All posts by Koach

Self Care or Sabotage

Last fall, I really started to worry about the state of my own mental health. My motivation was low, my self esteem seemed to be declining, and I had very little excitement for social activities. As a woman who makes things happen, I knew something was wrong when “Netflix and Chill” was more of my real life than the code words 20-somethings were always posting about.  I wanted to be out there, enjoying the company of my new coworkers, and getting the most of the new opportunities that fall generally provides. Alas, I barely had the energy to get through a day of work, let alone social activities afterwards.

I’ve known for a decade that the winter months are always hardest for my mental health, and I did what I could to combat SAD.  I made myself look forward to things, took my vitamin D and B’s, focused on eating better, exercising more regularly, and continued to increase my knowledge base as this always seems to inspire me.

Towards the end of the winter, I took Mental Health First Aid, and my eyes were pried open. I always advocate for others to get help when facing these symptoms, but I had yet to follow my own advice.  There’s always some excuse to not see someone – my schedule conflicts, it’s probably not as bad, etc. My health kept getting worse, though, and I finally spoke to someone!

It turns out, my biggest mental health concern was… BURNOUT! Yeah, I’m the woman who makes things happen…where do you think all of that energy comes from? For the last five years, I had been stressing myself out with the next big project, a new-to-me organization that gives back to the community, and putting so much effort into external relationships that I forgot about the most important role each and every one of us has in our lives – taking care of me!

Luckily, I caught this diagnosis just in time for the seasons to change, and the sun to inspire me into action. I LOVE SUMMER and SUNSHINE! Spring and summer is when I get the most done, and this year I had one primary goal: self care!

Shade-bathing with my feline bestie, Jito (he-toe) on a superbly sunny day this summer.
Shade-bathing with my feline bestie, Jito (he-toe) on a superbly sunny day this summer.

Of course, I also had a Big Party (a.k.a. ~ My Wedding) to finish preparing for, but self care through those preparations was key.  I knew that if I didn’t shift my way of thinking about my life, this burnout was going to plague me for much longer…and that is NOT what the woman who Makes Things Happens wants for her life. Last autumn might have been the peak of my lacking motivation, but I had been feeling depleted for almost three years before that. Prioritizing other people, other – still important – tasks and roles, but never really taking enough time to rest, recover, and love myself first.

I bet I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not! As I recovered this summer, I began to socialize more, and I notice the signs of my own burnout in so many other people I come across. Always an empath, I want so desperately to help them all learn from my own experiences. Alas, we’re all on our own journey, and – as one of my favourite quote:

“We cannot teach people anything. We can only help them discover it within themselves.”  ~ Galileo Galilei

There is another more famous quote that I love, too: when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  Well, if you’re that student – you’re in luck!  This Saturday, I will be leading a Fireside Chat at the Healthy Living Therapies Alberta Association (HLTAA)‘s “Experience Health” Fall Fair in Edmonton. In this Chat, we are going to address the guilt that so many people suffer from when they take time for self care. Oh dear, there was a tonne of guilt I had to get through with my own self care! After addressing that gremlin, we will then discuss how to shift that paradigm and prioritize self care.  When you take time to care for you, you can care for others much better, and for much longer. I’m really excited to have this conversation with you!

Warming Fireside Chats!

If you have never heard of HLTAA before, please check out their website at: http://hltaa.org/

Tickets to the “Experience Health” Fall Fair are available on Eventbrite here.  Regular admission price is only $15 and there’s a wonderful deal with that $15. Every person there will receive a $10 voucher to use at any one of the amazing health-focused vendors there. So, really, it’s only $5, with a further $10 investment into your health from one of the amazing people you will meet there.  This is my first year attending the fair, but I have always heard great things. I am looking forward to seeing you there!

Managing Your Time: “If You Want Something Done…

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

I remember the first time I heard it. I agreed with it. Now, I refuse to let it be repeated!

The first time I heard it, I was rushing around trying to finish: the last minute details of the first Vegtoberfest festival; the opening of a new restaurant; and not completely bailing on my sister as she prepared for her wedding. I was a busy person. And, I was getting a lot of things done.  Remember, I’m the woman who #MakesThingsHappen!

That was four years ago. And, I was a busy person for the next 18 months. Then, something cracked. I realized that I wasn’t happy. I noticed that even though I #MakeThingsHappen, everything I was working on had pretty much stagnated – including my health. The worst of it was that I couldn’t remember why I was doing half of the projects I had signed up for. Yet, that saying kept circulating around me and people kept asking me to get things done.

Who actually thought that saying up?  Busy people are BUSY for a reason – why are you going to interrupt them from THEIR mission by adding to it? Because we assume they are the most resourceful? Because they finish what they started? Because they’re dedicated? Because you can count on them to get it done? Because they’re not-so-secretly martyrs and will always say “yes” when they should really prioritize instead?

Ah, there’s the rub. The saying needs to be changed:

“If you want something done, ask a martyr.”

That’s a little more honest. You can count on a martyr to get it done. A martyr is dedicated to a cause (and sometimes too many of them). A martyr will finish what they started…often to their own death or detriment. You will assume a martyr is the most resourceful, but often only because their dedication to a cause is so high. A martyr may even interrupt the dedication to their own cause to help you, because they recognize that you are just as resourceful. So…why aren’t you just getting it done? Because a martyr will do it for you if you just ask them to.

Are you a martyr? If so, you need to read the rest of this blog! If not, please do the martyrs in your life a favour: stop asking them for help…and send them this blog!  If you want a martyr’s input, ask them instead to help you with something. Use their passion to get your project done together, and be inspired by their actions.

I have seen far too many martyrs in my life. Whether in the activist scene, the holistic health community, or in the business world – dedicated people (a.k.a “martyrs”) are over-worked far too often for the passion they hold that they could be directing in to a much more productive outlet.

