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The surprising truth about self-confidence

And how to regain yours in 10 steps

The more I talk to my friends and clients, the more I realize a sad truth.

That most of us often lack self-confidence.

Yet, if you ask people if they lack self-confidence, especially strong, accomplished people, they’ll probably answer no. Not because they’re in denial about it. But because they can’t see it.

You don’t often see that you’ve lost your self-confidence, as this loss manifests as something else. You see that you’re overwhelmed, that you’re stuck, that you’re a bit lost. You don’t realise that these are just symptoms. And that the problem behind them is a loss of self-confidence.

Lack of self-confidence is at the root of all feelings of being overwhelmed and stuck.

If you are full of self-confidence, you know what you can and can’t handle. You do what you can yourself, and hand off the rest to someone else. There’s no loss of face, you’re just being efficient.

If, however, you lack self-confidence, what you can’t handle overshadows everything, and it’s this that causes overwhelm. When you’re overwhelmed, you can’t see a way forward, so you get stuck. Being stuck for any length of time affects how you view yourself. You start to feel that you’re good for nothing, and this makes you feel even more overwhelmed, even more stuck.

When you reach this place, your self-esteem takes a beating. People often use self-confidence and self-esteem interchangeably, but, for me, there’s an important distinction between the two.

Self-confidence is your outer layer of self-reliance. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is your internal sense of worth.

When you can’t keep up your external self-confidence, external things can start to fall apart – you miss deadlines, you let people down, you limit your activities. But, when you don’t feel your internal worth any more, when you have no self-esteem, YOU start to fall apart.

Self-confidence is the cornerstone of self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to deal with the self-confidence crisis whenever it strikes.

What can you do?

Here are 10 steps to help you start regaining your self-confidence.

  1. The minute you feel overwhelmed, stop. Don’t make any important decisions. Don’t take on any more change. (I wrote this post about overwhelm.)
  2. Dig deep into your feelings of overwhelm. When did they start? What triggered them?
  3. Dig deep into what triggered them. Was your behaviour behind it? Was someone else’s reaction to you behind it?
  4. Accept what happened (the trigger). This doesn’t mean you have to be happy about what happened. You just have to accept that it did actually happen. And then you have to acknowledge any feelings that you may have about it, and allow yourself to express them, when you are somewhere safe and secure. That may involve punching pillows, if one of your feelings is anger. Or crying until you have no more tears, if one of your feelings is grief or sadness. Fully expressed feelings dissipate. Unexpressed feelings get stronger and stronger, until one day, they erupt uncontrollably.
  5. Let the trigger incident go. Like acceptance, letting go is an important behaviour to understand and adopt. And, like acceptance, it’s a hard behaviour to understand and adopt! Letting go of something or someone doesn’t mean that you are OK with the situation or person. It just means that you are letting go of the control ALL of this has over you. It’s not an angry notion. I like to think of letting go as releasing something/someone into a flow of love, and respectfully keeping your distance. Practice really does make perfect, and it’s well worth the effort.
  6. Know exactly what you have to get done. Make a detailed list of everything that was causing you to feel overwhelmed. This is your TO DO list.
  7. Prioritise what you have to do. Review all items on your TO DO list, and prioritize them according to their importance. I like to have three categories: Must Do, Maybe Do and Nice To Do.
  8. Do your Must Dos every day. You should start to notice you feel better about yourself after successfully ticking off these for a few days.
  9. Add your Maybe Dos to your weekly routine. Do this whenever you’re feeling in a good place, with some energy to spare.
  10. Add your Nice To Dos to your monthly routine. By the time you have the energy to get to these, your self-confidence and self-esteem will be much healthier.

The sense of self-reliance that goes with self-confidence is essential to our ability to function, day in, day out. The sense of self-worth that goes with self-esteem is essential to our happiness.

Let’s make nurturing these in ourselves our top priority! Because without them, we are no good to ourselves or others.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Why having personal goals sets you free

If I’d been shown this headline 25 years ago, I’d have laughed and made some sarcastic remark. You see, back then, I thought that the route to creativity and personal freedom was paved with blank sheets of paper. They had to be blank to leave room for anything that showed up.

I was wrong.

The route to creativity and personal freedom is paved with goals. Personal goals.

