Provision #111: Master your Subject

LifeTrek Provision

With this LifeTrek Provision, Master your Subject, we bring to a close our series on changing your life. Six tips, six months, six steps and your life can be radically different than it is today. Your life may be just fine; in that case enjoy and savor the moment. Life cannot be always lived in the intensity of making a change. But each and every one of us reach points where change is not only indicated, it’s essential. When you reach that point, and you feel the urgency to make a change, review these tips • they can assist you to get where you want to go.

The last tip could well have been the first, but we wanted to communicate that mastering your subject is not just an intellectual pursuit. It’s not a mind game that we practice by gathering and reading a collection of good books on financial management or weight loss or quitting smoking or building loving relationships.

That is, in fact, the temptation: to not get started until we have it all figured out. Some of us want to master the subject in advance, as a prerequisite, and we never get around to making the change itself. We end up being highly educated but unchanged souls. Mastering your subject can become a hindrance rather than a help.

After the other five tips are put into practice, however, somewhere along the way you will want to start reading and listening to material on the project at hand. No one can figure things out all by themselves. That’s why people retain coaches! But coaches do not have all the answers; instead, they ask questions and make recommendations to assist people on the journey of personal and professional change. In our coaching, this often takes the form of recommending appropriate reading and listening material.

As you get into the dynamic of change, make it your goal to become a resident expert in your area of interest. This has several advantages. First, it bolsters and intensifies the change itself. The more you know about what you’re trying to do, the more you can experiment and grow. You may only get one good idea out of a book or tape, but that one good idea, put into practice, can mean the difference between success and failure.

Another advantage to becoming a resident expert is that people will start seeking you out on the subject for information, advice, and support. This process of becoming an informal consultant also serves to strengthen your resolve and to encourage your continued progress on the path of personal and professional change. Tutors have long understood this dynamic. Want to master your subject? Don’t just learn it • teach it!

What a difference it makes, for example, to read these LifeTrek Provisions with the idea that you’re going to have to repeat them to someone else. You read them in a totally different way. If tomorrow morning you had to stand up in front of a group of people to speak on the subject “Six Steps to Changing your Life,” you would pay attention to these six tips in a totally different way. You would take notes. You would put them into your own words, change them, and expand upon them. You would own them as a resident expert.

That’s what we mean by mastering your subject. Don’t just take it all in like a sponge; start spitting it out in one way or another. Write a book. Make a tape. Tell a friend. Lead a class. Figure out some way to share what you know with others. This will take your personal or professional change to new heights.

Human beings are not limited to learning from our own mistakes. We can learn from the mistakes of others. By reading and listening to relevant material and by sharing what we know with others we participate in the project that makes us truly human • knowledge transfer. In so doing we change our life for good.

That, in the end, is the point of all personal or professional change projects. To reach the day when the change is the new norm, so much a part of who we are that we no longer have to think about it or work at it. It flows naturally from the new wells we’ve dug in our soul. It is not impossible to reach this point. On the contrary, there is a source inside that’s dying to bubble up in springs of living water. We just have drill down until we reach that source.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #110: Make a Commitment

LifeTrek Provision

Yesterday we took the time, along with millions of Christians around the world, to remember the Innocent One who submitted to death, even death upon a cross, so that others might live. Jesus knew that he was in deep weeds with the governing authorities. He also knew that the people wanted a strong leader, who would get the Romans off their back, rather than a suffering servant, who would attend to the mysteries of life.

In other words, Jesus knew that he was in trouble from above and below. He also knew that going to Jerusalem, the seat of power in his neck of the woods, would bring things to a head. It’s one thing for a backwoods prophet to stay in the backwoods. It’s an entirely different thing to be in your face, on the steps of the White House (so to speak). Jesus knew full well that he was taking his life in hands.

Nevertheless, we’re told in a wonderful turn of phrase that Jesus “set his face” to Jerusalem. Eugene Peterson says that he “gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey” (The Message). We would say he “made a commitment.” Immediately after making this commitment, people expressed their desire to go with him. When he observed that it was going to be a pretty rough road without fine accommodations they started making excuses, one after another, as to things they had to take care of first.

