In a world that is fast-moving and filled with challenge, something we can always count on is change. It seems that most people are in a state of transition nowadays. I see this with my clients, with my colleagues and with myself as well. There is a transition in my business, as I continue to evolve the ways I serve my clients and grow my business. There’s a transition in my homefront as well, as my children rotate in and out of the nest as they continue their education and start their own careers.
Traditional year-end review and making New Year’s resolutions can get a little stale and boring. Too often planning for success can become a very analytical and linear process. It’s easy to dial up success or turn down what didn’t work by taking incremental steps. The goals can feel like a “should” and your energy takes a nose dive. I find people having to work really hard to feel motivated or inspired by lists of new things you should do. Which is perhaps why only 8% of people making annual resolutions actually achieve them.
Research shows that almost 65% of us are visual learners. So when we make that list of endless resolutions or goals, if you’re not making them visual you’re missing out on an opportunity to get more deeply engaged and in love with your plans for success.
When I do strategic planning with a client and am drawing out their insights and desires in real time on a graphic map, it’s amazing how quickly they get a new perspective and get clear on their priorities. Bringing colors and images in to the planning process turns on creativity, insight and playfulness as they create a road map for their own success. When you make your plans for success visual, that is when magic and manifestation can really happen.
We live in a crazy, busy and quickly-changing world. The quality of the questions we ask when planning for success helps us set priorities and get clear on our values. What have you said “Yes” to that you now need to say “No” to so you can create space for what is to come?
Here are 5 powerful questions to help you plan for success in the year ahead!
1. What Do I Need?
What are your core needs? As Maslow articulated in his “Hierarchy of Needs”, until we address our basic survival and security needs, we won’t be able to move forward to fulfilling other important social or self-actualization needs. Consider your most important needs and get as specific as you can. “I need to make at least $50,000 a year” is far more specific and powerful than just “I need enough money to live on” as a basic need.
2. Does This Bring Me Joy?
Is what you’re doing bringing you an experience of joy and expansion? Or do you feel a sense of drudgery and heaviness? If you’re feeling spread thin and approaching things with a sense of dread, chances are you have got some major commitment pruning to do. There will always be lots of things you could do or get asked to do by others, but it’s simply not possible to keep piling on the “Yes’s” and not end up exhausted at the end of the day. Become selective and look for how you can bring more joy into your life.
3. Does this Fulfill My Purpose?
Is what you’re doing an expression of your deepest gifts? Do you have a secret hankering to do something, but you keep holding yourself back? Spending your time and energy in ways that feels like a fit for your gifts and purpose is so rewarding, not just for you but for those around you as well.
4. Where Are My Blind Spots?
When you drive a car, you need the sideview mirror to check your blind spot. I see its message that “Objects may appear larger than they are” as really cosmic. Until we clearly see any disempowering behaviors we have, they have a huge energetic pull on us until we get them handled. Is what you eat, procrastination about paying bills, or being a committed conflict avoider a potential blind spot? Make the decision to look for these blind spots so you can refocus your energy in a constructive way that moves you ahead.
5. What Do I Need to Release?
The Universe loves a vacuum and will come rushing in to fill it with something new. And so it works with our life force as well. We must stop living like pack rats of choices and experiences, and release things that no longer align with our highest purpose (use Questions 2 and 3 to get clear on this). This may mean releasing limiting beliefs, physical clutter or relationships. Bless them, release them and welcome in the miracles that are to come in the year ahead!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThriveAfterDivorce.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To receive her “3 Essential Steps to Thrive After Divorce” free video training series, just visit www.ThriveAfterDivorce.com.
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“I just don’t seem to have enough time to get everything done!” is a common refrain I’m hearing from my clients. Truth be told, I’ve muttered it more than a few times to myself as well! In a world where information, resources and tools are available at your fingertips, it can be a challenge to walk that fine line between being productive and being burnt out.
A friend of mine I spoke to told me she was struggling to decide on whether to accept a new opportunity in her business and that “I’m not sure I have the psychic bandwidth right now to really take that on!” I loved that phrase, because our brains do operate like computers. Let me share some strategies for good computer maintenance we can apply that can help us become more clear, productive and less overwhelmed.
Step 1. “Defrag Your Brain” Regularly
I loved the phrase “Defrag your brain” which I heard from innovator and thought leader, Andrea Lee. She notes most of us are more habituated to cleaning the lint drawer in our dryers than we are taking the “lint” that can collect in our minds.
The word “defrag” comes from the defragmentation process computers regularly undergo as a means to free up unused space in its memory. Over time, data gets stored in the computer in ways that isn’t efficient, with many gaps appearing between files. The data becomes fragmented, which slows down the speed of the computer.
Tip: Set aside regular times to “defrag your brain.” Beyond just an annual year-end review, I recommend setting aside at least once a quarter for big defrag/review sessions, as well as shorter monthly ones to keep you on track. Block off your next defrag session in your calendar before the end of today.
