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!

Spoiled for Choice – Curing Overwhelm

Choice and Overwhelm White Cat CoachingI have a confession to make. I am a member of two gyms. Both have comprehensive group fitness classes and great environments. One even has a 50 metre outdoor pool. On the way home from the office the other day I was trying to decide whether I should go to the 6pm spin class at one gym or the 6.30pm class at the other. Both had pros and cons determined by their different locations, instructors and bikes. It was great to have choice. Do you know what I did?

I did neither.

Yes, that’s right. I became so overwhelmed by choice that I did nothing. Nothing! This happens quite a bit for me. I can’t decide between a swim, a spin class or some simple weights – or perhaps a walk, a run, a cycle outside… So, I end up doing nothing.

Now, don’t leave me hanging here. Have you ever had that experience where there are so many options, it’s actually TOO MUCH? Like when you look at an amazing menu full of lovely food options and you simply can’t decide what to eat? Standing in the foyer of the movie theatre paralysed by the indecision of action vs romantic comedy?

Why we feel Overwhelmed

Dan Gilbert, in his TED Talk in July 2005, claims that our brains were not designed for the world we live in now. We were designed to live in small groups with people very similar to us, live short lives with limited choice.  Our priority was to eat and mate TODAY. The world has changed. But our brains have not. We now live longer in a world full of diversity and choice. This explains why we feel overwhelmed and ultimately make bad decisions. These bad decisions give us even more reason to second guess ourselves when faced with choice, which leads us to more bad decisions. The spiral continues.

The Cure for Overwhelm – Choice

Feeling overwhelmed? I wrote a little piece about this in That Online Stuff sometime ago and recommended connecting with “your Why” when feeling overwhelmed. Too overwhelmed to do this? Do this instead (or as well!):

Banish the word from your dictionary.

Yes. Just don’t acknowledge it and give it power. I choose instead to call it having INFINITE CHOICE. How lucky am I? I live in a world where I could do a spin class, I could go for a swim or I could sit at home doing nothing.

And anything I do is the right thing for me.

Now, doesn’t that feel better? Doesn’t that put the power in your hands? Of course, it doesn’t mean I’ll never make a bad decision again, but it does mean that decision making power is firmly back in my hands. And I’ll never be “overwhelmed” again.

This technique is called a “Re-frame” – a way of redefining a situation by examining the content or the context. You can do this with other things too. What can you re-frame that could make a big difference for you and your results? Feel free to share! I’m off to a spin class (or a run… whatever…) :-)

3 Signs that you lack Empathy

Empathy White Cat CoachingIn a previous job, I found myself confiding in a colleague. It was pretty big for me at the time, and I was not sure what to do. I considered us friends, as we had known each other for a while and she often sought my counsel about random life things. The time was right, and I needed a sounding board. She was listening, and I appreciated her time. Right in the middle of the conversation, she suddenly said “oh, that reminds me, I need to make a dentist appointment for <insert child’s name here>”.

What?

I felt really let down. And really hurt. I wondered if she had been listening to me at all. And, even though we have since stayed in touch on and off, I would probably never confide in her again. I often think about that encounter and reflect on what it taught me. The most important thing it taught me was how important empathy is if you want to connect with others. It makes us human.

Empathy Defined

According to Wikipedia, Empathy is “the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience accurate sympathy or compassion”.

So, do YOU lack empathy? Let’s find out. If these apply, you may want to work on your self-awareness skills…

1. People look at you with puzzlement - now it might take a tiny bit of empathy to be able to see this. But if you are finding that people have slightly squinted their eyes (and it’s not that sunny), and possible slightly shaking their heads and looking a little bit confused, chances are you have said something that has shown a complete lack of understanding of the situation around you. You may have just failed to listen properly and missed a vital point. Do this too much and the next point applies…

2. People don’t confide in you - do you ever get the impression that people are not being completely open with you? Like they’re not saying EVERYTHING? It’s possible that you may have failed to show them any empathy or respect for their situation in the past. So they have made the decision (probably unconsciously) to not bother telling you anything again. Common signs might be colleagues hanging around after a meeting to talk. Chances are they’re not talking about you, but rather things that they are not comfortable sharing with you.

