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Can you hear it…. that voice that’s been calling you for I don’t know how long?
What’s it actually saying?
If you can’t hear anything, could it be you’ve got your fingers in your ears the way children do so they don’t have to hear what they don’t want to hear?
Very often we think we don’t know what we want… or at least we convince ourselves that we don’t know what we want. We persuade ourselves that our ‘future’ is a bit of a mystery to be untangled. And sometimes that’s true. And very often that is just so NOT true. More often, we know only too well what we want but we’re simply afraid to admit it because if we admit it, well, THEN we may just have to do something about it – and that’s the bit that scares the you-know-what out of us, isn’t it?
- Heed the Call
The first step to change is to stop saying you don’t know what you want and start admitting what you do want! “What we resist persists” is how the saying goes and if a change is calling you, it won’t just go away if you pretend you can’t hear it! Listen to it, hear it and acknowledge that you’ve heard it. Admit that life as it currently stands is just not how you want it. Recognise the ‘thing’ that’s missing.
Many of us put off making decisions because we’re scared of making the wrong ones but the truth is, it is far more important that we actually make a decision than none at all. Like most things in life, it comes down to choice – the choice to do or the choice not to do.
There is something both liberating and motivating about actually making a decision and it never ceases to amaze me how the act itself can immediately cause things to shift. Making a decision literally free us up so we can move forward and make a commitment to that decision.
- Commit to action
This doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds! Having made the decision you can then start to get comfortable with the idea of what you want and what’s shifting in your life. You can ‘try it on’ and start to now imagine your life that way. THEN you can slowly move off in this new direction toward the change that’s been calling you. There’s no rush…simply keep honouring what calls to you and you will gradually transition into the change you seek.
Even if it’s scary to imagine making a big change, don’t con yourself by saying you don’t know what you want if you really do know. Don’t close the door on your dream just because it’s scary. Heed the call. Decide. Commit to action.
“I’m here if you need to talk…” ah, where would we be without the support of our friends? They’ll sit and listen as we ‘offload’ all sorts of stuff, nod their heads in agreement about just how awful it all is and generally be there for us to offer empathy, comfort and reassurance – and let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of empathy, comfort and reassurance when we’re in the middle of a problem?
A problem shared is a problem halved according to the well-known saying but is it actually true?
Feeling ‘heard’ by someone who cares can sometimes be all we need but what about when we have a problem we want to SOLVE for ourselves – what then? That’s where I’m not convinced that a problem shared with friends is a problem halved and here’s why.
- As soon as you share your problems you risk being swept along by their fears, anxieties and experiences which are never an accurate reflection of your own.
- Although they aren’t even aware of it, your friends have a vested interest in you staying the same as them and not upsetting the status quo with radical new thoughts of change! Someone with a vested interest in you staying the same can’t really be called ‘impartial’!
- YOU are unique – as is your situation, your values and what you want, so no-one else’s ‘solution’ is ever likely to really fit you. “If I were you….” is a commonly used phrase but that’s just it – they are NOT you! No matter how well-intentioned, you don’t really want someone else telling you what to do… just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you!
So for these reasons, if you have an important issue you want to solve, think carefully before you share it with your well-meaning friends. A problem shared only becomes less of a problem when you share it with the RIGHT person – someone who can effectively listen to you without criticism or judgement and who will combine the support you require with personal accountability.
Now some of you might well be saying “you’re a coach, you would say that, wouldn’t you!” And of course that’s true but I say it because I know there are still people out there who mistakenly think of a coach as a ‘paid friend’ and do not appreciate the crucial differences between the relationship you have with your friend and the one you have with your coach.
I love and respect each and every one of my friends and value being able to turn to them when I need to share and offload (you know who you are!) because sometimes just saying thoughts or worries out loud really does help… but when I’ve wanted to make big changes, I’ve only made real progress with someone impartial who I could trust. So, next time you wonder who to speak to about issues in your life you’re unclear about, I invite you to firstly question precisely what sort of support you’re looking for – if it’s some moral support, somewhere to offload or a shoulder to cry on, call your friends, you’ll undoubtedly feel all the better for it. If however, it’s something that would be better served by working in a safe, objective space with someone with a proven track-record in helping people access their own resources to enable them to find and implement their own solutions, hiring a Coach might just be the way to go.
There comes a day in many a midlife woman’s life when you awake with a sudden jolt to hear the alarm ringing and experience a frantic realisation that things haven’t exactly worked out how you thought they’d work out. ”Is this it then?” you ask, “I’m 47 for heaven’s sake… why didn’t someone wake me up earlier?” (insert age as appropriate!)
You try hard not to become a walking midlife cliché but you find yourself questioning… well, everything – your work, your relationship, the meaning of life… everything! Suddenly, all you think about – or maybe ‘obsess’ about would be more accurate – is that you’re not where you thought you’d be or where you want to be.
Yes, it’s the midlife wake up call!
Only, it’s like one of those alarms you can’t switch off unless you get out of bed! Try as you might to put it on ‘snooze’, it still manages to keep on making one helluva noise from somewhere deep down in your consciousness. And on top of all that… you’re suddenly very aware that the clock seems to be ticking louder and louder… and you get that pit of the stomach realisation that timime running oute is…you can hardly bear to say it… running out!
It feels more like an emergency alarm bell than a wake-up call and our first reaction is often to panic and run about screaming ‘get me out of here!’ This is NOT the time for a knee-jerk reaction or quick fix, however tempting! Panic only serves to blinker your vision to the point where it’s hard to see anything other than the walls around you.
But it IS time..
Yes, it IS time to shake things up a bit! It IS time for change. But ‘time’ is the operative word here - it takes time to reflect before it’s time to do. It IS however, time to start the process of exploration.
Explore and expand
You might well be feeling trapped inside a tunnel where you can’t see any way out. When you feel confined and constricted the first thing to do is to open up your thinking so that you gradually find yourself in a bigger place where new ideas and options become visible. This is your chance to look at the life you have created and decide if it’s the one you really want.
Look outwards and forwards
Once you’ve reflected and explored and established what you want, THEN it’s time to take purposeful action to make it happen.
I know that it can often feel like a rude awakening but really it’s simply a call waiting to be answered. The thing about wake-up calls is that they don’t go away, do they? We know they just keep getting louder and louder until we HAVE to pay attention and hear what we need to hear and learn the lessons we need to learn. So no more hitting the snooze button ….
Wakey, wakey, it’s time to rise and shine!
Have you ever been in the situation where you KNOW that something in your life needs to change and yet you find yourself strangely reluctant to do anything about it? If so, you certainly aren’t alone – I know from personal experience the great lengths many of us go to in order to preserve the very situation that we want to get out of! This usually involves a fair bit of moaning or blaming or making excuses, or we may try and mask our feelings with food and alcohol, when really we just want someone to give us a great big hug and tell us that everything will be alright. That might well be what we WANT…. but is it actually what we NEED?
I think you know the answer to that already, don’t you? Sometimes, what we need is a big dose of tough love to go with the great big hug! It’s a strategy most parents are familiar with and use to help our children learn indispensible life lessons or to help them face up to some unpalatable truths. It may not be easy but we do it knowing we’re being ‘cruel to be kind’ and that we have their very best interests at heart and knowing it comes from a place of love.
Well, I’d like to ask you to think about providing the same supportive service to yourself and perhaps allow me to get the ‘tough love’ ball rolling for you. And as you read, remember, this comes from a place of love.
The person who needs to make and take no excuses is… YOU.
Money, circumstances and other people may be factors, but could it be that the biggest obstacle stopping you getting where you want to be is…. YOU?
Change doesn’t happen without taking action and the only person who can do that is …..YOU.
The responsibility to make the most of this one precious life rests solely with… YOU.
I know, I know… it seems harsh when written like that, but getting tough with yourself is actually a loving gesture if it helps you to let go of the excuses and stops you hanging on to the stories you tell yourself that no longer serve you.
Consider the changes you’ve been ‘thinking about’. Take an honest look, ask some honest questions and explore the link between your current situation and your current actions. Take responsibility. Give yourself some tough love – or find someone who will.
If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.
Most of us, actually!
It’s because we are all creatures of habit – and being creatures of habit makes ‘change’ often very difficult for us. If you need convincing of this, just take a few minutes to think back over your morning – did you get up at the same time, having slept on the same side of the bed? Did you have a shower or a bath because you always have a shower or a bath? Is your first drink of the day always the same? Do you sit in in the same seat at the breakfast table as you always sit in…..? You’ll soon see that much of your morning activities were a repetition of yesterday’s activities. Now don’t worry – you are certainly alone in this behaviour – it appears we are all the same!
According to Karen Pine, a psychologist who works in the area of behavioural change, as much as 95% of our days are made up of habits! NINETY FIVE PERCENT!
What’s so interesting about that?
Well firstly, is it any wonder we find ourselves in a rut if we keep repeating the same old stuff day in, day out? And secondly, is it any wonder we find it difficult to break out of the rut when we keep repeating the things that got us into it in the first place?
But before you throw your hands up in despair, you may be interested to hear there is a simple solution – and it’s this:
If what you do isn’t getting you what you want – DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
Research conducted by Professor Pine and her team has shown that simply doing something different, weakens old habits, enabling new ones to be put in their place. Doing things differently helps us become less habitual thereby increasing our behavioural flexibility – all of which is pretty essential if we are to make changes in our lives.
I’ve tried it and once I got into the groove, I really enjoyed this approach and started doing things such as taking different routes, buying a different newspaper, going to the cinema alone or at different times, sitting in different seats (this one caused big ripples of consternation around the breakfast table one morning!) and so on.
So if you are looking to make some changes in your life, it is pretty obvious that continuing to do what you’ve been doing isn’t an option – if you want to get something different, you have to DO something different.
So forget willpower, forget self-discipline – start the process of change TODAY by simply doing something different.
Cast your eye along any woman’s bookshelf (…or by the side of her bed…) and you are very likely to come across a book or two which fall into the category of Self Help. Cast your eye along my bookshelf (and yes, by the side of my bed too!) and you’ll find LOADS of them! And okay, perhaps you would expect a coach to have more than her fair share but the books I buy are just as likely to be for personal use as they are for professional purposes.
Self Help books fly off the shelves, so it’s pretty obvious we are all lapping them up. We turn to them when we are looking for ways to help us make a change in our life – to be thinner… more confident… find a better job…. be a better parent – the list is endless! Buying the book makes us feel that we are actively starting that particular journey of change.
I’ve read plenty of books that have left me feeling worse at the end than when I started! I’ve also read plenty that have inspired me whilst reading them but the inspiration proves to be pretty short-lived. And I have to admit that I’ve also bought a few that I’ve nicknamed ‘shelf-help’ books because I bought them and then promptly put them on the shelf where they have remained ever since! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done that!)
There have been relatively few that have really inspired and motivated me into taking action. That’s not because the others were no good – far from it – most of the books on my shelves are written by very talented individuals with valuable, valid content – the issue lies not with the authors but with the reader.
We’re neither stupid nor deluded and we clearly know that a book will not suddenly make us thin, rich, confident or well-adjusted – so what is it we are really looking for by reading them?
We’re looking for a way to make ‘change’ easier and quicker. But there’s the rub – ‘change’ is not a quick fix, it’s a process and very often it’s quite a complex one too. For example – how many of us know the theory of weight loss inside out and yet still don’t manage to make the necessary changes to our diets, habits and lifestyles?
One thing that Self Help books have in common is that they all tell us that change is possible. In other words, they give us hope. But change doesn’t happen just through passive hoping – no matter how much we learn or how many Self Help books we read, NOTHING - repeat NOTHING – will work for us until we act on what we’ve learnt.
It’s not called ‘SELF help’ for nothing – what happens after we turn the last page is up to us. And if all we do is put the book back on the shelf without taking any action as a result of what we’ve read – well, that’s where our journey of change comes to a grinding halt.