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Archive for October, 2009

Keeping Your Pitcher Full

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

water pitcherJan dove into our coaching session by talking about how busy she had been lately. Being a stay-at-home mom, there weren’t slow times or busy seasons as may be the case in a business office. Every day was just as busy as the day before. The dynamics and schedule may change from day-to-day, but she was still responsible for managing the household and raising her kids while her husband, Jeff, worked.

“Yesterday my schedule was completely off,” she began. “I thought I had it all planned, but then Danny woke up with a fever. Not able to take him to day care threw a wrench in my whole day. Jeff was unable to help and my mom is out of town.”

She continued to explain the craziness and got even more exhausted as she recounted her story. Listening helped because it gave her a space in which to vent.

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I then interrupted her and asked, “Jan, how are YOU in all of this?” She paused and immediately shifted from telling the story, to getting present with her feelings.

Jan looked at me and swallowed the words that were halfway out her mouth. “How am I?” she asked as she looked down, a slight break in her voice. “I haven’t slowed down long enough to know,” Jan said. “No one ever asks how I am.” She said.

I asked again, “Jan, how are you?”

“I’m sorry I’m so emotional,” she said grabbing a tissue. “People just don’t normally ask how I am doing. My life is about asking others how they are doing and being in service to their needs. Take the kids for example. My energy starts flowing the second I get up in the morning.”

“Where else does your energy flow out?” I asked.

“All over the place!” she said. “It’s amazing I have any left at the end of the day.  I feel empty.”

“Since you were talking about flow and feeling empty, let’s play with the analogy of a water pitcher,” I suggest. “This morning when you got up, how full was your pitcher?”

“I slept well last night so my pitcher was about three-quarters full this morning.”

“It’s about 4 o’clock now.  Based on the stories you told me earlier, how full is your water pitcher now?” I asked.

She held up her fingers about an inch apart to symbolize that the water level in her “pitcher” had dropped significantly.

“How do you fill your pitcher? You mentioned sleep, but what else and how often do you get to fill it?”

“I fill my pitcher by going to the bookstore, enjoying a movie, reading my book, and once a month, I get girls’ night out,” Jan said smiling.

“If your pitcher today is nearly empty, how and when will you fill it?” I asked.

“That’s the problem. I continually pour water from my pitcher and rarely fill it up. It’s no wonder I get irritated; I’m empty most of the time!” Jan said.

“How can you remind yourself to fill your water pitcher so you have enough water to pour for others?” I said, continuing the analogy.

“I will fill a pitcher and set it on my kitchen counter to remind me to keep monitoring my water levels and keep my pitcher full.”

“How will you fill it tonight so you start tomorrow with enough water?”

“I’ll stop by the bookstore on my way home and take a nice warm bath tonight after the kids go to bed. I’ll even email you tomorrow to let you know I did it. I know how you are about accountability.”

As we closed our session, I handed Jan a water bottle and said, “Here’s to filling your pitcher.”

Coaching Challenge:  Use the water pitcher analogy to measure your energy levels. Pretend as though you started today with a full pitcher of water. Where did you pour water (energy) out of your pitcher and where did you fill it? Notice how full is the pitcher when you go to bed and again when you wake up. How can you continue to add enough water to keep the pitcher full?

What Temperature is the Water You Live In?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

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Wheel of Life Circle onlyI ran into someone the other day and he started to talk about a life change he had recently undergone. He explained how he never realized how much strain he had been under until he changed jobs. Looking back he saw how his work schedule had imposed on his ability to be present for his family, which ultimately resulted in a divorce. His previous work schedule had nearly consumed him and threatened everything that was important in his life.

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Now that he had moved on, he could see where he had been stuck and said he regretted not having made the change sooner. Why don’t we change when everything around us is screaming – “GET OUT!”?

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I told him the story of the frog in the pot. If you try to put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. If, however, you put the frog into a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog gets used to it. Once it realizes it is boiling, it can’t jump out because it is either incapacitated or dead. We don’t take charge and make changes because we don’t pause long enough to realize that the temperature is rising and it’s getting hot!

How often do you check with your inner voice? What is the temperature of the water in your life? What are you tolerating in the important areas of your life – Career, Spirituality, Recreation, Romance, Health, Living Space, Family, Finances? We get SO busy that our alert systems shut down. The battery dies…and so do we, slowly.

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Life Coaching is a great place to notice the temperature of the water you swim in every day. Are you treading water, swimming laps, gliding underwater, sinking or boiling? In this analogy, perhaps coaching can be seen as a life raft in the middle of the ocean of life. Coaching pulls you out of the water long enough to breathe, reflect, rest, and decide what’s next.

By simply noticing where you are, you’ve taken the first step and can make some powerful choices to move your life forward. Right now, make a commitment to yourself – it may be a very small step — to move forward. The real question is, if you continued to actively make small steps forward, where would you be in a week? A month? A year?

Coaching Challenge: Draw a circle and divide it into eight even pieces. Label the wedges: Career, Spirituality, Recreation, Romance, Health, Living Space, Family, Finances.  The center of the circle is 1 and the outside edge of the circle is a 10. Rank your satisfaction in each area of your life with a 1 meaning least satisfied and a 10 meaning completely satisfied.  Then draw a straight or curved line between the dots to create a new outer edge. What does your wheel look like now? Does your wheel look like a flat tire? If this was a real wheel, would the ride be smooth or bumpy?

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Note: This exercise is included under “Client Resources” on the Living On Purpose Website. To do this exercise, click here.

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Getting Your Affairs in Order

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Do you ever think about death or wonder when or how you will die? Morbid, perhaps, but life IS terminal. There’s only one way into this life, and one way out.

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Part of living is dying, and part of our job is to get our affairs in order so when we do pass on, our loved ones don’t have to go on a scavenger hunt to find out what was happening in our lives and what our final wishes were.

I recently took a coaching workshop about money and finances from another life coach.* In one of the workshops, the presenter provided some great information on how to prepare what she called a “Death File.” This is a place where you keep all of your important documents so when you die, your loved ones can carry out your wishes.

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Each person’s death file will be different, depending on what you have in place before you die and what you want done with your affairs after you are gone.

Here are some tips for creating a Death File:

  • Create a list of items to include in your Death File. These are items you think would be important for survivors to have after a person dies. See list below.
  • Set goals (with deadlines) for getting each of these items organized (your will completed, life insurance policy in place, list of assets and who you’d like to have them, etc.)
  • Notify member(s) of your family where you keep your Death file and how to access it upon your death (safe deposit box numbers, key, passwords, etc.)
  • Update the Death File periodically as things change in your life (marriage, divorce, real estate transactions, employment and 401K status, births, deaths, etc.)

Here is a suggested list of information to have in your Death file. Ask your attorney or financial advisor what other documents might be helpful:

  • Bank account information (account numbers, bank information, passwords, etc.)
  • Beneficiaries (get them in order and update regularly)
  • Burial information and any wishes you have regarding services, preparations, funeral arrangements, etc.
  • Contact names & phone number for people who manage your investments
  • Insurance policies (auto, home, accident protection, etc.)
  • Last will and testament, power of attorney, living will
  • Life insurance
  • List of liabilities and assets
  • Mortgage information (on all properties)
  • Most recent Social Security Statements
  • Paperwork on any investments you have
  • Retirement benefits
  • Safe deposit box, including where you keep the key and who has permission (whose name is on the bank’s verification for) to access it.
  • Vital documents (birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, ID cards or Driver’s license, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, etc.)
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The concept of dying may not be the most comfortable thing to think about, but getting your Death File in order can really help the loved ones you leave behind when you die…and give you some peace of mind.

Coaching Challenge:

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Even though it may be difficult, take the time to get your “Death File” in order. Let someone know about the Death File you’ve created (where it is and any passwords/codes necessary) and update it regularly. This will help you prepare your loved ones to handle your financial, legal and personal affairs after you pass on.

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*Special thanks to Diane Dinell, a life coach, former financial advisor and a realtor for Keller-Williams, who originally presented this topic. She can be reached at: 970-208-4819.