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Things I’m Learning While Cycling

…and how it relates to everything else in life.

A recent decision to take up cycling at the tender age of fifty-something has been quite inspiring and motivating and crazy!  At this point you may be asking yourself, “Why would any sane person do THAT?”  It started with wanting to ride in a three-day charity run.  So here I am with a determination and conviction to reach my goal – of a 3-day ride without waiting for the sag wagon to take me to the next point.  As I ride, I see some cycling / life parallels emerging.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Patience – sometimes the lungs work really well and help the body to keep going with minimal discomfort.  Other times, every muscle, every joint, every bone and even the hairs on my head scream for mercy.  With so much fluctuation in performance, it can be so exasperating especially not knowing what day will be “good” days and what days will be “bad” day.  Accepting myself for where I am at the moment, being kind and gentle with myself in thought is teaching me that delayed gratification is so much better than instant gratification
  • Let Go of Expectations – OK, this one smacked me right upside my head!  It was all planned out (in the secret recesses of my mind that were into chicanery) – I was going to hop on my brand new Cannondale and ride like the wind into the sunset for an entire day.  After all, when I was younger (MUCH younger) riding 25 miles in an afternoon was child’s play.  Yeah, right!  Somebody forgot to tell my body that this was the plan.  Expecting to ride 10 miles on the first outing was ridiculous, at best.  What I learned is that it’s OK to lower expectations a little (sometimes a lot) when those “voices” try to tell me otherwise.  My expectations now are realistic and in alignment with where I am and my current skill level.  As such, I knew that a 2-month quasi-training period was not enough to get me there.  My new goal is to get in shape to ride in next year’s charity event.  I readjusted.
  • Rest – I don’t need, nor do I want, to push myself beyond what I’m capable of doing (see Keeping Up with the Jones’).  Stopping every now and again to hydrate is a GOOD THING!  Or even using the excuse to stop for water is a GOOD THING.  Rest after a ride also allows your body’s muscle memory to kick in and it’s in those quiet times that I can really soak in all that I’ve accomplished on the ride.  Plus, who doesn’t like a nap every now and again?  Hmmm?
  • Keeping Up with the Jones’ (NOT!) – In a group ride, I seldom take the lead.  Oh, it’s not because I don’t like setting the pace or being in front (I have this control thing going on).  What I found is that I enjoy being at the rear and setting my own pace.  I’ve knighted myself “TP”.  LOL.  I used to be all about competing and I’ve been known to do some pretty stupid things back in the day.  These days I’m more into competing with myself.  And all those cyclists that pass me by going 100 miles an hour?  They can just keep on going – just don’t let your wind knock me over, because then I’m pretty sure I’ll catch you.
  • It’s Hard Work – Let me say it again, “Damn, it’s hard work!!”  How could such a small incline when you’re walking seem like Mt. Everest-size protrusions when you’re on a bicycle?  This simply baffles and fascinates me at the same time!  Like anything worthwhile and worth doing, there are going to be some tears involved once in a while, especially when you’re at the cusp of “blowing up”[1].  What I learned a long time ago on a motorcycle ride (yes, I was driving) from VA to FL in some of the most torrential downpours known to man is this, when asked the question what are we going to do (because it’s raining), I answered, “What am I going to do?  Cry?”  So, I put on the big girl panties, suck it up and get on with it.  Why?  Because no one is forcing this on me – I’m choosing it.
  • Rewards are Great – Those great feelings of reward come from many different things.  It can be a small accomplishment like s-l-o-w-l-y riding under the bridge up the curved hill or pushing yourself just a little further, reaching down just a bit deeper to tap those oft unused reserves or staying on the bike and pushing, grunting, groaning your way up the hill.  It can be a great sense accomplishment just going for a ride regardless of the number of miles…or feet.  And, there are many things in between – great scenery, getting yourself out of bed earlier, giving up television for a night, realizing you have more energy (energy begets more energy) to just really feeling good about yourself.  I’m all for that!mountain-biking--woman-on-bike-dolomites-italy
  • You CAN Conquer the Mountain (Fear Has No Place Here) – Seeing that mountain in front of you (OK, it’s really a hill – still feels like a mountain) and purposefully engaging in self-motivating talk – yes, talking out loud is acceptable and encouraged – gets you up that mountain.and the next…and the next!  It’s one full stroke of the pedal after another.  If you do one, you can do another.  Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the top.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  I walk the bike and myself up the hill.
  • FUN – Call me crazy – I promise I won’t hold it against you – this cycling thing is fun.  I get to feel like a kid again!  I get to ride around with some great people where we ride a trail, stop for lunch, and ride back.  I’m having some great conversations and meeting new people – even making a new friend or two along the way.  Learning about all the different things involved in cycling, the different styles of cycling and trying out new things are all part of the fun.  The one thing that would make the experience more enjoyable is a clothespin and a playing card.  Alert the neighbors – there will be more noise on the block!
  • Falling Down is Part of the Ride (sometimes) – You know you’re going over the handlebars if you suddenly apply the front brake without assistance from the rear brake.  If you try to get “fancy” with a move here or there, you’re going down.  If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going a bit too fast for conditions and you suddenly have a case of the doubts, guaranteed road rash is in your future.  So, what do you do?  Cry?  No!  (All right, sometimes you might if it really hurts.)  You get up, assess the damage, repair it / bandage it / stop the bleeding / put the chain back on the derailer, put yourself back on the bike and keep going.  What if the bike is demolished?  You call someone to help.  You take a risk – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Thing is, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t unless you DO it.
  • Slow is Good – I’m not out to break any speed barriers or do I want to intentionally hurt myself.  I learned that in cycling, like most all things, whether it’s the first time I’m doing something new or rediscovering something I’ve done a long time ago it’s good to take my time until I get my “balance.”  Once I’ve got that going pretty well, then I can pick up the pace a bit.  Slowing things down, taking my time, savoring the moment is an awesome experience.
  • Going Fast Can Be Scary-Good – What goes up must come down. 🙂  This is what gets me up all the mountains and hills – knowing that the ride down is going to be a blast!  There’s nothing more exhilarating than being at the crest of the climb (it definitely helps with those last few pushes of the pedals) knowing that the best part is about to happen. [Insert music here… Carly Simon’s song, “Anticipation”] For me, the feeling of flying down that hill is like nothing else in the world – scary sometimes – yet definitely good…very, very good!
  • Breathe – On occasion, I find myself holding my breath.  That usually happens when I’m feeling a bit stressed.  That stress can be something work related, in my personal life or struggling for breathe on those long climbs.  On the long climbs it’s a bit more evident – gasping for breath and feeling like there’s not enough oxygen getting in my lungs to help my muscles perform.  This is where I consciously remind myself to breathe.  If I’m fortunate enough to have a yogi with me on the ride, she’ll remind me to practice my Ujiayi breath – a controlled manner of breathing where you actively use your mind to override the feeling that you’re running out of breath.  The feeling of losing your breath can create a state of panic, which becomes cyclical.  I may not use the Ujiayi breath every time I’m stressed, yet focusing on my breath for 15-30 seconds when I’m in situations where I’m feeling a bit stressed goes a long way in reducing the stress, fear or panic I may be experiencing.

I’m sure there are many more things I’ll learn on this cycling adventure I’ve undertaken.  I can hardly wait.

Bring it on!

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about YOU can adopt and apply these lessons in your life, business or career?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

Wellness – It’s not just hitting the gym and eating salads!

I have 2 upcoming challenges for you to discover what wellness is really all about!

Both come with some major rewards.
Sure, there are prizes for one of them~but ultimately what you gain is so much more than that. You’ll have the time and energy to be present for those that matter in your life because you’ll be taking care of YOU first. Yes. YOU.
Strange concept, I know.
I know what you’re thinking and no. Its NOT selfish. Actually the opposite.
It truly is the most important thing. If you aren’t well, how can you help others be well? Are you giving your all or are you texting/emailing/stressing away while at your child’s soccer/basketball/gymnastics meets and practices (makes my head spin just THINKING about it)? Take a look at what I have coming up and lets get Healthy. Vibrant. Happy. together, shall we?

My first challenge, the Facebook UnStuck Challenge is all about you creating time and space to take care of YOU. To do something just for you for 20 minutes a day for the month of May. I know what you’re thinking… 20 minutes-every day?! I barely have time to brush my teeth every day!
Me, too.
Which is precisely why I am doing this. I said there was no catch, but maybe I fibbed-just a little.

You see, I am a recovering “yes” chick. I continually find myself taking on more and more. And more. I can find less and less time to do things that I love to do and when I do, I’m usually stressed about how much time I’m taking to do it.
Or stressing about what I should be doing. You know… not being present. (Don’t give me that look.. you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

That’s where you come in.

We’ll keep each other accountable. Yep! You get to holler at me if I slack. (It works both ways though!)
And you can win prizes.
My colleague, Kristen, and I will cheer you on and inspire you to keep going. And Ill only slap your fingers if I catch you reaching for your phone during your 20 minutes. I promise.

My second eventElizabeth Rider’s Clean Up Your Diet event will have you so in love with food and eating healthily that you won’t know what to do with yourself!

I am coming on board as a selected Affiliate Coach and offering some pretty rad bonuses if you join my mini group! Elizabeth is the founder of Enlightened Living International, an amazing group of wellness entrepreneurs that I have the pleasure of working with. I am so over the moon excited to have this chance to bring you this program with Elizabeth and to be working with her. She is absolutely wonderful and I KNOW you will learn so much.

Don’t hesitate! I don’t know when this opportunity will present itself again – Elizabeth doesn’t have another live event planned anytime soon.

Join us for one or both programs and change your life. Yes. Both. You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.

See details below.

Kristen Zang Wellness
Get UnStuck!

mixed.berries

Clean Up Your Diet!
Ready to go? Register here!

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to become unstuck and have more YOU time?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

Falling off track completely sucks—especially when you’ve tried so many times to commit yourself to your health.strawberry-cake-over-white-background

Falling off track and not having it together can make you feel like something’s way wrong with you. (Why did I have to have two pieces of cake?!)

Like you’re not disciplined enough. (More cake!)

Or strong enough. (Forget it, give me cake.)

Or good enough. (Why. Can’t. I. Stop. Eating. Cake.)

Health isn’t just eating right and exercising though.

It’s the little things.

Those things that slip between the cracks. Sometimes we notice them and snatch them as we see them slip sliding away. Sometimes we don’t even notice until its too late.

We are caretakers, nurturers, the go out and do it yourself-ers.

But what about YOU?

Yes, you.

We get so wrapped up in everyday life. Kids to soccer practice. Dinner on the table. Laundry clean, folded and put away. Scraped knees. Broken hearts. Work deadlines. You name it.

We’re so programmed to go-go-go, that those little in between moments just get filled with useless time wasters. You know exactly what I’m talking about-social media, gossip magazines, useless TV. Yes, they may be your “escapes”-but what are they really giving you? Are you still kicking yourself because you so wanted to finish that book you’ve been nursing for 6 months? Are you trying to get a business off the ground? Do you keep missing that yoga class you’ve been trying to get to?

Yeah, I know. How?

Because sometimes coaches get stuck, too. We forget to follow our own teachings from time to time. Life happens.
Now is the time to get back on track. Why now?

Why NOT now?

We’ll help each other.  How?
Contest time! There will be prizes, oh yes! And its totally FREE.

Why? Because that’s how Kristen and I roll. Simple as that. We want you to be your best, so you can help someone else be their best.

Here’s how it works.

Head over to Kristen Zang Wellness for all the delicious details of how you can get started and the contest prizes!  Hurry,,,YOU owe it to yourself – you are deserving!

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to become unstuck and have more YOU time?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

Guest post by Kristen Zang, owner of Kristen Zang Wellness

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”

~ Sir Edmund Hillary*

Whether you climb or not, this is one very powerful statement.

The first time I heard this quote, I had just come home from a grueling (albeit exhilarating) hike in which I summited 3 peaks measuring over 14,000 ft in elevation each.

