Just Do It!

OK, he’s maybe a little……intense? But he’s right. What are you waiting for?! I love this video. It sums up the entire idea of coaching in about a minute.

Time for a Change

4383221264_0efdfb700c_z

It’s the end of the year and my phone is ringing off the hook. It’s peak season for coaches because, as we end the year, many are looking back and realizing they didn’t make the best use of the past year and want help moving forward. Many feel it’s time for a change.

Before you make that jump, here’s one important question to ask yourself. Am I making a change for myself or someone else?

Coaches turn down a lot of potential clients because of their answer to this last question. You might be completely satisfied with your life but feel outside pressure from parents, a spouse or work colleagues to “do more” but if the desire isn’t genuinely yours then coaching isn’t going to help you one bit. In fact, the coaching experience would just be an exercise in frustration for both you and the coach.

To find out if you’re ready for a change, ask yourself these three questions:

  • If I knew today was my last day, could I say I’m satisfied with what I’ve done?
  • Am I doing all I could with my life right now?
  • Can I afford to wait another year to “do more?”

If you answered No to any of the above questions, then it might be time for a change.

So, where do you want to go now? Here’s an exercise I use with a lot of my clients. While you won’t have the benefit of interacting with a coach, it might help you gain some clarity.

Relax in a quiet room with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breathes. Now, imagine your “perfect” (and authentic, what’s going to make you happy) life. Think about all aspects; your career, health, finances, personal relationships and even your spirituality. Think about everything in as much detail as possible.

Once you have that well planted in your mind, imagine someone just asked you this question: “You are so happy these days. You have the perfect life. How did you get where you are today?”

Now, answer the question. Out loud.

A lot of people are surprised by what comes out of their mouth. Often, this is the first time they’ve said out loud something they’ve always wanted for themselves. Or, they knew something was just “off” and this exercise helps them find the words they’ve been missing.

Now, go make everything you just said a reality!

Have a healthy, happy and successful 2015!

Photo credit: SomeDriftwood / iWoman / CC BY-NC

For True Success, Look Inward First Then Choose Well

6984394425_493d4c3b46

Are you chasing after more money, a promotion or some material possession thinking that’s what’s going to make you happy? If you achieve that milestone, you’ll likely still feel unfulfilled and then you’ll set off after the next shiny object. This cycle will frustrate you and burn you out. It’s critical that you look inward to learn your desires and passions then choose to set goals around fulfilling them.

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. -Ancient Indian Proverb

To help you focus on what’s important, consider this one question. Given unlimited time and resources and knowing there’s no way you can fail, what would you be doing with your life? Jot down your answer and think about what’s keeping you from pursuing your desire. The reason this question is so powerful is that it encompasses the three most common reasons why we forgo our wishes; we believe we don’t have the time or resources (usually money but it could be knowledge, popularity, looks, etc.) or we’re afraid of failing.

Do you have an idea as to what’s been holding you back? You may have a list of a dozen “good” reasons why you’ve given up on that dream of yours. Now here’s one more question for you; your life is full of choices…how well are you choosing?

Looking back on the choices you’ve made can be uncomfortable. However, you can be glad in knowing that they’re in the past and your next choice is still open to you. So, what will it be? Will you choose to stay right where you’re at because you don’t have something you think you need or are too afraid or will you find a way around these roadblocks you’re putting up for yourself and create the life you were meant to lead? The choice is yours.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter / CC BY-ND 2.0,/small>

How to Make Your Own Luck

St. Patrick’s Day is just about here. You’ll see all sorts of lucky symbols and charms like horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. All with the idea of reaching that pot of gold.

What’s your particular pot o’ gold? Are you waiting for that perfect job, relationship or simple “stroke of luck?” I’ve never seen a Leprechaun so if you’re waiting for magical delivery of what you desire, you might be waiting a long time. Instead, how about taking luck into your own hands and simply make it happen?

When I work with an individual that seems to be pining for some unfulfilled need or desire, they’re usually stuck in one (or all) of the following stages of “wish fulfillment.” Here are a few ideas to help you get unstuck

Definition
You have to know which pot of gold you’re seeking. You may want greater wealth. OK, it’s not going to fall out of the sky. What can you do to reach greater wealth? Maybe it’s a better job, saving more, paying off debts; you get the picture. You need a solid destination. Think about what you really want and write that down.

