Labor Day marked the transition of reclaiming my home and life from Summer Madness! As much as I love summertime, Autumn is really my favorite time of year. It's time to shake off that sloth and get energized for harvest time! While I've been enjoying the golden warmth without so much of the brain searing heat, I've noticed that I'm not the only one finding it difficult to concentrate on business.
So I'm devoting this edition to issues of focus, change (healing our relationship to money by guest writer Barbara Bernadette), and finding a sense of community.
I hope this issue helps you revitalize your sense of purpose and focus, and inspires you to welcome the new season by inviting positive change into your life.
If you are interested in receiving coaching guidance or for more information about my business, executive or personal coaching services, please contact me at [email protected]
Sheila Adams-Sapper, M.A
Spotlight On Coaching
Group Coaching...Community Building
When I moved to my new community not too long ago, I decided I could best acclimate and find a sense of place through community service. By networking, it didn't take long to find a great opportunity and I got more out of my commitment than I expected. More than just contributing to something meaningful and meeting some great people, it has helped shape the direction of my coaching practice.
I met Michelle Benoit at a networking meeting where she passionately described a project she has launched called Community Works to recognize the resiliency of women who have come through situations of extreme adversity and are choosing success over victimization. Their situations include domestic violence, homelessness, serious illness and desire to transition from welfare to work.
She works with social service agencies to nominate women they believe meet the requirements for success. Many businesses have graciously donated goods and services to support the women with cosmetic and wardrobe makeovers, as well as presentation, interviewing, resume building, computer training and life skills.
I initially got involved in the project to help with its organization, then noticed the need to provide coaching to leverage the womens' transition, strengthen their networks of support, increase their self-confidence and help them with obstacles along the way. Because of the number of women involved we decided to use a combination group and peer coaching model, meeting in facilitated group sessions weekly for 10-12 weeks. They will be offered the opportunity to develop skills in peer coaching in order to continue their support network after the group sessions have concluded. I am now using this model in other aspects of my coaching practice by forming groups to support business owners, and those wanting guidance in starting their own business.
A group coaching environment provides the structure and support of private coaching with its focus on one's strengths, and its approach to overcoming fears and limiting beliefs that hinder success. It has the added bonus of extra support, replicating the structure of an advisory board. Members are exposed to new ideas and ways of looking at situations, and experience how others have solved similar problems. They help each other set goals and support each other in their achievement. The sessions are fun and stimulating. The structure creates a community of similar interests and needs, mutual accountability, and helps relieve isolation common with busy people, at a cost lower than private coaching.
Sharpening Your Edge
Money and Abundance
What are the conditions for feeling truly successful in your life? Do you know? Have you achieved them? I believe quite strongly in the importance of having a compelling vision for your life and setting goals, and having a plan to achieve them. But all of us goal-oriented people sometimes get so excited about the vision that we forget to celebrate who we are and what we have in the here and now.
Whatever your standards of success are, it's probably pretty certain that money issues are involved somehow. Whether the amount of money you have or earn is a measure of your wealth and success, or a tool to attain your needs and desires, it's healthy to have a clear understanding of the role of money in your life.
If you want to increase your understanding of your attitude toward money, and enhance your sense of wealth and abundance, here are some ideas collected from proven experts in the field.
Responsibility vs. Blame
Barbara Sher, author of Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want, writes, "Any amount [of money] you don't have--whether it's $5,000 or $500,000--will appear to be a mountain. Almost any amount you do have will not appear to be enough to pay next month's bills!...[Lack of money] is one of the best excuses not to go for your dreams. It gets you much more sympathy than being fat." If you choose to delay your happiness until you have more of something else, you transfer your locus of control to external conditions. Taking responsibility for your own happiness means literally choosing what your response to your situation will be.
One way to stop blaming our lack of success or happiness on our financial condition is to shift our attention from what we lack. Try adding expressions of gratitude to whatever daily ritual you do, such as prayer, meditation, or journaling. A gratitude journal is a good tool to help you focus on what you already have that enriches you.
