Have you ever had something big happen, and the impact of this thing reverberates into the days, weeks, and months of your goal journey, sometimes interrupting the process, sometimes inspiring the process? This has happened to me, and the past two weeks have been a process of stopping and starting as I try to work with this thing. I have mentioned this thing before, it is the death of my mum. As I am trying to learn to live with my family's loss, I am also trying to work hard on developing the lifestyle that I want, but balancing the two can result in a bit of a juggle. One day is good and I get a bucketload of work done, other days are not so good and I try to be kind to myself, and rest, relax, do some yoga, do some craft.
We all have "things" happen in life, it doesn't necessarily have to be a death in the family, it could be a divorce, a job loss, an illness, a house move, a business failure, anything that changes your life forever. These things change you irrevocably, but you have to try and accept the change and work with it in your goal journey, making it a part of your goal journey.
The issue I have been working with the past few weeks is how to work my grief into my goal journey in such a way that it will make a positive impact on my life and goal success. You see, my Mum always had this thing she used to say to me, "I just want you to be happy." This has stuck with me for years, Mum knew that you had to really live your life to be happy, and so that has been a life goal of mine and it is a goal that is an intrinsic part of all my other goals. Losing Mum was the toughest thing I have ever experienced, but I don't want to become lost in my grief, I want to embrace it and use it to empower my life and make my life happy, just as Mum wanted. So working this aspect into my goal journey the past few weeks, whilst tough, has revealed to me a few key points:
1. We can only do so much of everything before it becomes too much. Don't try and take on to much of one thing, aim to get some balance in your life and in your goal journey. You might have the desire to work 24/7 but in the end your just going to burn out, and it isn't going to solve the big issues that have cropped up in your life. Rest, relax, play, focus, work, be passionate, slow down, rest, relax, and play. Balance, Balance, Balance!
#Action Point - Grab your calender and a brightly coloured pen or pencil, highlight or shade in any free spots on your calender, they can be spare minutes, hours, or even days. These spare moments are your little "freedom spots," and use them as such, to do something for you, AND don't feel guilty about it.
2. Integrate your life issue into your purpose. Don't see them as being separate, see them as being of mutual help to each other. A big change in life can make you question your purpose and focus in life (it certainly did with me!), instead of fighting it though, soak it in, use it to find out who you are now and where you truly want to go with your goals.
#Action Point - Take a pen and paper and jot down a few links between your life issue and your purpose, for example: My grief links into my desire to motivate others in their life; how you might be asking? My grief has made me realise how short life really is and how we really can't stand back and wait for life to happen to us, we have to make it happen ourselves, this is a lesson I take to my clients to kickstart their motivation. You can use your link to help motivate you and/or your clients/customers.
3. And linking to that above action point - life is too short, and you can't stand back and let life happen to you, you have to take it by the bull horns, get off your arse, and make stuff happen! Tragedy in life can take you one of two ways, it can make you descend into a darkness that you can't get out of, or it can fire you up and make you appreciate life even more, please take the fire up option! I know it can be hard, trust me, I know, I know, I know, but it has to be a very conscious choice, a very purposeful choice to take that path, but I know you can do it.
#Action Point - Taking up that pen and paper again, write down 3 things you really want to do before you die that you could do in the next 6 months, create a mini bucket list if you will ... here's my 3: travel to Cork in Ireland, more than double my monthly income, do a transcendental meditation course. Definitely 3 things I can get done in 6 months. Stick this list somewhere where you can see it everyday, remind yourself about what you really want to do so you will get out there and do it!
If you have any other questions about integrating life into your goal journey please don't hesitate to email me - email@example.com
When I decided that I wanted to swim at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, I was 13 years old and had been raised to believe that I could achieve things, many things ... I don't think my parents were thinking of the Paralympic Games as being one of these things. I set this goal though, my parents came round to the idea, and I started to pursue the goal. Here's the thing ... in regards to the goal - Swimming at the 2000 Paralympic Games - there was an element of reality already there, I loved swimming, was quite good at it, and to be quite frank, I was obsessed with it. I would spend hours watching sports shows where they were talking to my hero's - Kieren Perkins, Suzie O'Neill, and Haley Lewis, read articles and magazines about swimming, and mock race in our backyard pool pretending I was in the Olympics. It wasn't like I had said I wanted to be an astronaut and fly to the moon - I am not very good at science, and I can imagine my disability would probably knock me out of the running immediately. When it comes to setting a goal you have to consider a few things and one of these is the realistic perspective of the goal.
So what things should you consider when you are setting a goal?
1. Where are you in life right now? Are you in a position to pursue that particular goal at the moment?
2. What are you most passionate about at the moment? Does it align with the goal that you want to set?
3. Do you really know the area where your goal is situated? I.e., you want to set up a bakery, but you know zilch about baking ...
4. Are you ready to dream big, but prepared to start small? Sometimes to reach the bigger picture you have to start with the smaller detail, i.e., when I set my goal to swim at the Paralympics I started my journey by firstly focusing on finding myself a great swimming coach and perfecting the basics of the swimming strokes ... without either of these my BIG goal would've sunk before it started.
To follow through with your goal and have the success that you want you have to really align your goals with who you are and your life, if you don't you will be destined to fail, or give up, or not even start the journey.
Got any further questions about setting goals? Please email me on - firstname.lastname@example.org or head on over to my facebook page - Goal Coach Journey - and ask a question on the page.
(image from Purple Sherbet Photography)
As you know a lot of my clients are schools; I go to the school and speak to multiple groups of students with the aim to inspire in them what I found in myself - self belief in my ability to achieve the goals that I set for myself.
This fundamental aspect of success has always felt like a given to me - if you believe in yourself, you believe that you will achieve your goals, and you are prepared to sacrifice and put in the hard work to achieve the goal - quite simple really. I have felt that everyone can and will get this fundamental aspect, that with a little nudge, a little push from someone like myself, then everyone will have the success that they want.
The other day I was up speaking all day at a school in Newcastle, UK, and in the lunch break I was going to be bused to the junior part of the school to talk briefly to some of the sporty juniors (yrs 4,5, and 6). A lovely gentleman came and picked me up in the schools minivan and drove me over to the juniors. On the way there we barely spoke, other than the obligatory 'Hello's' and "how do you do's.' At this point I was trying to preserve my voice and throat for the three more hours of talking I would have to do that afternoon, so any extra speaking I was trying to avoid. I spoke to the juniors for the allotted time, and then the kind gentleman picked me up again to take me back to the main school. This time we spoke ...
He asked me what I was doing at the schools and I explained to him that I had been a Paralympic Swimmer and now I was an inspiration speaker and goal coach and I was there to inspire the students to set goals and achieve them. He thought that was great ... but then he asked me if I truly believed that all people could achieve their dreams. I said yes, of course!! Why shouldn't they! If I can, than surely every other person in this world can achieve their dreams, and live the life that they want. He then politely disagreed with me. I felt taken aback ... why did he not agree with me? How could he not see that with the right attitude and drive, we can all succeed. He explained his position - ' You, Elizabeth, you have a drive that a lot of people don't have, it is something in you, in your mind that has helped you go all the way. I don't have this drive, you see, as a teenager I was really good at football and I probably could have gone on and played professionally, in fact I said to myself that I wanted to ... but in the end I couldn't, I didn't do the work that I needed to do to get there. It's not in me, this drive, I just gave up, and I have regrets now because of it, but at that time I just gave up.'
(I am paraphrasing here)
I felt kind of stunned ... I don't know why, I knew plenty of people who had stopped chasing their dreams because it was a) too hard physically
b) too hard mentally
c) too hard emotionally
But to have a conversation with someone who just put it out there, the regret, the emotion, their truth regarding their story, it stunned me.
Here's the thing, I could see where he was coming from, for someone like me (like us?) it seems easy to adjust our attitudes and get busy with it! Of course we all have our off days, days where we throw our hands in the air and go "WHATEVER UNIVERSE!!!"
BUT give it a day or two and we are right back in the mix of things, busy making our dreams come true ...
For other's, the "WHATEVER UNIVERSE" days become weeks, months, and years. There is no attitude change because the "WHATEVER" attitude becomes the primary one, life just becomes about surviving rather than thriving.
Now I'm not blaming people for not shifting their attitude, but I still believe it is possible to change it. Change is inevitable, so why not take some control over the change and make it a change for the better - in your mind!
