Get Outside in the Fresh Air!

Get outside White Cat CoachingWas it just me or did your mother often bark “get outside in the fresh air!” Or “go and play outside!” To be honest, I think much of it came from my mother’s desire for us to get out from under her feet while she prepared meals for the family or did the ironing or some other super-mum activity (I still don’t know how she did it all!). But I think she might have been on to something. As kids we spent as much time as physically possible outside playing in the street or local parks, most likely bugging the ducks in the local pond. Every minute inside (unless we were ‘helping’ Mum in the kitchen of course) really was a minute wasted. We loved it. Rain, hail or shine. As adults we spend less time playing outside, and more time indoors. And it’s making us unhappy.

The Brain Science of being outside

When we are outside, we are most likely looking up. After all, there is so much to see – trees, birds, clouds, the swing set in the park. Most of the activity is above eye level. Especially when you are small. When we look up, our brain accesses our visual memories and visually creates new things for us. It’s a lovely creative space. It is impossible to feel down when we are looking up. When we are inside, we are most likely looking down. Down at a laptop or iPad or TV or book etc. There’s not much to look at if you look up in a regular home. So we don’t. When we look down, our brain accesses our kinaesthetic  or feeling zone. It is also the place we look at for facts, data and logic. This can be helpful, but too much exposure to looking down can cause us to dwell on negative feelings and magnify what would otherwise be a fleeting bad thought. Term ‘feeling down’ is more appropriate than you think.

Take Action – Get Outside

There have been a number of studies that prove that time outside relieves the symptoms of depression and anxiety (beyondblue.org.au). Even without these studies, we know that if we just take a few deep breaths and walk around the block our problems get into perspective. Recently, a colleague and I walked around the block four times. By the end of our walk we had solved all the problems in the world! Well, not quite, but we definitely felt better. Fresh air is natural medicine and completely free – although you might want to avoid the smokers’ corner as you escape your building. There might not be time to go to a park or to the river, but there’s always time to step outside, breathe in some air and look up. Look up at the sky, the clouds, the sun, the tops of buildings, the architecture you never noticed before etc.

We spend a lot of our time ‘switching off’ from the world around us with headphones in, buried in our Smart phones. Switch ‘on’ by taking in everything around you by looking up and about. It only takes a few minutes but can turn your day around.

How did you go? Did you love the feeling of being outside? Did you notice something new? Feel free to share in the comments or via your favourite social media button!

Welcome to the world of ‘Not Problem’

White Cat Coaching not problemIt’s a common misconception that coaches ‘solve problems’. It’s even more common to think that coaches focus on problems at all. In fact, the word ‘problem’ rarely comes up in a coaching session. My mentor introduced me to the world of ‘not problem’. You see, that world (the world of ‘not problem’) exists all around us. Then, inside it, almost as a tiny little universe all on its own is ‘problem’. We can get caught up in our ‘problem’ world because we choose to focus on it. Even more so, we choose to focus on something we either have and don’t want, or don’t have and don’t want. All this focus attracts the world of ‘problem’ closer to us, until it’s all we see. And when we’re in it, the world of ‘not problem’ ceases to exist for us.

Moving from ‘problem’ to ‘not problem’

A coach’s role is to move a client’s thinking from ‘problem’ to ‘not problem’. And the first thing we do is not focus on it! This is why, if you have been coached, you are generally asked ‘what brings you here today?’, and soon into the session you will be prompted to describe how you want it to be. While it might sound a bit unrealistic to focus on the positive all the time, what we are working to do with you is change your focus. Because when you do, you start to see the big, wide world of ‘not problem’ that exists all around us. And is always there. It’s like getting into an aircraft and flying high above the earth. All the people look like tiny ants (if you can see it at all), and skyscrapers look like Lego buildings. You start to see first hand the small part you play in the ecosystem that is our planet.

One of the most inspiring experiences I ever had was to kayak in Antarctica. When I found myself to be a tiny toy next to a pillar of ice the size of a city skyscraper, I realised how small I was compared to the natural world. Just one little being on a planet of billions of people. It puts things in perspective. While a coach will generally not take you on plane or to Antarctica, the questions we ask invite you to take a new perspective on what you are choosing to focus on and encourage you to look at the world of ‘not problem’ instead.

Busting assumptions

A great workshop technique I have seen used is called ‘busting assumptions’. It invites the room to look at some of the early assumptions being made about a particular topic. All assumptions are listed, and then participants are asked to look at things from the perspective of ‘what if they weren’t true?’. For example, an assumption may be made about a particular limitation being placed on a project, such as a time or budget. What if it wasn’t true? it encourages the participant to imagine a new possibility. To imagine things that did not seem possible due to assumptions being made. It moves you in to another world.

The more possibility we can see (whether it’s ‘true’ or not), the more able we are to move out of our ‘problem’ into a world of ‘not problem’. Sometimes, just knowing there is a world out there where your problem does not exist is enough to help you move to new opportunities. Think of a ‘problem’ you have right now. Imagine a world where it doesn’t exist. What does it look like? What’s different about it? What do you see, hear and feel? In the process of thinking about this, are you feeling different? What has changed for you?

This can be a little challenging to do at first. Let me know how you go, and also contact me if I can help in any way.

Happy New Year – How to make 2015 Amazing

Happy New Year 2015 White Cat CoachingHappy New Year 2015! And this is a great time reflect on the year that was and what we want to achieve in the new year. It has been said that we overestimate what we can do in a year, and we underestimate what we can do in ten years. So before you look back on the year and think about what you have not done, or reflect upon the things in 2014 that did not go your way, look back over the last ten years. What have you achieved in this time? What happened that made you really happy? Go on, make a list. I bet you will be surprised at how much is there – just how many happy times and how much you actually did in that time.

Reflect on Your Achievements and Happy Times

It can be so easy to think of things that went wrong. Unfortunately, that time you tripped over in front of everyone is burned in your memory, but guess what? I’m willing to bet that no one else remembers it. So make sure you take some time to think of all the amazing things that have taken place in your life. The reason why I like to do ten years, is that it is impossible to not think of something. Even if there are a few years that you would like to forget due to sadness or loss, there will be at least a few things in that period of time that stand out. It’s also fun to remember things that may have been forgotten – for no other reason but they faded with time. Bringing happy memories back to the surface is good for our souls. Think of a time that made you happy and make it big and bright. Give it more colour and talk about it. Give it energy and it will return the energy to you.

What’s next for 2015?

When you have finished reflecting on happy times and wonderful achievements for the last ten years (take your time with this, there’s no rush), imagine it is ten years from now and you are reflecting on the last ten years. So, it’s 2025, and you are remembering 2015. How do you want to be feeling? What are the happy memories you would like to surface and make big and bright? Make it fun, make it light hearted, because really, who knows that the year will bring? Approach this exercise with a sense of play.What funny moments do you want? What would you like to achieve? What would you like to put in place this year that will make the next nine years amazing? What do you need to do this year to give you the feeling you want?

Take Action

I like the concept of feelings over a to-do list that ends up being a list of unfulfilled resolutions. Think about how you want to feel, and feel it now. What do you need to do to sustain that feeling? Once you know, take action now. Even if it’s just a small step. Our unconscious minds love it when we take action – it further imprints the importance of our goals, which in turn makes the unconscious mind work harder for us to ensure we manifest what we want.

I have kept my plans for 2015 simple. Focus on maintaining good health and publish the book that I am writing. Every day, I take an action that is focused on those two main things. As the year goes on, I need to make sure that nothing is being neglected and adjust if needs be.

What are the two things you can focus on this year that will make 2015 amazing?

Friday Optimism

Happy Friday physiologyDon’t you just love it when you see all over social media “Happy Friday!” “Yay, it’s the weekend!” etc? The statements are normally adorned with dogs doing high-fives or a cat wearing a shark outfit. Speaking of which, if you want to brighten your day, you simply must watch this YouTube clip.

On the flip-side, you don’t have to look far to find “Oh, no it’s Monday”, “Where did the weekend go?” etc. It can be a downer, right? One of my friends attributes his success to (in his words) “treating every day as if it were a Friday”.  This is sometimes met with “whaaaat?” or outright curiosity. How does he do it? He’s always (well, mostly) smiling and has a great outlook on life. He doesn’t go so far as to wear jeans to work, but he doesn’t need to. He chooses to approach each day in a way that brings him happiness.

How to treat every day like a Friday

This is available to everyone, not just “naturally optmistic” people. In fact, I would argue that term does not exist. Anyone can be optimistic if they choose. But sometimes we need some help. And help is on the way… What you need to do is this.

Next time it’s Friday, do something that energizes you and makes you feel amazing. It might be simply putting on your jeans and treating yourself to an egg and bacon muffin. It could be going for a walk in the sunshine. It could be posting a photo of a dog high-fiving on social media and sharing your Friday joy with as many people as possible. Or all of the above. As much as possible. This Friday has got to feel GOOD. Now, as you’re doing this, press your middle finger against your thumb. Make sure there is pressure there. Maintain the pressure as you are feeling all these good feelings. Keep feeling all these feelings, taking in everything you see and hear around you. As the good feeling subsides, take the pressure off. Throughout the day, as you feel great, return the pressure, so by the end of the day that feeling of your thumb pressing down onto your middle finger is fully associated with a great day.

To test, simply wait until Monday and  you are feeling a bit blah. Press your thumb and middle finger together and… Voila! Your Friday Feeling will return. Repeat as much as you need.

Get that Friday Feeling Anytime, Anywhere

By associating a physical movement to a great feeling, it means you can feel that feeling ANYTIME you want. Have you just given a great presentation? Do something with your body as you feel great about what you achieved. Next time you have a presentation to do, do that same movement. The feeling will return. We deserve to feel great all the time. And sometimes our thinking gets the better of us and we get in a slump. It can be hard to change our thinking when our mind is racing a million miles an hour, so don’t try. Instead, change something about the way you are sitting or standing, and enjoy the good feelings that come. Tony Robbins swears that a “physiology creates psychology” and Amy Cuddy gave an amazing TED Talk that backs this up with science.

What are you waiting for? Time to feel great now and always.

So, how did you go? Did you create an amazing Friday feeling? Feel free to share using your favourite button!

Don’t Settle for Anything less than Amazing

Don't settle White Cat CoachingOften through my coaching clients, colleagues and friends, I come across people who are unhappy. Unhappy with their jobs, their partners, their environment. Their lives. It appears that at some point in their lives they have ‘settled’ for something that they weren’t actually aiming for but decided at some point: “This will do”. A colleague of mine years ago chose her partner for life based on the fact that “we know each other, I’m getting older, and I’m not sure if I’m going to find anyone else in time to have kids. This will have to do”. We see it all the time with jobs. People doing roles that pay the bills but leave them deeply unsatisfied and downright unhappy. It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to settle. Don’t settle.

Why do we Settle?

Well, it comes down to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We have some basic needs: food, shelter and sex. If any of those needs are not being met, we go into ‘survival’ mode. A number of years ago, my contract finished unexpectedly. One minute, I had an amazing, satisfying role managing a large program of work. The next, I was out of work. Even though I had money saved, my first instinct was: “I have to get another job” and, to be honest, a bit of panic: “What if I can’t find one in time?”… “What if I run out of money?” Even though I was highly capable and good at what I did, the fear crept in. In those panicked moments, I’m sure I would have accepted anything just to guarantee my continued shelter and food supply. Fortunately, I did not make any decisions in those moments of panic, and within weeks I had several options of new roles to choose from. We all do it. I’ve seen highly successful people living their dreams, switch to ‘survival’ mode when something happens that threatens their basic needs. It’s simply fear taking over.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Susan Jeffers, in her book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”, talks about doing things you are afraid to do helps build a muscle, allowing you to take on even more challenging tasks. The thing I love about her advice is she encourages us to literally ‘feel the fear’. Fear is not something to run away from. Jeffers encourages us to examine the fear – why are we feeling it? What could it mean? Negative feelings are not a bad thing. They are simply warning signs that something is up. What is this feeling trying to tell you?

Once you have a better understanding of your fear, the best thing to do is change your physical state. It could be as simple as going outside for a walk, or standing in a power position. I’m a big fan of the ‘Warrior II’ position in yoga or throwing my hands in the air and looking up (seriously, this works – you may get some strange looks in the park but it’s totally worth it). You have already done something. Now do something else. Keep taking steps that move you away from that feeling of fear and away from ‘survival’ into ‘thrival’.

Thrive

Know that you deserve the very best. Know that many people before you have faced tough adversity and come through it all better than ever. They are human beings just like you. Don’t settle for ‘surviving’ through adversity. Settle for nothing less than coming out bigger and better than before. Know that the power is in your hands. In her book “Thrive”, Arianna Huffington tells us “We all have within us the ability to move from struggle to grace”. And we do. Spend as much time in struggle as you need to understand why you are feeling it. Then move into grace. The power is in your hands.

Since I mentioned two books that inspired me, it almost goes without saying that a wonderful way to move out of ‘survival’ and into ‘thrival’ is to read a book or or listen to someone who inspires you. Whatever it takes. Don’t settle for anything less than amazing.

Public Speaking Simplified

public speaking simplifiedLong term followers of this blog (thank you!), will already know I am passionate about helping people communicate. In fact, I wrote a piece about it some time ago – you can find it here. I find there are a lot of people teaching communication and public speaking skills, and all of them have some great messages and knowledge to take away and use. I love it when I come across a training or a workshop and I walk away with a feeling of “aha!”. And that’s what I got today when I participated in a workshop with Matt Church. Actually, it was more of an “AHA!” than an “aha!”, to be honest. He really simplified a few things that I tend to turn around in my head way too much, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Body Language Simplified

Albert Mehrabian taught us that a large percentage of our message when we speak is non-verbal. An important point to note ahead of the “93% of our language is body language” is the statement that comes before this:

“when we are in rapport”

So… when we’re catching up with a close friend and we’re talking about how things are going at work, there’s not as big a need to share all the facts and data about what is going on, who is doing what, what your responsibilities are. Firstly, a friend we are in rapport with will know most of that anyway. Secondly, and most importantly, we would only need to shift our gaze or move or bodies in a certain way, and they would “get” what was going on. Our friend may respond with “oh sweetie, I’m sorry things are so stressful for you”… And the conversation would continue. Possibly with cake. Or wine.

However… when in front of a room of 100 people, the chances are you are not in rapport with everyone. At least not all the time. So what you say becomes extremely important. Of course, using congruent body language with volition is still critical, but your message is more important. Is it just me, or is this a relief?

Your Audience Simplified

Some of you are probably a bit more advanced and may already know that body language is not as important as what everyone says it is. After all, crossing arms might mean you’re just cold, or comfortable. Before you stand up in front of a room with your arms crossed, STOP. What this actually means is don’t try and mind read your audience. We are so conditioned to watch TV at home, we have lost the ability to show our presenter just how engaged we are in their presentation. As speakers, we must not look at our audience and assume they are bored or not interested just because they are crossing their arms. We have no idea what could be going on for them in that moment.

However, all eyes are on you, so unless your body language is congruent to your message, the audience will not trust you.

Your Message Simplified

Another great learning from today was the importance of keep your message simple and focused on solving a specific challenge your audience has. I know I am guilty of including lots of content in my presentations because I might run out of stuff to say (hint: you can’t), and of course, I want to deliver lots of value. The concepts of:

  • One key word
  • 3 points
  • Address a problem or challenge

are definitely nuggets of gold I’m taking away and using. I’m looking forward to putting this into practice!

Another thing that blew me away today was a number of people I knew to be great speakers were there learning and taking notes. Wow. It just goes to show there is always something to learn.

What are your best learnings about public speaking?

Lost your Mojo? A Guide to Getting it Back

Get your mojo backHave you ever experienced a feeling of “meh”? Like you just can’t be bothered? And you wondered how you could have been feeling full of beans only a few days (weeks?) ago. This is sometimes known as “mojo” or zest for life. Some people seem to have it in abundance. Some people have it then lose it. Where did YOUR mojo go? How do you get it back? I have good news for you. It’s easier than you think. Read on…

Why did you lose your mojo?

The first thing to examine is why did you lose it in the first place? What changed for you? Even though you’re not feeling that great right now, it’s worth sitting with this feeling, however unpleasant, and examining the purpose it might be fulfilling for you.

What? What do you mean this glum feeling is fulfilling a purpose? I don’t think so!

In this day and age of positivity (and don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it), we forget that it’s actually okay to sit with negative feelings. Masking them with pretend positive feelings does nothing for you in the long term. It’s okay to sit with a negative feeling for a while and question its purpose. What might it be giving you? What could it teach you? Gently peel back the layers and see what lies beneath. Don’t spend too long here – just enough time to gain an insight into why you are feeling this way.

How would you like it to be?

This next step is tricky… At this point it’s easy to look back on when you did have your mojo and say “I want that back!” You see, the thing is, we can’t go back in time. Over time, we grow and learn and become better people. Asking to experience that exact same feeling in your past now is the same as saying you want to be the same height as you were when you were four.

It just doesn’t work. However…

You can draw upon times in your past to craft a whole new feeling. How you want it to be now. And of course it can be a mixture of what you have felt before. But here’s the thing. It’s NEW. Based on your experiences, how would you like to feel instead? What would it look like? What are you doing? What can you see? What can you hear? At this point it’s also okay to keep it really high level. By resisting going into specifics, your unconscious mind stays open to all possibilities. Because at this point, you don’t want limitations placed upon how awesome things are going to be when you have your mojo back! Sit with this for a while and really relish the feeling of being back “on”, feeling great. Imagine how you are going to feel and feel that feeling NOW. Notice how great it feels.

Now, while your mind is open and you’re feeling great, write it all down. I love my technology, but this bit is best done with pen and paper. Write anything you can see, hear or feel in longhand. No one is going to read this but you so don’t worry about sounding like a dork.

What next?

Once you have written it all down and basked in that amazing feeling (take your time!), it’s time for action planning. I love this bit because you don’t have to know EVERYTHING you have to do, just the first 3-5 steps. If you know more, great, include them. These are not just ideas though. These are tangible steps you are going to take to move you closer to your goal. You know what success looks, sounds and feels like. What are 3-5 things you can commit to right now that will move you closer? When are you going to do them by? It’s great to be ambitious but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. This is supposed to be fun! I know my immediate steps last time I did this exercise were:

  1. Go for a walk in the sunshine for half an hour
  2. Sit under a tree and stare at the sky through the leaves
  3. Do nothing for at least twenty minutes except pat and cuddle my kittens
  4. Write 750 words about whatever I like

I guarantee, once you have completed your first 3-5 steps, you will know what to do next. And next. And next. And before you know it, you will be all like “My mojo is back!” or “I never lost my mojo!” Seriously. It’s true.

How did these steps work for you? Do you have any other insights you would like to share? Feel free to do so using your favourite button below!

Need more help? Please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

Don’t Hold On! When it’s okay to let go

let go  white cat coachingDo you have a childhood memory of riding a bike or a dodgem car, or even a jet boat or the back of a motor-bike, where the main thing that was said to you was “Hold on! Hang on tight!” I love the wise words given to a frightened child on a two wheeled bike for the first time: “Just keep pedaling!” If only everything was that simple. It got me thinking about how much we are told to hold on, hang on and keep going. And how it’s great advice if the other option is flying off backwards from a fast moving vehicle or skidding your knees on the pavement. But is it always good advice? When is it best to NOT hold on? Let’s see…

  • Bad relationships
  • Terrible job
  • Toxic friends
  • Haunting memories
  • etc…

… Now, we don’t really have much of these when we are young and learning to ride a bike or water-ski, so “hold on!” seems to really work for us.

Why do we Hold On?

We hold on to things mainly due to a need for certainty and safety. It feels good to have familiar things around us. Even if those things (or people) are not good for us. We sometimes so badly want to meet our need for certainty that we are willing to be unhappy if it means we feel safe. Of course, if certainty is one of your primary drivers, this will be a bigger problem. But, it’s still a problem for those for whom it is not a primary driver. We all do this in varying degrees.

How many people do you know have stayed in a job where they were miserable? But didn’t want to leave because it was paying the bills? Have  you ever been in a relationship where you “stayed too long”? Maybe not you, but people you know? And don’t forget your amazing ability to recall a situation that made you unhappy like a movie script happening again. I know people who can describe horrible events like they only happened yesterday, and they proudly recount them. As if having that memory is a special skill to be rewarded.

I do not want to forget the first time I kissed my husband. I remember the feeling well. And when I recall it, it makes me feel good. Which is handy if I’m feeling low or need a boost. I also remember the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line of the school cross country and realised I had made the school team. I love recalling the time I was in the supermarket with a friend and she pulled a sponge off the shelf and ALL the sponges came off the shelf and bounced across the supermarket floor. In truth, there were probably ten sponges, but my memory recalls about a hundred. And it makes me laugh out loud.

How to decide to Let Go

Let’s take memories, but this can apply to any “thing” (job, house etc) or person (relationship, friendship etc). The memories I just mentioned above totally serve me. They impact my life in a positive way, so I have chosen to not let them go. I love being able to easily recall them and bring a smile to myself.

If you are not sure whether you should hold on to something/someone, ask yourself:

“Is this serving me?”

Because, if it is, keep a hold of it! If it is not (and you will know this if you are really honest with yourself), let it go. It is like carrying something heavy that doesn’t have a purpose. A suitcase full of lead. A suitcase full of presents to take to a family event is a good thing. And, according to my Personal Trainer, a medicine ball while running up a set of stairs is also a good thing. Hmmm…

Ask yourself. Reflect. Then take action. Your arms, your legs and your heart will thank you for it. Because, not only are you ridding yourself of something no longer useful, you are making room for something new and better.

This goes for unwanted items around the house – unworn clothes, unused kitchen utensils, old magazines. What can you let go of today that might make the biggest difference in your life by making way for something new? Go ahead and share using your favourite button. I’d love to hear from you!

Maslow’s Hierarchy – Upside Down for greater effect

What if it was different?

What if it was different?

In my last post, I talked about the needs of the spirit – Growth and Contribution. My realisation in the process of writing was that the six core needs are the wrong way around. The first two needs should be growth and contribution (needs of the spirit), FOLLOWED by the needs of the ego. This means that if we focused on growth and contribution as a priority, we would not need to make any effort to fulfill the needs of the ego because they would have been already met through achieving growth and contribution. Have I lost anyone yet? So, I decided to apply this same well thought out logic to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – human motivation explained

For those unfamiliar with this, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory of human motivation. The theory states that the fundamental needs of the bottom layers of the pyramid need to be met before an individual will strongly desire the higher level needs. Maslow proposed that we need to have our physiological needs met first, THEN safety, THEN connection, THEN esteem and ONLY THEN self-actualisation. It makes sense on many levels – you are unlikely to seek deep connection and ultimate acceptance and self-actualisation if you do not have anywhere to sleep. Or are you?…

Challenges to the theory

This theory has been challenged by a number of people including Geert Hofstede – who pointed out that the hierarchy fails to take into account the difference between individualist and collectivist societies. I would like to challenge it for another reason: Why should we have to move through a hierarchy to achieve what is already in our hearts? In our souls? We were all born as perfect human beings with everything we needed. Over time, we suffer from learned behaviours passed down. Behaviours that make us doubt our very selves, and as a result seek certainty, connection, variety and significance in potentially unresourceful ways. We become unhappier. Also, while we are at it, nothing in nature is linear, so why would our development as human beings be linear? But let’s leave that for now and have a brief look at what it would be like in a world where we all focused on self-actualisation as a priority. We sought out creativity and spontaneity, focused on solving problems with no prejudice. What would the world be like? What if, when we had all that (or at leas a fair chunk, let’s not get too linear) we then went after self-esteem, achievement, confidence and focused on respecting others and self?

I’m going out on a limb here, but do you think there’s a chance it might lead to greater friendships? And then, do you think as a result of these friendships and family bonds we would feel secure and safe? Then as a result of feeling secure and safe, we would not have to worry about basic physiological functions at all? Because they would already been taken care of?

Just like prioritising growth and contribution, what if we gave ourselves a rest from making sure we had enough food, shelter, sex and safety and turned the whole thing upside down? I’m not saying move out of your home and live in the park, just don’t FOCUS so much on it. As human beings we are naturally averse to risk, but that can make us miss out on achievement and satisfaction.

Are you playing it too safe? Are you focusing too much on the basics and as a result risking your ultimate happiness? Turn that pyramid upside down – even just for a day – and share your experience using your favourite button!

3 Lessons my Diploma of Coaching taught me about life

Lessons to finish Diploma White Cat CoachingToday, I handed in my Diploma of Life Coaching assessments to The Coaching Institute. Two years and seven months after enrolling in their program “to learn a little bit about coaching”. Oh, boy did I learn about coaching, and so much more. In the process of applying my learnings to my own life, my clients’ lives and my business, there was the matter of these pesky assessments that needed to be handed in so I could officially say “I have a Diploma of Life Coaching”. You see, you can only say “I’m studying for my Diploma of Life Coaching” for so long, before people ask how long you have been studying that same thing for. I am not a shining example of a “Completer-Finisher”. I love starting things, but finishing isn’t as exciting. Unless I’m in a fun run. Or eating cake. Okay, there are a few things I’m really quite good at finishing. My Diploma was like a big piece of delicious cake that I didn’t seem to want to end. Here’s how I finished.

Lesson 1: Make a Decision!

I was loving my learning so much – there were webinars and live trainings galore, and all the people I met and opportunities to apply what I learned almost instantaneously. There really was no time to answer the questions on the assessments – way to kill the buzz! Although, I had downloaded all the assessments and made a token start (yay me!). There were even moments when I thought “I have all the learnings, who cares about the piece of paper?” But I was undecided. I dipped in and out of the assessments but had not committed to completing them. I got an extension for a year as there were some final webinars I had not attended, but had not REALLY decided to go for it. I then decided I wouldn’t bother – I had too much to do – then decided that it  might not have been a good idea to not finish. November last year I made my last decision on this. And that was to JUST DO IT! So, I did. And it felt right. I then told people about it, so they would ask me about it, then I would have to do it. Once  I had made the decision for sure, nothing was going to stop me.

Lesson 2: Ask for Help

… Except for some of the really hard questions! There were some (actually, quite a few) assessments that I found myself getting stuck in. The manuals and resources online were exhaustive, but even so, I was aware of the number of vague answers I had been writing, or, even worse, leaving them blank. It was these blanks that had given me the idea last year that maybe I shouldn’t bother. I reached out to my coaching buddies who had completed the assessments or were in the process, and they were more than happy to help me out by pointing me in the right direction or giving me advice directly. I am so grateful for their help. It taught me that we’re not supposed to go at life alone and there are plenty of people (more than you realise) who would love to help!

Lesson 3: Take Action Every Day

This was hard. I had spent the good part of six months taking almost NO action. I spent a weekend cataloging where I was and how far I had to go. As it turned out, I had done more than I realised, but there was still a way to go. This was not something that could be done as an all-nighter. Not just because of the large amount of content but also because, seriously, who has the energy to stay up all night working on an assignment? 19 year-old me, that’s who. Not 40 year-old me, that’s for sure. So, I committed to doing half an hour three times a week, with a concentrated period of time on weekends. Of course, once I got stuck in, it was  hard to keep to my 30 minute limits and ended up spending more time. The assessments were done before I knew it. Wait, I think I might have made it sound a bit easier than it was. There was a Saturday where I didn’t leave my study between 9am and 4pm and only stopped because my stomach was grumbling angrily. My wonderful husband kept me supplied with tea, water and snacks so it wasn’t all bad. The key here was to avoid distractions – it can be easy to be in my study but not actually doing what I planned to do (oooh, someone new has followed me on Twitter! I must check them out now! etc… etc…).

So, while anxious part of me worries I have left an assessment out or I might not pass, the rest of me is quietly doing a happy dance and feeling grateful I put in the work. Oh, and a bonus lesson… not matter how excited you are about picking up your printing from Officeworks, always cross on the green man. Traffic is dangerous!

Is there something that you need to do? And if you just made the decision, asked for help and took action (every day) you would succeed? Go ahead and so it! And share with your favourite button.