Why is this happening?  Every person has their reasons, but here are just three that come to my mind first:

  1. Martyrs are more compassionate and empathic than most other people.  Well, that pretty much defines every activist or “light worker” I have met. It takes a lot of empathy to understand that something in our world or business needs to change. Perhaps, we’ve struggled in a situation and now see someone else in the same situation. Aren’t we supposed to be the person we wished we had when we were younger?
  2. Martyrs are dedicated in seeing results, and will keep pushing until they do.  The proper definition of a martyr is someone who voluntarily dies for a (religious) cause. That is the level of dedication assigned to people who put themselves in to this predicament.  Ask yourself, “if you were given the choice of death or this project failing would you choose death?”
  3. Martyrs forget to take care of themselves as well as they take care of “To Do” lists and other people. Yes! This is the single biggest reason that busy people get turned into martyrs, burning out before they get anywhere close to accomplishing their own mission.

Do any of these happen to you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!  And, you can stop this situation in its tracks. How?

First: start by saying “No!”

I had a boss that would be flabbergasted when I explained to him how much I had to do. He told me to tell me “no” if I couldn’t actually get something done for him. In his words, “if you never tell me no, then I can never trust your yes.”

(Ironically, he would always just keep asking me when I did tell him “no,” but I’m sure I will write more on that later…)

Second: Choose your limits

What is YOUR mission? Why are you here? How are you changing the world? Your limits are all about YOU and only you. Knowing what is most important for you will actually help you in saying “no” to the people and projects that don’t fit in to that criteria.

Third: Schedule “Me” Time

EVERY DAY! You’re dedicated to getting that task list done, so you’re going to be looking at your schedule, your task list, or your day planner at least once a week. Put “Me” down on every day! And, during that time, do something that YOU love to do. Maybe it’s vegging out to Netflix, or cooking an amazing seitan roast, taking a bubble bath, or reading a trashy romance novel. I know you won’t get to that time every day, but at least putting it out there will help you think about taking care of YOU for at least a fraction of the time that you take care of everything else out there.

Of course, these three steps are just the beginning. So start with them!  In the next few months, I’ll share more with you about how to find your core competencies, delegate what you’re not good at; and stay accountable to yourself before all others.  I know what it’s like to suffer as a not-so-secretly martyr, and I want to help others stop suffering through it, so we can all reach our ultimate missions and really #MakesThingsHappen.

For all the Busy People out there, thank you for #MakingThingsHappen. You have done a lot, and now I’d like you to reclaim some of that time for yourself and YOUR mission. That is my ONLY request of you!

For everybody else, STOP ASKING BUSY PEOPLE TO DO THINGS and get it done yourself!

Book (Review)s to Change Your Life: Before Happiness

Before Happiness: the 5 hidden keys to achieving success, spreading happiness, and sustaining positive change by Shawn Achor

Before the Information Age, a researcher wrote a book for professionals and other passionate people on how to be a more effective person. That man was Stephen Covey, and his book was The Seven Habits for Highly Effective People. As a researcher, Covey had studied hundreds of “self-help” and “self-improvement” business books to uncover a better, more effective way of doing business and leaving a legacy.  I’m a Covey fan, and I know that I compare every book I read in the self help / business section to his ground-breaking opus of 1989. That’s right – Covey first published his book in 1989… years before the internet and the Information Age allowed us access to so many more ways to be effective and thrive in business. Some might say that with our access to all of this information we no longer need a researcher to tell us how to live a better life. The truth is we need researchers to tell us this more than ever before!

Twenty-two years later, Shawn Achor gave his infamous TedTalk on the Happiness Advantage.  Achor is a researcher of human potential, the science of happiness, and how to increase our performance in everyday lives.  What stood out most of all in Achor’s TedTalk was his ability to use humour to weave together stories from his own life in to the research he had done himself or found within positive psychology. Actually, that’s a lie – what stood out most was the story of his sister, the unicorn, and his brother-in-law’s struggle with menopause. Those are some amazing stories, so I strongly encourage you to check out that Ted Talk here: Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Did you watch it? Then you have just witnessed Achor’s ability to touch on so much of our lives within just 12 minutes and 13 seconds.  That is exactly what he continues to do in his latest book, Before Happiness: the 5 hidden keys to achieving success, spreading happiness, and sustaining positive change.

BeforeHappinessBook

Why Is It Life Changing?

With such an array of examples, advice on how to incorporate the environment for sustained happiness in your life, and ideas that contradict what most people believe about success, there is bound to be something in this book that will speak to you.  The book is structured into 5 strategies that will encourage the reader to create happiness and success in their life. It begins with establishing a new way of looking at how we define our reality. Then, he goes on to explain how to choose the most positive reality for happiness and success to grow in. Once that is established, Achor explains how we can maintain the momentum of success and reaching our goals. There are then theories and practises shared on how to eliminate negativity in your world so that happiness persists. Finally, he leaves the reader with strategies on how to help others reach happiness and success, and a call to action to do so.

An idea that really stood out for me was Achor’s advice on encouraging creativity.  Research has found that those who are able to recognize alternative – new – realities and adjust to them will find themselves happier and more successful.  This is extremely relevant to building our resiliency in uncertain times, something that many professionals will have to do in their lifetime.  Through a case study, Achor explains that “those who embraced their new reality bounced back, while those who clung stubbornly to their old reality became mired in helplessness and defeat.”  How many times have you been disappointed merely by the fact that reality did not meet your expectations?  I know that I feel this most often on Boxing Day, but as an adult I am getting better with the “Holiday Hangover.”

