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Archive for the ‘goal setting’ Category

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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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’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!

Resolutions Made … in 4 Simple Steps

Monday, December 15th, 2008

As January 1st draws near, it is the perfect time to ask yourself: What do I want more of in my life? And what do I want less of? Isn’t that the core of New Year’s Resolutions?

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One of my clients recently asked for help in defining and keeping her resolutions. She had one of the most popular resolutions: to get in shape. It seemed very important to her, fueling her desire to make changes and move forward.

By asking a few questions, it was easy to determine where she was and help clarify her goals. The more specific she got, the more excited she became. It was as though imagining it and talking about it took her one step closer to achieving it. Putting forth intention and the energy behind words can be very powerful and a great first step. To make it even more concrete and do-able, we got even more exact. I asked her to clarify the following:

  • Goals – What do you want to happen? What is the outcome? Make sure your goals are measureable, specific and attainable.
  • Resources – What supports you in this area?
  • Red Flags – How do you know when you are not in line with this goal?
  • Affirmations – What statements help you move towards this goal?
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Here’s how it looked for her intention of “getting in shape:”

  • Goal — Workout at least three times per week for 40 minutes, combining weight training, flexibility and cardio-vascular conditioning. Lose 10 pounds of fat in 8 months. Decrease my body fat percentage by 3 points.
  • Resources – My health club, a personal trainer, a nutritionist and my favorite fitness magazine.
  • Red Flags – When my clothes begin to feel snug; I feel lethargic, and I start to gain weight.
  • Affirmation –When I take care of my body, it takes care of me.

After we had a framework, an action plan and some accountability for “getting in shape,” we then moved on to her second priority, Romantic Relationships.

When we finished looking at all eight areas of her life (Fun & Recreation, Physical Environment, Career, Money, Health, Friends & Family, Significant Other/Romance, and Personal Growth), we had done some incredible work and she had specific milestones to guide and track her progress.

I then took the worksheets and folded them in half. I told her that she could have them back, but I wanted to know the one word that would help her to keep her resolutions. “You already know the word,” I assured her. “The word you are looking for is the basis for truly changing your life. It doesn’t have to do with any particular area of your life. It has to do with you. What is this word?”

She thought for a minute, hesitated and said, “Authenticity.” I knew from the way she said it that this was the word. It didn’t matter what area of her life we looked at, if she approached it with authenticity, she could reach her goals.

And so, after an hour of completing worksheets, diving into all areas of her life, it really came down to one word: authenticity

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. She could use all of her creative ideas and hard work to move forward in each of these areas, but it became very simple. Her ONLY resolution, then, became, “To keep my word: authenticity.” That makes it easy to remember and to measure her progress…every day.



Coach’s Challenge:

Create your New Year’s Resolution by identifying one word that impacts all areas of your life. Here are some examples: honesty, integrity, education, creativity, courage, kindness, efficiency, faith, focus, etc. Select one and move forward keeping this word in mind. If you can post it in several places, it serves as a constant reminder to integrate it into all areas of your life. This then becomes your one-word New Year’s Resolution. Happy New Year!

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