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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.

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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

Do you want to shoot him now or wait till you get home?

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Posted here on LifeToolkit.net.


Don’t worry, this post is not about shooting rabbits. Although Daffy would really want that.Daffy

In this very funny classic cartoon, Bugs Bunny asks Elmer Fudd: “Would you like to shoot me now or wait till you get home?” while

Daffy Duck yells: “Shoot’im NOW! Shoot’im NOW!”
Unfortunately Daffy always ends up being shot himself.

This post is about the “NOW”.

The Marshmallow Test

Do you remember the Marshmallow Test? I read about it first in Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence”. Dragos Roua writes here about it, on his blog (and does an excellent new perspective on it).

Here’s my take:

A bunch of kids were given a marshmallow, and were told that if they resist NOT EATING IT NOW, they would be given another one in a few minutes. And the kids who succeeded in NOT eating the first marshmallow were the ones who were successful in life later on. It’s called the principle of deferred gratification.

And I say, isn’t this just the way we were educated?
“Do your lessons, so that you can enter a good college.”
“Learn well now, and you will know how to have an interesting conversation and people will like you.”
“Work hard now and you’ll have money for a house when you retire.”

I’ll have to wait until I retire

My boss told me something that startled me a few weeks ago. He was talking about his oldest son graduating highschool and going to college. Then he mentioned he can’t wait for his daughter to do this as well, so that both his kids would be on their own and start their life. Then he could retire and do what he wanted.
Whoa! Do you have to wait 10 years to do that?

What about me? I’m 27 now. Do I have to wait until I have all the money/raise my kids/spend my life to do what I want? That’s gonna be ages!!

Life around the world

Here’s an empowering example. A Romanian family (but the idea belongs to a French family) sold their house, bought a caravan, and together with their kids roamed the world. Kids were learning about the Magellan Strait while they were sailing it. How’s that as a perspective?

Their full story (in Romanian, French and Spanish) here.

In conclusion

Don’t wait until you’re old.
Do what you dreamed of NOW.

You might never get a second marshmallow.

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 25, 2009 at 9:55 am

On the benefits of going HOME

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One of my close colleagues at work exclaimed the other day: “I want to go home to mom!!  I am going next week! And I can’t wait!!” For the record, she is happily married and spends quality time with her husband.

This is devoted to the benefits of going home – where home means mom and the bed in which you spent your restless teenage years.

1. Most obviously – Mom. Also known as the person who loves you the most in the world. And whom, hopefully, you love back just as much. Who asks you very concerned how much you’ve been eating, why you’re drinking coffee again and at what time you usually go to bed. If that doesn’t mean being taken care of, I don’t know what does. Sure, to the extreme, it gets into the way of our adult independence, but hey, that’s why visits home are short and pleasant.

2. Mom’s food. My mom is the person who cooks the most healthy foods in the world. I’ll always find plenty of fruit, vegetables, tea, and never any sweets. But I know that when I come here, I soak in vitamines.

3. The quietness around. I am blessed to have a home in a mountain town where the silence is so great that it makes your ears pound. We took a walk through the woods today, and picked up some yellow leaves which she planted in a vase on my desk.

Rasnov, my home (via Trekearth.com)

Rasnov, my home (via Trekearth.com)

Finally, and this was pointed out to me by Mom herself, being home is simply, being HOME. She said “I had a home here with you, and a family, and still I dreamt of going to my parents’ courtyard and treading on the wet grass with my bare feet.” The smell of earth in the woods, and the colour of leaves is always different here than anywhere else.

So, if you need to have your batteries recharged, go HOME. Enjoy it.

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 24, 2009 at 4:54 pm

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

5 steps to Contemplation

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Despite general opinion, you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk on the top of the mountain in order to allow yourself contemplation.

Here’s some easy steps to allowing yourself to experience a bit more of the world around you.

1. Close your phone, computer, and door and spend 1 minute in complete silence. Listen to the sounds around you. Water running, cars honking on the street, birds chirping (if you’re lucky and live in an area where you can hear them), people speaking in rooms nearby, wind rustling the leaves. One minute should do. Once you get back to what you were doing, time will seem to pass a whole lot slower.

2. When you get out of the subway, on the escalator, look up. Can you see the sky? For the 30 seconds you spend on the escalator, look up. Notice what shade of blue it is. If you spend some time outside every day (and you should), look around you at what has changed. Look for the subtle differences like the shade of colour in the leaves, or the new cat that appeared in the neighborhood.

3. When washing your hands (or the dishes, if you prefer), allow yourself a moment longer to feel the water. Switch temperatures from warm to hot to cold. Put some bubbly soap.

4. Read. Immerse yourself into someone else’s story. No, magazines, newspapers and blogs don’t count. When was the last time you had a really good piece of literature? The kind that you felt like talking about to all your friends?

5. Cook something. It can be as simple as a sandwich, but do it with a gourmet mindset. 🙂 Put some extra spices and flavors. (my favourite “cooking” is french moldy cheese and red wine – see? not that difficult!). One of the highlights of my day was to make a plum jelly, with the remains of what has become a plum juice. Adding some vanilla and cinnamon has made it particularly tasty!

901010-05-2TThere’s a nice anecdote about Zen weather forecast with a rock.

“If the rock is dry, it is not raining.

If the rock is wet, it is raining.

If the rock is white, it is snowing.

If the rock is invisible, it is foggy.”

Written by effectivenesscoach

September 20, 2009 at 9:28 am

Posted in Enjoy, Relaxing

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Focusing inward

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At times, I get tired of fulfilling other people’s requests. I get tired of accepting to go someplace, do errands, buy groceries, visit grandparents, do work and so on.

The human mind is not built to accept outer motivation. Whatever we do, we do to fulfill our own desires, not other people’s. Dan Pink says, in this very popular video on TED, that we’re following three drivers of motivation:

1. Autonomy – making own choices for myself

2. Mastery – getting better and better at something that matters.

3. Purpose – serving a purpose greater than myself.

So then, when I sit here on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, in a city where the few trees that have escaped the urban refinement also known as construction business  are turning their leaves yellow or red, instead of roaming around in a park, that means I must have a damn good reason to do so.

For me, this reason is called unwinding and focusing inward. I found out that at least every 1-2 months, it’s immensely relieving to spend one day alone, do nothing much but read, write and think.

To you, unwinding might mean something else. Pottery, I hear, is great for de-focusing the mind. So is drawing. Or knitting scarves (not to mention hand-made, in this time of crisis, is quite a good money deal!).
The whole point being, to empty your mind from the outside clutter. To go to the “nothing box” in your brain and be with yourself for a while.

Haven’t done this in a while? Well then, I suggest you go and buy a nice breakfast tray from Ikea, cause you should spend your next weekend morning lazying around in bed.

Written by effectivenesscoach

September 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm