The Most Important Step to Getting Unstuck!

Why is it that we ignore the truth? Or even hide from it? You had an inkling that the person wasn’t who they appeared to be, but you got involved anyway – now you feel stuck trying to get out of the relationship. You knew instinctively it was not time to buy that thing you just knew you had to have, but you wanted it, so you got it. Now, you’re stuck with the bill, and it is causing problems. You didn’t want to take on that project. In fact, your stomach turned when you were asked to do it, but your people-pleasing personality led you to say “yes,” and now you’re stuck, resentful and completely overwhelmed! You knew that wasn’t the right career path for you, but out of fear or insecurity or bowing to what others might think, you chose it anyway. To be clear, I don’t say any of this to beat you up. I say it so we can start this journey in a place of honesty. The first step to getting unstuck is a simple one: Tell yourself the truth. And behave based on that truth. It is easier said than done. Telling the truth and acting on it ruffles people’s feathers. It may make you quite unpopular. It will make you uncomfortable at times. But nothing gets more people stuck than ignoring that still, small voice that persistently speaks if only we will listen.

Telling yourself the truth is bold. It is a simple act, but one of the most courageous. And it will set you free and on a path to a life that is absolutely unstoppable. Answer some simple, but bold questions:

-What are you afraid to admit?
-What are you really afraid will happen if you take action?
-Whose approval are you so afraid of not gaining that you forego your dreams, your wisdom and your freedom?
-What do you avoid for fear of facing the consequences of change?
-And what would you have to let go of in order to move towards the life God imagined for you?

I realize these aren’t easy questions, but I believe the answers lie within you and they are so powerful, that when you answer them truthfully, your next steps begin to unfold in a big way. You can run from them or ignore them, but they are not going away. That’s the power of having the courage to tell the truth.

Truth awakens you from the deep slumber of lies. In pretending we don’t hear the voice of the Holy Spirit or resisting the guidance of that voice, we get to live a lie. “God, did you say this man I’m dating is not ‘the one’? That couldn’t be you. We’ve been together too long. I’ve invested too much. If I don’t stay with him, then what? I’ll be alone again. I’ll never meet anyone else. God, that can’t be you. No, that wasn’t you. I’m going to stick with what I have.” And more years progress and the relationship doesn’t. You feel stuck. Or maybe it’s not the relationship. Maybe it is your money habits. You know you need to be a better steward, speak up and negotiate what your contributions are worth, but the idea of doing so scares the dickens out of you. You imagine yourself groveling for a better salary and being thrown out of her office or telling the dealership you want a better price and they laugh in your face. “No!” you imagined being yelled at with disgust. “Who does she think she is?!” And so, you are quiet. You don’t just want a better deal or higher pay, you need it. But feelings of insecurity may lead you to pretend all is well financially, even when it is not.

Truth telling takes courage. But if you are to be free and live the amazing life you were created for, it is necessary. Embrace the truth of what you know deep down and you take the first step towards becoming unstoppable. This week’s newsletter is adapted from Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable, which will be officially released this week, Wednesday, October 1! Order it this week and get a free, half-day workshop with me and more gifts when you email your receipt to getunstuck@valorieburton.com. Click here to get your copy now!

Challenge: Listen to the divine inner wisdom that whispers the truth to you. Do not ignore it. Do not hide from it. Have the courage to embrace it – regardless of the fall out. Get ready to be unstoppable.

Journal about it: What is it time for you to admit? What action would you take if you embraced the truth? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

If You Are Tired of Starting Over, Stop Giving Up!

In what area of your life have you contemplated giving up lately?  It crosses the minds of even the most tenacious – I’ve been there. And this week, I feel led to encourage you to hang in there.  I know, I know. You’re tired.  You thought things would have taken off in your career or business by now. You’ve tried and tried to make the relationship work, but you’re losing hope that it ever will. You’re on your third diet in five months and you weigh two pounds more than you did when you started.

I saw this quote recently:

“If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”

It is such a simple concept, but in our fast-food world of instant gratification, it’s a concept that we need to be reminded of. The temptation to give up is one of the most enticing temptations you will ever face.  Rather than running towards something new, try digging your heels in right where you are.  Manage your expectations about how quickly things must happen and find the lesson that’s being offered to you in your frustration.  Ten years from now, what will you wish you had done in this season of your life?  Will you wish you had stuck with it? What reward will you reap for staying the course?  Perseverance is not usually fun, but it works.

