What Inspires You to Live Life to the Max?

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When was the last time you sat back and asked yourself “what inspires me?” I did this twice during my recent Spanish holiday. As I drank a coffee in a Spanish Cafe having witnessed one of the many Ironman swim starts that I have been privileged to watch over the past 13 years. Having trained for and completed one of these races myself (1.9-mile open water swim, 112 miles on a bike followed by a full marathon distance run) I know the sacrifices and discipline that it has taken for each one of those people who stood on that start line to get there. On race day anything can happen good and bad it’s an achievement to get to the start line.

 Every one of those competitors this morning inspired me along with the friends and family that stood on the beach and gave up a whole day to cheer and encourage each athlete over the many hours as the race unfolds.

 The Ironman Machine who organise these races with military provision across the whole world they also inspire me as they explain to nervous athletes what to do at every stage of the event and the many unpaid marshals that give up their time for many hours along the entire route.

 At breakfast this morning everyone forced themselves to fuel for the challenge ahead and there were many reflections on the different reasons why each person was taking on this awesome challenge. Some were raising money for charity, some were pushing themselves to physical limits never experienced before some were first timers and one person was competing in this 200th Ironman event.

 All shapes and sizes finished the swim and headed out onto bike course for many hours… each one of those people inspired me living life to the full.

 The second time the theme of inspiration came up during my holiday was during an Ashtanga workshop I attended in Palma a week after the Ironman event. The teacher who took our workshop was truly inspirational from the moment she started to teach to the moment she left 4 days later. She was authentic, interested, personable, knowledgeable, passionate, realistic, and left an extremely positive impression on everyone she interacted with.

 Both very different sources of inspiration but each one inspired me in the fact as far as we know we only get one life so live it to the maximum always.

 

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Avoid the Trap of the Busy Fool

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Whether you are employed, self employed, running a small business or juggling a portfolio career its important to stop falling into this trap. Everyone we meet now is very busy, it is rare that you meet someone who isn’t, some people are always frantically running from one thing to another or burning the candle at both ends working on various things or meeting the demands of others.

Periodically it is good to take time out and evaluate whether you are spending time on the right things, especially if you are starting to feel frazzled and unhealthy on a regular basis.

So, what are the right things? Anything or anyone that is important to you is the ideal answer. If the activity you are currently working on is an important part of your job, if it is aligned to a key goal you have set yourself or if it involves spending time with someone who inspires, encourages you and makes you feel good then that is probably time well spent. Obviously in all our lives we have necessary tasks to do that aren’t that exciting e.g. Paying bills, sorting out household chores, general life admin etc. and with these types of things it is best to set aside blocks of time and rattle through as quick as possible with minimum interruption. In a funny way if I take this approach there is a sense of satisfaction when I can tick these mundane things off my list and move into more enjoyable activities.

The dangerous trap you need to avoid is the busy fool one…. This is where we are busy however we are spending time on non-value added, unnecessary and unenjoyable experiences. If you look back in how you spent your day, week or weekend and you are thinking that the time spent ticked any of these boxes then maybe changes need to be made. For any activity where you feel that way you can decide to either a) not do it again b) find a way of doing it more effectively so spending less time it or c) get someone else to do it.

The other way you find yourself in the busy fool territory is when you are spending too long on something that doesn’t warrant it either because you are a perfectionist and the task doesn’t need that level of perfectionism or you are spending too long on one task as an avoidance strategy or procrastinating to prevent the more important task you should be doing but don’t want to do.

So, look back at last week’s diary did you spend time on the right things and with the right people? If not, what changes can you make to your schedule next week and in the future to prevent this happening again. Oh, and leave some space for downtime and recharge… scheduling time for this is important for your wellbeing so that you don’t become a burnt-out fool.

 

Sandra Webber works as a coach for businesses and private clients and is the author of Own It – regain control and live life in your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

Bite Sized Chunks

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One of the many training courses I went on during my corporate career was Time Management. We all got sent away after two days with a black Filofax and a binder of course notes. I must admit I still use the Filofax system to this day having had various attempts at putting it all on an electronic device it still works best for me. On this course however I remember hearing about ‘eating elephants’ as a way of tackling very big and complicated tasks. Again, although I don’t use the phrase eating elephants the concept of breaking projects down into bite sized chunks is still part of my everyday life and a technique that is recommended for any type of goal or project that initially seems scarily unachievable at the onset.

