Change Your Relationship: Enough of that ‘Same Old’ Dance!

Does is ever seem that you and your spouse can never seem to get on the same page? You are focused on what is really important, and for some strange reason, they just don’t get it! They either don’t agree on what is important, or their approach to resolving the issue is way out of line with how you would handle it. You don’t want to get into that same old dance again: either losing your cool and letting them have it, or getting all huffy and giving them the silent treatment.  Either way, it’s NOT going to get the issue resolved. And more importantly, it’s just going to drive that wedge between you two even deeper. Improving your relationship might not be as hard as you think.  Let’s take a look at one couple’s story.

A Case Study on Relationships: Learning a New Dance

When John and Rhonda started working with OnCOREventures, they were frustrated and fearful that their marriage was over. They just couldn’t seem to see how they would ever be able to come to a peaceful resolution.

They Don’t See It My Way!

John just wanted to take the actions that were necessary to accomplish all the things they planned on. He wanted to finally make those improvements around the house and take that family trip they had been talking about. But Rhonda could never come to a decision. She was always coming up with a better solution for the design of the kitchen, the type of stove they should get, and where the perfect destination for their trip would be.  This made no sense to John.  How were they ever going to get anything done if Rhonda was constantly changing the plans! And of course, as you can imagine, Rhonda couldn’t understand why John was so anxious to just ‘get it done’ when they hadn’t talked about it enough and come to a conclusion together.  As you can imagine, little stresses from their difference of opinions led to bigger and bigger disagreements, until they just weren’t really sure why they seemed to be drifting apart and why they ALWAYS disagreed about simple things.

Coming to an Understanding

When John finally reached out for help, he came to understand that Rhonda’s approach had nothing to do with her trust in him and his abilities. He learned that how she looked at the world and approached decisions was just very different from the way that he did. No surprise to us! We all are unique and have our own perspectives. But when we are talking about that one person who we think we know so well, we assume that they see things the exact same way that we do…or at least they should! 

When you realize that your partner doesn’t see things exactly as you do, that they have their own way of processing the world and their own ‘reflex’ response to stress, you are able to set the foundation for better communication.  By bringing Rhonda into our conversations with John, and helping each of them to really understand themselves and each other, we saw their relationship take on a deeper meaning and a renewed life.

Strengthening Relationships through Self-Knowledge and Understanding

When we work with our clients at OnCOREventures, we get to the heart of what is really meaningful to them, their values, their priorities, and their vision. We explore what drives them, what inspires them, what they can do to create a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Having a clear understanding of your core values, what drives you and how you naturally process the world and interact with others will not only will help you create a strong bond with your partner, but will help you to improve all relationships in your life.  We use a tool called the Core Values assessment that helps individuals get clear about the way that they naturally express and contribute, no matter what situation they are in. People who take the assessment are amazed how accurately it gets to the core of what matters most to them, and when they learn how to apply this wisdom in their lives, they experience a transformation.  As with this case, not one life was transformed, but two!

To learn 7 Amazing Ways you can transform your relationship with the Core Values Assessment, sign up here.

Photo Credit – Shutterstock

Why are your in business, why do your customers care #marketing #business

Why are you in business – why your customers care?

Too many new business owners focus on the what and the how of their business and do not ask themselves why they are in business. According to a 2012 study by Neilson, 92% of people, world-wide, buy based on personal recommendations. It is usually  easier to get personal recommendations from your clients if they know why you are in business.

In my work with people developing their marketing plans for their businesses I begin with the question why are they in business. I believe that this is a key determination of what will separate  them from their competition.

Since I am a business coach and not an author, I freely admit that I started doing this after reading the book “Start with Why“.  I am not an author, and just writing blogs is as much authoring that I want to do.  Perhaps it is because my grandfather told me “that those that can do, those that can’t teach“. I am a better coach than teacher because it is closer to the “doing” that is in my own DNA.  As a result of this belief,  I love using other books as additional references for my clients and I recommend Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Begin with why

If I were to extract out the key takeaway from the book, it is that there are three things that businesses need to understand in order to be successful, the how, the what and the why.  The author refers to these as the “golden circle”.  The author believes that the why is the most important of these.  I do not agree that there are only three considerations, I believe the who of who we are selling to is almost as important as is your why.  But who you are selling to is next weeks blog.  I agree that starting with your why is a key and most important first step in differentiating yourself in your business venture.

What is your why?  What dreams, aspirations and passions are inside of you that are driving you and inspiring you to create you business?

An example works well as to how this can work in a standard “sales commercial” used in most referral marketing venues. A client of mine has given me permission to share this.

“Recently, Sam shared why he got involved in the auto repair and service business. Because of his motivation to help others be safe in their cars and other vehicles, we have formed deep long lasting relationships with our customers.

I want to tell you a short story about what that means to them. Last weekend we went to the ninetieth birthday party for one of our customers. Sam went, his dad who created the business went along with a long term mechanic and myself.  Our customers daughter who created the party told the crowed room that all of us had touched the lives of her father and she hoped the same was true for us.  I can tell you that for me it certainly was.

The why of how our business was created is the desire to help others and keep them safe.  We just happen to be in the auto repair business.

We are looking to grow our business and we need your help.  Who do you know that wants to buy someone who will not just service their cars as a one time transaction, but wants someone who has their back to take care of their kids as they drive off to school for the first time or keep their aging but beloved commuter car in safe and reliable condition?”

If you live in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, you might want to check out Glenshaw Auto if this resonates with you and you need a great mechanic or even just tires or a battery.

What about you?

How likely are you to trust an auto service company in which four people are invited to a birthday party? Do your customers know why you do what you do?  Will they invite you to their ninetieth birthday party because you have touched their lives?  If an auto repair shop does this, what does that mean for financial advisors, insurance agents, bankers, lawyers and health providers. How much easier should it be for you to touch the lives of your customers.

Why are you in business?

