Our Two Choices When Facing Challenges

Life throws lots of challenges our way. It is through these that we often learn important life lessons. How we face our challenges is what ultimately leads us to these lessons. Generally speaking, we have two choices when we are confronted with difficulties – Change it or Accept it.

While neither one is necessarily easy, those are our two paths. They both require movement. To change or accept means you are moving towards a desired end result. The alternative to these choices is to do nothing and complain about our circumstances. We know this is unproductive, but we may need to spend some time in this place while we process which action step we will ultimately take – just be sure not to get stuck here. While you could argue that this is a choice as well, it’s not an empowering one and its based on inaction instead of action.

Sometimes, though, we’re not quite sure whether to Change a situation or Accept it. Here are some considerations to make that may help in your decision:

CONSIDER CHANGING IT WHEN:

  • You have the ability to change it – most circumstances allow us some control, so take that control and do something different
  • The fear of remaining in the same situation is greater than the fear of changing – Change can be scary, but staying the same can sometimes be terrifying. How do you feel about being in the same situation one, five, or ten years from now?
  • Doing so can help you reach your full potential or a better version of yourself
  • It causes, or has the potential to cause, harm to yourself or others
  • You get excited about the long-term possibilities a change can bring

CONSIDER ACCEPTING IT WHEN:

  • You have little or no control over the situation – an example may be a friend who won’t stop smoking. It upsets you and you worry about them, but you don’t have control over their behavior.
  • You have tried everything in your power – for example, you want to be promoted where you work, but despite all your best efforts, you just can’t seem to get the support. It may be time to accept that advancement isn’t likely to happen there.
  • You are in the heat of emotion – When we are very angry or upset, that may not be the best time to make a long-term decision. Accepting, even if only temporarily, may be the best choice in those heated moments. You can always look back on it when your emotions have settled and reassess.
  • You look into the future and believe you could be happy with staying in that situation. You recognize that you may be going through a phase of contemplation right now.
  • You recognize that short-term sacrifices are likely to result in longer-term happiness. For example, giving up on building the dream house now and settling for (and accepting) a smaller home may allow you to save more money and build that new home later in the future when it’s more within your financial means.

There is the possibility that you can choose both change and acceptance in some situations. This may be accepting a situation while changing your attitude about it. Maybe you have a strained relationship with your brother who is terrible with finances and doesn’t want your unsolicited advice. You can accept that and take the attitude that it’s his life to do as he wishes and when he’s ready to change, he’ll change. Until then, you will continue to have a relationship with him (acceptance), but leave all talk of finances out of it (change).

The most important thing is to ensure you don’t stay stuck in complaining. You may be a victim of your circumstances, but you don’t have to STAY a victim of your circumstances. Change or Acceptance is the way out.

Now I’d like to hear from you! Share in the comments section an important decision you made to either change or accept a challenging situation, and why that was the right choice for you.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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The Main Cause of Relationship Problems

Relationships are important. We are social creatures after all, and the people we choose to spend our time with are important parts of our lives. This makes it very challenging if we are on the outs with someone we care about. More often than not, there is one core cause of all relational strife: expectations. Or rather, failure to have our expectations met.

We all have expectations. Big ones and little ones. We even have these of strangers. We may have the expectation that everyone drives the posted speed limit. Or, that when a cashier invites the “next person in line,” it doesn’t mean the first person who can get there. We expect things of our spouses, friends, family, and neighbors. We all have (what we believe to be) reasonable beliefs of proper behavior. To complicate things further, we attach meaning to these expectations.

If someone lets us down, we aren’t only disappointed, but we give a reason to it. For example, you expect your close friends to remember your birthday. Then, when your birthday has come and gone, and you haven’t heard from one of your nearest and dearest, you are disappointed AND hurt. You believe that if you truly care about someone, you remember their birthday. Meanwhile, your forgetful friend cares very deeply about you, but, personally, doesn’t much care about birthdays one way or the other. It never occurs to her that she may have hurt you by not making certain she remembered your birthday.

