The Challenge of An Authentic Life

November 10th, 2011 — 2:45pm

It’s trash day!

Time to sort through your head for beliefs that have been hanging around in there since you were itty bitty.

Time to figure out, perhaps through the process of Life Coaching, whether the beliefs rattling around in your head, whether old or newer, are really working well for you, and if they continue to guide you in making good decisions in your life.

Perhaps some s’plaining…and an example of what I’m talking about…

I’ve been a professional in my community for over 20 years, and have done my share of business networking, becoming visible, credible…profitable, blah, blah, blah…and growing  my business!

You know…by standing around in a room full of other professionals…trying not to look like a vulture…or inversely…trying not to look like a scared little bunny rabbit…and not get eaten by one of the vultures that surround you!

Several years ago a self-proclaimed networking “guru” told me in order to be successful in the business/professional world what I needed was a business suit and a good pair of heels!

So I tried that strategy for several years. I tried hard to believe I was someone other than who my gut told me I was, and all I can say is…

Balderdash!

The business strategy not only did not work well for me, but I never felt in any way authentic while I was practicing it, and it resulted in bi-lateral bunion and hammer-toe surgery to repair the damage done to my feet by the heels!

And there’s the key!

Authenticity…not bilateral bunion and hammer-toe surgery…


Authentic: definition at Dictionary.com, a free online dictionary

not false or copied; genuine; real

Bingo!

I am, in fact, a hippie from the sixties and my style is earthy, goddess, old crone…Babba Yaga…if you get my drift!

It is so, so , so important to stay true to who you are in how you live your life, and the decisions you make for yourself! And in order to do that, it’s necessary to take stock of what you think about who you are and what fits for you so you can be authentically who you choose to be!

That requires being aware of the beliefs you habitually hold, weeding through them, and tossing out the ones that don’t serve your needs and don’t apply to you anymore!

What do you believe? Have you checked in with your brain lately to see what’s roaming around upstairs in your thinking, and figured out whether what you think and believe is congruent with who you are?

Time to take out the trash!

 

Coach Char

Comment » | General Coaching

How’s Your Marriage?

August 31st, 2011 — 2:11pm

Are you really aware of what’s going on in the most important relationship you have in your life?

Maybe, just maybe, your marriage/life partnership is in good shape, and provides all the satisfaction, joy, passion, and contentment you could ever hope for.

If that’s the case, and you’re really being honest with yourself at a gut level, then this message is not for you.

If so, then you’re excused to go to your local coffee shop, get a frappuccino, and I’ll see you later when we’re talking about spending unnecessary money on unhealthy, expensive coffee drinks!

But for those of you who suspect that your marriage is not everything it could be, or how you’d like it to be…

Read on…

I have previously written about the importance of making sure you take care of the business of  quality of life “as you go” throughout your life rather than counting on the retirement years to provide the happiness you seek.

Click Here for more on that.

So how would you know if your marriage/partnership is in good shape or not?

This is where paying attention to emotional cues, as well as the type of repetitive thoughts that circulate in your head, will give you valuable information.

If you often feel restless, mildly depressed, tired of trying to make it better, and lonely even when you and your spouse/partner are together, misunderstood, not heard, or it doesn’t feel to you that you are recognized for the remarkable person you know you are, you may have uncovered a potential problem in your relationship.

If your thoughts frequently run along the lines of: “I wish…”, “If only…”, “Who is this person”… (in reference to your spouse/partner), and… God forbid…”I wish I’d made a different decision before getting married 35…45  years ago…” or…”Why have I stayed with this person this long?” you know you’re in trouble.

It could, however, also be as subtle a process as just a low-grade sense of dissatisfaction that you can’t pin down!

Whatever the case, now is the time to take care of the situation, before you retire and spend even more time with this person!

Let me be absolutely clear that when I say “take care of the situation” I am NOT necessarily advocating divorce or separation!

There are other, less drastic measures that can provide solutions which will allow for companionship with the person you have called your “better half” for so many years!

When you begin the process of working on making any type of change in your life, it’s always the best policy to focus on what you actually can change.

