Habits as Choices: What choices do you want to make in 2022?

Over the last few years, there has been an increased focus on changing our habits instead of focusing on new years resolutions, which we all know have limited validity in their ability to change behaviour. Habits on the other hand have the unique ability to be stackable, bite-sized, and collect interest. This goes for our good habits and our less desirable habits. The great thing about habits is that they are essentially a whole bunch of choices and we all make choices every day.

I’m going to walk you through 5 simple steps to get clear on the habits that are supporting you and which are not, so you can determine what choices you need to make toward the best habits for you. All this being said I want to remind you that a habit that works for one person might not work for someone else. That doesn’t make your habit “bad” or the other person’s habit “better.” Just different.

Ok let’s dive in:

Take out a piece of paper or start a new document or note on your phone or computer.

  1. Who do you want to be: Before we dive into specific habits. Write down a few sentences describing the type of person you want to be. If you haven’t read Atomic Habits by James Clear add it to your reading list for early 2022. He talks about habits as a vote for or against the person you want to be: identity based habits. So if you want to be fit every time you work out or are active you are placing a vote for that person you want to be. If you want to be a writer every time you take time to write you are voting for the person you want to be. Once you’ve done this you will have a clear picture of the type of person you want to be ideally and what habits that ideal might have.
  2. What are you already doing?: Take an inventory of your current habits. Write down the things you are doing that are working well and the things you are doing that aren’t toward the person you want to be. For example you want to exercise more often but the only time you might be able to squeeze it into your schedule is 6:00am. But you scroll your phone until 1:00am. The scrolling might be holding you back from being able to cast that vote for being a person who exercises regularly.
  3. Find habits that can help each other out: Which ones could help each other? Or which one’s are creating negative interest? When you look at your current habits which ones compliment each other and create support. So if you are someone who wants to be a writer and you journal already these two habits might work really well together because you are already in a habit of writing. The example of scrolling your phone until late might be creating negative interest for both getting up early but also for healthy sleep habits in general.
  4. Pick one maybe two: Once you have determined which habits you want to create (focus on the ones you want to create first), pick one maybe two, not 5 or 10 it’s too much. It will feel overwhelming. Once you have selected your habit break it down into a super small chunk. As James Clear says find a way to master the art of showing up. If you make it too challenging, for example I will run 10km every day. You will inevitably have a time when that won’t be able to happen. But maybe the habit is I will move my body intentionally for a minimum of 10 mins everyday or 5 mins everyday. Remember small bite size actions accumulate over time.
  5. Reframe these habits into choices: Ask yourself the question, what am I choosing today? What choices do I have? Remind yourself that habits are choices that you make over and over and over again. That’s how they become habits.

Now some key things to remember. If you only do a habit for a set amount of time (i.e. 21 days), it’s a goal not a habit. Goals are great but habits may be the key to long term success. Also just a friendly reminder that coaches are great at helping people stay accountable or helping people find ways to hold themselves accountable for their habit changes. Reach out to a coach to learn more on shifting habits.

3 Easy Communication Shifts

Communicating with others is increasingly challenging. We are in more and more of a digital world. I remember a few years ago a friend telling me that certain professions that previously required a typing test found that they no longer needed to know whether people could type a certain number of words per minute. Everyone was a good or decent typist, but they did need to know whether applicants could effectively speak to another human being. A lot of learning and development training has shifted to teaching people how to communicate in person. We call it different things. We slap fancy names on it so that it doesn’t seem that way, but it is because it is slowly becoming a lost art.

For today’s blog, we focus on three main components of communication: our listening skills, our non-verbals (specifically facial expressions and tone), and the words we say out loud. I’m suggesting three simple shifts you can do that will start to change the way you communicate with others and how others communicate with you. The key is to practice these. Even after working on them for a long time, we can slip back into old familiar habits.

Language Shift:

Get rid of “At Least”: If you take one thing away from this blog, take this. STOP saying “at least.” Do not combine those words for any reason when talking to another human being about their personal experiences. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s important. You can say “at least” when talking about your own experiences because it’s appropriate to silver lining your situations. It can even be necessary. But other people do not need us to find the silver lining by “at leasting” (yes I went there) their situation. When people use this word combination they think it is to help the other person look on the bright side but what it does is disconnect them from that other person. We say it to others because we don’t like sitting in the discomfort of their uncomfortable situation, so we try and find something positive. In doing this we make them feel like their experience isn’t valid hence disconnection. Now don’t stress too much if you’ve done this in the past, but when you know better do better. Stopping saying “at least” is where everyone can do better!

Non-verbal Shift:

Your face speaks even when you don’t: This is an argument in our house all the time. My husband has a face that often looks as though he is irritated when he’s not (resting, you know what face). He has to endure the “what’s wrong?” or “are you frustrated with something?” questions. The argument is that I have is he should work on changing how his face expresses itself, and he argues that it’s just his face. In all honesty, both are probably fair arguments. Everyone is technically responsible for their feelings, and if someone takes offence that is technically on them. They shouldn’t blame the other person for how they feel (even though we all do it). However, it is also the person’s responsibility who is making the facial expression to be as clear as possible. As Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind.” Long story short both sides of this argument are likely valid. The person interpreting the facial expression needs to take responsibility for their feelings and remember someone can’t “make” them feel a certain way. We have a choice in how we react. The person with the confusing facial expression also needs to take responsibility for the lack of clarity.

Listening shift:

Listen with the intent to understand not to respond: This quote by Stephen Covey has been around for a while, but it is still something we all have to actively practice. We live in a problem-solving culture. We want to solve the problem and get onto the next one. Sometimes people don’t want their problem solved sometimes they want to just talk it out. Even the simple question of how can I help here? or Do you want to vent? or Do you want solutions? (I use this one in my close relationships all the time). By asking someone what they need, your responses are meaningful and helpful.

As we close out this year, we can do some small shifts and see how they improve our communication with those around us. Everyone deserves clarity, kindness, compassion, empathy, and a listening ear.

Unlocking the overflow: 5 easy Self-Care practices

We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” which is true. More recently, I have heard people using the phrase “you pour from the overflow.” This is a great way of looking at wellness and self-care. If we only fill ourselves up past empty, we will only go so far, especially if we are sharing ourselves with others. However, if we can get to having some overflow, we can easily share ourselves with others. The challenge is getting to that point.

This pandemic is impacting many people’s mental health. A few months ago, Adam Grant’s article on languishing came out in the New York Times and spread like wildfire across social media because many people identified with its message. The main takeaway is that many people are sitting in this space between thriving and depression called languishing. He describes it as the feeling of having dull motivation and focus. This pandemic has had its high points for some working from home, more time with family, connecting into what matters in a time of crisis. However, for the most part, people have been struggling to take care of themselves through everything. 

Taking care of myself doesn't mean "me first" it means "me too"
LR Knost

However, for the most part, people have been struggling to take care of themselves through everything. 

I believe that even though we have “more time,” because we haven’t had to travel or go to social engagements, but we are lacking that motivation and focus to even pay attention to our self-care and wellness. As one friend put it to me this week, we are surviving, not thriving. So how can we make 2022 more about thriving and less about surviving it’s pretty simple to think about but harder to put into action because the change has to start with our behaviours, habits, and practices. There is often a gap between what we know we “should” do, and what we have the capacity, desire, motivation, and bandwidth to do. Below I’ve listed five simple self-care practices you can start experimenting with that will hopefully help you move out of languishing (if you feel like you are there), start filling your cup closer to an overflow state, and promote your wellness. Keep in mind I define self-care very broadly because, like many things in the wellness industry, it’s up for interpretation. Self-care is in the eye of the beholder. If these five ideas don’t work for you, I encourage you to pick 3-5 things that you think could fill your cup a little bit more.

  1. Gratitude practice: This one is so simple. I try to do this with my son every night before bed (he is three, so if he can do it, we can all do it) because I want him to get in the habit of practicing gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is small. So I ask him three questions, and I also have to answer them myself: 
    • What are you thankful for or grateful for today? 
    • What are you proud of yourself for today? 
    • What are you going to work on tomorrow? 
  2. Get outside: The days are getting really short and much colder, but even a few minutes of fresh air can help clear your mind. Even better if you can go for a 10-minute walk. Many people think they need to get 30-60 minutes of activity consecutively to gain benefits, but benefits can be seen in 10-minute bouts if that is all you have. 
  3. Say No more often: This can be hard to do, but it is such a great practice to start. Remember, whenever you say no to something, it means you can say yes to something else. How great is that! If you struggle with the outright no, especially to things like accepting plans, start with “let me get back to you.” Then you can walk away and think about it. This line can help you avoid the feeling of regret for saying yes to something that you don’t want to do, and you avoid the guilt of cancelling last minute. 
  4. Get to bed a little earlier (and put away your phone): This is one I struggle with daily. I suffer from revenge bedtime procrastination which is staying up later to get time by myself or with my partner rather than going to bed closer to when my kids do so I can get sleep. But sleep always makes me more productive the next day. It’s a shift I’m really trying to make and continue to battle, but I know it makes a difference in my well-being. 
  5. Connect with others: 2020 and 2021 have us missing connection more than ever. Being purposeful about connecting can improve our mood and uplift our day. Surround yourself (even virtually) with people who lift you up, support you, and brighten your day. This doesn’t mean you need to be around people who are full of sunshine and rainbows. They need to be people that you can connect with, talk to, and who make you feel heard, seen, and understood. 

The best part about this list is that they are all free and can positively impact your wellness in some way.

The best part about this list is that they are all free and can positively impact your wellness in some way. Your physical, social, emotional even intellectual wellness may benefit from some extra sleep and great conversations. I hope that you can find a little bit of “you” time this holiday season so you can go into 2022 ready to thrive instead of trying to survive.

Three of the hardest actions of 2020 & 2021: Follow-though, Consistency, and Accountability

Wow, has it been a tough couple of years!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, drained, verging or already sitting in a place of burn-out, you are not alone. I know I have been lately. I know for myself it’s a combination of a few things: Getting back into a more consistent work schedule after having my daughter, still living in a pandemic, decision fatigue because I have children in a pandemic (do I take them places? is it ok for us to go to fully-vaccinated people’s homes? should I put them in activities? are they getting enough social interaction in this crazy time? etc. the list goes on), Christmas feels both exciting and overwhelming (anyone else feel this way about holidays?), and I’m just not taking care of myself in the way I would like to be (limited social interaction, not enough sleep or exercise etc.). That is my truth. I have not been feeling 100% myself all the time.

Three things that I find fall by the wayside when I’m feeling drained are follow-through, consistency, and accountability; however, they are ironically three of the potential antidotes for that feeling. When we feel overwhelmed it is often a result of not getting enough time to ourselves, not doing enough things that we enjoy, or being disconnected from our “why.” Making time for ourselves and doing things we enjoy doing has been challenging in the past two years. We are “on” more than we have ever had to be. We are available to those we work with more than ever before. We are available to our children more than ever before. We are available to our partners more than ever before. We are available to some because we are physically present in more spaces with people we wouldn’t normally spend that much time with. We are available to others online more because we are connected on email, Slack, Microsoft teams etc all the time thanks to our phones. Don’t get me wrong, I am a bit fan of working from home/anywhere, but it requires follow-through, consistency, and accountability to our boundaries. When we let others walk through our boundaries it is overwhelming because it feels as if we don’t have control.

Humans like control. One of the ways we can take back some control is by setting boundaries and following through, staying consistent, and holding ourselves and others accountable.

So how can we utilize Follow-through, Consistency, and Accountability to decrease feelings of overwhelm?

  1. Follow-through: I’m defining follow-through as doing what you say you are going to do. A few years ago, I struggled with following through consistently because I had overcommitted myself on so many levels. The guilt was out of control. I would say “yes” to doing something or completing something, and then I would instantly feel regret. As the commitment or the deadline grew closer, I would start plotting how to get out of it, which is not healthy because that also made me feel guilty. So one thing I started doing was rather than saying “yes,” I say: “let me look into whether I can make that happen”. It gives me time to think about it, and I am less likely to say yes to something I don’t want to do. I’m able to formulate how I can say no without any guilt (people-pleaser over here!), I can follow through more consistently. The other thing that helps with follow-through is setting realistic timelines. I’m a big fan of the under promise and overdeliver method of setting timelines for deliverables. This method can help with follow-through because you give yourself more of a runway. 
  2. Consistency: I have found in the last two years consistency has been more challenging because even though life feels very much the same from day to day it also feels like we are waiting to get back to “normal.” So the push to be consistent is met with the hesitancy of if I’m consistent now, everything could change, and then I have to find a new way to be consistent. One way to find some consistency in what feels like an inconsistent world is to pick one or two habits that you know you want to be consistent with, for example, having an earlier bedtime or spending less time on your phone. Then think of one thing you believe you can CONSISTENTLY and easily do to work toward that. For the bedtime habit, it might be to set an alarm for 20 mins before your ideal time and commit to starting your bedtime routine (brushing your teeth etc.) as soon as the alarm goes off. For spending less time on your phone, it might be trying to put it in another room during times you would usually get lost in it. The simpler, the better. Simple makes it easier to be consistent, easier to do it daily or weekly, depending on what you are trying to change. Simple also makes it less overwhelming.
  3. Accountability: I often need a different kind of accountability for different habit shifts or goals. If I’m working on a small shift, like going to bed earlier, I’ll sometimes use a simple method of tracking the shift in a journal, on a day-timer, or in my calendar. I’m personally a big fan of checkmarks, lists, and crossing things off. I’m one of those people who will write a to-do list including a couple of things that I’ve already done just so I can cross something off right away! If I’m trying to shift something bigger or I’m working toward a bigger goal I find that reaching out to a coach to support me can help tremendously. My partner is great for some accountability things, but he has his own shifts to focus on for accountability. I feel more inclined to follow through and stay consistent when I have a coach. They also tend to ask the questions I need to help myself make a plan I can succeed in completing. It also helps decrease feelings of overwhelm when you have a flexible plan.

Some people are great at being internally motivated to be accountable, but sometimes a little bit of outside support goes a long way!

As we move into the holiday season, give yourself some grace with your progress on whatever it is you are working on improving or changing or maintaining because we all know that this time of year it is harder to do these things. Getting down on yourself about lack of follow-through, inconsistency, and lack of accountability won’t motivate you to be better, but it could demotivate you. Every day is a new day to try again!

Perfectionism: The enemy of good enough

Let’s start with perfectionism. Perfectionism is defined by the oxford dictionary as “refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.” This definition encapsulates the meaning but doesn’t emphasize some of the challenging parts of perfectionism. Other descriptions of perfectionism include the idea of the need to “appear” perfect to others often to avoid uncomfortable feelings like shame or disappointment. I don’t know about anyone else, but that is definitely how my perfectionism shows up, trying to avoid feeling or looking incompetent. Overcoming/recovering from perfectionism is one of the most challenging things I have done and continue to work through.

In many ways, perfectionist behaviours are similar to those of any addiction, and they hold us back in similar ways to other addictive behaviours. Take smoking; we know that it is addictive. We know that it is the nicotine in the cigarettes that make them so addictive. We also know that it is hard to quit. There are so many different programs available to quit smoking because it isn’t good for people’s health. Well, I would argue that perfectionism isn’t good for many people’s mental health, and we should probably have more programs geared to helping people quit perfectionism.