BUT how do you make these changes to a more optimistic outlook?
1. Become more self aware - negative attitudes and talk can become a habit and we all have negative attitudes to things, even us eternal optimists! So you have to become more self aware, catch yourself when that negative thought pops into your head, catch yourself and then turn it around, say the positive opposite to yourself, even if you don't believe it. The more you do this the more you will start to notice a shift in your attitude.
2. Remind yourself that it's never to late to achieve your dreams ... with the understanding that your goals and dreams will change as you change. So you didn't follow your dream to become a footballer when you were a teenager, but maybe as a forty year old you want to be able to afford to have a holiday in Spain every year, it's definitely not too late to achieve that goal!
3. Acknowledge that the goal plan might, in reality, differ from what you have in mind. It's okay if your goal journey changes from the original plan, in fact it's more than okay, because that's where you get unexpected surprises, learn your lessons, and discover new opportunities.
4. Celebrate the success of others, and use this to inspire you to achieve your goals! When you see other's who have achieved great things you have a choice, be jealous and upset that they have achieved, or be happy for them and let them teach you something about success. Success often breeds success, so embrace the achievements of those around you.
5. Be grateful for what you have already. Often you have achieved more than you think you have, it's just the way that you are looking at things that means you don't see it. So look at the house you've bought for yourself, the volunteering that you do, the job that you have, and the family that loves you. You have already achieved so much! When you see the world from this perspective it can give you the motivation to go further, to set new goals and achieve them.
It has been a tough few months, bereavement is something that I wasn't really prepared for, but I suppose no-one is really ever prepared for it. Time passes though, and as much as the grief can sometimes overcome you, I am trying to get on with things and work hard to create a happy and fulfilling life.
There is something that I have discovered in recent times, however, that would impact on not just those grieving, but people in general who suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety. It's not rocket science, in fact it's something that is talked about often, in a particular sense, and it is something that we can all do.
(image via Flickr Creative Commons)
Now when I say be active I'm not just talking about being physically active - which is where most people go when they speak about it in articles and blogs etc - I am also talking about being mentally active, being task active, and being socially active. It is a matter of simply taking oneself out of your "monkey mind" (man I love that term, I remember reading it in a book about Buddhism!) and essentially forcing yourself to be in that present moment.
Now, I am going to be brutally honest here, I do struggle with the loss of my mum, and I find that she is always there, in my mind, a memory, a feeling, a word; she is there. I have found that this can lead to a feeling of almost being physically paralysed. I get so caught up in that memory, a wish, a sadness, that I can't seem to move past that point and actually maintain a forward movement. It is like being stuck in the memory, stuck in the past, as Thich Nhat Hanh says -
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
Bringing ourselves back to the present releases our fears and unlocks our potential.
How do I know this?
I have been experimenting on myself! This weekend it became clear as day to me, I was sitting on the couch with the television on, a half finished cup of tea beside me, my cross stitch sitting untouched on my lap, my mind wandering, my eyes glazed over. I felt paralysed, almost like if I actually got up to move I would break apart, feeling like if I got up and actually did something these memories of mum would disintegrate, that I would be dishonouring mum by forgetting about her for a moment.
Like an out of body experience I saw myself as I was in that moment, paralysed by the fear of grief, the fear of getting on with life without mum in it, the guilt that I had my life to get on with and mum didn't.
I also recognised that to unparalyse myself I had to move.
So I moved.
I got up and had a shower, I decluttered some clutter, I met up with friends for dinner, I worked on my newest ebook, I even picked up the cross stitch and did some stitching. I also had a cry, had a stretch, had another cup of tea ... but the point is I kept active, I kept moving, and with the physical movement comes the mental movement.
There are many articles out there that say "physical activity can help with your depression, anxiety, stress, so go for a run, get to the gym, go for a hike!"
Now I totally agree with this, when I went through a highly stressful time a few years ago I embraced a yoga practice and my yoga practice has now been going on for a year and a half and it has seen my through some really tough times, but what I have discovered is that it's not just exercise that helps, it's the just doing that gets you unstuck, unparalysed.
Have you ever felt that feeling of physical paralyses when a fear takes you over? What is in your arsenal of "just doing's" that you can draw on to unstick you?