The next question, then, is how do we prevent our expectations from breaking down our relationships?  Here are a few tips:

  • Make your expectations known – Do not expect that people will just intuitively know what you need. Spell it out.
  • Share the meaning you’ve attached to your expectations – If you need quality time with your spouse at the end of each day and you believe this means you are valued and loved, be clear that this is how important this time is to you.
  • Understand your expectations may be completely different from others – For example, I have a friend who despises getting gift cards as a gift. She feels they are impersonal and it hurts her to think we couldn’t take a little extra time and thought to get her something special and unique. I, on the other hand, like getting gift cards. We both have totally different expectations, but we took the time to discover these differences.
  • Most expectations are coming from a place of love or fear – Rarely do people have expectations with the intent to be difficult or hurtful. A parent who withholds love, may have done so because they expected the world was hard and wanted to prepare you to be tough. Or a loved one avoids appearing vulnerable because they expect to get hurt if they are.
  • Consider your expectations – Have you ever considered what your expectations are? It may be a very eye-opening exercise. When you actually think about what your expectations are and the meaning you’ve attached to them, you may start to question if you really want to hold on to them. (VIP Subscribers get a PDF download of this exercise – Subscribe today to get yours – It’s Free)

Next time you get in a disagreement, before jumping immediately to the emotion of it, take a step back and try to consider how both your expectations, and those of the other person, could be contributing. It’s much more difficult to feel hurt or angry when you actually understand where another person is coming from. It doesn’t mean you agree, only that you understand. It is this mindset that will prevent problems in the future.

In the comments section, share how understanding your own or someone else’s expectations have helped improve a relationship in your life.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

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Written by, You

It’s easy to feel that sometimes we are at the mercy of life’s circumstances. And let’s be honest, some moments we are. But moments are fleeting, and it’s important to keep in mind that you are the author of your life. While life may throw circumstances your way, you get to determine how each chapter ends. You get the last word. If your business goes under, if you get fired, go broke, or get dumped, that’s not where the chapter has to end. You write the last line. You also write the opening paragraph of the next chapter.

When you write your story, it’s not all going to be pretty rainbows and butterflies, because that’s not real life. There will be ugly parts, parts of you and your story that you are not proud of, but that’s okay. The lines in our story, even the chapters of our story, do not make us who we are. They are a part of us, but they are not all of us. If you don’t like how your story is unfolding, write a new one. Change the plot, the setting, the characters, and even yourself if you wish. You get to choose how you react to life’s curve balls.

Life is complicated; we are complicated. That’s the beauty of it. But underneath all of those complications is a really pure version of who we are. This version is always doing the best it can. This version grows and changes, and we, the authors, get to determine how to navigate through the lessons learned, the plot twists, and the overarching desire to matter.

Don’t write your story through the eyes of others. Share their perspective, consider others’ ideas, but it’s YOUR story. You define the meanings; you determine when you’ve succeeded and when you’ve failed. You decide who you are and where you’re going to take your story. When someone criticizes you or tells you that you’re not enough, that’s their story. Don’t make their story your story.

When you embrace your title as author of your story, you empower yourself. You take back control of the parts you have control over. You determine if your story is a tragedy, comedy, drama, mystery or some exciting mixture of all of these. Your non-fiction tale is yours for the telling. It’s your gift in life. There is no editing, there are no re-writes. There is one story. Write it well. Live it well.

Share in the comments section the title of your next chapter.

*This post was originally posted in January of 2017, but I thought it was worth another read.

If you would like some help with your story – if you are experiencing a “writer’s block” in life, then an Empowerment Session is a great place to start! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

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A New Way to Create Your New Year’s Resolution (Even if You’ve Sworn Them Off)

People have some strong feelings about New Year’s resolutions. Some commit fully every year, others swear them off altogether. For those of us who set them year after year, it’s pretty common to lose steam after a little while. Sometimes it’s after a few weeks, and other times a few months.  If you can relate to this, or you have completely sworn off resolutions, I’d like to propose an alternative. What if you could come up with a New Year’s resolution that you could actually keep?  Something you could successfully accomplish every day… Sound too good to be true?