When you start out on the trail looking up at what waits for you, you are taken over by looming doubt. “It’s so far away”, “I’ll never be able to do this whole thing!”, “The altitude alone is going to crush me” and many more of these thoughts bounce around in your head. So you take a deep breath and start up. Your hiking partners are so excited that you push those thoughts far back into your head. One step after another, breath after breath, just taking it all in. Soon you reach a point where you turn and look back over the ground you have just covered, and amazingly, you have traveled quite far. Your feet still work. Your lungs are noticing the altitude, but they still work. Snap a few photos and go on. You pass many like minded people on your way and each one is marveling at the scenery just as you are. You wonder if they are having the same looming thoughts.

Getting to the top of the first peak is mind blowing. You are on top of the world. You look down at the trail you just took…There it is, 14,000 feet below you. Miles upon miles of trail winding down below your feet. You’ve done this much and your body is still in one piece. Your feet (although a bit more sore than when you started) are still carrying you. Grab a quick bite to eat and some water and off you go to the next peak.

By the time you reach your car at the end of the day you are exhausted, exhilarated and in complete awe of what you have just done. Not to mention how unbelievably small you feel in comparison to those mountains. But you have done it. You have conquered your own doubts and fears, and pushed yourself way beyond your comfort level.

Whatever your mountain is, just remember… “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”.

I think Sir Hillary may be onto something.

* May 29, 1953, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, (a native Nepalese climber) became the first to ever summit Mt. Everest.  They were the only members of their party able to make the final assault onto the summit.
 

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to “Conquer Your Mountains”?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.”

~ Jim Rohn

How often do you have “one of those days”?  You know…the days where you have difficulty concentrating, distractions are the priority of the day, your focus is a very faint, distant memory and your “to do” list is longer and more complicated than an 8th grade science project.

It’s at just these times you’ll want to engage the 3D Approach.  Simply, Diligence, Determination and Discipline.  These characteristics may not be “simple” to develop and maintain, for most of us.  Yet, when you have just a little bit of diligence and discipline driven by determination, your day will progress that much better.  And the more you practice the 3D’s, the more you get accomplished and the better your day will go.

When you approach your life (business, job, career, relationships, recruiting, planning, etc.) with the 3D attitude, there will be few goals that lie beyond your reach.  Distractions constantly threaten to derail progress; however, discipline enables you to focus amid disruptions and distractions.  You get to choose where to place your focus, the important job at hand or the distraction (aka BSO’s – Bright Shiny Objects).  The determination you get from discipline also gives you the courage and unshakable enthusiasm that allows you to perceive BSO’s (roadblocks, detours, distractions, whatever you want to call it) as a challenge to attack with enthusiasm.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to engage the 3D Approach?  Tired of being at the mercy of your BSO’s?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“Travel lightly my friends.  Give up your unconscious pain and habits; they weigh you down.  Accept your birthright to be joyous and free.” 

~ Anonymous

Everyone experiences cognitive distortions.  Not everyone knows they have them and of those that do acknowledge their existence, not many people do something to challenge their cognitive distortions.  Of those individuals that put in the effort and practice daily, the results changed their lives.  Experience a life change by using the exercises below to weaken your cognitive distortions.

Remember, these are not one-time “cures”.  It takes work to give up your pain and the habits that hold you back.  It’s not about giving something up as much as it is giving yourself something of greater value in return.

  1. Identify Your Cognitive Distortions – List your troublesome thoughts and match them with the list of cognitive distortions. This exercise allows you to see the distortions you favor and allows you to think about your problem, challenge or predicament in more natural, realistic ways.
  2. Examine the EvidenceExamining your experience thoroughly helps you identify the basis for your distorted thoughts.  Example:  If you are very self-critical, then you want to examine a number of experiences and situations where you experienced success.
  3. Double Standard Method – An alternative to harsh and demeaning self-talk is to talk to yourself in the same compassionate, understanding and caring way you would talk with another in a similar situation.
  4. Think in Shades of Gray – Rather than think about your problem or challenge in an either-or polarity, evaluate things on a scale of 0-100.  When a plan/goal isn’t fully realized, think about and evaluate the experience as a partial success, again, on a scale of 0-100.
  5. Survey Method – Seek the opinion of trusted friends or relatives regarding whether your thoughts and attitudes are realistic.
  6. Definitions –  What does it mean to define yourself as “a loser”, “inferior”, “a fool”, “stupid”, etc.?  Examining these and other global labels will likely reveal they more closely represent specific behaviors, or an identifiable behavior pattern instead of you as the total person.
  7. Re-attribution – Rather than automatically blaming yourself for problems and predicaments, identify external factors and other individuals that contributed to the problem/challenge.  Your energy is best utilized in the pursuit of resolutions or ways to cope.
  8. Cost-Benefit Analysis – List the advantages and disadvantages of your feelings, thoughts and/or behaviors.  The cost-benefit analysis will help you determine what you are gaining from feeling bad, distorted thinking, and inappropriate behavior.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.”

~ Orison Swett Marsden

Allow me to give you the definition of “elevate”.

elevate – \ˈe-lə-ˌvāt\ – verb

  1. To raise to a higher place or position; lift up.
  2. To increase the amplitude; intensity, or volume of.
  3. To promote to higher rank.
  4. To raise to a higher moral, cultural, or intellectual level.*
  5. To lift the spirits of; elate.

I believe the choice of the word “elevate” as a verb, to put into action, is in complete alignment with understanding your thought processes and what you will want to do differently in order to create new habits of mind, new habits of thought, for you to continue to have a life that is filled with unlimited opportunities and untold success.  Even in these challenging economic times – the challenge is in how you think and respond to what’s happening in the financial markets today.

What better place and time to begin than by discussing those mental thought processes that can be constructive and destructive.  Let’s take a look at one in particular, but before we do, please consider the following questions and what your first thought, first answer is:

  • What impact is the current economy (rapidly rising gas costs, steadily increasing food prices, etc.) having on you in your personal life, your career, your job, and/or business life?
  • What’s going to happen if it stays the same or gets even worse in the next month?  The next quarter?
  • What options have you considered?
  • Are you open to possibilities?
  • Did you answer one, or any, question with a worse-case scenario?  Perhaps even thinking to yourself, it’s never going to get better?
  • Do you have difficulty reading the newspapers or magazines because of all the bad news?
  • Do you find yourself constantly being drawn in to the negativity and drama?
  • Do you grimace and moan when you listen to or watch the news reports on radio or television?
  • Are you losing sleep because of the worry and fear?
  • Have you ever wished you could just tune it all out and forget what’s going on in the world?  In your life?
  • Ever just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head instead of jumping out of bed and embracing the day?

This destructive mental process is catastrophizing, or imagined catastrophe.  Catastrophizing can be an habitual thought and occurs when we create worse-case scenarios and obsessively worry, even tormenting ourselves, over events that may or may not ever come to pass.  Mired in this destructive thought process, it can become difficult to even believe there’s another way to look at your situation or circumstance.  And the possibility of even a hint of having a possible solution may be simply laughable, sending you into a further downward spiral of fear, worry, anxiety and stress.

  • While your so caught up in worry, fear, anxiety and stress – catastrophizing – how many opportunities do you miss?
  • How many moments with your family, friends, and co-workers do you let go by because of the worry and fear?
  • How many times have you unintentionally ignored your loved ones because of stress?
  • How difficult is it for you to meet work deadlines because of anxieties?
  • When you’re barely making the deadlines, what is happening to the quality of your work?

What if you knew you could “elevate your mind” by changing the way you think about things?  Not solely through positive thought – by incorporating positive action.  Instead of wanting to run and hide and complain about the economic state, or any “state”, ask yourself what YOU can do to change the way you’re feeling about the situation, reacting to every piece of news or information you hear or read.  What opportunities can you see for YOU?  Can this time be used to get back in touch with the things that you value?  Spending more time with your family?  Turning off the television, the video games, computers, iPodsPads, mobile phones?  Plan special nights with family and friends – an old-fashioned game night or a pot-luck-themed supper?

Positive action or catastrophizing – what will YOU choose?  Are your habits of thought in alignment with your desires?

Begin to elevate your mind by choosing positive action.

Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
  • Write and mail those thank-you notes.
  • Clear your office of the clutter – simply start with a desk corner.

What others can YOU think of?

