Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ending 2012 With Gratitude Ritual

It’s that time again - one year is coming to completion, making way for a new one to begin.  I like to complete each year with a closing ritual that includes taking time to review the past 12 months to remind myself of what I accomplished, what I didn't do or get to, and  go over what I learnt along the way. I invite you to join me in consciously completing and celebrating 2012 with the following exercise.

Get yourself comfortable with some paper, pen, and a yummy beverage, creating an ambient environment. I like lighting a bunch of candles and burning some incense, like frankincense or amber. Start by taking some time to review 2012 – grab your journal, agenda, vision board, list of goals, anything that will remind you of what happened over the past year as well as what you had intended to accomplish.  Then, write down the answer to the follow questions: 

What did I accomplish in 2012?
What did I work hardest at?
Which accomplishment surprised me most – either that I hadn’t planned on accomplishing or that exceeded my expectations?
What were my disappointments?
If the past year was a movie, would it have been an action movie, comedy, satire, drama, thriller, cartoon, musical or documentary? What title would I give it? What role did I play?
What goals or intentions did I set for myself in 2012 did I not complete? What happened?
What were my greatest challenges in 2012?
What is the greatest achievement that I’m most proud of in 2012?
What new learning and insights did 2012 leave me with?
What will I intentionally leave behind in 2012? (limiting beliefs, habits or ways of thinking) 
What will I consciously carry forward into 2013 and continue working towards?
Write a list of at least 50 things/people/events/experiences you are grateful for in 2012.

Once this part is finished – safely burn or shred the paper you wrote one while saying “thank you 2012 for the ride!”

 In completing this exercise ask yourself: Have I appropriately celebrated my accomplishments and wins over the past year? Have I thanked the people who supported me in 2012? If not, what will you do to celebrate and acknowledge all the work you've done, the impact you've made, as well as those who have contributed value to your life over the past year?  

Coaching Tip:  Reframing Failure

Far too often we can be hard on ourselves for not meeting our goals or intentions for the year. If you did not accomplish something on your list, it is only considered to be a failure if it is a goal you still want to achieve, one that is really important for you the keep working at, but you choose to let it go instead. The journey to completing any goal is exactly that - a journey. It is a journey which often includes travelling along winding roads, up hills (usually steep ones!), down hills, along peaks and valleys, through various weather conditions, climates and terrains and in the end, it takes the time it takes. If you didn't complete something on your list in 2012, ask yourself the following questions: 

What was important to me about this goal when I decided to take it on?  
What is most important to me now in relation to this goal?  
What have I learnt so far? What has changed?
If I continue working towards this goal, what will it require of me? Who will I need to be?  
If I decide to let it go now, what impact will that decision have on my life 5 or 10 years from now?
Having answered the above questions, now decide:  Do I want to continue working towards this goal in 2013 or it is it time to let it go?  

While it may be tempting to that ask the last question first, I recommend keeping it to the end. Getting yourself thinking along the lines of values and what is important to you will lead you to make a more congruent decision about how important it is to keep working at it or to let it go. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Do You See Who I See?

How are you seeing yourself?  As we grow and evolve, we don’t always notice just how much we’ve grown and evolved and who we’ve become.  We’re too close to ourselves to see ourselves as others see us.

I recall one day when I was working at the bank (in my previous life), I was just starting out in my new management role and I noticed one of the tellers looking at me in what felt like a truly respectful way, like he was seeking my approval. I remember how it struck me as very odd that someone could be seeking ‘my’ approval. He was seeing me, very differently than how I was seeing myself in that moment.   

Yesterday I was chatting with friend/colleague, who was sharing her experience of being approached to coach a high level executive within a large corporation. As I heard her go on about feeling like doing so was out of her league, I thought… am I hearing this right? Is she actually doubting her ability to coach someone based on their position and how much they earn?  Sure enough, that was exactly what was going on. What amazed me was that this is the sort of client I thought she was already working with. As a colleague and friend, I would not have even imagined that she was anything less than fully capable and qualified to coach such a person – heck, in my opinion Donald Trump would benefit from working with her!  

Having her share this experience with me reminded me of how normal it can be to not fully acknowledge our own growth and evolution – and it’s not just me.   

If you’re now wondering – “hey, maybe I’m not seeing myself quite as accurately as whom I am”, here is a challenge for you that I often give my clients.  Send an email to 3-5 people asking them to answer the following questions, candidly and honestly:

In your opinion, what are my best qualities?
What do you assume about me that may or may not be true?
If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?

These questions are just suggestions – use them, edit them or come up with your own. The idea is to give yourself the opportunity to see yourself as others see you – you may be surprised by how you’re seen! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Re-Write Your History!

