Dreams, Goals, Personality, Self Actualized System, Self Protective System, Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Striving Styles, Who are you meant to be?

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

 “Give yourself permission to live a big life. Step into who you are meant to be. Stop playing small. You’re meant for greater things.”  – unknown

Once upon a time, there was a twenty-something year old woman. She was passionate, charismatic, and fun; she was independent, opinionated, and driven; she was hardworking and ambitious. She was excited and hopeful about all of the possibilities her future held and went after her goals, one by one. Others were drawn to her energy and passion, and as she worked hard to achieve her goals, inspiring others along the way. Without a doubt, she could be too much for some people, but she didn’t worry about them – they weren’t her people.  In fact, she enjoyed being a contrary force and an independent thinker. She had a clear vision for her life, her career, her relationships, and went after it. 

At the same time though, she privately battled against debilitating insecurities and automatic negative thoughts and beliefs about herself – she wasn’t “good enough”; “not worthy”; and “who did she think she was anyway” to want success or the life she desired. As she got “bigger”, her deep-rooted fears and beliefs became stronger, pulling her down to keep her in her “place”. Fortunately for her, her clear vision of her life and ambitious nature were strong enough to propel her forward despite those negative beliefs. She especially found her stride in her work and her career flourished.  

Then, over time, she began the habit of shrinking and becoming less of who she was meant to be. Those powerful automatic negative habits of mind provided the ideal rationale and justification for her to begin not partaking in her life path. She compromised her dreams and plans to avoid confrontation so others would feel more comfortable. She put her gifts, innate needs, and desires behind the needs of others, not wanting to upset others or deal with the push back. She became a shadow of her true self.

This isn’t a unique story, especially for women. Women have been socially-conditioned to put the needs and desires of others ahead of their own. Once in a relationship, or when children come along, many women put their dreams, desires, and goals on the backburner, sacrificing their innate needs and desires in the “best interests” of the family, conforming (or contorting) into ideals of being the sacrificial wife and mother.

Such was the case with this woman. Not nurturing ourselves or living authentically can trigger our self-protection system, erode our self-esteem, and cause feelings of unhappiness and psychological distress. If you are someone who has felt like you’ve shrunk yourself to live life for the betterment of others, for the family, then you know how uncomfortable and confining it can be to live such a life. When we aren’t living as the best version of ourselves or living to our full potential, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our loved ones.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in this situation?  How do we go about trying to figure out who we are and what we want?

Here are the five steps in the SSPS* to activate yourself:

  1. Self-awareness.  Learn about your personality, your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. It helps to recognize when you are stressed and how your behaviour changes during such times.
  2. Current state analysis. Reflect on your current state and where your needs are being met, and where they aren’t being met.
  3. Imagine the life you what.  Envision, or re-envision, your future state, your dreams and possibilities. Define what it looks and feels like.
  4. Identify your automatic negative habits of mind. Uncover your dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, and; your fears and underlying beliefs and assumptions.
  5. Create a strategy and plan.  Identify actions and experiences of how you will move from your current state to your desired future state.

We’re all worthy of the amazing journey of finding our purpose, discovering our passions and, living our most fulfilling life. If you, like this woman, would like to start your journey back to finding yourself again and living more authentically, I’d love to help you. Start by completing the SSPS assessment by contacting me.

Now, it’s your turn.

Do you remember your twenty-something dreams? Have you shrunk yourself for “the betterment of others”? Are you currently living to your fullest potential? Share in the comments.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Brain dominance, Goals, Self-Awareness, Striving Styles, Who are you meant to be?

How do you stay motivated?

“What is the why behind everything you do? When we know this in life or design it is very empowering and the path is clear.” ~Jack Canfield

Did you set new years’ resolutions for 2020? If you did and you’re still on track, then give yourself a pat on the back because you’re one of the few. By February and March, goals and resolutions are forgotten and many have lost their motivation. Only 8% of people succeed at the goals they set for themselves and 92% of new years’ goals have been abandoned by January 15th. As someone who’s found themselves within that 92% group in previous years, I decided that 2020 was going to be different, so, I’m doing a deeper dive into the key success factors of those in that 8% group.

One of the main reasons people fail at achieving their stated goals is because they set them for the wrong reasons. While you may have been fueled by your temporary enthusiasm, sustaining your motivation and achieving lasting change will be challenging unless you apply the following strategies:

Find your “WHY”.

Finding your WHY is a crucial step when setting goals that you truly want. There is a big difference between doing something you think you should do and something because you truly want to. Your goals should align with your purpose and core values. You need to be clear on WHY you want to achieve a specific goal, and be able to articulate that WHY in simple, clear terms. Your WHY is the thing that will ultimately inspire you to keep going. Why do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Why do you need to read more? Why do you think getting a new job will bring you happiness?

To find your WHY, take a look at your goal(s) and ask yourself an honest WHY you want it. Keep repeating why 3-5 times until you reach the same answer and finally uncover what’s at the core. For example, your goal is to lose weight. Why? So I can fit into my clothes; Why? Because I want to look and feel good; Why? So I have more energy for my career and family; Why? So I can be a positive role model for my children and others. Once you have a purpose and have asked yourself WHY, think about all of the benefits you’ll get by achieving your goal, and consider who’s counting on you to follow through.

Understand your brain.

Have you ever wondered what motivates each of us to do the things you do in life? Each of us has a built-in predominant need that must be met to achieve our goals and be who we are meant to be. Our predominant need and the priority of our other needs are hardwired at birth. When you understand your nature and needs, it becomes easier to consciously guide your behaviour and move towards your goals. This understanding can help you identify the blind spots that limit your perspective. You can break the longstanding patterns that have been holding you back or preventing you from developing beyond a certain point. For example, for those people with a predominant need that comes from their upper right-brain (like me), will find it natural and easy to envision what they want, however, they’ll likely struggle with breaking down their dreams and goals into small, actionable steps. On the other hand, someone with their predominant need in their lower left-brain, might find sequencing steps and implementation easy but may struggle with envisioning and defining their goals and dreams. When you know and understand the needs of your Predominant Style, you can seek help in the areas that are hardest for you to access. This level of self-awareness is a superpower. 

Shift your mindset.

If you want sustainable motivation then you need to examine your thoughts. One of the biggest shifts in my mindset was realizing that I don’t have to feel like, enjoy, or even like doing something, if it supports my overall goal, and my “why”. However, I suggest that you try to shift your mindset or change your language about a particular activity so you can actually enjoy it more. For example, if your goal is to get healthier, or fitter, instead of saying, “I have to work out today”, try saying, “I get to work out today”, or “I can work out”. Maybe your goal is to read one book per month, you can say “I get to do my reading”. This will help to change your feelings about the activity. You don’t have to want or like doing it but I do believe that the things that you do you should have a purpose why you are doing it. Do it because you have a reason to do it. I work out because it gives me energy, I feel better, and by doing it, I’m building a habit, mental muscles, and grit.  

Break your goal into the smallest, simplest steps.

“Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard”. Once you’ve defined your purpose or WHY for your goal, learned about your predominant needs, and checked in on your mindset, you’ll need to figure out what activity is required and then break it down into bite-sized simple steps. You want to ask yourself “what is the smallest thing I can do so I can make progress and advance to meet my objective or goal?” For example, if it’s something like working out, ask yourself what’s the smallest step you can take right now. Maybe it’s something simple like putting on your workout clothes when you get up or signing up for a gym membership, or just going for a walk around the block. Figure out what the smallest incremental thing you can do. The benefits of starting small are that you’re more likely to follow through. For example, if it’s reading a book a week, just plan on reading a page, or even a paragraph, a day, and not 45 mins a day. When you chunk your goal into small, doable steps, you can’t fail. It’s less confusing and overwhelming, and when someone is confused, they typically do nothing.When you have a purpose for something, you bring life to it, but when you break it down into very small steps that don’t require a lot of energy, then little by little you can accomplish a lot.  

Create energy.

Even if you do all these steps, you need to create energy to stay motivated. Think about it. I know why I need to go to the gym, I understand my predominant need, I’m aware of my mindset, and with support, I’ve broken down my plan into the smallest simple steps. But if I’m really tired because I didn’t get sleep, or I over-ate, I won’t have the energy to work out or to read. I won’t have the energy I need to do the things to take action. It’s very hard to stay motivated if your energy has been sapped.  

So what gives you energy?  

  • Food: Certain foods give you energy, certain foods deplete energy;
  • Sleep: We know when we sleep, we recover and replenish;  
  • Positive thoughts: Negative thoughts deplete energy compared to thinking positively;
  • Exercise: Physical exercise gives you energy;
  • People: The people you spend time with can be energizing; while others are draining to be with and steel your energy;  
  • An Organized Environment: It’s easy to be distracted if your environment needs to be cleaned, or is cluttered and messy;
  • Managing Stress: Being in fight or flight mode can zap your energy. Fear and chronic stress take a lot of energy and will shrink your brain. Practicing deep, conscious breathing and meditation help.

