Tag Archives: goals

Happy, happy New Year my dear friends!

I can’t quite figure out if I should spend some time here writing about the insanity of 2016 or if I should just ignore it and get on with the show. I mean, in all honestly, what does that horribly bizarre and traumatic year have to do with my work here?

Let’s be honest – probably a lot. Because if there’s anything we can learn from the strangeness of 2016 it’s that we don’t get a time out, we don’t get a do-over, and at the end of it all, we’ve got only one chance to live (hell, even Princess Leia didn’t get a free pass!).

What we do get is the opportunity to live each day from the heart and to spend time in reflection so that we can see the chances we’ve missed and then do a bit better the next time.

These are messages we can take to heart as we move into 2017.

I love New Years! While I’ll take the party and the champagne and the late night, it’s the next morning that really makes me swoon! When I see in front of me the clean slate of the New Year I cannot wait to get movin’. Brand new. Tabula rasa. Not even a tiny scratch.

It inspires me. It makes me giddy with the notion that, even though we can’t do the previous year over, we can put one foot forward to making this year better primed for learning and growth.

I’m not really much of a resolutions person, but I am very much a reflections and intentions person. In the transition from one year to the next, I like asking myself lots of questions. In fact, you can see some of my past New Year questions here, here and here.

This year I’m asking a lot more questions about how I can make a difference, spread love, fight for social justice and make a difference where it matters most (no matter where I happen to be living).

I’m asking myself more questions about how to better demonstrate love and acceptance. I’m reflecting more on how to live fully, how to learn more and how to create more time for fun and spiritual reflection.

I’m asking myself how best to continue to integrate my personal and professional life so that they’re not balanced ends of the scale, but dance partners adjusting to an unpredictable stage.

I feel super curious right now about each and every moment. This is another fallout from 2016, I think – when everything seems unpredictable, all you really can do is pay some serious attention.

While the questions are always evolving, my answers are guided by the 3 words that make up my personal mantra: Peace. Love. Family.

So far it feels really right. I have high hopes for 2017. I think you should too!

So again - Happy, Happy New Year to you! Thank you to those of you who’ve worked with me this year and to those who have supported World Tree Coaching!

If you're thinking of taking the coaching plunge - be sure to checkout my coaching programs here and my new discounted rates and sponsorship spots here.

I look forward to hearing from you in 2017!

 

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Yesterday I hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week Women’s Networking Coffee. These Pop-Up  GEW Events are supported by the Mumpreneur’s Networking Club of the UK.

It was an incredible honor and a true pleasure to host 10 fabulous women in my home. Over coffee and cookies we supported each other, strategized and came together in the spirit of community.

The experience was remarkable for the wide range of offerings brought by the participants. While each individual represented different stages in the entrepreneurial process, the unique contributions of each participant created a deep sense of intellectual and creative movement. You could feel it in the room. It was inspiring! I was reminded, as I often am when sharing in conversation with smart, talented, thoughtful women, how affirming it is to connect in this way with others.

I feel confident that connections were made, projects inspired, meetings planned and inspirations sparked! I cannot wait to hear more about where these women go from here.

And, I am excited to share a little about each of them with you. All of the women are currently living in Tokyo, but many are open to working with people outside Tokyo and Japan.

Be sure to check out all they’re up to! Get in touch if you see someone you know would be a good collaborator, teacher, mentor or friend! And of course - don't forget to check out their services and products!

Nathalie Lim – A photographer. Website and Facebook.

Jennifer Shinkai –A facilitator and coach who helps people to create and communicate change in their professional lives. Jennifer also runs the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and much of her work focuses on developing female leaders in Japan. Website, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Chehrezad – The creator of Finding Fair – a website bringing together thinkers looking at the question, “What is fair?”

Bridgette Clark - A business development professional and consultant. Find her on LinkedIn here.

Stephanie Corrigan – A Beauty Counter independent distributor. Website and Facebook.

Raquel Maia – A health coach and trainer. Website.

Eva Sol – painter and artist. Website.

Melanie Uematsu – Founder of Sewing Circle in Tokyo and fashion designer. Website.

Ann-Katrin Van schie – Yoga instructor and blogger at At Ease and More. She focuses on helping expats overcome the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle so that they may feel "at ease" again. Website and Facebook.

