Friday, 31 October 2014

How much will it cost?

One of my favourite fantasies is that I can eat my own body weight in chocolate and not only not gain weight, but actually lose it! Sadly, even my delusional self knows that fantasy just ain't gonna happen. Especially, when these days it seems like I look at cake and immediately gain 5lbs (okay, some may have actually passed my lips). When it comes to maintaining good health, I think we all have a fairly good idea of what we have to give up or at least moderate, in order to stay well.

However, it's not something we grasp so easily, when it comes to dreams other than weight loss.  When we talk to our friends or family or all round cheerleaders about our dreams, we tend to focus mainly on what we stand to gain, rather than what we have to give up in order to achieve our dreams. When I work with clients, to set a goal for our work together, I often ask how the goal we set will affect other parts of their lives and what they are prepared to give up, in order to achieve it (all credit to Julie Starr for her very helpful framework in The Coaching Manual).  As the year starts to wind down, we start to take stock of what we've achieved and what we want to achieve next year. As we do this, I thought it would be good to think about what pursuing our dreams could cost us.

The first thing that pursuing our dream might cost us is the approval of other people. Most of us have worked out that we don't need the approval of everyone in our lives, to do what we want to do.  But what do you do, when someone you trust and admire and look up to disapproves of your dream or what you are planning to do in pursuit of it? Do you go go ahead, or do you start to doubt yourself?  Deciding to go ahead can feel quite scary. We start wondering: "are they right?" "Am I making a huge mistake here?" We start questioning who we are to shine so brightly. Everyone remembers Peter the disciple as the one who almost drowned, when he tried to walk on water.  Here's the thing though: he didn't just try to walk on water. For a period of time- even if it was just for a few seconds, he defied nature and actually walked on water. I don't know about you, but I think that was actually quite epic.  At least he tried. Can you imagine him trying to explain to the other disciples what it felt like? Isn't it better to try and 'fail', rather than not try at all and look back in regret later? I think about telling my grandkids about my adventures, including my failures and I never want to tell them, that I missed out on something, because I was afraid to try. We worry so much about failing, that we often aren't prepared for success when it comes. When I decided to train as a coach, there was a fair amount of scepticism and possibly some bemusement as to what a coach actually does. There was also a fair amount of advice about how I should stick to what I trained as, or at least something pretty close. But you know what? I'm on that journey right now and although it's been a bit scary at times, I wouldn't trade my experiences for the sake of safety and security.

And that leads me to my second point. Pursuing your dreams will probably cost you the certainty of knowing exactly where you're going and how to get there. I'm not talking about heading off without any kind of plan or goals. What I am saying, is that because these are likely to be uncharted waters for you, you'll be trying to find your way on a day by day basis (on a bad day, hour by hour!). Sometimes, I miss the simplicity of being able to tell someone that I am a lawyer. I mean, whether you like them or not, everyone knows what a lawyer does. Being a coach, involves several things, so sometimes a short sweet answer just isn't possible. However, the joys and challenges of working with different people, definitely keeps me on my toes and is all part of this new adventure.

Finally, pursuing your dreams usually means that you will have to give up your previous definition of success and how to achieve it.  When I worked as a lawyer, my measure of success was clear- a conviction. I knew what I had to do, to get the result I wanted and most of the time it worked.  Working as a coach, means rethinking my ideas of success.  Because really, it's not about whether or not I have succeeded. It's about my client's definition of success and how I can contribute to them achieving that success.  It's about the number of women who find the strength to make a change in their lives, after we have worked together. It's not better or worse, it's just different.

I hope that as you continue to pursue your dreams for the rest of the year or start to think about your dreams for 2015, that you will think about what it will cost you. Not so that you shrink back, but so that you have a clear idea of the cost; what the rewards are and whether or not you are prepared to pay the price.

If you'd like some help, identifying your dreams or working out the cost, then perhaps coaching can help. Contact us through the website or on +234 706 335 0864

Until next week, go well.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

...and the medal goes to...

I am not a super athlete or a brain box. However, there is one thing that I consistently ace and could definitely win a gold medal for. I know you're all curious now and wondering what superhuman feat I can perform. Sadly, it's nothing exciting. My 'achievement' is in the well practised art of procrastination. On a bad day, I could take home, the gold, the silver and the bronze. I can procrastinate about procrastinating! I'm not quite sure what it is, but some days (sometimes, even weeks), I just cannot get my act together. My 'to-do' list festers away on my fridge, whilst I do laundry; read a book or 10 or just veg out in front of the tv!  It's not like I don't know what to do. It's not even that I won't enjoy what I need to do, once I start. It's just that sometimes, it feels like too much hassle and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. Clearly that's not an option, as it would leave me very poor and probably quite smelly too. So this week, I'd like to share 3 things to do, when the procrastination monster is about to swallow you up.

'Do something'. It doesn't actually matter at this stage what you do, in relation to your task, just do something. There's something about staring at a blank screen, that fills most of us with dread. However, if you get down a few sentences (just one, if that's all you can manage), it kind of breaks the procrastination trance. When time seems to be running out,faster than my hot little hands can flip the channels, I tell myself to do something, no matter how insignificant it may seem. The aim is to get moving. Sometimes, it's as basic as writing a 'to do' list (sometimes, seeing it in black and white is so frightening, I actually do something). Once you've broken the spell, psychologically, it usually spurs you on to carry on to do something else.

