Life Coach, Coach Thyself!

So I’m writing a book.

That’s right – I don’t like admitting it, because of the inherant expecation to actually finish it someday that accompanies that announcement, but I’m not making the kind of progress on it that I want to, and know I should, so I’m just going to put it out there and make myself accountable – as scary as that is.

So what’s my block? It’s funny, because as a life coach, I work with clients on this same topic rather frequently. One of my clients, a PhD student (in clinical psychology, ironically enough) has been struggling with writer’s burnout, (as have I) and the fear of failure has left her almost paralyzed (I can relate!)

So I’m going to take my own advice, coach myself as I would my clients, and do some serious work on myself so that I don’t have this project (that I really do love) hovering over me like a piano dangling from a 10-story building. (Bad analogy – but it’s a vivid image for me.)

Piano – be gone!

Some great self-coaching questions are found on a blog at www.startliving.org.uk. Okay – don’t leave to go there, but you might think about checking it out, since you seem to have time, and an inexplicable interest in life coaching blogs – but that’s a good thing!!

Using the OSKAR method (paraphrasing and giving credit to the anonymous author of startliving.org.uk) and actually coaching myself into motion, here goes:
OUTCOME:

  1. What is the objective of the coaching session? To get the motivation and drive to get off my duff and write.
  2. What do you want to achieve today? I’d like to get another 2-5 pages written, while AVOIDING the urge to spend time re-writing or critiquing myself.

SCALING:

  1. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing the worst it has ever been and 10 the preferred future, where would you put the situation today? For motivation I’m at about a 6. I want to write, but I fight it!
  2. You are at 6 now; what did you do to get this far? Got a good running start, and have the characters clearly defined in my head.
  3. How would you know you had got to 6+1? When I have some kind of outline to know what the plot is, and maybe even how it ends.
  • KNOW-HOW & RESOURCES:
  1. What helps you perform at 6 on the scale, rather than 0? Having the idea in my head of a scene or bit of dialogue.
  2. When does the outcome already happen for you – even a little bit? When I make any kind of progress.
  3. What did you did to make that happen? How did you do that? I was setting a time each day for my writing. I would take the first hour of my day to concentrate on making progress on it.

AFFIRM AND ACTION:

  1. What’s already going well? Well – hard to say. I’ve been letting it sit for too long. I haven’t been doing much of anything on it. So other than what’s already been done and sitting (for months) not much progress is being made. Not going well at all.
  2. What is the next small step? To get over my fear of starting, failing, or sucking, and just get some more words on paper.
  3. You are at ? now, what would it take to get you to ?+1? Already asked and answered.

REVIEW:

  1. What’s better?
  2. What did you do that made the change happen?
  3. What effects have the changes had?
  4. What do you think will change next?

This section I need to wait to fill out until after I’ve done SOMETHING on paper. Then I’ll be able to analyze what strategies I used to overcome the “get Started” paralysis and just do it.

I’ll keep you posted.

–Life Coach Jana Beutler

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Viva Las Vegas, Baby!

I went to Vegas last week for a Marketing and Communications conference. I do not really gamble, because I don’t like to let go of what I work hard for. But something came over me, and for a split second, a little gambling seemed like a good idea.

I started out on the nickel blackjack machine. Doubled my ten bucks and was feeling dangerous. So I moved to roulette. Won a lot. Got risky. Won some more. Risked some more. Lost some. Got desperate. Lost a lot. I won’t make a long boring story into a short boring story, but I learned some lessons by standing there watching that darn wheel.

Picking up momentum by getting excited about possibilities is a good thing. It keeps you in the game, keeps you hopeful, and makes you able to step outside of what’s comfortable and take some risks. Like life, isn’t it? Things going your way. Feeling good. Making choices that you might not if you lived in fear. And it pays off. Energy. Excitement. And the willingness to play.

Until the momentum dies, and the desperation and ennui sit in. Complacency Arrives. At one point, I didn’t even CARE if I won. I was done playing, but I just couldn’t leave. Or I thought I couldn’t. I should have. I should have picked up while things were good and used that energy to do some other things. Are you getting the analogy?

Moving ahead while things are going well is easy; it’s when it’s not easy any more that we have to face who we are and see what we’ve got. Sometimes it’s good to stay and risk. Sometimes it’s better to leave the table when you’re up and look for other opportunities before the hope leaves and you start getting cynical.

So recognize when you’re up and carefully evaluate if you’re using your resources in the right place by staying. Or maybe it’s time to take your chips and put them elsewhere. And only risk what you can lose.

Life Coach Jana L Beutler

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You Always Get it Back

I’m returning from a week-long Conference in Phoenix where I was assisting at a Life Coach Training Foundations Course for the Adler School of Professional Coaching. It was a Foundations Course for coaches from all over the world. (Hello to Mary, Murray from New Zealand, and Margie from the East Coast!)

Anyway – it was a phenomenal week, and the most amazing thing is I learn new things every time I revisit old topics, trainings and opportunities. In fact – sometimes it’s as if the material is brand new.

This time, I learned throughout the week (and some personal coaching) that I might have a purpose, and that identifying a “purpose” in ones’ life can be a real pain in the UNOWUT if you’re not ready to accept responsibility for what comes with identifying it.

Sometimes it’s just a gift we get, a passion we have, a talent, a desire, or the way the stars align. Sometimes we have to work for it and name it; sometimes we wish for something to be our purpose; and sometimes we just wonder what it is. And all of that is okay. We don’t always have to identify what it is or even know that we have one. And you know what else? Purpose can change along the way, so once you find it, don’t hang on too tight.

Fr me, it’s a nagging item on my “to put on the to do” list. Although I’ve made a lot of great changes and accomplished a lot of things I’ve wanted to, there are some nagging un-done things are still lingering and haunting me. And they’re the same ones they’ve been for a while. They’re the ones that haven’t even made it from the “to do” list to the “being done” list.

So what is my block? Why do I think of a million things to do to stay busy, but still have such a hard time settling in and accepting that I have a purpose that I’m neglecting? Why do any of us procrastinate, make busy-work and ignore our gifts? Why do we react instead of create? It’s not that hard to figure out, really. What I want to do and need to do to is going to be hard! And I might suck at it, and I’m going to do it anyway. Like it or not. Because I have to. And then I’m going to try really hard not be attached to the outcome and just LET…..IT…..GO!!!

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Happy New You!

I started off the New Year with a little cold. Nothing unusual – just the typical sniffles, cough and sore throat. But what it’s allowed me to do is spend some time alone, thinking about what 2008 holds, and what I can make of it.

With each new year, I find a kind of anxiety in the air. Yes, anxiety more than excitement in most people. I think this stems from the fear that all the hopes and dreams we have for the new year just might not occur in reality, and so the disappointment starts before the new year gets off to a good start. Missed opportunities, failed attempts, and wasted time are everyone’s fear. So why set yourself up

No resolutions for me. A resolution is a promise. And why promise something that might not get delivered? I prefer, instead, to think about the opportunities I can TAKE during the next quarter. A year is hard to manage; but a quarter – 3 months? I can do that! And I try to never set goals that involve quitting something, or taking something away. Sometimes even just changing the language makes the goal more palatable.

So I set my sights on things like Doing, Making, Creating, Writing, etc, using terms that are positive, action-oriented, and get me revved up!

So I won’t be quitting anything this year; or maybe I will but will focus on what I’m gaining. And I’ll do a lot more of the things I like doing, am good at, or just plain have fun doing.

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Chicken Little Syndrome


Dumb Mistake Number One that Smart People Make: Chicken Little Syndrome

When something falls on the head of Chicken Little, the infamous piece of poultry assumes that the sky is falling, and that all in the world are doomed.

Also referred to as “catastophizing” or “awfulizing” (by Albert Ellis), the Chicken Little Syndrome leads people to jump to conclusions about the awful-ness of circumstances, and even create worst-case scenarios for themselves. Pessimism instead of optimism. It’s the “sinking feeling” that one gets when your boss announces that s/he wants to talk to you in 20 minutes. Do you spend the next 20 minutes excited about the possibilities, or terrorized by worry about all the mistakes you’ve made, and the horrible consequences that could result?

Unfrotunately, these catastrophisizing thoughts can actually make things worse – and in some cases even CAUSE the catastrophic events that we fear most. As stated in the book, The Ten Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make and How to Avoid Them, thinking the worst can actually bring about the disaster you fear – and it can happen in very subtle ways, and in just a matter of seconds.

One example is that of Mark, who is preparing to deliver a speech to his colleagues. Even as he approaches the microphone, instead of focusing on the content of his speech, Mark is awfulizing. The horrible scene flies through his mind:

What if the microphone won’t work? I’ll get upset and lose my place. I’ll stutter. Then I’ll get the whole thing messed up. Everyone will laugh at me. That will make my boss furious. I can forget about any kind of promotion. I’ll be lucky if I keep my job. This speech could destroy me.”

