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Dare To Dream

Do you dare to dream or are you working for a living?  This is the time of year when we are all feverishly making our New Year’s resolutions or what I call the biggest to-do list of the year.  Yet, what are the odds of success?  Usually it is natural to decide that this is the year that you will make the big changes and create the life you’re destined to live.

Before you embark on this path, let’s review your past history.  Have you made New Year’s resolutions before?  If so, then how many have you kept?  If you’re like most people, it’s just another way to validate why your life and career aren’t working or living up to your expectations.

Let’s review these expectations.  Where do they come from?  Do you decide how you will rate your progress or is it defined by how you compare yourself to others?  Are you satisfied with the standards by which you measure yourself, or are you ready to take a look if this is really working for you?  If you are willing to peek under the hood, let’s explore how you can easily shift your focus to tune into your true vision.

When I was growing up, my father called me a “dreamer.”  Yet, without our dreams, how can we even get clear about what we truly want?  Take a stroll down memory lane and begin to remember when you were about 8 or 9 years old.

  • What were you involved with?
  • What captured your interest?  Your imagination?
  • List the activities you enjoyed.
  • Any similarities or differences from your later years?  Sometimes our early years may reveal your true interests without censorship or comparison to others.
  • Pay attention to your observations or insights.

If you’ve strayed away from your earlier interests and just fell into the work you’re doing, this could be the reason you’re no longer satisfied with your progress.  If that’s the case, even if you reach the pinnacle of your career and appear extremely successful to others, you still may not be happy.  In my book, 3 Brains for Success, I explain the model I developed for success and happiness.  It all starts with clarity.  Once you have clarity about where you’re headed, you can develop a personal strategic plan and move forward.  The key is to start with your true heart’s desires because otherwise you will be working hard and going through the motions but will never become satisfied with your progress.

According to the latest Gallup Well-Being Survey, the highest income earners and senior citizens reported the highest job satisfaction.  With age, satisfaction increases.  How do you define satisfaction?  Does it mean abandoning your childhood dreams and settling to meet your budget?  Is there a way you can discover your true heart’s desire and make a plan to slowly transition or integrate it into reality?  I’m not advocating quitting your day job or changing careers.  I’m just encouraging you to examine your true motives and where you would like to be at the end of your working life.  It’s never too late to start.

Take a look at my favorite example of someone who dared to dream, was very clear about her heart’s desires to become a professional singer and astounded the world.  Listen below as Susan Boyle sings, “I Dreamed a Dream” as she begins her dream at 47:

Are you ready to discover your dream?  Remember, it’s not what they say you are, it’s about what you know you are.

Try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.
Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

 

 

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The thought of a job interview evokes fear for many individuals, including many of my clients.  The majority of the time it’s about lack of confidence or the pressure to perform.  This feeling is enhanced when you really want a specific job or believe this is your dream role.

Research has shown that our minds and the way we think can affect our bodies.  Yet, do you realize that your body posture can actually impact the way you think and feel about yourself?  This is especially important during a job interview or when you’re giving a presentation.

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist has conducted research on power and dominance in human behavior.  Her findings validate that people in power roles or those who feel powerful actually exude confidence and are resilient to stress.  Being confident and unaffected by stress are 2 traits that are desired in a job interview or during a presentation.  So, what can you do to easily shift into success when it feels like you’re under a microscope or being judged during the interview process?

Listen to Amy Cuddy’s TED talk where she provides a quick 2-minute technique that can actually change the outcome of your next job interview.  Just like athletes achieve peak performance with practice, you too can become more confident and less stress reactive by practicing power posing as demonstrated below.

Remember, if you need more support to guide you through preparing for your next significant interview or presentation;  be sure to seek out the services of an expert interview coach who has a whole toolbox of techniques to make it easy and effortless.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Are you listening to everyone but yourself about what path you should take in your career?  Are you just staying in your current role or taking the next position because that’s what’s expected from you?

