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Archive for the ‘The Good Life’ Category

Freedom is Letting Go

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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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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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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

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

Too many things, too little time

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In his book (reading now) “Getting things done”, David Allen says that if we were to list down all the things – literally ALL the things – we should do, we would get to about 300 hours worth of time spent.

Our time belongs to everybody else. And in every day’s battle, we push for a little autonomy.

Therefore, here’s some food for thought:

Life’s too short to try to do everything. Think about what matters.
Do ONLY the things you want.
Do only the things you choose to do.

Do you know what these things are?

Do you know WHAT you want?

It’s not the “everyone’s coming to get me” feeling that creates frustration. It’s not the “I have too many things on my plate” that bothers you.

No, what creates frustration is the fact that you’re not clear on WHY you’re doing them.
Knowing the long term purpose of what you’re doing now, crystallizes a future. This future is your choice, and only yours.
The fact that YOU have made this choice, creates fulfillment.

Ultimately, I think that’s what we’re looking for:
– having a purpose
– knowing that we’re consciously moving towards that purpose, and not dragged away by the world around us.

You may not be exactly doing the job of your life right now, but put it in perspective – what about doing this job creates fulfillment to you? Maybe it’s the prospect of being promoted, to manage others. Maybe it’s about earning more money to build a nice house to grow your kids in. Maybe it’s about learning more about the field you’re in, before opening your own business. All of these are fine. But what’s your end purpose?
Where are you headed to?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm

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

Rasnov, my home (via

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