Tuesday, 5 January 2016

What are you Waiting For? A Coach's Confession

It was red and shiny.  Its message, "Wake Up Be Awesome Repeat x 365" made me smile so, this time last year, I bought the 2015 diary you see in the picture.

Rather than routine things like appointments or to do lists, I was going to use it to record my successes and adventures in the year to come.  I know how powerful it is to celebrate both big and small achievements when they happen and this would capture them all.

I carried it around every day.  I saw it at least twice a day as I drew out and put away my laptop. 

My first entry was Friday 15th May.

So what happened for the first four and a half months of the year?
There were many times I considered writing something but, each time, I decided it wasn't "enough" to warrant an entry. 

Awesome is a tricky word.  Many people dislike it or feel its overuse has rendered it meaningless.  For me though, it's about being brave, adventurous or doing something totally out of the ordinary and nothing I did really met up to my expectation. 

I realised what was going on quite quickly.  Doing what I do for a living means I am self aware and, once identified, I can usually coach myself to a different mindset or behaviour.  That it took me four and a half months is, frankly, embarrassing. 

Human beings are gloriously complex.  If we weren't we'd all be predictable, stable and rule abiding.  But, thankfully, we are individuals and, as such, there are times when there is a disconnect between what we think, what we feel and what we do.

I know I'm not alone.  Other intelligent, experienced professionals get stuck too.  Particularly when the actions concern their own personal development, success or growth.  Ask them to do something for someone else's benefit? Done, there and then, with bells on and a smile.  Do something for their own benefit?  Still waiting......

But what are we waiting for? For more time? For the time to be "right"? For something to be good enough? For someone else to do it?
All this time spent waiting/planning/postponing/tweaking/justifying could be time spent doing something about it and enjoying the benefits! 

So, if you have an action that you are continually putting off, try answering these questions honestly;
  • What do I want to achieve? Write it down. Notice how much wriggle room you give yourself and edit it until it's clear, concise and you get a nervous/excited feeling when you read it back.
  • What is the smallest action I can take right now? If the action feels overwhelming, break it down.  The key thing is to so something NOW. Once you've done that, the next bit feel easier.
  • Who can help me be accountable?  This is so simple and effective. We make excuses to ourselves but it's much harder to make excuses to others.
  • What am I waiting for? Being totally honest, what would make you get started on your action right now, today? Permission from someone else? A guarantee you wouldn't fail? 
  • What's the worst that could happen?  The reality is rarely as scary as we make up so instead of hiding from it, treat it as an adventure.
As for me and my shiny red diary?  We've become much better acquainted since Friday 15th May.  Flicking through it today, each entry makes me smile and reminds me of the event that triggered it.  In fact, I've enjoyed it so much, I'm going to keep making entries through 2016! The faltering start to 2015 is a fading memory that will serve to ensure I don't take four and a half months next time I set myself an action.

Creating a change, however small, can feel a bit bumpy.  It can take time as well as mental, emotional and physical energy.  But when it's done and you're on the other side, loving the impact, you wonder what took you so long.
If you have tips on how to get out of your own way or if you are holding back on taking an action that will make a positive difference to your life, I'd love to hear from you.

Stephanie Smith works with intelligent individuals and teams on personal impact, choice and change. Find out more and book a sample session at: www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk

Change Ahead? Where's Your Magic Wand?

Let's face it, we'd all have a magic wand if we could wouldn't we? 

Not sure which direction to take? *Swoosh* A clear path is revealed!
Fearful of the next step? *Ting* Fast forward a few months and you're loving it!
Holding yourself back because you want to fit in? *Swish* You are fully being yourself and the world is your oyster!

In my experience, most people are quite clear about what decision to make, how to handle a situation or how exceptionally unique they are, so why do we yearn for a magic wand?  Because there is a gap between knowing something (deep down) and acting on that knowledge.  And that gap can be scary.

Change is a funny beast.  Sometimes we feel safer staying stuck; somewhere on a range between "Could be better" and "Arggggggh!" rather than open ourselves up to something unknown.  It doesn't matter that the change could turn out way, way, waaaay better that your current state.  The sheer possibility that making a change might result in something less than ideal can be enough to keep you feeling "stuck" for weeks or months!

A magic wand would offer a guarantee that everything will be OK.  It would remove any element of risk.  It wouldn't just reduce the gap, it would remove it entirely.

But if your retailer of choice is out of magic wands, remember these points:
  • Trust yourself.  You have more insight, vision and knowledge than you realise.
  • Decisions rarely seem as big or daunting once you are on the other side.
  • Know that you are creative and resourceful enough to deal with the impact of the change you want to make.
  • Choosing not to make a change is still a choice.
  • You are your own magic wand.
This is a follow on from my previous post "What are you waiting for?", accelerated by a great post from Ghilaine Chan "Why are we so scared to fail?". Do take a look!
Stephanie Smith works with intelligent individuals and teams on personal impact, choice and change. Find out more and book a sample session at: www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk or call 07824 839367.