Like smoking, “being perfect” is addicting. It feels so good to do something “perfectly,” and it feels so good when people trust you to do things “perfectly.” However, when perfectionism starts to get dangerous happens when we believe if we aren’t “perfect,” or we don’t do everything (or in some cases, some things) “perfectly” we will fail, disappoint others, or feel bad about ourselves. We start doing everything we can to avoid people seeing us do anything that isn’t perfect, or we avoid doing things altogether because they won’t be perfect. Avoidance, paralyzation, and projection are three outcomes I have witnessed people experience and experienced myself because of perfectionism.

“Perfectionism is a self distructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement, and blame”

~ BrenÉ Brown

Avoidance isn’t a complicated concept. When perfectionism strikes or if there is a situation where someone can’t be perfect, they will avoid the situation altogether. Don’t participate, don’t put their name forward, don’t step out of their comfort zone.

The second outcome is paralyzation. I’ve seen this a lot in coaching, and we talk about it in research a lot. People get stuck in the analysis paralysis cycle. They aren’t avoiding it, but they keep coming back to whatever the task is and playing it over and over again. Analyzing it over and over again but are unable to move forward with it. I’ve experienced this when writing academic papers. You question yourself repeatedly to the point that you convince yourself if it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough.

Projection is when we take our negative traits and put them on other people. We blame other people for being perfectionists (e.x. “we aren’t moving forward because this person is such a perfectionist”) or for not being good enough perfectionists. If they were better perfectionists, the work would be better (e.x. “this project wasn’t good enough because this person didn’t care enough or they didn’t try hard enough or, they don’t work hard enough”). This blame shows up in teamwork; it is toxic and unproductive.

“Perfect is the enemy of progress”

~ Winsten Churchill

So what can we do about it? The first step is admitting that perfectionism might be holding you back in some way. It might be getting in the way of you enjoying life, actually being productive (keep in mind lots of perfectionists are busy, but they aren’t always getting things done), and worst of all, stopping you from trying new things and learning. The second step is working on reframing your thoughts around areas that you feel need to be perfect.

Questions you can ask yourself:

  • What would good look like?
  • What will it take to finish this?
  • How am I getting in my way here?
  • What story am I telling myself about this? Is this a true story?
  • Would I expect this out of other people? Is it fair if I do expect this from others?

The third step is remembering that reframing takes time and giving yourself a good dose of self-compassion. I have been working on this for at least three years. I still catch myself holding onto things waiting for them to be “perfect” or telling myself I’ll share when it’s “perfect” or not even starting something that I know I’ll enjoy because I know I’m probably going to fail a few times before I figure it out.

We can NEVER be perfect even when we think we are. What is perfect to me might not be perfect to you. You are bound to come across people who will criticize and not like something you have done because no one can be liked and appreciated by everyone. One of the best reminders someone ever said to me, and I have to say it to myself regularly (my perfectionism often shows up in people-pleasing ways): You don’t like everyone, so you can’t expect everyone to like you. The second quote that I play over in my head is “Perfect is the enemy of good” by Voltaire. This quote reminds me that sometimes (often) good is good enough.

“Perfect is the enemy of good”

~ Voltaire

Coaching can help with the challenges of perfectionism. I recommend finding a coach who you are comfortable with them calling out or pointing out when perfectionism is showing up in your life and when it might be holding you back.

“Balance” & Boundaries

Both 2020 and 2021 have been full of conversations about balance and boundaries. By balance I mean this elusive sense of being peaceful and having the ability to live your life and work on your career while maintaining a beautiful home, taking care of your health, and your family. I say elusive because I believe that balance is not possible. We are setting people up to fail by pushing them to “find balance.”

By boundaries, I mean setting boundaries to protect ourselves, our time, and our energy. Time, as we know, is one of our most precious resources and protecting it can be challenging. We need to protect our time. We also need to set boundaries for ourselves around time and energy use. Our energy is finite, it can only be replenished in so many ways. If we don’t set boundaries around how we spend and replenish our energy we will burnout. Coming back from burnout takes a long time. So let’s dig in a bit more.