Mindset
You might have a clear picture of where you want to go but also have serious doubt that you can ever get there. Think like a Leprechaun; there’s nothing stopping you from reaching your goal with the use of a little magic. Fortunately, that magic resides in all of us and that’s the ability to mold our thoughts and perceptions. Stop wishing and simply know that you’ll reach your goal when you give the process all of your positive energy. Try a little projection exercise. Write an article to be published sometime in the future; 6 months after you reach your goal. Write about how you got there and how you feel now that you’ve fulfilled your desire.

Planning
You know where you want to go and have no doubt that you can get there. Where many fall short is in planning. Look for the brightest rainbow that’s going to get you to that pot of gold. Without a solid list of tasks, completion dates and milestones, you won’t be able to measure your progress which can have a negative impact on your mindset. For this stage, simply write out your plan and commit to sticking to it. Think about finding an accountability partner to help you stay on task.

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way –
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
~Author Unknown

Let me know what wishes you’ve granted yourself!

How to Get More of What You Want

the-giant-twins_l

I just read an interesting snippet on Lifehacker that talks about the power of positive suggestion. Our brain tells us that we’re tired well before our bodies really are so we don’t necessarily get the best workout possible. We quit too soon. The article suggests you can counteract that by telling yourself that you’re feeling good and doing well the entire time you’re exercising.

I wonder if this wouldn’t hold true for other parts of our life as well. Face it, exercise isn’t meant to be comfortable and our brain is wired to avoid discomfort. There are a lot of uncomfortable things in life that we have to do so a technique for getting past them quickly would be useful. For some people that I coach, avoidance turns into a roadblock. They can’t move forward because they simply don’t want to deal with some unpleasant event. Instead of just saying “I know I can do this” I offer a slightly different way to rewire the brain.

When the pull of a positive outcome is greater than the desire to avoid something unpleasant then you’ll get over that speed bump. When you find yourself avoiding something, think about your goal or need for addressing it. When working out, for example, create a picture of looking good and feeling confident on the beach during that vacation you have coming up. The more vivid and detailed the picture, the stronger pull it will have on your actions.

This same technique is effective in your work life too. A lot of people pass on new opportunities because of uncertainty; can they, should they, what if. Get past that by thinking about what it would be like once you DID. Imagine having given that great presentation or landing that important deal or signing that lease on your first store. Create a strong, positive mental picture and you’ll be surprised by how much of what you really want comes true.

Photo credit: danorbit. / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Just Jump!

suspended-3_l

Sometimes you have to take a chance and accept some risk for a potential payoff. This isn’t just true in business but in your personal life too.

Let’s say you’re looking for the perfect partner. Staying at home and wishing for the best isn’t going to magically bring that special someone around. You have to sometimes place yourself in uncomfortable situations to move your dating life forward. Maybe you’d like to advance your career but you’re stalling because of the required interview or promotion process. Or you’d like to return to school but you don’t want to be the oldest person in the class. You get the idea and you can probably think of a dozen other examples on your own. How do you get past your natural human instinct to avoid risk or danger? Just jump!

Sometimes we over-think things. That gives our brains too much time to create all of the false perceptions (FEAR-false evidence appearing real) that feed our gremlins and prevent us from making any progress. Outsmart your own brain by acting before it has a chance to think too much. Now, I’m not saying to pursue your entire life with thoughtless and reckless abandon. (Though some people do live their lives that way and it works for them.) Instead, look at the potential outcome of your decision and quickly compare it to the REAL risk. If the payoff outweighs the risk, then go for it.

Here’s a personal example. In addition to being a performance coach, I’m also a Beachbody coach. That gives me the opportunity to coach people wanting to get fit and healthy; a passion of mine. When talking with folks about my own weight loss, they often ask to see before and after photos. Honestly, I’ve been putting off putting these together. I’m not embarrassed by how I look but, instead, had built a false perception that people simply wouldn’t find them “impressive” enough. I had visions of people saying “that’s it?” After talking to some other coaches though, I realized the payoff outweighed the risk. If, by chance, the photos did provide some motivation to a single person to try and get fit then the gremlin self-doubt was worth it. I quit worrying about what others might be thinking about my photos and just began sharing them.

You likely have similar situations you’re dealing with right now. If you’re having a difficult time weighing the risk and benefit, talk with friends or someone you trust. Once you see that the risk is small or non-existent, just jump!

Photo credit: Powderruns / Foter / CC BY

The Roadblock Called Perfection

roadblock_l

A good portion of my coaching is around health and wellness. There are a lot of people that know they need to regain their health but they either can’t seem to get started or they keep getting stuck shortly afterward. One of the most common roadblocks to success is perfection.

Here’s a paraphrased typical conversation I have with clients. We’ll call this one Jen.