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the movie, The Wizard of Oz.

In the movie, Dorothy is repeatedly told to follow the yellow brick road by everyone she meets and she blindly listens.  Are you just following the yellow brick road in your career? Have you been just listening to everybody else and now finding that you are either dissatisfied, not completely fulfilled, unemployed, or just stuck about what to do next?  Every day, just like advertising, we are bombarded with new stories of individuals who have defied the odds and achieved unexpected success.  Everywhere you turn people are looking for the secret formula, the yellow brick road that will just lead them there, if they just follow and not ask questions.

However, in my experience working with clients from all walks of life, unless you choose your path, you will never truly be happy.  Whether you choose to stay exactly where you are, or transition to another career, the key is that you choose.  One clue to help you uncover if you’re in the right spot is to review the last time you had a peak experience at work.  Take a moment to reflect when you were last on top of your game, when everything was flowing smoothly and you were motivated and enjoying your work. How long has it been?  Have you ever had a peak experience at work?  If you are feeling unmotivated and struggling to either go to work, look for a job, or drum up new business it might be because you’re not really clear that you want to continue what you’ve been doing over and over.  You see unless you have chosen this path for yourself, you will naturally resist, even if it’s unconscious.  This resistance will make it harder to move forward on your goals and will hold you back.

Yet, with more choices and advanced speed in communication, there are more resources available than ever before.  The Internet has changed our world and this is the first time we have ever connected to each other in this way.  From Linked In, to Facebook, to Twitter, our people connections are growing exponentially.  Yet, with all of this external stimulation, there is little time to focus internally and reflect.  Therefore, if you find yourself just reacting and riding the assembly line of life without pausing to figure out where you’re going, you will end up on the nowhere road and wonder how you got there.  Just like Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, everyone told her to follow the yellow brick road.

So, what does this all mean?  Let’s look at the bigger picture to understand some of the influences exerting pressure on us.  In our generation, in America, we have witnessed more life defining moments and fundamental shifts in how the world and business operates.  Since 9/11, there has been a lot of pressure to find our true passion or our life purpose.  Seven years later, in November 2008, the housing crisis fundamentally changed the playing field.  Everything we believed and were told to follow has fundamentally shifted.

How can you find your road map for success in career, relationships, and life when the world has turned upside down? One way to start is to frame our shared experience.


It feels like we have all stepped onto a “Rotor-ride” or more currently known as the Gravitron ride where the world has been spinning and our floor has dropped out. However, the ride hasn’t stopped, most of us are still spinning. Yet, we can’t operate in the same way. As you are becoming aware, it’s not business as usual anymore. The floor or foundation disappeared when the economy and marketplace shifted and historic business structures tumbled down the rabbit hole.

Yes, just like global warming, the job and business climate has changed.  However, crisis breeds opportunity if you know how to use it.

The very next action step to take is to decide if you want to choose what happens next in your career.  If you’re ready to step off the yellow brick road, define where you’re going and develop your strategic road map, then it might be helpful to work with a career coach to jump-start this process and make it easier.

Try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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“As there were no real answers in her life. She was in abeyance. Stuck in a pattern of waiting for a future she could not guess.” ~Anya Seton

When I made the life choice to leave the 9-5 career world, I knew I was in for a fun and challenging entrepreneur ride. I launched into attending trainings and seminars, traveling, and creating a beautiful brand for my company which was natural and extremely exciting. Sound blissful? Well don’t let the joy ride mislead you; I can sometimes feel just as stuck as I did in the monotony of my corporate career, but now I have tools to help me out of my quicksand.

As a creative visionary, it is more natural for me to have my head in the clouds dreaming, creating and learning rather than actually placing my feet on a firm surface and ‘doing’.  My self-awareness hasn’t allowed me to blame my stuck feeling on the monotony of the corporate world, as I once did, and now I realize it is due to too much freedom.  I realize that I need daily structure and constant grounding for my personal and professional success.