Achor does not just explain what successful people or companies have done to maintain or build happiness and success. He also provides examples of how real companies have overcome adversity. One of his examples is from Kimball Electronics, who used to design pianos. Once electric organs became more popular than pianos and took over Kimball’s market share, the company faced a dismal future. Instead of collapsing, Kimball “sat down and decided to look not at their deficits but at their resources, and in doing so they realized they had a wealth of electronic experts who now had time on their hands to innovate.” By looking at what resources they did have rather than the customers that they no longer had, the company could overcome this setback and “today they make the electronic steering systems for Fiats” and other electronics.

Life is not just about success in the business world, though, and it is always good to read books that address our holistic happiness and success. Achor brings in several examples of life outside of work throughout this book. My favourite tidbit was The Positivity Ratio. Research has shown that “when people have three positive thoughts to every negative thought, they are more optimistic, are happier, and feel more fulfilled.”  This is surprising for many of us who still follow the “sandwich format” of giving feedback. The sandwich recognizes that constructive criticism is good, but we also need positive reinforcement to encourage us. The Positivity Ratio explains that the ratio of positive reinforcement to constructive criticism is much higher than the bread in a sandwich to the filling. In order to thrive, we need three times as much positivity as negativity.  In relationships, this ratio for success goes up to 5:1, which is what I found most applicable to my life.  As Achor points out, if a spouse hurts their spouse, they have to make up for it with not just one box of chocolate, but five!  Now that is information that is life changing.

People reading and carrying stacks of books
People reading and carrying stacks of books

Who Should Read This?

Have you ever struggled to stay motivated? Do you look around and wonder why everybody else seems to be more successful or happier than you? Then, you need to read this book! With subtle perspective shifts and illustrative stories, Achor explains how you can take control of your life and start creating the happiness and success that you always wanted.

Achor is a true story-teller. Every page contains some element to a story that he is using to illustrate a more complicated element to the research he has found on happiness. Those stories are easy to relate to while also being quite diversified.  Every reader can make a connection to what he is writing about in the book.

What Could Make This Book Better?

In the first read, the plethora of information can be overwhelming.  Luckily, Achor summarizes his major points at the end of each chapter in a numbered list of how you can live the principles he was addressing in the chapter.

It would be great if there was a better way to integrate what he is talking about into anybody’s life. Although the tips at the end are great if you follow them, there is nothing to keep you accountable to holding them but yourself. Creating a timeline for implementation would be a great way to enhance the principles discussed in the book. The tips are also all at the end of the very long chapters, which makes it more difficult to integrate the ideas as you are reading about each one. I suggest taking some time while reading the book to make notes on how you are doing or going to do this in your life going forward. Read a section of the book, and then journal about your reaction to the new information Achor has just given you.

Even if you don’t integrate the whole book, there is going to be something that you can take away from this book.  There are so many gems for finding our inner resources in this book that I am definitely going to be reading it over and over again to gain more insight every time.  I highly suggest picking it up, and learning something about designing your happiness today!

Also, check out Shawn Achor’s website Good Think for tips, tricks, and updated information on creating a world where there is more happiness! #MakeHappinessHappen

What Else Might You Like

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Yes, I love this book! And, although it was written 26 years ago, it is still relevant today. Like Achor’s approach to the holistic success and happiness of the reader, Covey addresses more than just the “Professional” reading his book. He challenges what and how you might have thought about your roles, goals, and purpose in this life and encourages everybody to create a legacy of their life that they will be proud to life out.

Consistency – Part 1

This last weekend, I went through my Memory Chest. I’ve had this piece of furniture for the 20 years, and its sole purpose is to hold my memorabilia, trinkets, and other items that invoke dear memories for me.  Downsizing and organizing my Memory Chest is a pack-rat’s nightmare, and a semi-annual ritual for myself. Sometimes, it takes days to complete, but this fall – because I was so strict last time…and left half of as “needs to be finished” – it only took me an afternoon to finish what I had started this spring!

As I sifted through my memories, I came across an entire box of old journals.  If you are an eternal “aspiring writer” like myself, then you likely have something similar in your house.  The first few pages are PACKED with the day-to-day accounts of your life. You, too, had a fresh new journal, notebook, or beautiful book ready to be filled with your thoughts, dreams, and that award-winning novel idea. Then…something happened.  I got busy, life was pulling me in another direction, I lost my journal under the bed, etc., etc. The last few entries might have referred to a re-commitment to writing. “Dear Diary, I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve forgotten to write everything down. I’m so sorry! I promise to write more often from now on.” Maybe there were even attempts to summarize the missing months: “I liked GER a lot the last time I wrote, but now I am mad crushing on TYH.  It’s weird how I used to like GER so much. He was such a jerk…” (I came across a LOT of my writing from Junior High in my Memory Chest.) But, for whatever reason there is not a single notebook / journal / diary that is filled from one end to the other. Frankly, as an Environmentalist, I am ashamed with my younger self!

I’ve noticed the same thing with running. I love running! Sadly, my knees / my back / my ankles don’t like me running. I have “started running” at least once a year for the last seven years. I lay out my clothes the night before, set my alarm an hour early, and get my shoes out from the last drawer I shoved them into the last time. And, it feels great the first time. Maybe it feels great for the next three weeks, sometimes only the next week. Then, my knees hurt, so I take a break. The break turns into a month, then three, then I have to start all over again from the beginning.

determined running face
My first time running as a 30-year-old woman. I felt STRONG!

I’m learning from all of this, though.  I’m on week three of running right now, and pacing myself with every step. Pacing means my knees are getting stronger as I go, rather than taking all of the pounding until they can’t take any more.  I’m running in the afternoons when it’s sunniest out, or inside on rainy days. My phone has a running schedule that reminds me – frequently – that today is the day for my next scheduled run. I’m telling the world when I get it done: bragging on social media always keeps me going! And, most importantly, I remind myself of my overall goal: #runforme #runformentalhealth

running in the fall
Running October 7, 2015 in a T-shirt. Are we still in the North?!?

Last month, I had a great little visit with a fellow coach. As it turns out, she’s also a personal trainer and body builder and just such an amazing person that I was ecstatic to hear that she was life coaching, too! (Check her out at: We Are Timeless) In our conversation, I brought up my health goals, and my excitement that my new day job would allow for me to work on those, too. (More about her awesome insight into that later.) And, it dawned on me – so I shared my aha! with her: all I really want is to be in strong enough physical shape to run regularly without the knee pain or back pain.  When I run, I told her, I clear my mind; and I really want a clear mind. #runforme #runformentalhealth

running in warmer clothes
Still running in week three! I’m prepared for the chillier weather…

The funny thing is, the same thing applies to my writing. When I think back over my twenties, I realize that the winter that I had the most clarity and the least stress was when I was writing the most for me. I woke up a half hour early every morning to do my “Morning Pages.” I wrote a blog every day for my music blog: Edumusication. I worked on three other blogs, too, and I loved it! I met up with fellow writers and read some amazing authors, and my life was really good.

But, how do we return to “life was really good”?

It’s easier to keep going when we already have the momentum. How do we gain the momentum? By being consistent. How do ensure we are consistent? By remembering our reasons for doing it. By prioritizing the greater vision for our life over the little details that don’t matter that much. Why am I not getting up in the morning and writing? Because I have stayed up too late crocheting and watching Netflix. I know that – I’ll call myself out! Why am I staying up so late? Because it relaxes me. Aha! What does writing daily do for me? It relaxes me. It provides me with a place to set all of my thoughts, worries, and great ideas down so that I don’t fixate on them when my head hits the pillow. So, how can I write more consistently? Maybe writing at night rather than in the morning is a better idea for me…

Another thought I have on writing is that I need things to be perfect. I have this great attachment for every blog post to leave you, the reader, with hope and inspiration on how to improve your life. I would love to tell you that the above realization was a miracle and that I am doing it and life is really good. But, I can’t … yet. I am going to publish this without it being perfect, though…because life isn’t perfect, but maybe it can still be really good.

What do you think? How do you stay focused on your goals and increase your consistency when building new healthy habits?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Rejuvenate and Restore

Workaholics need rest, too!
Workaholics need rest, too!

Summertime is notorious for ‘’vacations.’’ This year, I am saving my official vacation for the end of the summer, but I refuse to postpone my rejuvenation until then.   If you’ve been following my twitter account, you’ll know that I have been taking advantage of the July heat to enjoy several day trip ‘’vacations’’ in our own backyard.  Instead of waiting for the big trip, I’m taking time every week – sometimes three times a week – to recharge myself, reconnect with friends, and remember one of the reasons I want to run my own company: the freedom to make my own harmony.

Rejuvenate – to make something young again; to restore to a former state; to bring back life and energy.

There are several different ways to explain this process, but none can compare to the importance of actually going through it.  Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People calls it “Sharpening the Saw.” Many blogs and articles published in the last few years refer to it as “self care.” In our household, it is called “vacation.”

Before I met my life partner, I was a workaholic.  I loved my job; I worked for a cause that I truly believed in; and I made a difference in many lives. But, I was burning out.  In fact, it was my friend (who later became my life partner) returning to the city we met in that made me realize that I was really missing having a social life outside of work. We weren’t very close friends, but I was thrilled with the idea of catching up with someone outside of my work friends.  I was so excited that I told him that we needed to grab beers when he got into town. (For a nearly-raw vegan, “grabbing beers” illustrated a strong desire for connection.)  Taking a break on a patio seemed like heaven on earth that spring…

Since that first beer, I have continued to trust my partner’s suggestion to take a break. Our first “vacation” together was meeting his mother. The four days away from work pushed me to stop thinking about work problems – and other people’s work problems – for at least a day. That was a big accomplishment for me then! Soon afterwards, we started taking day trips, and weekends away to my parents’ acreage, where there was no cell-phone reception, and I couldn’t be disturbed by work.

Every workaholic has their own reasons for being a workaholic, but the need for rejuvenation is the same for everybody.  Some people can do it every night when they get home from work and throw off their “working” hat when they walk through the door. Other people need a full weekend – Saturday to detach with their personal errands, and then Sunday to truly relax – to rejuvenate.  As a manager, I felt guilty is I wasn’t available to my employees if they needed me: morning, evening or weekend. There was only a 7-hour window when my phone was set to automatically block any texts or phone calls except for family (I highly recommend this!) while I slept. To fully “turn off” my working hat and allow myself to rejuvenate, I needed to be on “vacation.”

The benefits were well worth it!  Every time I took a step away from working, I gained more insight on something that was more important to me. I still loved my job, but it was burning me out to devote so much time to somebody else’s small business. Long before I had started that workaholic job, I knew that it would be valuable experience for when I reached my ultimate dream: working for myself. Each vacation reminded me of that greater goal, and I gained a deeper sense of what that work might be.

One fateful October, we took a weekend getaway to the mountains  Phone calls from work had us pulling over on the side of the road, as I dealt with crisis after crisis on my day off. I take full responsibility for leaving my phone on during my weekend away, but the experience helped me realize how much I needed a change. That weekend, I knew I had to leave my workaholic-day-job in order to build a company for myself.  A month later, I had resigned from the job that pushed me into workaholic mode and gained one with much less responsibility, and way more time to take care of myself and my family.  We call this job my “wait-station” because it’s not my end goal. It’s not yet “working for myself.” I still wasn’t sure what I needed to do. Time for a vacation…

That winter, we spent a week in Mexico. For anybody who lives in northern Canada and suffers from S.A.D. (Seasonal Acute Depression), you can only imagine what a week of sunshine, swimming, and exploring a new-to-us country was like. I had also just agreed to take on a bit more responsibility at my “wait-station” job, and I loved the opportunity to gain clarity on my larger goal before being sucked back in to my workaholic ways. And then, my life partner said something that week that really struck home: “You’re really happy right now.  I’ve missed that.”

Wow! Hold the phone! (…and the internet, too, because we all know how much that sucks us into workaholic mode.) Was I not happy in my regular life? But, I left that workaholic-day-job for one that gave me more time for me. In our day-to-day lives, though, I wasn’t really happy. Not, giggling in the back of an open-air taxi, talking to street vendors, and eating guacamole for breakfast kind of happy. I was stressed! I was thinking about money, worried about going out on my own, and terrified that I might succeed and then fail miserably (a complicated neurosis). My real life lacked the “vacation happy” that we spent most of our lives looking forward to. Is that really how I wanted to live?

Of course not! Who wants to spend their lives waiting to be happy, stress-free, and relaxed? That is NOT why I wanted to be my own boss. Not to mention that being stressed-out greatly impacts how well I do my job, and how much I can give to an employer, my coworkers, or my clients. I needed to capture this happiness from a vacation on an ongoing basis.

Ongoing rejuvenation is not a new idea! In the first part of last century, workers fought for the right to have 2 days off every week. Before then, and in other areas of the world, religious doctrine dictates that we should have a minimum of one day a week off. Why? To rejuvenate! Rejuvenation restores our energy, let’s our mind rest, and even refreshes our creativity. In this workaholic-always-connected century, though, we tend to never stop – and even idolize – working EVERY day. Is it really worth it? No!

As my early “vacations” showed me, taking time to recharge didn’t “slow me down.” In fact, it did the opposite! I gained more insight into what I really wanted to do. It reminded me of what was more important to me. And, it restored my energy so I could be even more efficient – nay, effective – in both my day job, and in reaching for my ultimate goal.

Do you always need to take a mini vacation for this rejuvenation to happen? Not at all. Staycations can be just as good for many people.  (If you are easily distracted by housework, your easily-accessible work email, or the need to check on work “just in case,” get out of town!) Does it have to be a certain length? Nope! Taking some time every day is actually best. Twenty minutes of meditating, reading a book for fun, relaxing with your favourite show, or even walking around the neighbourhood are GREAT ways to rejuvenate daily!

My biggest recommendation is turning off your electronics! If your phone has an “airplane” mode, find it and use it. You don’t need to be connected all of the time. If you enjoy baths, take one!  A culture buff? Soak up all the amazing festivals that happen throughout the summer months, and even the year.  Whatever will bring you back happiness, relaxation, and harmony – do it! You deserve to rejuvenate…

Looking for ways for yourself to rejuvenate?  Contact me for a complimentary coaching session this month where we can build “rejuvenation” into your plan for harmony!

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Celebrating Our Successes

Celebration Time! exploding in a rainbow of colours
Time to Celebrate!

There is one summer – above all other times in my life – that I go back to with frequency.  That summer, I learned so much about my strengths. That summer, I learned so much about my resiliency. That summer, I learned so much about how to change the world…

It was four years ago, and I was driven to make a difference. Like everything I’d ever done before, I was inspired to create something I wished someone had created for me: a festival celebrating the uniqueness of a hidden community in my city.  I had recently joined this community, and I wanted more people like me – the lost individuals trying to find someone who understood – to know that it existed. Plus, I wanted us to be proud of who we were, rather than having us focus on coping mechanisms for being “different” and a “burden” to the people around us. For the first time in a long time, my community was the place where I felt truly accepted, respected, and listened to. We needed to share those feelings with everybody!

And I did!  Without any experience in project management, event-planning, or volunteer coordination, I created a festival for the vegan and vegetarian community of Edmonton. And I gained a ton of tools for my tool box in the process!

With my packed tool box, an amazing sea change occurred in my life. I was offered a leadership position in a burgeoning vegetarian-friendly corporation, I made some amazing friends and met many more influential people in my community, and I began my first speaking engagements, introducing the festival to many more new community members.

The festival lasted a month. A lot of that month went by in such a blur that I have trouble recalling everything that we achieved. What I do know is that it was a success. It brought a lot of attention to our little non-profit group, and everybody involved learned something more about event-planning, volunteer orientation, and community-building.  What a success!

team_celebration_pc_1600_clrWe never celebrated that success. Our wrap-up party was weeks later, and combined with a regular monthly event. We should have had a separate event.  Even a small group meeting where we discussed what we had learned and what had been the most successful part would have been a major asset to the festival and our developing skill sets. Instead, our month of celebration just fizzled out…

Through The Art & Science of Coaching training, I learned about the four stages of any life project. There is Inspiration, Implementation, Value Integration, and Celebration.  Each aspect is important in personal growth and development; however, often times we only assign value to the first two stages: inspiration and implementation. Did you realize a solution? Did you follow through on your solution? Great, next project.  That was definitely what I did with organizing my first festival.

When we move into the last two stages, though, transformation occurs. What value did this project add to your life? For my project, I gained more confidence, determination, resiliency, a new skill set, and a passion for creating community. I didn’t recognize those things at the time, but each time I think back to “that summer,” these new values scream out at me as to why “that summer” was so powerful.

What about the fourth stage: Celebration?

Marilyn Atkinson, the founder of Erickson International, where I took my coach training, defines this stage as “Completion and Satisfaction.”  In her book, Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Atkinson writes that “(w)hen you redefine the word completion to mean ‘having learned something of value,’ you easily allow yourself to acknowledge what you have done.” She continues, “(w)hen you have learned what you needed or wanted to learn, your energy becomes joyful and inspires you to play the game again, perhaps in a bigger, bolder way.”

Did I do any of that with my festival? No. Not until I started being coached. In my coaching sessions, I started realizing how much that summer strengthened me.  I worked through the value of going through it, and acknowledged everything that I had learned during the process:

“Woohoo! I did it. The festival was a success! I learned how to get the license to show documentaries. I used social media to create a celebratory movement of Edmonton’s vegetarians and vegans. I promoted the solutions that exist in our city, rather than getting stuck in what needed to change – and now Edmonton continues to explode with vegan-preneurs! I use this new skill set in each new project I undertake: from empowering staff to launching my own company. I have a deeper understanding of what is needed to get people out to events, and my future projects will be even better!”

8i6oyeyKTNow, it’s your turn. What project have you completed that needs celebrating?  What have you learned during the project? Now that you have done this, how can you make it even bigger and better next time? Share below.

Why I Need a Coach: Clarity

I am what you might call a “go-getter.” I’m ambitious, I’m action-oriented, and I make things happen! But, that doesn’t always get me what I want. Or need, even.  Sometimes, being all action lands me into places that have my friends, family, and coworkers clicking their tongues and asking, “what did you expect?” To be honest, sometimes I can’t even recall what I expected; I just wanted to get moving.

One example would be the time I organized and implemented Edmonton’s first vegetarian festival: Vegtoberfest. My idea for it had no end goal – I just wanted to celebrate all the cool veg*n people and veg*n-friendly businesses that I had recently discovered. (And, it was a spoof on the famous festival Oktoberfest… I like playing with words the most!) When it came to the Opening Day and I was called on to give a speech, my words were not as meaningful as they would have been with a clear intention for the festival.  As for judging whether or not to include or exclude an event, I had no criteria. Measuring my success was difficult because I did not know if I had achieved what I wanted to.  All in all, there were a lot of things left out of this transformative experience of mine.

Now, I’m not saying that I wish I had had a blueprint to follow through the whole process. Part of what I love about the experience is that it DID transform me because I had never done anything like it before. And nobody around had done anything like it, either. What I am saying is that it might have been better if I had started with some clarity on what I wanted to achieve. Maybe I would have been better able to explain my idea to the board. Perhaps more people would have clamoured behind the movement if there had been a clear picture of what we were creating. If I had more clarity on what I had wanted the end result to be, it might have reached even more people.

What if I had taken some critical reflective moments and was really clear on what I was going to create? What if I had had a Life Coach?  Thinking back on the event, I realized that having a Life Coach through it all would have been a great idea!  Nobody in the organization had done a project of this size before, so there was nobody there to mentor me through it.   I was a dreamer and I wanted to create my dream; nobody could have given me a blueprint on that vision except myself, too. The right Life Coach would have helped me get clear on what that vision of Vegtoberfest was and how I was going to make that happen.   Working with a Life Coach, I might have worked on boosting my confidence going into the project, so that selling the idea came more easily to me. And – on those days when I felt like I was getting nowhere; when 4 people showed up to an event instead of 40; or when a volunteer cancelled at the last minute – my Life Coach would have been there for support and to refocus me on my bigger vision.

Hindsight, as the cliché goes, is 20:20. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t actually know what a Life Coach did back then. And maybe you don’t either.  I didn’t know what the process would be like, or if I would be able to trust the Coach, let alone feel comfortable meeting with them on a regular basis.

Now I know though, that I could have at least tried having a Life Coach through this transformative project I undertook. Most coaches will offer you a taste of their service before you agree to their service for 3-18 months. An Introductory Session is a great way to really get to know how your coach will support you throughout your journey, and see if Coaching – with the right coach – is the path for you.  No person is the same; not every coach is the same, too.

 

Are you interested in experiencing Coaching? Contact me to set up YOUR Introductory Session and see if we’re the right fit for you and whatever your project is right now. 

Are you ready to Make Things Happen? Email Koach Karlssen: jodi (at)koachkarlssen.com

 

veg*n = vegetarian and vegan

Not P-p-planning, But Preparing

Earlier, I wrote about how I would stop planning, and start doing. This idea might sound counterintuitive, and to a certain degree it might be. To clarify (because I do think some planning is necessary in life), my concern was not with the “knowing where to go” aspect of planning, but the hesitation of acting with or without a plan.

In coaching, we talk about “Gremlins” – things that hold us back from moving forward. For me, “planning” has become a Gremlin. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • I am a perfectionist! In my plan, everything is perfect because that is exactly what I want. When I finally get to the application of my plan and things are not going perfectly, I completely freeze! No, that first step did not go perfectly, nothing will! Trust me, I will speak more on the gremlin of “perfection” this year…
  • I enjoy thinking about the future – more than I enjoy being in the present. As a child, I imagined future scenarios of my life as I drifted off to sleep. This was an offshoot of all the fantastic literature I read as a child and helped develop me into the wonderful possibilities-minded person I am today. Unfortunately, it meant that I was always a little bored with what was happening in the moment. My future scenarios were not always the pleasant or perfect situations that a rational person would want to have happen to them. I often faced off against my nemeses and dealt with conflict on a regular basis. I was, however, always the victor in those scenarios of conflict! (It’s funny that I never went to law school…yet.)  And, if not, I would go back and rework the scenes so that I could eventually save the day. Interestingly enough, we don’t get to rework the scenes of our actual lives…
  • I am a bit afraid of actually reaching my dreams. What?!? This is an even more counter-intuitive point than my plan to stop planning. If I dream about something, I must obviously want it, right? Then, why am I afraid of it?!? Well, the easy answer is that because every time I won an award as a child I stood out a bit more. (I know many of my academic – a.k.a. “nerdy” –  friends can attest to that! Remember a time before The Big Bang Theory when being smart was not cool – not even ironically?!?) The more difficult perspective of this is something a friend of mine pointed out last fall: it’s not so much the fear of success as it is the fear of failure after success. Now, that gremlin will have to be dealt with in another blog…

Those are some good reasons to not let myself get stuck in the rut of planning.