3. Your actions are not getting you the results you desire. Okay, this is a long bow, but let me explain. I have a client who has the most amazing amount of empathy. She truly has the ability to see the world from other’s shoes. She has turned that empathy into getting involved with causes that mean something to her so she can make a difference. She is getting results from her empathy. You can spend a lot of time “feeling sorry” for the starving children in Africa, your next door neighbour whose husband died or your colleague who lost their job, but unless you can turn that feeling into productive action, it is nothing more than sympathy. Worse still, if you take action, and it gets you into trouble or harms another person, this is just sympathy executed badly.

What to do

If you have worked out you lack empathy, congratulations! Awareness is the first step. Start to pay more attention to what people say. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Actively listen when someone is speaking. Don’t interrupt with something else just because it came to mind. Truly seek to connect with others and show you care.

I would argue that empathy is not an optional attribute. In order to function as human beings we simply MUST have it. What can you do to improve your empathy and connection with others? Feel free to share!

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!

Why we do what we do Parts 5 and 6 of 6 – Growth and Contribution

Growth Contribution White Cat CoachingFor long time readers of this blog, I’m sure you are wondering where parts 5 and 6 of the six part series of the Six Core Needs are! Who starts a 6 part series and only goes to 4? Or was it that long ago you had forgotten? Don’t worry, I hadn’t (ahem)… Let’s talk about the last two core needs – Growth and Contribution.

A few months ago, I started talking about the six core needs – or why we do what we do. There is a great Tony Robbins TED Talk on it that you can find here. In summary, we all have six core needs, or “hidden drivers” behind what we do.

The first four are known as the needs of the ego:

The next two are what are known as needs of the spirit – Growth and Contribution. Without these needs, we can’t fulfill our need for happiness. These are slightly different from the first four needs as we ALL have the first four needs at some level. We don’t all have the Growth and Contribution as drivers. Also, the first four needs have resourceful and unresourceful ways of achieving them. With Growth and Contribution, there are NO unresourceful ways of achieving them. I chose to talk about them together as they complement each other so well.

Growth – our need for constant development

Now, not everyone has this need. And this makes me sad as I love, love, love learning. But not everyone does. When we talk about Growth, we talk about it not just intellectually (i.e. learning new cool things) but emotionally and spiritually. The great thing about growth, is that when we grow, we feel good about ourselves, which leads to higher self-confidence, and ultimately more certainty. It puzzles me that some people chase certainty as a first priority, not realising that growing yourself, challenging yourself, learning more, getting in touch with spirit, will lead to certainty. In a much better way! So, next time you are not feeling certain, instead of chasing it through unresourceful methods, learn something new or grow yourself spiritually or emotionally and notice how much more certain you feel about yourself.

Contribution – giving beyond ourselves

Contribution is another shortcut to happiness. Giving to others beyond ourselves, is a surefire way of making your own problems seem negligible! If you have ever traveled to a third world country and had the opportunity to donate your time or money, it feels good. Again, it’s sad to see people seek significance “in all the wrong places” by making others feel bad about themselves. The super-fast way to feel significant (in a completely resourceful way) is through making others feel good and contributing to their lives by putting them first, not you.

When I first learned these needs, I told myself that once I understood my needs for certainty, variety, significance and connection and had the “right balance”, I would be able to focus on growth and contribution. I had it upside down.

The “Correct Order” of things…

Focus on being driven by growth and contribution FIRST AND FOREMOST. And I guarantee that your life will be abundant in as much certainty, variety, significance and connection as you want.

How can you think about something differently by prioritising growth and contribution over certainty or significance? What difference could it make to the quality of your life? Give it a go and share using one of your favourite buttons!

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.

9 Keys to an Achievable Outcome

Achieve White Cat CoachingOne of the key factors in getting what you want is KNOWING what you want. And not just knowing what you want buy WHY. This is why so many new year’s resolutions fail. Because people pick something based on someone else’s goals and dreams, not their own. In order to come up with an outcome that is ideal for you AND achievable, here are the keys to an achievable outcome. These keys come straight from the theory in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and I use them daily with my clients and myself.

