Archive For November 29, 2015

The Super Surprising Key to a Meaningful Life

The Super Surprising Key to a Meaningful Life

When life’s choices and challenges come our way, we easily get distracted and stop pursuing our goals. When we do this, we lose our mojo and feel purposeless or disenchanted with life.

I’ve talked about how clarity around your vision, mission, and values helps you identify what you want to do and why you want to do it. And I’ve talked about how setting goals and reframing obstacles are essential practices for creating a meaningful life. Yet, today, I’d like to look at this another way.

While personal development tools are vital to transforming life challenges into meaning-making experiences, when you think of yourself as your “personal brand” you’re able to make better decisions and make your challenges more fruitful.

Establishing a Personal Brand

There’s a lot of talk about “personal brand” in business. “Personal brand” refers to the practice of marketing yourself, your career, and your history as a brand. It’s often used as a method to increase your hire-ability or to grow your business. However, it’s as important to consider our “personal brand” for our private lives as well. In truth – if I had it my way, there would be a lot more similarity and synergy between people’s work life and their personal life.

You’re able to make choices, transform obstacles and create a sense of purpose when you have a clear sense of who you are and what you can and can’t do. This is not to pidgeon-hole you into a fixed personality or role. Rather, when you know who you are and what you can do, you’re able to use that information to guide you towards the achievement of your goals.

I would like you to ask yourself the following questions. These are taken from Tom Collinger’s presentation on branding for leaders. I highly suggest spending some time with each one and write down your answers. Consider these questions from as many angles as you can think of: personal, emotional, relational, work, and more.

What are you good at?

What are you not good at?

What do you like?

What do you not like?

These very simple questions begin to show you dimensions of who you are. They also give you crucial input on what you contribute to the world around you and what you need to feel fulfilled. So, for example, if ¾ of your life is taken up by things that you don’t like – even if you’re good at doing them – you will not be very happy.

Things that you’re not good at can be things you avoid doing or things you know you need to get help with. They can also be things that you need to practice and get better at.

The most important thing these questions point to is your skill-set. When you have a strong sense about what you’re able to do, you can begin to build out your value. If you’ve ever suffered from not liking yourself, critical thinking, or worrying about the future, then chances are you’d benefit from knowing your value.

When we know our value we’re able to adeptly work with whatever life throws our way. We feel more confident and more prepared. We make decisions that work for us and therefore feel better about our lives. We know where we “fit” in the scheme of things and can enjoy a sense of significance.

The Awesome Things You’ll See When You Look At Your Relationships Differently

The Awesome Things You’ll See When You Look At Your Relationships Differently

A quick scan of books on the ins-and-outs of “relationships” reveals four primary problem areas: money, time, communication and sex. While your romantic relationships may not suffer at all of these points, they most certainly will be challenged by one of them.

Even great relationships have their share of challenges. Often times these challenges are not an indicator of something unresolvable. Rather, they’re a sign that we need to do something to change our perspective on the challenge.

I’m going to cover 4 common relationship challenges and offer ways to reframe them. When we take the time to shift our perspective on what has seemed so difficult in our relationships, we can grow with our significant other and create a stronger partnership.

Challenge #1: Disagreements That Linger

    Some of the things we fight about in our relationships don’t ever get resolved. Sometimes this is due to a lack of compatibility, which ultimately leads to the end of the relationship. Sometimes this is the result of poor communication. Yet, other times it’s the outcome of our perspective on the disagreement.
    Imagine if you always agreed with your partner. This would yield the most boring relationship ever. While some people are harmoniously syncopated at all times, for the rest of us, a little conflict goes a long way in keeping the spark in our relationships.
    Without friction there’s no progress. Disagreements help us grow. They also help us understand our partner more completely. Often, it’s only when we disagree that we ask questions about our partner’s perspective and pay close attention to what they say.
    What if you saw your disagreements with your partner as an opportunity to get closer to them? Or at the very least, saw them as an occasion for you to get closer to your own truth? What if it was more important that you learn something about yourself through your disagreements and less important that you and your partner come to resolution?

