Part 1: Identify Your Values
Imagine if your mail arrived three days late. And you flipped through it to find your neighbor’s mail and a package that belongs to a guy down the street. What if the mail carrier thought, “421, 422… that’s close enough.” And what if he believed life should not be rushed and assumed everyone else agreed? It is obvious this person’s values don’t fit his job description.
Weather we realize it or not, our values reflect what is important to us. We can see what we value by the decisions we make, what motivates us and they create either synergy or conflict with those around us. Let’s take a look at the three levels of values to understand where our values are derived from (Becoming A Professional Life Coach).
1) The first level is the “should” values. In our younger years we, “should pay attention in class,” we “should allow our grandmother to give us a wet whiskery kiss to avoid hurting her feelings,” we “should do our chores.” “Shoulds” are also at play when society’s expectations lead our decisions and we give up important things in our life for surficial gains.
2) Chosen values resonate with us personally. These are natural tendencies such as creativity and self expression. Life experience also lends us to tendencies and habits such as punctuality, physical vitality, cleanliness and assertiveness.
3) The final level of values are called core values. These are the top 4-5 things that are at the core of who we are, the non-negotiable ones. If these are not part of our lives we will feel dissatisfied, depressed and experience inner turmoil. Without these it is impossible to live a fulfilled life. These include safety, peace, love, loyalty, community, etc.
So why does it matter if we are explicit about our values, aren’t they obvious? The truth is that there are many distractions in life that get in the way of us living out our values. Without being aware of our values, we can easily spend our life following the “shoulds” and end up looking back in regret at our choices.
When we acknowledge our values, we gain tremendous clarity and focus. We are able to use our results to make consistent decisions & take committed actions. The whole point of discovering your values is to improve the results we get in those areas that are truly most important to you. Stay tuned for the next article where we will identify our should, chosen and core values.
Challenge: What is one chosen or core value that is dormant in your life?
Being grounded through hard times
As my mom’s disease progressed (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) a cycle of emotions began. Every three months she would have testing done at the ALS clinic to see if her physical functions had deteriorated. After each appointment we were either relieved as if we had “dodged a bullet” or scared to a new heightened sense of urgency, “maybe this will be her last .....” Because of the varying rate of progression, ALS has an ambiguous prognosis; how quickly a person will progress ranges from 6 months to 10 years. The last two years I was grabbing at straws; no matter how I tried, I just could not get a used to the cycle of emotions. It was during this time of uncertainty and grief that I leaned on things that brought me a sense of peace and security and provided relief from the emotional cycle’s strain.
All my years of training and athletic endeavors were no longer just for fun but became essential for grounding myself. In this safe and familiar place, I could work though things and see from God’s eyes. This is a place where I experienced who God made me and I could just “be” as I wrestled my emotions. There was more than one run that turned into a tearful walk and swim that was one lap at a time as I dried my eyes beneath my goggles. I processed. I prayed. I grieved. I was refreshed and able to press on. The space arrive at when moving my body is a therapeutic place; this is how God has wired me. For some it is gardening, painting, sewing, cooking, cleaning, writing; the list is endless and has no rules.
Whatever makes you feel grounded and gets you in a space outside your life’s situations to clear your head, go there. Make time for it. Let it be therapeutic for you. When hard times come, have that reference point where you are grounded. The familiarity, security and serenity will give you energy to press on.
What is your sacred space where you can are able to just "be?"
The success of our goals will depend upon weather or not they are SMART. Smart goals are ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time oriented. Here is how to apply SMART principles to your goals. Let’s build upon the example of a goal “to have a garden” as we go through the 5 simple steps of a smart goal.
A specific goal will answer the five 'W' questions:
· Who: Who is involved? Me
· What: What do I want to accomplish? Have a garden
· When: When will you do this? This summer
· Where: Identify a location. The north corner of my backyard
· Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal. To provide vegetables for my family
How will I know when it is accomplished? When I have 5 produce plants bearing food for my family can eat.