Creating a Sense of Luxury
No matter how much money you earn, it is always possible to enhance the presence of luxury in your life. Even if your financial situation seems bleak and creditors are breathing down your neck, or your earnings are spread very thinly, you can create a sense of abundance and luxury in your life today. Julia Cameron, author of "The Artist's Way", says that luxury comes from attention to personal care and pampering. She suggests making a list of ten things that cost less than twenty dollars that make you feel luxurious, and rewarding yourself with gifts of these weekly. Another good tool is to make a list of free or low cost things that you love to do but rarely give yourself the time to do.
Counting Your Pennies
Another tool I found useful is Julia Cameron's "Counting Exercise". This exercise is designed to be a non-judgmental look at how we're spending our money and illuminates our priorities and values.
In a small notebook, write down everything you spend for at least a week (even seemingly petty amounts). You might find, like I did, that you're frittering away small amounts on things that you don't really care about, while denying yourself treats you think you can't afford.
When I did this exercise I discovered I was spending too much on prepared food, because I didn't think ahead to what might be appealing to eat that wouldn't take much time to prepare at home. I started a fund to reward myself for every meal I prepare by putting a set amount in a jar, which I eventually use to splurge on one of those things I used to complain I couldn't afford.
Defining "the Good Life"
Sometimes the most empowering thing we can do for ourselves is make some small changes now. This gives us some momentum for the bigger changes we need to make and helps us be more patient while we're working toward our larger goals. The simple act of creation itself provides a climate of abundance. Making these small changes is a way for us to take responsibility for our situation and work with where we're at in life. So list three small changes you can make today in any or all of the following: your work space, your wardrobe, your eating habits, your exercise routine, your spiritual life, your favorite room, your social life, your recreation, your spending. Also consider these in your life design:
Discover your purpose in life and let everything you do be a reflection of it, including how you make decisions to earn and spend money.
Cultivate a sense of gratitude for your talents and what you have in life. Share your gifts with others. It feels good to give something away, and at the same time it strengthens what you have.
Find new ways to create a sense of luxury and abundance regardless of your current financial situation.
Meditate on affirming beliefs of your relationship to money. As Napolean Hill stated in Think and Grow Rich, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
by Barbara Bernadette, guest writer
Four years ago as I gazed into the eyes of my beloved over candlelight, he raised his glass of wine nonchalantly and said, "You know, relationships usually end because of money problems." I never forgot his words, and three years later he was no longer in my life for this very reason. We make and speak our own prophecies daily, yet we are not even aware of how powerful our words really are. But was the end really because of money issues or was it caused by something much deeper, much more profound? We were indeed having money problems, but they weren't insurmountable. His focus on the financial part of our relationship prevented us from communicating where our deepest needs were not being met. It is easier to focus on money issues than to deal with the underlying, deeper wounds that run our lives. Because most people feel they don't have enough money, they use their lack of financial abundance as the reason they are not happy.
This situation is a typical example of how money is blamed for so many misfortunes experienced in life. Our relationship with our money is fascinating. It is deeply personal, self-revealing, unconscious, and extremely intimate. It is easier to share stories of our sex lives than it is to reveal our financial standing. What are we so afraid of revealing if we talk about our personal finances?
The emotional and psychological aspects of money are quite complex. Money is literally an outward symbol, a form of measurement that relates how successful or unsuccessful we are in the world. America is a wealthy nation and our standards of success are based on material things. Since money is simply an inert form of measurement, why do we believe who we are as human beings so deeply lies in how much of it we possess? What are the emotional and psychological meanings behind our money madness?
Money is often a scapegoat for the real issues in life. We say such things as "If I only had enough money to buy a house, pay off my credit cards, take a trip, go to school, fix my nose, etc., then I would be happy." Or we use the classic phrase "When I win the lottery" Somehow we believe our success and happiness depends on how much money is in our lives.
Through our money we see a reflection of who we
are in the world. What shows up is what you are doing in
each area of your life, each day, each year, and each moment.