Step 1. What specifically do you want? State it in the positive. This is key as your unconscious mind does not recognise negatives. So if your goal is to “not lose my job” – your unconscious mind will focus on “lost my job”. Not a great outcome. In this case, your goal might be better of stated as “maintain my current role as I find it enjoyable and challenging”.

Step 2. Understand your present situation. Where are you now? If your goal is to have $100k in the bank by the end of the year, look at how much money you have now. What is the gap? Picture this gap in your mind’s eye, and (this is important), picture YOURSELF in the picture. It may be you holding your most recent bank statement.

Step 3. Specify the outcome as if it is happening now. Use visual, auditory and kinaesthetic language to fully bring it to life. For example: “I am fitting into my size 10 skinny jeans and I see myself in the mirror looking fabulous. My friends and family are telling me how great I look and I feel the best I have in years”. Picture that future clearly – even down to where you are. What is the weather like outside? What other details can you put into this amazing future of yours?

Step 4. Specify the evidence. How will you know when you have it? If you have fully pictured your outcome as per Step 3, there might not be much to do here, but think of some evidence that means that you have definitely achieved your goal. For example, fitting into your jeans and having your friends say how great you look might just be part of it. The more specific you can be here, the more likely you are to achieve your goal. Do you have a body fat percentage in mind? Do you have a weight on the scales? A waist measurement? A cholesterol reading? List the evidence.

Step 5. Is the outcome congruently desirable? When you achieve this, what will it allow you to do or get for you? So, your goal might be an amazing new role in a company that values its employees and allows you freedom to express your creativity etc… To make your outcome even more appealing, what else will this mean? What other opportunities will it unlock? Future roles? New contacts? New friends? Opportunities to make a difference in the world? Now, not all this needs to be 100% accurate, because you can’t know everything for certain. Have a play with this one. Dream.

Step 6. Is it self-initiated and self-maintained? Is it only for you or are there others involved? If others, what is their role?

Step 7. Is it appropriately contextualized? Are you clear on where, when, how and with whom do you want it? Another opportunity to put more detail into this goal.

Step 8. What resources are needed? Now it’s time to get into the HOW. Have you done this before? Has anyone else you know done this before? What do you need in order to achieve this outcome?

Step 9. Is it ecological? This is really important. Is the outcome you are seeking good for you AND for the greater good? For those around you? This is an opportunity to reflect on those around you. What do they stand to gain when you achieve your outcome? What do they stand to lose? Considering others, is this a good idea? It is always a good idea to test this through Cartesian questions to ensure you have looked at all possibilities.

And there you have it. 9 easy steps to ensure you smash your goals for 2014!

The best thing you can do with new-found knowledge is share! Use your favourite button below and share the love.

Cartesian Questions – the power of possibilities

When setting a goal or making a decision, it can sometimes be overwhelming. What to do? Should I take a new role in a new organisation or should I stay in my current role? Should I accept that promotion? Should I go to South America or Africa? Should I run a marathon this year? The really great thing about living in the world we do today is the possibilities and abundance of choice that we have. The not so great thing is the number of decisions we need to make on a daily basis. President Barack Obama has been open in telling the world he wears only blue or grey suits in order to cut back on his non-vital decision making.

When it comes to vital decision making, we don’t want to get it wrong. We want to ensure we have looked at all possibilities before making a decision. We also don’t want to spend a lot of time because, well, there are OTHER decisions to make!

A tool to explore the possibilities

A great tool I use with my clients and myself is Cartesian Questions. “X” equals the thing you are thinking about doing – accepting the promotion, taking a new role, traveling to South America, running a marathon etc. To get the most out of this, think of a decision you need to make and get a big piece of paper. Divide it into quarters with “will” and “won’t” at the top and “do” and “don’t” down the sides…

cartesian questions White Cat Coaching

1. What WILL happen if I DO “X”. Brainstorm all the things that will happen if you go ahead and do “X”. Not just the immediate things. What ELSE could happen as a result? You might not be 100% sure, but now is the time to get a bit creative. For example, taking a new role in a new organisation may lead to meeting new contacts and opening up opportunities for you to write your book, make a movie etc.

2. What WON’T happen if I DO “X”. So picture yourself doing “X”. What are some of the things that will not happen? Again,you are not 100% sure. Get creative. What do you think won’t happen? For example, if you take that new role, a promotion from your role in your current organisation won’t happen. Your current annual bonus won’t happen. On the flipside, some negative things about your current role and organisation won’t happen either (for example eating stale biscuits in the company kitchen). You get the idea.

This is when it gets a bit tricky…

3. What WILL happen if I DON’T do “X”. So picture yourself remaining in status quo. You’re not going to take that new role or run that marathon. What will happen? If you don’t take the new role you will get your current bonus. You might be feeling a bit jumbled at this point. That’s a good thing. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm from another perspective. There will be negatives and positives here. Some good things will happen if you don’t, some not so good things will happen if you don’t. Just write them all down.

Bear with me…

4. What WON’T happen if I DON’T do “X”. Continue to picture yourself remaining the same and not doing “X”. What are some things that won’t happen? This is when some clever people will say “All the things in the first box!” Yes, that’s right. But what else? By looking at the possibilities from another angle, what else can you think of?

Remember, when your brain is feeling a bit jumbled, that’s when amazing change can happen. You have opened your mind to new possibilities. Embrace the confusion and capture everything that comes to mind. Review your answers and you will find that you can make your decision easily and effortlessly.

What’s a big decision you need to make? Would the Cartesian Questions help? Give it a go and share your success using your favourite button!

You are capable of more than you think

Self efficacy White Cat CoachingThe other day I was in a spin class – the first class of the year after a number of weeks off. And I learned a valuable lesson about capability… I had a deluded view of the class thinking a number of things would be true:

  • I am so fueled by carbohydrates after weeks of Christmas cheer, I would do great
  • The instructor will go easy because it’s just after Christmas, I would do great

Well… none of these held true. Firstly, my “carbohydrate loading” over Christmas was not as effective as I thought it might be. Apparently, champagne and Christmas cake do not count as sustainable fuels for exercise. Secondly, the instructor did not seem to care it was straight after a break, and set us off on a grueling session that left me dizzy at the end. At one point, I thought I might pass out from the exertion. And that was just in the warm up.

Now, I have never been that good at riding “out of the saddle” (standing up). It feels unstable and a part of my brain seems to think I might fly over the (stationary) handlebars. I have never been that fast out of the saddle either. I “sprint” at 50-60 revolutions per minute (RPM). Yes, that is quite slow. So, when the instructor suggested (read: yelled) we do an 80RPM sprint out of the saddle, I knew that was impossible for me. My legs just DON’T GO THAT FAST OUT OF THE SADDLE!! In my hazy state I remembered that my mantra is not to accept the limit. I often remind myself and my clients that they are more capable than they realise. Emma, time to listen to yourself…

How capable have you decided to be?

The stubborn part of my brain – the one that had decided it was done with learning – reminded me I’ve never been able to go that fast. The other part of my brain said “hey, let’s give it a go – the instructor surely has first aid training – how bad could it possibly be?” Fortunately, the guy in front of me seemed to be doing it, so I watched his leg action and copied. It felt weird at first. Really un-natural and clunky. Not to mention tiring. As my legs sped up and the numbers on the display rose above 65RPM I started to wonder if this might be possible after all. At some point, for a brief second, I found a rhythm. I looked at the dial. 79RPM. I was (almost) doing it! A last ditch, clunky effort pushed the dial over 80RPM. Admittedly, it was only for a few seconds before it dropped into the 70′s, but I was elated! I had NEVER done this before! I had never tried. I had already decided how capable I was in this particular situation and had inadvertently placed a limit on myself. A limit that was busted through in 30 seconds.

The instructor, sensing my new found awareness, suggested we do another (yay!), and the next time around I reached 80 quickly and even made it to 85. I have now formed a new belief about my cycling skills.

What does this mean?