Don’t get me wrong. Starting over is sometimes a necessity. No need to continue down a path to nowhere.  In such cases, it’s best to turn back and find a new path.  But when starting over is not a necessity, it is a setback. And often you discover that the new thing you pursue – the new job, the new relationship, the new diet – only presents a new set of challenges, often not so different from the ones you have right now. They’re just new and repackaged.  If that’s you right now, on the verge of giving up – out of exhaustion, disappointment or impatience, try these three strategies:

1.  Get some grit.

Research shows that “grit,” that tenacious spirit that sticks with it, is a determining factor for success in school, sports and business. Make a decision not to give up until you reach your goal. Remove “giving up” as an option.  When you do, you can refocus your energy on finding solutions to the challenge before you.

2.  Get some perspective.

When you become worn out on your journey, the negative emotion narrows your perspective and you begin to only see more of the negative.  Isolating yourself can cause you to falsely perceive that you are the only one dealing with your challenge. Not true. Reach out to positive friends or family to get encouragement.  Read articles or books about people who’ve succeeded at your goal – all of them have surely faced failure and disappointment on the road to success. Put things into perspective and you begin to see that the test you are enduring right now will ultimately become your testimony.

3.  Get some rest.

Sometimes you just need to stop trying so hard to make things work.  Give yourself a break. Pray. Trust. Believe. Relax. Research shows that as you move towards goals, you deplete your energy.  Replenish your energy so you can keep moving forward. Getting unstuck takes energy.  Make sure you’ve got plenty for your journey to success.

My challenge to you:

Don’t give up!

Journaling assignment:

In what area(s) of your life are you tempted to give up?  Ten years from now, what will you wish you had done during this season of your life?  Will you wish you had stuck with it? What reward will you reap for staying the course?  Is it time to make a decision that “giving up” is not an option? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t Go It Alone!

The most persistent fear I have repeatedly overcome is a fear of rejection. The irony of this people-pleasing fear is that it can manifest in a lot of behaviors, one of which is solitude. Without consciously connecting your fear with your choices, those whose core fear is rejection can make a habit of going it alone – insisting they are independent rather than scared, focused rather than collaborative. Perhaps you can relate.

Years passed before it occurred to me how solitary my work is. I write alone. I speak on a stage alone. And in my years of coaching, I coached alone – by phone. For ten years, I worked from home, my team scattered about in their home offices in other states. Until one day, a couple of years after moving to Atlanta – alone – I no longer had the grace to work in such solitude. For ten years, I’d wanted to work from home. Then suddenly, I resented it.

“Alone” is where moments of inspiration unfold. “Alone” is also where moments of isolation steal your joy. We must have a balance. I was passionate and purposeful in my work, but something was missing: Connection. On my journey to more joy these last few years, it is connection that has transformed my life. I made it a professional goal, not simply to inspire and achieve, but to connect. I got an office, hired my first full-time employee to work alongside me – literally, not remotely. Then I expanded our coach training program to include a six-month certification program – twice a week live webinars in coaching, positive psychology and business development. In the beginning, I created and taught every subject, every class – alone. Again, something was missing: Connection. I wanted others to teach, not just me. And if I thought about it, I knew a lot of talented, experienced, passionate experts who would impact our students and do this vision together with me.

Everything in life is more meaningful when you make connection the goal. Connection isn’t “networking.” It is isn’t simply collaboration. It isn’t just communication. Connection is love. It is the moment, however brief, when your soul aligns with another and you serve one another’s needs in some way. It could be a smile, a touch, an idea, a word of encouragement, or act of support. But connection makes life and work juicy.

So I began inviting others into the process – people who could carry the vision forward, teach the curriculum I created, and do this thing with me together. To be honest, it was hard to let go. “Will they get it right?” I worried. “Will the students complain?” I took the leap. They got it right. No one complained. In fact, I don’t even think they missed me! Today, we have five instructors who are as passionate as I am. We have graduated hundreds of students whose lives are transformed. And I don’t go it alone.

LaFern Batie, Kim DuBrul, Christine Duvivier, Breon Michel and Lisa Sansom bring coaching to life in ways unique to their powerful experience – and that makes the program richer than it could ever be from my just my perspective. As for me personally, I just have a whole lot more fun. The first time I sat in one of our training events while Kim and LaFern tag-teamed to teach felt like someone truly had my back. The responsibility was now shared. The program could run without me! We collaborated on improvements. We laughed together. We’ve created an experience – for our coaching students and ourselves – that could never be replicated in isolation, but only through the beauty of authentic connection.

Journaling assignment:
In what way(s) are you trying to go it alone? What would connection give you that is currently missing in a project or goal of yours?


Next step:

Reach out. Connect. Don’t go it alone.

For more on how to get unstuck, pre-order my brand new book Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable and get three free gifts! Click HERE for details.

For info on our last Coach Training Intensive of the year, click here.

5 Lessons to Remember When You Are Feeling Stuck, Frustrated, or Unsure!

As I journaled one day about the lessons God has offered me thus far in life, this is what came to me. Perhaps you’ve learned these along your journey as well. Sometimes in the hectic pace of life, we need a reminder, and that is what I am here to offer you today: 

 

1.  Nothing Is Permanent.

I first learned this lesson at six years old, which was the first time my family moved. We left my birthplace of Florida and moved to Germany. I moved eight times by the age of 21 – to cities in Colorado, South Carolina, California, back to Florida, and later to Texas. Growing up in an Air Force family, I quickly learned to adapt to new circumstances, new people, and sometimes even a new country.

Nothing in life is permanent – a fact that should encourage you to revel in the joy your life brings, and minimize your frustration when you encounter circumstances you don’t like. There is something in your life right now that is not permanent. If it is something you love, in what way can you embrace and enjoy it more? If it’s something you dread, just hold on a little longer. This too shall pass.

2. You are Either Living on Purpose or Living by Accident. 

 

Too many people wander through life haphazardly – latching on to people, jobs, and things just because they crossed their path. Then they wake up one day wondering, “How on earth did I get here?” I call it “living by accident.” In order to create a fulfilling life, you have to be purposeful in your decisions.

Don’t make your decisions without reflecting on how your decision will impact you long-term. Pursue the things that empower you to express your values and talents. Choose to be around people you feel good being around – inspiring, supportive people who are moving in the same direction as you. Know your purpose, and live in it every day in your work, relationships, health, finances, and spiritual life. In what way do you need to begin living more on purpose?

3.  Fear Does Not Necessarily Mean ‘Stop’.  

 

 Fear is as powerful as you allow it to be. Most of us feel fear and interpret that feeling as a warning to stop moving forward. In truth, we should interpret most fear as a natural emotion that pops up every time we venture to do something outside of our comfort zone.

When you feel fear, keep moving. It’ll stretch you beyond your comfort zone and closer to your goals. What are you afraid of right now that is keeping you from your best life? Will you make a decision to move forward despite your fear?

4.  Less is More.

More than ever, our culture is fixated on proving your worth through your money and material possessions.   Entire televisions shows are dedicated to showing you all the stuff other people have. After a while, it can be pretty challenging not to compare your “stuff” to everyone else’s.

True self-empowerment comes from knowing that nothing material will ever prove your worth. Your worth comes from who you are – a child of God – and the impact you make in the lives of others. Don’t worry about impressing everyone else. Instead, focus on impressing God by living the purpose for which He created you: Serving and blessing others in a way that only you can.

5. The Power to Change Your Life is in the Choices You Make.

This is perhaps the most powerful of lessons. Better choices create better circumstances. It’s not what happens to you that most impacts your life. It is how you respond. Your choices create your future. What kind of future are you creating with the choices you are making today?

You can choose to enjoy your life or to be miserable. You can choose to be flexible or keep hitting a brick wall at work or in a relationship. You can choose to pursue your dreams or keep making excuses for why you can’t achieve them. The choice is ours. What new choice do you need to make in your life?

My challenge to you:

From the list of five lessons above or the list you created when you journaled, choose the one that you most need to apply to your life right now. Make a decision to take an action in the next 48 hours that will enrich your life in a meaningful way.

Journaling Questions:

What is the most important lesson your life is offering you right now? How will you apply this lesson in your future? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Joy Comes in the Morning!

I visited Colorado Springs for a speaking engagement and a few meetings. A friend picked me up at the airport, and took me to dinner. We then headed to Glen Eyrie Castle and Conference Center, where I’d be staying during my trip. Before arriving, I had received a generous invitation from a staff member at Glen Eyrie to stay at no expense in the biggest and nicest room at their Christian retreat center nestled in the foothills near picturesque Pike’s Peak. The property, a castle built by a civil war general for his wife, was established in the city of Colorado Springs in the late 19th century.

I’d been told the location was beautiful, but it was dark when we arrived, and upon proceeding through the gate, I began to feel a bit apprehensive. We drove along a winding road with no street lights and small, dark cottages sprinkled here and there. It seemed like the scene just before something crazy happens in a scary movie. We pulled up to the home I’d be staying in. It was just after 10:00 pm. One light was on in the house and I thought I saw a man sitting at a desk near a front window. We walked up to the large, ornate wood door with a heavy metal knocker. Taped to the center of the door was a note with “Valorie” scribbled on the outside and a key inside. It instructed me to the location of my room inside this bed-and-breakfast style cottage.

We walked through the foyer, then a long, stately dining room with a fireplace and seating for 14 people, and finally a vast living area with paintings of people I imagined were long gone. The lighting was nearly non-existent, and as we proceeded through the house, I thought, “Where am I? Who else is in this house? Are the former inhabitants still ‘with us’?” I knew I was being silly, but the thoughts and questions were gaining speed. We arrived at my room – a spacious pink bedroom with a long, hall entry way, an antique canopy bed, living area, work area and a huge bathroom. My friend saw the apprehension on my face. And his wife looked a little apprehensive about leaving me there, too.

“You don’t have to stay here,” he assured me. “We can go the Hilton right now if you want.” I gazed through one of the dozen, 10-feet high windows in the room. It was pitch black outside so I couldn’t see a thing. But I wasn’t feeling excited about staying.

“It was such a generous offer, and I would feel terrible about coming here and then leaving to check into a hotel,” I said.

Just then, I heard a motherly voice call out, “Val-or-ie?” I turned to find a lovely, older couple – the home’s hosts – enter the room.

The husband, perhaps sensing a little tension by the way we were scoping out the room, said lightly, “Don’t worry. There are no ghosts here. :) It just looks like this because you came at night.”

A little embarrassed, I said, “Oh, I’m sure it’s lovely in the daytime,” hoping I was right.

The host’s wife proceeded to tell me a few things about the room and the house. She said something about an unconventional wake-up call at 5:30 am, but I thought she was kidding. “Good night,” they said before retiring to their room.

“Well,” I said to my friend and his wife. “I’ll stay tonight and let’s see how it goes.”

“I’ll be back to pick you up in the morning,” he offered, “Just pack your bags if you want to check into a hotel tomorrow, and we’ll take them when I pick you up.”

Uneasy, but undeterred, I readied for bed and decided that my apprehension was unfounded (but left the hallway light on for good measure :).

Around 5:20 a.m., I was suddenly awakened by the sound of a woman laughing – well, kind of cackling. It was almost a giggle – little short, choppy bursts of laughter. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a bit strange. The second time, I thought, “Boy, something must really be funny.” I tried to go back to sleep, but she wouldn’t stop her funny little giggles.

“What could be that funny this early in the morning!?” I thought, now feeling a bit annoyed.

Then it occurred to me, the hostess warned me the night before that I would get a wake up call around 5:30 in the morning – from wild turkeys gobbling outside. I jumped out of bed and looked outside, only to see huge, wild, black turkeys shuffling about on the lawn. In the background was a spectacular mountain view, and I could see the edges of a large, stone castle peeking from behind the tall, evergreen trees on the property. The scene from the 12 expansive windows in my room was captivating. I took a deep breath of gratitude and inhaled the divine beauty of nature. Then I laughed at myself for my reaction the night before.

During my three days at Glen Eyrie, I took walks, meditated and enjoyed the scenic landscape and peaceful environment that surrounded me.

I gleaned a simple lesson from this story:

Sometimes, you have to persevere through the uncertainty of darkness to experience the beautiful vision that comes when light is shed on a situation. Things aren’t always as they seem, especially when we have a limited view.

In what area of your life are you apprehensive because you can’t see what’s coming? Are you ready to bail out quickly before you can see the whole picture? This week, I offer you a challenge: Refuse to allow irrational fears to pressure you into making hasty decisions – whether in your personal or professional life. “… Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” Psalm 30:5 promises. Stick around and see what God has in store before you take it upon yourself to “fix things.” When you finally see what morning looks like, you may just find you were in the right place all along.

Journaling assignment:
In what area of your life are you tempted to make a premature decision? Is God prompting you to wait a little while longer before showing you the bigger picture?

My challenge to you this week:
Be patient. Refuse to make a hasty decision. Instead, endure a little discomfort until you can see the bigger picture and can make a more informed decision. Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

What’s Your Purpose?

Why are you here? I don’t mean why are you here reading these words right now. Instead, why are you here on this planet at this time, born into the family you were born into, with your unique gifts and talents, with your experiences? There is indeed a reason you are here. It’s your purpose. Some call it your mission. We all have one. Our job is to discover what it is and live it.

I recall winning honors and awards in my previous career field, yet feeling a deep dissatisfaction with my work. Because I was good at my profession, the people around me assumed I was happy and purposeful. But deep down, I knew something was off. Life can have all the external accolades of success, but if there is no purpose to what you are accomplishing, you’ll feel a black hole – an empty place in your soul that wants true fulfillment. That true fulfillment comes from knowing you are living on purpose.

One day, while coaching a client who was struggling to articulate her life’s mission, a question just rolled off my tongue: How is someone’s life better when they cross your path? She immediately began describing her mission, “Well, I am a bridge builder who connects people, ideas and resources, so a person’s life is better because I help them make the right connection.” Just like that. Crystal clear. She articulated her purpose. Over the years, this powerful question has helped many people get crystal clear about their purpose in life
Without a lot of introspection and pondering, answer this question from your gut: How is someone’s life better when they cross your path?

We are all here for a reason – leaving the world in some way better than it would otherwise have been without us. The fun part is that we get to accomplish that mission using our own uniqueness – our gifts, strengths, passion and experiences. While you are likely not the only person in the world with your particular mission, you are the only one who can accomplish it the way you can. There are people you are uniquely equipped to impact. They connect with you. They are around you. They are impacted by you. Who will you connect and live out your purpose with today?

I challenge you to take a moment and answer this question with one simple sentence: How is someone’s life better because they cross your path? If you have trouble answering it, chat with the people in your life who know you best. Sometimes your impact comes so easily to you that it’s difficult for you to recognize it. But the people whom you are impacting will know. Ask them.

Challenge:

Write your personal mission statement.

Journaling assignment:

How is someone’s life better because they cross your path? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Forget Perfection!

Do you insist that everything be done a certain way? Do you have a hard time relaxing if your house is a mess or things are out of order? Do you beat yourself up for making mistakes? I’ve got a simple message for you today: It’s time to let go of your perfectionism. It may just be the stumbling block that’s keeping you from contentment and the happiness you say you want.

The quest for a perfect job, a perfect mate, a perfect life – is a never ending quest that none of us will ever achieve. It is a futile habit that keeps you from relaxing and enjoying life – and appreciating the lessons, opportunities and blessings that are right in front of you. So what can you do to tame your perfectionism?

1. Be willing to leave some things undone.
Recognize that the world won’t come to an end because there are dishes in the sink, or you didn’t plan the perfect vacation.

2. Recognize that it’s often the imperfections of a situation that foster growth, laughter and even lasting memories.
Tune in to the divine wisdom being offered to you everyday through the frustrations, inconveniences and struggles of life.

3. Let the people in your life be who they are.
One of life’s greatest frustrations can come from expecting others to meet our expectations when they simply cannot or will not do so. Stop requiring others to meet your expectations of perfection, and your relationships will be more peaceful and joyful.

4. Give yourself a break.
We are all imperfect. Even if you are excellent, thoughtful, careful and intelligent, you will do things wrong at times, make mistakes and get yourself into situations you wish you could reverse. Learn from them and move forward.

As you let go of your need for perfection, you embrace the perfect ways in which life often lines up just the way you need it, just when you need it.

Journaling assignment:
In what ways are you demanding perfection? How could you ease up and allow yourself to enjoy life more? Consider your relationships, finances, work, health and spiritual life.

My challenge to you this week:
Give yourself a break. Let go of the quest for perfection and notice the opportunities for joy that show up on your path this week. Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Finish Each Day and Be Done with It!

Do you have a hard time leaving work at work? Is your to-do list so long that it is never possible to finish everything you set out to do in a day? I have always loved this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

The quote serves as a reminder of the importance of putting boundaries around our time and expectations of each new day. This week, I would like to simply remind you to “finish each day and be done with it.” Forgive yourself for not accomplishing everything you “could” have. Relax and be at peace with simply doing what you were able. Give yourself permission to make a few mistakes, be imperfect and inadvertently get off track from time to time. After all, you are human. One of my friends – a successful executive and single mom of three – told me a few years ago that she had learned that “being superwoman is a super myth.” She was right on point. You can get into the habit of taking on too much responsibility and then expecting yourself to handle every responsibility perfectly and expediently. Before long, you can become exhausted and even burn out.

Here are a few ways to practice “finishing each day and being done with it” this week:

LEAVE YOUR WORK AT WORK.
If you work from home, do the same. When your work day ends, mentally shift from professional life mode to personal life mode.

LET YOUR TO-DO’S SPILL OVER INTO THE NEXT DAY.
Often, to-do lists are quite unrealistic. Be honest with yourself about what you can actually accomplish in a day. If something doesn’t get completed, move it to another day. Put your to-dos into proper perspective. Sometimes we stress out over tasks that are not urgent matters.

EVERY CONFLICT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RESOLVED TODAY.
If you’ve had a tough day with co-workers, your children, a spouse or a friend, don’t feel pressured to always resolve the issue the same day. I’m not suggesting that you should avoid difficult conversations, but rather that it is important to identify the right time and place to have them. Sometimes, waiting a day or two can allow heated emotions to simmer, and a more productive conversation to occur.

CLEAR YOUR MIND TO FOCUS ON THE PRESENT.
When you find yourself focused on all that you did not accomplish during the day, take a deep breath and make a decision to focus on your goal again tomorrow. Refuse to beat yourself up over moments that have passed earlier in your day that you will never get back. Instead, maximize the moment you are in right now by enjoying it fully. For it, too, will never be regained.

END YOUR DAY ON PURPOSE.
Do you sometimes fall asleep on the sofa? Do you drift off to sleep vowing to read one more chapter in a book only to wake up with the lights on and an open book on your pillow? Studies show that most people have a more restful night’s sleep when they have a bedtime routine consisting of dimmed lights and low or no noise in the hour before going to sleep – followed by turning off the lights and resting until drifting off to sleep. End your day intentionally and you will find yourself energized to begin your next day!

Journaling assignment:
What tends to burden you at the end of each day? What will you do differently beginning today to let it go until a new day begins?

My challenge to you this week:
Finish each day this week and be done with it!

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

If You Knew The Answer, What Would It Be?

I know you’ve been pondering the answer to your greatest challenge. You’ve been trying to figure it all out – coming up with various scenarios, seeking outside opinions and generally racking your brain to get the right answer. But my question is a simple one:

If you knew the answer, what would it be?

Pause. Take a deep breath. And before you read any further (I’m talking to you, the overachieving perfectionist who wants to keep reading because you are sure that I’m about to give you the answer, and you don’t want to waste any time getting to it!), answer this profound, counterintuitive question. If you knew the answer, what would it be?

The bottom line is this: you have an inkling. Perhaps your answer leads to more questions. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because at least now you are on the right path. In my many years of coaching, it never ceases to amaze me that this question always evokes a powerful answer for clients. I think it’s all in how I ask the question. I ask it in a very unassuming way – light and with a confidence in my voice that communicates I am sure my client will be able to answer the question easily. One client, pondering a major career transition and major long-distance move, was wrought with anxiety about making the right choice. She listed all the cons, what might go wrong, what making the wrong decision might cost her. But when I said casually, “So, if you knew the answer, what would it be?”, she said without hesitation, “I’d take the job. I’d take the risk. I mean, an opportunity like this doesn’t come around often. I could make sure I plan to visit my friends and family regularly. If I make the wrong decision, I’ll just have to make new plans.” Just like that, she had her answer. She already knew. Her internal compass pointed her in the right direction. It was her fear that rationalized her out of the right answer even before she could acknowledge what she really wanted to do.

How about you? What’s the question you need an answer to? Are you willing to give voice to your gut instincts? Even if you are not ready to move forward on your answer yet, at least respect your own nudges enough to acknowledge them. You might be surprised that the answer you’ve been searching for is already here.

My challenge to you:
Pay attention to your inklings.

Coach Yourself:
If you knew the answer, what would it be? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

Is it Time to Change Your Approach?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – The Serenity Prayer

A woman told me recently, “If I could just get my husband to stop leaving the towels on the floor after he takes a shower … and if I could just get him to stop letting my three-year old leave his towels on the floor, I would feel like he was contributing more to keeping the house clean.”

“How long has your husband been doing this?” I asked. “Well, since we’ve been married,” she admitted. “That’s seven years.” “Hmm. And you’ve asked him to put his towels away?” I probed.  “Every day!” she exclaimed. “He’ll do it for a couple of days and then it’s right back to the same problem. He’s a great husband in so many ways, but this issue with the towels drives me crazy. It would be so easy for him to just pick them up and put them in the laundry basket!”  I could sense her frustration. “So you’ve tried to get him to change and he hasn’t. What’s the likelihood that he’s going to stop this annoying habit?” I asked.  “He probably won’t” she said.  I looked at her as she processed what she had said. “He’s probably not going to change and this is not life or death, so maybe I need to change how I look at it” she continued. “So basically, you have three choices…” I suggested:

1. Accept the towels on the floor as something you choose to live with.
2. Consider ‘putting away towels’ to just be one of your daily chores.
3. Be irritated everyday.

“Which one sounds best to you?” I asked.

It was in that moment that a light bulb came on for her. “Well, it would only take me a few seconds to just pick up the towels and put them in the laundry basket,” she said. “I’ll just do it. I don’t think it’s worth any more fussing and negative energy. I will just think of it as one of the things I do.”  Our conversation was a simple illustration of how you can allow the things you cannot change to become a source of unnecessary frustration – sometimes for years. As you may have learned in your own life, you cannot change people. If you base your peace and level of happiness on the attitudes and actions of others, you will find yourself consistently disappointed. I am not suggesting that you stop speaking up for yourself and making reasonable requests of others. I am suggesting, however, that you don’t become so attached to your need for them to change that you stress yourself out unnecessarily.
This week, I challenge you to have the courage to accept the things (no matter how large or small) you cannot change and the courage to change what you can. Here’s how:

1. Accept the people in your life as they are.
As difficult as it may be at times, it is absolutely essential in a loving relationship to accept a person for who he or she is. Think back to a time when you did not feel accepted. How did it make you feel? Accepting a person for who they are does not mean condoning bad behavior. It means accepting what is and building from there rather than requiring a person to change in order for them to receive love, kindness or approval from you.

2. Ask yourself, “In what ways could I respond differently in relationships in which I wish the other person would change?”
Some people know how to push your buttons – and they’ll do it as often as they can in order to get the reaction they want from you. Others are not trying to push buttons, but inevitably do, as they do things that displease you. Change the dynamic of a situation by choosing a new response. In the case of the conversation I just outlined, the woman simply determined that something as simple as towels on the floor was not worth the frustration and negativity. So she let it go! “He’s probably not going to change. It’s just not important to him, so I guess I will have to be the one to change unless I want to keep feeling frustrated.” Choose your battles wisely. What do you need to let go of?

3. Are there boundaries I need to set in order to protect my own peace, joy and serenity?
It is sometimes necessary to set clear boundaries and protect them. For example, I don’t permit “drama” in my life. I do not allow people and situations that are negative, messy or lacking in integrity into my life. I just don’t have time for them. When I see such situations or people coming, I make it clear that certain conversations, situations and approaches are not acceptable to me and I won’t take part. What boundaries do you need to set to keep peace, joy and serenity in your life? What conversations do you need to have to make those boundaries clear to someone who has stepped across them?

4. Have I met the other persons’ request for change?
It can be easy to expect change in others without noticing that others would like to see a change in us as well. Be willing to take others’ requests for change seriously. Rather than being offended (1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is not easily offended), be honest with yourself. Perhaps it is time to make a change. When you are willing to change for someone else, they will often let down their wall and meet your requests too. If you are the one who must take the first step, do it. Sometimes we must let go of the need to be right in order to embrace the opportunity for peace, joy and love.

My challenge to you this week:
Answer all of the questions in 1 – 4 above. Consider the choices you have in handling a situation that is currently frustrating you. Make a choice that will lead you to greater peace, joy and serenity in a relationship or situation in your life.

Journaling assignment:
What lesson is God offering you through the frustration or discomfort you are experiencing in a particular area of your life right now?

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