Are you working and earning at your full potential?
Are you thinking of your future and taking care of yourself
not only today, but for the next thirty years? Are you
causing yourself sleepless nights by bingeing on clothes and
vacations, incurring large credit card debt? Are you so
busy providing for others' needs that you never seem to
have enough money to pay for your own personal needs?
When we are leading productive lives, doing good work, being fair, our money situation is more stable, and we seem to have more of it. When our lives are chaotic our money also goes in and out of our checking accounts in sporadic and drastic ways. Stop for a moment and look into your own mirror. What do you see?
We need to fully explore all aspects of money and how it affects who we are in the world. We need to understand how it emotionally and psychologically holds us hostage to what we find meaningful in life.
Barbara Bernadette is a Money Minister and founder of the Healing Money Program. She is a keynote speaker and conducts Healing Money workshops. Call today and discover how to make breakthroughs in your relationship with money.
Meditations on Money and Abundance
You are a living magnet, constantly drawing to you the things, the people, and the circumstances that are in accord with your thoughts. In other words, you are where you are in experience, in relationships, even in financial conditions, because of what you are (which is where you are in consciousness).
--Eric Butterworth, Spiritual Economics: The Prosperity Process.
In our time and culture, the battlefield of life is money. But the inner enemies remain the same now as they were in ancient India or feudal Japan: fear, self-deception, vanity, egoism, wishful thinking, tension, and violence.
--Jacob Needleman, Money and the Meaning of Life.
If you picture yourself acquiring abundance, if you keep this vision in your mind regardless of the obstacles you encounter, and if you absolutely see it for yourself, then you will act on this image.
--Wayne W. Dyer, You'll See It When You Believe It: The Way to Your Personal Transformation.
When you blame an outside force for any of your experiences of life you are literally giving away all of your power and creating pain, paralysis and depression.
--Susan Jeffers, "Change What You Can Change", Redbook, February 1987.
It was easy to get a little off kilter during summer. School was out. Kids everywhere were under foot and looking for things to do. Vacation mode set in, even if you didn't get to go anywhere. If you have kids and they're anything like mine, they were asking for rides everywhere. My kids are fooled by my presence at home into thinking I'm an on-call taxi service. Their eyes glaze over when I try to explain for the umpteenth time how even though I work from home, I need to keep certain hours to take care of my business.
So what do you do when Summer Madness has created chaos in your productivity? The transition to Autumn is a great time to take stock and get your life back into focus. We can do this by acknowledging, defining and affirming our sense of purpose in life, by building a daily structure of action, and by strengthening our external network of support.
A sense of purpose is the backbone of everything we do. It adds vitality and meaning to the smallest elements of our work. It defines our path in life, and the decisions we make. Our purpose stems from our vision of who we want to be and what we want to have done with our lives.
It is important to take time every now and then to reconnect with our purpose. At the beginning of each new season is an easy time to establish this practice. During stressful periods in life, we may need to revisit it more often. Make sure your business plan is designed around your purpose and core values.
Build a Daily Structure of Action
Now that we have reminded ourselves of our purpose, we can make sure we have the foundation in place to build our lives around it, including our business. Some of the main building blocks include organization and time management, a specific agenda for daily actions, and a commitment to overall wellbeing.
Organization is an important component of your support structure. Searching for information in a disorganized office uses valuable time and energy. Dealing with clutter on your desk or your workspace is an invitation to fragmentation of your focus. Spend some time getting your work space in a state that honors who you are and what you're trying to accomplish in your work. Make it a priority to find an organization system that makes sense to you. If this isn't your strength, ask people what works well for them. I'll come back to time management.
Another big piece in your foundation is a framework of daily actions you take to fulfill your purpose. This is not a list of resolutions, but a specific and do-able list of things that will keep you focused and on the right path.
Before you make your list, let's look at one more piece of this structure: valuing your sense of wellbeing. When we are well, fulfilled, and focused on a purpose, we give our absolute best to all that we do. Our wellbeing includes a sense of creativity and fun. We give of ourselves from a sense of abundance and we devote space in our lives to replenish our energy.
So having said this, let's now revisit time management and developing our action framework. Make a list of the things you want to do to keep your business healthy and growing. Often we are really good at dealing with the tasks that come at us, but fall short on the planning and development side. Allow time weekly for business development. Make time too for dreaming and visualizing your business (and your life) as you want it to look, feel, and work for you. Add to it your list of things that keep yourself healthy and growing. Also add the things from other parts of your life such as family and your social network.
I have two tips for building a structure you can stick with and actually do every day. The first is to look at what you're currently doing and measure it against your purpose. Most people I work with in this area have several things they do that either don't support their purpose, or are things they could easily and appropriately delegate to others or hire out. The second tip is to focus on making this do-able. For instance, if part of what you're trying to do is integrate more physical exercise into your schedule, start small and choose activities you really like. Varying your activities holds your interest and maintains a high state of energy. When I decided to add running to my exercise routine, I started with 20 minutes because I knew I would probably not sustain a commitment of much more than that. Now that the habit is established and I'm experiencing the tangible benefits of this routine I find it easier to expand my time commitment occasionally, and I have no problem sticking to my initial commitment.
Strengthen Your Support System
So now you're connected to your purpose and you have a great action plan to help you manage your tasks and do your work with a sense of vitality (because you're taking good care of yourself!). Now you need to strengthen your external supportfor a couple of reasons. First of all, those closest to you need to know about your daily structure and your needs. Your strongest supporters will become your allies to help you stick to your structure. This structure will help you consciuosly take care of your needs and keep you from being distracted by those in your life who may not be aware of what your needs are.
The second reason for strengthening your support system is that being around people, especially those you like and admire, brings out your best, affirms what you're doing, and helps you stay on track. The external relationships you create to support you will keep you from feeling isolated (very important for those of us who work from home). They can give you feedback about how you are doing. They give you opportunities to experience that you are not alone in your particular issues, and you are exposed to ways other people have solved problems similar to yours. Networking is also a great way to stay in touch with the issues facing your community. It provides exposure to opportunities for needs that are unmet and it's a great way to connect with potential clients and business alliances.
For those of us who work from home, being very clear about our daily structural needs is extra critical. Having a daily structure helps me stick to my morning ritual of writing, planning and getting my day started off on the right tone regardless of whether the phone starts ringing off the hook or I have a list full of things needing attention. The time I spend in focusing my day and in tending to my own wellbeing comes back to me a hundredfold in my ability to prioritize my work, get the important things done, and serve my clients well. And the biggest benefit is it makes me a more patient mother, a more attentive partner to my husband and an emotionally healthier person in the world. So here is the bottom line, something easy to remember as you go through your day:
YOU GET WHAT YOU FOCUS ON!!!
Here is how one trainer illustrated time management to a group of over-achievers: The trainer pulled out a large, wide-mouthed jar and placed about a dozen fist-sized rocks, one at a time, into the jar. When no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the group said, "Yes." "Are you sure?" he asked.
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some of the gravel in and shook the jar, working the gravel in between the spaces between the big rocks. "Now is this jar full?", he asked.
By this time the group was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied . He pulled out some sand and started pouring it in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.
Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?' NO! the class shouted. He grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.
He looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager participant replied, "No matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something else in!"
"No," the trainer replied. The truth this illustration teaches us is: " If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all." Focus on your "big rocks" today and make sure you fit them in first. Your tasks of lesser value and importance will still easily sift in your remaining spaces.
Sheila Adams, M.A. Organization Development, draws on 16 years in business as entrepreneur, executive, trainer, and coach, to guide you toward living your vision. For more information about workshops, teleclasses, and coaching customized for your success, visit The Learning Edge Coaching web site at www.TheEdgeCoach.com and the special programs for Vibrant Women due to start Fall 1999.
The Learning Edge Coaching Services
PO Box 177
San Anselmo, CA 94979-0177
Phone: (415) 457-4277
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