Many years later during my NLP training the concept of chunking came up as a technique like on the time management course but this training coincided with a major challenge I had set myself an Ironman Triathlon. The bit that scared me the most was the open water 3.8k swim for many reasons, I couldn’t swim front crawl proficiently and the whole exposure of open water with no safe pool sides to escape too sent me into a cold sweat. The way I got through that swim in August 2006 was breaking that massive scary swim down into bite sized chunks I literally swam from buoy to buoy only looking at the orange plastic thing in front of me in the dark water and then on the next one and the next one. It worked and amazingly I reached the end of the swim to face the 112-mile bike ride. Again, chunking worked it was a three-lap course and I broke each lap down into half so I had 6 bite sized chunks. Same with the marathon run, we had to run out of the town onto a dual carriage way and then out and back twice along the long hilly route before returning through the town back to the finish line, another 6 bite sized pieces. The whole 15-hour event I broke down in my head to manageable achievable elements.

The same approach can be applied to anything e.g. Decide what type of job you want, who advertises these jobs, who do you know who has access to these jobs, what type of CV is needed, interview practice, apply, get feedback, repeat etc.

 

Sandra Webber is author of Own It Book – regain control and live life on your terms. If you are interested in more information on action planning grab a copy on Amazon  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl and work though some of the exercises at the end of each chapter.

 

Get Crystal Clear

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If you have read the last two articles then you will have realised that a sensation of feeling stuck and not happy with your current situation or being faced with a crossroads position in either your professional and or personal life are just two triggers that can cause us to take stock and change things for the better.

So, let’s assume that in some way you have decided you need to make some changes what next? This step is vital for your success and it is often skimmed over. Having decided in what areas you want to make some changes this step ensures you get crystal clear in your own mind what you are aiming for and what good looks like. If there is a measurable outcome or way of confirming you have reached your ideal place then write this down, take a photograph, share with someone close anything that commits this goal in your mind. If we get this clarity early in the change process then any future decision making becomes a lot easier when we reference our final clear destination.

Here is an example of how clear this needs to be:

Current situation is a freelance language teacher is currently feeling burnt out with juggling working part time at a school, private clients, motherhood and looking after herself. When working on getting a crystal-clear picture of what she wants her future week to look like it looked like this

Monday – work at school 9.30-1pm

Tuesday – private clients 10-12 and 1-3

Wed – day off for exercise/social catchups

Thursday – work at school 9.30-1pm Evening private clients 6-8

Friday – morning lesson prep afternoon exercise/ social

Saturday – family time

Sunday – morning exercise / afternoon family time

When looking at this picture the client agreed this would tick all the boxes and meet the financial requirements of her life and get her back feeling good again with time for her own wellbeing.

It also helped when asked by private clients when she gave lessons the answer was clear either Tuesday daytime or Thursday evenings and if full would keep a wait list.

Having done the work of getting crystal clear on what she wanted the next challenge is having the personal discipline to keep to the plan.

So are you crystal clear in what you want the future to look like whether it be work, leisure, wellbeing the process is the same.

 

 

Sandra Webber works as a coach to both business and private clients who want to achieve more. To find out more visit www.sandrawebbercoaching.com  

At A Crossroads? – don’t wait too long

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My last article discussed how we can often find ourselves “stuck” either in our professional or personal life or indeed both and how sometimes just the realisation that we need to take some action to get “unstuck” is the first step to making positive changes in our life.

Another situation we can find ourselves in is facing a crossroads where there are many alternative routes that can be taken and a decision needs to be made as to which path to take. When we are driving a car, or walking and we reach a crossroads we MUST decide a direction of travel at that point unless we want to annoy other cars or pedestrians by just standing in the middle of the road. When reaching a life crossroads however it is a lot easier to hover and procrastinate.

So, what is your personal approach when faced with a life crossroads situation? This can happen at any age. I work with graduates who have just finished university and have several options available e.g. graduate entry level job in big company, go and work for a smaller SME, apply for jobs in total alignment with their degree subject matter or make a complete change as they no longer have interest in that subject three or four years later.

In later life, another crossroads situation can appear in mid-career e.g. Having worked for a smaller company for many years, knowing everyone and having built up a good reputation for the work you do, do you stay put and build on that reputation, enjoy being part of the team or do you apply for jobs in a larger organisation where there may be more career progression and salary scope, alternatively you could go freelance or self-employed and as a fourth option a hybrid model of part time work and other work or personal activity is also an option.

Further on in life many of the people I work with are approaching the last phase of their working life and the crossroads they face can present itself as stay in current role until lucrative pension package kicks in, move jobs into their ideal role before it’s too late, be brave and launch the business they have always dreamt of, reduce hours and enjoy more leisure time, or retire early.