My action today was to turn to my yoga mat.  I surrendered into child’s pose and began my practice with a focus on being grounded. I moved through a beautiful flow tapping into every hip opener I could think of and eventually found myself at extreme peace in double pigeon. After my ending meditation, I fluttered my eyes open and felt safe and unstuck. My hips were open, my body radiated with energy, and my mind was clear. I rolled up my mat and got to the business of getting things done.

What has caused your stuck feeling? What do you really need to move yourself forward? Grounding, self-confidence, or maybe a clear vision and plan of action?  Experience a unique career coaching approach with coach Wendy who uses meditation and energy releasing techniques with clients to help them get unstuck and onto the career life that fits who they are.

 

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Things Are Different Now

The world has shifted. All the old paradigms of success are being tested and put on trial as we watch in disbelief. As individuals and a society, we are now faced with redefining how we will thrive in these new and ever-changing times.  In the last fifty years, we have seen a social and economic revolution.  As our culture changed, so did the music.  The Beatles started the musical revolution and ushered in a new era that expanded our connections to the world.  Step into yesterday as the Beatles whisk you back to 1966 and take a moment to reflect on what the world was like in that era.

In the 60’s, the world was clearly defined. During the Industrial age, people usually went to work for one employer and remained there until retirement. As we experienced the Information Age and everything moved faster and faster, the world of work started to change.

Fifteen years ago, Daniel Goleman talked about the new rules for work as he wrote about emotional intelligence. According to his findings, it was no longer enough to have intellectual ability and technical know-how to do our jobs; it was now about personal qualities, such as initiative, empathy, adaptability, and persuasiveness. Ten years later, Daniel Pink cited further evidence of change, in A Whole New Mind, when he acknowledged that we moved from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. With globalization and shareholders demanding more ROI, large corporations, small business owners and employees alike are experiencing uncertain economic times. Only one thing is certain, increasing your marketability increases your chances of thriving in this current economy.

So, how is the new economy working in your favor? Because now you get to be in the driver’s seat by creating your personal brand and leveraging it in the marketplace to get the results you want.

The new rule: When everybody zigs, zag. – Marty Neumeier

You can easily do this by radically differentiating from your competition by translating your natural talents, skills, and experience into your unique value proposition:  your personal brand.  Being in the driver’s seat with your career means that you treat your career as if you were running a business.  The first place to start is to have clarity about where you’re going.  If you’re not clear about your vision or where you’re headed, you end up on the nowhere road.  In the story, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was advised to follow the yellow brick road.  This was not a path she chose on her own.  She didn’t have all the facts.  As a result, her long journey ended with a wizard in Emerald City who had no answers and couldn’t help her reach her goals.  She just wanted to get home.

When we create our personal brand, we come home to ourselves.  We step into who we are and finally get comfortable in our own skin.  Think about individuals you may know that stand out from the crowd.  Do they have exceptional talent or have they discovered how to leverage what they have and translate it to the world?  Career coaching can easily help you identify and package yourself to fundamentally improve your career advantage so you increase your marketability and your market worth.

Neumeier acknowledges that your brand is not what YOU say it is.  It’s what THEY say it is. It’s about building your personal reputation, as well as your digital presence.

It’s about how others perceive your value.  The public’s gut feelings about the company, their products and services impact the best business brands.  It is not enough to have emotional intelligence and just understand yourself.  In today’s market, you need to understand how you impact the world at large or how marketable you really are.  Many of my career coaching and business coaching clients start working with me to get promoted, transition to a better career, be successful in their job search, start or develop their businesses.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur, climbing the corporate ladder, or just trying to land a higher paying job, the first place to begin is to examine your state of mind.  Are you clear about your vision?  Do you have clarity about where you’re going?  Once you have clarity, the decisions are easy with the right tools and resources.  If you aren’t clear or need support discovering the right tools and resources that fit you, try a free career coaching or business coaching consultation to explore if coaching is right for you.

Try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan to become more marketable that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Before starting career coaching and life coaching, my clients frequently ask:  where is Yoda?  How do I find Yoda?  What they are really looking for is answers.  Yet, as a result of our technological advances, people generally aren’t taking time to reflect and search for their own answers. Instead, addicted to instantaneous button clicking, our society breeds impatience, so we expect instant gratification and results, immediately, if not sooner, as my Dad used to say.  What have we become?  Let’s hear from a cyborg anthropologist what has happened in our current culture.

Join me for a closer pictorial look to see how our world has evolved and the impact it’s made on our lives.

From the first ride of the Pony Express:

To the assembly lines of the Industrial Age:

To the Information Age of computers, as we head into the Conceptual Age:

Dan Pink acknowledges that we have left the Industrial Age and entered a Conceptual Age. What if instead we are entering a dark age? The economy, the workplace, the political stage, your current state of mind all take its toll on your sense of self.

At the TED conference, Barry Schwartz discusses why too much choice is bad for us.
Too many choices cause:
1. Paralysis rather than liberation – people prefer to make no decision rather than make a complicated choice.
2. Less satisfaction with decisions as people have greater reason to regret the decisions they have made.
3. Unrealistic expectations.
4. Self-blame – when experiences are not perfect, people blame themselves.

So, what does this all mean?  With more choices and advanced speed in communication, there are more resources available than ever before.  The Internet has changed our world as we know it and this is the first time we have ever connected to each other in this way.  From Linked In, to Facebook, to Twitter, our people connections are growing exponentially.  Yet, with all of this external stimulation, there is little time to focus internally and reflect.  More than we suspect, outside influences control our actions. Therefore, if you find yourself just reacting and riding the assembly line of life without pausing to figure out where you’re going, you will end up on the nowhere road and wonder how you got there.  Even if you take a first step and start working with a career coach and life coach, it is too easy in our current age, to expect immediate answers and changes.  It takes 28 to 30 days to change a habit, introduce a new routine, practice, or start to reframe your situation and it takes another couple months to make it stick.  So, how can one expect to shift into the driver’s seat and get instant results?  However, with career coaching and life coaching, you will be supported to help make these changes stick.  So, what do you have to gain?  Yes, it’s about finding the Yoda inside of you that may be foggy or unclear at the moment.  Take the first step and get your life coaching and career coaching consultation from your success coach now.

Try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Los Angeles Life Coach Laura Asks: Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

A Life Coach or Career Coach Can Make the Difference

You know the drill.  It’s the new year and you have a new resolve to lose the weight,  start exercising, quit smoking, begin meditating, etc.  Or maybe this year you’re resolved to finish the book you’ve been dabbling with, or get that promotion that’s overdue, or navigate a transition to a new, more meaningful career – one that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.

You start off strong. This is the year you’re going to do it. After six weeks or so, you’ve built up some momentum and confidence. You’ve started to make some progress and you’re feeling good. And then March rolls around. Distractions surface. Stuff happens to usurp your time and money. It’s tax time after all.  Or maybe fear and doubt creep in. Old patterns of thinking sabotage your progress. You tell yourself this is temporary and when the weather gets warmer, you’ll re-double your efforts and start anew.

Now it’s summer and you’re back on it. The sun is out, the weather is warm and you’re feeling optimistic. You’re going to stick to it this time. You start to regain the momentum from earlier in the year. Then as the weather turns colder, stuff happens again. More distractions. Life gets increasingly hectic as the holidays approach. And when the holidays hit, you tell yourself:  “Just get through the holidays.”

You decide to table everything until the new year…and then the cycle begins again.