What’s your excuse? Change is difficult, whether it’s going from Galilee to Jerusalem or to any other worthwhile destination. In recent weeks we’ve talked about the things that support change: Minding your Body, Mustering your Reserves, Modifying your Environment, and Monitoring your Behavior. But none of those things will make the change for you. In the end, you have to want it • you have to want it badly enough to make a commitment.

That’s when coaching works best: when a person recognizes a gap between where they are and where they want to be, and when they want to close that gap badly enough to make a commitment. Retaining a coach is one sign that a commitment has been made. But there are other signs as well.

First, write it down. Make it plain. Whether you do it on paper or on the computer doesn’t matter. Writing it down does. Study after study has revealed that people take written commitments more seriously. Why do you think people have to sign a marriage license? Because marriage is intended to be a lifelong commitment and signing a marriage license is one way to drive that point home. Most serious commitments are written down in one way or another.

What do you want to change? Write it down. Perhaps you want to reach for a particular goal. Write it down and the steps you’ll take to get there. Perhaps you want to eliminate some things that you’ve been tolerating for far too long. Write them down, along with a plan for their prompt resolution.

Second, tell someone. Tell anyone who will listen (without making yourself a bore). When you spread the word about what you’re trying to do, people can offer support as well as accountability. Many people fail to tell others about their commitments because they know the pressure will increase to reach those commitments, to take them seriously, and to follow through.

Runners have long recognized that it’s easier to get up early and run if you know someone is waiting for you at the corner. That’s taking the second principle one step further. Don’t just tell someone, recruit them to join you on the journey. Change can be fun when there’s a group of persons all pushing and working in the same direction. If you can’t think of anyone to recruit, then allow yourself to be recruited. Figure out the logical affinity group for your particular pursuit, and get yourself connected. Change will come before you know it.

It is particularly important to tell the people in your immediate household and to recruit their support. Changes are often undermined and sabotaged by well-meaning but misguided people. Guide the people to whom you are most connected regarding the changes you seek to make. Tell them how they can provide you with the assistance you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to fail. We all have changes we want and need to make. Everyone’s in the same boat. When we make a commitment, and start pulling in the same direction, the inertia is overcome and the momentum for real change is built. Feel free to send us an E-mail or give us a call (757-345-3452) if you want to get serious about change.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #109: Monitor your Behavior

LifeTrek Provision

People who want to change their life would do well to buy a journal and monitor their behavior. It’s a strange mystery that social scientists have documented well, but the simple act of logging your activities is profoundly transformational. As Robert Epstein writes, “If you monitor what you do, you’ll probably do better.”

Many people struggle to make and maintain changes. With the best of intentions, we get started down the right road only to veer off on a tangent or even a dead end. We may experience this as a loss of will power. We may also overlook what’s happening before its too late. A slip here, a slip there, and before you know it we’ve thrown up our hands in defeat. “It’s no use,” we say, “I just can’t do it.”

Coaches refuse to accept the finality of such self-defeating proclamations. We believe that real change is possible if only people learn what to do and how to do it. People also need support along the way. Writing daily in a journal to record your behavior, as well as your ideas and feelings, provides more support than most people realize.

A daily journal reduces the chance that we will start slipping on our intentions without noticing. Dieters play this game all the time, “Oh, just a little bit won’t hurt,” or “Oh, just this once.” By failing to monitor their behavior on a daily basis, they do not recognize the cumulative effect of their slip-ups. As a result, they end up failing to lose weight or to keep off the weight they’ve lost.

The practice of writing down our behavior in a daily journal forces us to get real with ourselves (or at least to have that opportunity). It reduces the games we play with ourselves, the mental sleight of hand that results in our thinking we’re doing one thing while we’re actually doing another. It makes us more mindful of the life we’re actually living.

This does not apply only to those seeking to lose weight. It applies to absolutely everyone who seeks to change absolutely anything about his or her life.

  • Want to start volunteering your services on behalf of others? Record the hours you volunteer on a daily basis. The simple act of recording them will make them go up over time.
  • Want to start looking for a new job? Record the number of calls you make, resumes you send, and interviews you have on a daily basis. You may be surprised to find out the truth.
  • Want to start flossing your teeth? At the end of the day, record whether or not you flossed your teeth in your journal. As you begin to write, it may prompt you to get up and do it.
  • Want to start stretching or exercising on a daily basis? Record the number of minutes you’re involved in these pleasurable activities on a daily basis. You’ll end up more flexible and fit before you know it.
  • Want to spend less on mindless consumption? Keep an expense log in your wallet or purse then transfer your expenditures to your journal at the end of the day. Looking twice today may get you to think twice tomorrow.
  • Want to start being more considerate of people? Write down the number of nice things you say or do each day. Chances are you’ll start extending yourself more for others.

Take note that we’re not urging you to write down what you want to do (although it’s fine to keep track of this as well). We’re urging you to write down what you actually do. Many people fail to keep a journal because they think they have nothing to say. That reflects a blatant disregard for the importance of your life. Write down what you’re doing, saying, spending, saving, giving, eating, drinking, moving, sleeping, and dreaming. That’s a good start. It may not be important to anyone else, but it’s important to you. Writing it down will assist you to change and grow into the person you want to be.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, urges us to live mindfully in the present moment. Writing daily in a journal assists us to do that. If we’re not paying attention to our day, we’re not live mindfully in the present moment (which is the only moment any of us really have). Jennifer White, a success coach, urges us to not keep our journal on a computer. On a computer “you will hit delete,” she writes, and “often what you’re deleting is the very thing you need to know.” Write it out. Make it plain. And watch out for the growth!

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #108: Modify your Environment

LifeTrek Provision

We’re in the middle of a series of LifeTrek Provisions that focus on change. Most people want to change something about their life. Most people fail to make and/or to sustain those changes over time. Oprah Winfrey’s weight being a prominent case in point.

One reason people fail to change is that the change does not come from within. Even when it appears to come from within, it can still be coming from without. External pressures and ideas need to be carefully sorted out, and a clear focus needs to emerge, until we become mindful of our true self. Minding our bodies is one way to make progress in this quest.

Another reason people fail to change is that they do not have the reserves to make a change. The change process contains significant opportunities and risks. Without reserves to fall back upon, real or imagined, many people become paralyzed with fear. To make a change, many people need to start by mustering their financial, emotional, and human reserves.

Once these two conditions are met • once you have a clear vision and sufficient reserves for change • it’s time to get going. Wishing that something will change does not produce results. Making changes does. One change will often lead to another and modifying your environment is the simplest technique of all. It’s been proven to work effectively in one study after another.

  • Want to get a good night’s sleep? Rearrange the furniture in your bedroom.
  • Want to lose weight? Put a mirror on the door of your refrigerator.
  • Want to exercise? Put a bicycle by your doorway or buy a dog.
  • Want to be in a good mood when you get home from work? Put a relaxation tape in your car tape player, set to go on when you start the car.
  • Want to stop biting your fingernails? Put nail files everywhere.
  • Want to start flossing your teeth? Put a rubber band around your toothbrush and dental floss.
  • Want to develop better study habits? Set up a study area or home office with good lighting.
  • Want to save more or give more to charity? Put reminders on your calendar, coordinated with your payday, for the next 12 months.
  • Want to change jobs? Hang a bulletin board in your house for job notices, possibilities, and ideas.

You will be amazed at the effectiveness of this technique. Robert Epstein, a professor at United States International University in San Diego, notes that “the power of rearranging one’s space has been well demonstrated in studies since it was first reported in the 1960s.” “To change your self,” he concludes, “change your world.”

There are limitless ways to change your world and, of course, the changes need to be tailor made for you and your lifestyle. The key to this principle is to keep it simple and easy. Modify your environment in ways that do not require any effort or willpower. Just set it and be done with it. You shouldn’t have to think about this beyond the initial modification. It’s an environmental change that serves to remind, support, and challenge you to make other changes.

One might call this the back door approach to change. One change leads to another. Many people struggle with finding and sustaining the willpower for change. Modifying your environment is one way to deal with that problem. Environmental modifications serve as a constant source of inspiration, with little or no effort on your part.