Re-Write Your History and Create the Future You Want!

Have you become a victim to your past? Decided you’re unlovable, unworthy or less than because of the meaning you’ve assigned to the experiences you’ve had?  Life happens, events occur – we see things, exchange words, experience feelings and then we use our interpretation of what we’ve experienced to assign meaning to it all. Have you ever noticed that a number of people can participate in the same event yet each person will have their own unique experience of it?  My honey and I can watch the same movie, seeing the same scenes and hearing the same words yet we don’t always re-act the same to it. He’ll laugh when I cry and usually one of us ends up enjoying the movie more than the other.  

This is exactly what we do in our lives – we assign meaning to the events we experience, based on how we’ve interpreted it at the time. The meaning then becomes our memory of the event, having a natural influence on the flow of our lives. Our past, which remains part of us, continues to influence how we participate in creating our lives moving forward. Every time a memory is triggered in a present moment, the emotional tone (energy) of the meaning we’ve previously assigned to it naturally influences how we are creating in that moment - it becomes part of the mix.

“The only meaning that anything has is the meaning we give it.”  A Course in Miracles

If the meaning you’ve given your past is not supporting you in creating the life you want now – change it! Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not always.  Not when the meaning  we’ve given the story is keeping us safe or powering us up by making us feel important, right or justified. This sort of empowerment is usually gained through a limiting power source – a source that takes from another in a depreciating way.

Power gets its juice from feeding off of another source of energy.  Limiting power like thoughts have a, “I’m better, smarter, more beautiful, more creative, more…. than they are” ring to them, lifting oneself up while putting someone else down. Or like “I’m not as good/smart/pretty/tall/thin/creative… as them”; putting oneself down while inflating another – possible putting them on a pedestal  for the sake of keeping oneself safe (and small).

True or real sourced power feeds off of the never ending abundant supply of potential and possibility that is freely available to all – and harms none! True power thoughts sound like “I can do this”, “I am enough”, “I am learning and growing” or “what is possible now?”  Notice how the focus is on the self – self acknowledging, self accepting and self motivating. When we don’t include the ‘other’ in our own meaning, we neither puff them up nor knock them down, the meaning you give is about YOU. Other people will assign their own meaning to a shared event and it will be about them.  As tempting as it is to take another person’s meaning personally – it serves us to remember that it isn’t.    

If reality is an illusion, what illusion do you want to create as your reality?

We can’t go back and change the ‘facts’ of the past; we need to accept the facts as they are. What we can do is go back and change the meaning or story that we’ve made up about our past. Doing so, changes the impact and influence the past is having on our lives in the present and going forward.

Let’s take the example of being laid off from a job due to restructuring; many of us have had this sort of experience at least once.  The feeling of being laid off doesn’t usually feel great – even when it’s what we’ve secretly (or not so secretly) been wishing for, actually being asked to leave the building or to being escorted off the premises can sting. Far too often after this sort of experience I’ve heard people make up stories like “I wasn’t appreciated, someone was out to get me, I must have something wrong – all these sort of ‘meanings’ can leave one feeling rejected –again, not a pleasant feeling. They can also leave a person feeling disempowered, which is NOT a resourceful state to be in when looking of  new employment or planning your next steps.

What we need to do in such a case is separated the facts from the fiction. This actually happened to me in 2003 – I was laid off from my banking job without cause. And even though I was able to COMPLETELY recognize how I had consciously participated in creating the experience, on the day it un-expectantly happened, it stung! I told myself a whole much of *BS* that I needed to later retract. The FACTS were that I was no longer employed. I had been told I was laid off without cause, meaning  I had not done anything wrong – it served me best to believe that.  It was not where I wanted to stay career wise and I had already been working towards a new career. Those were the facts.  The story that served me without belittling anyone else (or myself) is that I needed to be let go, so that I could focus on the career I really wanted for myself. That if this was happening now, it must be time! One door had closed forcing me to walk through the other door that had already been opened. When I attach that story to the experience of being laid off, it feels empowering and promising – a bit scary for sure, however in an exciting way.

Changing the meaning of a past event may not necessarily erase the one you had previously assigned to it.  When I recall hearing the words and being escorted out of the branch, a slight sting still remains. I now use that feeling as a trigger that reminds me of my power to “choose” the story I remember… guess which one I chose?

We humans do tend to be creatures of habit; choosing a more empowering meaning or reinforcing a new story can take time. Be kind to yourself as you work on retraining your mind to more regularly tap into potential and possibility while harming none, the source of true power, when assigning meaning to life’s events.

Re-write the meaning of your past and become the hero/heroine of your own life’s journey.

Friday, May 25, 2012