In this Tedx talk, Simon Sinek explains why we need to start with WHY.

Start with why — how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound

Now, it’s your turn.

What were your new years resolutions or goals for 2020? Are you still on track or have you lost your motivation? Do you know WHY you want to achieve your specific goal(s)? Share in the comments below.

Photo source: Evgeny Tchebotarev from Pexels.

Brain dominance, Dreams, Goals, Striving Styles, Who are you meant to be?

What would you do with an extra 13 years?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

I recently read that the average North American watches between two to four hours of TV per day or 14-29 hours per week. If so, that would means that over the course of an average lifespan it would be equivalent to spending between 7 and 13 years in front of the TV! I also read that the average person spends nearly 2 hours per day on social media or 14 hours per week, which is equivalent to five years and 4 months over their lifetime, and this continues to increase. That’s crazy! I know I need to become way more intentional on how I’m spending my time, especially how much time I’m watching TV and spending on social media. How about you?

Just imagine what you could accomplish within 13 years! You can become a doctor in 11 years, and 13 if you specialize. You could get a PhD in whatever you’re interested in. You could go to university part-time, and complete a four year undergrad. There are endless courses available and you could become an expert in any subject you’re interested in. Or you could learn to play an instrument, become fluent in another language, learn to paint or draw. You could start a new business. Maybe get a black belt in karate, train and run marathons. Get fit, lose weight. Get a second job and pay off debts or save for that amazing vacation you’ve always dreamed of taking. You could take 13 amazing trips if you planned just one per year, in maybe 13 different countries. You could write that book you’ve been thinking about. Volunteer in your community. You could mend a relationship or nurture existing ones. The list is endless and it’s sure got me thinking about what I could do in 13 years!

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~ Earle Nightingale

From the time I was young, I dreamed of going to university, but four years of university seemed too much of a commitment, too much time, and out of reach mainly because I suffered from debilitating self-doubt (that’s a whole other topic). In spite of this, I was ambitious and keen to work, so I got a job and completed a two year diploma program at night school instead. It took me five years, working a full time job, a part-time job, and going to school, while taking one or two courses per semester. Definitely not an easy or fast path but I was proud of myself for finishing. Of course, the dream of going to university was still there, so as soon as I finished that program, I enrolled in university. Ironically, one of the excuses I had about going to university was too much of a time commitment! So, without boring you with all the details of my life story, I did plod away for 20 years on it, with many stops and starts along the way due to competing priorities from my career, family, moving, home renos, etc., and I’m proud to say I did eventually get my degree. While I don’t recommend that particular long and winding path, the point is, time passed anyway so I’m glad I did it. I absolutely know I would’ve regretted not doing it.

Sometimes our dreams feel so big, overwhelming, or simply out of reach. Getting clear on what you want in your life is essential. Once you have a clear vision, you need to understand why you want it. Your why is your ultimate motivator when it get’s tough, because it will. The key is to break down your vision and goal into a tangible action plan with daily or weekly tasks. A little progress every day will add up over time and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

It will feel slow and tedious, especially if you’re impatient like me, but by continuously and consistently working, practicing, and staying the course, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done. The rap singer Macklemore wrote a song where he says that “the greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot”. This is a great reminder that there are very few overnight successes. Most success stories we hear about are the result of getting clear about what you want and a commitment to working hard.

For some people, envisioning their future self and figuring out what they really want can be challenging, while for others, it’s the easy part. Those that find it easy to visualize and dream may struggle with putting a plan together or taking action. All of this depends on what part of your brain dominates your personality. To learn how your unique brain is organized, and about your predominant style, complete the Striving Styles Personality Assessment. Helping people discover their dreams, and define a plan of action to achieve it, is what I love to do. Contact me if you want to learn more.

So what dream or dreams aren’t you pursuing because you’re sitting in front of the TV or glued to your phone. Just image what you could do in 13 years!

I think you might enjoy this inspiring and insightful Tedx Talk on the philosophy of time management.

The Philosophy of Time Management | Brad Aeon | TEDxConcord

My book recommendation

Now, it’s your turn.

What ambitions do you have right now that you are not pursuing? What dreams did you have when you were younger but have since given up on? What do you most wish for in your life? What do you want the most for your life? Share in the comments.

Photo source: Susan Wheeler (artist in Honfleur, France)