Angela Stewart – artist, designer and seamstress. More contact info coming soon.

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Expat spouse, financial planner and blogger Hui-chin Chen and I have been having some fabulous conversations over the past two years. We have enjoyed getting to know each others' perspectives on the ups and downs of international living and how our unique professional positions enable us to support expats in a variety of situations.

Have you ever considered pursuing life coaching? Financial planning? Are you curious about how the two compliment each other? Have you ever asked yourself, "What does a life coach do exactly!?" (Come on, I know you have!) When you look at your bank account, do you think, "I could really use some help here."? This short 30-minute conversation will give you some answers to these questions.

We talk about financial planning and life coaching in general, the specifics of that type of support in relation to the expat experience, and our own individual perspectives on what we offer our clients.

This is the first of what we plan to be a monthly series. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get updates about the next episode (scheduled for May 19th). And be sure to check out Hui-chin's blog Moneymatters for Globetrotters here or follow her on Twitter here.

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People often decide to work with a coach because they feel stuck. In fact, I’d say it’s the number one reason that people seek out my services.

For many of my clients, the natural response to this is to move, to make a change – any change – that can get them headed in the perceived right direction. Somewhere out there is a direction that just feels right, if they can just do enough of something…anything…they’ll feel better and the stars will once again align.

And here’s where I briefly become the worst enemy of the doers (and trust me, I know this because I’m naturally inclined as a big time doer myself). I suggest they stop doing! I suggest that maybe they put away the decision making process for a little while. Perhaps they walk away for a bit, imagine a decision doesn’t need to be made or simply maintain the status quo for a bit longer.

While this might seem like utter nonsense and completely antithetical to coaching (where you often hear or assume the goal is a big fat kick in the pants to take action) – it’s not. In fact, supporting my clients in taking moments to not do has become one of the ways in which I can rest assured that the changes my clients make are heartfelt, sustainable and true to their sense of values and integrity.

Here’s why…

The Sea of Voices

We spend a great deal of our physical, emotional and intellectual space surrounded by the thoughts and opinions of others. This is no big mystery – think about Facebook, the Huffington Post and Yahoo News. Think this! Do this! Take action now! We drown in this information. In ways both big and small this happens to us everyday with our own decision-making. As a result, our own opinions about where to go next are drowned out by the perceptions of others.

When we slow down, we take time to recognize which voice is ours and which voices are those of our friends, our colleagues and our family members. We enable our voice to get a bit clearer and we become better prepared to filter judgment, criticism, self-interest and peer pressure.

Our Thought and Emotional Patterns

We often pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task and the truth is for many of us a certain level of multi-tasking is just a fact of life. If I weren’t able to cook dinner and also supervise my children’s homework then we would either eat very late or the homework would get done way past bedtime. It’s just a fact of modern life.

But too much multi-tasking puts our thoughts and emotional patterns on autopilot and that can be a major squasher (yep, toddler word) of effective and clear-minded decision-making. If we don’t take time to observe and develop a deeper understanding of the ways we think and the emotions we feel, then any changes we make are from the same places that got us where we are in the first place.

Simply boxing up fear, anxiety and worry doesn’t make those emotions disappear; it makes them come up in unexpected ways later. And pretending we don’t have negative thoughts about our skill level or believe others are judging our decisions doesn't eliminate these thought patterns. We still make changes based on these thoughts – we just fail to recognize we’re doing so.

When we stop and take time to cultivate a better awareness of our thoughts and emotional habits, we better understand the forces that drive our decision-making and can adjust accordingly when we finally do decide to make a shift. (More on that here.)

Small Decisions that Hide the Big Ones

Small changes feel good. A new sofa. A new bike. A new coffee shop. A new television program. These little shifts can bring new life to the feeling that what we’re doing everyday just doesn’t feel right.

However, when we get to a place where we’re passionately searching for something new, these little changes can sometimes mask the bigger changes that we need to be making. It’s as if we’re throwing every possible tool at that broken lawn mower when the truth is it’s really just time to buy a new one.

When we refrain from the cycle of change-making – even for just a week or two – we can find that our minds and hearts are drawn to examine the larger, more significant changes that have been hidden under layers of fear.

Baby Steps Count

Our decision making processes sometimes benefit from a sink or swim approach. Take the leap. Go for it. Deal with the consequences later. Sometimes, but not always.

