Time Management is Energy Management

iStock_000017987518XSmall-300x300 (1)There is an energy account in us all and we feed it and drain it daily. When we think about each day and how we live it, here is a revealing and intentional question to ask: “Where does my energy take me?” This can be a helpful tool in general and especially in times of life transitions, when there are more unknowns than knowns in terms of what will be next in life.

Simply noticing what grabs our attention and seems novel and interesting can offer clues about what’s inside that may need more full expression. We can go about our day not noticing what attracts us so it continues to stay hidden, or we can be more deliberate about our moods and pay closer attention.

Granted there are many shoulds and to-do lists that demand our focus. And life can’t be all about what grabs us in the moment, but often we are on auto pilot not recognizing when it’s time to reflect and make needed changes to fill our energy account up with pleasures and fulfillment.

There are key times in most of our lives when the windows of opportunity open, when we can switch gears and take over the reins to make new and inspired choices, big or small, that can impact the quality of life and create more well-being.

What gets in the way of managing our most vital source, our energy, are our activities and relationships that drain us. What are yours?

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Midlife Crisis or Opportunity?

crisisIn my practice I focus on coaching clients who are in some form of a life transition. I think of transitions as opportunities to reintegrate all that we have already been with all that we have the capacity and desire to become. Often such transitions take place during midlife, when we naturally assess our lives, both personally and professionally, and consider how we want to spend the next half.

The challenge in our culture is many don’t want to think of themselves yet as being in the second half, or midlife.   I know when I turned 50 I heard over and over that it was really just the new 30. Then there’s that pesky word that often follows the word midlife and that’s crisis.

The Chinese symbol for the word “crisis” is a combination of two words: “opportunity” and “danger”.   It’s an intriguing duality and one that can be taken as an exciting challenge or something to be feared and avoided.

Why is this? [Read more…]

Feeling Stuck or Getting Back on that Bike as a Metaphor for Life

determination “Life is like a bicycle:  you don’t fall off unless you stop pedaling.”~Claude Pepper

I was in a funk this morning and rather than look at my “to-do” list one more time and feel overwhelmed and distracted, I decided to take a break and go for a bike ride.

I hadn’t been on this particular hilly, strenuous ride in months, so that alone elevated my mood. Although I must confess as I was leaving I had the desire to be done already with the ride, to just feel good but not have to sweat it out and climb all those hills. I actually coached myself by saying aloud: “You can’t feel good until you do the work. So just start peddling.” It felt like a Nike moment.

And with that pep talk, I was off.

About ¾ into the ride I was feeling the hard work in my calves, yet my brain was in flow, open to problem solving and creative strategies that likely wouldn’t have happened sitting in my office. I felt stronger and engaged and ready to get back to reinvent my day. When I took that final decent into my driveway I was energized and grateful that I had pushed myself to get to the other side.

Getting to the other side of a goal or moving intentionally through a life transition is a lot of work. It takes grit, focus and emotional energy that can be both exhausting and exhilarating. Sometimes, like this morning, I just wanted to feel the exhilaration without the exhaustion. But we all know it doesn’t work that way.

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Well Being 101

boardwalk on beach

“Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  ~Howard Thurman

Flourish is a book by Martin Seligman, known for his extensive research in the field of positive psychology. Within the book I found many takeaways including the acronym PERMA, which is a very helpful tool to build awareness around what encompasses well-being, or flourishing. Basically PERMA stands for Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. It also happens to be shorthand for personal mastery, which is a happy coincidence since the idea around mastering yourself personally is at the heart of my coaching practice.

The word flourish, as defined by the author, explores what makes life worth living and builds on the conditions that make it so. Things like happiness, flow, meaning, love, gratitude, achievement, growth, better relationships—these all become foundational content related to well being.

The ideal way to create these conditions is through deepening your awareness and deploying your highest strengths, values and pleasures to meet the world with the gusto and flow needed to be mindful your PERMA. In other words, it’s not just one thing that creates well-being, it’s a series of ongoing and consistent patterns, a construct, that enables us to grow and learn our way into a life of flourishing. The book builds a framework to create a roadmap of self-discovery. If applied, your knowledge of well-being will give you the tools needed to break your “flourish code” and open the floodgate to more of what makes your life worth living more vitally and with greater purpose and meaning. [Read more…]

The Transitions and Chapters in the Book of Life

 

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~Anais Nin

Rows Of Butterfly Cocoons

Before beginning my certification to become a professional and personal coach, I attended an intensive workshop called “Life Launch” at the Hudson Institute.   Here I learned about the continual cycle of life chapters and life transitions and how there are joys and challenges in each and the more dynamic your life is, the more cycles you will experience as you renew, reinvent or reintegrate.

Often coaches meet clients when they are feeling stuck, either disenchanted by the chapter they are in or feeling betwixt and between, uncertain what is next. These are signs that it is time for a change and even if you feel stuck, it is actually a dynamic stage.   There is a knowing that comes after cycling through a few, once you have felt the looming texture of what used to fit and no longer does; the idea that going through the motions isn’t enough to sustain the evolving you.

It can be both scary and exhilarating to leave behind the life you know for a new way of working or being in the world. As Goethe says, “The gods come to the aid of those who are bold.” I remember hearing this quote early on in my life and felt strengthened by it, using Goethe’s words as a muse to help me navigate a brave new world, feeling guided in ways I couldn’t explain. [Read more…]

Why Gentleness is a Pillar of Self-Mastery

 

“We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey.” ~George Leonard

The Closed Cafe

I was in a yoga class this week and the teacher suggested that to be able to personally master your life it is important to learn how to be more gentle with yourself.  That resonated with me, as a self-described achiever.  I equate drive and grit with productivity and high performance.  But there is a pendulum that swings and being too far in one direction or another can create imbalance.

So how does it look for you, as you consider gentleness and choices you make in your everyday life?   Where do you fall on that pendulum?  Do you know people who seem to have the natural ability to know when to push and when to back off?   Are you one of those people?  If not, how do you learn to discern and find this balance and trust?  This, to me, is at the heart of personal mastery as we learn and unlearn what got us to where we are now, knowing instinctively that some of our ways are no longer useful and need to be shed to make room for new (sometimes more gentle and less aggressive) choices that are a better fit. [Read more…]

Learned Emotional Intelligence

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence”  ~Helen Keller

 

Emotional Intelligence Stages

I heard an interesting opinion yesterday about a best practice related to emotional intelligence or EQ.  According to Dr. Bar-On, the designer of the respected EQi 2.0 assessment, optimism is the strongest predictor for higher EQ.  In a nutshell, EQ is knowing yourself and managing yourself and understanding others and managing others.

So why is optimism the best predictor?  It comes down to attitude and how we face life.  True, some of us are more naturally optimistic, but once we are aware of its importance, our attitudes can change to allow for a more positive outlook on ourselves and with others.

The most intriguing element for me about EQ is that we can influence and improve it, whereas IQ is a fixed quotient.  The bottom line is we are born with our IQ and we can grow into our EQ.  In fact, research tells us that as we age, we tend to naturally improve our EQ. [Read more…]