Not society’s goals. Not your parents’ goals. Not your partner’s goals.

YOUR goals.

It took me years to learn these two simple truths:

=> If you’re not consciously living your own goals, you’re unconsciously living someone else’s.

=> If how you spend your time isn’t fully aligned with your own goals, then you won’t ever feel self-fulfilled.

The way I thought about goals was also all wrong. It was very narrow, because I had my blinkers on, seeing only society’s view of goals. Society’s goals are all about its interpretation of success – your financial health, your career trajectory, home ownership, car ownership, that sort of thing. And those things never felt like motivating goals to me. I’ve just never been able to get excited about money, per se.

I now know what the problem was. The goals were about the basic me, and not about the whole me.

As Maslow described in his Hierarchy of Needs, our needs change according to our personal situation. Our basic selves have some basic needs. To survive (enough shelter, clothing, food, air, water), and to feel safe and secure (enough money, health, security). Once these are met, other needs kick in. From a place of safety, we seek relationships and feelings of accomplishment. And finally, from a place of love and self-respect, we seek self-fulfilment. We need to achieve our full potential.

Those of you reading this blog post are likely to have your basic needs met. You have somewhere safe to live, enough food on your table, and access to clean water and air. You have enough money to pay for this, and more, and have access to healthcare.

It’s at this point that things start to get less clear. Are your other needs being met?

To find out, ask yourself these questions and be as honest as you can with your answers.

  • Do you have deep, loving relationships in your life? Are you spending enough time with these people?
  • Do you feel connected to a community? Are you spending enough time with your community?
  • Are you learning new skills?
  • Are you deepening your existing knowledge?
  • Are you attending to your spiritual needs, whatever they may be?
  • Are you doing everything you can to keep yourself healthy?
  • Are you accomplishing things that make you feel good about yourself? Via your work? Via your personal life? Via volunteer work?
  • Are you having fun?
  • Are you giving your creative self a voice? What creative projects are you doing?

If you find yourself answering ‘NO’ to any of these questions, then you might want to spend some time digesting this, asking yourself why you have no answer, and pondering how to turn your ‘NOs’ into ‘YESes’.

And then, I strongly recommend that your create some personal goals, based on the whole you. Start with year-end goals, then break them down into quarterly, monthly and weekly goals.

Remember, the richer your personal goals, the more self-fulfilled you will be.

Finally, make sure you spend your time doing things that move you closer to achieving your personal goals. Commit to yourself to live consciously, to know that you’re focussing on what’s important to you.

Your whole self will thank you.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to transform your life in 7 steps

 

Go to any bookstore and have a look at the Self-Help section. Do an internet search on Therapists/Counsellors in your area. Check out the Self-Improvement workshops on Meetup.

If you ever needed proof of how much we want transformation in our lives, there it is.

Why is that? What’s driving us to want to do this?

It’s because we know, deep inside, that all is not well with how we’re living. There’s a little voice urging us to do something about it.

Yet, despite all of this help and our deep desire for life transformation, we’re not having much success.

Because we don’t truly believe we can.

Our lack of belief keeps us stuck where we are. And being stuck reinforces this lack of belief, because it allows our Inner Critics to take hold of our thoughts – they’re the negative self-talk that plagues us.

Here are seven steps to transform non-belief into belief, and transform your life.

 1.  Collect some data on what your life looks like right now.

If you’ve got that little voice inside you telling you to change some things about your life, before you start, you need to know what your life is really like. That’s where data come in.

Do you know how you currently spend your time? What gets most of your attention? You may think you know the answer to this, but it will be a guess. The only way to know exactly how you spend your time is to track it.

Do you know how you’re truly feeling right now? If you do, write it down. If you don’t, give yourself some quiet time one day to sit with this, and write down what comes out.

2.   Analyze your data.

Break down your time tracking into activities – things like work, personal time, exercise, eating, care-giving, etc. Calculate the percentage of your time you spend doing each activity. Do the results surprise you? Does the way you spend your time reflect how you’d LIKE to be spending your time?

Do you feel the way you’d like to feel? Would you like to start and end each day feeling differently?

3.   List the broad changes you’d like to make to your life.

Base this on what you need to change in order to spend your time and feel the way YOU want to. This might include reducing your work hours, increasing your exercise hours, eating more regularly, spending more time with friends, sleeping more.

4.   Find out what makes YOU amazing.

What makes YOU amazing is what makes you uniquely you. It’s also who you really are. And this is the key to your happiness. Here’s a blog post I wrote about it.

5.   Start learning to manage your Inner Critics.

This subject is a whole blog post in itself! It’s also a life-long exercise. The starting point is to accept that these voices exert a huge amount of power over you, and then to try to identify the critics that are most active in you. Common critics include The Perfectionist, The Comparer, The Drama Queen, The Procrastinator, The Good Person. Once you’ve identified yours, talk to each one in turn, asking her to list everything that’s wrong with you. And then reframe their negative talk into positive talk – I find it helpful to imagine I’m talking to a friend about her ‘problems’, it makes me much more kind! I’m indebted to SARK & John Waddell and their book “Succulent Wild Love: Six Powerful Habits for Feeling More Love More Often” for this approach. Don’t be put off by the woo-woo book title – the content had a profound effect on how I interact with others.

6.   Re-evaluate what failure and success mean to you.

In my experience, society has a HUGE influence on how we define failure and success. Using our own definitions can be transformative. Think about someone whom you consider to be a success. What traits does she have? How does she live her life? Then have a look at what your Inner Critics have to say about your ‘failures’. Is there a mismatch? Are your ‘failures’ the opposite of those things that YOU feel make a successful person? If they’re not, they should be! If a big ‘failure’ of yours is that you’re overweight, and ‘slimness’ doesn’t appear anywhere in your success list, then… you get my point.

7.   Create goals that reflect who you are and what you want… and live by them!

Again, too often, our goals come from external sources. They shouldn’t. They’re YOUR goals for YOUR life. They also need to reflect the whole you – all of your needs, wants and desires. Writing down your goals is the starting point. Living them, day in, day out, is next! If you don’t spend your time consciously on what matters to you, you’ll end up back at step one. Spending your time in an uncontrolled way, on things that don’t really matter.

Breaking down transformation into steps helps make it manageable, helps you see that you can do it. And this makes you believe that you really can transform your life.

So you do.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to take action when life hits us hard

When we’re in a bad place, we have a choice.

We can distract ourselves to lessen the pain. Temporarily.

Or we can take action to alleviate the pain. Permanently.

Most of us choose to distract ourselves. In a shopping mall, with shiny new things we don’t need. With food, usually unhealthy salty and sugary snacks. With drink, whatever takes our fancy. With drugs, ‘legal’ and otherwise. With work, the longer the hours, the better. With sex, not intimacy.

I used to be a master of self-distraction. Work was my chosen poison. I would take on complex projects with impossible deadlines and bury myself in them. The more hours I spent at and on work, the fewer there were left to do anything other than eat and sleep.

This approach worked for me for years… until, one winter’s day, I imploded. There was simply no more space inside me to bury the pain. I knew I had to make a decision.

I could either choose to distract myself more effectively and deeply (drugs and booze, anyone?).

Or I could choose to start alleviating the pain.

I chose the latter. I knew this was my only real choice if I wanted to be healthy and happy. Which I did.

I looked at EVERY aspect of my life to see what needed to change to get to the root cause of the pain.

I took action, and started to make the changes in my life that needed to be made.

I found my path out of the pain. And continue to work on it, every day.

Here are some things that have helped me and others work through our pain.

  • Find solace in nature. Nature just allows you to be, with no judgement and no expectations. It gives unconditionally. There is such peace to be found in nature that it can only help you to find the peace within you. Nature is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Find solace in friends. Your true friends are a bit like nature. You feel held and supported when you are with them. If you don’t feel this, they are not true friends.
  • Find solace in meditation. A meditation practice helps you get out of your head and into your heart. And your heart is a much kinder place to be! When you find the type of meditation that works for you, it’s another gift that keeps on giving.
  • Find solace in animals. Animals have much to teach us about how to live fully in the moment. And this is the secret of happiness. You can walk a dog along the same route every day and he will never get bored. For him, the route is new every day, it’s full of experiences (smells, tastes, sights, sounds, sensations) that weren’t there the day before.
  • Find solace in therapy. Therapy can really help some people get to the point where these other forms of solace really work. The key is finding a therapist who fully resonates with you.

Distracting ourselves is NEVER the answer to feelings of pain. Distraction is denial and ALWAYS leads to more and deeper pain.

We should choose to grow, to alleviate the pain permanently. This is the ONLY route to happiness. Such personal growth isn’t easy. It takes courage, diligence and patience.

And you’re worth it.

Image credit: Sarah Blick

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to use new behaviours to remove toxicity from your life

And become healthier & happier

From a very young age, I was able to sense when something wasn’t right. I didn’t necessarily know WHAT wasn’t right, just that something wasn’t right. This particular skill wasn’t valued by those around me, so I learned to override this sense as soon as it arose. After a while, I found I was able to override pretty much anything unpleasant/troubling that arose. I became very responsible, very resilient and very strong.

Because of this aura I gave off, I attracted a lot of people who were looking to offload their unpleasant/troubling things onto someone else. And I willingly obliged – after all, there was nothing I couldn’t deal with, was there? This continued for years and years. Until, one day, I got sick. I was 38 and had developed an auto-immune disease. A disease that causes your OWN body to attack itself.

The toxic I had invited into my life had done a lot of damage.

It was as if my body said to me:

“OK, dear girl, despite my sending you warnings about this, you’ve been letting everyone and everything attack you for years. I now realize that the ONLY way to get your attention is for me to attack myself, causing you such disruption that you start to wake up.”

I did start to wake up.

I took a long, hard look at how I’d been living and made some important changes, mostly around what I was putting into my body. I created new behaviours. I removed all prepared foods from my diet and made everything myself. It was a powerful expression of self-love (I am worth taking the time and care to do this) and made sure I wasn’t eating toxic things like sugar, food preservatives, food emulsifiers and the endless chemicals found in prepared foods. And I started paying more attention to my work environments.

It wasn’t enough. I continued to get sick. The toxic still had a hold on my life.

After a while, I figured out the next step. Although I’d removed the toxic from I was ingesting orally, I hadn’t yet removed it from I was absorbing externally. From people. That took longer, because I wanted to believe that either I was impervious to their toxicity, or I could help them become less toxic. Or both.

I was wrong.

Firstly, toxic energy continues to permeate our energy until we’ve done so much work on ourselves that we radiate pure love. And I certainly wasn’t in that place yet. Secondly, it’s not my responsibility to help someone else become more or less anything. I’m responsible for myself. You are responsible for yourself. Trying to ‘fix’ others is disrespectful… and futile.

These days, I’m getting much better at keeping the toxic at arms’ length.

The minute I feel uncomfortable, I stop what I’m doing and leave, if necessary and possible.

By staying tuned in to how my body reacts to people, situations and food, I’m able to recognize this moment. Here’s what helps me:

  1. Meditating daily to stay tuned into my body. This gets me out of my head and into my body so I’m able to tune in.
  2. Getting very clear on my non-negotiable values and living according to these, WITHOUT exception. This often means saying no to things I used to say yes to, often out of curiosity e.g. hanging out with people whose values are diametrically opposed to mine.
  3. Acting in ways that keep me fit and healthy. Trying to get enough sleep, minimizing stress, exercising daily, putting the best possible food into my body. This keeps my operating system in top form!

By removing the toxic from my life, I act in my own best interests, and am healthier, happier and stronger. And in a much better position to be of service to others, if I am called on.

That’s what life’s all about.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to stay grounded during times of change

I’ve been going through a lot of change of late and have been feeling a bit lost. Not because the change is unwelcome. Not because I haven’t known how to move forward.

I’ve been feeling a bit lost because I’ve not been very anchored.

Anchoring yourself is hard at the best of times. But when you’re moving a lot, like I am, it becomes much harder. I was recently talking to two dear friends of mine who are travelling around Asia right now and they confirmed this. After a couple of months on the road, they’re feeling in strong need of some anchoring.

As a concept, anchoring is hard to explain. It’s not about staying still and putting down roots – although that IS anchoring.

It’s more about finding some constancy when you’re constantly moving.

It helps if you think of a boat. It anchors to stay safe and secure when briefly stopping somewhere before moving on again. A house, on the other hand, roots itself to one place and stays put. Its rootedness also helps keep you safe and secure, but in a different way.

So, how do you anchor yourself?

Here are some possible ways:

  • By creating a routine. Routines can help you feel connected to a place, even if you’re there for a short time. My travelling friends eat in the same restaurant for most meals, that anchors them.
  • By spending time in nature. Nature is grounding, it anchors you just by being itself. I get maximum anchoring from walking barefoot on wet sand, dewy grass or forest floors.
  • By creating a ritual. No matter where I am, I start the day with a cup of mega strong, black tea. The tea reminds me that, even if everything around me is constantly changing, some things in my life remains the same.
  • By meditating. A regular meditation practice can really help keep you grounded. In itself, and as a ritual.
  • By making time to connect with loved ones. There is nothing that connecting with our loved ones can’t help resolve! Deeply, not superficially.

If you’re feeling really unanchored, you may need to do all of these. A lot. It’s worth taking time to do this, even if you’re busy. You might find that some of these work better than others at a given moment. I recently found myself creating more and more routines in response to my unanchoredness, and that started to feel too rigid. I finally realised that I’ve not been spending enough time in nature – I’ve been living in cities for the last 18 months. So I’m amping up my nature time.

We humans are community-oriented creatures at heart. So when we stray from that life, even for something exciting like exploring new places and people, we often feel a little lost. Then we feel guilty for feeling lost, for not appreciating the new experiences we’re having.

Instead of feeling lost or guilty, anchor yourself and those new experiences will again start to feel wonderful.

 

photo credit: Final Anchorage 2 via photopin (license)

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Why the pace of change matters when you make life changes

pace-of-change-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blickI’m an ‘act first, think later’ kind of person. So my pace of change modus operandi for life changes has always been fast and furious. Whilst there are many times when this MO has served me well, there are also many when it hasn’t. At all.

Fast and furious is disruptive. That’s its essence. So when you need to disrupt your life, fast and furious is the way to go.

When should you use the fast and furious approach? I’ve found it useful in situations such as these:

  • When I’m really stuck. If I can’t make a decision about something that I know needs to change, I just act radically at the first opportunity. For example, when I was trying to decide whether to move to a new place or not and found the rational pros and cons to be balanced, I let external forces make my decision for me. I applied for jobs in all locations and moved to the one with the job offer.
  • When I’m uncomfortable, but don’t know why. Changing one thing rapidly shifts everything around a bit and helps me understand what was making me feel uncomfortable.
  • When I feel a strong, often irrational pull towards something. If I’m not feeling overwhelmed, I follow these urges as they always provide me with something I need.
  • When a member of my pack needs my help. Requests for help are often urgent, even if they’re not framed as such. I’ve learned that it’s best to act quickly when someone needs help.

At the other end of the pace scale is slow and steady. I’m FINALLY learning to become friends with 4460963090_b53518675d_b-1024x719slow and steady. Slow and steady would have saved me A LOT of money over the years. Money on movers. Money on con man landlords. Money on air fares.

When should you use the slow and steady approach? This is when I’m going to use it from now on:

  • When I’m feeling overwhelmed. Every decision I’ve ever made when overwhelmed was a bad one. Bar none. Overwhelm clouds your instinct and thinking.
  • When I know where I’m heading, but know it’s not yet time. Patience hasn’t always been my strong suit, but I now recognize when it’s needed. Whenever I feel like I’m forcing something, pushing too hard, I stop. And wait patiently for the right opening to appear. The right opening is one through which I can walk with ease.
  • When I don’t know where I’m heading, but am not completely stuck. If I have some insight or information, but not enough to move forward with confidence, I sit tight.
  • When I’m scared. Every decision I’ve ever made when scared was a bad one. Bar none. Fear clouds your instinct and thinking.
  • When making purchases. Every impulse purchase I’ve ever made was a bad one. Bar none. For my health. For my bank balance.

You might be thinking that, in reality, very few actions are made from either extreme, but from somewhere in between. And you’re right. But the most important point to note is this:

Each of us has a personality that tends towards one end of the spectrum. If we want a life of ease, we need to learn to use the other end, too.

Believe me, if I, Ms. Fast and Furious, can dip into the unfamiliar waters of slow and steady, ANYONE can.

Let’s change it up!

 

hare photo credit: Out for a Run, Severn Valley, Gloucestershire via photopin (license)

tortoise photo credit: Sulcata 3 via photopin (license)

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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10 steps to help you take action when you’ve hit rock bottom

This is where a lot of life changes begin. At rock bottom.

Rock bottom is a deeply personal place – no two rock bottoms are alike. It doesn’t matter how you got there, just that you did. Many of us don’t take action until we hit rock bottom. We’re willing to put up with a lot of discomfort, even pain, rather than face up to what’s right there in front of us.

That something is wrong with how we’re living.

And that we need to do something about it.

Here are 10 steps to help you take action when you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

1.    Thank yourself for realizing it

Change cannot happen until you realize something’s wrong. Most people are unwilling to face up to this, and, with their heads down, carry on as they have been for years. You, on the other hand, have been courageous enough to realize that something’s wrong. So take a moment to thank yourself for this – it can do a lot for your self-esteem.

2.    Accept that you can’t go on living like this

After thanking yourself for noticing that something’s wrong, you need to take another courageous step. You need to accept that this way of living has to stop. It’s one thing thinking that something has to stop; it’s another believing it with every cell in your body. This is what acceptance looks like.

3.    Figure out how you got to this place

Before you can move forward with purpose, you need to understand what you’re moving away from. So it’s worth spending time figuring out how you got here. How have you been living? What have your priorities been? Are you proud of what you’ve been focussing on? You need to answer these sorts of questions so you have a good idea of what lies behind the life that led you to rock bottom.

4.   Figure out who you really are

As adults, many of us believe we know who we are. We equate our age with our level of knowing, not realising that the discomfort we’ve felt for much of our adult life is caused by a disconnect between who we think we are and who we really are. In order to figure out who you really are, you need to ask yourself some questions, and some of the answers to these lie back in your childhood. These three questions have helped a lot of people figure out who they really are:

What’s important to you? Are there any personal qualities you want to be known for? What do you value above all else? What qualities in others do you admire?

What do you love doing? Go back to your childhood, from as far back as you can remember until you were about eight. During this time, you were really you. After this age, you were being moulded by society to be a certain person.

What are you truly good at? The things that come naturally to you, rather than the things you’ve learned to master.

5.    List the changes you want to make

When sitting at rock bottom, we may see a lot of things that we want to change about our lives. To exercise more. To eat healthier foods. To deepen a relationship. To drink less. To have more fun. To start a spiritual practice like meditation. To spend more time with loved ones. To work less. To learn to love ourselves. To declutter. To move house. To change job. To leave a relationship. Etc. Whatever your list is, make sure that you document it now, when you’re at rock bottom, so you don’t forget anything important.

6.   Prioritize your list of changes

In order to take action and make changes in your life, the changes must be manageable. Trying to do a list of 10 things at the same time is a recipe for failure, so you need to prioritize them. Start with the ONE thing that you want to change most. Then your top five things. Then the rest. And do them in that order, without starting a new one until you’ve fully succeeded in making the change above it..

7.   Make a plan of action

This is how you turn your fantasy – a changed life – into a reality. Most intentions to change fail because people are unable to take action, so this is a really important step. Take your number one change and decide how you’re going to make it happen. What specific things are you going to do? How often? With what goals in mind? For example, if your number one change is to exercise more, list the types of exercise you’re going to take, their frequency and where you want to get to in the end: hiking 5 km every weekend (goal: 20 km hikes); walking vigorously for 30 minutes every day; rowing twice a week (goal: racing every weekend); etc. Do this for every item on your change list, but only when you’ve succeeded in making the change above it. Be sure to keep your goals achievable – you don’t want them to discourage you.

8.   Be accountable

There’s nothing like monitoring your progress to keep you moving forward. Maybe you’d like to have someone with whom you check in every week to discuss how you’re getting on – someone who will lovingly kick your butt if you need it. Or maybe you’d like a tool like a change log where you document the specific things you’ve done every day to make your change happen. Or maybe you’d like to combine these two, showing your change log to your person every week. It doesn’t matter which accountability system you choose, just make sure you have one. It will dramatically increase your chances of success. (Check out stickK, which uses a Commitment Contract with a Referee or financial stakes to maximize success.)