Gratitude

Gratitude Overcomes Fear and Anger

You’ve heard the cliché statements “living in the moment” and “living life to the fullest,” but have you ever stopped to consider what they really mean?  It would be nice if we could simply have fun and enjoy pleasures every ‘moment’ of every day, but we have responsibilities. We have to plan for the future, whether it’s to buy a house, raise a family or to be able to retire. Right? “Living in the moment” is just a bunch of mumbo jumbo for people with too much time on their hands.  If you do not fully understand the meaning of ‘living in the moment,’ it’s easy to pass it over as a cliché that just doesn’t apply to your practical life.  So let’s take a closer look.

Living in the moment is not about being carefree and irresponsible.  ‘Living in the moment’ is about having gratitude for what you have, right now at this point in time in your life, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Living in the Moment with Gratitude

Let me share a story about living in the moment and gratitude.  This Zen Parable of the Magnificent Strawberry is from an article by Keith Rosen in allBusiness magazine, which is summarized from D.T. Suzuki (Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki).  In summary, the story goes something like this.

A monk was walking through the mountains and out of nowhere, a tiger appeared and began chasing the monk toward the edge of a cliff.  The monk climbed over the side of the cliff to avoid the tiger chasing him, only to find five additional tigers 15 feet below him.  Hanging there, the monk sees a strawberry to his left, smiles and says “Wow, what a magnificent strawberry!”

That is the end of the story. You would expect the man to be in fear for losing his life and he’s commenting on a strawberry!  What’s the point? The point is simple.  We are all chased by our own ‘tigers,’ be it worry over our jobs, concern for our health, fretting over our finances or fear of the unknown.  Only when we are truly able to experience the good in and around us in our life are we truly living.  Being grateful for what you have, not being stuck in fear of what you don’t have or what may happen in the future.  This is what “living in the moment” is.  This is what truly being alive is.  And this is what brings us richness, richness in life.

Navigating Away from Fear, Anger or Anxiety

So how do you begin to traverse away from fear, anger, anxiety or other feelings of insecurity and to navigate towards such richness in life?  One way is to begin by looking at how you view the details in your daily activities.  Let’s take a look.

A Day Gone Wrong

Have you ever noticed that once something goes ‘wrong’ in your day, more and more things go wrong?  By the time you retire for the evening, your entire day seems like a comical, or sometimes not so comical, series of mishaps.  Do you ever have a day like this? You sleep through your alarm, one snooze too many.  As you’re rushing to the restroom, you trip over a slipper. Then, knowing you have an important meeting first thing, and you get shampoo in your eyes. No problem, you’ll just casually mention your allergies are acting up so she doesn’t think you were crying. What’s that you smell?  Oh darn, toast is burnt. You get the picture.  The morning didn’t start out as planned, and rather than acknowledging one minor mishap, we expect that the rest of the day will follow suit. And so it does.

Navigating the Day in a Healthier Fashion

The above scenario is a simple example of how the law of attraction can impact our everyday activities.  Once we start focusing on the negative or on our fears of the worst case scenario, that’s what we experience.  Our thoughts impact our actions.  Now imagine the day in the above scenario in a different light. Rather than being upset at sleeping in a few minutes, you instead take a moment to pause and to appreciate the fact that you slept a few extra minutes, and now you’re ready to greet the day.  Chances are there would be no tripping on a slipper, no shampoo in your eyes and no burnt toast.  Why?  Because your thoughts set the tone for your actions. By consciously directing your thoughts towards the kind of day you desire and being grateful for your current situation, you are taking a positive step towards displacing fear and/or anger with contentment and gratitude.

“The antidote to fear is gratitude. The antidote to anger is gratitude. You can’t feel fear or anger while feeling gratitude at the same time.”

Tony Robbins on Facebook October 31, 2014

Overcoming Fear

When not giving in to fear and instead practicing gratitude for what we have as opposed to what we fear losing, we find peace and contentment, and sometimes even great success. That gratitude does not necessarily have to be for material things.  Take the case of Sarah Hughes, who at the age of 16 won the 2002 Olympic Gold for figure skating.  Going into her final skate, in all likelihood, she did not have a chance for gold.  She would have to win first for the long skate and the favorite Michelle Kwan would have to place third. So what happened?  Sarah was grateful for the opportunity and gave it her all.  She had no fear of losing, because she did not think she could win. She simply skated to show the love that she had for the sport, and she brought the house down!  Those skaters following her performance, knowing they needed a perfect skate, focused on the chance of errors, and all made mistakes, leading to Sarah Hughes becoming the gold winner of the competition.

The Power of Visualization

From golf professionals to classical musicians to speakers, there’s a lot to be said for visualization. Visualization is the concept of imagining yourself being successful, walking through your performance, step by step, and envisioning the outcome in a positive way.  Professionals and amateurs alike benefit from visualization training, because by learning to practice the power of intention, they are learning to control their thought processes, which in turn impacts their actions and their outcome.  As they replace fearful and anxious thoughts with thoughts of success and competence, they achieve better results. There’s less room for fear.  We aren’t always training to win a big competition or preparing to lead a large presentation; however, the concept of replacing our fearful, angry and/or anxious thoughts and visualizing a different outcome still applies.  By focusing on gratitude and visualizing our happiness and our contentment with where we are and with what we have, we push out these negative thoughts.  There simply isn’t room for them.  The more we practice this gratitude, the more we’ll take notice of what to be grateful for and the more we’ll attract things for which to be grateful.

Gratitude Studies

Gratitude has been studied in relationship to any number of issue plaguing our society.  From self-esteem to sleep to PTSD to happiness (or lack thereof).  And time and time again, the studies indicate the gratitude plays a key role in how we view the world and in how happy and content we are. Here are just a few of the studies performed.

Self-Esteem:  A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem.

Restful Sleep:  Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):  A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If practicing gratitude can have an impact on such severe health concerns as PTSD, isn’t it worth incorporating this practice into your life?