What might that be…?

It’s not a trick question, just one that’s not always as easy to answer as you might think!

Simply put, however…now listen carefully…

You can only change stuff about yourself, not stuff that other people are doing, thinking , feeling, etc.

You can change how you yourself feel about a lot of things, but not always what is happening in and around your life.

By that I mean, you can’t always change the events or situations in your life, but you can change your response to those events and situations that arise.

Sound easy and obvious?

Try it and see!

Once you are clear about what you can and can’t change, and have some measure of awareness about what you would like different in your relationship, and in your life, then you can begin the process of change.

I’ll tell you a little secret…

The bad news in all of this is that most of the misery in your life is of your own doing…not the fault of your wife/husband/life partner.

And…that is also the good news!

Because… if you did it to yourself, with your mischievous thinking and behaviors that don’t work well, then you have the power to change it by changing how you think about things, and the types of behaviors you practice in your relationships and in your life!

Simply put…

It works best to allow your partner the autonomy to decide “who” they want to be, “what” they want to do in their lives, and “whether” they are interested in change.

Just because you are ready to change yourself and what you do, does not necessarily mean your partner is interested in changing.

And they have the right not to change if they don’t want to!

It also works best to practice acceptance of what “is” in each moment you are living. That’s not to say you can’t work to change stuff you don’t like, but in the moment you are living, it is what it is. Not accepting that fact will not change what is currently happening…in that moment before you figure out a way to change it…if you can!

There are few things that interfere more with a marriage than trying to change your partner…particularly if they don’t want to change!

Like the joke says…How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change!

There is nothing, I mean nothing, more important than our relationships. And probably few things as potentially challenging!

For more on how to do a quality relationship, give me a call!

I’d love to help!

 

Coach Char

 

Comment » | General Coaching, Transition Coaching/Retirement Coaching

What Are We…Just a Bunch of Animals?

August 10th, 2011 — 1:01pm

I was taught in school that everything comprising our world is divided into three basic categories.

  • Animals
  • Plants
  • Minerals

We bi-pedal types like to think, however, that we are somehow special.

That we belong to a special category.

That we are the chosen ones.

Some of us believe that, as human beings (rather than animals), perhaps the rules of nature and the universe don’t necessarily apply to us!

But they do!

And we are really animals, who behave in some ways like other animals…when push comes to shove!

After all, we aren’t plants…are we?

And we certainly aren’t minerals…although we have some minerals within our make-up.

There are several problems with thinking of ourselves as “not really animals” like other animals.

  • We separate ourselves from nature, and operate sometimes as if we are not an integral part of nature.
  • This feeling of being “separate from” can serve to reduce our sense of compassion and connectedness to other parts of nature and to the feeling of being a part of the natural order of things.
  • If we aren’t a part of it, we may feel we don’t have to follow the rules that govern the rest of nature.
  • We may get to feeling superior to, or better than, other parts of nature. This may result in a lack of respect for the rights of the rest of the world. This may reduce our general respect for the world and all things in it.

So why are we so reticent to being called animals?

Why is it we seem to feel it’s an insult to be called an “animal”?

The way we perceive the concept of being an animal is not the most flattering.

We tend to see animals as wild and untamed, as base and uncivilized, as lacking in intelligence and low in stature in the order of things.

Why is that? How did being an animal sink to such a low place?

However it happened, I am in strong disagreement with that view, and believe we would do well to get back to seeing animals as something we can be proud to be.

It almost seems like we’re referring to humans when we talk about being wild and untamed, base and uncivilized, and lacking intelligence!

A recent online discussion of how wonderful our canine pals are, and what a wonderful role they play in our lives, brought this concept home to me even more powerfully.

We think nothing but good things about the remarkable dogs we call our “best friends”, and, in fact, a few comments even hinted at the superiority of dogs to humans!

And yet…dogs are animals, and we seem to not think less of them as a result of that accident of birth! How can that be…?

Could we think of them in such glowing terms if we, in fact, thought they were inferior to us humans…the chosen ones?