  • I want to stop focusing on perfection if it holds me back from getting anything done.
  • I want to enjoy this moment right now instead of constantly be living in the future.
  • I want to be less afraid of reaching my dreams, and maybe be ok with being successful.

So, how do I get all of those things?

By being prepared to be me! What does that mean?

1) Know that I am going to make mistakes.  What?!? Me?!? Never! Okay, except for that time last week…and that other thing I did the day before yesterday…and possibly even the marketing error I did up above when I referenced pop culture without the blog being exclusively about pop culture… Yeah, I’m human. I’m gonna $@#% up sometimes.  Luckily, I know that I also learn from those mistakes. Yes, the embarassment is tough to handle sometimes but I’ll bounce back. Just like my cat – I’m sure 80% of the time he falls off from a precarious perch he only hurts his ego. We both readjust, though. I will learn not to refer to pop culture that may have jumped the shark a few years ago (maybe it did, I don’t know; I’ve only watched Netflix religiously for the last 3 years) and my cat learns not to climb on the edge of the rocking chair when it’s moving… long story.

2) Embrace my strengths. I’ll tell you a secret I uncovered when I was being coached the other week: I’ve never run my own company before.  There’s always been someone else there, taking the lead. And, while their directions were quite vague and I was able to learn the most through exploring in the freedom I’ve been given in my management roles, there are a lot of things I still don’t know about running a company. So, although I have done everything else I am working on in my life before, doing this all on my own is a FIRST for me.  And, that can be scary…until I realize something else about myself: I’m a quick learner! I need to embrace that part of me – that constantly curious, learning-through-doing freedom-seeking self that will push through any hardship to figure out what needs to get done and do it. And, yes, that comes from learning from my mistakes…

3) Just go with it. It’s time to jump in! I have finished my course material for my life as a Certified Life Coach, and now I get to really figure out the business side of it! That means I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. I did that in my coach training…and if I ever disagree, I just need to go back and listen to some of my first practise sessions! Now, I am just several short months and a few more hours before I am officially a Certified Life Coach. And that all happened in this last year. How? Because I went with it. I realized that I needed to practise lots to get better, so I did.  I knew I needed to practise with non-coaches and I have. I figured out the knowledge that would best serve me as a coach, and I read the right books. Now, I get to do that with running my own business…

So, what about you? Do you get stuck too much in planning? How would knowing that you are prepared help you instead? Leave a comment! Or, drop me a line at: jodi (at) koachkarlssen.com

Why Are You Veg*n?

Vegan Commitment Workshop

You’ve been questioning it for awhile… You’ve been told it’s the right thing to do… You’re pretty sure you’re going to do it… But why are you going to make that final plunge?

If you’re like me, you’ve contemplated veg*nism for years! (veg*nism = the adoption of a plant-based diet and lifestyle; a combination of vegetarianism, veganism and raw veganism) Maybe you, too, tried not eating meat for a week in high school. Maybe you, also, gave up those efforts when your friends or family started to question it. Maybe you finally took the first steps in university, but your commitment to it always waivered. Maybe you struggled to give up the tasty baked goods at the chain coffee shops you studied in. Maybe you had a rule about accepting other cultures when you lived abroad. Maybe you decided to make some compromises for it to be easier for yourself in social situations. Maybe you started a blog called “Cheatin’ Vegan” to defend your varying level of commitment to an ideal you really want to be living. Maybe you, too, believe you are capable of being the change you wish to see in the world, but something always seems to be in the way. Maybe you always wished you could be as determined as your friends, the ones that make it look easy to keep the “tough commitments” to be 100% raw vegan, the vegan police (with an abundant source of information on what’s not vegan), or the confident vegetarian enjoying that amazing salad at the restaurant… Or, maybe that was just my journey.

If you’re anything like me, and on a similar journey to being the change you wish to see in the world, you’re going to want to be at my workshop this Monday evening.

You know all the reasons people give to going veg*n: Health, Environment, Animal Rights. And, you’re really excited to go Meatless this March, too. But, there always seems to be something holding you back. Or, you forget to mention it to your waiter, and you feel horrible sending back the salad with the we’re-not-sure-where-the-creaminess-comes-from dressing. Or perhaps you’re just tired of defending your diet from skeptical onlookers…

This is the workshop for you!

We’ll begin with an exploration of why people typically choose a vegan diet: Health, Environment, Animal Rights.  I know the facts out there, and I’ve heard the right statistics. There are more and more documentaries coming out every year that showcase one more reason why a plant-based lifestyle is a good choice for you, the world, and the animals.  More and more people in Edmonton are hearing the reasons, too, and our community is growing!

You’ll meet these like-minded individuals with similar reasons for becoming veg*n, too. If you’re anything like me, having a circle of veg*n friends will be great for commiserating, recipe-swapping, and knowing that you are not alone.  Others, too, have felt this calling to commit to a veg*n lifestyle.

After getting to know your community, we’ll dig a little deeper into what those similar reasons mean – at a higher level. The facts and statistics we’ve all heard don’t always address the deeper reasons for choosing a veg lifestyle: self care, integrity, compassion, etc.  These are the reasons that will strengthen your commitment. So, we’ll explore them.

How do those higher-level reasons – values – show up in your life? Which values resonate with you, on an individual level?  Finally, with the answers to those questions, you will create a commitment and deeper convictions to take with you. You will be strong enough to withstand the questions every veg*n endures. You’ll have a stronger ability to call on your resources when dealing with the ambiguities in our foods – like remembering to specify “veg*n” at the restaurant. Maybe you’ll even build some compassion for yourself for when your don’t always follow through on the veg*n actions, with which you wish you were more consistent.