Your Emotional Health and Physical Well Being

We listed a few studies related to gratitude in relationship to specific issues. But that’s not all.  Recent studies also indicate that practicing gratitude consistently offers a host of benefits irrespective to any specific conditions, including the following:

  • stronger immune system
  • lower blood pressure
  • increased quality of sleep
  • decreased physical pain
  • reduced depressive symptoms
  • higher levels of positive emotions
  • more joy, optimism, and happiness
  • acting with more generosity and compassion
  • feeling less lonely and isolated

Gratitude does so much more than to simply help you overcome fear, anger or anxiety.  Gratitude helps you live a healthier and happier life.

Photo – Shutterstock

Thanksgiving gratitude

Gratitude Connects Us with Others

Thanksgiving is the time to incorporate gratitude in your life!

Living a life of gratitude improves our lives and helps to build healthier relationships with ourselves and with others. By offering thanksgiving for all that we have, we set the tone for all that is to come to us. We invite you to join us this Thanksgiving and beyond by giving thanks for where you are at this point in your life.

As we practice gratitude and grow by opening our hearts and minds, we become part of the fabric that connects us to others in a positive way. To better understand that connection, we’re going to do a little exercise to help you recognize where you are currently getting your support from and to consider other support that is available to you, but that you might not yet be taking advantage of. Understanding where your support comes from helps us to be grateful and to express our gratitude to others. It even helps to strengthen relationships.

Here’s a cute story recently shared with me. During this busy time of year, a mother was shopping with her two young boys. Boys will be boys, and before she knew it, they were arguing and pushing each other. Not wanting to condone their behavior, the mother stopped, right there in the middle of the store, and asked each boy to list three things he was grateful about. After they were done, they quit fighting, starting talking and laughing… enjoying each other’s company!! That is the beauty of gratitude. Even as children, these two boys understood and appreciated the support that they receive from each other, from their parents, and from their family and friends. By merely stating what they were grateful for, they were able to immediately connect with each other in a healthier manner.

Understanding our Support (Actual and Potential)

By examining the support from others that we already have and the support that is within reach, we too can create healthier relationships, both with ourselves and with others. So let’s get started. On a large blank sheet of paper, draw a pyramid. Draw two horizontal lines, dividing the pyramid into three layers. Draw a dividing line down through the middle of the pyramid, splitting it in half. On the top left side of the paper, write the word “Current”; on the top of the right side of the paper write the word “Potential.”

Creating Gratitude

Create a pyramid. On the left side, list current ways you support yourself. On the right, list potential ways your can support yourself even further.

Label the top layer “Self,” the middle layer “Family and Friends,” and the bottom layer “Extended Community.”

At the top level on the left side of the paper, write all the current ways that you support yourself. Include things like eating well, exercising, meditating, praying, recognizing God/Source, etc. On the right side of the paper, write all the potential ways that you could support yourself even further. You might write things like be more patient and forgiving, walk in nature, inspirational reading.

In the middle layer write all the current ways that you are supported by your family and friends. Include things like sharing healthy meals, encouraging you to exercise, listening to you when you are frustrated, etc. On the right side of the paper, write all the potential ways that you could be supported by others to an even greater extent. You may want to include things like planning a retreat to a place you’ve wanted to go for years, starting a business, asking for mentoring from someone you hold in high regard.

On the bottom layer write all the current ways that you are supported by your extended community. Include, attending a caring church, living in a neighborhood where people look out for each other, etc. On the right side of the paper, write all the potential ways that you could be supported even more by your extended community. You may want to write things like joining a group of entrepreneurs in a field you are interested in, starting a community project to accomplish something that you really care about, or running for a political office.

Transferring Recognition to Gratitude

Now that you have identified both your current and potential areas of support, think about how your life would be different if you recognized and were grateful for all the support that you currently have. How would your life be different if you utilized even more of the support that is available to you?

Sometimes you need to really look for what to be thankful for. For example, it’s easy to be grateful for big events, that big promotion, the love of your life, etc. What about all the little kernels of kindness? These smallest bits of support are sometimes the basis of support – the sum total of which – can be much more than any one-time individual event. By recognizing, and by being grateful for these small kernels of support, you create a perpetual state of gratitude.

The Benefits of Expressing Gratitude

As you recognize all the ways you are currently supported (the items on the left side of your sheet), take time to feel gratitude for all the ways you are encouraged and strengthened. Isn’t it awesome to have so much support? What have you accomplished in your life as a result of all this support? Be sure to offer a nod of thanks for your accomplishments to-date.

What would your life be like if you added all the extra support you have identified on the right side of your sheet? What bigger visions would you feel empowered to pursue? How might you make a bigger impact on the world? These are just a few questions to consider as you begin to open your heart and your mind to exploring gratitude.

A real life sample of how gratitude can change the course of your life: Darrell Knoch created the Gratitude Coin and offers this coin for school teachers to use to teach expressing gratitude to children. His life exemplifies how the power of intention and law of attraction can interplay to create not only a life filled with gratitude, but a life that touches many. Growing up in the ghettos of Chicago, Darrell was the youngest of seven siblings. His father left the family and his young mother was left to raise the seven siblings. Darrell took five companies to national and international levels and raised billions of dollars in revenue over his thirty-five year career. His goal now is to help youngsters to open their hearts and minds to gratitude by sharing gratitude coins with classmates when they are grateful for an action of a classmate. What was the driving factor of his success? Gratitude.

How can you adopt gratitude for the ability to reach out to people that we can have relationships with and community with? Don’t hold yourself back. Ask for what you want. The power of your intention, your dedication and commitment to your intention, will help you realize your dreams. There is all that support out there, available for the asking. Reach for it! And make your dreams come true.

Image – AdobeStock

Evolution

How are your evolving?

Evolution not revolution

I am a member of a generation that wanted to rebel against the establishment and then we became the establishment.  The Beatles got it and sang about us being a group that did not want to really rebel, when they sang “Revolution” in the watershed year of 1968.  For those of you too young to remember 1968, it started with the Tet offensive, which was followed by Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for president, the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June, the riots in Chicago during the Democratic national convention, in November Richard Nixon was elected President of the US as the “Peace” candidate, and the year ended with three US astronauts orbiting the moon, reading from the Gospel of John on Christmas.