Challenge #2: Different Sex Drives

    People in relationship shy away from admitting that their sex drives or sexual preferences differ from their partners. They just don’t enjoy the same things or share the same level of desire. This undisclosed discrepancy leads people to have sex when they’re not really into it or to meet their needs through an affair. It can also lead to resentment that acerbates the problem.
    All too often couples look to their partner to fulfill their sexual needs. But, what if each person considered how they could express themselves as sexually whole person. In truth, a discrepancy in sexual interest is an opportunity to explore sexuality rather than a block to it.
    So, ask yourself: How does my partner express his or her sexuality? Who am I as a sexual person outside of my partnership? And, do I feel like I’m able to feel my sexuality as essential to my life? Questions like these help us reframe the circumstance of different sex drives.

Challenge #3: Getting the Chores Done

    In a couple, one person is cleaner than the other. One person thinks that organized cupboards make a tidy home, while the other feels it’s clean counters. One person feels they “always” have to do a particular chore. This same person tends to think that no one appreciates their effort to tend to their shared space.
    Chances are if you’ve cohabited with your partner, that you’ve probably been rubbed the wrong way by some aspect of how your sweetheart lives in your shared space. Constructive feedback in these situations can be hard to give. No adult wants to hear that the way they’ve been doing something for years is somehow wrong.
    Too often we focus our attention on the negative. We see what the other person is not doing. Or we notice how they “did it again.” But, what if we looked at our partner’s frustrating habit as reminder of all the other things they do right? What if we chose to remember all that our partner does to contribute to your standard of living?
    You could also re-frame it this way: would you rather have your partner in your life or be free from the problem of how they do – or do not do – a specific chore? The truth is that the dirty laundry on the floor, the dishes scattered around the house, or the foot prints on the floor are a sign that you have a special someone in your life.

Challenge #4: Lack of Time Together

    Busy lives and work schedules take us away from the people we love. And while a little time away is supportive of a healthy relationship, a lot of time away can create problems.
    In these instances, it’s important to check in with yourself and ask yourself if this lack of time together is an outright avoidance of intimacy or indication of some other problem. If this is not the case, and instead life has conspired to give you a bit of distance from your mate, then take the opportunity to make the distance work for your relationship. Plan special things to do together when your busy schedules allow you two to connect.

Whether you’re separated due to work or other reasons, it’s wonderful to have some time to focus on your own needs and not your partner’s needs. The time apart from your mate could be time that you dedicate to friends, family or studying something that interests you. Regardless of how you use it, take the time and give it to yourself!

Every challenge we face in a relationship is a portal of opportunity. Sometimes it just takes looking at it from another perspective to see how we can make it work for us rather than against us.

How You Can Give Your Motivation a Super Boost!

At the heart of it, motivation is the WHY that defines your desire to do something. And this WHY is crucial to your ability to follow through on the goals you’ve set for yourself. When you connect your task at hand with the deeper reason that motivates your actions, you give yourself the energy necessary to persist, especially when things get tough.

Once we know what we want and why we want it, a strange thing tends to occur. Our increased awareness about our goals shines a light on our internal blocks. What this tells us is that we’re not able to move forward by simple understanding of our motivation. Rather, we need to dig deep and resolve what holds us back.

This week’s blog post explores the emotional, informational and logistical reasons for which we sometimes lose our motivation and offers tips on how to find it again.

How to Find + Keep Your Motivation

More often than not, our connection to our motivation brings us into direct relationship with our resistances and self-imposed obstacles.  We cannot start or stay motivated until we understand what gets in our way and what we can do to attend to it.

In most cases, the culprit is one of the following:

Emotional Blocks:

    We often experience negative and limited thinking hand-in-hand with emotional disturbance.For example, we might think “I don’t have what it takes to do this.” This brand of thinking conjures up feelings of hopelessness and despair.
    Emotional blocks hold us back from taking action.  They siphon off our momentum, drain our motivation, and leave us to stew in doubt

Informational Blocks:

    Sometimes we don’t know what we need to move forward.  This can dovetail emotional blocks as well. For example, when we don’t know what we need to take the next right step, we tend to experience a fear-based emotional response that hypnotizes us into thinking we’re doomed to make a mistake. We often freeze around this fear in a state of analysis-paralysis.

Logistical Blocks:

    Sometimes we don’t know how to take our next step. For example, we deliberate with ourselves about whether we should start a therapeutic practice by calling a therapist or by reading a book. Or, if we’re starting a business, we wonder “do I start by building a website” or “get business cards?” These simple examples illuminate the everyday decisions we face that can challenge and overwhelm us.
    Many times, we think that we’re experiencing a logistical challenge, when in fact we’re up against an emotional block. Either way, what’s required here is that you both face logistical challenges and emotional blocks head-on.

Whatever our blocks are, we need to find ways to move past them so that we can stay on track with our goals.

Here are some tips that will help you overcome the most common blocks that people face as they work to keep stride with their dreams, ambitions and personal hopes.

Emotional Blocks:

    Sadly, there is absolutely no way to provide information that will help you easily trouble-shoot emotional blockages. This is because emotional blocks are so unique to our personal history that no panacea is readily available. However, in this instance, knowledge is power.  If you’re aware that an emotional block is keeping you from realizing your success, you’re on track to resolve it.
    The next step requires that you to find techniques that help you clear your emotional blocks. I’ve found that certain techniques work best for certain situations and certain levels of development. For example, talk-therapy might be instrumental at one point in your healing process, whereas energy-work might be the best mode of treatment at another point. If you’re experiencing emotional blocks, start a personal development practice with a professional or start some research into personal development techniques.
    Once you’ve developed your emotional toolbox, you’ll be better able to assess your blocks and remedy them with increased efficiency.

Informational Blocks:

    We can either take the fast route or the slow route towards information. The fast route requires that we find someone to teach us what we need to know. The slow route allows us to collect the necessary information on our own and at our pace. The primary thing required to resolve an informational block is a complete sense of what you need to solve the problem at hand.

Logistical Blocks:

    If you’re challenged by how to move through a project, it’s best to either follow an established pattern or to get outside help. There are step-by-step guides for just about everything you can think of.  And there are many experts available to walk you through the process.

When it comes right down to it, it’s easier to maintain our motivation when we have the right support. As obvious as this might be, many people try to face new and challenging situations on their own. This approach can quickly drain your motivation, especially with projects you’ve struggled to succeed at before.

Support can come in many forms. You can find a friend to partner with. You can join a group. You can hire a professional. Or you can simply let some of your friends or family know of your intentions and ask them to help you stay on target. As long as you’re getting the right support, it doesn’t really matter who’s providing it.

I’ll leave you with a final tip on keeping up your motivation.

And it’s this: give yourself rewards! The most important part of a reward system (or a punishment system) is that it’s adhered to. So, when you hit a milestone, make sure to properly celebrate yourself. You earned it.

As much I’d like for everyone to sign up for a reward system, the reality is that some people are best motivated by a system of punishment. When something big enough is on the line, these people find the energy and umph necessary to move forward. If this describes you, then I recommend getting creative with your punishment system.

For example, I’ve had several clients who would make a sizable donation to charity if they did not keep their projects moving forward as planned.

It’s essential that we return to the WHY that compels our motivation as much as possible. When we do this often, our WHY comes to define our intrinsic sense of our motivation and helps us build the skills necessary to trouble-shoot when the going gets tough.

5 Myths About Life Purpose It’s Time to Let Go of

5 Myths About Life Purpose It’s Time to Let Go of

Day-in and day-out, I talk to people who want to find their life purpose.

I make a point to pay close attention to what my clients, associates and colleagues say as they describe the purpose-driven life they seek to live. As I see it, my job is not simply to respond to what I hear, but rather to figure out how I can help those around me get what they really need to feel happier, healthier and more successful.

When people talk about finding their purpose they often also talk about identifying their passion. They want to have a sense of meaning in their life. They want to make a contribution.

I plan to get into great detail on what life purpose is REALLY all about and how to FULLY LIVE a purpose-driven life in my upcoming Morning Mindset series. So, if you’re in the midst of finding your life purpose, this series is for you! Feel free to sign up here and I will contact you as soon as it’s ready to go!

5 Myths About Life Purpose That It’s Time To Let Go Of

Myth #1 Your Life Purpose is Your Vocation

    This is one of the mistaken ideas that I tackle first when I talk to someone who wants to find their life purpose. Why is this myth about life purpose so pervasive? I think it’s because we live in an increasingly work-centric society that doesn’t teach us that there is a difference between our life purpose and our work. They are, in fact, two totally distinct things.
    Truth be told, it’s absolutely possible to integrate your life purpose into your work. HOWEVER, when people feel stuck and struggle to identify their purpose it’s often because they’ve come to think of their career as the place in which they’ll find their purpose. Or, it’s the reverse. In this scenario, people try to find their life purpose through the process of developing their career and meet with tremendous frustration. Either way it just does not work.

Solution #1: Ask yourself: “Am I trying to trying to figure out my life purpose or my next career move?” Allow yourself the space to see your life purpose and your career as separate things.

Myth #2 Your Life Purpose Can Only Be One Thing

    Because people often conflate their career with their life purpose, they often think that their purpose is one specific thing.
    As kids, when we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up, we tend to say things like: “I want to be a fireman” or “I want to be a ballerina.” As adults, when we think about life-purpose, we mistakenly hyper-focus on a single outcome the same way we did when we were young. But this is not how things really work. Instead, once you begin to feel into what a purpose-driven life might look like, a number of options often emerge and many of them will be equally satisfying.

Solution #2 Don’t try and narrow things down too soon. Ask yourself why an idea appeals to you rather than if it’s the right idea or not.

Myth #3 You Must Find Your Life Purpose Before You Start Living It

    Our life purpose is intimately connected to what we love most. This means that when we start doing what we love we take our first steps along the path towards our purpose. This also means that we don’t need to wait to live a purpose-driven life. All we need to do is to determine what we love and do it as often as possible.

Solution #3 Do what you love to do. Discover more things you love to do. And make time to reflect.

Myth #4 Only a Fortunate Few Live Their Life Purpose

    This is a tricky myth. On the one hand, a fortunate few actually do have a career that successfully integrates their life purpose. On the other hand, I’m not sure if these people are particularly fortunate. It can be overwhelming to tie up your livelihood so closely to your passion.
    When we recognize that our life purpose is a combination of what we most care about, what we love to do, and what we value, it becomes clear that we always have the option to live our life purpose. It’s not necessary to fit our purpose into our career. Rather, it’s necessary that we fit our purpose into our lives.

Solution  #4 Figure out what you care most about, what you love most to do, and what you value the most and proceed from there.

Myth #5 You Should Be Able to Figure It Out On Your Own

    It seems like common sense that WE ALONE should be able to figure out our life purpose. Right? It’s ours after all.
    But, sometimes we have a difficult time seeing it BECAUSE it’s so closely connected to who we are. When people come to me looking to find their life purpose, I often give them a series of exercises. I ask them to answer a set of questions and I tell them not to spend much time worrying about the answers. Instead, I prompt them to write out the first thing that comes to their mind and send me what they wrote. When I reflect back my synthesis of my clients answers, a funny thing happens. More often than not clients have an Eureka moment where they finally see what their purpose is all about.

Solution #5 Find the support you need! Sometimes you need outside eyes to see to help you see within yourself.

So, if you’ve been coming up empty as you look for your life purpose, it’s time to de-mystify your thinking and try on these solutions. Most important, though, is to start with what you LOVE.