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I've Had Enough!

Monday, November 9th, 2009

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Our nurturing instinct can sometimes go on overdrive. We become a walking caretaker, unable to let anyone need anything.  This works fine until you run out of patience, energy or become downright resentful.

“I’ve had it!” Angela said. “I am so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that I neglect my own.”

Angela is married to Brent and has two kids, one in middle school and one in high school. Although trained as a paralegal, she has not worked outside of the home since her youngest was in Kindergarten. Angela’s full time job is managing her family. Her husband’s career requires long hours and some travel, which gives Angela even more responsibility with the family.

She continued, “The other day Brent came home and wondered why dinner wasn’t on the table; Sue wanted help with her homework and Sam needed help finding his book report form. My temper was up that day. Sue had called from school; she had forgotten her science project. It took me 45 minutes to take it to her.”

“Then I raced home because Sam’s uniform was in the wash and he needed it for a game that night. And, to top it all off, I needed to stop by the place my mom is living to sign some paperwork. Just when I think I can’t do one more thing, each member of my family needs something more from me!”

Usually even-tempered, I could see Angela was at her boiling point.

“As I do more for them, they expect more. Just because I don’t work outside of the home, people assume that I have an open schedule. I’d like to challenge them to live in my shoes for a day. I guarantee they would change their tunes.”

“You sound frustrated and unappreciated,” I said.

“If it doesn’t change, I’m moving to Mexico and they can all fend for themselves!” she joked.

“What would their lives be like if they did fend for themselves? What are some tasks that you are performing that they could do themselves?” I asked.

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She immediately listed duties that she had been doing that they could easily assume. “Brent could make lunches. Each of them could collect their own laundry.” The list easily came together. It even included people outside of her family, situations where Angela’s tendency to say “yes” had gotten her over-committed.

“How will you communicate this shift of responsibility to the people who need to know?” I asked.

“I will talk to my husband and ask for his support. At our next family dinner, I will talk to the kids about how the household responsibilities are changing.” Angela added, “For people outside of the family, I will call to let them know. I’ll give enough notice so they can find someone else.”

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“That sounds great!” I said. “Is there anything else that will make this situation better?”

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“Since I have given up a lot of my time, I will add in two hours a week to do something for me.”

“Let’s check in at our next coaching session to see how the conversations go and how well you are doing taking time for yourself,” I suggested.

“Maybe now I’ll have time to get in my workouts and finally lose the extra ten pounds I’ve been carrying.”

“Perhaps once you release all of this extra responsibility, you will feel as though you’ve lost ten pounds,” I said smiling.

Coaching Challenge:  If you are overwhelmed by tasks you do for other people, make a list of your major responsibilities. Review the list to see what you are doing that someone else could do. If he/she is unable to complete the entire task, possibly he/she can do part of it. For example, a young son may not be able to do laundry, but he can get the clothes to the laundry room. Once you have created your list, communicate to each person which tasks you are giving back. Explain why you have made this decision and be open to teaching them about how to complete the task.  Enjoy your new freedom!

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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Overcoming the Negative Voice in Your Head

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Most of us internally hear an ongoing stream of messages that we hear (sometimes unconsciously) that direct our lives. This voice can be a composite of things you tell yourself, and the messages you have heard throughout your life from parents, teachers, caretakers, friends, etc. The messages can either be positive or negative, and if you listen to and believe them, they can direct your life.

My client, Tony, looked exhausted. He had been sick several times over the last year and was now recovering from the flu. “I’ve always been a healthy person,” he said. “It’s frustrating being sick and it’s impacting my business. I’ve had to cancel appointments and feel my business may fail as a result.”

Tony normally pushed himself. His workload was easily enough for two people. It’s no wonder his body revolted occasionally and got sick. How else could it force Tony to get some rest?

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“How many appointments would be ideal during the month and how many are you handling right now?” I asked.

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“Fifty appointments per month would be good and I am doing about 70 per month now.” He said. “I just don’t feel like I work hard enough. I could do more and don’t want to let anyone down. What if I limit myself to 50 appointments per month and lose clients? My business might fail.”

