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Moving out and stages of change

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I am moving to a new apartment. I was congratulated, received many encouragements, good wishes and the like, yet I look around me in horror.
I hate moving. The clutter around, the dust, the confusion as you can’t find anything anymore.

But in the end, moving out is a renewal process. “You have a few days of chaos, and then you’re more prone to appreciating the order in your new home”, said my (wise) apartment-and-life-mate.

The stages of change

Ruba Homaidi coached me once on the stages of change:
1. Precontemplation (“No way, I’m not doing this!”)
2. Contemplation (“I might do this, but not just now”)
3. Preparation (“I may start, let’s have an attempt”)
4. Action (“I am doing it”)
5. Maintenance (“I’ve been doing it for more than 6 months”)

The hardest part is the Contemplation stage. Moving from Contemplation to the actual inner decision to do something is an inner process of self discovery.
Think about the last time you decided to do something different for yourself. How long did it take you to make that decision? When did you fight all the fears?

The “U” of Presence

In the book “Presence”, Peter Senge along with 3 other great management and psychology thinkers explore the process of change and human behavior.
They say that in order to achieve change, we go through a process similar to a “U”: first down, then up. The “down” is an inward movement, the “up” is an outward movement, together with the “solution” of the change process.
Immersion, complete silence, then readjustment.

Chaos, complete chaos and boxes around, then order in a new home.

What can I do to move the process forward?

I’m aware that my contemplation towards the piles of clothes, boxes and “stuff” in my living room is not gonna get me far.
Complete “immersion” is not a solution here.

1. Put up some resources to help.
These can be friends, helpers, or simply physical resources to prop the process. Little by little.packing_box 2. Set up some milestones for the change process.
By when do you want to be done with it?
“I want to gather all clothes in these 3 boxes.”
3. Set rewards – after each milestone
I am going to take a nice bath after I’m done with the cleaning. Not to mention the housewarming party!

Only getting myself focused on this process has already gotten me to the “Preparation” stage. Now all I need to do is to move to “Action” and get these piles ordered up.

** If you liked my rambling about how moving can destroy your life (ok, for a few days), read my friend’s experience here.  I definitely need to remember the other direction of the bathroom in the night too.


Written by effectivenesscoach

December 1, 2009 at 7:40 am

Your hardships are your lessons

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Let me share two stories with you:

One of the persons most dear to me in the world has serious issues. She believes that she means nothing as long as she can’t have the man she loves. Who left her about half a year ago. She is paralysed by suffering and cannot move her life an inch. And nothing will change, until she will chose to change.

I have a colleague who’s very action oriented. She can’t stand people who are resistant to change. Ironic or not, she will change her job soon enough, and one of the people she will have to work with is one who is rather conservative and detail oriented. She’s in for a hard time.

What do both have in common?

Both have a barrier that they’ve set to themselves. One of them is “I can’t do anything”, the other one is “I need to get something done”.
And both have a lesson to learn.

It is said that the hardships you get in life are your lessons. They will keep coming back to you until you’ve learned your lesson.

How does this work?

Your mind has  patterns. It creates millions of canals through which synapses form. Practically, these canals are the way you keep reacting to certain stimuli. And if you keep reacting in the same way, you’ll keep getting the same results.
Think about the recurring issues in your life.
What pattern can you see around them?
What behaviour of yours keeps repeating?

I am very fast. I am so fast, that I tend to hit the reply and send button without thinking much about what I type in between. This caused me serious trouble one or two times.
So, ironic or not, I got a job where I’m involved in extensive sensitive communication. I now have to think through messages and procedures, and carefully analyse possible implications. Nightmarish at first, but a good education for my buzzing self.

What you have issues on is precisely what you’re going to have to work on.

You may decide to postpone this, but you’re in for a long and hard journey. These lessons are going to return to you until you take the challenge and accept what they have to teach.