Is this goal realistic and attainable? Consider the conditions surrounding the goal, how realistic is it to be able to achieve this goal? Certain conditions are needed for produce to grow including the right irrigation system, the right weather, protection from insects and pests. I am realizing that I need to do some research to make sure this is a realistic goal.
Relevant goals drive you forward and will fit into your life. A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
· Does this seem worthwhile? Yes, I will love to have fresh, organic food.
· Is this the right time? I have time in my schedule to make this happen.
This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day distractions that can arise. A deadline will keep you on track.
A time-bound goal will usually the question:
· When? Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I will work on my garden from 4-5pm
As you can see, it is beneficial to take a look at the 5 steps in the SMART prior to moving forward. It will allow you to see possible problems that will arise (eg: research needed to ensure that the backyard environment is conducive to growing produce) and make the goal a priority so it does not get lost in the business of everyday life.
Take 10 minutes and write down a SMART goal.
A few months ago I asked my husband to clean out a pile of random stuff he had in the garage. Days and weeks went by. I started to become very bothered by this. If you were me, which of the following what would your natural response to this situation be?
1- Say nothing and hope he cleans it soon (Passive)
2- Tell him how rude he is (Aggressive)
3- Give a cold shoulder (Passive Aggressive)
4- Make a request (Assertive)
For me, option #1 was my normal response in situations like this. The act of “putting others’ needs before my own” was the highest virtue in my household growing up and anything forthright was seen as rude. After doing all I could to ignore my desire to have a neat garage, I found myself having urges to throw bike parts on his side of the bed to get the message across. It wasn’t until he made a request to me to move one of my things in the garage that my resentment came to a head and I responded with aggression. Despite my desire to have unlimited grace for him, stuffing my true feelings backfired on me. My well intentions defaulted into passivity, which led to both passive-aggressive and aggressive responses! I was startled by what became of my attitude through this experience and realized that if I truly want to be more authentic with my husband and true to myself, I would need to learn the skill of assertiveness. Contrary to what many think, being assertive is not all about winning or getting your way, the goal is a win-win solution. Assertiveness is about having Authentic Relationships, relationships where you are known for who you truly are and are truthful about what you need and want. In authentic relationships there is a mutual openness and trust to be your true selves.
Some important things were missing from my thought process in order for assertiveness to happen. I wasn’t in touch with my true feelings, I wasn’t honest with what I wanted and I wasn’t clear about my request. Whatever your current communication style is, there are 3 things you need to ask yourself in order to be authentically assertive.
1. How do I really feel? Avoid responding impulsively. What is the underlying feeling you are having? I really like having a tidy garage and I am bothered that it isn’t more organized.
2. What do I want? Put complaints asides. What need do you want met? I need my surroundings to be less cluttered and to know when my husband will have his things put away.
3. What do I want to request? What has to happen in order for you to get what you need? I would like for the pile in the garage to be taken care of as soon as possible.
Assertive communication to my husband: I am realizing how much it means to me to have a tidy garage. I know you are busy and maybe just forgot about it; when would you be able to have your things in the garage put away?
In the list below, there are more tips and examples on making requests in various situations. Which situations can you relate to?
A. Situation: A neighbor's dog barks incessantly at all hours of the day and night.
Response: Be willing to compromise. Tell him or her you'd like for them to find a way to silence the dog or at least bring it inside at night.
B. Situation: Someone cuts in line in front of you at the store checkout.
Response: Share your observation. Point out that you believe you have been waiting longer and should be next.
C. Situation: You co- worker makes comments that offend or insults you.
Response: Use “I feel” statements. Explain how what they said made you feel and ask them to discontinue their comments.
D. Situation: Your friend suggests a Chinese, which you hate, for the 4th lunch in a row.
Response: Suggest alternatives. Suggest another place you'd like to go instead and point out that the other place isn't your favorite.
E. Situation: Someone who was supposed to lend you something or do a favor forgot.
Response: Give the benefit of the doubt, avoid blame. Mention that you know they were probably just busy and failed to think about it, but you really do need (fill in the blank).
I bet you are wondering what my husband’s response was? Although he didn’t quite understand my urgency, he now knows how I feel and we were able to work together to create a win-win plan. I would take this over the impact that resentment had on our relationship. By choosing assertiveness, the underlying tension from needs unmet and things unsaid is gone and space is created to have a more open, loving relationship. Marriage had just magnified what I have been missing all along- authenticity with other and empowerment to be true to my self.
At times, by neglecting to speak from my “true self” I had been keeping people at arms length and limiting my opportunities. Assertiveness creates authenticity that can’t be gained any other way. Practicing assertiveness in all areas of your life will build confidence and empower you to open doors that would not have opened on their own.
Action Step: How could you apply assertiveness techniques to one
situation in your life and express your authentic self?
“Four Styles Of Communication Chart taken from:
more-effective-1586157331. To read more on assertiveness including body language tips and situational considerations when being assertive, check it out.
Healthier You = Healthier Family.
By Heidi Smith Coaching
We have all heard the story of the mom who is so busy with caring for her family she eats gold fish for lunch, wearing makeup is a thing of the past and exercise is running after their toddler all day. Most of us moms, at some point in time, have given up things we need and enjoy in life for the sake of caring for our family. At first sight it appears that these selfless acts are for the greatest good. Is it possible that this martyrdom is actually sabotaging both the health of her and her family?
Habits are easier caught than taught. Eating well, exercising, and having healthy social outlets are habits that speak volumes to our children without even a word being said. How we go about our daily lives tell our children what we think the best way to live is. Teaching your child that self care is important in all stages of life allows them to learn healthy boundaries and is an asset that allows them to thrive in the world as they grow and face challenges.
Patience is a virtue. I used to think I had the gift of inexhaustible patience. That was until I had kids and realized patience not only takes practice but if I get too worn out, I will break and my frustration will get the best of me. You know this point when the stimulation of your household was fun yesterday and today it feels like a type of torture. If there is no rest, emotional outlet or personal validation, nerves get worn out and impatience becomes a habit. Far too late we realize we are not treating our family the way we want to- with love and respect- and feel trapped by situational exhaustion. Taking time away to get recharged is essential to quality relationships. The emotional load of having a family requires an energizing recovery- unique recovery for you. Doing things that bring out your personhood and individuality are the greatest energy givers. What is this for you?? Teach your kids to find what this is for them so when they are tired, frustrated, worn out they have an energy giving outlet in their life.
It’s all about chemistry. Exercise, rest and nutrition are KEY players in our health. The powerful affects of these go beyond prevention of illnesses like diabetes and heart disease but actually change your chemistry and hormones. These affects are potent medicine! In fact, the same mechanism of actions that many mood-altering medications perform can be accomplished through diet, exercise and stress reduction alone! Stabilizing blood sugar levels, moderating stress, and releasing serotonin through exercise WILL make you feel better and be a better mom; and this will result in a healthier family.
Through planning, prioritizing and simply living what you believe you will not only be a healthier mom but will lead a legacy of health for your family.
Action Step: Tell a friend the one habit you will adopt to be a healthier mom.
I sat back and listened to my heart......
The Sweet Little Things
By Heidi Smith
Hearing my children pitter patter down the hall at sunrise
Arms reaching out for mommy, the privilege to ease cries
The sweet smell of my child’s hair as we hug
The soft cheek I get to kiss as we play on the rug
The silly giggles of hide and seek
New feats accomplished with a squeak
Bath time splashing and baby lotion smell
Kisses and Ice to owies before they swell
Watching my daughter take my son’s hand
Barefoot toes and castles in the sand
“Sweet baby Owen” Zoë would say,
Her little brother, closer friend each day
What is it about your child that strikes such a deep chord?
You are there for them, the love flows overboard.
My kids wake with excitement each new day
So much to see and so much to say.
The honesty, the imagination, spontaneity and simplicity
The innocence of a child who grows up so quickly
The reality of my bountiful childish blessings astonish me
Only by the grace of God, the best mommy I try to be.