I introduced the concept of the Saboteur – the voice inside your head that constantly gives you negative messages. If you aren’t listening, the messages get louder and more panicked. “Don’t try something new. You will fail and look like a fool.”

Once I pointed out the Saboteur’s voice, Tony and I took one of the statements he had taken as truth and began to question the validity of it. “Are you working hard enough?”

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“I’m working hard enough to be worn out and sick most of the time.” he said. “Maybe I’m working too hard.”

“Describe to me what your Saboteur looks like. Who gives you these negative messages?”

“I imagine an old, mean woman who points her finger at me. The messages come from a place of concern, but they quickly turn into criticisms and warnings. If I waiver, her voice gets louder and more insistent. Sometimes she is talking so loudly that I can hardly hear anything else.”

“Are these messages valid for you right now?”

“No. I am working hard – probably too hard – and it’s making me physically sick.”

“I’m going to act like your Saboteur and I want you to talk directly to me,” I explained. I stood up and put a mean, grumpy look on my face and pointed my finger at Tony. I said, “You don’t work hard enough and don’t deserve the clients you have.”

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He laughed at my personification of his Saboteur, but then he got serious and mad. “Quit telling me what to do. I am sick because I always push myself. You have unrealistic expectations. Shut up and go away.” There was so much power behind what he said, as though it had needed to be said for a long time.

He said it felt great to finally stand up for himself. His homework was to write a paragraph describing his Saboteur, notice any time she sends him messages and write what he’d like to say back to her. He also agreed to acknowledge the Saboteur messages he receives and determine how he would face each one. His idea was to post a STOP sign on his desk. Each time he looked at it, he would remember the power he has to stop his Saboteur from running his life.

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Coaching Challenge: Write a paragraph describing your Saboteur. When you hear your Saboteur’s voice, listen and write down the messages you receive. Determine the intent of the messages and verify their veracity. How do they impact your life and drive your decisions? By simply being aware of this voice, you gain power over the messages and have a conscious choice to accept or deny their intent.

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Empty Nest – Endings and Beginnings

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

As high school seniors contemplate what to do after graduation, their parents are wondering the same thing. When kids are young, new parents can feel overwhelmed and have a sense that time is standing still. Yet many parents of older children say, “It goes by too quickly…a blink of an eye.”

 

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Katie came into my office with an air of sadness and disbelief. Her feelings started when she and her husband began to plan a graduation party for their daughter, Shannon. Although Katie was excited, there were also feelings of sadness at the realization that Shannon was taking a significant step out of Katie’s day-to-day routine.

 

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Shannon is the youngest of three children, which meant that after she left, the large home that had once held a family of five would feel a bit oversized for Katie and her husband, Joe. Granted, as Shannon grew older and more independent, the level of activity had already diminished. With each stage, Katie and Joe’s lives had adjusted, but something about having the last child move out felt empty and sad.

 

“I have watched each of my kids grow up and become independent from me, which is how it should be. I know that my job as a parent is to work myself out of a job. I don’t want my kids to need me; I want them to have the skills they need to survive and thrive in the world. Joe and I have talked about the freedom of not having full time parenting responsibilities, but as it becomes more of a reality, I can’t believe that we will soon be ’empty nesters.'”

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She continued, “Parenting is an all-encompassing job. At the time you ‘accept’ the position, you have no idea what you are committing to.” She continued, “I have noticed my parenting responsibilities shifting. For a while I was the care-giver, the playmate, the referee, the taxi driver, the parent who waits at home and enforces the rules, and now who knows what?” It is the hardest job I have ever done! Yet in some ways I am reluctant to have this stage end.”

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“If this stage is ending,” I asked Katie, “then what stage is beginning?”

 

“Wow! I was so caught up in the ending that I didn’t think about the fact that I could also be starting something new,” Katie said. “I’ve just given so much to everyone else along the way, that I am not sure who I am anymore. What will I do when my schedule is not squeezed in around someone else’s? And how will my relationship with Joe be without the activities and chaos of the kids? It was crazy, but somehow I found comfort in the midst of it all.”

