“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” – Gandhi
(“And so, with all due respect to Gandhi, is a woman, ahem.” — me)
You can be doing all the right things for all the right reasons, but if in your mind you are berating yourself, or doubting yourself, or distracting yourself, you won’t get the results you’re seeking.
This is why I became a mindset coach—because I know that when you start to re-write some of the petty, scared or downright mean thoughts that are likely running rampant in your mind, all parts of your life start to change.
(And because my 20 years of studying and practicing yoga and meditation taught me that thoughts aren’t necessarily true or even helpful—but it wasn’t until I hired a coach that I used all that insight to start taking different actions. And voila, mindset coaching was the perfect combo.)
I put together this list of the most common thoughts I see—both in my own experience and in my clients’—that keep people swimming in the same circles, like a one-legged duck.
I rolled up at the Genius Bar today for a fortuitously timed appointment. I set up the reservation last week because I had cracked my screen. Then yesterday morning, I dropped the phone in the toilet.
When my genius, Dan, asked me what I needed help with, I copped to my poor phone caretaking. There was no hiding anyway—my screen looked like a spider web and the phone wouldn’t even turn on.
But Dan was trying to give me an out. My kids must have dropped it, right? Nope. Were you having a crazy day? Not especially.
The fact is, I’m crap with phones. I don’t love this about myself, I don’t consider it a badge of honor. (At least I have learned to purchase Apple Care!) But my clumsiness is my stuff. There’s no point in denying it, or trying to pawn the blame off on someone else.
After the free time of the weekend, most Mondays are reality checks. But today, October 19, takes that “back to the real world” spirit and kicks it up several notches. Because today is national Evaluate Your Life Day.
Evaluating your life doesn’t have to be an epic, exhaustive (and exhausting) endeavor. Today, as you make your list of things you want to accomplish, take a few moments to answer between one and all 27 of the following prompts.
You don’t have to overthink this—as a mindset coach who talks to people about all aspects of their lives all day long, I can tell you that we all know a lot more about these topics than we initially think we do. Sometimes all it takes is asking the question and then listening for the response.
So go ahead, jot down whatever comes up. The answers you hear will help you make any necessary course corrections. So that by the time New Year’s Day rolls around—which is the more widely known time to take stock—you’ll be more likely to be happy with your evaluations.
1) List everything you’re thankful for
2) List everything you’ve done that you’re proud of
3) List the ways you take care of yourself
4) List the ways you take care of others—be they plant, animal, or human
5) List the causes you’ve contributed to—whether with money, time or some other way
6) List the contributions you make in your household
7) List the contributions you make in your community
8) List the contributions you make in the world at large
9) List the unexpected gifts you’ve received—whether that’s a tangible present or a lovely coincidence
1) What’s bugging you?
2) What do you think about when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep?
3) If you had a realistic magic wand, what would you change?
4) If you had a wand that could make anything disappear, what would you vaporize?
5) What concerns you?
6) What are you afraid of?
7) What are you ashamed of?
8) What downright ticks you off?
9) What one relationship do you most need to heal—or end?
The way forward
1) What needs to change?
2) What can you do to bring about that change?
3) What one thing could you easily start doing that would add up to significant progress over time?
4) What can you forgive someone else for?
5) What can you forgive yourself for?
6) What word or short phrase inspires you to make better decisions?
7) What do you want to commit to doing more of in the year ahead?
8) What do you want to commit to doing less of in the year ahead?
9) What do you want to have changed by Evaluate Your Life Day, 2016?
Which question did you like the most? Which did you hate the most? What insights did you get? I’d love to hear about your experience with evaluating your life! Leave a comment below, or start a conversation with me on Twitter.
Today, I want to talk about how to start building a footbridge out of that corner. Because life is too short to spend it stuck, and there’s too much happiness and freedom waiting for you!
Also, with the changing leaves and falling temperatures (and glow-in-the-dark skeleton my kids hung on our front door this weekend), I’m feeling the end of the year coming up. There are 2-1/2 months left in 2015—enough time to make this the year you started getting out of your own way, but only if you get started now.
My parents, on the other hand, always did OK, money- and work-wise, but never cracked the ceiling of upper middle class. I could sense the tension between them — my grandparents seemed palpably disappointed that their kids hadn’t done better for themselves. My parents seemed uncomfortable when they were around my grandparents, as if they were kids on their best behavior but secretly rolling their eyes.
In my immature mind, I decided it was the fact that my grandparents were rich that was the source of all the tension.
I didn’t really think too much more about it until I was in my 40s, and I started to unspool some of my hidden beliefs about money. Having lived in New York City for 15 years, I knew I scoffed at perfectly coiffed Upper East Side women with their Birkin bags, believing my downtown neighborhood and scuffed boots to be far more desirable.
Indecision is a subtle form of self-torture. You think about that choice even when you’re not thinking about it. It’s there, waiting for you, when you wake up in the middle of the night to pee, and won’t let you go back to sleep.
It keeps you in a not-quite-here-and-not-quite-there space (that I learned in my symbolic anthropology class in college is called liminal), and prevents you from committing to other opportunities.
But sometimes, you’re just not ready to decide. At least I’m not. I’m the sort who has to wait until I feel a definite yes. Sometimes that’s instantaneous, and sometimes it takes some marinating.
And every once in a while, I can downright drive myself crazy. Read more…
I love my husband, I truly do. He makes me laugh every day. He is creative, intuitive, passionate, irreverent and steadfast. He doesn’t do anything half-way and he cares about things that a lot of other people are fine to ignore—things like being genuine and honoring your word.
And yet, naturally, he can totally drive me crazy. He will freely admit that he is a great starter of things, and not so much a finisher of things. He has opinions on everything, and sometimes in my only-child-ness I don’t really want to stop and consider his views (a place where my stuff and his stuff clash.) He never thinks I make enough food (he is the youngest of five boys; I swear there is not a meal big enough to take away that fear that the food will run out before everyone is truly sated); I think he should be grateful for the quantities of food that I do make.
I have written before about how we used to fight about doing the dishes (it’s hands-down my most popular post ever!).
It’s about the secret reason why you might still be in contemplating mode (instead of moving-forward mode).
I’m not talking about the dime-a-dozen doubts that will invariably show up. Such as: What if it doesn’t work out? What if you mess up and lose something—respect, confidence, money? What if you’re not any good at it? What if it ends up being a waste of time?
These are all variations on garden-variety resistance—which is generally produced by your ego in an effort to try and keep you “safe.”
But there’s one reason that runs a little deeper. It’s this: “What if I get what I want and I don’t like it?” This is bigger, because it doesn’t mean that you’re listening to your ego. It means you’re not trusting your gut.
When we moved to Providence four years ago, I was nervous to tell the people I met what I did. What would happen if I told them I was a coach and the author of a book on reducing your stress, and they saw me losing my patience with my kids at the playground?
Wouldn’t they think I was a sham?!
This was seriously a very big concern for me. I, like so many other people, felt I had to be above reproach in order to do what I wanted to do. I had to be perfect.
No pressure there, right?