In a matter of seconds, Mark has written a “script for disaster.” By the time he opens his mouth, he is convinced that his job is on the line. How well can one perform under that kind of self-imposed pressure?

The authors do point out, however, that avoiding those awfulizing thoughts, and instead thinking REALISTICALLY, does not mean cheerfully assuming that nothing bad will ever happen, and that everything will always be okay. It does mean challenging the realism of your awfulizing thoughts, preparing for what you CAN prepare for, and then catching yourself when you fall into the trap of writing a script for disaster before you’ve even started.

Like Chicken Little, instead of asking “Gee, I wonder what hit me on the head? It may be a small piece of sky. Perhaps I should gather more information and perhaps consult with an expert?” we all too often jump to grand conclusions based on a small piece of evidence, exaggerate the importance or awful-ness of it, and get ourselves all worked up into a panic.

So what can we do about it? Challenge Those Negative, Pessimistic, Catastrophizing Thoughts!
Authors Freeman and DeWolf suggest DE-Catastrophizing. Becoming aware of Chicken-Little thoughts and challenging the truthfulness of those fears. For Mark, in the example above, he could ask “Is this speech really the death of me? My career?” “Have I made this too important? Am I jumping to conslusions? Am I assuming that the sky is falling?”

What are your automatic self-destructive awfulizing thoughts? What are the common paths to Chicken Littledom?

  • The Path of Global Effect. Sounds like (and I’m paraphrasing): “That sucked. I didn’t do that well at all. I suck. I don’t do anything well.” This happens when we take a small incident, and assign global truths to it. Taking a single unpleasant event, and making generalized assumptions about how it applies to all future similar events.
  • The Path of Generalization. Sounds like, “That didn’t work. It will never work. I asked 2 women/men out on dates. They both said no. Women/men just don’t like me. I’ll never find someone to love me.” From Shakespeare’sJulius Caesar, “A coward dies many times before his death.” We fail once, and imagine a million failures therafter; most unrealitic.
  • The Path of Imitation, also known as “The Turkey Lurkey Effect.” Adopting the conclusions of others, without questioning, disputing, or challenging their reality.
  • The Path of Magnification. Assuming that a small event or mistake will have insurmountable consequences. Hyponchondriasis. A boss’s sincerely productive feedback. Making a mountain out of a molehill.

Do any of those sound familiar? Which path might YOU take when under stress that exacerbates your anxiety and leads to awfulizing?

LIFE COACHING Exercise / Assignment for the Day: Practice “catching” those assumptions you make, the generalizations you make, and the awfulizing and catastrophizing thoughts, and challenge them. Refuse to automatically adopt a pessimistic and over-blown reaction to your situation.

And then let me know how it goes.

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10 Dumb Mistakes that Smart People Make

I recently went to my favorite used bookstore to get a copy of a couple of books I wanted. Although I didn’t find the ones I was looking for, I left with 4 others that I didn’t know I wanted until I saw them, and then couldn’t figure out how I could have lived without them.

One book I picked up is titled “The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make” by Dr. Arthur Freeman and Rose DeWolf. I especially like it because the preface was written by Aaron Beck, whose work, like that of Albert Elllis, focuses on self-talk, irrational beliefs, and changing one’s perspective with techniques like neuro-linguistic programming and such.

Anyway – for the next 10 days, as an effort to stay on top of this blog, (while also exercising my writing muscles), I will be covering the Top 10 Mistakes that Smart People (like you) Make, and How to Avoid Them.

Today we focus on WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY OUR THINKING MISTAKES (also sometimes called “stinking thinking”)

THINKING THAT YOU KNOW BETTER

Aha! Alhtough this is not officially one of the 10 dumbest mistakes, I do consider it one, and one I make a lot. I often find myself thinking that because I KNOW better, I should be incapable of acting inappropriately or making any kinds of mistakes. Dumb mistake, in and of itself. I have countless times experienced situations in which I knew better than to say, do, or act the way I did, and yet did it or said it anyway. How could I? How could I be so dumb? I know better than to do that! What was I thinking?

Unfortunately, as we all must realize at some point, at certain times, and in certain circumstances, it is virtually guaranteed that your SMARTS will desert you, and that knowing better won’t make one iota of difference.