Well, if I can break through my (self imposed) limit of xRPM to something I thought impossible, what else is possible? Well known psychologist Albert Bandura speaks much of this concept known as “self efficacy”. The theory being a person’s ability to break through and do something new very much depends upon their perceived capability to do that task. Like a muscle, it can be worked and stretched. So, while increasing the RPM while standing up in a spin class doesn’t exactly qualify me for the Australian cycling team, it increases my self-efficacy in cycling. I am more likely to have increased confidence in my cycling – indoor and out.

More importantly, this transfers across to other areas of life. If you can increase your skills in one thing, you can do it in another. For example, trying a new recipe is a great way of increasing your belief in your overall capability. Running an extra km in your regular morning outing, or sprinting home for the last 100 metres. It also forces you to question any and ALL limits you may have placed upon yourself. And as soon as you ask those questions of yourself, you are opening up new avenues for learning. And it doesn’t have to be major – even a few RPM can make all the difference.

What is something you can challenge yourself with today and realise the limit you may have placed on yourself is not true? Go ahead and do it, and share using your favourite button!

Do not make a New Year’s Resolution until you read this…

2014 White Cat CoachingHappy New Year! I trust you farewelled 2013 and met 2014 in great style. I definitely did. You just can’t beat good wine, cheese and friends! Over the past few days I have been loving reading everyone’s good wishes for the new year ahead, and hearing it is a new moon and a new start – the perfect time to make that new year’s resolution that will set you on the course for success. I love that people are taking an opportunity to reflect on the year that was and think about how they can make 2014 a great year. What a great way to start the year than with the determination to do something amazing? But let’s do it right in a way that serves us completely.

I don’t use the word “resolutions” much though. For those of you who know me, you know I’m a big fan of setting goals. And when I talk about setting goals, I mean goals that have meaning to YOU. It’s so easy to jump onboard someone else’s goal or dream. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Sure! I’d love to run a marathon before I’m 40!
  • Yep, a 600km bike ride is definitely on my To Do list – let’s do it!
  • I’d love to do the macro-biotic diet with you! It will be fun!
  • Body Pump/Jam/Combat at 6am tomorrow? I’m there!
  • Rock climbing? I’ve never tried it, but let’s do it!

Jumping onboard someone else’s goal(s) is not all bad though. You may find that you love marathon running/cycling/the macro-biotic diet/Body Jam/Pump/Combat/rock climbing. In fact, excelling in one of these could very much become your goal.

Time to Reflect

Before you run off to the gym or wholefoods store, take some time to reflect. Now, this is very important. We’re going to reflect on everything that was AWESOME about 2013. Yes, just the good bits! As you know, perception is projection, so let’s focus our thoughts on what we want more of, not what we don’t. Go month by month, and you’ll be surprised by all the cool things that happened. I know I was! Enjoy this moment of reflection. And, while we’re at it, why do we only do it once a year? Wouldn’t it be cool if we did it at the end of each month? Or perhaps quarter? Who’s with me?

Time to Imagine

Next step… Imagine you have been fast-forwarded to the end of the year… And it has been extraordinary. As you look back on the year that was, it was your best year yet. What made it so good? What can you see, hear and feel that makes you think that? How do you know? Focus on the feeling. Where do you feel it? What sort of person have you become? What did you do to become this amazing person?

And as you focus on the things that you did, ask yourself Why? For what purpose did I do them? What was my intended outcome? Now, this is important as it could be tempted to write a shopping list the length of your cat with all these “things”. So, for each item, just ask the purpose it will serve. Keep asking why until you get a really amazing purpose. Congratulations, you now have a list that serves you and YOUR purpose. Not someone else’s.

Check-ins

Remember that things change, people change, YOU change. So, as a result, your goals may change. And that’s okay. Commit to regularly checking in on your goals. Did someone say monthly? Quarterly? It’s up to you. Promise that you will choose to spend some time focusing on the amazing progress you are making. And be okay if things do not work out quite the way you expected. Be kind to yourself. You, and everyone around you, are doing the best you can with the resources you have.

Spend some time on this – this is time for you to luxuriate in all that is possible. Dream. Dream big. Because if you don’t you will just end up in someone else’s dream. I look forward to hearing your achievements in 2014!

What goals did you set? Were they big? What was their purpose? Are you excited? Feel free to share using your favourite button!