The next tip is 'do something today'. I don't know about you, but I am excellent at forming bad habits and a bit rubbish at forming good ones. This is a big one, because our daily routines are made up of our habits and our daily routines dictate where we'll find ourselves in future. Want to have a fair idea of where you'll be in the future? Take a look at your habits. Show me a major couch potato with a predilection for industrial amounts of chocolate and I'll show you a candidate for America's Biggest Loser. It might sound a bit extreme, but let's face it, no-one sets out to weigh 300kg on purpose. It's usually the culmination of poor dietary and exercise habits.

Finally, 'do something every day'. Many moons ago, when my sister was getting married, she gave me some good news and some bad news. The good news was that I was going to be her maid of honour. The bad news, was that a voluminous black shroud did not feature anywhere in her colour scheme. Seeing as I weighed far more than I should, it was either do something about it or be hideously embarrassed as I waddled down the aisle behind her! I chose to do something about it and got myself to a gym pronto. And I got myself there the next day and the day after that and the day after that too. I think you get my drift. The only way I was going to achieve my weight loss goal, was to do something consistently. It was hard at first, but then something magical happened along the way. It became a habit- one of my better ones, I might add. I've kept it up ever since and now exercise is something I do, a bit like brushing my teeth.

So there you have it, 3 tips to help you overcome the procrastination monster. All credit to Bob Gass for helping this award winning procrastinator start to change her ways. If you need a little help, overcoming procrastination, then take the first step and contact me through the website or call me on +234 706 335 0864.

Until next week, go do something, do something today, do something everyday.

Friday, 3 October 2014

"I'm fine, how are you?"

When you tell someone that you are fine, you don't expect them to ask if you're "mad, sad, broke down and disgusted?" do you? That would be a bit of a shock, to put it mildly! I can hear some of you saying, "whoa, where did that come from?" Someone, I know says that to put her point across, that many of us are very far from fine. But when we're asked how we are, we put our game face on and say we're fine or we're good, or some other phrase, that is actually very far from our current reality. A lot of us say we are fine, when in fact, all we want to do is run screaming into the night.  Part of my work as a coach is to help people discover their truth, own their truth, speak their truth and begin to live out their truth. We can only fulfil our purpose in life, when we are truly well. When we are whole, healthy and strong. We may not be where we want to be yet, but I hope that for most of us, we're not where we used to be either. It takes courage to admit that you are a work in progress, but it is in that place of honesty that we open ourselves up to growth and the possibility of change. I am most definitely a work in progress and sometimes that progress is painfully slow. I take my help wherever I find it and this week's post was inspired by a daily devotional that reminded me of the fact that we are God's masterpieces and that masterpieces take time to create.  All credit to Geri Scazzero for the inspiration and helpful framework this week.

First up, just like the body can't function without a skeleton, I don't believe that we can be truly functional without integrity. When I looked up the definition of integrity, there was the standard definition of being honest and having strong moral principles. However, it was the second definition that struck me. The second definition is "the state of being whole and undivided". When we say that we are fine, when we're not, we are not whole or undivided. We are wearing a mask, that prevents us from being authentic.  We are wearing a mask that keeps others out and ourselves locked in. We put on that mask as a safety measure, when it is the mask that is destroying us inside. Without integrity, we are in fact the opposite of being emotionally healthy and whole.

The next thing we need to do, in order to make sure that we are emotionally healthy is to pay attention to our inner rhythm. That's a big issue for many women. It's almost like we feel we're cheating if we take time for ourselves. Trying to be emotionally healthy, without paying attention to our inner rhythm is like trying to run a car on empty. Best result, it won't go, but more likely, is that it won't go and we'll also damage the engine. We've got to understand that it isn't selfish to pay attention to our own needs, it's self-care. You can't give what you don't have and it is impossible to fulfil our life's purpose, when we have no inner reserves left. What are the triggers that let you know when you've stopped paying attention to your own needs? I know that when I'm tired or hungry, it's not pretty. Impatience, snappishness and downright rudeness are all likely outcomes- none of which are very nice! Take the time to find out your triggers and take the time to be exquisitely kind to yourself, when you need it. When you can be kind to yourself, then it's easier to be kind to others.

The third and fourth points go together in my mind. In order to be emotionally healthy, we need to: set boundaries and let go of others. We need to set boundaries, but a lot of us don't know how to or don't want to. What happens then, is that we end up being involved in other people's lives, in inappropriate and unhealthy ways. Trying to control them and make them comply with our wishes. Being unable or unwilling to let them do life their way. Disrespecting their boundaries.  Contrary to being a bad thing, boundaries tell people how we want to be treated. Privacy, respect for personal space, the right to live without abuse. These are just some of the boundaries that we should have in place. When we operate without boundaries, it's like we're wearing a sign that says "violation and disrespect are both welcome here" How many of us are eating our pain over abuse/ disrespect? How many of us are trying to spend our way out of our hurt? How many of us are trying to chemically numb ourselves with alcohol or drugs. All those responses may seem easier than putting boundaries in place, but they don't work and only set us up for feelings of despair and shame, which start the cycle all over again.

Friends, there is a different way and I'd like to invite you to try it.  This week, go through the framework above and see where you need to make some adjustments. As you do this, remember to be kind to yourself, this isn't about shame, it's about self care and a commitment to becoming healthy and whole. I know where I need to do more and I'd love to have some company on my journey. So that when I bump into you one of these days and ask how you are, and you say "fine", it will mean that you really are emotionally strong, healthy and whole.

Until next week, go well.