Step 2. What do I “No”?
We all know that when you run too many programs on your computer, the speed slows you down. To get back to peak efficiency, you need to find those unnecessary programs and turn them off.
A great question I learned from Andrea is “What do I ‘No’?” Even with the best time management, organization and priority-setting systems in the world, we can’t do it all – at least not all at the same time. If you say yes to everything, you end up diffusing your energy and focus. Not only are you spreading yourself thin, but you won’t be able to create the results you want.
Tip: To help defrag your brain, ask yourself what you need to say “No” to. What is on your plate that you know in your heart is not your highest priority, or an expression of your life’s purpose? If you feel a lukewarm response, that really means a “No” or a “No, not now.”
Step 3. Know When to Call Tech Support
Einstein was absolutely right when he said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. If you find yourself persistently in a pattern of procrastination, indecision or overwhelm, you might have picked up a mental virus somewhere along the line! Somewhere in your subconscious programming there is a sub-routine running in the background that needs to be removed or simply upgraded to support the next greatest version of you. Rather than continuing on your own, you can often save time, money and heartache by calling upon a coach or someone with specialized expertise who can help you to breakthrough the pattern. This way you get to clarity, confidence and results much quicker!
Tip: Notice if you feel stuck in a loop where your productivity seems to drop off regularly. If Steps 1 and 2 aren’t producing results, reach out for support from someone else to give you perspective and coaching. Working with a coach, finding an accountability buddy or joining a mastermind group are great ways to break through persistent and stubborn productivity and focus droughts!
© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com.
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Procrastination is a slippery challenge that seems to perpetually lurk around in my life. I’ll be honest and share that I have an on-again, off-again battle with putting off taking action on important priorities or projects. We’ve all got dreams and goals we want to achieve in our day or in our life. But when we procrastinate, we start to lose our focus, drain our energy and ultimately cause our self-esteem to plummet.
We can procrastinate about obvious things – starting the diet, preparing our tax returns, having the tough conversation with someone we love or cleaning up cluttered areas. However, we also procrastinate in more subtle forms….What about going to bed when our bodies need sleep? Or avoiding taking quiet time to refuel yourself or assess your priorities? How often do we put off acknowledging ourselves or others or spending quality time with our children and loved ones?
Here is the 5-step process I recommend to help put an end to procrastination:
1. What Are Your Procrastination Hot Spots?
Where specifically are you procrastinating right now? Take a look at your health, your family, your finances, your home environment, and your relationships. What are the first five things that come to mind? Write these “hot spots” down on paper so you can assess them objectively and determine which one is THE most important for you to tackle first.
2. Build a Charge
Keep it simple. Focus on the area where your procrastination is costing you the most in terms of your energy, time, self-esteem and productivity. Then take a moment to “build a charge”. Feel fully what it is costing you to let this area of your life fester in procrastination. Let that sink in energetically, not just intellectually.
Imagine what your life would look and feel like if this item was complete. Notice where your energy level, focus and self-esteem would be. Tune into that feeling and imagine it’s priming your pump to get you to take action. Allow the sense of excitement and accomplishment to build within you.
3. Make a Choice
Now make your choice. Are you willing to tackle this procrastination hot spot now? If the answer is no, that’s fine but make a date as to when you’ll review that decision. If the answer is yes, keep going.
4. Take Inspired Action
If you’re ready to tackle your procrastination, burst into taking inspired action. Get a structure in place that will help you get the job done. Set a start and end date to motivate you. Identify what help or resources you’ll need to get it done. Block some time to take your inspired action. Some people like the “I’ll do it until it’s done approach”. Others, myself included, prefer to create more bite-size chunks of time. For example, to declutter the kitchen or kids’ rooms I’ll set the timer for 15 minutes or listen to 1 CD-worth of music while taking on those jobs.
5. Celebrate your Success
Don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment! Don’t minimize the importance that an organized sock drawer can have on your peace of mind. Tackling one procrastination hot spot often unleashes energy and enthusiasm to tackle the next, so get ready to repeat these steps again as you tame your procrastination beast.
The journey of a thousand miles truly does begin with a single step. Being aware of where you procrastinate is the first one. Why not start by declaring this next week a “procrastination-free” week. If you fall off the horse and do engage in procrastination, just dust yourself off and get back on! Our dreams are too important to all of us to let procrastination sabotage them.
© 2009 Carolyn B. Ellis
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: “Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com.”
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“I’ve been separated for a few months now and am still feeling pretty shell-shocked. How do I handle my friends and family? Everyone is telling me what to do, how I should feel, asking all sorts of questions I don’t feel like answering. I feel like shutting down.”