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As we talked about each of the questions, we came up with some action steps that Katie agreed to complete before our next session. First, she would write a paragraph describing herself, as though she were the author of a novel introducing her main character. She also agreed to make a list of three major endings she had experienced in her lifetime and the accompanying beginnings – identifying the gift she had found in each. In addition, she would re-connect with Joe and explore together how they wanted this stage of their lives to look and feel. Each of these steps allowed Katie to re-orient and prepare herself for the upcoming changes – both the endings and the beginnings. By gaining clarity and communicating, Katie and Joe could prepare and create how they wanted their “empty nest” to look.

 

 

Coaching Challenge:

Whenever you are anticipating a life transition, think about the phrase, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Focus as much (or more) energy on the “opening” as on the “closing.” To recognize both the “ending” and the gift of the “beginning,” reflect back in your life and find three major endings you have experienced. Next to each one, write down at least one beginning and one gift that accompanied the ending. Each time you anticipate a transition in your life, ask yourself, “What is ending and what is beginning?” and “What opportunities can I embrace?”

Baby Steps: For All Ages and Stages

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

High school seniors are preparing for graduation. Until now their lives have been fairly planned. As summer approaches, they realize they have come to the end of “the plan” and wonder: what’s next?

 

One of my clients graduates from high school in May. Chet’s mother had contacted me about life coaching to help him find direction as he approached this ending point/beginning point. Chet wants to pursue engineering, but he is not exactly sure where he wants to go to school.

 

Chet has no contact with his father, who left when Chet was young. His mother has provided for Chet his entire life and works long hours to make ends meet. Moving away to attend college has been a difficult concept for Chet to contemplate for a couple of reasons.

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First, he is unsure of leaving his mom; it has always been just the two of them. And then there is Ashleigh, his girlfriend of the past two years. She is a couple years older than Chet, has a full time job in her parents’ business and has recently purchased a home. She has no intention of moving and hopes that Chet will attend the local college.

 

“I’m really excited to graduate, but I am dreading the decisions I must make,” he confided.

 

When we talked, I could tell that family and relationships were at the top of his list of values. It was important for Chet to be available for his mother and he concluded that if he moved, he could stay in frequent contact via the phone, email and regular visits. “Who knows? Maybe a bit of separation will be just what each of us needs,” he said.

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Before we moved on to the subject of Ashleigh, Chet told me he had another month before he needed to make the decision about what to do after graduation. When I asked what he needs to make good decisions, he answered, “information and experience.”

 

“How can you gain the information and experience you need to make a good choice in this situation?” I asked. “What is one baby step that you can take towards gaining the information you need to make a decision?”

 

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Chet replied, “The school that I am really interested in is hosting an On Campus day where seniors are invited to visit and stay overnight in the dorms. I’ll go and see what it’s like.” That was a great step towards gaining more information.

 

Sometimes we get so caught up with the BIG picture, goal, or decision (in this case what to do after graduation), that we look for one BIG step to take us “there.” Getting “there” is not usually one large step, but a series of baby steps, which are easier to take and move you toward your goal. Each time you take a baby step, you are given an opportunity to reevaluate how it feels and ask, “Am I still on the right path?” If so, then you can determine what your next step is.

 

If it doesn’t feel right, you are given an opportunity to reevaluate and step forward, sideways or in a completely new direction. There will come a day when Chet will decide what to do after graduation, but by continuing to take baby steps and reevaluating, he can gain the information and experience he needs to make the decisions along the way with confidence.

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Coaching Challenge:

Once you have defined the outcome that you are working towards, brainstorm the steps that will move you towards your goal. Write each baby step on a sticky note. Then place the notes in order of what needs to happen first. If the first step seems overwhelming, see if there is an even smaller step that needs to come first. Then each time you take a step towards your goal, reevaluate to see if you are still on the right track. If so, then take the next step. If not, come up with another step that is more in line with your goals. The key is to continually evaluate where you are and ask, “What is the next right (baby) step?” Keep asking, evaluating and moving forward.

Changing Priorities

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Kayla and I met for our seventh and last coaching session. She originally contacted me wanting to reach a specific career objective. Kayla wasn’t the type of person who needed help setting goals or in determining how to reach them. Although quite young, Kayla had been successful in school and in her career.

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Reflecting back to our first session, her appearance, energy, and clothing were different than today. Kayla was always very professional– a suit or skirt, her make-up perfect, and she was always “on.” Today she looked comfortable, relaxed and full of life. What originally brought her to coaching took a back seat to what we discovered was really important to her. Here’s what happened:

 

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Eight months ago, Kayla’s boss had challenged her to take the next step in her career. Coaching was to help her to stay on track. Up to this point, Kayla had successfully balanced her career with the needs of her family and of herself. She had been married 5 years and had an energetic 18-month old son.

 

We initially looked for ways to gain the time she needed to reach her goals. Since her most productive time was in the mornings before Anthony woke up, she decided to get up two hours early. For accountability and to establish the habit, she would email me at 5 a.m. for the first two weeks.

 

The next day her email came at 5:05 a.m. I smiled, knowing she had met her goal. Over the next two weeks, I only received two more 5 a.m. emails.

 

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“It’s too much!” she said at our next session. “I’m trying to stay present for my family; I’ve been so irritated with Anthony; and my team members are struggling and I can’t help them. I can’t do this.”

 

I listened with compassion. We talked about her emotions and re-visited her goals, trying to determine what her priorities were now. She explained, “In the past, I would keep my eyes on the goal until I got there. Now it seems like the goal is changing. I thought I wanted this promotion, but I am not willing to pay the price.”

 

It didn’t sound like a cop-out. It was an honest realization.

 

How do you know when to keep moving forward and when to acknowledge that your goals have changed? It’s a fine line. Growing up, many of us learned that when you want something, you move forward until you get there.

 

As you grow and change, your goals may need to shift. It may be necessary to revisit your values and true priorities. The real measure is how much passion do you still have for the prize? Over time, with more tools, knowledge and evidence, you can make a better decision about which goals to keep and how to get there. Don’t let old priorities prevent you from moving towards what’s important today. That is how years and decades can slip by.

 

In leaving that session, Kayla came up with two brilliant action steps. First, she would tell her manager that her career goals had changed. Second, she would take time for herself and her family.

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This brings me to our closing session. Kayla walked in wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and plopped in my chair. She was back to being herself and she was radiating with life! When Kayla and I embarked on this journey, we both thought we were heading in a completely different direction. Our closing session was not about her career at all. It was about discovering what her true priorities and values were, acknowledging that and moving forward.

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Keep your eye on the prize, but be open to the prize changing.

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Coaching Challenge: Write your top five priorities in life including any of the eight areas of life: family & friends, career, significant other, fun & recreation, health, money, personal growth, physical environment. List your top five priorities in order. What is most important to you? Use that same list to prioritize how you spend your time. Review the list to see if you are spending time in the areas that are most important to you. Review the list every month to see if anything has shifted. By simply being aware of your priorities, you can more clearly make choices as to how you spend your time and energy.

 

 

I Can’t Decide!

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

“I have no idea what to do,” my client Suzanne said as she put her head in her hands. The decision she was facing was between moving to take a new job or staying here to live closer to family. Her grandmother had recently been moved into assisted living and Suzanne had been helping her mother take care of the endless arrangements, medications, transportation, etc.

 

“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. I could feel the pain she had surrounding making this decision. Having worked with her for over six months, we had focused on moving her career forward, including updating her resume and cover letter, sharpening her networking skills and setting intentions around her career.

 

This opportunity seemed like a dream come true. It would propel her career forward. The compensation was higher than she expected and there were several perks. The deal could not have been any sweeter…which made her predicament even more difficult.

 

As the deadline approached, Suzanne found herself vacillating. “I should stay and help my family…” and just minutes later, “I cannot pass this up.” I listened to her mental gyrations, trying to understand and see what stood out as more important to her.

 

To find clarity and make decisions, it is helpful for clients to look at various viewpoints. Simply stepping outside of the normal perspective can define what is really important. We stood up for this exercise. Physically moving around helps us to talk about and feel the change in each perspective.

 

We put the decision to take the job in the center of a large circle on the floor. I asked Suzanne, “What is the perspective you are in right now?”

 

“This job is perfect,” she said. We named this wedge of the circle, “WOW! I can’t believe it!” I had her describe the mood in this wedge of the circle, the color, the theme song, the temperature and how this resonated in her body…anything to help us embody and feel this perspective. She described the mood as enthusiastic, came up with the color magenta, theme song Rocky, temperature was 95 degrees and she felt like she was floating.

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“But I just can’t imagine leaving my mom,” she said. Her perspective had noticeably changed, so we literally stepped to another wedge of the circle. She labeled it, “Dedication.” The mood here was overwhelming, theme song was, I Just Can’t Give Enough, temperature was 35 degrees and she felt tightness in her chest.

 

“What would your friends say?” I asked as we moved to another wedge. Again, I had her label and describe this perspective. This wedge was labeled, “Do It.” The mood was, You Only Live Once; theme song, Seize the Moment, temperature was 80 degrees and she felt her head swirling around.

 

“Tell me what your grandmother would say,” I asked as we moved to the next imaginary wedge on the floor. The name of this perspective was “Wisdom.” The mood was thoughtful; theme song was, Listen to your Heart, temperature was 65 degrees and breezy, and she felt this as sweetness in her heart.

 

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We walked around the circle, discovering and describing new perspectives. I then asked her which one resonated with her. She answered, “Wow! I Can’t Believe it!” We stepped into the perspective and brainstormed her next steps. Once we had the list, we narrowed it down. She then agreed to specific steps and timelines.

 

As we closed the session, she had moved from a point of indecision to action. She had consciously chosen not to stay stuck and is moving in a direction that resonates with her and helps her to move forward. There is so much power in that!

 

Coaching Challenge: When faced with a decision, look at four different perspectives. Draw a circle and label each wedge. Describe each perspective/wedge with a color, temperature, theme song and mood. Really embody each perspective – what does it feel like to stand in each one? Look at the decisions from multiple sides and then select the one that resonates in your heart. From here, create action steps to move forward from this perspective. Make yourself accountable by setting goals, timeframes, etc. To consciously decide is very powerful.

I’m Bored. Now What?

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

In the middle of a recent coaching appointment, both the client and I had a huge realization. She was completely bored with her life! As we were talking about a decision she was facing, it wasn’t the opportunity that was appealing; it was the thought of welcoming change – any change – into her life that had caught her attention.

 

“What’s challenging to you right now? What is exciting in your life? Where do you find passion?” I asked. To each question, she gave me a puzzled, almost painful look. She did not have an answer.

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Finally, she explained, “I work hard and am successful in my career. I got married, had kids, survived divorce and am now working hard to keep some balance in my life. Life feels functional; I have a lot of responsibilities and I find that the only real challenge is juggling the activities in my life.” But where was the passion?

 

It’s easy to see how this can happen. When we were in school, our goal was to graduate. Then we wanted to get a good job. Next it was to meet someone and get married, have kids, be a good parent, etc. Now that we’ve done all that, what are we moving towards? The first part of life seemed so structured. We knew what we were “supposed” to do and what was “normal” and what came next. But who makes the rules and sets the goals now? What is “supposed” to happen next?

 

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“Imagine that you are the writer and director of a movie – your movie,” I said, introducing an analogy for us to play with. “The stage is set, several plot lines have been introduced, and there is a cast of characters with you as the lead. Tell me how the story unfolds. What happens next?” Sounds pretty open-ended, right? The irony is that this much flexibility can be stifling!

 

She looked at me, completely stuck. I pressed, “Where is the passion?” She had become so busy just managing her day-to-day life that she had forgotten.

 

We then reconstructed and described each of the eras of her life. We began in childhood and moved on to the School Era, the Single Years, the Relationship to Marriage Era, the Family and then the Divorce Years, which brings us to now.

 

We brainstormed her future Eras. The next one was called Back to Me. Travel Time came next, which naturally flowed into the Relaxation, Retirement and Grandparent Eras. We talked about each one and built a loose framework for her future. As we watched the chapters unfold, she saw where she was now with more perspective as to how it fit into the rest of the story.