On top of all of this, you will meet some amazing veg*ns from Edmonton and area, and know you aren’t alone.

As a Life Coach, I work with people who are changing the world.  For a lot of world changers, this change comes across in a paradigm-shifting Lifestyle Change, such as adopting a plant-based diet (especially in Alberta, Canada’s “cattle country”). Other Lifestyle Changes include bicycle-commuting, ethical boycotting, and participating in protests.  However people want to change the world, it’s always important to explore the personal reasons for it.  When we know why we are doing something, the how becomes so much easier…

Join me this Monday, March 9 at 7pm to explore Why you are veg*n!

The Veg*n Commitment Workshop – Idylwylde Library (8310 88 Ave), Edmonton, AB; Monday, March 9 at 7pm; sponsored by Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta for March Meat Out!

 

I Failed Once…

Gremlin Busting: Fear of Dreaming

At 25, I made a bold move.  I decided that I was going to be an entrepreneur! I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, or how to go about running my own company, but I had the passion to work for myself.  So, I quit my day job and put up signs to start dog-walking…

I hadn’t worked with dogs since high school. To be fair, I had trained my dog in high school, and been involved in a Dog Agility Club, where I received a lot of experience working with dogs. In university, I volunteered with the SPCA.  I also worked part-time for a dog groomer for a few months. Mostly, though, I just loved animals! So, I decided to spend my days walking with them. It was going to be great…

Did you know that running your own business is hard? Especially for somebody who knew she was bad at Sales. In fact, a Sales conversation with my former boss had eventually led to me saying, “screw this, I’ll work for myself!” Did you know that you have to sell yourself constantly when you are running your own business?

Oops!

I was fairly persistent for my first business, though. I built a website with the help of an amazingly-competent friend. I had posters up all over the neighbourhood. And I even “faked it ‘til I made it” at social events, building my networking skills.  But, after six months of having only two clients – a bird lover who trusted me to pet-sit and a fellow vegan who became an amazing friend – I decided to give up on the dream. I had met some real dog walkers along the way, and was intimidated by the competition. (They had spent years building up their client base and had vehicles to take dogs to theoff-leash parks.) I felt like I didn’t have what it took to make a real go of it. And, I was tired of feeling like a failure….so, I moved on to roles where I knew I was a success – working for other people.

Being a success is awesome! People look up to you; you can answer their questions; you’re seen as somebody who has all of the answers, and respected as a leader. Being a success is so awesome that it can be hard to let go of that feeling sometimes – even addictive. When you know that you were meant to change the world, being a success at the wrong thing can be a soul-crushing endeavour.

But, that’s another story…

Despite all of my success working for other people, I was not satisfied. I knew that I wanted to be my own boss. But my earlier experiment kept me from even trying to work for myself for years. I found myself spiralling into Quarter Life Crisis zone, where I stopped succeeding because I was terribly unhappy, but I didn’t dare take a step out on my own because, well, I failed once…

Success on one side; Failure on the other.

 

Failure is not something we can avoid when we are here to change the world.  Do you know how many times Thomas Edison “failed” before he gave us the light bulb? Much more than once.  Did Rosa Parks completely eradicate racism when she refused to give up her seat? Not at all! That battle continues even after 50 years!  The failures of the information age are even more prevalent. How many computer scientists spend decades in their basement before we have one product that lasts longer than a week in our collective memory? The Facebook phenomenon was a “freak occurrence” rather than an “overnight success.”

Our fear of failure is much more prevalent than our real failures.

The truth is the only definite failure happens when we GIVE UP.  Up until that point, we’re learning what might not work.  How do we silence our fears about failure?

First, check out this inspiring video by one of my favourite bands, Garfunkel & Oates:

After watching the video, follow these 3 simple tips:

1) Tune in to your creativity.

You know you were meant for something bigger!  You may not share them with other people, but you day dream about what your ideal life could really be like. Sit with that vision for a moment. Who are you when you are living that ideal life? It doesn’t have to be very specific. In fact, it’s better if you focus on an aspect of your life that has nothing to do with the logistics of your project.  Maybe you’re spending a month at that vacation home. Or an evening reading books that stir something inside of you. Or, you’re at an Awards Dinner – you don’t have to be winning the award (yet) but the atmosphere is something you desire.

Your creativity doesn’t have to do with everything related to your life goals. Sometimes you can get started on the larger projects by starting some art.  For tips on tuning in to your Creativity, check out this inspiring blog – Everyday Artistry – by Stephanie Medford and make sure to download her 51 Ways To Be More Creative Every Day

2) Remember Your Strengths.

Ok, yeah, you failed once. But, before that you tried! How was it possible for you to try in the first place? You had an idea! You have thousands of ideas! You are an idea-creator! In fact, the millennial generation is filled with people who create ideas constantly. Play with them!

Your “failure” was not as bad as you thought it was. Along the way, you learned something. What was it?  For me, I learned how to tell people what I did for a living, even if it was a short-lived career as a dog walker. I also learned a lot about website design. These are transferable skills to any new project I begin. What are some skills you picked up in your endeavours?

It’s time we stopped looking at our “success” as reaching our goal entirely.  Every time we learn something, that is a success!  Celebrate those successes – learn how to here.

3) Have a Supportive Friend or Coach Help You Get Started.

Maybe you’re completely stuck in the rut of fearing failure. Somebody out there believes in you! Maybe it is a family member, a trusted friend, or your Life Coach. Talk it out with them. Have them help you strategize the first little step out of your rut.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

Still scared of failing? Let’s talk… Contact me below for a complimentary coaching session where we can wake up your creativity and gain clarity on the Big Project you were destined to start NOW!

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