Coping Mechanisms That Get In Our Way

We all have stress to varying degrees. It’s how we deal with that stress that determines if we reduce it or increase it. Sometimes stressors are external like a looming deadline, demanding boss or difficult family member. Other times, they are internal like when we worry what others think of us, try to uphold an image, or live a perfectionist lifestyle.  No matter what your stressor is, you likely have coping mechanisms that are in place to help you deal with them. And that’s good…maybe.

There are plenty of coping mechanisms to choose from. They are all intended to make us feel better, but over time, they may actually have the opposite effect. If we find a way to ease our stress, that’s not so bad, but these coping mechanisms become habits. And when that happens, instead of just being along for the ride, they start driving our decisions. I’ll use one I see A LOT: wine.  Me and many of my lady friends love us some wine. Long, stressful day at work? Wine. Argument with a spouse? Wine. Something to celebrate? Wine. Before long, this habit permeates other areas, because the triggers start to increase. At first the trigger was stress. Then, since wine usually comes out in the evening, it started showing up not just on the stressful nights, but every night. One glass turns into 3 glasses and now a habit has formed and you’re stressed more because you just don’t feel good anymore.  See how sneaky those little buggers are?

What to do? First, identify your coping mechanisms, the unhealthy ones, I mean. Alcohol seems to be a pretty obvious one, but there are plenty that are more insidious. Smoking, yelling at people, guilting others into or out of things, emotional eating, complaining, playing the victim, excessive exercise, over working, spending too much time on social media…the list goes on.

Then you need to identify your triggers. What is going on, in your life or in your mind, right before you start using that coping mechanism? Looking for a pattern will help you uncover them , too. Like the wine example I used that started off as a stress reducer and ended up being an evening habit. Sometimes there are a few layers to these triggers before you find the original one. For example, maybe when you were 16, your high school sweetheart broke up with you. You consoled yourself with a container of Chunky Monkey. The next time you hit a stressful moment (that chemistry test) your memory reminded you how good that Chunky Monkey made you feel. Now you’re 47 and guess what you turn to when stress hits (or even when it doesn’t)?  You guessed it…Chunky Monkey or whatever naughty food you’re into now. You now have the added stress of weight gain, sugar crashes, and the like.

Once you’re clear on the unhealthy coping mechanism and its trigger, you are ready to replace that bad boy with a healthy coping mechanism. These are things like going for a walk, playing with the dog, meditating, talking your feelings out with a trusted friend, getting a massage, listening to relaxing music, and whatever else you can think of that you feel would be a healthy coping mechanism to reinforce.  As with any, it’s not hard to overuse any one, so be cautious that you’re not using any coping mechanism in excess, even the ones that seem healthy at first glance.

One thing is certain and that is stress ain’t goin’ nowhere, so we have to learn to deal with it in a healthy, productive manner so that we can reduce it without causing other stress (for ourselves or others.)

Alright, that’s enough from me. It’s your turn. What’s your favorite healthy coping mechanism? Share in the comments.

If you would like to work together on developing healthier coping mechanisms and habits, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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26 Ideas to Make the World a Better Place

It’s Memorial Day Weekend.  This is the time to remember all those who have passed before us and remind us just how precious life is.  Explaining Memorial Day, PBS says: “all Americans must take a moment to remember the sacrifice of our valiant military service members, first responders and their families. Memorial Day is a day of both celebration and grief, accounting for the honor of our heroes and reflecting on their tragic loss.”  My family has a long line of military and public service. Fortunately, none had to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. I originally posted a version of this on May 26th, 2013 – a little over 5 months after the Sandy Hook School tragedy. At that time, school shootings were still such a rare occurrence and our news feeds weren’t nearly as filled with these tragic stories. Sadly, things have escalated, making it even more important that we all share our voice, but the message I most wanted to bring in 2013, and again now, is how resilient we are as a nation. Even in the face of tragedy, good rises.

Ann Curry started a project of committing 26 Random Acts of Kindness to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook School.  While numerous worthwhile projects were born from this tragedy, this project helped quantify the good that still exists in the human spirit.

Check out (and “Like”) the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/26acts for more about this ongoing project.  Stories are shared to encourage and report wonderful examples of people doing simple acts that serve to restore faith in humanity.