Were dogs (& cats) “chosen”, like us?

If not…why not, if they’re so wonderful, and so capable of unconditional love, and the ability to forgive and move on in their relationships with us…

How do they manage that, when even we “chosen ones” don’t seem to be able to pull that off!

Perhaps it’s us humans who have the problem…?

Perhaps in forgetting how great it is to be animals, and in forgetting to behave like animals, we have forgotten how to behave.

Study your pet’s behavior. Experiment with modeling your behavior after your pet’s responses and their apparent “attitudes” in various situations, and see if your life and your relationships improve.

Get back to me on that, ok?

I’d love to hear the results of what you discover!

I have a a sneaky suspicion you may find that being an “animal” ain’t so bad after all!

We were, perhaps, just drawing on, and strengthening, the wrong animal traits and were therefore just not being very highly evolved in being the best animals we can be!

I’m not sure it makes much sense to get too uppity about the whole thing!

Comment » | General Coaching

Guest Blog: Retirement Planning – Personal Inflation

May 17th, 2011 — 9:23am

In an era of overwhelming statistics, with numbers and data flying off the shelf, we have to address this information where it hits home, in our own personal lives. For individuals who are retired or considering the possibilities of retirement in the not too distant future, two bits of statistical data need to be evaluated as to their effect on our lives over time. These are the rates of inflation and the returns on investments. The statistics do not reveal how these two areas, inflation and returns, impact your life at a personal level.

We all remember the wild days of inflation in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, with annual rates of inflation topping 12% a year. The impact on most of us was powerful for a limited period of time. However, due to the federal government’s monetary controls the official rate of inflation was brought down to an acceptable level by the middle 1980’s and has not been a factor in our national financial policies for some time. The official rates of inflation, as seen in the Department of Labor Statistics data to your right, has actually been extremely low over the last decade, with an average annual rate of inflation of 2.35% over the last ten years.

But, is this the whole story? Not exactly! In reality there are numerous ways of tracking inflation in the United States. Even the Consumer Price Index has multiple calculations, some of which do not include food, fuel and real estate. There is a concept known as ‘Individual Inflation’ which may vary greatly from geographical areas and from household to household. The actual impact of inflation is how it affects you in your daily and annual cost of living. For some, based upon their personal consumption habits, inflation may be very low, while for others it may be just the opposite. A good example would be the self-employed business owner whose spending habits are fairly normal with the exception of his individual medical insurance policy that has increased by almost 20% a year for the last ten years. Another example may be the retired couple who have traveled the U.S. in an RV for the last ten years. Their cost of gasoline and food alone may put them at a very high personal inflation rate.

We recommend that you take the time to evaluate your real cost of goods and services, and your personal spending habits and their changes on an annual basis. The reality for you may be that your personal rate of inflation is much higher than the national averages. If you find that your personal CPI is higher than the averages, you will need to determine how you will be able to maintain your standard of living for the future.

Personal Inflation Calculator –

http://myinflationrate.com/inflation_rate_calculator.php?accesscheck=%2Fselectindex.php

Gary Frey, ChFC, IAR is the owner of ABC Retirement Planning, Inc., which specializes in the ABC Model of Conservative Investing.
www.abcretirementplanninginc.com. You may reach him at gfrey@abcplanninginc.com, or 800-707-0313.

Comment » | General Coaching

Is Retirement Healthy?

April 23rd, 2011 — 1:57pm

Guest Blog by Greg Butler, Retirement Coach

“Work cures all ills” – my father used to say.

It depends on the work I guess, yet there is evidence that work is good for retirees.  For example, experts from King’s College London found that people who retired later were able to avoid Alzheimer’s disease longer than people who retired earlier.

I met Anne Marie whilst on holidays in Gran Canaria, one of ‘The Fortunate Islands.’ She asked how I was enjoying retirement.  I explained to her that I was a ‘Portfolio Worker.’ I earn some money as a Retirement Coach and Writer, I enjoy a variety of hobbies, I engage in research and study, and I do some volunteer work. ‘Wow Greg! She exclaimed, ‘I wish my Dad had met you years ago.’  She then told me her dad’s story.