 

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By creating descriptions for each time period (including the tone, color, theme song, motto, etc.), we provided clarity and dimension to the various segments of her story. Excitement grew as her entire life began to feel more alive and connected. Ideas sprang forth that took completely by surprise and the boredom disappeared. We had, in effect, re-energized her life by adjusting her perspective.

 

Stepping outside of the day-to-day responsibilities can help to gain a broader perspective. This macro-view provides the big picture along with the details…and how it all fits together to make up your life. By knowing where you’ve been and where you plan to go you gain a better understanding of where you are right now. Isn’t life really all about right now?

 

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Coaching Challenge: Review your life and write down the major eras. Describe each segment by answering the following questions:

•    What is the overall theme of this time period?

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•    If you had to describe this era with an article of clothing, what would it be?

•    What is the lead song on the soundtrack of this era?

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•    What kind of car do you drive?

•    What would a bumper sticker on your car say?

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Now list the upcoming time periods in your life. Create the macro view. Then focus in on each one and answer the questions above. Have fun with it. See where you are going. Imagine the possibilities, and feel the passion!

The Beauty of Doing Nothing

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Anyone who knows me will laugh at the headline. I rarely do “nothing.” I’m like a kid who doesn’t want to go to bed at night for fear of missing something. Add in a family, my own business, and an eager desire to stay in shape, learn, and be involved and you have the makings for a very busy schedule. “Multi-tasking” is my middle name!

 

My clients will also get a chuckle out of the headline. Each time we meet, they leave with a homework assignment– which does not imply doing nothing. This isn’t the kind of homework you remember from school. These are self-identified, self-directed assignments to help the client move forward.

 

In the novel, Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy in hopes of discovering pleasure in new and different ways. In the book, she contrasts Italian and American cultures. She explains that in America, we don’t know when to say enough is enough. We tend to overdo everything and there is never enough time to get it all done. She asserts that Americans really don’t know how to do nothing. In Italy, however, they have mastered the art of il bel far niente – the beauty of doing nothing. In Italy it is the ideal…the goal of all of your work. It is the same in many spiritual philosophies. To master enlightenment often equals letting go and doing nothing.

 

I contrast this philosophy with my own life and with the lives of several of my clients. Take Sarah, for example. She is the owner and CEO of a mid-sized company. The past ten years have been a balancing act, to say the least. She started her company when her kids were little as a way to continue her career, but also to be at home with the kids. As they grew, so did the business as well as demands on her time.

 

Sarah can vacillate from being enthusiastic and wanting to take on the world, to feeling pulled like taffy. We looked at her calendar and there were only slivers of time in between the almost-fully blocked schedule. In each area of her life, there were people who needed things from her and she gladly gave as much as she could.

 

Last week she was talkative but exhausted. Sarah said that when she gets stressed, she goes into overdrive, trying to cover all of the bases. She gets a certain thrill in “getting it all done!”

 

“Take a minute to catch up with yourself,” I said as she flew through the door. We sat in silence for a few minutes to allow her to find her center. She explained how stretched she had been feeling emotionally, physically and mentally. “You GIVE energy most of the time – to your job, your family, etc. When do you RECEIVE energy?” I asked.

 

“I don’t have time and I feel guilty if I do,” she said.

 

Using the metaphor of a bank account, I explained that she can withdraw “energy” whenever she needs to AS LONG AS she has taken time to replenish the account.

 

gnomeo & juliet movie to buy

She said, “It’s like the emergency instructions on an airplane…put your mask on first and then assist others, right?” She understood so now the challenge was to help her integrate this concept into her life.

 

We brainstormed her homework assignment. She agreed to create a Replenishment List, which would include five activities that GIVE her energy (fill her energy bank account). Once the list is completed, she agreed to enjoy (with no guilt) at least two hours a week doing something from her list.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if we would have had homework assignments like that in school?

 

Coaching Challenge: Create a list of five activities that you enjoy. If you feel selfish or self-centered when writing this list, you are probably on the right track. Over the next two weeks, find two hours a week to relax and enjoy any of these activities. To remind you of how important this is, create a sign that says, “il bel far niente,” which is Italian for “the beauty of doing nothing!” Hang it on your bathroom mirror so you will remember to do your homework.