As a generation, we declared that we (males) were like Peter Pan and would never grow up and would never sell out to the establishment.   As the draft ended and we had families, we realized that we had sold out.  Now, as we “retire” from the establishment jobs and roles that we enjoyed, we have an opportunity for reflection.  As they enter this phase of life, I suspect many boomers wake up and realize that whether they planned for it or not, they are for all intents and purposes retired from the establishment.  For me it has been in the fall of my sixty-sixth year.

I was reading a blog last week from Harvard business review.  It was a post from an executive coach talking about his work with executives who are planning for a new retirement.  This is the area of practice that I created my coaching practice around when I was a young whipper snapper of sixty-two.  Then, I looked at it as a business.  Today it is a “retirement” business which is more like a practice.  I have to run it as a business, but it is not conducted by the same rules.  There are different driving forces at play.

Frankly, looking at the lyrics to the aforementioned song – I now find I finally have “the plan” and it is all about evolution.  To evolve you must give some stuff up and you must add other stuff in.  The challenge is to determine what you want to add in and what you want to take out – how are you evolving?

What are you evolving from?

Life Coaching in Pittsburgh helping others find their path to evolutionary masculine behaviorFor me, “The plan” is all about giving back.  Helping people figure out their stuff.  It defies positioning from a marketing perspective.  And it defies being run as a business.  I think some examples of the things that I have decided not to do are in order.

I am not much longer going to continue with casual business networking, despite it providing me most of my clients for the last four years.  I am no longer engaged in it the way that others are.  I have evolved to the point where I can see that I have a core group of referral partners that I know, like, and trust.  They remain a core part of my support mechanism.

I am no longer actively seeking clients who are young people wanting to grow long-term, sustainable businesses.  I love the ones that I am still working with and I might work with a few more, but it is not going to be my core focus.  To be true to myself, I need to focus on the evolving needs of today’s boomers as they hit “retirement”.  The 65 of our youth is now more like 85.  When we were born at the middle of the last century, conventional wisdom was that at about 65 people were close to death.  Today that is much more like 85.

I am not going to see clients in my home office, especially since I am selling it to move to a more maintenance-free home.  I will see them in a shared office facility, in coffee shops, their offices, restaurants, or, during the summer, in parks or along walking trails.  Steve Jobs used to have walking meetings.  I will also use Skype and FaceTime.

I am also changing my focus.  I want to work with men in their fifties and sixties who want to design a life in which they are not controlled by an ever enlarging prostate gland, fearing ED, and living in the past, but are rather active, flexible, centered, content and wise.  And I want to work with women in that age group who want a new relationship with their male friends devoid of the opposites of the first half of life and focused on their commonalities with a less gender-biased reality which defines the second half of life.  A retirement-era life in which our differences are replaced by a new harmony and coherence.  And you know what – both men and women are going to have to change their approach to one another and get over the pain from the first half of life in order to co-create a better way of living in the afternoon of their days.

What are you evolving to?

We have such potential in the afternoon of life.  If we can find purpose and meaning, it is likely many of us can and will live Evolving to our true nature involves embracing the core energies inside each of us.active lives until we are at least 85.  But the things that mattered in earlier days are gone.  Men, particularly, need to find a new way.  A new meaning.  A new authenticity.  We are not as strong, we can no longer make love four times a night, throw a fastball, dunk a basketball, hike into the woods with massive amounts of camera gear on our backs and hundreds of other things.  In saying this in no way am I saying that women do not have a similar challenge, but I see too many men sitting on lawn chairs at North Park in the summer and complaining about having nothing to do as they slip into a meaningless life.  They need to find a new way of “manning up”.

As men, we have things we never imagined we would have earlier times.  We have wisdom, even if looking for “masculine wisdom” produces an error in SEO tools since it is not searched for. We have experience.  We have patience.  We have humility.  We need to create a world in which masculine wisdom is not a contradiction in terms – we need to be evolving to that.

My practice focus is for men and women who are wisdom weavers.  People that want to weave together an integrated wisdom based on masculine and feminine energies.

To do this, my “retirement project” is to launch a new website and web community using  an integrated technology from Rainmaker.  It will include educational materials, podcasts, media, imagery, writings and forums dedicated to helping people weave wisdom together in an integrated, integral fashion.  It will also offer various life coaches an opportunity to participate in at least six areas:

  • Careers
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Community and support

What about you?

Want to help change the world and chart your evolutionary path?  Please plan on sharing your story with us by participating in a new series beginning in January on reclaiming your authentic self in the second half of life.  We will be discussing this series during a live webinar on December 2 at 7 – 8 PM EST.  To register for this free event please click on join us below.shutterstock_114969346

Image Credits – Shutterstock

Moving Van

Downsizing – To Move or not to move?

Moving

One of the realities of the afternoon of life is that we are going to move, even if it is to an urn on our grandchildren’s mantle or a hole in the ground.  It is not a question of if, it is a question of when and a question of how.  Many people, as they reach the age of traditional retirement, fight to hold on to the activity level they had.  They like the comfort and the lifestyle so they plod along shoveling snow and landscaping yards far past the point of enjoyment.  Others begin to fall victim to the clear cut effects of an aging body and they let their homes and themselves go to “seed”.  In both cases, the result is often denial of the fact that it is time to make a decision on where and how to live.  And as a result we do not realize that it is time to move on, emotionally and or physically.

Holding on to the past

What “once were vices are now habits” is the title of a song by the Eagles from back in the morning of the lives of todays boomers – or the 70’s for those of you born more recently.  Consumerism, in the form of adding more plants and shrubs to our suburban plots and maintaining properties that were great when the kids were home but are now empty most of the time, is really pointless.  Well, actually more than pointless – they are a time drain and a waste of effort unless the activities still bring enjoyment.

When Levitt built the fist sub-division on Long Island that bears his name, it is reported that he believed that if returning GI’s had to take care of property on weekends and improve their homes, they would not have time to be socialists or communists.  It seems that the fears of socialist ideas that were in vogue in the depression-era America of the thirties were still fresh in his mind and were a real fear.  It is hard to even consider that fear today as we are solidly consumer orientated.

Fast forward seventy years and today’s children of that “greatest generation” are still plodding along and spending countless hours or dollars taking care of properties that have long outlived their usefulness.  Why?

From society’s view it is because this keeps us busy and ensures we are good American consumers.  Watch the TV commercials during sporting events and see the ads for Christmas.  Nothing says “Merry Christmas, celebrate the birth of the son of God” more than a new Lexus.  Right behind that are commercials for The Home Depot and Lowe’s – fix up your house for the holidays. If that doesn’t get you, drink Miller lite and feast on chips and salsa in front of a brand new 4k TV during the playoffs.

What if we moved away from these houses, cars, and gadgets and freed up time for work to change a society gone crazy with consumerism and over extended time commitments. Could we make a difference by moving from individual homes to a community of intergenerational people that could use our wisdom?  Could we establish community with others like us in a fifty-five and over community and perhaps make a difference by working collectively to share our wisdom with others while having some fun in the process?

Why do we hold on and delay a move to a more freeing lifestyle?  We probably do not know what we would do differently.  So we keep on keeping on. I am living through this right now.  I am holding on to clients I no longer want to coach (not you if you are reading this, one of the other guys). I am holding on to possessions that I no longer need (but as I wrote last week, that is being taken care of). I am holding on to chores that I no longer need and never wanted to do in the first place (I hate landscaping).

What can life be like now?

rebirth, vision, second life, retirement, giving back, life coaching pittsburgh

Perhaps it is because we have not allowed ourselves to determine what life can be like now. For me, I have decided I want to do the following:

  • Create a new web based business to help people deal with stress, disease, and interruptions and move toward mindfulness and well being
  • Move to a community where I can be around people my own age that want to spend time with others on community related projects
  • Spend time visiting family – especially my grandchildren – and act as a positive influence in their lives
  • Spend more time being as opposed to doing – which is in harmony with my own human operating system
  • Take some college courses in areas that I never studied because “there was no money in that” – as my grandparents were known to say

So, it is easy for me to make a move – I know what I want to move to.  As I write this, Walter and his friends are blowing away the leaves form the trees around my home.  I am grateful for Walter, really grateful. I live in a forest. I will be more grateful that next year I will not have to hire Walter to do this. And I now know what I want to be doing instead.

How to get startedMove, Simplify, downsize, discovery, coaching Pittsburgh

So if you are like me and find that discovering your authentic self is long overdue for you, I have a thought for you to consider.  I remember hearing about the gravestone of a man named John – it said – “Here lies
John, born a man, died a grocer”. For all of the people nearing retirement and thinking that there must be a better way of living in the afternoon of life, we have a tele seminar  in two weeks.  Join us to find out what is stopping your move and find out what music is still left inside of you to be played. Perhaps it is time to stop working for the “man” and be the man or woman that you were born to be. Perhaps it is time to move.

 

Image credits – ShutterStock

Gratitude Opens Our Hearts and Our Minds

When we recognize and express gratitude for all that that we have in our lives, we impact our lives in ways that we might not at first recognize. Our experiences are altered by our expectations, which are driven by our thought processes and our level of gratitude.

The Law of Attraction as Related to Gratitude

The law of attraction is based on the idea that we receive the things that we focus on. When we focus on the negative, or on our fears, we act according to those thoughts. When we change our thoughts by focusing on gratitude, we create an environment for reciprocal positivity. The law of attraction allows the same high level of energy associated with gratitude to bring positive opportunities and situations back to you. Here’s a story that you may be familiar with.

An individual is travelling from one village to the next when he comes upon a farmer working in his field. He asks the farmer what the people in the next village are like. The farmer asks “What were the people like in the last village?” The man replies, “They were rude, unfriendly, dishonest people.” The farmer tells the man “You’ll find the people in the next village are the same.”

A second man was travelling between the same two villages and came upon the same farmer. He too stopped to ask what the people in the next village would be like. Again the farmer asked, “What were the people like in the last village?” The second man replied, “They were kind, friendly, generous, great people!” Again the farmer said, “You’ll find the people in the next village are the same.”

The moral of the story is that we’ll experience what we expect. If we live our lives in a way that attracts unfriendliness and negativity, that’s what we’ll find. If however, we live our lives in a way that attracts friendliness and generosity, then that’s what we’ll overwhelmingly find. If we tend to be grateful, we will find much to be grateful for.

So how do you apply this concept to the ‘real’ world? By focusing on what we want out of a situation, rather than reacting to fears of what might happen, we create a positive relationship. Our confidence is boosted, we feel in control, and things come our way with less effort. By staying committed to your goals, you experience the positive benefits of the power of intention and are less likely to be derailed from achieving your goals. In turn, you have more and more to be grateful for.

You create your own universe as you go along.
– Winston Churchill

Gratitude - opening your heart

Opening our Hearts through Gratitude

Oftentimes when people talk about their gratitude, it brings them to tears. Why does this happen? It happens because expressing gratitude opens our hearts. As we shift our focus, our thoughts, from what we want in the future to what we have now, in the present, we experience an internal shift. We move from a place of lack and struggle to one of abundance and peace. We push out the struggles and challenges that we might be experiencing and make room in our hearts to experience the good things that are waiting to come into our life.

Have you ever watched Undercover Boss? The owner or CEO will go undercover under the guise of someone trying to get a second chance at life and will work a day in various functions within their own company. The results are astounding. The owner is often overwhelmed with gratitude for workers who give it their all for the better of the company. As a thank you, the owner or CEO typically thanks the selected workers with gifts and/or opportunities to further better themselves. The circle of gratitude is obvious as both the giver and recipient are in tears… tears of gratitude. But if you think about it, who is the giver and who is the recipient? Both benefit from the other’s gratitude. Both grow from the experience. Both are more compassionate for the other’s position. Both benefit from opening their hearts to the other.

Practice Gratitude

We can practice gratitude anytime, anyplace, as a regular part of our day-to-day lives. But sometimes, setting aside some quiet time helps us to regroup and to refocus on what we have to be grateful for. When expressing gratitude, use the guidelines below to create a practice that works best for you:

For this exercise, you will want to find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted and where you will not have distractions. This might be your bedroom or study if you share a house with others; otherwise, your kitchen table or sofa will do. If you enjoy nature, you may enjoy a quiet place on a trail. You can complete this exercise mentally, but oftentimes you may find it more beneficial if you write in a journal. So let’s get started.

Gratitude - visualize the gifts

Visualize and Describe the Gifts That You Have Received

This is the first step. What is it that you are grateful for? What are the gifts that you currently have and that you have received over the course of your life? Consider not only the things that you have, but also the people, the love and care, the relationships, the experiences, and the opportunities for growth. List the gifts you are grateful for until you’ve exhausted all ideas. Take as much time and space as you need. It often helps to write about your gratitude in a journal, forming the words and sentences that describe what you experience and how you feel.

Pour your Love and Gratitude

Now that you have listed the gifts that you are grateful for, feel the gratitude in your heart. Your heart is the center in your body and is associated with love. By bringing your attention to your heart, feeling the love and gratitude, you’ll feel the warmth expanding within your chest. Now visualize this love and gratitude pouring out of your heart to the people and circumstances that provide the gifts in your life. Visualize a stream of pink liquid flowing from your heart to the heart of the recipients. Note how this makes you feel, to give the gift of gratitude back to those who have given to you.

Receive the Blessings

Gratitude - receive the blessings

Now that you have poured your love and gratitude to those who have given to you, more love and gratitude is returned to you. Feel that stream of pink liquid flowing back into your heart, then permeating throughout your mind, feelings and body. How does it feel to receive the blessings back?

Practicing gratitude opens our hearts and minds. It also helps others to open their hearts and minds. It affords us great things through the law of attraction. You may even want to create a vision board (this can be a physical board or even a Pinterest board) with images of things you are grateful for and for which you hope to achieve. Viewing your board on a regular basis will help you to remember what you have to be grateful for. Can you imagine a world where everyone practices gratitude on a daily basis? The abundance we all would welcome? It’s a tall order, and it starts with you.

Image – ShutterStock

Attitude of Gratitude

What if?

Too often we fret over all kinds of ‘what ifs’ that may in fact never happen. What if I lose my job? What if my business fails? What if my child doesn’t get into the school of his choice? What if I get ill? What if I have to replace my car? What if my parents need to move in with me? What if I am successful? Fretting over unknown ‘what ifs’ in life is both exhausting and nonproductive. Now imagine a different kind of what if. What if we live our lives in a perpetual state of recognition and gratitude rather than in fear of what ifs? What if you whole-heartedly blessed everything that happens to you? Without judging anything as right or wrong, without wishing things had been different, without coming up with a better outcome; if you just stopped and sent a wave of thanks for everything in your life? What would your life be like? Do you already feel a sense of peace and contentment?

Intuitively, we feel the difference in our hearts. The difference between living in fear of what ifs as compared to simply expressing gratitude for what is.   When we are grateful for what is, we feel the radiance of the possibilities that can come our way (much like the above image). We’ll discuss how gratitude helps us overcome fear in an upcoming post; but in the meantime, let’s take a look at how our attitude of gratitude affects our everyday life.

Gratitude through Each Day

What would life look like if we simply expressed gratitude for everything that happens to us? Let’s explore the same scenario through a filter of gratitude versus one of good versus bad judgement.

A Typical Day Experienced through Judgement

lack of gratitude produces despair

Despair

We’re startled awake by a noisy alarm clock, chirping birds or a noisy neighbor. If only we could have gotten more sleep. It’s going to be a tough day and we need all the help we can get. After all, we want this to be a good day. So we better hurry, catch a shower and get on with it. Perhaps the kids need fed or you once again have to wake up in this big old house, alone again. We’ll worry about that later, right now it’s time to hurry and get to work so you can pay the bills. Oh the bills, they’re never-ending. And the boss, he’s always so demanding of your time. Traffic is backed up again! Really, if only other drivers could drive. You have better things to do than sit in traffic.

The Same Day Experienced with Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude

An attitude of gratitude

The day starts with a nod of thanks to the good start of another day as we awaken to the alarm clock or the chirping birds or the noisy neighbor that awakened you in the morning. You give thankful recognition for the comfy bed and the warm shower. Whether you share your home with your family or enjoy the quiet and solitude of the home you occupy alone, you are thankful. Is your next step off to work? You feel a deep appreciation for a place to be of service, to share your gifts, and to earn money to pay your bills. Traffic is backed up as expected, and even this is reason to be grateful. You have time to listen to your favorite music, to read or chat with a friend while on the bus, or to take some quiet time for introspection and relaxation.

You get the idea. The two scenarios are identical. The only difference is whether you choose to live a life of gratitude or a life of judgement. It’s all about recognition and gratitude for everything in your life. It’s easy to get into the habit of judging. Moving on, let’s take a look at the concept of good or bad and how applying gratitude versus judgement transforms our thought processes.

Good or Bad

Although we might be tempted to call things good or bad, or right or wrong, we really have no idea what the true value of each thing or each experience really is. You may be familiar with the parable of the Chinese farmer. Paraphrased, it simply goes like this: The Chinese farmer gets a horse. The horse runs away, but then comes back with another horse. The farmer gives this second horse to his son, but then the son is thrown from the horse and breaks his leg. In the end, because of his broken leg, the son is spared from being drafted by the emperor’s men to fight in a war. In each stage of this story, what apparently is bad news ends up resulting in good news.

Much like the Chinese farmer story, without knowing the final outcome and all the twists and turns, we really don’t know what is good and what is bad. We simply know what happens. We never know what unexpected gifts are around the corner. So when it comes to good news or bad news, the truth is – who knows? By being grateful for what is, you will more fully acknowledge and accept the gifts that come your way.