If all of this sounds familiar, then hiring a life coach, career coach or spiritual coach might be the way to go this year. One of the reasons why coaching works is that it’s a support structure that holds you accountable for your progress. Life coaching and career coaching (as well as other types of coaching such as spiritual, business, relationship, etc.) keeps you focused when will power waxes and wanes and distractions deter your progress. And on a deeper level, coaching works because it helps you to dissolve the soundtracks from the past which sabotage your future.  Since I began coaching in 2005, I have found that fear and doubt are the two biggest reasons why people don’t achieve their goals. Distractions are the third.

But life coaching or career coaching is not meant to be a permanent support structure.  A good life coach or career coach strives to coach you to independence – not dependence. So a skillfully trained coach works with you to create other, long-term support structures to help you not only attain your goals but sustain them, long after the coaching is over.

Resolve this year to make your resolutions work. Give yourself the support to attain and sustain your progress throughout the year so you can make 2011 the time in which you achieve the personal and professional success that has eluded you in the past.

Posted by Laura Svolos, Certified Professional Coach and Swami of Kriya Yoga specializing in life, career, relationship and spiritual/wellness coaching.

Take the first step in making your resolutions work, schedule a free consult with Coach Laura.

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The burning question in everyone’s minds these days is “how do I stand out amidst the competition?”

Whether you’re involved in a job search, trying to increase your corporate visibility, vying for a promotion, or trying to get new business, what is the secret to being noticed and being rewarded professionally? Do you constantly feel like you’re on display like an art exhibit constantly being scrutinized how you size up (or compare) to your peers and colleagues?

Take a quick pause break and enjoy the wonderful “Cows on Parade” exhibit in Marseille below where each and every sculpture is beautiful and stands out on its own.  We will take a look how you can apply this concept to your business, job, and career mobility.

Cows On Parade in Marseille

The Secret To Being Successful In The Marketplace Today

At a very early age, I learned the secret to being successful.  It’s very simple:  being marketable.

For centuries, merchants and currently businesses alike have known that the law of supply and demand drives their products and/or services.  In our current job market, there is a surplus of potential job candidates, internally, and externally applying for positions.  That means that it is much harder to be noticed.

Before starting career coaching, many of my clients struggled to discover what separates them from their competition, without success.  They used traditional ways to market themselves and found they didn’t work.  These days, it’s not enough to be brilliant, talented, and experienced.  It’s about creating your brand and demonstrating how you are remarkable in order to stand out from everybody else who is also brilliant, talented and experienced.

The following article by Seth Godin, In Praise of The Purple Cow uses the metaphor of the purple cow to differentiate company brands.  Godin explains that in order to rise to the top, you need to become remarkable.  However, he states, the opposite of remarkable is ‘very good.  The reason that most companies don’t become purple cows is driven by fear because we’ve been conditioned to ‘play it safe‘ and follow traditional methods.  Godin concludes: The current marketing “rules” will ultimately lead to failure.

What about branding individuals?  The principles are the same.  Your unique brand is a combination of raw talent, your strengths, skills, and experience that made you who you are today.  By demonstrating how you are ‘remarkable‘ to your target audience, you will become more visible and more in demand.  Career coaching and business coaching will help you discover and leverage your brand to become more marketable in today’s economic climate.

Are you ready to become a purple cow?  Are you ready to stand out and get noticed by your clients or customers, your organization, recruiters, or hiring managers?

Then, try a free coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started on discovering how to brand yourself and become marketable once again in today’s job market and business climate.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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Do you struggle with no time to get anything done?

Take a pause break and listen to an oldie but goodie song from the 60’s that captures one band’s perspective on this age-old problem.

Before they start life coaching, many of my clients identify their lack of time as the biggest reason for not meeting their goals.  They explain that they just need to have extra time to become successful and happy.  Just recently, during a coaching session with one of my executive coaching clients, he admitted that he works 60-65 hours a week and wants to achieve work-life balance and do the things he wants to do.  I asked, “What would happen if you fewer less hours?  Would your job still get done?”  He answered that it would.  So, I continued to ask:  “So, what is preventing you from working fewer hours?”  He replied, “me.” Before he could move forward on his goals, he needed to discover the root cause of what was really going on.