Lord be my patience when I and pressed, energy when I tire,
Help me give the love my children need and the mother you desire
They make my life more full than I ever imagined
The years ahead of fun are more than I can fathom
Thank you, Lord, I am forever grateful
With the trust you have given to me I will be faithful.
I know your love them even more than me
Please protect them from things only you can see
They will be a grown man and woman in the world one day
To you, oh God, I dedicate, may they know your love and walk in your way.
I treasure, cherish, and embrace living life with them
Each one an amazing gift, a priceless gem.
The relationship with a terminal illness is a love/ hate one. The forewarning of mortality gave my mom the opportunity to check items off her life’s bucket list, have “one last times,” and prepare for her last days. This life sentence also came with the price of watching my vibrant mother and best friend weaken one day at a time, losing her ability to talk, swallow and express herself. My mom had always been an overwhelmingly gracious person and her response to her illness was no different. It was through grief, optimism and connection that she demonstrated what she believed about God.
Grief: “I am so thirsty, but can’t swallow. I have so much to say but can’t talk; feelings to express but can’t smile,” my mom wrote on her tablet during her final days. Over time, the nerves of her tongue, throat and face gradually stopped working, leaving the muscles paralyzed and her personhood inexpressible. My mom knew well of death, dying and mourning through her years of being a bereavement counselor and hospice nurse. Perhaps this is why she always said “there is no right way to grieve but you must grieve or you will never heal.” My mom let herself experience the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It was through her grief that she was able to heal and let go of the “would have, could haves” and move on toward acceptance and renewal. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Optimism: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD’. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Could it be that even during my mom’s suffering, God intended for her to prosper? It was hard to see through the pain but my mom would tell me, “the trees have never been more beautiful and the air so fresh. I see things differently now." She continued to be an inspiration and encouragement to those around her. It was astonishing to watch her continued personal dignity and energy for life even when her body was pushing to thwart her determination." She decided many times over to look at what she could do and not focus on what she couldn’t. She believed God had her on this earth for a purpose; this purpose didn’t diminish when her body’s abilities did. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
Connection: “God hasn’t taken me yet, he still needs me on earth.” Not only was it my mom’s commitment to continue living with this disease but my dad’s 44 years of steadfast love and devotion that enabled her stay strong. My dad realized that “it could have me who got this illness … we are together in sickness and in health. Besides, any one of us could get hit by a car and be gone tomorrow.” Often my dad displayed ease and positivity when going through this journey with my mom. This was the power of commitment. Even when he understood the pain and suffering, his eyes were laser focused on living this life, together, without question, without doubt, staying connected and present even when it was painful. “Bravery is not the absence of fear but the ability to move forward despite fear.” She stayed connected to God and wonderful friends around her that validated who she was when she wasn’t able to express her full self. She loved, engaged and thrived.
Each one of your days are numbered. "Don't boast about tomorrow, for you don't know what a day may bring.” -Prov. 27:1. Now is the time to grieve the hard things in life so you can heal. Now is the time to see your cup half full through the lens of optimism. Choose to commit to living out the life God gave you with dignity and connection despite things out of your control. These attributes take discipline and courage but the pay off is true, real, raw and authentic joy. Joy that is not only the head and heart, but also in the spirit and soul.
In what area of your life can you see your cup half full through the lens of optimism?
I crossed the finish line completely out of breath, satisfied that I had given everything I had and held off the person behind me who had been on my tail for the last 100 yards. As I ran over to my husband and 2½ year old daughter, I realized she was in tears. She had been waiting for me, a few yards from the finish line, to give me a celebratory high five. However, as I approached her, I heard the sound of footsteps from the runner behind me. Instinctively, I kicked it into high gear and sprinted to the finish line, and missed my daughter’s outstretched hand. When I went back to see her, my heart sunk as I saw her tears and I knew that I had disappointed her...
Wish you had more energy to enjoy family and friends, or time to take care of yourself? Feel like you are missing out on the important things in life? Do you often feel overwhelmed and wiped out? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it's time to banish those hidden energy drainers in your life and to discover ways to double your energy!.