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to know more on how you can practice positive action in all situations?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

P.P.S. —You’re welcome to share this article. When you do, include this complete blurb and the end of the article it:

“Would you like to learn more simple ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

How to Be Assertive Without Alienating Your Relationships

Asking for what you want—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill.  However, sometimes in our enthusiasm to practice this skill, we over-do our own assertiveness and end up with someone (partner, friend, peer, customer, client, etc.) who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful.  Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationships—thus avoiding the “alienation trap”:

1.     Get Clear.

Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have.  For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task unto itself.  Here, it may be useful to ask: “In an ideal world, what would I like to happen?”  Focusing on an ideal, reasonable and realistic outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.

2.     Set Boundaries.

Once you know what outcome you desire, share it with that person in your life.  Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body.  With practice, you can actually sense when you’re hitting the “sweet spot.”  It can feel really pleasant, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud.  Phrases like “such and such doesn’t work for me” are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with the other person.

3.     Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.

You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise.  Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis.  When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help with a task or what TV program to watch—both you and the other person get used to your assertiveness.  It becomes easier for you to practice and for another to hear.  Also, when bigger issues come along, you will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your relationship.

4.     Give as Much as You Get.

Assertiveness is a two-way street.  If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to others in your life.  If your partner doesn’t want you to interrupt her while she’s talking on the phone (unless it’s an emergency), don’t.  If your co-worker asks you to give him fifteen minutes before an unscheduled meeting before you talk and connect, respect that.  When it comes to following through on another’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words.

If someone in your life isn’t respecting your boundaries even though you’ve set them clearly, it may be time for professional help for you and/or your relationship.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn to be more assertive in you job, business or in general?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

Continuing our celebration of International Coaching Week, here are some thoughts and reflections.

It’s a bit of a snowy Wednesday here and I find myself thinking about some CHOICES that I’ll make a bit later today.  Like most of you, I’m going to do things based on what I feel is best in the moment I’m making those choices.  And if I’m not careful, I may even get “hung up” deciding what to do because certain thoughts might be flying in my brain space that would make it difficult to stay focused on what’s important.  Or, I may be supported by certain thoughts.  Rather than ramble on, here’s something that will help.

I’m reminded of an often told story, the Cherokee “Legend of Two Wolves”

One evening an old Cherokee looked into his grandson’s eyes and asked,  “My son, I see fear in your eyes what is troubling you.”

The boy responded, “Often I feel as if two wolves are living inside me, one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But…the other wolf… ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his pain and fear are so great.

“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit and are always struggling against each other.”

With tears streaming down his face the boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one will win Grandfather?”

Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one you choose to feed.”

When life’s daily occurrences and events disrupt your schedule or get you out of balance, which wolf will you feed?

When there is conflict during your meeting and everyone is out of agreement, which wolf will you feed?

The next time someone interrupts you, which wolf will show up?

What will you reaction be when a customer is unhappy about a product or service you or your company provides?

When presented with a challenge, how will you respond?

Is your wolf one of exhaustion overwhelm, or chaos?  Perhaps your wolf is self-doubt, disbelief, and negativity?

Or, is the wolf of happiness, balance, order and structure showing up?  Is it the wolf of optimism, confidence, generosity and enthusiasm?

Which wolf will you feed today?

It’s a choice…YOUR choice.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to find some great-tasting wolf feed?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

As we celebrate International Coaching Week, it’s a great opportunity to re-acquaint with our foundation…our strengths…our VALUES.  Some might relate to this in terms of characteristics or attributes.  Whatever you call your “internal drivers”, today’s a great day to identify the basis for living your life.  And remember, your “life” encompasses all components and roles, such as your job, career, business, and areas of your personal life (not an all-inclusive listing), and the values you use in each and how you incorporate your values into all areas of your life.

Perhaps you’ve never taken a moment or five to actually go through a values-identifying exercise.  Now’s a great time to do just that.

Haven’t dusted off your list in a long time?  Today is a great day to do that.

Want to work on strengthening some of those values to become a better you?  There’s no better moment than right now!

Here’s something to get you started;  to help you re-evaluate; to give you some ideas about what you believe are your VALUES.  Click on this link, JTSample Values List, for your complimentary download and discover what matters to you.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want some assistance identifying and strengthening your values?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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