“Forget work-life balance…Do the thing you want and create systems that support that. Perfectly imbalanced in the direction you want to go is perfectly acceptable”

~ Richie Norton

“Finding Balance” aka searching for a unicorn

“Finding balance” seems to be routed in this ideal of work/life balance. But what if we are framing it in the wrong way and setting people up to fail? When I think about the word balance I think about a scale specifically, an older scale, where you put some weight on one side and try to level it out with some weight on the other side. Balance also implies that we need to weigh things equally. But life doesn’t work like that. First of all, there are more than two parts to your life and you are always going to be “giving more” of yourself to one part than another. For example, I have work, kids, a husband, a house, my health, friends, and family. If I tried to give equal time to each of these areas of my life I would have 3.4 hours a day or 24 hours a week per part of my life. I don’t know about you, but 3.4 hours of sleep/day doesn’t cut it for my health and, my kids certainly need me more than 3.4 hours a day. I can equate the idea of “finding balance” to searching for a unicorn you are never going to “find balance” because it doesn’t really exist.

But what is possible? I suggest the idea of harmony. By definition, harmony is an agreement or a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts. When musicians write and play music, they don’t give all the instruments the same amount of playing time. You don’t hear solos from certain parts of a band, but a drum solo or a guitar solo, are regular occurrences. Our lives work the same way. We should be aiming for a pleasing arrangement of parts, where certain “parts” will get solos and be featured sometimes, and other “parts” will be featured at other times. Figuring out how to arrange the “parts” nicely is hard at times, but it’s certainly better than trying to create balance and feeling guilty all the time because it isn’t balanced.

Setting up your Harmony

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Which parts of my life are most important to me right now?
  • What do I love doing?
  • Who am I spending most of my time with?
  • Where am I spending most of my time?
  • Whom would I like to be spending time with but I’m not?
  • What could I spend less time doing and still be happy or even happier?
  • What could I spend more time doing that would improve my life?
  • What can I delegate to someone else or ask someone for help?

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to adjust your day, week, month, and possibly your year to try and create better harmony for yourself. Making adjustments will require you to set boundaries and parameters for yourself and others.

“You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no to people.”

~Tracy Malone

Set Boundaries, adjust as needed

Boundaries are a bit of a buzzword, especially since the start of the pandemic, many more people are working from home. Working from home means there is less separation between work life and home life. Start and finish times are unclear. Lunch and coffee breaks are unclear. The expected times to check your email are unclear. Don’t get me wrong I am 100% supportive of remote working. I love working remotely. It offers the flexibility we’ve never had before. It provides an opportunity to find more harmony because people aren’t spending multiple hours a day stuck in traffic. Save money on gas and parking. Work in stretchy pants all day long because people only see you from the waist up. The benefits are endless. However, it has created a need for boundary setting.

Boundaries are not just for you to set for other people about how they interact and treat you. They are also for you to create for yourself. An example might be, I will not check my email after 4:30 pm. Or I will not sit at my desk for more than 90 mins without getting up and moving around. Boundaries for yourself hopefully will develop into habits, aka things you do without thinking about them. So consult your answers to the questions above and figure out which one requires you to show up differently for yourself to create harmony.

Setting boundaries with others is challenging because those people now have to change their behaviour. They were likely benefitting from you not having a boundary in place.

Setting boundaries with others:

  1. Consult the answers to your harmony questions.
  2. Consult the answers to your harmony questions.
  3. Figure out who in your life needs a boundary.
  4. Determine whether you need to talk to them about it or whether you can implement it without a conversation. Not all boundaries need to be announced, although many have to be eventually.
  5. If a conversation needs to be had, set up a time with the person that works for you. Explain the boundary you are setting.