The transition from going from married to separated can be pretty rocky. It sounds like your emotional stamina has been really tested, which is to be expected. Your family and friends and all of their advice and questions are well-intentioned, but it sounds like they aren’t really helping. So how do you ask for what you need?
Don’t be afraid to tell your supporters that you appreciate their help but right now the best way they could help you is simply to offer you love and to listen to you. Listening deeply to another without an agenda to “fix” them or solve their problem is such an important gift. Too often people listen more to what they want to say next, instead of ….
just listening and letting someone pour their heart out. Tell them the barrage of advice and “Here’s what I would do” are adding to your sense of overwhelm instead of helping you get your feet back on the ground.
Realize that your friends and family are likely going through their own emotional upset as well. People don’t get training manuals on divorce etiquette, so they are doing the best they can and may simply be feeling uncomfortable themselves. They may have strong feelings about your ex-partner, or are concerned about your well-being, or both. It could be bringing up their own feelings of insecurity or doubt about their own relationship. Regardless, it’s totally acceptable to let them know what you need. If the conversation starts to go down a road you don’t want to travel, simply tell them “You know, I’d rather not get into that right now. Let’s change the subject.” They will follow your cues.
It is important, however, that you do find some forum to express and explore your feelings. Divorce isn’t easy, but it’s an opportunity to discover new wisdom and strength within yourself, if you’re willing to look. So I wouldn’t recommend simply “shutting down” permanently. The risk there is that you could simply repeat past mistakes because the lessons that are in this separation for you haven’t been fully excavated and digested.
The Divorce Resource Kit offers many tools, such as the THRIVE Principles ™ and strategies to help you get your sense of center and confidence back. You may also want to work with a divorce coach or find a local support group where you can connect with others going through divorce. You don’t need to travel the divorce journey alone.
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Uncertainty and dealing with the unknown is something we all must learn to cope with. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” If that’s the case, are there ways to live with the unknown with a greater sense of mastery and ease? I believe so!
Living with uncertainty certainly isn’t comfortable and can show up on both a macro and a micro level. On the macro level, you may have been hit by one of life’s curve balls like a relationship meltdown, a workplace restructuring, a health scare or some other significant shift in the landscape of your life. On the micro level, Mercury goes retrograde again and your computer crashes right before you need to pull your major presentation out of it. You are working on something that you thought was your heart’s desire, but you …. run into all sorts of roadblocks when you try to execute it. One of your children hits puberty and becomes unrecognizable as that sweet little angel you once had.
The logical, rational mind part of our being really dislikes not knowing the answers. When the rules of the game you’ve been playing and winning at suddenly change, the ego feels very exposed and helpless. We may end up making rash decisions that do not serve our highest and best long-term interests. We tend to lash out at others in blame or judgment. We can get so focused on the problem we can develop tunnel vision, missing an innovative solution or possibility that is right at our fingertips.
Here are some powerful strategies you can use for those times when you are dealing with uncertainty.
Seriously, take a few deep breaths. Uncertainty creates fear and anxiety, which can kick you into the “flight or fight” response. It’s hard to think clearly, let alone make a meaningful choice, when your nervous system is being bathed in a series of chemicals intended to prepare your body for battle or retreat. Deep, belly breathing for even a minute can work miracles to switch off the alert signals from your reptilian brain and allow yourself to get grounded.
2. Dig Deep for the Gold
Once you have calmed down the frenetic brain chatter that often accompanies the unknown, make the choice to ask your own internal wise self for guidance. Remind yourself that you are an eternal soul, having a physical experience here in Earth school. You have a soul curriculum you designed that will uniquely and perfectly support you in growing, evolving and expressing your greatest potential. Rather than grabbing on to quick-fix solutions or tactics that you see around you, choose to dig deep for the gold, wisdom and strength that lies untapped within you. Journalling, working with a coach, and asking great questions like “What can I learn from this situation?” will help you do the spadework needed to connect to the answers for you.
3. Practice Patience
The Universe unfolds in mysterious ways. Often we short-circuit our process by becoming impatient when we’re not getting the results we think we should be getting. There is a season or a cycle to things and sometimes change takes place on an invisible dimension. Trees go dormant in winter and it looks like there is nothing happening. Yet below the ground, the roots are gathering nourishment that will bring forth new growth in the spring. Imagine a tree branch in a mid-February cold spell saying, “Hey, where’s my fancy green leaves? If you roots don’t deliver soon, I’m going to detach myself and find some other tree that will give me what I want.”
Often living in the unknown is an opportunity for us to practice patience. Rather than making a reactive choice, we can choose to continue to hold a vision, while allowing some leeway for the Universe to support us in delivering it in a time frame and in a way that may not line up exactly with what our ego may have originally foreseen.
© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: “Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com
The post Dealing with the Unknown: 3 Strategies for Handling Uncertainty appeared first on Thrive After Divorce - Carolyn Ellis Divorce Coach, Toronto.
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