Jen: I can’t seem to get started on any real exercise program.
Me: What do you think is stopping you?
Jen: Well, what if I start and don’t finish?
Me: Jen, who has control over whether or not you finish?
Jen: Well, I guess I do.
Me: So, what else?
Jen: What if I miss a day?
Me: How would missing a single day impact your overall success?
Jen: Not much, I guess I’d just make it up the next day. As long as I don’t make it a habit. <smirk>
Me: What else is holding you back?
Jen: Well, I’ve tried doing a video workout and I’m not as good as the people in the video.
Me: Hmmm, I wonder why they were selected to do the video. What do you think?
Jen: OK, yeah. They’re pros and I’m not. But if I’m going to do a program, I need to do it right.
Me: What do you mean by “right?”
Jen: Well, I have to be perfect!

No!! Making a positive impact on your health has nothing to do with reaching some state that someone else has defined to be “perfect.” People often find themselves in the trap of shooting for an “ideal” weight or body measurements or an unblemished record of adherence to a course of action. Change isn’t perfect. It’s messy and complicated and full of spirals and twists. When you’re working towards better health, your goal needs to be meeting personal bests and developing a healthier version of you on your own terms, using your own strengths and talents.

You’ll have forward motion but the road taken and the time to travel it will be different for everyone. Detours and roadblocks happen but you still get where you’re going. Don’t let the idea of it not being a “perfect sunday drive” prevent you from leaving the garage.

What has you stuck? What’s keeping you from creating the healthy life you deserve?

Photo credit: te.esce / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

How to Turn Your Commitment to Change into Action

it-not-about-how-bad-you-want-it-its-about-how-hard-you-are-willing-to-work-for-it-via-freaks_of_fitness-quote-life-fitness-goals-motivation_l

Last week I wrote about how you decide to make a change. Once you’ve acknowledged the need to change a behavior and have made a commitment, you need to move from planning to some action.

Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, destiny. —Alfred A. Montapert

When taking steps to bring about some desired change, you need to look at what has or has not worked for you in the past. You also need to be open to new ideas and be willing to change your course of action as you try new approaches. There is no right or wrong way to succeed in your goal; you need to discover through trial and error what works best for you.

One of the classic examples is losing weight. There are hundreds of diet and exercise plans and by combining these into a plan of action, there are likely millions of ways for someone to decrease their body weight to get to a comfortable number on the scale. Keep in mind that once you reach your goal, you also need to maintain the behavior. Maintaining your desired weight will likely require that you continue some or all of these activities for an extended period of time so you need to find options that are sustainable for you. For example, you might use a strict meal-plan system where all of the food is provided for you to drop some pounds. However, how likely is it that you’ll want to remain on that diet for the rest of your life? It probably wouldn’t be very enjoyable and would be expensive too.

For lasting change, consider the long-term maintenance of your desired behavior when creating a plan of action. Try to change your mindset to get to the root of the issue instead of using a quick fix that won’t last. There are two practices recommended by Prochaska that I pass along to coaching clients that can help bring about this mental shift; countering and environmental controls. Countering is replacing the undesired behavior with a healthy, more desirable one and environmental control means manipulating your setting or avoiding a location to prevent the behavior. Including either or both of these in your action plan will be helpful.

For example, let’s say you’re prone to snacking through the day. You can consciously replace that activity with another. For me, I started doing push-ups whenever I wanted a snack. This countering helped in two ways. I burned some extra calories and the activity usually made me forget the urge to snack. Over time, I began to crave physical activity when I was bored or restless and that has served me well. I also worked at a company that had a cafeteria that served cheap but gourmet quality meals. It was easy to overeat. I could have avoided the cafeteria but I would have also missed out on the social interactions that took place there. Instead, I simply started bringing my lunch. As everyone was in line getting their food, I’d eat my lunch. By the time they got to the table with the gourmet meal, I’d already be half done and fairly full. Once the conversation started, I was no longer tempted to get more food.

Once you have your steps in mind, I recommend the following:

  1. Write your plan down.
  2. Share your plan and goals with someone that will hold you accountable.
  3. Review your plan DAILY and note how you’ve done.
  4. Review your progress WEEKLY to see if your actions are working. If not, try something new.
  5. Finally, don’t give up. You’ll reach your goal over time.

There’s no single “magic bullet” that anyone can provide you to create the change you desire. All change has to come from within and you are the only person that can make it happen. Be strong, ask for help and stick with it. You’ll get there!