Last year Bob lost 65 pounds and became a marathon runner. To sustain the change he’s posted two pictures by his computer: a rotund “before picture” and a thin “after picture.” The after picture, taken at the finish line of the Columbus marathon, serves to remind him of both weight loss and running.

Environmental changes are the easiest changes to make. In a flash of inspiration, you can usually figure out and make an appropriate change to your setting in life. Do it once and reap the benefits ever after.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #107: Muster your Reserves

LifeTrek Provision

The point of last week’s LifeTrek Provision, Mind your Body, was simply this: if you’re going to make a change, make sure it’s good for you. Minding your body is one way to discern your inner wisdom in order to move in the right direction. The point of this week’s LifeTrek Provision, Muster your Reserves, is to recognize that all the discernment in the world may be for naught if we don’t build up and identify sufficient reserves to carry us through the change process itself.

Change is difficult. Some would even argue that real change is impossible. We are destined to be who we are, they say, through some curious combination of nature, nurture, and nationality. Coaches take exception to such determinism. We’ve simply experienced and witnessed too many real changes, sometimes in the twinkling of an eye, to accept such a stagnant view of human potentiality.

But for all the changes we’ve seen, we’ve seen even more people who do not change, who do not manage to climb out of their old familiar ruts. It’s the old saw: “Better the devil we know, than the devil we don’t know.” Without adequate reserves to give them a sense of security, people remain stuck in unhealthy situations, patterns, and addictions. People operate out of fear rather than courage, because they do not have the reserves to develop a tolerable, worst-case contingency plan.

That is a tragic situation leading nowhere. Other animals may be creatures of circumstance but human beings can be creatures of confidence, courage, and control. It has been said that what makes humans unique is our ability to learn from the mistakes of others. Both aspects are important. The ability to learn, to change, to grow, as well as the ability assimilate knowledge which goes beyond the limits of our own experience. How do you know that the earth goes around the sun? Everything about your experience contradicts that statement. And yet we believe it to be true.

People who’ve experienced dramatic life changes report on the importance of reserves. Reserves of money, energy, resources, and people who give them the freedom and the confidence to try new things • to boldly go where they’ve never gone before. Without reserves, the pressure of the next car or mortgage payment interferes with our ability to change. Instead of proactively setting a course, we reactively take the first thing that comes along.

Minding your body is a way to discern the direction your life should go. Mustering your reserves is a way to develop the courage to go there. Reserves can take many forms, and they are all important. Consider the following:

 

    • Money. Do you have enough money to get through 3, 6, or 12 months without any income? If you haven’t structured your life to include regular savings, the answer is probably no and your tolerance for change will probably be low. In that case, become creative in your identification of financial resources. Money is not always sitting in your bank account. It can also be sitting in the bank accounts of family, friends, and foundations, in home equity, in pension funds, or in other unlikely places. Many people go to school in order to make a change on the basis of grants and loans. Others find a safety net among family and friends. Still others convert fixed or future assets into liquid assets. Whatever the technique, mustering your financial reserves can be easier than you think.

 

 

    • Energy. Do you have enough energy to contemplate making a change? The conservation of energy requires self-discipline in our busy-busy, hurry-hurry world. The world will not conserve energy for you. It is something you have to do for yourself. Energy flows in many directions. Identify the things that give you energy, rather than take energy, and start making time for the energy-givers on a regular basis.

 

  • People. Do you have enough people to consult and carry you through a change? Most people need a few special friends or family members who can walk with them along the journey. Coaches can be a source of professional assistance. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and someone to go along. Danger loves company, and change can be a dangerous proposition indeed. Find the people who will support you in the change you want to make, then recruit them to stand by you no matter what.

If you want make a change that truly fits who you are, muster your reserves. Have something to fall back on. Then jump, like a trapeze artist, confidently into the air!

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #106: Mind your Body

LifeTrek Provision

The first step in changing your life is to mind your body. When we were in England many years ago as college students we chuckled every time we got on a bus. “Mind your head,” said the signs, instead of “Watch your head.” Either way the point is the same. Pay attention • or you may end up hurting yourself.

The same can be said when it comes to changing your life. Pay attention to your body and it will show you the way to go. Is your body in pain? What’s that pain trying to tell you? Is your body tired? What’s that exhaustion trying to tell you? Is your body over weight and out of shape? What are those extra pounds and labored breathing trying to tell you?

We contend that your body knows what your spirit needs. That’s turning the tables on conventional wisdom. Our culture, which rests upon the mind / body split of ancient Greece and Rome, puts the mind on a pedestal. When we want to make a change, we think it through. We consider our options. We study the matter. And too often we never get around to doing anything!

Putting the body on a pedestal reverses the flow in important ways. For one thing, the body is already doing something. It exists in the real world • the world we want to change. For another thing, the body doesn’t lie. How easy it is to rationalize our thinking with excuses, hedges, and fantasies! But a pain in the chest is a pain the chest, and all the thinking in the world won’t make it go away.

Unfortunately, too many of us routinely fail to mind our bodies. We push them beyond their healthy limits and we ignore them when they send clear distress signals. Failing to go to the doctor is the last rather than the first straw. Long before it comes to that, our bodies send signals that can guide the changes we need to make.

  • Are you tired all the time? You may not be getting enough exercise and rest. You may need to change how much you’re working and how hard you’re pushing yourself.
  • Are you in pain? You may be paying the price for years of neglect. You may need to change your medication and lifestyle. Lifestyle changes can often reduce or even eliminate the need for medication. Different pains reveal different opportunities for change.
  • Are you overweight and out of shape? You may be eating too much and exercising too little. 55% of all Americans are overweight and out of shape, so there’s a good chance you’re in this boat. You may need to change your diet and move your body.
  • Are your fingernails chewed down to the quick? You may be stressed out. You may need to change your job or your family situation.

The list goes on, but in every instance we typically fail to mind our body. This is as true during the change process as it is before the process begins. People who begin an exercise program are notorious for pushing their bodies too far and too fast. As a result they end up with injuries, unable to continue their program, and revert back to where they started. If they had paid attention to the pain when it was still small, they could have ended up with a healthier, more sustainable, result.

Minding your body is a hard thing for people to do. It may not seem like much of a change principle, but we contend that it lies at the heart of the change process and of maintenance after the change has been effected. There are those who argue for a direct and specific connection between every pain of the body and every quirk of the soul. A one-to-one correspondence may be going a bit too far, but in broad strokes there is truth to the notion that we have within our flesh a powerful indicator of what’s going on in the mind and of the changes we need to make.

Meditation and stretching are good ways to get in touch with what the body is trying to say. Try sitting on the floor with your knees bent, then slowly go back until you feel the stretch. Hold that position for as long as you can. Don’t bounce or tear. Just slowly extend to the limit of your reach. In so doing your body will begin to speak its wisdom to your mind. Do this twice a day, morning and night, and you will gradually stretch yourself into a new way of being, doing, and living.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #105: Own Your Life

LifeTrek Provision

One of the hardest things for people to wrap their brain around is the simple but profound truth that our life is the life we’re living, not the life we’re imagining. A corollary is that the only things we’re trying to do are the things we’re actually doing, not the things we want to do or think we should do.

Coaches run into this all the time. People spend years “trying” to do things. Trying to lose weight. Trying to save money. Trying to get organized. Trying to find work. People spend those same years making excuses: “It’s the holidays.” “Something’s always pressing.” “There’s not enough time.” “I don’t have what it takes.” These excuses leave people feeling frustrated, victimized, short-changed, and defeated • a terrible way to be.

In the second part of the original Star Wars’ trilogy, Yoda teaches his young charge this important truth. Luke is having trouble raising his ship from the swamp. After a valiant attempt, Luke complains that it’s just too big and too hard. He’s trying but he can’t do it. In fact, no one can do it! It’s impossible. Yoda shakes his head and says, “Try not… Do or do not. There is no try.” At which point he proceeds to raise the ship from the swamp all by himself, with the power of the Force, as if to make his point crystal clear.

