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

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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

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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

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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

How do you help someone not ready for help?

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Dealing with a physical ailment or limitation can be really difficult. Some people quickly get an “I’m going to kick this!” attitude and they’re very easy to help. You provide them emotional support and hold up and celebrate their successes. Working with them to create a vision of a healthy future creates that positive mindset needed to power through tough times. Not to mention the impact that has on the mind-body connection and the body’s ability to repair itself.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t start out with a great attitude. There are several stages we all go through when we’re trying to make a change to our lifestyle. Once someone realizes they have to do something (lose weight, quit smoking, exercise or finally start a course of treatment) they often get stuck. Stage 2 of behavioral change is contemplation; they acknowledge that change needs to occur and they think about solving it but there is no commitment. Many get stuck here in the “I will someday” mindset. They are waiting for absolute certainty or a “magic bullet” to ensure success. They’re simply afraid to try anything because of the possibility of failure or disappointment.

The only way you can help at this point is to help them see all of their options and to create a vision of a healthy future. You want them to have so many images of success available that the idea of failure is minimized. You can also establish a helping relationship. Let them know you’ll be there when they decide to move forward. Pushing someone at this stage, before they’re ready to commit to action, will almost ensure failure and could even damage your relationship.

If you know someone in this position, don’t push. The idea of “tough love” sometimes comes to mind but this isn’t the point to muscle someone into change. (Sometimes taking a hard stance will be useful once they’ve made up their mind to act and they need energy or encouragement to follow through on their plan.) Instead, just be there for that person and talk—a lot. Talk about what they hope for themselves, what are all of the options they could be trying, what are the advantages of trying and what are the minuscule risks to trying. Once they see they have options and have control over their course of action, then they might be ready to make some plans.

Photo credit: Hilary Sian / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

If you’re going to go, may as well go STRONG!

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Every once in a while, I come across an individual that exemplifies taking control and moving their life forward. Brian S. is such an individual.

Following a popular weight loss program, Brian has shed 59 pounds in about a year. When asked what he thought was the most important part of the program, he said it was “food moderation.” That is, watching your portions and being aware of what you’re eating. He also mentioned it was important to plan for special occasions and parties. He uses ActiveLink to monitor his activity level both at the gym and for everyday tasks like walking the dog. Tracking both food intake and calorie expenditure is the best way to focus on weight reduction when you have more than a few pounds to lose.

Brian

I asked Brian if he had ever considered “giving up.” “This time around, NO.” he said. But “four years ago, I think I gave up after I lost ten pounds; which was a few months. This time, I’m going STRONG after a year.” He attributed his new found success to weekly or monthly updates on social media like Facebook. The “likes” and words of encouragement were gratifying and provided the additional support and accountability that Brian needed to reach his goals. (Brian also gives credit to his leaders, Andrea and Maria.)

Brian’s progress is incredible and is something worthy of pride and admiration. Too often, we get stuck in “I can’t” or “it’s too hard” but there’s always a way to move forward towards your goals. One thing I often recommend is for individuals to think about why they want to get healthy in the first place. Imagine what it would be like to be at your ideal weight or to be rid of the cigarettes or off some of your medications because you’ve adopted a healthier diet. Accountability is also a powerful tool. Like Brian, find an individual or community that will hold you accountable. Sometimes we find it easier doing something for others than we do for just ourselves. If you think this might work for you, connect with a friend or someone you trust and tell them your goals. Ask them to give you a nudge if you get stuck or are off track. You’ll get to your goal and you will have a cheering section waiting for you at the finish line!

What goals do you have right now for which you’d like to be held accountable? Who can you ask to keep you in line?

Strength: Photo credit: dancingtarot / Foter / CC BY
Brian S. photo used with permission

Just Jump!

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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

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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

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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