9.   Have a support system

As you make changes in your life, you will have set backs. This is guaranteed (see this blog post for why). So you really need to have some people cheering you on from the sidelines – people who will be there for you, no matter what. It’s so easy to get knocked off course when things don’t go well. And, after all of the courage and effort it’s taken to get to this point, the last thing you want is to be knocked off course.

10.  Celebrate your successes

Every time you reach one of your goals, give yourself a HUGE pat on the back! One of the biggest momentum boosters comes from recognizing how much progress you’re making as you go along. Celebrate in any way you want – you might want to ‘phone someone who didn’t think you could do it to tell him/her that you succeeded, or to treat yourself to something you love, or to go away for the weekend. You’re rocking those changes, so acknowledge it!

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Take action to make fear your friend

We humans spend an awful lot of our time stuck in fear mode. So much so that we don’t really recognize it as fear any more.

To us, it’s security.

That’s right, fear is disguised as security. When we feel comforted by security, it’s actually that we fear the alternative. Think about job security for a moment. That’s just fear of not having a job.

We’ve channelled our fear into security.

“What’s wrong with that?” I hear you cry. “It stops us from being afraid.”

That’s true, it does stop us from being afraid. But it also makes us stuck. As in not moving forward. As in not growing and developing. Stuck.

Being stuck is a slow death. It’s actually worse than feeling fear, because when you feel fear, at least you know you’re alive. When you’re stuck, you feel dead. You know something’s not quite right, but you don’t know what. On the surface, all is well – after all, you have your security. Inside, you know all isn’t well. At all.

Why do we get so stuck? Because turning fear into security has made us afraid of change. And without change, we’re stuck where we are.

But we don’t have to live in a perpetual state of fear, nor do we have to channel our fear into security. We can choose to channel our fear into something else – into something productive, something that gets us unstuck.

We can channel our fear into action.

This is what happens automatically in the wild. Fear triggers action – either fight or flight. Without it, you’re dead. In the wild, fear is our best friend. It’s what gives us the chance to continue living.

Fear can do the same for us in our everyday, domesticated lives. Channelled into action, fear can help us move forward, help us make the changes we need to make in our lives in order to grow. It can give us the chance to start living more fully, and with a greater sense of personal fulfilment. And when we live more fully and feel self-fulfilled, we’re happier.

So make fear your friend by channelling it into action. Use it to take steps forward in your life.

By turning your fear into action, you start making life changes and stop being stuck. And once you’ve done this a few times, you stop fearing change so much and start living with greater ease.

Make fear your friend. You’ll end up feeling more alive than ever.

 

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Courage and action

Sit down, close your eyes, and think about making life changes. Emotions rise immediately in your body – some, the stuff of nightmares; others, more pleasant.

Fear.

Overwhelm.

Excitement.

Panic.

Despair.

Pleasure.

Anxiety.

Whichever emotions arise, one truth guides them. That life change requires courage and action, in equal measure.

The minute you decide to take that step towards making a life change, YOU change. That’s the courage. The belief in yourself that you CAN do it. Courage rises in you. No one else can give it to you or help you get it. It’s yours and yours alone. It comes from within.

But all the courage in the world isn’t going to make your life change happen. Only action will do that. You have to take steps forward, away from your old life, and towards your new life.

This is where most people fall down. They think that they’ve done the hard part, that the summoning up of courage in itself will see them through this life change. But they’re wrong. Only action will do that. One-foot-in-front-of-the-other action.

Unlike courage, action needn’t to come from within. You can get help with it. You have to take the action, but others can help you along the way. They can help you in all sorts of ways: clarify your goals; define the steps needed; provide you with systems and tools; hold you accountable; cheer you on; hold your hand; celebrate your accomplishments.

Courage and action. They are in our nature. But, other than in exceptional circumstances when we’re spurred into fight or flight mode, we’ve been distanced from them. We’ve forgotten that courage and action are two of our innate values. Values which we need to bring back into the fold, because we really need them.

We need courage and action because life change is the only way to move forward.

And moving forward is what makes us grow.

Moving forward makes us better versions of ourselves. Less fearful. More self-confident. Happier. More self-fulfilled.

And isn’t this what truly living is all about?

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).