There are so many awesome ways individuals can spread a little joy.  Here are 26 of my favorites:

  • Personally thank a veteran this weekend
  • Buy 26 roses and hand them out to random people that look like they need a little love
  • Create care packages for homeless people (hygiene products, snacks, etc.)
  • Give $5 extra at a toll booth and tell them to apply it to as many cars as possible
  • Give $5 extra at Dunkin or Starbucks for the next person
  • Volunteer at a food bank, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, school, etc. (those places need us all year long, not just around the winter holidays)
  • Donate to causes that you believe in
  • Donate clothing and household items to the Salvation Army or Goodwill
  • Volunteer at special events like Relay for Life, Special Olympics and community clean-ups
  • “Share” a friend’s  “new business” post
  • Take the time to listen to that long winded co-worker’s story instead of doing the army crawl around the building to avoid them
  • Send someone an email telling them what a great job they did
  • Ask an elderly person to tell you one of their proudest moments
  • Thank a police officer and other first responders for their work in the community
  • Post a public “thank you” to someone who has helped you in some way
  • Make a “Welcome” package for the new neighbor
  • Ask the new co-worker if they’d like to lunch with you
  • Give your bag of returnable cans and bottles to that person you see picking them up along the street every week
  • Visit the new business in town and try to help them succeed
  • Email the corporate office of a business letting them know you received great service from someone on their staff
  • Mentor a youth in need by becoming a Big Sister or Big Brother
  • Offer to do yard work for an elderly neighbor
  • Never pass up a kid’s lemonade stand…buy generously
  • Tell that pompous, know-it-all that  drives you batty something you truly like and admire about them
  • Forgive someone’s crabby behavior and treat them nicely anyway
  • Volunteer at a local ESL (English as a Second Language) program or learn someone else’s language (Spanish, Sign, etc.)

Behavior is often contagious.  When someone treats you poorly, you are more likely to treat someone else poorly while in your pissy-place.  Yet, when someone treats you kindly, you are more likely to ‘pay it forward’.  In essence, like one stone creating many ripples in a pond, your act of kindness has the ability to (directly or indirectly) impact millions of people!!  If you spread it out over one year, that’s only once every other week. (Math whiz you ask? Why yes, yes I am!)

While our service men and women, including first responders, continue to do their important work, we all have work to do to make this a better world to live in.

I’ll leave you with a quote I stumbled upon just before originally writing this post:

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”    -Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

Will you share your own preferred random acts of kindness in the comments section? You never know when you might inspire someone else.  

If you would like to work together and bring more good to the world by taking time to become the best version of you, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Knowing is the Easy Part

Most of us have personal goals. We have things we want to work on and improve upon. Knowing what to do is usually the easy part. It’s the doing that’s tough. Let me impart a warning: Disrupt yourself before someone or something else does it for you. There are things you know you need to do. If you don’t take it upon yourself to start working on them, life will eventually do it for you and will likely have greater time pressures than you would have now.

I’ll use health as an example. Let’s say I want to lose 20lbs. I KNOW what I need to do to lose the 20lbs. I could disrupt myself and start eating better and exercising more. But I keep putting it off while the scale continues to climb. Then I go for my annual physical and the doctor tells me I have high blood pressure, I’m pre-diabetic, and I’m making my heart work too hard. Guess who just disrupted me? The doctor. She tells me I need to lose weight to turn these issues around before they start creating even more serious problems. How much do you want to bet that I’m kicking myself because I knew what I needed to do before things got so dire?

Where do you need to disrupt yourself before someone or something else does it for you? Are you drinking too much? Do you need to face the problems in your relationship? Is it time to learn some new skills for work? Are you ready to address your depression? Do you need to stop charging up those credit cards? Are you ready to stop enabling a loved one? Is it time to eat better and get more exercise? Only you know the answer, but wouldn’t you rather make the decision on your terms?

So, how can you get started? DO something. Don’t think, or plan, or graph, or participate in any other form of “research” or “preparation.” DO something. It doesn’t need to be big, but it needs to be something. Need to stop drinking? Dump everything in the house. Need to discuss relationship issues? Set up a time to talk. Need to start exercising? Go for a walk. Today. Right now.