One time that this may happen is under duress. We all have different threshholds of tolerance for stress and anxiety; but when the brain’s chemistry is altered by being under a significant level of unmanageable sensory overload, the effect can be complete abandon of all sense. You might even say that your brain is not within your voluntarycontrol.

Identifying those times, and working to lower one’s stress threshhold will help; in the meantime, just follow this blog for the next 10 days, to start to identify how, where, and if you are a smart person who makes dumb mistakes, and start to work on avoiding them.

Tomorrow: Mistake Number One

Chicken Little Syndrome
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The Weak Shall Inherit the Girth

Yes, it’s kinda funny. But true. Strength training actually leads to faster metabolism and faster weight loss! I talk to a lot of people who have tried to lose weight – some successfully – through dieting alone. But in the long run, it comes back, and in the process of losing weight, have lost muscle – not fat.

We know that it’s important to do three things to make longlasting changes in the body: 1) Proper nutrition, 2)Strength training, resistance training, weight training, and 3) Cardio, cardio, cardio!

When all three happen at the same time – it’s magic, not rocket science. Please see a qualified trainer to learn how to perform exercises so that you maximize benefits, and that your form and technique are correct.

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Out of Nowhere, She Appears

There’s lots going on in my life these days. My personal training company is thriving, and my coaching clients keep me very busy.

SWAT Personal Training in Tucson was nominated (and is a finalist) for Small Business of the Year. I’ve been putting press kits together, and attending training to launch our new and improved SWAT ADVENTURE BOOT CAMP program!

I’ve been putting out a monthly newsletter, and am even doing some writing!

So I’m going strong, and I’m glad to be back in the blogging world.

I’ve missed you.

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Giving a Hand Up

Taking a day off from the 10 Dumbest Mistakes – cuz I think I discovered a new one yesterday that warrants a shout-out. Of course, as usual, I do the best learning by mistaking.

So yesterday I was driving home from my day at work. It was not abnormally late (like 7 pm), but I was tired, my contacts were killing me, and my Thirstbuster was gone by early afternoon, which might have contributed to my being a little cranky. I was almost home when I got to the intersection at Thornydale and Cortaro, and although the turn light was only yellow, the car directly in front of me slammed on its brakes and came to a sudden stop. I sat in disbelief as I sat and watched the light turn to red. Usually when I see that, I’m at least halfway through the intersection. Oh well. I figured I didn’t need to be in a huge hurry anyway.

There was a very thin homeless man selling newspapers in the median. Usually, I’m good for a buck or two, but I didn’t want to rummage for change, was in a hurry to get home, and so I avoided eye contact, which can usually spare me at least some guilt or shame for not being a good enough person to help a fellow human out.

The guy in front of me, who was too chicken to run the yellow, engaged the guy in conversation. No big deal. In fact, I thought it was nice. And then as the North and Southbound traffic slowed, and I anticipated our quickly arriving green light, the guy gets OUT of his car, and pops his trunk. The light turns green. I start to panic. What is this guy doing? Is he looking in his trunk for a weapon to beat the homeless man with? Rifling through bags to find a couple of quarters to donate? Did the car break down? What the heck? Hurry up! The light is green-green-green! Let’s go, Buddy! No time to mingle.

And then I realized what the guy in the car in front of me was doing in his trunk. He pulled out what appeared to be a new (or in very condition) jacket, and gave it to the guy on the median, who almost started bawling. The guy in the car slammed the trunk closed, waved an “i’m sorry” at me, and then got back into his car and drove away, barely making the yellow, and leaving me once again at that darn intersection, with a red light, and a very happy guy on the median, selling newspapers, and wearing a new jacket.

Dumb Mistake:
Being in too big a hurry to notice the little miracles that occur around us every day. And forgetting that the world really is a pretty friendly place.

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The World Will Have to Go Without

We’ve lost one of the greats, I’m afraid.


Jane, one of our dear personal training clients and friends for over 7 years, passed away suddenly last month.

It was a shock, to say the least, and we will all dearly miss those hugs! She and her husband, Tom, were inseparable. Although married for some thirty years, they were very close. We all referred to them as “Tom and Jane.” It was never “Tom” or “Jane.” Always “Tom-n-Jane.” They were our fitness clients for years, but have always been more than that. They were always present for even the littlest celebrations – birthday dinners, open houses, seminars, speaking engagements – wherever they could be to show support and loyalty.

Although we are fortunate to be able to continue to work with Tom and enjoy his friendship, we will miss Jane, and will all have fond memories of Patron-night, and of course those great hugs that greeted us every time we saw her.

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