There have been plenty of success stories of people quitting smoking and remaining smoke-free forever after, or creating a healthy routine that helped them lose and keep the weight off. So, if that’s your goal, GO FOR IT!! For the rest of us, one of the problems with past resolutions is that they’ve been so confining…so “pass or fail.” We set up strict parameters and the minute we violate them, we start to lose steam and fall back into our comfortable, old routines (plus we tend to crap talk ourselves for a bit, too). One way to combat this without swearing off resolutions altogether is to paint your resolution with a broader brush.

Instead of being so specific, you can be much more general. For example, instead of saying you are going to eliminate all processed foods from your diet, you could say you’re going to eat healthier. Instead of saying you’re going to workout at the gym 5 days per week, you could say you’re going to be more active each week. Instead of deducting $100 every week of the year for a savings account, you can work on saving more money.

When you take a broader approach to resolutions, it’s much easier to do SOMETHING every week, and maybe even every day that honors it. Instead of feeling like crap for eating the cupcake, you can feel good about eating that apple or making that healthy, all-natural meal. Instead of telling yourself you’re lazy because you skipped Day 4 of the gym, you can feel good about that 30-minute walk you took on your lunch break. It’s better to pat yourself on the back for packing your own lunch and saving yourself $10, than to beat yourself up for having to pull that $100 back out of savings because of an unexpected expense.

All lifestyle changes stick because of the habits that form to support those changes. Trying to go from zero to sixty and stay there is often more than we can reasonably adjust to. Certainly, there are some changes that require full commitment, like quitting something addictive, or taking drastic steps for life-saving reasons, but those tend to be the exception. Starting with a broader goal will allow us to take those baby-steps that will lead to good habits and build momentum. We’ll feel accomplished and want to keep feeling that way by adding new habits and eliminating older ones gradually. This allows us to build up to the more specific, regimented goals. Totally doable, right? RIGHT!

My 2018 New Year’s Resolution is to stretch my comfort zone. That’s it. I’m not getting any more specific than that. That’s something I can do every single day and there are countless ways I could do that. Now it’s your turn to share. What is your New Year’s Resolution? Share in the comments section.

Thank you for reading – Wishing you a VERY Happy New Year!!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

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Are You Living on Purpose?

You have likely seen articles about “living intentionally,” but have you ever taken a moment to consider what that means? How much of your week is spent on autopilot? Considering where your life is right now, how much of that is due to you purposefully choosing that life? I know many people who are living a life that they have chosen. Almost everything they do is “on purpose.” They don’t live on auto-pilot. But I know many more who are not living a life this way. They are living based on others’ expectations of them. They are fulfilling the needs of those around them, while sacrificing many of their own. Which of these groups seems to better describe the life you’re living? There is no judgement here; I spent a large amount of time in the second group myself over the years. But there are steps you can take to live more purposefully.

Plan – A common difference between the people in both groups is those who live intentionally, set goals and make plans. They have a vision for their future and give thought to how they want their life to look and what steps they need to take to get there. That doesn’t mean circumstances don’t get in their way or that hardships don’t befall them. Quite the contrary. But they deal with those issues and continue working towards their goals, even if they have to alter them. Now ask yourself: Do you have a plan? Do you have goals you are working towards? Have you defined the steps you need to take in order to be living your life on purpose?

No Excuses – Often, those who are living under the direction of others can be heard explaining why they can’t live any other way. They don’t have time, they don’t have the money, they’ve dealt with more challenges, they’re circumstances are “different.” They are SUCH a special snowflake that they can’t possibly do what others have done. Those living their lives on purpose may get ticked off at circumstances thrown their way, but they don’t use them as excuses to stop trying. Now ask yourself: Are you allowing excuses to stop you? Have you made a plan to overcome your challenges? It’s easy to think of all the things we can’t do, but have you made a list of all the things you CAN do?

Today Equals Tomorrow – Those living their lives on purpose know that today’s behaviors become tomorrow’s results. When they do something today, they consider the impact that behavior will have on their future. They are very intentional about the choices they make today and how that aligns with the vision of their future. Now ask yourself: Did the actions you took today lead you closer to the future you desire? Are you consciously choosing each action you take and how it will impact your future?

I know this may sound as if I’m oversimplifying a complex issue, but it really does come down to these fundamentals. We all want a life that is healthy, happy, and abundant, but that involves many things – health, finances, family, friends, career, and more. Obviously, we can’t focus on 10 goals at once or we’d become overwhelmed. So, start with one or two. What is a priority for you? It could be your health, raising your kids, setting yourself up financially, advancing your career, starting a business, strengthening a relationship, buying a retirement home, or any number of other possibilities.  Focus on the one or two that are most important to you right now and make a plan, ditch the excuses, and take the steps today that will lead you to your ideal tomorrow. Once you’ve developed those habits, you can shift your focus to new goals. It’s hard work, but doing so intentionally and on purpose will get you where you want to be.

Which of those 3 fundamentals have you found most beneficial to you, or which of the 3 do you need to improve on? Share in the comments section.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Five Love Languages – Quality Time

As more and more conversations centered around communication have surfaced, once a month I’ll be featuring one of Five Love Languages based on Gary Chapman’s book series. Each post will highlight a particular “language” and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  In October, I shared Words of Affirmation. For November, we’re going to focus on good ol’ QT.

Before we get into that, let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  Last month’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  This month we will discuss Quality Time.  Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re ready to move on, let’s spend some QT together dissecting this language.

The quality aspect of Quality Time is founded on focused attention.  That means without distractions or other tasks being completed simultaneously.  (Are you listening social media surfers?)

Let’s start from a personal perspective.  The whole point to these language speakers is quality.  Just spending time together may not be enough.  A spouse may wonder, “we just spent six hours at the picnic with our friends and family and you say we haven’t spent quality time together”.  Ah Marone!  The definition of quality time lies in the hands of the one desiring it.  Your first clue is to listen to their complaints:  “you never watch TV with me”, “we never go out to dinner alone anymore”, “why don’t we take day trips together anymore”, “why are you always on that damn phone?”  You get the picture.  Take these not-so-subtle hints as a sign that this person needs a little QT with you.

From a professional perspective, it can be more difficult to determine when a co-worker speaks this language.  Supervisors should regularly set aside scheduled QT time with each direct report.  If you can trickle it down to other levels, great.  Some may be able to pull this off monthly, others only quarterly.  If possible, allow about 30 minutes with each individual.  You’ll start to see which ones need the full amount, and which ones don’t.  Adjust accordingly.  You should be actively listening while the other person is talking.  Remember, this is about Focused Attention.  Paying attention like this will also help you determine each person’s “language”. Even if you’re not a supervisor, a complaining co-worker saying “nobody cares around here”, or “if I could catch Beth’s ear for 2 seconds I could fix this whole problem”, or “nobody communicates anymore”, is likely to speak this language and can be helped following the same steps in casual conversation.  Ask how they’re doing, if they have any ideas or concerns on their mind.  If nothing comes up, just shoot the breeze with them.  Ask about their life outside of work, upcoming vacations, whatever, just make sure they feel they were listened to and valued for their contributions.

Quality Time can be a tough language to speak as we are all so pressed for time, but for those who really need it, providing it can prevent bigger issues down the line that you also wouldn’t have time for.  So get it in your calendar and stop putting it off.  There’s an awesome likelihood that you too will benefit from that quality time!

Is QT a language you’re fluent in?  Share some stories about how to successfully communicate in this language.  Stay tuned for next month’s post on Acts of Service.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Why Rest is Essential to Getting Work Done

It seems that suggesting more rest would be counterproductive to getting things done. There is so much work to be done, so many projects to complete. We have people who need us, things to do, and places to go. Who has time to rest??

Rest can take many forms, and on the outset, it may appear to be entirely unproductive (from a work perspective). “Rest” can include walking breaks, naps, and activities completely unrelated to work. In Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book, Rest he shares research and examples of how we can’t afford not to rest. I’ll share three key concepts that I found not only fascinating, but doable.

  • Walking – Exercise in any form, including walking, has been shown to reduce stress, increase productivity and energy, and up our creativity. Looking at it that way, these benefits would help us get things done, better. Think you’re too busy to sneak a walk into your day? Thomas Jefferson made walking a part of his daily routine. So did Charles Dickens. Are those examples too 1800’s for you? How about Rubik’s Cube creator, Ernö Rubik who solved the design challenge of his Cube during a walk1?
  • Naps – I love napping, and while I don’t take advantage of them nearly as often as I’d like, they have true benefits. The National Sleep Foundation says, “Naps boost alertness and improve motor performance, which is why you feel energized after taking one. The length of your nap determines the benefits. A 20-minute snooze—called a stage two nap—is ideal to enhance motor skills and attention, while an hour to 90 minutes of napping brings Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which helps make new connections in the brain and can aid in solving creative problems.”2 Famous nappers include Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, and Salvador Dalí (that last one is probably not as surprising).
  • Unplugging – Simply disconnecting from our work is not only beneficial to us psychologically, but similarly to walking and napping, it allows our brain to continue working on our behalf without the distraction of our conscious stream of thoughts. If you’ve ever done one of those “paint nights” where you are walked through the step-by-step process of painting a picture, you know the instructor often tells you to walk away from your painting and look at it from a distance. This perspective helps you “get out of the weeds” of your view. Or when you’re trying really, really hard to remember something, and someone advises that you not think about it at all and then it will come to you. Unplugging is like that. Shut off your phone, put away your calendar and notes, and just be. Do something unrelated to your to-do list; something fun or relaxing. While you may not realize it, your mind will continue doing some work for you behind the scenes.

Pang shares in his book that burnout “can lead to emotional exhaustion, a decline in performance, poorer decision-making, lower empathy, and higher rates of errors.”1 None of those are going to help us get our work accomplished. Instead they may sabotage precisely what it is we are trying to do.

Taking time to rest and play is not only good for you, but it will help you get your work done better and faster!

Tell me in the comments, what your favorite way to rest and recharge is.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

1 - Pang, A. S. (2017). Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. London: Penguin Life.
2 - Health Benefits of Napping. (n.d.). Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://sleep.org/articles/napping-health-benefits/

 

3 Tips to Being More Coachable

I can say pretty straight up that I don’t like being told what to do. Never have. I recognized this pretty early on. I’ve hung out with spite thanks to the times I’ve done the EXACT OPPOSITE of what it was suggested I do. “Independent Thinker, occasional Rogue” was how I liked to think of myself. But this attitude didn’t serve me well when someone was trying to coach me for my own good. Friends, co-workers, bosses. They all tried to help me because despite this flaw, for some reason, they found me otherwise quite likeable. In my early 20’s, I hung onto this like an honorable badge. I KNEW I was taking the hard way, but felt that was noble for some reason.

When I reached my 30’s, I began to realize the value of coaching. With each wall I hit, either personally, or professionally, I found that I could adjust something in myself which would then either lower the wall, or give me what I needed to climb over it. The secret to this: I started listening to what people were saying to coach me. When I really took the time to listen, I began to realize I had been hearing many of the same things from various people for YEARS. Yup…that’s the painful truth. In my case, I could give the impression that I was defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant. This doesn’t fare well in any relationship, personal or professional.