He was a ‘genius’ at mathematics and physics, top of the class in school and university.  He spent most of his working career using these skills in a Multi-National Company in the information technology and communications industry.

He was happy and effective at work because he had a career that fed his self-esteem by the very doing of it, because he got to use the skills he most loved to use, in the field he loved to work in.

He didn’t do any planning for his retirement.  He didn’t attend a pre-retirement course, though one was offered by the company.  At 65, retirement arrived as a ‘sudden guillotine on working life.’

He had achieved his original career goals by 65, yet hadn’t asked himself the question ‘what next?’ With life expectancy of another 25 years or more, he needed new goals and a new life balance.

With hindsight he wished he had explored the possibility of a gradual and flexible retirement, and looked at options for a retirement job.

Within twelve months he had developed a chronic illness, which his doctor said was life threatening.  Taking a holistic view the doctor suggested that the sudden emergence of this illness was related to his new lifestyle.  Although financially secure, time weighed heavily upon his hands, and he missed the status, job satisfaction and companionship he enjoyed at work, a common feature of executive retirement.

And yet he had no desire to return to his pre-retirement position. With the support of a retirement coach he explored some options.  He started giving grinds in mathematics and physics to college students and this lead to a part time teaching position at the college.

His daughter told me that within months of returning to work his health problems had cleared up, and at age 72  he was enjoying excellent work/life balance for the first time in his life.

“I wish I had test driven this retirement job option, long before I retired,” he told her.  “It would have saved me a lot of pain.”

He learnt the hard lesson that the failure to invest in retirement planning meant that he ended up investing a lot of time and money in his illness.

Plan for your health before you retire, or pay for your illness later, is the moral of this story.

————————————————————————————————————

About Retirement Stories
Greg retired, in January 2007, from his position as Finance and Marketing Director of one of Ireland’s leading grocery brands. He now pursues his interest in writing and retirement coaching, through the medium of inspirational stories, which you can read at www.retirement-stories.com. He tells real stories about real people, to enable retirees to understand their retirement needs, identify and achieve worthy goals, and lead a more balanced and fulfilled life.

Comment » | General Coaching, Transition Coaching/Retirement Coaching

The Four Legged Stool of a Good Retirement

April 8th, 2011 — 12:36pm

When you think about retirement, what is the first thing you think about?

If you are like most of us, the idea of financial savings and retirement income pops into your mind first and foremost.

And there is no question that having money to do what you want to do during the retirement years is important. It is, in fact, one leg of the four legged stool of retirement preparation and readiness.

For information on ways to maximize your financial growth and security for retirement, I urge you to get yourself a good quality relationship with a good quality financial planner!

Now, let’s suppose you have found that quality relationship, and have done the important work of making good financial decisions regarding retirement savings. What are the other legs of this stool, since we know a stool will not accommodate the weight and girth of your arse with just one leg!

The remaining three legs of the retirement readiness stool I refer to as: Get Happy, Get Healthy, Get Connected.

This blog post will address the first of these three components to a good retirement. Future posts will talk about the remaining two legs of the proverbial stool of retirement.

I hope I haven’t lost you…hang in there!

So…a huge part of a good retirement is the art of getting happy! Art, you say…? What the heck does that mean?

We usually think of happiness as a bi-product of things going the way we want them to go in our lives, acquiring enough possessions to finally satisfy our all-abiding need for stuff, and everybody liking and admiring us!

Think again!

Comment » | General Coaching

Investing IN Retirement, Not Just FOR Retirement

April 7th, 2011 — 3:55pm

Saving money for retirement, and investing it wisely, is an important thing to do, of course.

We all know that!

And yet, if you have no idea what you want your retirement to look like, what you want to be doing during your retirement years, and with whom you want to share all these experiences, the money you set aside will be meaningless and will bring very little joy or satisfaction!

It’s important to invest a sizable amount of time, energy, and focus on what will bring meaning and purpose to your life now, and when these ideas are more firmly planted in your mind, it’s important to begin implementing the types of skills, passions, and behaviors which will continue to create a good life for you after you retire.

After you are retired and no longer in the workforce where many of your needs are met, it may be a bit too late to begin the work of developing the resources and interests you want to have in your life during your retirement years.

Relationships are the cornerstone of a good life, and if your relationships are not as close as you would like them to be, or if you realize you lack meaningful connections with your family and the community, begin developing closer relationships now, in order to have them as a resource, for companionship, and as a comfort later in your life.

If all your focus is on working hard and saving money, there may be many things you miss out on along the way.

The people you care about may redirect their energy to other endeavors if you are always busy with your career.

Your children may grow up not knowing who you are, or feeling much connection with you if you are rarely there for them in ways that mean something to them. You’ve no doubt heard of the song “Cat’s Cradle” which speaks poignantly about the loss of relationship between father and son when Dad is always too busy.

Don’t let this happen to you.

It’s vital to invest in what is most important to you, at the points in your life when these investments can mature with the highest possible future yields.

You probably understand these concepts in terms of finances.

Apply them to what is equally, if not more, important, and you will reap the rich rewards of their fruition!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6152458

Comment » | General Coaching, Transition Coaching/Retirement Coaching

A Balancing Act: Spending And Saving

April 5th, 2011 — 5:58pm

I become concerned when I hear the nay-say folks and the worriers of the world warning all of us not to “waste” money on frivolous things like latte coffee drinks.

We must, must, must remember that man (and woman) does not live by bread alone. Spending our money only on the essentials makes for an unremarkable and a very dull life!

I’m not suggesting we be foolish and careless with our money. Well, not all the time anyway!

If you don’t have money for the rent or mortgage, certainly refrain from spending what you don’t have on what you don’t “need”.

If, however, you don’t have enough for the rent or mortgage, you might do an assessment as to whether your rent or mortgage is more than your budget allows, and see whether it’s possible to reduce these expenses so you have more discretionary cash to keep your “absolute needs” and your “gee, I’d like to have that”s more balanced.

I understand I’m mainly speaking to those folks who are not so financially strapped that they have to make really difficult decisions about which expenses they will pay and which expenses they will need to juggle, or not pay.

That is a different discussion.

But when you take a gratitude inventory at the beginning of your day, are grateful that you have enough money to not have to worry about basic needs?

If so, I am talking to you.

We sometimes get confused when we’re dealing with money, and begin to believe that the paper and the coinage somehow has value in and of itself.

Don’t forget, there was a time when we traded in beads and shells. At least we could make jewelry out of those things, whereas our modern currency would look quite strange strung together and hung around our necks!

In fact, its only value to us is what it can get us in trade!

That means the first thing we need to decide is what we want to have in our lives, and that will inform the amount of money we need to get those things.

Currently we tend to come at it from the opposite perspective of thinking how much money we want, and then buying stuff from the cache of funds we scramble and sacrifice in order to acquire.

Maybe it’s time for a good hard re-assessment of what life is all about, what we want our lives to look and feel like, and what will get us that!

And if that includes a latte or two, then so be it!

Coach Char

Guiding You To Grow Your Legacy…One Blog At A Time!

2 comments » | General Coaching

Older Women Rock!

March 30th, 2011 — 3:02pm

I recently applied to be a vendor at a fashion show event, and was denied, because they evidently felt what I do does not have much to do with fashion and/or beauty.

I do transition coaching.

As women transition in their lives, their bodies are changing, the developmental stages they go through are creating shifts both in how they look , and in their perception of how they look, in relation to other women who may be at an earlier developmental & life stage .

Their values are most likely shifting as well, and how they see themselves, and think about themselves, in relation to the world in general, is also changing.

Let’s not forget the adage that beauty comes from the inside out.

How a woman feels about herself strongly influences non-verbal body language, the aura they put off, their demeanor and posture, whether they exude an air of confident and a positive sense of self.

All these things influence the way we are seen and responded to.

I have observed, and worked with, many women as they age, and even the way they dress and the amount and type of make-up they choose, reflect changing ideas about who they think they are, and who they believe they can be in relation to younger women.

You and I both know that it’s important to be realistic about how old we are, and how we respond to the world out of that knowledge.

Women who dress like they’re 20 years old, but who are actually 50 years old, are unconsciously making a statement to the world that they may not be in a place of acceptance with who they are; that they are feeling some negative judgment about their age.

And, unfortunately, these women don’t always realize that they don’t look 20 years old just because they dress like a 20 year old. They look instead like a 50 year old trying to look like a 20 year old!

None of us want to reflect that message to the world!

It is simply not possible to slap a bunch of make-up on our faces, wear expensive, stylish clothes, and think this will camouflage a negative self image.

If we start with making ourselves beautiful on the inside, it becomes much easier to look and feel beautiful on the outside!

Comment » | General Coaching, Transition Coaching/Retirement Coaching

A Life & Death Situation

March 22nd, 2011 — 5:18pm

We think of life as being really important; as being the most important thing there is, in fact.

That’s when we are thinking about our own life, and the lives of the people and things we care about.

We human beings tend to be fairly ego-centric, meaning that we believe everything does, and should, revolve around our needs and desires.

And if you are 4 years old, that makes sense. Not so much so when you’re an adult, and still thinking in those terms.

The world does not, in fact, revolve around what human beings need and want. Nature is fairly impervious  to our needs.

Nature is structured around balance, not what humans want…as evidenced by the thunderstorm that arrives on the day of the picnic, or the earthquake & tidal wave that decimates an entire city and its population.

Nature is not “fair” or “loving” in the way we define those terms.

Nature just “is” what it is.

Nature is predicated on the bigger picture. A picture much larger and more profound than merely the concern for what individual human beings need.

So…life is important, but not more important than death.

We need both life & death in the world to maintain balance.

Imagine if plants and animals never died. We would be overrun by creatures and vegetation!

Everything operates within a life/death cycle. Summer turns to Autumn, which turns to Winter, which turns to Spring…

Plants die, and new ones are born. Animals die, and baby animals are born.

It is the way things are. It is the way things will always be. It is the way it needs to be to sustain the world and keep the world balanced.

This process must be impartial. If nature were to start showing favoritism, we would truly be in trouble!

So it is, I suppose, a good thing human beings are not ultimately in charge of these decisions. We tend to run amok, to choose egocentrically what we want to see happen, and to disregard the bigger picture!

Don’t we, in fact, see this happening on a regular basis with those things about which we are allowed to make decisions?

Think about it.

We often prolong life after the brain is dead, because we don’t want to suffer the loss of a loved one, or we don’t want to be accused of being the “cause” of their death.

We kill off bugs, insects, and other pesky things that play a vital role in nature, merely because we don’t like them bothering us.

We label dandelions as weeds, and kill them by the thousands, merely because our definition of beauty and a “healthy lawn” excludes these particular flowering plants.

In killing plants we don’t want, we often poison the ground and water supplies, thus killing off other precious parts of nature which are important to earth’s survival.

Sometimes we even kill people who kill people, and are self-righteously sanctioned to do so by our legal system, even though we are furious if someone dies prematurely due to illness, accident, or in some other way that we did not orchestrate or sanction.

Our researchers are frantically attempting to find ways to extend human life. Aren’t we already overrun by those blasted baby boomers, who absolutely refuse to die?

What are we thinking!

Life & Death. If they are in a balanced state, both are important parts of our very existence.

We can’t have life without death. We can’t have death with life.

Only a fear of the unknown, of not knowing much about death, keeps us from acknowledging and embracing this self-evident aspect of existence.

As eloquently stated by that very popular baby boomer musical group: “To every thing, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven!”

So… let’s try not to get too uppity and full of ourselves! How about if we try to live within nature, rather than trying to make up our own rules.

It’ll work much better for us in the grand scheme of things, and we will no doubt be much more content and happy if we stop trying to do what is not possible to do anyway!

Coach Char

Guiding You to Grow Your Legacy

http://www.nextinlifecoaching.com

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