Here is how that works in my own life right now. I intend to run the Cleveland marathon on May 2, 1999. I want to improve my time from my last marathon in November. As a result, I’m running 40+ miles a week and doing occasional speed work. That is what I am trying to do because that is what I am doing. If I was only dreaming about running the marathon in May, or putting in an occasional training run, or gaining weight, or slowing down my pace I would not be trying to run a marathon in May with an improved time. I would just be fooling myself.

Coaches assist people to take responsibility for life, as it is, and to change it. One doesn’t have to go through years of therapy in order to make a change. To borrow a phrase, one just has to do it. In relatively short order, people can stop blaming and start claiming the life we live.

Becoming a creature of habit helps people to make this shift. It is a vicious cycle to decide what we want to do and then to fail because of a lack of willpower. This is the classic dieters’ syndrome. People decide that they want to lose some weight, but they lack the willpower to say no to their favorite foods or to resist other culinary temptations.

The key is to not rely upon willpower but to become a creature of habit. Set out a routine of what to eat when, a particular pattern of meals and snacks, and practice that routine until it becomes second nature. Plan out ahead of time what to eat, in the course of everyday life as well as in special high-risk situations (e.g. parties and holidays), write the plan down, review the plan daily, then do it. We call this self-coaching and it’s critical to turning dreams into deeds.

Straying from the plan does not reflect a lack of willpower but a different underlying plan. Coaches assist people to see this simple but profound truth. If you are eating more calories then you are burning each day, then your plan is to gain weight regardless of what you might say or think. Coaches assist people to see these underlying plans, to accept them, or to change them. And it usually happens in far less time, and with far less effort, than one might think.

Accepting the underlying plan can happen in an instant. Look at the patterns in your life and embrace them. How much do you take on? How much do you work? How much do you play? How much do you sleep? How much do you eat? How much do you exercise? How much do you give? How much do you pray? There’s more to life than that, of course, but answering those eight questions is a good start. Write down the answers and claim them as your own. It’s your life! Stop blaming yourself, others, or God for the life you’re choosing to live. You may already be happier than you think.

Changing the underlying plan can take longer, but not a lot. Develop a plan, write it down, make it plain, do it, and review it. In the next six weeks we’ll look at six tips for managing successfully the change process. Whether it’s weight loss or any other change, the principles are the same. People can change their life in laser-like fashion. Stop making excuses and become a creature of habit • good habits that bless, energize, and restore.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #104: Move your Body

LifeTrek Provision

Bob is in the middle of a four-month consulting contract with Borden Foods. As we develop our coaching practice, this contract provides valuable exposure, contacts, and income. It also provides limited opportunities for a basic human need: movement. The lifestyle is extremely sedentary: sit at a desk and go to meetings for 40 to 50 hours a week. Sound familiar? It’s the normal routine for millions of people in the developed world.

It’s ironic that “progress” and “development” strip away opportunities for movement. Back in school we learned that movement defined the boundary between plants and animals. Plants could not move on their own, while animals could. Plants were the sedentary ones, sitting for years, even centuries, in the same place. Animals were the mobile ones, going from place to place at will. So we marvel at the Great Sequoias: behemoth, massive, and stationary.

Those attributes that give the Great Sequoias their beauty and permanence go together. Behemoth and massive depend upon stationary. Can you imagine trying to move a Great Sequoia? Not easily. It works the same way for animals. The more stationary we are the more behemoth and massive we become. As development provides various time and laborsaving conveniences, we move less and less. We shop instead of farm, ride instead of walk, and click instead of rise. You get the idea.

It’s no wonder that more than 55% of all Americans are now estimated to be either overweight or obese. We have become the most developed, and the most stationary, civilization of all time. We’ve also become the most depressed. There’s a definite, proven connection. The less people move their bodies the more weight they gain and the more depressed they feel. It’s that simple.

Here’s a LifeTrek Provision for the week: figure out ways to move your body that can become a regular part of your routine. Then do it. For example:

 

  • Take the bus, instead of the car. This can add four walks to your routine, to and from the bus stop on both ends of the trip. The bus isn’t convenient? Walk around the block before driving off or park farther away from your destination.
  • Take the elevator to the floor below your desired destination, then walk up one floor. As your fitness level improves, extend this to two floors, three floors, or more
  • Take a walk at lunch for 15–30 minutes. Keep a pair of walking shoes in the workplace for just this purpose. Find other opportunities to walk as well. Smokers have a regular routine of taking smoking breaks. Nonsmokers can take walking breaks on the same basis.
  • Throw away your remotes and other laborsaving devices. Our next door neighbor refuses to get a garage door opener for just this reason. Getting up to change television channels is the simplest movement of all.
  • Develop a regular pattern of daily exercise. Little snippets of walking and stair climbing are good, but not enough. Animals require sustained and vigorous exercise for optimum health. At the least very least, do some stretching and calisthenics when your first get up in the morning or before you go to sleep in the evening.

Sustained and vigorous aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, and cycling have many benefits. In addition to the obvious physical health benefits, they provide tremendous mental-health benefits as well. They release healthy endorphins into your system. They distract you from the stresses and strains of life. Plus they anchor you in the present moment.

The ability of sustained and vigorous aerobic exercise to anchor you in the present moment is similar to what happens during meditation. It may take a mile or two, but eventually you become more aware of your rhythmic breathing and flexing than of what you did yesterday or of what you have to do tomorrow. Exercise has been called a “mental vacation.” It relieves you of stress by calling your attention to what’s happening right now.

The ability to move is part of what defines our existence as human beings. Don’t squander that opportunity! The Enlightenment only got part of it right: “I think, there I am.” Most of us would benefit from an even more basic affirmation: “I move, therefore I am.”

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #103: Manage your Money

LifeTrek Provision

The management of money is a real problem for most people. While the vast majority of the world’s population subsists in abject poverty, the small minority in relative affluence also struggles to make ends meet.

 

  • Personal bankruptcies in the U.S. have been climbing steeply since the 1950s.
  • Credit card spending and the divorce rate are both at all-time highs.
  • People are working more hours than ever before, losing out on family and sleep time.
  • The life savings of the average fifty-year-old American is $2,300.
  • The average male executive views life as “empty and meaningless.”

Coaches spend a lot of time with our clients around these and other money-related issues. We work on both sides of the supply and demand equation. One tip for managing demand is to think about and manage your money in 5 large blocks or categories. We call these blocks the “5Ss of Money Management.” Get these things under control and you’ll be well on your way to a better relationship with money.

 

    • Salute (30%). Pay your taxes when they’re due. Do this first. For most people it’s done for them, through withholding, but it’s up to you to make sure your employer is not withholding too much or too little. Learn to appreciate rather than to resent paying your taxes. It’s a patriotic act that assists a lot of people. Learn to reduce your taxes as much as possible. The only legitimate reason to not pay your taxes is civil disobedience • to protest and change government policy. But, as with all acts of civil disobedience, be prepared to suffer the consequences. Taxes can easily represent 30% of your gross income.

 

    • Share (10%). Set aside 10% of your gross income to share with others. No one gets into the Promised Land alone. Nor is it just a family affair. And the old bootstrap philosophy is just a ruse for selfishness and meanness. No one does it all by themselves. We all build on a wealth of material and immaterial assets. Simple gratitude suggests that we share those assets with others. Don’t wait until you see what you have left over • it will always be a paltry sum. Make sharing with others a source of joy and a part of your personal foundation.

 

    • Save (10%). Set aside another 10% of your gross income for your future. Taking care of your self is just as important as taking care of others. Save your money in two pots: before and after retirement. Don’t neglect either one. Save at least 7.5% of your gross income for after retirement. Invest your savings in money markets and mutual funds until you have enough for more professional money management. Make saving for the future another source of joy in your life.