These are just some of the many choices we can face and on one hand it’s great to see how many different routes there are but on another front, having too many options paralyses some people to the point where they just stay put and always wonder in a “what if” way what would have happened if they had taken another route in another direction.

Over the years I have read many inspiring self-development books and added any useful learnings to my own personal toolkit from this reading. One tip I took many years ago that I still use today was from the classic Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… in here she states there is no such thing as a bad decision. I use this when faced with the crossroads situation, take time to consider the options, do a pros and cons list and talk to others but then go ahead and be brave, make the decision and don’t look back. Make the decision on what route you want to take and then set off down in that direction with 100 percent commitment to make it work. Don’t look back or torture yourself with ‘what if I had taken the other route’. If it turns out you took one that doesn’t work out make a different decision at the next crossroads you meet and I have met many successful people who have had to make an occasional U-turn in their lives and its worked out ok in the end.

Get Unstuck At Any Age

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Over the past few weeks in my private client coaching practice I have been inspired by the number of new clients who are wanting to make significant changes to their lives and how wide ranging the ages of these clients are. Looking back over just the last month I have met with clients ranging in age from 21 to 62 and they all have had similar goals. They are unhappy with where they are currently and want to take ownership,seeking help to either make the necessary changes that they have already identified they need to make; or in some cases they want to explore a number of options and decide which suits them best.

One of the roles  a coach plays in this situation is supporting each person who wants to make changes as they embark on the journey and to reassure them that some of the options that are being considered are  possible at their age. In my experience having watched people for many years make massive changes to both their personal and professional lives age is rarely an issue once the individual is committed to the process and is prepared to put in the hard work involved to achieve this. Occasionally when working with the younger age group my role as a coach is to work out together with the client some of the stepping stones that need to be put in place to achieve the desired goals or work out a realistic timescale  that breaks big goals into bite sized chunks gathering relevant experience along the way.

The most important factor by far regardless of age and also desired goals is the enthusiasm, total commitment and dedication to get unstuck from the current position and do whatever it takes to move towards the future state. The speed people can achieve this is amazing once they have this total mind set to making things happen and surrounding themselves by people who also want to help them move forwards.

So if you are feeling stuck, you can get unstuck – where there is a will there is a way.

 

 

 

Momentum – tested

momentumquoteThe forth step of the G.A.M.E model is challenging me personally at the moment and I know when people have given me feedback after having read the book this is the step that we all find difficult at some time in our lives.

When I did triathlon for eleven years I had two injuries that stopped my training and race schedule abruptly one to the back that made running painful and another to the shoulder that prevented swimming. Both injuries were frustrating and learning opportunities at the same time. At the time of typing I have my first serious injury (damage to a bone in my wrist) from Ashtanga Yoga… yes you can get injured doing yoga! When this happens the day to day momentum that existed in quite a routine way is stopped abruptly. Initially I hoped that it was a little niggle that would go away in time with a few slight adjustments to my daily practice however as the pain persisted it became evident I needed some expert advice and investigations. All the time while the pain in the body persists different mental patterns and physical coping mechanisms arise to keep momentum going and motivation intact. My daily morning practice is important to me as my “set up” space for each day and whereas before injury this was enjoyable this was starting to get less so and then questions go through the mind as should you be even attempting this. What is right and what is wrong for us all individually is entirely unique and one we have to take ownership for.

Then there are the inputs from people who surround us both inside and outside of the medical profession that sometimes helps and other times confuse. Again only one person can decide who best to take advice from and when also to stop taking advice and decide on a path, follow that path to the letter and stop googling symptoms as well, that is ourselves. I thought I had learnt from previous injuries on a correct process to follow but I did find myself repeating some of the old behaviours that I thought had long gone eg googling and self diagnosing. The other skill that is needed in this situation, again I am far from perfect on this, is accepting the situation you are in regardless of the daily frustration it causes physically and mentally. On a good day I am ok with this and look to see what I can do rather than what I cant do. On a bad day I can feel sorry for myself and find unhelpful thinking patterns occurring. It is at this time I need to firstly observe myself going down this path and find something to focus on that stops this downward spiral, this could either be connecting with one of my “rays of sunshine” or focusing on another one of my goals or aspects of my life that doesn’t demand my injured wrist eg learning Spanish or working with a new coaching client or reading a new book. I think my main learning this time round as I struggle with this step is focus on what I can do rather than what I cant along with how can I use this enforced adjustment period to focus on things that maybe I didn’t make time for before inside and outside of my Yoga practice. Making use of the “what makes you feel good” lists  I encourage people to create at the end of chapter 6 in http://www.own-it-book.com is also helpful when this step becomes a challenge.

The full book can be found at http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl