Are You At Peace About It?

It’s a simple question, but too often, in the face of a decision, we don’t ask it. Sure, logic is an important element of making a decision, but so too is intuition. Rather than ignore it or consider it secondary information, honor it. Peace is like an inner GPS system that leads you in the right direction. Even when the system looks like it’s taking you on a detour, it is often offering you a shortcut – saving you the time and energy of landing in a traffic jam of confusion, bad decisions or worse. Even in the most tumultuous situations, God can give you peace about a particular decision you need to make in the midst of the storm. You’ll feel calm even though everything around you is falling to pieces.

If you are honest, there have likely been times when you have felt compelled to move forward with something even when peace is lacking. Why is that? The reasons are probably rooted in fear – fear that somehow if you don’t make a decision now, you won’t get what you want later. It is the fear that you need to be in control and that means being able to see all the pieces of the puzzle. The ones you can’t see, you don’t trust. And you can’t “see” intuition – not in the natural, anyway. It is fear that maybe your intuition is wrong. “You don’t really have the ability to hear from God himself?” your doubt says. “Don’t be silly.” So rather than confidently going with your gut, you forge ahead with that gnawing feeling that something’s not quite right. Proverbs 22:3 promises, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Here are a few other ways fear shows up when it’s time to make a decision:

Impatience

Have you ever made a decision out of impatience? You’re tired of waiting, so you move forward. Whether a simple everyday decision or a monumental one, such as who to marry or what career to choose, be patient. And choose peace while you are practicing patience. True patience isn’t about whether you wait, it’s about how you wait.

Trust

Lack of trust in God’s hand in your life shows up when you make decisions that are not rooted in peace. Trust Him. If you really trust Him, impatience won’t outweigh peace.

Reasoning

Some of us get very caught up in trying to figure things out. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.” In other words, stop trying to predict, reason and rationalize your way into the right decisions!

I don’t know what the most important decision is that you need to make right now, but I know for sure that going in the direction of peace is a demonstration of authentic confidence and spiritual wisdom. So today, I wonder if it’s time for you to slow down a bit. Get quiet. Breathe deeply. Listen. And ask, “In this decision I am making, what choice gives me peace?”

My challenge to you:

Use peace to guide you.

Coach Yourself:  

In a decision you need to make right now, are you at peace about your decision? What decision would give you peace? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

What Would it Look Like to Accept ‘What Is’?

 

We can spend so much of our energy pushing uphill against what is. You may wonder, “What is ‘what is’?” What is, is reality. It is the inevitable; it is the situation that you wish were not in existence. It is the fact that: You would prefer it if someone else was your boss … you wish that bad habit your spouse has would go away … your career that is off track. It is the divorce you didn’t want, the health challenge that burdens you, and the life that hasn’t turned out quite the way you planned it.

When you resist “what is,” you live in a state of denial. You focus your energy trying to control what is beyond your control. You spend countless days and hours focused on why it shouldn’t be this way. Frustration takes over. Anger prevails. You may even hide reality to avoid facing it. Rather than letting people in on your disappointment, you keep it entirely to yourself. You may even set out to prove that “what is” really isn’t. Rather than coming up with a plan to get your career back on track, you pretend to the world everything is fine. Instead of making the most of the life you have left, you spend most of your energy lamenting the fact that things are not where you believe they should be. Instead of accepting a loved one right where he is, you spend your energy trying to make him change.

What if you stopped pushing against the inevitable and trust your ability to handle reality? What would you do differently then? When you make that shift, it feels like releasing a heavy burden from your shoulders. It feels authentic. And let me be clear: It feels scary at first, but if you embrace reality – finally, truly embrace where you are right now – you can relax and begin to find the courage to confront your greatest fears. You can finally move forward. You can live authentically – not in denial or fear, but in acceptance and faith and love.

My challenge to you:
Embrace what is.

Coach yourself:
What is your “what is” right now? What reality do you resist? What would it look like to accept what is? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Is It Time for a Little self Discipline?

“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience , kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [self-discipline].”

- Galatians 5:22

I recall writing prayerfully in my journal one morning a few years ago about how to get unstuck from a rut. I felt I had reached a plateau. I wanted a bit of divine inspiration that would propel me forward. I prayed, then listened for God to say something like, “Valorie, don’t worry. You’re doing all the right things. Just be patient.” Sure that I was indeed doing “all the right things,” what other message could there possibly be for me? I listened for an answer, and the one I got was not what I wanted to hear. It was one simple word that kept coming to me over and over: Discipline.

“Discipline?” I thought. Sometimes I forget that God has a sense of humor – even when we’re not looking for a laugh.:) Although discipline wasn’t the word I wanted to hear, it was certainly the one I needed to hear. The message was simple: “Valorie, if you’re going to go to the next level, you need more self-discipline.” Immediately, I pictured less freedom. More work – hard work. “Discipline” isn’t a sexy topic. It does not sound fun or exciting, but being disciplined is a key that unlocks potential, prosperity and freedom.

We can sometimes buy into the notion that following our passion is supposed to be fun and exciting, but living purposefully is also a journey of character-building and evolving into the person you always knew you could be. The process is not always fun, but it does bring us rich rewards. I took an honest look at my life. It wasn’t bad, but “not bad” was not the goal. Admittedly, my schedule was a bit unruly. I managed to get a lot done, but with very little structure in my life, I was feeling scattered and ineffective. While I was not excited about embracing more discipline, I knew a change was needed. What I discovered in the process is that discipline is not about taking things away, but about giving you what you truly want.

This week, I challenge you to take an honest look at an area of your life where you know you are not living up to your potential. Consider the five key areas of your life: Relationships, Health, Work, Finances and Spiritual Life. Perhaps you need to exercise discipline when it comes to eating junk food or watching television instead of going for a brisk walk. Perhaps you need to be more disciplined by leaving the office on time so that you have more time for yourself, family and friends. Maybe the area where it’s time for more discipline is spending. It’s time to take control of your finances by increasing what you save each month, taking steps to increase what you make and decrease what you spend. You know the area of discipline that’s calling you. Your next step is to embrace the change, then enjoy the reward.

My challenge to you this week:
Make a decision to practice self-discipline. Remember that in order to have what you’ve never had in your life, you must be willing to do what you’ve never done.

Journaling Question:
In what area(s) of your life do you need to exercise more discipline? What specific, disciplined action are you willing to commit to for the next seven days? What permanent shift do you want to aim for? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Be Yourself – 4 Ways to Bring Out Your Best You!

“Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken”.  Oscar Wilde

In recent conversations, the theme “be you” came up several times.  And when themes emerge, I always like to seek the lesson for myself and eventually share it with you.  If you feel like sometimes you struggle with saying what you mean, doing what you love or relaxing around certain people, then this week’s topic is especially for you.  Yet even if you are confident and sure that you are comfortable being “you,” there is often room to go a little deeper – an opportunity to uncover another layer of authenticity and free yourself to unapologetically be you.

Not being at ease with yourself just as you are is exhausting.  You might not even realize the amount of energy is drained keeping up appearances, attempting to be perfect, pleasing other people and trying to make yourself fit in, in situations that simply are not you.  The notion of “being yourself” can feel a little vague, so this week, I have five practical strategies that will help you be yourself and maximize your best you:

1.   Say what you need to say.

Are you beating around the bush? Too afraid to speak up?  Have you found yourself telling a “little lie” to avoid embarrassment or telling the truth?  That’s a clear sign you are not being you.  Identify at least one situation in which you have not said what you need to say.  When you finish reading this, go to who you need to go to and just say it.  If you can’t say it now, then mark your calendar for the day and time when you will.  Authenticity means being forthright, so you don’t waste precious energy pretending all is well when it isn’t.

 

2.  Wear what makes you feel your best.

It may seem superficial, but it’s not.  Clothing is a language all its own.  What does yours say about you?  And is that message consistent with who you truly are.  When I transitioned from running a public relations firm that focused on corporate clients, to my current work in personal and spiritual growth, I changed my daily wardrobe.  Out with the suits (which I thought made me look more mature and credible since I was in my 20s then) and in with a more relaxed, fun look.  But truth be told, I could have been more relaxed and fun, yet professional back then.  Be creative to dress in a way that makes you feel good, even when your choices are restricted for professional reasons.

 

3.  Do what you know is right.   

There is nothing more authentic than living your values.  When your actions don’t line up with your beliefs, inner turmoil is sure to follow.  Do what’s right and you’ll have a sense of peace about your decisions and actions.

 

4.  Give yourself permission to be imperfect. 

Most of the time, when we are uncomfortable in our own skin, it is because we haven’t given ourselves permission to be human.  In other words:  permission to be imperfect.  When you relax, you enjoy yourself more.  When you value the journey as much, if not more, than the destination, you embrace the fact that there will be bumps along the road – but they don’t have to keep you from reaching your destination.

 

5.  Breathe.

Anytime you feel yourself getting anxious, feeling tempted to step away from just being you, take a deep breath.  Breathe and get centered again. It’s such a simple concept – just like being yourself.

 

My challenge to you this week:

Be yourself!

Journaling assignment:

When are you most likely to not be yourself?  What are you afraid will happen if you are the real you?  What do you do specifically that does not really represent who you really are?  When will you stop doing that?  Will you try today? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

 

Ahhh…It’s Time to Relax!

In our stress-filled world, it can be easy to become uptight, irritable and just plain unpleasant. But why live that way when you can relax, enjoy life and accomplish more than those who spend their days in a frenzy? Here are five powerful ways to simply relax:


1. Forget perfection

Do you have a hard time relaxing if your house is a mess or things are out of order? One of the best ways to relax is to learn to let go of perfection. The quest for a perfect job, a perfect mate, a perfect life – is a never ending quest that keeps you from relaxing and enjoying life. So what can you do to tame your perfectionism? Be willing to leave some things undone, recognizing that the world won’t come to an end because there are dishes in the sink or your inbox still has work to be completed. Recognize that it’s often the imperfections of a situation that foster growth, laughter and even lasting memories. As you let go of your need for perfection, you embrace the perfect ways in which life lines up just the way we need it, just when we need it.  

 

2. Don’t fight every battle!

Do you sometimes feel as though you are constantly fighting battles? Whether at work, at home or with the rude ticket agent at the airport, make a decision not to fight every battle. There are points in our lives when it feels like the world is against us. It can be natural to put up your defenses and head into battle. But if you stay in that mode, you will find yourself fighting so many battles that you are worn out and continually frustrated. So how do you know which battles to fight?

 

Ask yourself one simple question:
WILL THE OUTCOME OF THIS BATTLE MATTER A YEAR FROM NOW?

 

If the answer is “no,” let the battle work itself out and save yourself the energy and stress.

 

3. Schedule time to do nothing

When is the last time you had absolutely nothing to do? If you’re like most people, you probably can’t remember! For that reason, I invite you to do something very simple for at least a few minutes a day: NOTHING. One of the best ways to decrease your stress level and enjoy the moments that are filled with the many things on your calendar, is to schedule free time just like any other important activity on your schedule. So … go sit on the sofa and daydream for 15 minutes … or stand in the backyard and breathe in some fresh air! You’ll find that doing nothing, can do you a whole lot of good.

 

4. Breathe!

Are you stressed lately? One of the best ways to tell if you are, is to notice how you are breathing. A basic skill for managing stress and improving your health is easy: breathing properly. Often, when we are stressed or intensely focused, we forget to take full breaths. Breathe deeply, feeling your stomach expand as you do, and then exhale – expelling as much air as possible before taking another breath. A few of these deep cleansing breaths, and you’ll find yourself relaxing much more easily.  

 

5. Take your sleep seriously

Do you hit the snooze button three times before you drag yourself out of bed? There’s probably no better relaxation than falling into a deep and comfortable sleep. Did you know that good sleep means less stress? Studies show that sleep deprivation (regularly getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep) is a major contributor to stress, so here’s what you can do to enhance your sleep habits:

-Make your bedroom a sanctuary … clear your clutter, use quality sheets and eliminate noise
-Avoid exercise or heavy meals before going to bed
-Allow your body to get used to going to bed and waking up at regular times
-Go to sleep deliberately rather than falling asleep accidentally every night while watching television or trying to read a book
-Remember, more sleep … less stress!

Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Thoughts?

Living a consistently fulfilling life is a decision – and it begins with how you think. I say “consistently fulfilling,” because true success comes from being fulfilled in every area of your life, living on purpose and growing every day. Doing so requires you to think purposefully, deliberately and openly about your life and your options. Your thoughts determine the actions you take, and your actions create your reality. Consider these five guidelines to upgrade your thoughts:

1. Know your values and live by them.
One of the reasons many people have difficulty making decisions about everything from relationships to money, is that they have not identified their values. Ask yourself this question, “What do I value most in my life?” For one person, it may be freedom, family and education, while for another it could be adventure, service and beauty. Knowing what is most important to you and living according to those values, makes it much easier to determine how you will spend your time, energy, money and life!

2. If the wheels are stuck, push!
The key to succeeding consistently is taking action consistently. The problem with most people is that they only take action when they feel motivated to do so – and that isn’t very often. Choosing to remain stuck negatively impacts you emotionally, mentally, spiritually – even financially and physically. Take action toward your goals even when you feel stuck, frustrated or down. That may mean giving yourself an extra “push.” Putting yourself in motion – even slow motion – is better than standing still, or worse – losing ground. Once you get moving, you often find the motivation to pick up the pace

3. Recognize that you ALWAYS have options.
In Rich Minds, Rich Rewards, I talk about the power of choice. You are not stuck unless you choose to be stuck. You always have options to become more and to grow into the fullness of all that you have to offer the world. Have you considered all of your options?

4. Be creative about your life.
One of the reasons we can become frustrated is because we box ourselves into certain roles without much room for creativity or space to try new things. We act as though what we do now is all that we can do. If we want to try something, we’ll have to give up what we’ve built and start all over. This is not necessarily so. Build on your strengths and experiences, and be bold about creating new opportunities. You will find that creating your own opportunities often leads to opportunities you never dreamt possible!

5. Trust your intuition.
Don’t wait on the approval or actions of others to determine the path of your life. Spend time with yourself, pray, meditate, and reflect on what’s important to you on a regular basis. Intuition is a gift from God that acts as an inner compass to guide us in the right direction, even when there is no physical evidence to support it. Tap into your intuition by becoming tuned in to your “inklings,” and listening to the nudges you feel in your spirit. When you trust your intuition, you trust God’s ability to lead you in the right direction.

Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear you from you!

Intentionally Shift Your Perspective!

Personal transformation, the process of growth through the challenges and opportunities of life, is about maximizing your God-given potential. One of the most important parts of the process is being able to see the big picture when faced with a challenge. Psychological research shows that those who are optimistic are more successful in work and love.

Why? Because they put life into proper perspective. When something goes wrong, a grounded optimist sees the truth, but also sees the good of a situation. She is able to have hope despite the odds. In other words, she has the faith to believe that being knocked down does not equal being knocked out! This kind of attitude is absolutely essential to your personal and spiritual growth.

Sometimes all you need to do to get yourself out of a rut is to look at things from a different perspective. What challenge is causing you stress? What dilemma has you stumped for a solution? What issue has caused you a bit of frustration lately? I want to challenge you to step out of your routine way of looking at things and consider a new, healthier perspective.

Whether you’ve downsized a dream and need a new perspective that helps you “raise the bar” a bit, or you’re being too hard on yourself and you need to lighten up, changing your perspective may be just what you need right now. Here are a few ways to do just that:

Step away from the situation – literally
Sometimes, you just need to take a walk or even get away for a vacation. Being in a different environment changes your physical perspective, which often leads to a change in mental perspective. So take a break from working on your challenge – and spend some time focused on something else entirely.

Talk to a wise friend and get their perspective
Because we are often so close to the challenge we face, it can be helpful to ask someone else to share their perspective on a matter. This opens your mind to new options and ways of thinking.

Acknowledge your own progress
Sometimes, the problem that frustrates you today are issues that you would have loved to have had a few years ago. So your child is stressing you out – don’t forget to take a moment to be grateful for the gift of family. Perhaps work is hectic right now, but at one point, your aim was to land this job. More opportunity can stretch you, but being stretched can be a good thing when you grow from it.

Consider this question: What lesson does this offer me and what will I do differently next time as a result?

Ask, “What’s my vision for this area of my life?”
Sometimes you can be so focused on the issue at your feet that you forget to look up at the long-term vision. It’s called “not seeing the forest for the trees.” Keep your eye on the vision.

Imagine God’s perspective on the matter.
If you sat down with Him for a cup of coffee this morning, what do you think He would tell you?

My challenge to you:
Look at your life from a different perspective. Do something specifically to help you gain a perspective that moves you forward.

Journaling question:
In what ways am I stuck in my thinking? What action could help me gain a healthier perspective? What friend might have a perspective to share that I haven’t considered? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

What Season Are You In?

You and I probably both agree that wearing a wool coat in July or shorts and flip flops in a snow storm would be downright silly. Folks might even question the state of your mental health for that kind of behavior. But something odd seems to happen when we are impatient. Learning to relax in the current season, while still preparing for the next season, takes trust, patience and wisdom. If the season you’re in professionally is about learning and growing so that you can build a foundation for the future, don’t miss this rich season being frustrated that the future isn’t here yet. If you do, you’ll miss the abundant lessons being offered and you may even miss the opportunities that will unfold after you learn those lessons. If this is the season for you to work hard and play hard because you’re blessed to have the time to do it, don’t sit back, relax and take it easy. Missing this season could mean you’re totally unprepared when the next season comes.

Know your season. Dress for it. Embrace it. It can save you a great deal of anxiety and frustration. Why do we often insist on a season other than the one we are in, pushing to get out of it, and on with the next thing? It is often because we don’t trust the process. We think God must not be clued in to our lives and we need to help Him along. We don’t value that progress is a process – and it’s not always a quick, convenient process either. But when you really trust that God has you in the palm of His hand, you can relax even in the stormiest of seasons. You know it’s temporary. Seasons always are. Some are longer than others, but eventually seasons change.

In what way are you dressed for a season other than the one you’re in? In what way are you insisting things be different in order for you to happy? In what way are you showing up in a wool coat in the heat of summer? It might not be the season for you to spend much. This season may be about saving and self-control. This may not be the season for a relationship. Perhaps God is calling you to heal and be still in His presence before you jump into another romance. I don’t know what this message means for your life, but you do. Embrace your season. Each one has a purpose. Each one is to be celebrated for its own reasons. Refuse to judge your season. Simply be determined to glean the lesson from it.

My challenge to you:
Embrace your current season.

Coach Yourself:
What season are you in? In what way are you operating out of season, being impatient or resisting the inevitable? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

It’s Time to Let Go!

“..But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead..”  -  Philippians 3:13

When I bought my first condo back in the 90s, I decided to replace the handles on every cabinet and drawer in the kitchen and the bathrooms. I went to a design center and picked out new handles, unscrewed all the old ones and replaced them with the shiny, new modern ones. Then I did a peculiar thing. I put the 25 or 30 old handles in individual plastic baggies and stored them “just in case” I might need them again later. It was silly, really. I couldn’t stand those handles. They were ugly. They were outdated. There is no way I would use them again! And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. Maybe someone else might want them, I told myself. I doubted it, but just in case, I kept them and they helped clutter up my storage space.

Why is it so hard to let go? Whether it’s old email or a worn-out sweater, outdated files or a toxic friendship, sometimes we hold on to things for too long. They serve no purpose but to clutter our lives unnecessarily.   This week, I want to challenge you to face your fear of letting go. I wrote a column a couple of years ago about pressing ‘delete’ on your backed-up email inbox that sparked a response from many of you who confessed your backlog of hundreds of messages.  Some said they had as many 2,000, 3,000, and even 12,000 email messages in in their inbox! Most expressed excitement at pressing delete and “starting fresh,” but many wrote about the struggle to let go.

There are a few common fears that appear when it’s time to let go of something. What are you hanging on to even though it’s time to let go? Which of these pesky fears is it time to face?

Breaking through fear requires one key factor: Courage. Courage requires faith and trust that your future will be OK without the thing you are letting go of. And you can muster up the courage to let go by coaching yourself with questions that will help you get unstuck, such as:

Who could I ask to hold me accountable and encourage me as I let go?

Perhaps these words are crossing your path this week because it’s time to let go, whether it’s something big or small. Make a decision. Carve out some time to do what you need to do. You can do it. By the way, I let go of my old cabinet handles. And I’ve never once needed them or missed them. Imagine that.

My challenge to you this week:
There is something it’s time to let go of. You know what it is. Muster up the courage and just do it. You’ll feel lighter for it.

Journaling assignment:
Answer these questions:

-What does my intuition tell me about letting go in this situation?
-What if I let go? What will happen then? And then what will I  do?
-If the thing I fear most happens, what is my plan B?
-Who could I ask to hold me accountable and encourage  me as I let go?

Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

We Missed You at the Spring Coach Training Intensive, But There’s Good News…

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Today is the last day of the Spring 2014 Coach Training Intensive in Washington, D.C. I so enjoyed working with such a phenomenal group of students. We had fun, experienced breakthroughs and laid the foundation for developing a successful and lucrative business as a coach.

This group was great and I’m confident that they have the tools to go out and be great coaches. There are a few spots left for the June Coach Training Intensive in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more about the program and how to register here: http://www.valorieburton.com/coaching/coach-training/

We’ll see you in June!