If you give your mind enough time, it will find a way to talk you out of it. It will reason with you and explain why tomorrow will be a much better day to get started. But tomorrow always stays tomorrow. You need to stop thinking and start doing. You are racing against time. What is one action you can commit to right now to disrupt yourself and start proving to yourself that you can do it? Start there. Stop blaming others, or your circumstances, or the unfairness of it all, and take back control. Take action and create the disruption you know you need to be the best version of you.

Tell me in the comments section how you have disrupted yourself in the past and how it led to greater wins.

A great place to start taking action is scheduling an Empowerment Session with me! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session that is sure to leave you feeling motivated and excited about taking more action to make your life better!

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Taking Time for Rest and Reflection

I think back to when my kids were young, and I feel like I’m busier now than I was then. I think we all are. We’re just so busy. We’re always doing something, and when we’re not doing something, we feel guilty about it or make excuses for it. But it’s important to take time to rest and reflect. To be curious and wonder, and imagine, and consider possibilities. While on the outside it may appear we are doing nothing, on the inside we are doing very important work.

Rest can take the form of sleep, meditation, or just quiet time in your own space. Rest allows our bodies to heal and repair. But there are other ways to rest from our busy-ness and that involves activities that may not look like rest. Here are some examples:

  • Spending quality time with friends and family – What’s important here is the “quality” aspect of these gatherings. You need to genuinely enjoy time with these people in order for it to be considered rest. This could be a picnic, a leisurely walk, time by the pool, a shared dinner, or a chat over tea. These types of connections leave you feeling lighter and relaxed.
  • Sitting quietly with your eyes closed – This can be a more formal method of meditation, or just you being aware of each body part and focusing on relaxing each one.
  • Eating natural, easy to digest foods – We put our bodies through a lot of extra effort when we consume too much processed, hard to digest foods. Some toughies include: dairy, fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, beans. Try replacing a heavy dinner with a lighter one, like salmon and brown rice. Also, drinking lots of water throughout the day helps, too! (9-11 eight-ounce cups per day for women, 12-13 cups per day for men is the general recommendation)
  • Deep, relaxing breathing – Focus on your breath and fill your lungs with oxygen. Take a deep breath in for four counts, then slowly release for 8 counts. Focus only on your breath. Do this for two minutes and you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
  • Nap – Short naps (20-35 minutes) can recharge you and make you more productive. They can also help minimize the effects of lost night sleep.

Reflection may seem like a luxury, but it serves an important purpose. Reflection is the process of looking back on your actions, both good and bad, considering their outcomes, and using those conclusions to direct future actions.  Reflecting like this improves your problem-solving skills and strengthens higher level thinking. Give yourself some time to reflect on the following questions:

  • Am I using my time wisely – Sure, you may be busy, but are you busy in the right way? Are you balancing the areas of your life appropriately?
  • Am I being true to my values and beliefs – It’s all too easy to do what is accepted by others, but that may mean being untrue to yourself so much that you lose your own identity.
  • Have I set goals and made a plan to achieve them – Getting lost in auto-pilot is all too common. Make sure you don’t lose sight of a future by your design. You don’t want to realize in 20 years that you followed everyone else’s path.
  • What behaviors and tendencies have I improved in over the years – Noticing where you’ve grown and improved is an important step in the reflection process. It reminds you that you can change any aspect of yourself that you want.
  • What behaviors and tendencies do I need to work on – There’s always room to become the best you. Considering the stage of your life now and the future you desire, consider what areas need some attention and effort.
  • What actions do I need to take that I’ve been putting off – We all do this. We can get fearful or overwhelmed by “next steps.” Taking the time to consider what the next small step is can gradually lead us a little closer to achieving what we need and want.

Making rest and reflection a priority in your life can mean the difference between “passive living” and “active living.” Living is meant to be an action verb – so get living by incorporating more rest and reflection in your life so you can truly live a life that YOU design.

Share in the comments section your favorite way to rest and/or a reflection question you love.

If you would like to work together and turn your reflection into action, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

What if Fear Didn’t Stop You?

We all have things we’d like to do, but fear stops us in our tracks. Fear has a place in our lives – it keeps us from making the same mistakes over again (like touching a hot stove) or doing things that put our life in jeopardy (like crossing busy highways). So, in and of itself, fear is not bad. But sometimes fear is delivered to us through our ego. There’s something we want to do, but somewhere in our mind we hear, “well if that fails, you’re going to look like an idiot,” or “what will people think of you?” It’s the Ego Fear that we have to try to get control of.

Do any of these situations resonate with you:

  • You want to start going to the gym – Ego Fear says, “Everyone’s going to stare at you” or “You’re going to look ridiculous trying to use all that complicated equipment.”
  • You have a question – Ego Fear says, “You don’t have enough information yet, just be quiet so you don’t look like a fool” or “Everyone else probably knows the answer and you’re going to look stupid for asking it.
  • A job opened up that you’d like to interview for – Ego Fear says, “You are nowhere as skilled as Jill, don’t bother applying” or “you don’t have a degree in that and it says one is desired.”
  • You want to try a new hobby – Ego Fear says, “Ballroom dancing? You have two left feet!” or “You’re terrible at keeping things alive and now you want to garden? What will the neighbors think?”
  • You’d like to meet new people – Ego Fear says, “You know how socially awkward you can be, save yourself the embarrassment” or “You’re so boring, what will you talk about?”
  • You want to start a business – Ego Fear says, “Sure, pyramid schemes are a great idea – Sucker!” or “Who’s going to buy from you? You’re not an expert in that field.”
  • You want to create a public workshop – Ego Fear says, “Who’s going to go to that? Maybe your mom and best friends will go just so you don’t feel bad” or “You’re out of your element here – you don’t even know people in this town.”
  • You want to say “No” to a request – Ego Fear says, “If you say ‘no’ they’re going to think you’re a bad person” or “Everyone thinks you’re so nice, saying ‘no’ will ruin that.”

While Ego Fear is trying to protect us, it assumes we need protection. It leads us right to the worst case scenario of a situation and makes mountains out of molehills. Ego Fear works in partnership with our inner critic, and if we give them control of our lives, they’ll take it. Then someday, you’ll look back and wonder what the hell you were so afraid of. You’ll wish you took those leaps. Looking back on your life now, even momentary blunders that felt embarrassing at the time, aren’t even a big deal anymore, right?

Courage is a muscle, and we have to use it to push through our ego fears. In Jia Jiang’s book, “Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection,” he literally made every effort to be rejected so he could “thicken his skin” and worry less about failure. He walked up to random houses and asked if he could practice soccer in their backyard; he asked strangers if he could borrow $100; he asked a dog groomer if they could give him a haircut. What he discovered was that most people were very nice, or at least not rude. He learned that his Ego Fear was way off base most of the time and was keeping him from living fully.

Don’t you think it’s time to stop letting your Ego Fear make your decisions? Don’t you think it’s time to know, once and for all, if that idea could really be a huge success? Try. That’s all you have to do. Try. Thank your Ego Fear for trying to protect you, but ask it to kindly zip it because you have work to do.

What’s something you’d try if your Ego Fear stepped out of your way?  Or, what’s something you finally did, in spite of your Ego Fear’s warnings, and found great benefits or success in? Share in the comments section.

If you would like to work together and kick your Ego Fear to the curb, 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 

Having the Courage to Live Authentically

I’ve spoken of the dangers of expectations in the past, particularly as it relates to having expectations of others. However, there is another side to expectations and that is when we don’t live up to those that others have of us. When we disappoint someone we care about, it hurts. Starting the journey of living authentically will often reveal plenty of disappointment.

There are certain life patterns we all enjoy. We have routines and often everyone has a clear role within them. However, when someone steps out of their assigned role (in this case you) it can upset the comfortable life patterns of those around us. It’s amazing how quickly guilt can envelop you. You have committed to a change that you think is important and when someone pushes back, you feel guilty. It’s hard to start swimming upstream – against the flow of everyone else – but often, that’s what living authentically does at first.

When you decide to start living your truth and your version of happy and fulfilled, it often means changing a path, even if only slightly. This means people may feel left behind or that you have now changed their role, which they were so comfortable in. I have a friend who decided to focus on losing weight. She had a goal of losing like 100lbs. Her husband didn’t have this same goal. At first he thought it was just a “health phase” she was in, but he soon discovered that wasn’t the case. She began changing her entire lifestyle. She eliminated processed foods from her diet which had been a staple for them in the past. She became more active and went for walks, hikes, and took exercise classes. As she saw the results of her efforts, it motivated her to continue. She eventually achieved her goal – but her marriage fell apart in the process.

You could certainly look at this situation and see the husband as unsupportive and selfish, but that’s not the whole story. While she was changing her lifestyle, his role became fuzzy and unclear. He was often the cook and took great pleasure in preparing foods that she enjoyed. He would pamper her and took pride in how loved and appreciated he made her feel, regardless of her weight. He enjoyed their food choices and liked sitting together watching TV shows or relaxing with friends. When she started and continued her weight loss journey, he lost his identity, so he started saying things that made her feel guilty. He accused her of leaving him behind and not caring about their relationship anymore. And she felt really bad about that, but she had a goal that was important, and had hoped he would join her and improve his own physical health. But instead, their paths grew further and further apart, until they were no longer able to be in a relationship with each other.

Not all changes will be so dramatic, and you should know this story ended well for both of these individuals. But living authentically is for the brave and assuming you have only this one life to live, you better make sure you live it well. It’s important to be empathetic to those who are impacted by your choices and goals, HOWEVER, that does not mean you change course. If you believe your goals truly are for your well-being, then you have to accept that others may respond negatively. Hear them out and let them share their perspective. Consider how your changes may impact them and try to share your perspective with a patient and open heart. Also, understand they may not be able to join you on your journey or not until they’ve taken the time to adjust to the changes. They may need to time to figure out what their role will be in your life. That doesn’t make you a bad person and that doesn’t mean you should let guilt stop you in your tracks.

Living authentically requires bravery and resilience. It means you may have to leave some behind or that roles will change. But living authentically also means you experience deep joy and fulfillment in your life – even with the growing pains that come with it. Be you. Love you. And keep pursuing the life you desire.

It’s your turn to coach! Tell me in the comments section what you would recommend someone do when they are feeling guilty about living authentically.

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

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

What Are You Doing With Your Gifts?

We have all been blessed with talents and skills, yet not everyone shares them with the world. Far too many hide their gifts. They believe their talents aren’t as worthwhile as someone else’s. They compare and minimize what they’ve been blessed with. They are embarrassed because they haven’t perfected their skills, so they keep them tucked away in all their unfinished glory never to see the light of day.

Can you relate to that? Do you have talents that you enjoy and know you’re good at, but compared to other’s you just feel like you’re not enough? That what you have to offer is just not enough? Do you worry that if you were to really put yourself out there that others would shame you or put you in your proper (lower) place?

You have been given gifts. Gifts that can make the world, even if only your small piece of it, better. Imagine giving someone you care deeply about the most incredible gift. The one thing you know they wanted. It brought you incredible joy to give them this gift. You know they are the right person for it. They have the ability to share it and make it unique and beautiful. But you notice they hide the gift. Maybe they only reveal it to a select few, but for the most part they hide it. Or maybe they act like it’s not really a big deal. You know it’s a big deal to them, but they act like it’s not. When you ask them why they hide the beautiful gift you gave them, they tell you honestly that they were so excited about it, and they truly love it, but they noticed that other people have bigger and better gifts. They feel as though they just aren’t able to properly share their “small” gift when there are so many others with better ones. You’d be crushed and sad to know this gift that had so much potential with your loved one will never blossom; will never have it’s time to shine.

In Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass at Making Money, she shares a story about Prince opening for the Rolling Stones. Prince had not yet made a name for himself, but he was trying. He went on stage in a trench coat – just a trench coat. No pants. He was booed through his entire performance. They threw things at him. The next night, he was at the next show and again, he wore a trench coat and no pants. He met a similar fate with this new audience. Could you imagine if he stopped there? Could you imagine never experiencing the incredible talent of Prince? At that moment, it would have probably been much easier for him to quit and say his gift was just not up to the standards of the world. But he didn’t. He committed more fully to his gift and said he’d never open for anyone else. He would play his own shows with people who appreciated his gift. And that’s exactly what he did.