Transform Your Life with Gratitude

So how do you acknowledge things that happen in your life? Blessing it, being grateful for it, or expressing appreciation for it has the direct effect on us of lifting our spirits, of bringing us to a place of receiving blessings. It’s a way of enhancing our world by transforming ourselves. For as long as we can keep ourselves in a state of gratitude – continuously, for a prolonged period, or even temporarily, we become magnets to more blessings. And while the added blessings may start out small and seemingly insignificant, they will grow in their magnitude and in their meaning.

Going back to the Chinese farmer parable, rather than bemoaning the loss of the horse, what if you were grateful for the years of service the horse provided, or even for the fact that you yourself are still able to work?

Sound too good to be true? Are you willing to give it a try and find out for yourself? In the next section, we provide simple – yet effective – exercises to help you express gratitude and to see how it directly affects your life.

Practicing Gratitude

No need to make this complicated. Simply keep your awareness on expressing your blessings for today. Then do it again tomorrow, and again the next day. Whenever you catch yourself, realizing that you have forgotten, just start over again. First thing upon waking each morning and before you close your eyes at night, send a wave of thanksgiving and set your intention for holding the attitude of gratitude all throughout your days.

If you would like take it a step further, for extra credit per se, we recommend journaling. Below are three easy ways to get started.

Three Ways to Journal Gratitude

Many individuals find it helpful to journal first thing in the morning or the last thing in the day, just before bedtime. Frederick and his wife Melinda started journaling three years ago, at Thanksgiving, when she was healing from breast cancer. They attest that journaling works!

  • Journal each morning or last thing in the day. Write down ten things that you are grateful for every day.
  • At breakfast or dinner, share 3 things with your family or partner for which you are grateful.
  • Share a ‘secret’ journal with your partner. Every few days jot down something about your partner for which you are grateful. Make it a nice little surprise for each other.
Journaling ten items that bring gratitude

Gratitude journaling

Your attitude of gratitude is just the beginning. Hopefully you are feeling excited about the benefits that will come your way! In upcoming posts, we’ll share how gratitude helps us open our hearts and minds, connect with others, and overcome our fears and anger.

With gratitude, watch your world become one of the great blessings. Enjoy!

Images – ShutterStock

 

simplify - decluttering

Simplify

How did we get all this stuff?

As we age, there seems to be less attachment to possessions, or the need for possessions.  In the first half of life, I was consumed by being a consumer.  I had to have the latest “stuff”.  Even when I turned fifty, the entry point the afternoon of life, and we moved into a smaller condo during a relocation, the deal I made with my wife is that I could buy any electronics items that I wanted.  And I did.  We had gadgets everywhere.

When we moved to Pittsburgh ten years ago, we bought a four bedroom home for the two of us mostly to hold all of the stuff that we had bought in. Our sizable condo that we were moving out of was filled with books, electronics, photography gear and the matting tables and printers to support my professional fine art photography experiment.  But then we added even more to fill the deck with outdoor furniture and build out my home office as I launched my coaching practice. I was attracted to the idea of seeing clients in my office on the lower level of the house, which I have done for the last two years.  So we had filled up our space with stuff.

Downsizing and the opportunity to declutter life

We are now downsizing.  And like many things in life it came when we hit a tipping point.  Last week in this series I wrote about the knee injury that brought my awareness to the present moment back into focus and the need for mindfulness.  That silence and reflection finally got me in touch with the absurd lifestyle that we are currently living.

So we have decided to downsize, and in order to do that we are in the process of decluttering the house as many people do prior to listing it.  But we are going further than that.

In my research on how to declutter, I found a common theme of advice.  Look at every item you own and ask yourself” is it some thing that I need?”,  If not,  “is it something that brings me pleasure?”. Be honest.   If the answer is yes to both – then – “where am I going to put it in my home”?

Horcruxes in the Muggle World

In the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling invented the term Horcrux as an object that “he who must be not be named” placed a part of his soul in.  I the series Tom Riddle – aka – Voldermort had placed his soul in six objects and in two other persons and he would live on until all of the  objects were destroyed.

I have a similar take on the same concept.  We place our energy, our soul in objects that we buy and those objects either enhance our lives or detract from it.  If our soul is partially placed in another person as it is in most marriages – it can be a positive placement or it can be a negative one. In the case of objects, we become burdened by all of the objects that we have sacrificed our soul for over the years.  It is easy to look around and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”.  It turns out – I was not thinking.  Just consuming.

If you now look at these objects and ask yourself if it is making your life better, really better. Then keep it.  But if it is making it worse, get rid of it.  What part of your soul have you given up to buy it and will releasing it heal your soul? Can you be grateful for it and then pass it on to someone who might be able to use it?

As I sit in this office, I am looking across the room at two clocks, a fountain that does not work, a Papago Indian basket with coasters in it, a cute sign that says “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” three glass candle pyramids containing oil,  A Samsun flat screen TV (that already is not working well), sound bar, blue ray player, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, three candles and a “peace” plaque – and these are just the items out on the credenza across from my office – the office that will be downsized.

None of them are needed.  One of the clocks was given to me in Utah by an admin that I relied on.  The Peace plaque is a gift from my daughter, the Arc sign was bought  at an arts fair in North Carolina at the outer banks, the TV equipment is an asset owned by my company because I used it for clients and educational material.  In a simple world all of these objects could be given away.  For most people if they move they will keep them and cram them somewhere.

What do you need to do to simplify?

I think that the answer for how to deal with these objects is simple.  The clock form my admin – I can write Regina a note and thank her for her service to me twenty years ago and give the clock away.  The Peace plaque can be moved.  The TV and other electronics gear will probably fit in the office that we will share when we move as it is depreciated now anyway – or move to the office that my business will open next year.  The other stuff is of no real value and is not needed and holds no semimetal value.  We will keep the TV (if it can be fixed) because the TV in my wife’s working office is from the Clinton Administration and weighs three hundred pounds being one of the first HD TVs in 2000 – but it still works..