There is a whole lot to be said for taking baby steps and giving yourself time to practice and try out small answers on the path to the big decision.

And the truth is, you can’t do this if you’re always moving liking a bull in a china shop. Loud, clumsy and unobservant actions sometimes get you loud, clumsy and unobservant results that in a few months or a year will put you right back where you started.

So every once in a while, look at the big picture and say – what’s one simple thing I could do to get a tiny bit closer? What will that feel like? What will I learn? You’d be surprised the answers that can come from taking a more slow and gentle approach to the way you change. (More on that here.)

So with 2015 marching towards an end and 2016 set to be your year to do something different, make a change or (yes!) get unstuck – how will you change differently? How will you stop so you can move forward better than you ever have before?

Minor Adjustment (1)

This week I changed one tiny little thing in my life. After 3 months of running on the treadmill at the gym at 6:00 AM while listening to NPR and watching ESPN on mute, I went back to running outdoors, in nature, without headphones at 8:30 AM. Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Wow! With just this one small adjustment (along with the perspective to see that it could work and I’d still get my workout in) I feel like a whole new person. For months I’ve been saying I wish I could get back to my outdoor workouts, but for some reason I just didn’t see it as a possibility. Crazy.

We do this, don’t we? With the big things it’s easy to see why we need to change. And, whether we’re motivated to do so or paralyzed by the options, the knowledge of this need to change is there big and bright for us to see. For the less obvious problems in our lives, we sometimes miss the need to change altogether.

In this case, I was still getting in my workout, it wasn't totally un-enjoyable and I knew I had the whole day in front of me to do other things. So maybe it just didn’t seem like it was that big of a deal. And yet at some point I started thinking about the others aspects of my workout that go beyond the cardiovascular – the sense of being part of something larger than myself as the 100 foot trees rise above me, the deep breaths of the morning air, the sense that I can keep going as long as it feels good for me (because, let’s be honest, that’s really not the feeling that a treadmill induces). And when I thought of those things, it really helped me to recognize that I’ve been missing out on a lot more than I thought I was.

So running at the gym wasn’t really so much a problem, as a toleration. An acceptance of a way of doing things that was less than what I really wanted. Of course, sometimes we have to give into this, but here the only person I really had to answer to was myself. In the end, it was that easy.

Don’t like this all that much. Change it. Feel happier.

So let me pose the question then, to you. What tiny, little, almost insignificant thing are you putting up with that, if you were to change it, would make you feel happier, more in-tune or more satisfied? What would happen if you decided to make a little adjustment?

Need ideas?

  • Are your pants too big or too small? Could you buy some new ones?
  • Does your bike have a flat tire? Could you take 10 minutes to change it?
  • Do you really love fresh flowers when you walk in the door? Could you spend $10 a week to have a vase of flowers to greet you after a long day at work?
  • Would you like to take up a spiritual practice like meditation, prayer or contemplation? What if you did that for 5 minutes today…tomorrow…the next day?
  • Been meaning to get in touch with an old friend, but just can't seem to send that email? What about today?

See how tiny these are!? How easy would it be? I’m all about the baby steps here. Go for it! And please drop me a comment to let me know what you’re changing. I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

So here’s something that I didn’t expect to happen today. And no, it’s not the British woman talking to the vegetables at Whole Foods (“Which one of you lovelies is going home with me today? Huh?”) or the fact that a rock from a weed whacker flew up and shattered the glass to our patio door (looks oddly beautiful in the way it’s falling, piece by piece, minute by minute to the ground).

The unexpected turn of events started out like this: I began the day feeling a bit gloomy. I had advertised some great new coaching rates earlier in the week and I didn’t get the client boost that I was hoping for. I’ve been working on putting together a group coaching program that will work with The Expat Activity Book, but I was having a case of, “Is anyone really going to want to do this?” And then I found myself scrolling through Facebook instead of actually focusing in and getting down to work. “Enough of this,” I thought.

So, in an effort to kick myself into gear I decided to write my own coach and tell her the areas where I thought I might need some support. I thought, “I’ll tell her the things that aren’t happening and make a plan for how to set my goals into motion.” This, by the way, is a great way to maximize a coaching relationship. Coaches LOVE hearing how their clients are going to make things happen and part of a coach’s job is to hold his or her clients accountable so sending an email like this to your coach will always shake things up. BUT - that's not the Kick in the Pants Tip you've been waiting for...so keep reading.