You have gifts and talents that you’ve been blessed with. They will not resonate with everyone, but they will resonate with the people that need it the most. You may know 100 people with that same gift, but they bring something a little different to it, just like you do. You will attract the people that need it the most and detract those that don’t. It’s all good. There are a lot of people in the world. There is room enough for all of us to share our gifts.  Hold yours up high, be thankful for it, and share it proudly with the world. This world needs you and your talents. Speak up, stand up and show us what you’ve got.

Time to share! What is a gift or talent you have and how do you like to share it? Share in the comments section.

If you would like to work together and discover the best way to share your gift, 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 

Your Life – Are You In the Audience or On the Stage?

Life plays out differently for different people, but there are generally two places to interact from: The Audience or The Stage. There are those who observe life from the audience perspective. They tend to see life happening to them. Those who are on the stage are active performers. They tend to see life as very much in their control. Where you choose to be greatly determines how you feel about your life. Let’s take a closer look at these perspectives.

Audience Member

  • Often a victim of life’s circumstances
  • Feels as though everyone else’s needs come before their own
  • Has many “reasons” to explain why their life is the way it is
  • When things go right, they often feel “lucky”
  • They often see others as smarter, better, or better positioned than them
  • They feel powerless
  • They may have moments of wanting to take control of their life, but ultimately talk themselves out of it
  • They tend to complain
  • They think they fall short compared to others
  • Tend to be “people pleasers”
  • Often deal with issues as they arise, as opposed to planning for them or taking preventative measures
  • May wish for things to be different, but just don’t see how it could work for them

Stage Performer

  • Excited at all the possibilities
  • Sets goals and achieves many of them
  • Has many stories of overcoming obstacles
  • When things go right, they often feel proud
  • They don’t regularly compare themselves to others – they embrace their own uniqueness
  • Even when faced with unexpected challenges, they recognize that they get to choose how to handle them
  • They often try new things and aren’t afraid of failure
  • Instead of complaining about others, they self-reflect and control what they can control
  • Failure does not define or deter them
  • They balance their self-care and taking care of others
  • They plan and goal set to avoid obstacles
  • When they desire change, they take action and make it happen

So which one sounds most like you? I can honestly say I’ve spent significant time at various stages of my life as an audience member.  I was guilty of all of those things. I also left my “seat” and approached the stage, but got scared and returned to my seat. Maybe I chose a seat a little closer to the stage, but I still sat. Other times, I approached the stage, owned it and then gradually backed away to the comfort zone of sitting. There were times in my life where I actively chose to be an audience member. Maybe because I was just too tired to do anything else. Still other times, I sat in order to observe and learn from others who were excelling on their stage. There is no judgement here. There is no right or wrong. It’s up to you. Where do you want to be most of the time? Is it where you are now? If it isn’t, then you know what you need to do – you need to take action.

Tell me in the comments section one area within the Stage Performer list that you’d like to strengthen, and why.

If you would like to work together and find the strength to get up on your stage, 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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Why Courage is Crucial to Personal and Professional Development

When we are working on developing ourselves personally or professionally, this starts with courage. Developing means change, and change takes bravery. But it’s not just the courage to face change. You have to be willing to look in the mirror. I mean REALLY look in the mirror. There are many “mirrors” available that will show our reflection. How we look through our own eyes will only give us one perception. There are many.

Looking back on my personal and professional growth, there were aspects about myself that I just couldn’t see. Some, I just didn’t WANT to see. It was only when I truly considered the perspectives of others that I realized how I was self-sabotaging myself at times. This included qualities that were seemingly positive. I have a very strong sense of fairness and I tend to be very protective of the underdog. Both of these sound pretty good, but if I felt someone was behaving unfairly, or mistreating an underdog, I would get all salty about it. This translated to others that I was judgmental, as they could feel my disdain for their actions.  None of us like to be judged and giving this perception was something I needed to be aware of if I wanted to connect personally and advance professionally.

Having immersed myself in the personal and professional development sphere for over 25 years, I’ve seen how courage is a game-changer for those looking to improve. I’ve also seen how the lack of it delays development. I can’t count how many times someone has said, “That’s just the way I am.” These are dangerous words and an even more hazardous mindset. We all have the ability to change any aspect of our behavior that we wish.