If you want to you, can explain the why behind your boundary, but you don’t have to. Sometimes too many details or sharing the why can lead to others trying to poke holes in your boundary/reasoning. You can explain what the consequences will be if your boundary is not respected. Typical consequences might be: 

  • they will no longer have a relationship with you, 
  • a change in relationship status (friend to acquaintance) 
  • Some conversations or activities won’t be part of your relationship (i.e. if they won’t listen to your perspective on politics, you won’t be talking about politics anymore). 

You setting a clear boundary gives the other person a choice: Change their behaviour, or there will be a change in the relationship as they know it to be. Also, keep in mind, you might have to change a boundary because it isn’t needed anymore and that’s ok too! Not all boundaries are forever. 

None of this is easy, but it is important! Remember your energy is a renewable resource, but if you don’t protect your energy, it can take a long time to get it back (i.e. if you reach burnout). Your time is a nonrenewable resource spend it wisely!

If finding harmony or setting boundaries is something you struggle with or want to talk through. Reach out to a coach. We love helping people work through figuring out the best way to spend their energy and time.

Stop “Shoulding” on Yourself

Are you feeling drained? Burnt out? Overwhelmed by the little things or the big things for the matter when normally you feel like you have it all under control? There are many reasons why this could be happening and I’m guilty of many of these reasons but one of the biggest reasons is “shoulding” on myself. I also see this happen a lot for coaching clients especially people who are high achievers or identify has highly driven but not great at setting boundaries.

The overuse of the word “should” is huge problem. The word “should” just brings us down. I’m not saying there aren’t going to be things in your life that you have to do (because let’s face it there are! Taxes and laundry anyone?!). I’m not saying throw all your responsibilities out the window because you don’t want to do them, what I’m saying is stop doing things just because you think you “should” or someone else expects you to when really you don’t want to and you have the power to say no.

“Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do.”

~ Paulo Coelho

For example:

  • Stop meeting that friend that brings you down but you feel like you “should” see them because they reached out and you cancelled last time.
  • Stop volunteering to do things that you feel like you “should” do because everyone else seems like they are volunteering for these things.
  • Stop telling yourself you “should” do a certain type of workout when what you really want to do is a workout you enjoy not a popular one.
  • Stop staying in a career that you hate because you feel like you “should” stick it out because it’s what you went to school for or because other people would “love” to have your job.

“The only way to do good work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet keep looking. Don’t settle.”

~ Steve Jobs

You are the only person who has the power to change your narrative around the “shoulds” in your life. So what are some helpful ways to break free of some of your “shoulds?” I ask myself (and my clients) some of these questions to help break up some of these thought patterns:

  • If you say NO to this “should” what do you get to say Yes too?
  • What is the impact of not doing this “should”?
  • Who is impacted by you not doing this “should”?
  • Is there another way to frame this “should” so it doesn’t feel like a burden? So it feels like a “could” or an “I get to…”

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing this to ourselves. Coaching can help us gain clarity around what we want to be doing versus what we are telling ourselves we “should” be doing. Coaching can help us to see the bigger picture the impact that our simple word choices and actions are having on our overall wellbeing and life. Coaching can help you to move forward from a place of “I should” to a place of “I get to” or “I can” or “I would like to but not right now” Reach out via email, LinkedIn, or Instagram to learn more. I’m always happy to have a conversation about what you could be doing and how to get there.

Leadership Strengths: Not all Superheroes wear Capes

There are so many articles, books, blogs, podcasts, and talks outlining what it takes to be a “good leader.” But what makes you a good leader? Good is one of those words that is hard to define, what is good for one person may not be good enough for someone else. Which makes it challenging to narrow down what you need to do or should do to be a good or dare I say great leader. When it comes to leadership one of the most powerful things that I believe you can utilize is your strengths or your superpowers. Keeping in mind that leadership does not mean that you need to be in a designated role, I’m talking about leadership in the bigger sense of the word. Leadership as a way of being and going through life.