How do you simplify?

I do not think that we need to declutter as a political statement.  Or forced minimalism. I am a capitalist and I believe that people should be allowed to buy and consume whatever they want and I do not think we are going to save the planet by not being consumers.  We have bigger problems than “American style consumption” with the planet, and frankly I think we might be too far along the path to mass extinction for this planet in this isolated spot in one of many universes.  I am more concerned with our individual and collective spiritual journey’s of our timeless existence.

What are we supposed to be learning right now, right here?  How are we, as “conscious components of the universe” expanding our awareness? The baby boomers era of conspicuous consumption is ending just as the Millennials who supposedly shunned it are beginning to embrace it in their own unique ways.

The survival of the planet is a much bigger question. As boomers in the afternoon and early evening of life, we need to declutter so we can experience life in such a way that we are expanding our consciousness and awareness and not escaping from being in contact with the people around us.  I think that is what Thoreau meant when he penned, “simplify, simplify, simplify”.  Perhaps then we can give some of our wisdom back to the planet an help others grow and solve our many problems.

What do you do first?

So what do you need to do?  The best advice I encountered is to take all of the objects from a room and put them out so they are visible and go through them.  What can we give away? What can we sell? What do we want to keep and where are we going to put it?

Then deal with it – right here, right now. Photograph the objects you are going to sell and list them on Craig’s list, eBay or somewhere else you like.  Put the items for donation together list them out for tax purposes and take them to your favorite charity.  Put the things you are keeping away with a new found respect and gratitude for the items that made the cut. Some items that are moving to another room might need to be moved temporarily to that room until you do this  for every room in the house.

We will start the process this week for the room in our house that is going away – our utility room.  Over the next eight weeks until we list the house in January, we will do the same until we have the first pass of the entire house done.  As we pack for the move into the new home, I am sure that we will encounter additional opportunities.

Of course if you are not moving yet, you can still enter the new year clutter free in your existing home and it will refocus your whole approach to the holidays form what am I going to get to what can I give away and free myself of the responsibility of ownership.

What about you, what do you have to simplify?  I plan on coming back to this theme as we live through this “simplify” process and experience the gratitude and holiday seasons that we are entering.  Hopefully we can simplify that as well.

 

How Motivation Helps Forge the Path to Your Vision

If you wish to achieve your vision, it is important to understand your core values. In fact, in order to successfully define a vision that will result in personal happiness and fulfillment, you need to first identify your core values. Failing to understand your value system will likely lead to focusing on the wrong things. Even if your vision happens to align with your values, you may lack the motivation needed to persevere to achieve this vision. It is therefore important to fully realize and identify with ‘THE WHY’ (the motivation behind your vision), in order to stay focused through the challenges that will inevitably occur.

HOW YOUR VISION IMPACTS YOUR MOTIVATION AND WHY KNOWING YOUR ‘WHY’ IMPACTS YOUR VISION

Motivation is the reason you have for acting in a way that supports your actions towards achieving a goal. Motivation is your desire to execute or complete those actions. Motivation is determined by your WHY. Your WHY is tied to your core values. When you identify with your core values (Piety versus Power, Perfection versus Tranquility, etc.), you begin to understand your purpose. Everyone has a unique purpose, and therefore unique motivations. When you’ve identified your WHY, you’ve identified your purpose. When you identify your purpose, you can more easily identify your vision. And when you have a solid vision to work towards, one that is aligned with your values and priorities, you’ve created a self-sustaining circle where your motivations support your actions, which support your priorities and vision, which support your WHY.

Sometimes obstacles get in your way from making progress towards your vision. These obstacles are often in the form of fear. Fear in the form of avoidance of pain. Fear of losing something, fear of not being good, fear of rejection, or fear of being overly successful. When your motivations are strong and aligned with your values and vision, these obstacles tend to be minor distractions.

When we allow these obstacles to get in the way of our motivation, to hold us back, not only are we not living a fulfilling life, we are living a dull life. A life of fear is not a life that lends itself to joy, happiness and fulfillment.

STAYING COMMITTED AND NAVIGATING THE TOUGH TIMES

Do you let obstacles get in your way and prevent you from making progress towards your vision? Do you give up, do you give in, or do you get down on yourself and/or others? Do you lose your motivation? None of these are a healthy response to an obstacle.

The good news is that when you understand your WHY, your motivation, in relationship to your vision and values, you suddenly have a life map to help you navigate through these obstacles. When you know and feel the reason why you are passionate and inspired, the reason you want to live out your dreams, you then have the foundation to connect at levels that will keep you focused, dedicated and devoted to keep moving through every obstacle that comes your way.

CONNECTING WITH YOUR WHY – YOUR MOTIVATION

Once you are clear with your vision, your priorities and goals, and the possibilities you are creating, it is time to dig a little deeper to really connect with your WHY. If you need any refreshers, click on the relevant link to learn more. Allowing Your Values to Steer Your Success.  The Life of Your Dreams – Imagine the Possibilities.  Mindfulness to Achieve Your Destiny.  If you are ready to connect with your WHY, continue on to the following exercise.

IDENTIFY YOUR MOTIVATION FOR A SUCCESSFUL JOURNEY

  • Identify your vision and your life’s dream.
  • Ask yourself what is important about your vision/dream. What values are you fulfilling?
  • Ask yourself FOUR times: What about my last answer is important to me?
  • By the time you get to the fifth time you think about what is important about your vision/dream, you should feel it deeply. You should be drawn to tears or you should be tingling with excitement. If you are not, you might want to reconsider your core values and vision.
  • To complete this exercise, to really drive your motivation home, write out this deep motivation that you just discovered – this important point that escalated your inner feelings – on a piece of paper along with your vision or dream.
  • Refer to this slip of paper regularly, daily if possible. By keeping your destination in mind, along with your WHY, you will be less likely to allow obstacles to derail you on your journey in life.

And remember, as long as you know your WHY, and continue to relate to it, you are unlikely to get lost on your journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Image – AdobeStock