Anyway, ever a glass-half-full type of person, I decided to scrounge together some successes to start off my email. Coaches like that too, by the way. They REALLY like it when you take credit for the awesome things you’ve done…even if you feel like you’re scrounging to find them.

But, here was the cool thing! Once I started writing the successes – the new client I just contracted with, the copies of The Expat Activity Book I sold, the positive feedback I’ve gotten for my blog via Facebook and Twitter I kind of felt like, “Hey! That’s not too bad!” You’d think I’d be a bit more familiar with this sort of thing, being a coach and all, but like anybody, sometimes I lose sight of the hard work I’ve put in and what the positive outcomes have been. Then I felt like I was on a bit of a roll. I began to think about lots of things I’ve been doing in the past month to take care of myself and my family. I felt my energy and my spirits lift almost instantly.

This all might sound a bit boastful, but it’s not meant to be. What it’s meant to be is a reminder to take some time to really honor yourself for the amazing things you do every day. Want a simple task to help you focus in on your accomplishments? Make a list of them! It’s that easy! You’ll be amazed at the way it positively impacts your confidence AND gives you new energy to focus in on the things that may be holding you back. So go ahead and get started. Grab a piece of paper and just start listing. And when you're done, take a look at it and say, "Wow. You might just be pretty awesome."

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Creating a life as an expat can sometimes feel like you’re trying to build a house in the middle of an earthquake. Just as you feel you have things figured out and you’re ready to take on your next significant task, you can find yourself laid flat by unexpected emotions, thoughts or circumstances. It’s common among expats to feel that there are the things we never get to (from the scrapbooks left unfinished to the educational degrees never quite completed). This happens, of course, for everyone at some point or another – the difference with us though is that we sometimes don’t even have a sense of what we need as a baseline, a place of normal, from where to begin those tasks we’ve been putting off.

At its heart, this comes down to not always knowing where and when we feel most calm, stabile and at ease. It’s as though we’re hammering away on the roof of a building without even checking in on those tectonic plates shifting below us.

But what if we could get a better sense of that baseline? Is there hope in looking deeper into what we need to feel most like ourselves, most at peace and most happy so that we have a solid place from which we can begin to tackle that ever-growing to-do list? If we take some time to sort out our own personal normal, would we stabilize our foundation and make the work that we’re doing up on the surface that much more manageable and in turn more successful?

I think so.

I’m a huge fan of journaling and I love lists that ask tough questions that help me get to the heart of what I’m feeling and thinking. Lately, I’ve been thinking about some questions that can help expats home in on a baseline for feeling ready, at ease or even just plain “normal.”

This isn’t a long list of questions, but it’s designed to help you uncover what helps you feel like you’re on more solid ground. I invite you to take the questions thoughtfully. Sit down with them and take some time to think about what they tell you about yourself. Above all else, be honest with yourself. And remember – this is not someone else’s list. This is about you and what you most need. Give it a go and remember to revisit it from time to time…because as we all know in this lifestyle – more change is likely just around the bend.

1. What are my top 3 needs for physical comfort? This can be anything – special coffee mug, a particular bed or set of sheets, a nice stack of books, nice laptop computer...

2. What 2 things would I have in my life if I weren’t living or traveling around the world? Is it possible to have these things as an expat? If yes – how do I get them in my life? If not – what is the closest alternative I can find and how do I get that in my life?

3. The expat life gives me a few special privileges/luxuries. What are they? Which 2 do I most love? How will I improve on my ability to embrace those luxuries?

4. What 2 spiritual needs are the most important to me? How do I make those needs happen even when I’m moving a lot?

5. What are my 3 strongest emotional needs? How do I make sure I keep these a part of my mobile lifestyle? What daily practices can I add to my life to make sure these emotional needs are being met?

6. What 2 habits have I picked up from my mobile lifestyle that have made me a better person? What plan can I make to keep those habits in my life and how do I remind myself to do them?

7. What 3 family traditions are important to me? How do I make those a part of my expat life?

8. What hobby, exercise or pastime do I most love to do? What minimum criteria do I need to make this activity possible even when I’m moving around a lot?