What gets tricky is you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater (terrible idiom). While I didn’t want to be seen as defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant as a general rule, there were good qualities to be found within those as well. This is where good coaching comes in. There are plenty of people around us who truly want the best for us and can share some perspective that we can’t see. Here are the top 3 things you need to do to become more coachable:

  • Listen – Be willing to listen when someone takes the time to share how you may be perceived. It doesn’t mean their perception is everyone’s reality, but it is theirs and it may have some accuracy. This doesn’t always feel good. Accept that the criticism might sting, but if you trust the source as someone who is truly trying to help you, that should make it a little easier to bear. Try not to get defensive, or explain yourself. Just take it in and process it.
  • Try it on – Does that perception fit? Can you see where others COULD perceive you that way? Can you see the truth in it? Have you heard this same message before from others? Knowing that others may have that perception, determine if this is a perception you do or don’t want others to have of you, based on your goals and aspirations.
  • Adjust – How could you “turn it down” enough to improve the perception without eliminating the good parts? Here’s an example: I have a very playful personality. While it seems most appreciate this, there are some that find it downright annoying. I try to adjust this when I’m in mixed company. I don’t turn it all the way down, just a tad, but it’s something I need to remain conscious of. I don’t mind being seen as “playful,” but I don’t want to be seen as a “clown.” See the difference?

It’s not always easy to be coached, but it’s always beneficial. Seek out feedback from people you trust and respect. Not just the ones who will tell you how awesome you are (which you are), but also from those who will be honest about potential flaws. One thing to keep in mind is that we judge ourselves based on our INTENTIONS, however, we judge others based on their BEHAVIOR. That means people aren’t judging us on our intentions (they don’t even know what those are), they can only judge us by our behaviors (which they can clearly see).

Also, remember we may lead with different qualities depending on which role we are in. For example, I have different roles: mom, leader, friend, co-worker, business owner. I allow different qualities to lead in each of those roles. In my earlier example, I can allow my playfulness to be full-on when I’m in the mom & friend role, but need to turn it down in the leader role. You serve many roles as well, so bear that in mind for yourself.

Your turn to do some coaching. Which of the 3 tips have you found most useful, or what’s another tip you have to help us all to be more coachable? Share in the comments.

If you would like to see what a coaching relationship can do for you, let’s work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design. An Empowerment Session is the best place to start (and it’s FREE)! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Your neighbor needs help moving; Your co-worker asks if you can take on some of their project; the school needs more volunteers; your friend needs a babysitter. So many requests, so little time. When someone makes a request of us, it can be challenging to say, “no.” This often leads to decisions that don’t benefit us. We may agree to the request, but sacrifice our own needs or wants. If the request is made through email, we could ignore it altogether, but this doesn’t fair well for our reputation.

So how do we say “no” without feeling like a jerk? While not 100% guilt-proof, there are a few ways that we can decline a request without feeling as guilty about it.

Use Your Calendar – One of the easiest times to say “no” is when we have something else we’re committed to. For example, when you tell your friend in need of a babysitter that while you’d love to help, your niece’s recital is that night, you don’t feel so bad.  Yet, we tend to only put things in our calendar that are outside our normal routine. For example, if you go to the gym 3 nights a week, is that in your calendar? Probably not. Scheduling important-to-you tasks should be part of your calendar. While you may have some flexibility, like skipping the gym to help your neighbor move, and just making it up tomorrow, you may not always have that flexibility. For example, if it’s important to your family that you have quality Sunday morning time, this should be blocked off as “Unavailable” in your calendar. It’s much easier to say, “I’d love to, but my calendar is booked that day.” People tend to respect the fact that you have other commitments. You don’t have to get into the details of what those commitments are.

Offer an Alternative – A clear cut “no” is not always the best choice either. In the case of the friend looking for a sitter, you could say, “I can’t on Friday, but I could on Saturday, if that helps.” Or to the co-worker looking for you to take on some of their project, you could say, “I don’t think that will work, but I’m happy to cover your calls for the afternoon so you can have uninterrupted time to work on your project.” These are compromises that may be mutually beneficial.

How to Say It – Then there are the times you just have to say “no.” These are tougher because you’re not blaming your calendar and you don’t have a compromise to lighten the situation. This is common when someone is requesting our business services or products for free. So how do you say it? You can be direct and honest if you think that will help the situation, but more often than not, when someone needs you for something, it isn’t the best time to point out that they never seem to be available when you need help. Being vague can be the best way to decline, while staying polite, but firm. Here are some examples:

  • I’m sorry, I wish I could help, but I just won’t be able to make that work.
  • Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t right now. Will you ask me again next time?
  • I’m sorry, I’m going to have to pass.
  • I have to decline now, but if something changes I’ll be sure to let you know.

Remember, when you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to another. You need to stay in control of your life and activities. If you’re constantly at the mercy of requests and favors, it won’t be long before resentment starts keeping regular hours with you. And that’s not good for anyone!!

While it would be great to single-handedly fulfill every request that comes your way, that just isn’t possible. You have to keep a manageable balance between achieving your own goals and helping others to achieve theirs.

Your turn – what’s a method you use to say “no” without feeling guilty? Share in the comments section!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Who’s Paving Your Path?

I ask people all the time what their goals are – what they want out of life. Sometimes they have an answer, like, having more money, better relationships, more energy. Other times, they aren’t really clear on specifically what they want. They are “open” to the possibilities that life will offer. That was me in my earlier years and still creeps up if I’m not careful. I have all too often allowed others to pave my path, so to speak. If you are not clear on what you want out of life, or you aren’t taking specific action to attain that life, then you are likely allowing others to pave your path as well.

While we may need help lifting the stones in our life, at some point we have to lay out our own path. The sooner the better, but it’s never too late. This is much easier said than done, especially if we have been allowing others to do the heavy lifting for us. There is some important inner work that must be done in order to become the bricklayer of your own life.

First, you have to identify what you’re avoiding by allowing others to determine your path. Are you indecisive because you don’t want to be the “bad guy,” and make a decision that would disappoint others? Are you afraid of failure, so by allowing others to make decisions for you, if it doesn’t work out, it really wasn’t your fault? Is the hard work that would inevitably show up, keeping you from taking on the role of leader in your life? You have to get honest about why you relinquish this responsibility to others.

Next, you need clarity on what you really want. What’s been missing in your life? What would you really like to have in it? What do you want to experience or accomplish? Dare to dream big. This step can be much more difficult than it sounds if you’ve been determining what you want based on what others say you “should.” This is not a ten-minute project. Spend some time every day asking yourself these questions. Your answers may change over time, but keep exploring them.

Lastly, you need to take action. Baby steps are fine, but start taking back control of your path. This could simply be sharing your opinion more frequently, or challenging what you’ve always done or how you’ve always done it. If it doesn’t fit like you thought it would, you can always alter course. There is no rule against changing your mind. What would you like your next step to be? What’s something, perhaps even small, that you would like and to hell with what others think about it?

This is a long, challenging process, as I have personally experienced. But it is, oh so worth it! It took me a long time and a LOT of baby steps to start embracing a mind of my own and sharing it. I continue to work on this area of my life, but with each passing day I continue to feel more in control of the path I’m laying for myself. You deserve to experience that as well. There’s a beautiful (and scary at times) sense of responsibility that comes with owning your own future. I can screw up and make mistakes, but I learn from them and use that knowledge to work towards achieving the life I’m trying to build for myself. The flip side of that coin, is I also get to revel in the joy of successfully accomplishing my goals.

No matter where you are on this journey, I’m certain you have some words of wisdom to share. Which of the steps listed do you think is most important to the process of paving your own way? Do you have a strategy that worked for you in the past? Share your thoughts in the comments!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com