Practical self – work:

  • Think about the most annoying person you’ve had to deal with.
  • What are 2 things that you can’t stand in this person?
  • Now, can you name one more person who has the same characteristics, and who showed up in your life previously?
  • How did your behavior influence the relationship with this person?
  • Is there any part of your behavior, that, if changed, would make a drastic improvement?
  • Can you make this change?
  • As of when?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 17, 2009 at 8:08 pm

The Purpose of Meaning

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Looking at how events unfold in the past year, I say this is so true. And it’s not only me – it’s the entire world. I suddenly feel part of a “greater future waiting to emerge“. We young people are  focused – not focused – we are driven to make a difference. We are looking for activity that makes us feel human beings.

Isn’t it ironic? We’re all careerists working in multinationals, spending our days in cubicals and fantasizing about making a difference. We read about leadership and inspiration. We thrive on motivational talks. We look into “what makes people tick”. And from our cubical corner, we hope that our little corporate job makes a difference somewhere out there.

We’re looking for the greater purpose, and yet, somehow, we end up doing small work.
Are we?

What if you take this small work and multiply the effect?
What if your email turns into a project? What if that project gives an idea to someone? What if that idea ends up changing lives?

I believe that’s why so many young people – and let’s not forget Gen Y are the future leadership of major companies – are into Corporate Social Responsibility projects. That’s why so many people are going into the personal development field. That’s why coaching is exploding.

Because we want to make a difference. Because the purpose of life is to find a meaning. And most of us are looking for this meaning in our everyday job.

I’m recently more and more focused on mine…and boy, I do feel the difference when I wake up in the morning.

What’s YOUR passion? What is the one activity that gives your life meaning?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Integrated Learning

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About one year ago, I had a major life crisis.

I have – to quote – a jewel job, that most people would kill for, in a great compay. I have a partner, a few good friends and money to spare. This would put me in the 7% fortunate people on this planet. But there’s more to life than this.

The perspective of doing this and being here for the rest of my life was terrifying me.

I won’t bore you with my searches at that time. What’s enough to say is that I came up with a concept and an idea that would help me – and you, if you’ve gone through a quarterlife crisis. If not, prepare, it might hit you soon.

So we live our lives, most of us, from 9 till 5. We have a pretty good career, and we’re ambitious. Therefore, we work harder. We put our entire focus on growing, developing, contributing. We have – if we’re lucky enough! – a family to care for. Someone to love. We spend what’s left of our energy there.

Notice what’s the idea that appears most often there?

Yes – it’s spending. Giving. Contributing. Mostly with your mind. After all, we white collar workers are, according to Peter Drucker, knowledge workers.

But what about learning, receiving, reenergizing?

Where do you get that from?

And do you do it consciously?

So that’s where I thought – what if we could have a place where you could unwind. Not by resting and getting into the “vegetable” state, watching TV all day long. By doing some actual work. With your hands, not your mind.
The first thing that came to my mind was working the earth. To me, this is immensely relieving. If you have a house in the countryside, or visited your grandparents recently, you know what I mean. It puts your mind in a completely different perspective.
Cooking is another thing that detaches you.

All activities that remove your mind from the urban clutter and get you closer to the “authentic” living.

This is what I call “Integrated Learning“. Being able to de-focus from the daily abstract work – and here I include everything abstract. Yes, even that Time Management course that promises to help you re-organize everything in your life.

And if you want to experience a first bit of the “Integrated Learning” idea, do something with your hands. No, not on the keyboard. Any activity that involves some kind of discovery will be fine. Go hiking. Gather leaves from the park. Use your senses. Look at the sky.
Aren’t these all things that you didn’t do for a while?
No wonder we’re feeling lost in our little cubical. We forgot how to be in touch with the real world.

How do you unwind? How do you get back in touch with your physical self?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 8, 2009 at 7:58 am

Courage and inspiration

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Many times, when we see people who leave everything and pursue their dreams, we think:

“Yeah, but he/she’s missing all the money I’m earning”

“He/she’ll never make it, it’s too utopic”

“I’d never be able to do that anyway”

..or other excuses we kindly make up for ourselves.

I remembered this when I read again Mihai’s story – a friend of mine who decided to give up everything (job and money, in a nutshell) to dedicate himself to a project related to human development and coaching. More about his project and life here and here.

Also inspiring was the dream of Alex Gavan, another friend who’s an alpinist and recently returned from a trip to the Himalayas. I remember when we were both around 20 (some 7-8 years ago), returning from a conference on a bus, and he said: “You know, I’m a mountain climber. That’s what I want to do. I want to climb the highest mountains in the world.” I said “You’re crazy. Do you even know what this means?” but of course I learned to admire this when, step by step, he followed his goal. He’s now pretty famous, and an inspiration to people in my home country, as he will deliver a speech on his dream at TED X Bucharest in October.

Of course, having the courage to pursue an apparently impossible goal can be reckless. You can destroy everything you’ve built in your life so far. But also, you might succeed. And I’m sure both Mihai and Alex can say that the thing that helped them most here was support of others.

What’s the conclusion?

When someone talks about a goal, and your first reaction to it is “This is insane. How can you do that?”, think that you may be snapping the door on an inspiring future of someone.

How about saying  “That’s a great idea! What’s the first step you want to take?”

Written by effectivenesscoach

September 25, 2009 at 5:59 am

5 Great Places to get ideas from

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Quick, practical and worth just 2 minutes a day of your time.

What are the 5 best places to get ideas from?

1. My top of the list, latest trend and buzz. If you’re not there, you don’t exist – Twitter.

How to use it:

Make an account, start following interesting people. Don’t limit yourself to friends. Go to the “Suggested users” section and start following the UK Prime Minister’s tweets.

A personal favourite of mine, who posts links to excellent articles is Copyblogger.

2. Facebook. obviously, the second most important place where you want to be present.

What’s useful there? Well, mainly other people’s links to blogs, updates or even photos. How does it help? Getting back in touch with possible partners, boasting about recent trips and finding out what character from Friends you match with.

3. Linked In. The largest and probably most profi network of business people worldwide.

How does it help? Getting in touch with someone you don’t know, establishing business partnerships. I personally like Groups – getting yourself remarked while making comments on them is quite easy. However, as everywhere else, you’d better have something smart to say.

4. Technorati. The blog search engine.

How does it help? Finding buzz blogs.  Might be a bit difficult to surf at the beginning though. A similar search and reading engine is Blog Catalog. Personally, I found this one easier to digest.

5. Google Reader. The blog daily digest.

A blogger I recently read said that the best way to keep yourself informed is by immersing yourself each morning into Google Reader, while sipping coffee. (I’d contradict him and say Twitter is more effective, but hey, each one with his preferences).
What’s useful there? It’s basically an empty page which you popularize with the blogs you’re following. Damn easy to use (and updates automatically) if you have a Blogger account (which I do). Produces a very easy to read summary of all blogs you follow, which means you don’t need to open endless tabs on your browser. Also suggests interesting pages to read.

The only thing you still need…is a bunch of interesting blogs to follow. I’d suggest this one, since you’re here. Simply click on the “add a subscription button” on your Google Reader page and paste this link there.

Enjoy reading 🙂

Written by effectivenesscoach

September 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Growing, Ideas

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“Sure, I’ll try…”

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How often do you say “I’ve been trying to do this, but…” or “Sure, I’ll give it a go” ?

Or “I don’t think I’m ready for this yet”, “I’m not sure it’s gonna work”?

All these are doubts we give to ourselves. And when you doubt your own capability, how do you expect to achieve extraordinary results?

(c), there’s always an amount of “common-sense” doubt. Otherwise, we’d all be diving from cliffs in conviction of our ability to fly.

Being able to say “I will” requires two abilities:

1. Responsibility – the strength to be able to admit that if you fail, it will be your own doing, not the “but” in the “I tried, but…”.

2. Courage – when you know you might fail, you know what the consequences are, and after weighing them, you still want to go forward. Of course, all of us would like to live in a safe environment, where everything that we start ends up correctly, and if it doesn’t, it was not our fault.

When you say “I’ll try”, who persuaded you to do that action?

And are you actually finding an excuse not to do it? How about being responsible and saying “You know, I don’t want to do this – here’s why:….”

Or is it something that you want yourself, but you think external factors are going to prevent you from succeeding? How about being courageous and saying “Yes, I will do this. I am aware of the consequences and I assume accountability for the result.”?

There now, doesn’t that feel a lot better?

And the best part – if you do succeed, you can credit noone but yourself.

Written by effectivenesscoach

August 22, 2009 at 8:43 am

Posted in Growing

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