 

    • Shelter (30%). This is the driver of them all. You say that you don’t have enough to salute, share, and save? The problem may not be with your income, but with your housing costs (rent or mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, maintenance, improvements, furnishings, etc.). Your total housing costs should be no more than 40%, and ideally 30%, of your gross income. It takes planning and initiative to find such housing, but that is the linchpin to transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence. Don’t worry about having the best or keeping up with others. Don’t use the kids as an excuse. Settle for good enough or an alternative housing arrangement until you have the resources for more. It doesn’t come over night. But with planning and initiative, it does eventually come.

 

  • Spend (20%). With this roadmap, you’ll have 10% to 20% of your gross income to spend every month. Between health, car, and groceries there may not be much left over for other things. Don’t go out and charge the difference. You’re mortgaging your future. If it feels like a sacrifice to spend 10% to 20% of your gross income, then you may need to increase your income. But you may also need to appreciate and value your life in new ways. Our consumer society takes pleasure in consumption. Shopping has become a leisure activity. Coaches assist people to take pleasure in other things, including their work, relationships, bodies, hobbies, passions, and the natural world. It’s not what we spend, but how we live, that gives life meaning, success, and purpose.

Pay attention to the “5Ss” of money management and you’ll come to a new appreciation of life. The further away you are from the target percentages, the more you may benefit from a coach who can assist you to move you in the right direction. No one’s beyond hope • so hang in there and plan accordingly.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #102: Choose to be Fantastic

LifeTrek Provision

We have a friend who never ceases to catch people by surprise with his simple but sincere reply to that standard greeting, “Hi, how are you?” While most people answer with a quick and mindless, “Fine,” our friend always answers with a quick and enthusiastic, “Fantastic!” People may roll their eyes at this overzealous response, but they know neither our friend’s story nor his wisdom. Being “Fantastic!” is not a feeling but a choice.

Our friend’s story is nothing short of a miracle. As a teenager he was in a terrible car accident, putting him into a coma from which he was not expected to recover. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, during which time his mother maintained a constant vigil in the hospital while others lifted up prayers. The doctors tried to temper her hope with a dose of reality: even if our friend did wake up, he would probably be a vegetable.

The doctors were wrong. Our friend not only woke up, like Rip van Winkle, but he went on to live a healthy, full, and productive life replete with family, friends, and career. That was decades ago, but our friend has never since taken for granted the gift of life nor lost perspective on its difficulties and hardships. He chooses to be “Fantastic!” What about you?

We have another friend who’s made a similar choice, only she chooses to use the word “Blessed!” That reply can cause as much of a stir as “Fantastic!” “How are you?” “Blessed!” People may think she’s some kind of religious nut, but she too has a story to tell. After suffering for years as a cocaine addict, she was eventually turned around, cleaned up, and straightened out.

As most recovering addicts know, this transformation is no less a miracle than waking up from a coma. In fact, there are a lot of similarities. Being strung out on cocaine is not unlike being in a coma. The chances of waking up, in your right mind, are slim. Having done so, our friend chooses to give credit where credit is due. She chooses to be “Blessed!” What about you?

We spent years living and working with another friend in Chicago. We were urban missionaries together, living and working on a very tight budget. There were never adequate support staff or resources to get the job done. As a result, the problems that walked in the door had to be dealt with directly.

Our friend went through a stage of resentment about these constant interruptions. “I could get so much done,” he used to say, “if I could just stay on track with my to-do list.” Then one day it occurred to him, “Dealing with these interruptions is not getting in the way of my job, it is my job!” He chose to go with the flow. What about you?

Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist who spent three grim years in Nazi concentration camps, made a similar discovery. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:” he wrote in his classic work Man’s Search for Meaning (New York • Washington Square Press, 1959, 1963), “the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

This choice, this spiritual freedom, is what enabled Frankl to triumph over his oppressors and to absorb the deep wounds of his terrible losses, including the extermination of his wife. He had an inner liberty, value, and strength that the Nazis could not destroy. And it all came from making a choice. It had nothing to do with how he was feeling. It had everything to do with how he was viewing life. As Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”

What about you? How do you view life? Is the glass half-empty or half-full? It’s your choice as to how you will relate to your situation. And your choice makes all the difference in the world. Choose to be Fantastic! Choose to be Blessed! Choose to Go with the Flow! Choose to be Free!

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services