When we look in the mirror, we have the benefit of knowing exactly what our intentions are. We KNOW we’re coming from a good and logical place in everything we do. Other people, however, do not have access to our intentions. They know what we say those intentions are, but they can only really view us based on our actions. It takes courage for people to share those perceptions with us. Feedback like this can be delivered really tactfully or in a way that seems really hurtful to us. But if you take feedback as “data points” and try to let go of the delivery method, there is much to be discovered here.

Take for example various feedback a person, I’ll call her “Jane,” may hear. Jane beats herself up for always waiting until the last minute and stressing herself out. Her friends jokingly complain she is always late. Jane’s boss asks that she work on prioritizing better to meet deadlines. A co-worker is overheard asking that he NOT be partnered with her on a project because he knows he’ll have to do all the lead work. It’s only when Jane has the courage to face all this feedback and address it that she will improve.

I can’t stress enough the importance of considering each of these criticisms as data points. Just the facts. First, the more we can remove any drama around this, the better. If Jane starts thinking that Sylvia made the comment about her always being late because Sylvia is a control-freak, then she has lost the valuable data point for herself. Secondly, when you are collecting data like this, you are ultimately looking for clusters of the same data. The example of Jane shows that planning or time management may be a challenge for her. There were 4 data points on this topic alone (hers, her friends, her boss’s, and her co-worker’s). But if some random comment is made by a person saying she’s selfish, but she has not heard that before, that one data point is likely just that individual’s perception and not a repeating data point for her to worry about.

The problem with feedback is not everyone is comfortable giving it. That means we have to be willing to use that same courage to ask for feedback. You can ask friends, family, supervisors, co-workers, etc. one question to start the ball rolling: “Can you share something I do or don’t do that could be perceived as negative by others.”  This question is genius in that it’s not asking the person what they think, which makes it safer for them to answer. Take the feedback with a smile, and give a sincere “thanks” to them for sharing it. Don’t try to justify it or explain it. Just take the data point and start plotting your responses. Don’t forget to include your own perspective, too.

The point of personal and professional development is not to bend to the expectations of others. Rather, it’s about being clear about how you are perceived and taking control to make sure you are viewed only the way YOU want to be.

Share in the comments section a time being courageous helped you grow personally or professionally.

If you would like to partner up and get some support on your personal and professional journey, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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7 Questions to Help You Transform Your Life

This is another time of year filled with holidays and observances. Christians are celebrating Easter; Jewish people are celebrating Passover; and just about all of us are celebrating the long-awaited arrival of Spring. Regardless of your religious beliefs, all three of these occasions share a common theme: Transformation.

Easter signifies the resurrection, or coming back to life after death, of Jesus.  Passover commemorates the freedom Jews could finally enjoy after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. Spring is celebrated for the new growth it is beginning to provide for us.

I hope whichever of these you are celebrating, you are able to do so with those you love. That includes you. If you are alone, you are still in wonderful company! For this time of transformation, I’d like to provide some questions of reflection for you to consider today and throughout the week:

  • How would you like to transform your life?
  • What parts of you or your life need to be “brought back to life?”
  • What parts of you and your life need to be freed from others’ control?
  • What’s something you’d like to see grow and expand in your life?
  • How would you have to change in order to have that kind of transformation?
  • How much more fulfilled would you be if you could make that change happen?
  • What is one small step you could take that would bring you closer to that transformation?

Meditate or pray for guidance on these questions and how you answered them. Close your eyes and visualize how your life would look if you achieved this transformation. Imagine your confidence, your energy, your happiness with this transformation. Then give thanks for all you have right now. Your experiences, thoughts, wishes, ideas, and knowledge are all clues and keys to achieving what you want to achieve. You need only believe that if you seek, you shall, indeed, find.

I wish you a very happy celebration of transformation, whatever that may look like for you!!

If you wish, I’d love to see you share some thoughts on transformation in the comments section.

(This was originally posted on Easter of 2017, but the message is so relevant, I decided to post it again this Easter. I hope you enjoyed it.)

If you would like to partner up and get some support on transforming into the best version of yourself, 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