Up to now, my client had been thriving.  He had been extremely successful and never questioned the hours he worked.  So, what changed?  Understanding this process and what shifted as he began to question his current work style and consider other options was important to evaluate because this was influencing his current behavior.  Only when you drill down and begin to understand what motivates your actions, what triggers your responses, and what drives you will you be able to get back in the driver’s seat and choose how to respond.

It is too easy to let life just happen.  Remember, you can’t change the people around you, or affect the weather, or control the world.  All you can do is choose how to respond.  Yet, in order to do so effectively, you will need to understand what is going on underneath the surface.  Root cause analysis doesn’t have to feel like a root canal.  Working with a coach can easily help you identify what’s going on.  Once you bubble up what’s really going on up to the surface, you can look at it, review it, and then choose what comes next.  Otherwise, all the actions in the world will be forced and will be met with internal resistance because you will naturally sabotage your efforts.  When this happens, you have 2 choices:  blame it on external events, or reflect on what’s really going on inside.

After working for many years with coaching clients, I have discovered that if it’s a priority, it will get done.  So, the key is to truly identify your real priorities.  The ones that are really driving you and not the ones that you believe you are expected to do.  How do you drill down to your top priorities and claim them as your true heart’s desire?  The first step is to be honest with yourself.  It is important to understand how you got to this place.  You may have traveled a short time on this road, or have been derailed from your original route.  With coaching, you can get the support you need, as well as the objectivity to help you clarify your long-term vision that best fits you and helps you leverage your natural talents and experience to date.

The most successful people hire coaches.  Success and happiness can’t be achieved with a hit-or-miss approach.  You need to be laser focused on your highest priorities.

Using the 80/20 Principle, 20% of your critical priorities will yield 80% of your results. The question is how to identify your highest priorities? If you haven’t developed a personal strategic plan, it will be challenging to start this process without support.

Is it worth investing in you?  Try a free life or career coaching consultation with Wanda Ropa, your success coach, to get you started and get clear about where you’re going with your career, or with your life so you can develop a strategic plan that really works for you.  With clarity, success becomes a natural outcome.

At Feroce coaching, we know it’s about fit.  That’s why, you get two free coaching consultations (risk-free) to explore if coaching is for you.

Posted by Wanda Ropa, The Success Coach.

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For me, a life coach, the phrase self-discipline conjures up images of being strict, tough and perhaps even rigid to force myself to get things done. For the purposes of this article I use the phrase to describe the way we regulate and direct ourselves.  What self-discipline looks like to you may not be what it looks like to me.

How we do things is a deeply personal expression of our wants, needs, intentions, self-care, strengths, responsibility, beliefs and values, an outward reflection of what is important for us. I think of self-discipline as a continual recalibration and adjustment of what’s important in my life. All of us struggle with doing what needs to be done versus doing what we desire. None of us is immune from distraction. We live in an age of distractions that tempt us from good habits and intentions. How comfortable are you with your ability to balance competing needs and desires in your day?

Self-discipline is a balancing act. We are a collection of values, motivations, intentions, fears, potential, abilities, quirks, strengths and stories we tell ourselves. How all of this translates into self-discipline depends upon how aligned we are with our goals and how we balance priorities day to day. The balance you strike is reflective of your personal style of self-regulation. Are you happy with the way you balance your life or do you tend to let things slide a long time before you notice things are out of whack?

One thing I notice about people who are content with their ability to regulate themselves is that they are aware of their priorities, they are clear about them, they take responsibility for them, they take time to focus on them and they have a way of balancing competing demands on their time. My intention isn’t to judge or tell you that you should be more efficient, just be aware of how you feel about what you do in a day and notice if it works for you.

As self-discipline is so deeply personal, let me tell you about what I do and don’t do well. I learned some of my self-discipline from my mother, who has a lot of good habits and pushes through her resistance like a bull. Although I developed some good habits, I am not a creature of habit. I tend to do things as I feel like them. When I exercise good self-regulation, this feels good. When I’m not, the train slips off the rails pretty quickly. I tend to put off things like paperwork, collecting overdue accounts or cleaning. I have to face the fact that I may never ever feel like doing paperwork or making difficult calls.

I put these things on a weekly list of action steps related to my goals. I want to be financially responsible and have a neat house. So even when I don’t feel like doing paperwork, it goes into the hopper and usually gets done in the course of a week. When I face resistance to doing something onerous like doing my taxes I break it down into small achievable steps like sorting receipts, invoices and bank statements. I do my best to make it feel like something I want to do by listening to music, having a cup of coffee and having a time limit to get it done.

As I write this article I am aware of the tug of many distractions: checking email; wanting to have a cup of coffee; wanting to get up and stretch; feeling my neck is sore. Sometimes it’s tough to focus on my intentions.  If I am not responsible and I don’t hold myself accountable, I find myself emptying the dishwasher instead of doing what I intend, which is to sit and finish this article. The tug of distraction eventually proves irresistible so I use it as a way of taking a break and even rewarding myself for having applied myself and resisted distraction as long as I could. So let me tell you how I regulate myself …

I understand self-discipline as the practice of noticing what’s going on in my life, identifying and clarifying my priorities (my weekly list), balancing and making adjustments as I go along.  The best metaphor I can think of is it’s like driving a car. Imagine looking over my shoulder while I drive: I have a goal or an intention (to go somewhere), I get in the car and make myself comfortable, I check conditions, make adjustments, scan the road and set off.

While I am driving, I continually check the mirrors, stay focused, adjust my speed and watch for other drivers, all while keeping my eye on the road.  Not only am I interacting with other vehicles and responding to them, I am tempted by distractions and aware of other things I want to do. If I avoid distractions and stick to my intentions I will make it to my destination without turning into a fast food place or sending a text message while driving.

When I face a challenge, I take a deep breath then I check in with myself and notice what happens. I feel things moving around. What I notice is a dynamic balancing as I mentally move around priorities and make things fit together again. I might do this dozens of times a day, whenever I have to switch from one activity to another, to make sure I’m applying myself in the way I intend. I think of my brain as having a shifter. When I complete a task my brain is always asking, “what’s next?” The question, ‘what’s next’ is the shifter.

As long as I have a clear idea of my priorities and stick to them, shifting from one priority to another is effortless and clear. When that happens, I have a productive day and feel satisfied. When I am unclear about what’s next, I become prone to distraction. I’m prey to procrastination until I feel I know what’s next. This is where my list of action steps helps me figure a way out. Spending too much time in distraction mode gives me that sweetly sick empty feeling I had when I was a kid when I ate too much candy. That’s when I know it’s time to get back to doing something more satisfying.

I noticed that many distractions came up for me while writing this article because I found it difficult to wrap my head around this topic, making distraction and avoidance almost welcome. Now that the piece is almost finished I am beginning to feel a sense of accomplishment, empowerment and satisfaction. It takes focus, determination and persistence to push through resistance and avoidance. After all, I’m the only one who cares whether I write this article.

Let me leave you with one more element of self-discipline – self-care. I think it’s important to be responsible and balance my goals because it’s a way of caring for myself. If I don’t care enough about myself to do what I say I want then who will do them for me? I am constantly balancing self care with care for others. Think of a spectrum that ranges from selfish (extreme self care) to being in the service of others (an absence of self care).  I balance my needs, wants and desires, but not at the expense of others I care about. It takes discipline and self-awareness to strike a balance that’s right for you. I can care for others but not at my own expense. It’s a balancing act. It’s about you.

I think I’ll make some coffee and empty that dishwasher now…

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