Photo credit: waynesutton12 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Are You Setting a Healthy Example?

father-and-son-surf-lesson-in-morro-bay-ca-image-by-michael-mike-l-baird-1

We often see celebrities say that they shouldn’t be looked up to as role models when they’re caught doing something wrong. They claim it’s not their responsibility to “raise your kids” or that it is unfair that they are held to a higher standard because they are in the spotlight. Their actions, however, do have the potential to impact more people because of that exposure. Do you realize that you have that same power of influence within your own circle? Is the example you set for others important?

Yesterday, I was at a hospital visiting someone. I had to wait a bit so I sat in the hospital’s cafe. A group of nurses came in (I could see their RN badges) and they each ordered a “serious (large) double-caramel chocolate macchiato with extra whip cream.” Each of these nurses was overweight to obese. To make matters worse, this particular building housed the cardiac care unit. These were the same nurses that would be going back to talk to their overweight patients about the need to lose weight to prevent another coronary event.

How much impact do you think those conversations will have? We lead by example whether we like it or not. “Do as I say, not as I do” didn’t work when we were kids and it definitely doesn’t fly as an adult. If you’re in a healthcare position and you’re trying to persuade others to take better care of themselves, shouldn’t you do the same for yourself? If you’re overweight and talking about nutrition or smell of cigarette smoke and talking to a cancer patient, there is a disconnect that simply won’t allow you to be effective in delivering your message.

The parent-child relationship holds even more importance. If you have kids, are you setting them up to succeed and to be as healthy as possible? Are you keeping healthy food in the house or buying processed garbage because it’s just easier? Are you encouraging activity by playing with your kids and staying active yourself or do you plop in front of the TV for four hours every night? Children aren’t in a position to make well-thought decisions so they rely on your wisdom. They also watch everything you do. Yes, they may “want” the sugary cereal with the prize in the box but who is actually bringing that into the house? More kids are gaining weight and developing health problems at a young age. How can you turn this around? By setting a good example and taking responsibility for your own health.

I work with both men and women on this exact topic. I know it’s not easy. Some have tried to get their eating under control for years and they want to be more active but can’t seem to stick with a program. One of the most powerful motivators I’ve found is when they discover the impact they’re having on the health of others. It seems obvious, but for some it’s not real until someone holds a picture up in front of them. In one instance, I mean this quite literally. One father couldn’t stay committed to getting back in shape. He said he wanted to do it for his young son but just couldn’t make the connection between his actions and desires. We came up with the idea to put a picture of his son on the refrigerator and all of the cabinets. He even put a small one on his lunch bag and in his wallet. This made a huge difference. It forced him to reconsider his food choices and realign them with his goal to set a better example for his son. He’s doing quite well now.

Setting a positive example isn’t just related to health. Look at the way you treat yourself in all regards and compare that to what you tell others; particularly children. Does your message match your deeds or are you being somewhat hypocritical? What can you do right now to be a better example to those that you guide? Maybe you can even be an inspiration?

Photo credit: mikebaird / Foter.com / CC BY

Self Acceptance

man-in-the-mirror-1

I recently had a talk with a woman about an emotional experience she had at a gym. It was her first visit. She’s overweight and she felt really self-conscious being at the gym. She felt everyone was watching her, thinking why was she there and that she wasn’t good enough to be there. She worked herself into such a negative mental state that she stopped her workout after only a few minutes and left the gym in tears.

A similar incident was mentioned in my post about fear. The same false evidence was coming into play for this woman but the issue went deeper. As we talked, she uncovered that she felt unaccepted. She also couldn’t accept herself.

Acceptance is the basis of compassion. To truly empathize with another, you have to accept them for who they are instead of trying to change them to what you want; that’s simply manipulation. When people think about self-acceptance, however, the thoughts are less charitable. For some reason, we equate acceptance with “settling” and they are completely different.

Look at the incident at the gym. She obviously wasn’t settling for her current physical state. She was in the gym doing something about it to better herself. At the same time, this desire for change also interfered with her accepting who she is right now. She saw herself as less than others. A little coaching got her to realizing she is equal and simply a person in a state of transition. It was a very subtle change in perception, but the discovery allowed her to return to the gym and start working towards her new level of fitness.

Accepting yourself for who you are in the moment does not mean you’re giving up any vision of a better you for your future. It means you’re acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses and allowing yourself to grow and progress without any false, negative self-judgement. You’re showing yourself the same compassion you would have towards anyone else.

How might accepting yourself for who you are allow you to make progress towards what you’d like to become?

Photo credit: Jon Newman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND