A Coaching Journey – Pt. 15

At my final life coaching session, Marielle turned life as I knew it on its head. I thought I had prepared for the session, done all my homework (well, most of it, anyway) and was ready to dive in one more time.

Certainly, I had written my “Completion Report” listing what I had learned over this journey, acknowledging myself for changes made, and celebrating those changes. I acknowledged Marielle’s contribution in getting me started in the first place, for showing me other perspectives to some of my challenges, and for her ongoing support. Oh, and for keeping me focused (I sometimes have a tendency to go down bunny trails – interesting things you can find there ;-). I even had at-the-ready, a few suggestions to make the coaching experience even better.

Instead of dwelling on that Completion Report (I guess that the exercise of doing it was more important than going over it point-by-point), Marielle did a “mirroring” exercise with me that took me back to the beginning and what she had observed were my highs and lows (more highs than lows – quite a surprise!) during the entire process.

Hearing my insights and my challenges mirrored back to me in that way was an inspiration. From frustration over what I discovered was out of my control anyway to the huge procrastination roadblock, I had found ways of moving forward that excited and encouraged me. From the realization that I had overcome challenges in the past, so I could do it again came a re-commitment to succeed in my goals. I found I can have my cake and eat it too. I can increase my freedom by using the tools that conquer those barriers and help me attain my vision of the real me.

Goal by goal, we looked back at that vision. I had discovered my “financial” goals were less about making money (although I have to do that as well), and more about making an investment in myself. I had found that lack of organization was the underbelly of procrastination and that I just needed to schedule it in and DO IT! It is, indeed, all doable. I just need to continue to work on changing my habits for the better and remember to breathe.

In the end, I realized that I had made huge strides over the twelve sessions and that the momentum was with me. I will continue to refine my approach and to keep it real as I reveal more and more of this better version of me.

And, for that, I thank Marielle and I celebrate!

(Stay tuned for future updates.)

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 14

My last blog dealt with self-sabotage, overwhelm and backtracking. In my enthusiasm for moving forward, I had overloaded myself with unrealistic goals that caused me to temporarily derail and fall back on old habits.

Do I consider these missteps as failures? Absolutely not! To fail would mean I gave in. To fail would mean I gave up. To fail would mean that I didn’t learn from my misdirection.

Although I am still finding my way back from my temporary detour, I have learned a lot about myself and what works best for me. I have learned that there are going to be bumps in the road and uphill battles when you are seeking a different direction in your life. And I have become more determined than ever to find the route that will lead me to accomplish and sustain my goals.

When I met with Marielle to discuss the recent challenges on my journey, I discovered that I had actually accomplished much more than I had realized. I had worked toward every single action that I had set out for myself, even if I hadn’t completed the entire action (are we ever really finished?).

Of course, that led to two revelations: Firstly, I was over-reaching my boundaries by confusing ongoing process with singular measures. Rather than breaking down what should become consistent practice into workable steps, I was attempting to do everything at once. Also, as a writer, I knew that the words I was using were important to me, and yet my to do list used words like “begin” and “attempt”. I needed to find verbs that led me toward my goals – quite literally, my actions require action words.

Further, I discovered that my weekly scheduling, while an improvement, was still not enough. I needed to become even more specific than I had been previously. This non-scheduler had to write a timed schedule that would lay out my daily plan. Even if I didn’t accomplish everything on this plan, I was moving toward those all-important goals.

And so, as I get back on track, you might ask, “Are we there yet?” And I would answer, “Not yet, but soon.” And where there is hope and commitment, there will be success.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13

 

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 13

I was ready. I knew that the timing was right. So did Marielle. So we spent our session setting up the hard work of moving forward, setting target dates as we went. After all, timing is everything – right!

Unfortunately, as I set those dates, I front-loaded everything, not taking into account the other projects that I had on my plate. I had been so excited that my work was going to bear fruit, that I didn’t pay enough care and attention to the timing. And timing is everything – right?

The result when I realized my mistake? I folded into myself, fell back on my procrastination bad habits, and got nothing done. Well, not exactly nothing. My goal remained ever-present in my mind and so I continued researching the writing opportunities out there, made contacts and let it be known that I was available (true, it was a more passive “Hey, I’m here” than a door-knocking “Let me in,” but it was something). I even attended an on-line web design class to get some of the basics. At least it wasn’t my full-blown procrastination of a few months ago. After all, I was ready, wasn’t I?

Thinking about it as I write this blog, I realize that the fear of the rubber hitting the road had taken over and that it was important for me to shift my thinking. Yes, indeed, timing is paramount. And, yes, you need to be ready. But you also need to truly envision what you want from your future and to be open to accepting that it takes a fundamental shift and some hard effort to get there.

So, I’m pulling up my socks, giving myself a shake, shifting my head space and getting back onto my path. After all, both the journey and the destination are worth it. And the road ahead looks a touch bumpy, but clear.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12

 

 

 

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 12

One of my assignments following my most recent coaching session with Marielle was to review the “Personal Checklist” that I filled out prior to beginning this coaching journey. I discovered that, in many of the areas, I was improving, a work in progress (aren’t we all?).

It would be easy to take the idea of a checklist lightly but, as with many things that are meant to give us a wake-up call, information about the importance of checklists have been bombarding me from all sides recently.

Now, I tend to be someone who works things out in my head. I visualize articles almost fully blown before writing a word. I work out next steps in all (or most) areas of my life in my brain, rarely writing these down (unless pushed to do so by something like this process that Marielle has me going through, or when I am so overwhelmed that I need to look at what is coming down the pipe). Even budgeting is done by looking at the bottom line in my chequing account and working out what I can pay from that (most of my regular bills are on automatic payment).

So, when Marielle asked me to review my checklist, it was a “yeah, sure” reaction, done mostly because I am committed to the process.

Then I was listening to a TED Talk about the benefits of checklists in the operating room. Did you know that, according surgeon and public health journalist, Atul Gawanda, deaths during surgery can be reduced by up to 47% just by using check lists? That checklists help catch a problem before it happens or highlight some item that is easily missed? Checklists reinforce teamwork and create a different set of values and discipline, says Dr. Gawanda.

That same day, my exercise coach suggested that I write down my commitment to getting to bed early, and to be specific. I laughed and said that I know I am supposed to getting to bed earlier. Why would I write it down? He insisted that something changes in your brain when you write it down. It becomes more concrete.

On top of all this, I have had two recent events that required checklists for them to succeed.

So, here I am, a person who doesn’t normally write things down, rethinking my approach. With messages from Marielle, Matt and other sources suggesting that it is important to write it down, I am “working on it”. Not only am I improving in other areas of my life, I am also “a work in progress” with writing my best dreams, my goals and my vision down. Using the simple technique of checklists, I expect that I will move forward another step or so.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11

 

 

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 11

It has been said that life is what happens when you are making plans.

As I complete session #9 on my coaching journey with Marielle Gauthier, life has definitely been happening to me. When I discovered that I had been thinking of it as “intervening”, I spoke with Marielle about it. After all, some of the recent curve balls had been moments to savour. After speaking with her and reflecting on my attitude, I realized that life will always be intervening. It does for all of us. In fact, that is part of what coaching is all about – learning to take life to the maximum whatever the circumstances in order to achieve what our thoughts can conceive.

Taking that revelation to heart, I looked back on what I have accomplished on this coaching journey. So far, I have created vision maps, widened the cracks in my procrastination wall, and taken baby steps toward bringing in some income (look back at my previous guest blogs to find more information on some of these goals). Although I am not always on track, I know that I schedule more, get to bed earlier, continue to take care of my body because it houses the dreams and visions of my mind. If I slip up, I just go at it again.

Even more importantly, I am replacing unhelpful habits with new habits. These have provided the tools for me to handle life’s “intrusions”, recognize that they will always be with me, and turn them into the joyful moments they are meant to be (or handle the difficulties that may come my way). I remind myself to celebrate and enjoy.

In my last blog, I stated emphatically that I CAN do this. This time around, I realize that I AM doing this. My life is definitely changing for the better – slowly, incrementally – but it IS happening. My attitude is changing. I am grasping opportunity with both hands. I remain committed the process and to living my best life.

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10

 

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 10

This past week, I hit a wall. Some may call it “brain freeze”. Others may call it “overwhelm”. All I know is that I felt lost, confused and frustrated. My schedule was overloaded, and I wanted so much to make giant strides towards the changes that I have been working on with Marielle that I simply hit a wall.

When I discussed the issue with my physical trainer, Matt Jodouin, from Fortitude Fitness (see Blog #1), and with my life coach, Marielle Gauthier, from Redworks, both helped me step back and take a look at what I was doing and how I might get back on track. Earlier bedtimes will lead to better sleep patterns and strengthen my ability to handle obstacles (I’m traditionally a night owl). Continuing my scheduling (one of the “almost there” habits that saved me during this time), and becoming even more specific in what I plan to do during those blocks of time, might help me handle the overwhelm that I was feeling. And recognizing that there will be times that my progress will slow or even reverse. After all, I am changing, in some cases, habits that I have hung onto for decades. I need to just remain committed and that wall will crumble. Eventually, the new habits will become second nature, and the changes will be there.

In fact, both Matt and Marielle helped me step back and observe myself in light of the work that I have been doing. They helped me ask myself if things had indeed changed since I began this “self-work”. The answer is a resounding, “YES!”. Has it been worth it? Again, a resounding, “Yes!”.

Ultimately, after having processed my last session with Marielle, and having given myself a shake, I realized that my biggest insight is that, it may take some time, but I CAN do this…and I will.

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9

 

 

 

 

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 9

These days, I am experiencing a seismic shift in slow motion.

When I began this coaching journey, I told Marielle that I was not a list maker, not a habitual scheduler, and that it might be tough to get me there. She just smiled as if to say, “We’ll see where it goes.”

Well, I now schedule pretty much on a daily basis – in some cases with specific times or blocks of times; in some cases, putting just a “to do” not on the date. The schedule keeps me somewhat honest, and helps me chip away at the many, varied parts of my life that need attention. Oh, I still struggle with that schedule, and often have arrows that “carry over” my scheduled plans; but those are becoming fewer as I work to improve my habits.

They also recently afforded me the opportunity to step away from the schedule entirely for a day to handle a personal issue, without guilt, because I knew that I could reschedule. Flexibility has been key to my needs from the start. Who knew that scheduling would give that to me?

I have also been doing a lot of visioning within the coaching program surrounding what I really want out of life. Not that I didn’t do this before, but I kept it mostly in my head. Writing it down has made it more concrete for me.

It’s kind of like a GPS: When you turn it on, its first instruction is to enter your destination. To get anywhere in life, you need to know where you want to go. If you don’t know what you want, how can you make it happen?

A vision statement is something like that. It encircles your own unique purpose and sets you on the pathway. And if you dream big, it takes you to the next level. It spurs you to action. At least, that is what I am hoping…

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7Part 8

 

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 8

I am a woman of thoughts, words and deeds; a woman who loves the flexibility of retirement, yet is resistant to change; a woman who likes to mull things over before going full throttle. I’m not even sure if Marielle realizes how much she has helped me merge these disparate parts of me into a hopeful, not quite there yet, me.

After our first phone session, midway through the coaching program, I rebelled. I eschewed the schedule for the swamp of abandonment, doing little more than spending time with friends (not even realizing that I was working on my “relationship goal”). I went to bed late – a bad habit that I thought I had conquered – and chastised myself for backsliding.

Then, Sunday happened. I slept in; showered off the muck of the past two days; had brunch; and set to work on my scheduler. The brand new week brought fresh perspective and opportunity. It was a chance clear my head and to start with a clean slate, to celebrate the giant steps that I had viewed as baby steps, and to contemplate the new path I was about to take with, perhaps, my most feared goal – the one that attacked my essence and, perhaps, my freedom.

I had been avoiding the “working for money” issue because it seemed to step on the toes of that freedom, seemed a “must do” rather than a “desired goal”. The goal was about much more than reducing my debt to reduce my stress (my “shine statement” – see Guest Blog #3). It was about using my strengths, passions and interests to create a better me.

Marielle helped me see that the debt I had incurred by building an addition onto my home when income was scarce, was actually an investment in my future. It fulfilled a pre-program goal of aging-in-place – a goal that would also benefit my children. Instead of recoiling at what working for money might do to the other areas of my life, I began to see that it was up to me to make that investment grow and flourish.

With a small change in words and thought, I was able to remove the stress of “debt” that had been hanging over me. It left me free to nurture those passions and interests and to merge my strengths into avenues of opportunity.

After a breather that allowed me to think my way through the fog, I can now thank Marielle for recognizing how words can change perspectives (at least for me), and for chipping away at my resistance. I can now go into next steps – mapping out a life plan that will use my essence to accomplish my goals – ready to turn challenge into opportunity.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 7

Working with Marielle on my Strategies for the past while, it somehow didn’t occur to me that I would have to act on them – that that is what “action” is. Well, now I’m looking at my strategies for my organizational goals and realizing that the first one is looking long and hard at myself through a Personal Assessment and answering certain questions that I placed on the list (with Marielle’s encouragement)

So, why is organization important to me? Why does my lack of organization bother me, and how does it impact me? How did I get to a state in which I feel disorganized when so much of my work life centred on being organized (and/or doing the organizing)? What will help kick-start me so that I can achieve my goal?

I think I would truly love to live in a dream world, in which I wake up in the morning and the house is magically spotless, papers are all filed, and projects are laid out ready for next steps, with “to do” lists magically prioritized. All I have to do is follow up. Unfortunately, that is not my reality.

I don’t love cleaning. Papers are my nemesis, piling up continuously, hidden when guests are coming (important papers with recyclables), only to disappear from view for many moons (I am an “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” personality). I am keenly aware of my projects as I am commitment-driven, but I often procrastinate in moving these forward (see Blog #6) and end up working on these at the last minute.

The stress that my approach causes hangs over me, even as I try to ignore it. It freezes me in place, so that I don’t get things done. I avoid, ignore, or chip away half-heartedly. It stops me from experiencing the full joy that I want out of life. A new approach is called for.

So what will kick-start me toward that new approach? First of all, a self-reminder that I am an organizer; that I have done this before and can do it again; and a commitment to myself to do better. I have already said that I am commitment oriented, but I have found that little tips, tricks and cues help motivate me. With exercise, it is the Fitbit and a commitment to my trainer. With organization, it turns out that it is “reality scheduling “ – scheduling for how my life is now and including “organization” into the mix. And, to keep me honest but not overwhelmed, it is my little kitchen timer, which can be set for 15 or 30 minute intervals, so that I can attack, rather than chip away, and really get things done.

It is a habit that I am still working on. But I feel optimistic that I can and will do it…and as it becomes habit, I will celebrate my victory!

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 6

Rather than work on the strategic plans for Goals 1 and 2, Marielle and I decided to take a sledge hammer to that wall that seemed to have been building up – especially since my retirement – and blocking me in several areas of my life: P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N. At least, if we could create some cracks in it, the light may be able to come in.

It would seem an easy task. “Just do it,” some of you will say. “Take 15 minutes every day for each task and gradually increase that,” I hear others of you shout. “Schedule, schedule, schedule,” cry others.

Well, I know the remedies as well as the next person. It’s just that I find excuses, do end runs, or just plain ignore what has to be done until the last minute.

It’s not that I don’t meet my deadlines or meet my commitments. In fact, as we talked through the issue, it was quite obvious that commitment was a big motivator in my life and that, once I said I would do something, I stuck to my guns – even if it meant staying up until 3:00 a.m. to do it.

By procrastinating, I was creating unnecessary stress in my life, and in fact, removing some of the freedom that I had been so jealously guarding. And I had to remember that I had overcome walls in the past. Most certainly, I could do it again.

So, even though I had already done some work on scheduling, I committed to creating a workable schedule and to build toward following it. I have two new schedules now: one that outlines a day without outside commitments (only self-imposed ones), and that even includes TV and social networking time; and one that looks at my weekly set commitments, and works my other goals and commitments around those set plans.

The cracks in that wall are beginning to show and the light is beginning to shine through. I’m not there yet. Not everything gets done. But I’m working on it – baby steps. And I’m sure that I’ll get there eventually.

 

 

 

IMG_1837About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

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