9. Who are the 5 most important people in my life? How do I honor their needs, hopes and dreams to the best of my ability? What reminders can I put in place that will help me demonstrate the special place I reserve for them in my life?

10. When times get tough, who or what most reminds me that I can get through and come out the other side? What can I put in place now to know that this support system will be there when I need it most?

If you like this list or found it helpful, I have similar exercises in The Expat Activity Book.

If you'd like to enlist some support in the process of gaining more solid ground before making a fresh start towards a dream, a goal or simply a deeper sense of happiness, check out my signature package: Foundation Focus. It's a great way to get support in becoming your best expat self.

This post is linked at Small Planet Studio's #MyGlobalLife Link-Up 2015. Click here to check out other great blog posts from expats around the world!

I can’t believe I’m about to quote a textbook, but I am. One of my coaching textbooks has a really spot-on presentation of the difference between goals and “shoulds.” Here goes:

A goal is something that you really want. A “should” is a goal that you think you should want, or think you need, in order to reach another goal (a means to an end). An authentic goal allows choice and can be freely set, changed, or abandoned with little resistance or emotional reaction. A should is rife with risk, consequences, and potential condemnation.

This is written so concisely and to the point that it’s probably pretty easy to understand the message. But, the bigger challenge is – How do you truly recognize what things in your life are shoulds and which things are goals? And, how do you weed out the shoulds so that you can get down to the business of goals?

Below are just a couple of questions you might consider asking yourself. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it might provide a good starting point for focusing your energies on what really matters.

1. How do I feel at the thought of completely abandoning this project or task?

Does the idea of giving up on this task bring you some temporary relief from any stress, but make you feel a bit sad or disappointed – like you would be giving up on something you really want? Sounds like you’re working towards a goal. But, does the idea of abandoning the project leave you feeling a profound sense of relief or freedom? That might be a sign that this project is a should. It’s okay to have mixed feelings or to find it difficult to separate your own feelings from the feelings of others. But, it’s important to get up close and personal with what you are feeling. In short, don’t run from what you’re feeling (physically and emotionally), move toward it and really get in there with what’s going on. If you’re finding it hard to know how you feel, try going for a walk, talking it out with someone who will listen (a coach is great for this!), meditating, praying – whatever works for you.

2. What would my family/friends/colleagues say if I gave up on this?

A big indicator of whether what you’re doing is a goal or a should lies in how others respond to the news that you’re considering giving up. If your family responds with concern because they have seen your dedication and passion for the work you’re doing, but reassures you that they support you know matter what, then this is a big sign that you’re working on a goal. If, on the other hand, they respond with contempt, disdain or pressure – maybe it’s time to look at what your “goal” means for them. Maybe this is really a should brought on by what someone else is envisioning for you.

3. When working on this task or project how do I feel in the moment?

This question is really about getting focused on your passions. The saying is really true – “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Do you experience a sense of flow when you’re working towards your goal? If given all day to work on it, would you? Does the goal help you feel more creative, more energetic, more alive or more whole? If not, it’s possible that you’re doing something you feel you should do, not something you really want to. Sometimes we have to choose to face challenging tasks with positive energy (even if we know that we’re feeling uninspired), but what I’m talking about here is different from facing something necessary with a whole heart. Taking on challenging or dreaded tasks with a whole heart can lead to lots and lots of growth. However, forcing yourself to complete tasks that leave you feeling less like yourself is a whole other ball game. Spend time getting to know the difference. The goals you set for yourself should be about moving you towards your very best you.

4. If I were to wake up tomorrow morning and an over-night miracle had given me complete and total clarity regarding this task what would my relationship with this task look like?

The “miracle question” is a great tool often used by therapists and coaches to help people begin to feel unencumbered by all the thoughts and “what-ifs” that can leave us feeling stuck. The great thing about this question is that it not only helps you gain a better understanding of whether you’re spending your energy on goals or shoulds, it can also help you re-examine the things that are truly goals – leaving you free to make changes as you see fit. So, if waking up tomorrow post-miracle, you realize this is something you really don’t want to be doing perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate.

So think about it. The next time you find yourself saying, “Ug! I really don’t want to do this,” don’t blow off that feeling. Take time to really look at the tasks in front of you. Who knows, you may unburden yourself from a great big set of shoulds!