“When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
~ Audre Lorde

With the number of superhero movies and tv shows out there it seems like everyone and anyone could have a superpower and the truth is that we can and we do. It’s figuring out what it is and then capitalizing on it that is the hard part. Our superpower is the thing or things about us that make us unique and powerful. It has nothing to do with how we look and it has everything to do with how we feel and how we make other’s feel.

When we step into our strengths with both feet we are standing on solid ground. We stand in a space that we know like the back of our hand. A space that makes us feel powerful. In the powerful words of Voltaire and subsequently Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben (Spider-Man’s uncle) “with great power comes great responsibility.”

When we feel powerful we need to use that power for good.

My superpowers are my resilience and my energy. I’m good at bouncing back and finding ways to move through challenges with a positive outlook and if I can’t find a true positive I can find humour. And don’t we all need to laugh more! I have been told that I have “an energy” I choose to take that as a compliment and turn it into one of my superpowers. I know I have high energy and I believe that my energy radiates kindness and makes people feel comfortable. I’ve taken these superpowers and I use them in my coaching to help other people. That’s how I operationalize them and put them in action! It took me a while to find something that I loved doing and as it turns out the key to finding something I love doing was finding something that I could do that uses my superpowers to their fullest.

Operationalizing our superpowers is the part we sometimes have to work at. Where can we work them into our everyday leadership? Where can we use them to help other people? How can we use them to make change happen when it needs to happen? Not only can a coach help you to narrow down and identify your superpowers but they can also help you think through how to use your superpowers for good so that you too can stand on solid ground with confidence. Feel free to reach out via Email, LinkedIn or Instagram I would love to work with you on figuring out your superpowers!

Control vs. the Power of Choice

Control…it has the ability to make us feel powerful and powerless at different times. We crave it. We feel drawn to it. It can be an all consuming feeling to try and achieve it. We feel powerful when we are in control. The captain of our own ship but even capable captains can’t always predict the storms. Many situations are out of our control. When we feel that loss of control coming or happening many of us spiral. We grab onto the things we think we can control and grip as tightly as possible. But the truth is our control is in our choices. We can’t control other people’s behaviour (as much as we think or wish that we could…if you don’t believe me ask an overtired toddler), the weather, flight delays or certain difficult situations. But we can make a choice in how we react, respond, and move forward.

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I chose to become”

~Carl Jung

I have experienced a number of situations that have challenged my need for control. Infant loss, miscarriage, and a very challenging pregnancy/subsequent NICU stay for my son to name a few. As awful as these situations were they challenged me to look at what I had control over vs. what I had choice in. After we lost our first son almost four years ago I knew I didn’t have “control”. I certainly didn’t have control over what happened to him because let me tell you if I had control over that I would have exercised my control! But I did have choices to make. Choices about how I wanted to move forward, show up in the world, support other people, and ultimately live my best possible life. Ultimately I had choice in what I could be grateful for.

Does that mean that every day is sunshine and rainbows…absolutely not! Grief is like walking on a beach you never know when a wave will hit you and often they come up out of no where on a calm day. But I have choices, choices about my outlook, my attitude, my forward motion. My resilience is fuelled by the knowledge of my ability to choose and my ability to laugh as often as possible. My resilience made it possible for me to survive a subsequent miscarriage and a very challenging pregnancy because I had a choice in how I showed up every single day. I could be angry and bitter with what had happened but that was not the life I wanted.

Coaching can help you move forward with the power of choice.

What does all of this have to do with coaching you might ask? Coaching helps you to see how the power of choice can trump the need for control. I have had several coaches myself over the years remind me of this power. A coach can often see what we are blind too. They can make observations about patterns in our behaviours, attitudes, and actions. Often when we’re feeling stuck in our careers or in life there is something we are gripping onto or something we are not seeing. Coaching can help with this, so if you are feeling in the grips of wanting control or feeling stuck, feel free to reach out. Coaching can help move you forward with the power of choice.