want to see in this area. Be sure to include what it looks like, what it feels like, why it’s important, and how your life will change when you accomplish these results.

Once you uncover what’s holding you back, then you can put in the work to change it. The best way to overcome your self-limiting beliefs is to question those thoughts. Once you stop buying into these inaccurate beliefs you can see alternative thoughts that support the results you want.

What are some ways you can challenge the assumptions that you’ve made or have always had? One way is to see if there is any information out there, that if it became available, would alter your beliefs. For instance, let’s say a teacher told you in second grade that you were a terrible reader and therefore you would always struggle in school. Believe it or not, your behaviors would begin to support that statement. You would hate reading because you weren’t any good at it and you would perform at the bottom of your class. On the other hand, let’s say in 9th grade a teacher told you that you that you had real aptitude in English and that you need to be moved up to Honors English. That statement immediately challenges the assumption you had about your intelligence. What if your second grade teacher was wrong? What if you weren’t a terrible reader and had potential as a student? Then you may start to work a little harder. If you start to work a little harder, your grades would improve. Your beliefs were altered by this new information and now your results are different.

Searching for anything that contradicts your self-limiting beliefs will do the same thing. If you think you aren’t good enough, find examples in your past that support that you are or situations where you did feel good enough. Word of caution here – you can find examples to support whatever you want to believe, including times where you weren’t good enough. This exercise is not to convince you that you have never experienced a time of where you felt less than. This exercise it to challenge the belief that you are always unworthy.

Reframing your beliefs by moving beyond your rigid thinking and being more flexible in what you believe will allow you to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck where you are – never realizing your full potential.

How to Uncover Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

limiting beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs are personal beliefs that limit our potential. They are inaccurate conclusions or negative core beliefs that we have about ourselves. These beliefs limit the choices we make often times keeping us in our comfort zone and keeping us from growing. They show up all the time and in all areas of our life. They can range anywhere from “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” to “I don’t deserve to be happy.”

Fortunately, or unfortunately, our beliefs determine everything. I say fortunately because we’ve learned that “if we believe it we can achieve it.” And unfortunately, because our limiting beliefs can have a very negative impact on what we can and do achieve.

Research shows that limiting beliefs exist mostly in our subconscious mind. So, here’s the question. If our limiting beliefs are subconscious, then how in the world do we become conscious enough of them to be able to identify and change them?

Here are three steps you can take to help you uncover your own self-limiting beliefs.

1.       Choose an area of your life

As I mentioned before, self-limiting beliefs show up all of the time and in all area of our life. These areas can include: money and finances, business and career, love and relationships, health and weight loss.

My guess is that if you think about each of these areas, you can identify one or more where you are not living your full potential.

To begin uncovering your self-limiting beliefs, choose one of these areas you feel could use some improvement. If you have multiple areas you want to work on, you can repeat the next two steps for each area but I want you to start by just choosing one.

2.       Get clear

After you have selected an area to address, write down the exact results you would like to have in this area of your life. Be very specific here. What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? Why is this important? How does your life change if you are able to accomplish these results?

Let’s say you want to see an improvement in money and finances. Write down specifically what that means. Maybe you want to start earning $10k per month and that is important to you because you want to be able to send your child to college. With that $10k per month you can start to pay down your debt and start contributing to the college fund. This $10k per month will provide less stress and increased pride for you because you were able to give this gift to your child. This will also provide some financial freedom to your child because they are not starting their adult life buried in college tuition debt.

3.       Write down your excuses

Once you get clear on the exact results you want in the area you have chosen, begin to write down every excuse you have for not having those results right now. The easiest way to start this part of the exercise is to just ask yourself, “I can’t because…..”

In keeping with our money and finances scenario, your excuses could look something like this:

·       No one in my profession makes that much money per month

·       I’m not creative enough

·       We have too many fixed expenses

·       Its selfish for me to want to make more than I already do 

After you create an exhaustive list of excuses, take a look at your list to see if you recognize any trends or if the excuses can be grouped into categories. For example, can you group them into excuses driven by a fear of failure? Or a feeling that you are not worthy? Or a feeling that you are a victim or things are out of your control? 

These groupings will help you uncover what your real self-limiting belief is in that area. Once you identify the belief, then you can work to change it.  

Next week’s post will cover what you can do to overcome these beliefs. In the meantime, take a few minutes to follow these three steps to identify the self-limiting beliefs that are really holding you back.

Cultivation vs. Strangulation: It’s Time For Your Annual Pruning

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Picture courtesy of http://www.minnie-online.co.za

As we move into the holidays and the last few weeks of the year, it’s natural to look back on the current year and look forward to the coming year. As we reflect, it’s appropriate to take stock of all areas of our life, including what we choose to include or exclude. This is where the concept of pruning comes in.

Just like a garden needs to be pruned to grow, so do our lives.

We all know there isn’t enough room in our life for everything. Priorities must be set and choices must be made. The elimination of those things that don’t serve us is the process of pruning. But how do you know what really needs to be pruned.

Basically, all of life’s “stuff” falls into two categories. The “stuff” either cultivates us or strangles us. It doesn’t matter if the “stuff” is people, activities, commitments, work, where you live, etc., it either falls into the cultivation category or the strangulation category.

Cultivation, in this sense, is to be nurtured, encouraged, supported, developed, and advanced. It is a characteristic of those things in your life that water you and help you grow. If something in your life feels really good and contributes to your cultivation as an individual, then you should continue pursuing that thing and allow it to stay in your life.

Strangulation, on the other hand, is to be restrained, contracted, choked, and tightened.  It is an outcome of those things in your life that deplete you. If something in your life doesn’t feel good anymore and depletes you instead of expanding you, then it needs to be pruned from your life. How do you know which things are really strangling you? Trust your body’s wisdom. Get out of your head and your body will instantly give you the answer.

Often times we will make excuses as to why we have to do or hold on to something that strangles us. Sometimes it’s because it’s just more comfortable to keep doing what we are doing than removing it. Sometimes it makes us feel more significant to be unhappy and have a reason to complain. But mostly it’s because we think we are powerless to change it because people have expectations of us.

No one knows more about what needs pruned than you. Annual pruning allows you to step into your power by letting go of those things you are holding on to that keep you stuck.