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Freedom is Letting Go

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Posted here on LifeToolkit.net.

Two days ago I moved into a new apartment – and I wrote about the hassle it brings here. But there are also some benefits to moving. And I believe that’s why I love travelling so much. And why other people roam the world with their whole lives packed in a caravan.

Once you let go of what you own, you become free.

In the book Presence, sociologist Otto Scharmer tells how he found his new life meaning after a fire that destroyed his home. As a young boy, he was called from school because of a “terrible accident” and ran to find the last remains of his house burning. “As I gazed deeply into the flames, the flames began to sink into me”, he says, realizing that he is not his house, nor his belongings, but simply is. It took Otto a painful, life changing experience, to realize this.

When your world shifts, you need to change perspective.

Often we are forced to experience this, by deaths of loved ones, accidents or events that change our environment. But a smaller scale experiment can bring you closer to yourself.

1. You are not your job.

Your job is a name on your business card. What is it that you do, that creates meaning? I found myself fortunate enough to realize I could be anywhere, coaching. I would need nothing but a laptop to connect to the Internet. Heck, I don’t even need the Internet if I have people around. The value to them is my job.

2. You are not your belongings, nor your clothes, nor the place you live in.

As I stopped 2 days ago, to eat, between two trips moving boxes, I realized I don’t have anything with me (but my wallet and phone). And I didn’t miss anything. I was exhilarated. Hours later, finding myself in a room of boxes, I found that rather than being happy that I had everything I needed around me, I was annoyed. Annoyed that they were cluttering up the space. I didn’t need half of them. So I started throwing stuff away. Make an inventory like Dani here on her Positively Present blog. You will find out that you don’t need half of the stuff you own. Give it away. You will feel lighter. Most of what I truly cherish is in a bunch of notebooks I’ve written across the years. The rest is in my head. Cicero was the first to say “I carry everything I have with me”, and he didn’t carry any bags.

3. You are not the people you spend time with.

While moving, I spent time only with my life&apartment mate. And obviously, I had no access to Internet. I have no phone at the new apartment. And I limited my mobile calls to a minimum, cause I was busy. I don’t recommend this as a long term solution, cause social networking does make you feel good and lifts your spirits. But do, do, do try to keep away from time to time. Strip yourself from all unnecessary things you’re carrying around with you. Some are physical. Some are relationships. Some are thoughts you never wanted to admit, but keep coming back. Let them go. Take a trip somewhere. Take just your backpack. Why do we feel the need to pack so much when we leave home? In order to be really free, we have to let go.

Written by effectivenesscoach

December 1, 2009 at 7:44 am

Moving out and stages of change

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Posted here on LifeToolkit.net.

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 Knowing-Doing gap

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I registered into Stumble today. And my first reaction to it is “Whoa! so many blogs…so much information!” I clicked “Self Improvement” and began reading voraciously.

Then I stumbled upon a Dale Carnegie excerpt from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and remembered Eddie’s mention about people who read too much about Personal Development. “You meet them 2 years after and nothing’s changed about them. Except that they know 2 more quotes from Dale Carnegie. ”
(by the way Eddie Ezeanu’s perspective on readers and doers on Personal Development is here).

But as Dale Carnegie himself puts it “Common sense is not common practice”. There’s all these blog posts and articles around, all of which tell you “10 ways to improve this” or “5 simple steps to that”…and when you read them, they seem so natural, like “How didn’t I think of that?”, “Oh I will try that as of tomorrow.”

And how often do you, actually?

That’s cause it’s easier to acknowledge an idea, and accept it. From accepting, to  internalizing and changing something, it’s a larger step. If we could all change so easily.

I’m now using more my coaching abilities. I write and read a lot on personal development. Did it ever occur to you, when you buy a new car, that you start noticing that model of car everywhere on the street? That’s what I get now. It seems everyone is now into personal development. Everyone’s training to be a coach.
There’s this abundance of resources around us. All of them are pulling us towards living our potential, being more fulfilled.
And yet, in the same society that offers this abundance of resources to grow personally, there’s so many people trapped, feeling exhausted, feeling robotic. The gap here is between knowing the resources are there, and actually using these resources.

My personal belief is that the ones who’re offering these resources are the same people who’re trying to break free.

Go, Freddie, tell’em!

The Knowing-Doing gap resides between when you say “Oh yeah, this is so interesting. I could do that.” and saying “Let’s do it now.” Freedom lies in actually making the choice. Taking the first step to change.

What can YOU do to break free?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 8, 2009 at 6:59 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.
Painting.
Dancing.

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

Life Management

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I know, I know, it’s a big word. Life. Can anyone actually manage one’s entire life?

As I’m preparing for next week’s Time Management training,  I got to a few personal findings, which I’m gonna share. They’re not rocket science, and they’re not 100% mine. But useful, for sure!

1. Time Management is so long gone. Like a friend of mine said “Coaching is the new black” I go “Life Management is the new black”! And it includes Daily (Time) Management. DailyLife Management

What’s Life Management? Where do you want to go with your life? Call it your Bucket List (100 things to do before you die) or call it a Mission Statement (Steve Pavlina here says you can actually create one in 20 minutes!). It’s knowing who you are and what your meaning is.

It’s also the most difficult quest of your life.

Daily (Time) management is just the little bits and pieces that connect the dots to the highway that’s Life. However, if the bits and pieces don’t stick together and go in the same direction, your highway might just feel like a bumpy, winding road.

Highway Bumpy road

2. In order to have good Life – and Time! – Management, you need 2 things:

1. Focus.  Know where you want to go. Know what you need to do in order to get there. And then, focus on these things.

2. Discipline. It’s no use to have a brilliant mission statement posted all over the walls, if you ain’t practicing what you preach. A trainer I once met in “7 Habits” training said “Be careful. Outside that door is a roaring river. Once you step out, it will flood you.”  You need exceptional clarity of mind and – yes! – discipline to stay focused.

This does not mean you should foolishly resist to interruptions, or post a big “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk. (OK, sometimes you can, but not all the time).

An inspiring idea is to use the tasks, phonecalls, interruptions, emails that come to you and treat them like an Aikido master (thanks Cata!)

Think of a few ways you can use them. Not reject or resist them. Use them.

Back soon with more thoughts on daily effectiveness 🙂

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

On obligations

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If  I’m to think about one thing that’s been constantly popping up into my vocabulary, it’s the “I have to…” explanation. Like I constantly have to make an excuse to myself. Does it occur to you?

“No, I can’t come today, I have to work.”

“I have to do the laundry, wash the dishes, wash my hair, clean the room etc before I go to bed.”

and the best one “I have to put up that blog post today or I won’t get to it by end next week.”

So obligations are the most annoying thing I’ve come across. They’re either pressured upon us by society, or by ourselves.

Long long time ago, when I was very young (:) ) there was a guy who startled me with this personal belief: “You know, I only do what I like”, he said. “If I feel like eating, I eat. If I feel like getting out, I do. If I feel like kissing a beautiful girl, I’m gonna do that.” Back then I didn’t know this is called hedonism. (also, some can argue, it’s called being a teenager and behaving like a rebel.)

But what sticked to my mind since then was the overwhelming possibility “Whoa! You can actually do that, do what you really want?”

Yes, you can. And you should. At least, more than doing what others want.

So, getting to the more pragmatic side of it, here’s a take-away. Do every day one thing only for yourself and only because you want to.

1. Doing the complete opposite of what everyone else is expecting. Do you really have to visit your parents each Christmas? Why not go on a well-deserved vacation instead? How about that fancy dinner you need to attend? If you’re sure you’re going to feel stuck up in that suit talking to people you’re never going to meet again, don’t go. Since I spread my “roles” throughout 3 weeks, or even 1 month, I don’t feel pressured anymore to visit my grandmother. Sure, I call, but I get a few more hours free each weekend if I stay at home instead of paying my regular visit.

2. Doing what you want. Remember that guy I mentioned before? Why don’t you give yourself the break to do what you want, if not every day, at least once per week? How about that movie you always wanted to watch, or that place you never found time to go to? Why postpone? If there are other things you have to take care of, remember, there’s always solutions.

And my personal favorite –

Cooking. You shouldn’t have to do that. Luckily, I live with a wonderful person who doesn’t require this from me. But when I do cook, it’s for the delight of the senses. Take for example the great apple juice I’m gonna prepare in a few minutes.** An inspiration here to me was Mazilique, who started cooking only a few months ago, and became a local sensation.

And also a great example of how cooking can help unwinding, exploring and giving your best self space to manifest, here’s a movie I can’t wait to see:

** just so you know, I wasn’t kidding – here’s the result, one hour later:

Apple Juice, home made
Apple Juice, home made

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm