Are you letting "what is" pass you by for "what's next"?

If this looks familiar to you, it is because it is! A message worth re-reading.

Okay, you know the drill by now.....I write about the themes that I am hearing. Why, then, am I taking you on this brief journey I went on six months ago? What does it have to do with anything?


The "thing" that seems to be coming up again and again, is a deep yearning for actual "connection". Like the kind you get with actual people: friends, partners, colleagues etc. and not the Instagram/Facebook kind. I'm talking the "real, flesh and blood" kind. Face to face. No distractions. And the question is, when was the last time you were "present" for anyone, yourself included? The following is a throwback to six months ago and I thought it may be time to put it out there again because, until you understand that connection and presence starts with you, yourself, and your situation, you are really not equipped to offer that to others. Connection begins with presence. The ability to be with what is.


Here is an actual experience I had in Italy last September. Enjoy.


I am on a train, travelling from Sorrento to Napoli. I am on a train and not the fancy kind. Rather, the kind I was warned about prior to my trip to Italy. The kind where I was told to bring wipes and sanitizer for my hands.  Where the AC is opening the windows and the “advertising” on the walls is graffiti. That kind of train.
I settle into my seat and proceed to start reading a book.
Several stops in, a couple of local musicians get on the train.  A saxophonist and an accordion player. They begin to play and I continue with my face in my book. Ironically,  a book about being present in the moment...
I see the irony of the situation and put my book down.  I close  my eyes and proceed to "experience " the moment.  I can hear the music more clearly now. I feel the breeze from the window and I am swaying in my seat as the train speeds along. I become totally immersed in what is going on. And then it happens.  I am completely overwhelmed with the absolute beauty of the experience. All my senses are fully engaged in the moment. True presence.  It brings  me to tears. I let the tears stream down my face and savour that as well.


Then it is over.


Being in the moment is a learning process for me. I am intellectually aware that "now" is truly all we've got and at times, I sneak ahead of where I am or creep back to where I was. I'm not suggesting that you can't do that, just try and spend more time where you are. The power was immense and now I have a beautiful memory to tap into to remind me of the gift of presence.

So, how am I going to incorporate this practice more deeply as I am settling back into work? Being conscious about doing it first of all. Remembering that the whole experience was maybe 3 to 5 minutes tops and how often do I find myself with a couple of minutes in my day?  How many of you have 3 to 5 minutes between a meeting or a phone call where you could sit and just “be”.  Wherever that may be? Go back to visit an experience that brought you a gift that you could use in that moment.  Maybe a gift of patience, certainty or a little escape to a trip you once took.  Try it next time you have a few minutes and see what opens up for you. Then, maybe, start extending that same "gift" of presence to those around you - just a couple of minutes, with your eyes away from your phone/computer/TV or whatever distraction is in front of you. Give your full, undivided attention. Notice what changes in you and the other person when you do this. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Grazie Italia.

If you are ready to get reacquainted and present with yourself, Contact me and lets figure it out, together.


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Are you on the run?

Running away from what you “don’t want’ is not the same as running towards what you “DO want”.

Come again? Think about it. When you are “running away” from what you don’t want, there may be an energy of fear, desperation and maybe some relief However, when you are running towards what you want…BAM!! Completely different energy. Perhaps the excitement of possibilities and a fresh start and maybe, sometimes, hope.

When I look back on my ride so far I can clearly see (thank you 20/20 hindsight!) the times in my life where I was running away from something vs. running towards something. No regrets here, just learning.

You may recognize some of the things I did when I looked back. When you are running from something without knowing what you actually want to run to, you often end up exactly where you were before. Oh, the face in the relationship may look different, or the company may have a different name, the situation may look brand spanking new and then…well… All of a sudden, that person in the relationship acts a lot like the previous person you were involved with, or the job you are doing ends up being a lot like the one you left. You get the picture? When you are “on the run” you get what you get and sometimes its good and sometimes, well, it ends up being the same.

When you are running towards something you want and you are clear, this is a completely different experience. You don’t settle for the “this is as good as it gets” lie that we often tell ourselves. You know that there is something worth striving for so you keep going until what you really want presents itself. When you are clear, you recognize and are ready and poised for the opportunity when it shows up. Notice the difference? There is a confidence and belief that what you want is out there and you are not going to settle. You are comfortable with taking the time you need for the right circumstances.

Patience. Perseverance. Purpose.

So what compelled me to write this one? As I have written before, I write about what I hear. There are so many people “on the run” - to the next job, relationship etc. and if they took literally a couple of hours to get clear on what they wanted, they would have their compass set, a roadmap formed and be poised to take their first step.

I help people stop running away from what they don't want and start running towards what they DO want.

Does this describe you? You are pretty successful at what you are doing, maybe even really successful...and, you have hit a roadblock. You are constantly running but it is to escape the things you don't want and, quite frankly, you are feeling unfulfilled. My clients hire me to challenge their limited thinking, because these smart people know that if the thinking they were using was working, they wouldn't be running away all the time.

The common denominator? My clients recognize that having a partner to work through a roadblock is a way to open up options that they can't see on their own. Think about it. How would it feel to start running towards what you want?

If you are ready to stop running away, contact me for a zero obligation chat about how we can get you running to somewhere you want to go.

Cheers,

Ann

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Are you "stressed out"?

Happy New Year?!   By the time you get this, January will be a memory…I know, crazy isn’t it?

I often get asked how I choose the topics to write about, and, not surprisingly, I consistently get feedback about how “relevant” and “bang on” they are.  This is not by chance.  It is because I am constantly listening to what goes on around me. Wherever I am.  Grocery store, gym, coffee shop, with clients and friends etc. basically everywhere.  If you listen long enough, you will pick up what the pulse is around you,

So why am I already writing about being “stressed out”?  Right…I’ve been listening.

I can pretty much guarantee you, if you ask a few of your friends/family/work colleagues or the cashier at the local grocery store how they are, the answer will be “I am so stressed out”...sometimes not in those words.  Could be, I am so busy I cannot keep up, I have too much to do, not enough money, a child that is causing me grief, a boss I can’t work with etc. 

When I start to explore these answers with clients and ask the question “what is stressing you out”?,  I usually get one of two responses - “everything” or “I don’t know”.  And, quite frankly, neither is really useful to move forward.  Why? Because until you are able to identify what is causing it, it is difficult to tap into it.  Yes, I said, tap into it.  How, you may ask or maybe why, would you want to tap into the energy of your stress?  Because and I know this will irk some of you,  what if you consider that “being stressed out” is actually a behaviour rather than something that happens to you? When you are able to do this, then you are able to gain some power over it so you can harness it for something useful, because despite the bad rap it gets, not all stress is bad and without some stress, life would be pretty boring.

Once a client is actually able to identify a scenario when they were “stressed out” I am able to take them through a mapping of exactly what is creating their “stress” or being “stressed out” or as I call it - their strategy for being stressed- and it never fails to make me smile when I can see their patterns emerging on the whiteboard.  It may take them a little while, but eventually, they cannot ignore the story that is showing up in front of them.  The moment of oh, ya…that. That is what has to be true for me to be “stressed” out.  And, often they figure out that “stress” has just ended up being something they “do”, yes, it is a thing, a response and ultimately…yikes…a behaviour and, good news here, because it is a behaviour, you can modify or change it or at least intercept it and channel it elsewhere.

That’s when we can get some traction.  When the story appears before your eyes, it is hard to ignore. And, it is often so empowering to see what you have to “do” to be “stressed out”. It can open up opportunities to intervene prior to a situation stressing you out or to stop it in its tracks when it starts showing up.

It is so powerful to be able to become aware and then deflate the scenario before it gets to the “stressful” point.  You can identify what has to be present within you and around you for the behaviour to occur and, with practice, you will become able to channel that behaviour elsewhere or intervene (with some deep belly breaths, a walk or maybe even dancing) before the situation escalates.  It is a skill, and like any other skill, with practice, you can get better.

It all starts with considering that stress is something you “do” and therefore, something you can manage and influence.  

Want a coach to help you  identify how you do your “stress” without judgement and with zero emotional attachment to it?  Reach out.  Another game changing possibility awaits you.

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What if you ask?

Really. What would happen if you asked for what you wanted?

I recently had a conversation with someone who is exploring the same path I am and came from a similar background. While we spoke about many things, one thing that seemed so obvious to us now …good old 20/20 hindsight - that seemed to elude us years ago - was - why didn’t we just ask the question?

What question? Where do I begin? There are so many scenarios - ask your boss for the raise, the promotion, the time off. Ask your partner to make the lunches, sweep the floor, rub your shoulders. Ask your friends to pick you up from the bus stop, hang out. Ask your parents to lend you the 500 bucks. Ask someone else, to go check in on the sick uncle, do Mom’s laundry, plan the surprise party. So many scenarios where simply asking could have got you what you wanted! Just.by ASKING.

In the theme of self-care which is popping up these past few weeks…maybe because it is the beginning of the year and intentions for change are so strong, I again felt compelled to put this out there.

If you don’t ask - you will NEVER get.

What is the worst thing that can happen when you ask? You get an answer of “no”. However, you may get an answer of “yes”. And, even if the answer is no, you have opened the door for the discussion to happen.

Here’s my challenge for you today - ask just one person to do something for you today. You just might be pleasantly surprised. Look at it like a skill…and practice. Start small, stay consistent. You’ve got this. and, if you are ready to start asking consistently and want someone to coach you through those conversations…reach out! I’m thinking that having someone on your side to help you frame those conversations, without any emotional attachment may just be a game changer for you!

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What do you do for "self-care"?

Call it “filling your cup” or “putting your own oxygen mask on before someone else’s"…there are different ways of describing it. Regardless of how it is described, clearly “self-care” is a topic that is worth discussing. Why? Because the truth of the matter is, if you are not taking care of yourself, you are not any good to anyone else PERIOD.

As a coach, probably 95% of my clients are women and I’m guessing that this is not a surprise. I am relatable. Whether you are a parent or not, there are friends, family, jobs, pets and many other competitors for your time. I just happened to work in a corporate job while raising my two children, did coach training and managed my home, extra curricular activities for the family etc. etc. I’m guessing probably like many of you reading this. And…I was lucky enough to have a good friend at the time who served as a great role model for me. She and I had babies about five months apart - hers was born first. And the lessons I learned from her example I am eternally grateful for.

I learned to make time for myself. Even if that meant going out to the grocery store for an hour and leaving baby home with Dad. As time went on, that morphed into other activities that made me a better Mom, wife, friend and employee, among many other things.

Why is this a “thing” that I feel compelled to write about? Because of the conversations I am still having with women, whether they are clients sitting across the table from me; friends at the gym; conversations overheard in the doctor’s office or grocery store…it is still a relevant conversation to be having. Women aren’t making it to their own “to do” lists and it is costing them their health.

What can you do if this situation resonates for you?

Start by getting yourself on your “to do” list - as number one. Yikes! I can hear the gasps already. Before you stop reading, maybe just hear me out. I am talking about doing little things throughout the day that nurture you in some way. This could mean taking an extra minute or two in the shower in the morning; actually finishing your coffee or tea; perhaps taking a 10 minute walk at lunch and, I know this seems out there, sitting and taking some deep belly breaths on the couch when you get home in the evening before you jump into the next activity. It really doesn’t matter what you choose to do. The point is to acknowledge yourself by taking care of yourself, because, believe it or not, there is no gold star or medal at the end of the road for you if you don’t take care of yourself. That doesn’t exist.

You know you can’t get something out of an empty vessel - so what if you did…”fill your cup” or “put your oxygen mask on first”? What would be different for you?

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What keeps you motivated?

Its early in the year and even so, I find it is never too early to think about motivation. I have been reflecting on the tools I use to stay motivated and thought I would share one of my favourites today. One thing that I am guessing is not unique to me is that a song can completely change how I am feeling at any given time, can pump me up and change my perspective. So, I thought I'd share my “playlist” that never fails to give me energy to keep going and I would love to hear what song(s) you go to when you want some motivation.

I came up with five songs. Why five songs? For no other reason than when I thought about what my “go to” songs were for motivation or inspiration, these songs came instantly!

  1. “Closing Time” by Semisonic - why this song? I love the line in the song “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” - because - sometimes, in order to move on in life, something has to end - a relationship, a job, an attitude - in order to allow for something new to begin. Rather than looking at this as a “sad” thing, it is always a place for reflection and gratitude. What did I learn? Where can I take this experience I have gained?

  2. “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers - there are a couple of sentiments expressed in this song that speak to me - “choose not a life of imitation”; “go write your message on the pavement” - being you. I’m wondering if any one else received the opposite message? I’m guessing that if you went to a traditional school, the first thing you learned was that “fitting in” matters. If you decided to write “your message on the pavement” - what would it say?

  3. “Relentless” by The Arkells - sticking to something long enough to reap the rewards. In this “instant gratification” world we live in, it is good to be reminded that an “overnight” success often takes a number of years. Being relentless, for me, means seeing the possibilities and remembering the reasons you started out as fuel to keep going. What could be possible if you became “relentless” about something you want?

  4. “Work Shoes” by USS- Time to move on. I for one, have learned that staying too long anywhere is not a good idea. Staying “long enough” is always better. Knowing which is which….well, that is more of an art than a science! Where are you lingering too long?

  5. “Medicine Bow” by The Water Boys - Acknowledging the voice in your head that no longer represents who you are anymore. Being brave and cutting the ties that have been keeping you stuck. What is the voice in your head telling you? Is it still true?

Why this? Why now? January is a time of refreshment for many of us. There really is a rule of beginnings that most definitely kicks in at the beginning of the year. And, it also kicks in Mondays, the first day of the month/quarter etc. (for more on this read Dan Pink’s book “When”). Also, for some people, with non-traditional careers, January is a continuation in the journey and sometimes, a little motivation is useful.

I would love to hear from you…what song keeps you going?

Need some motivation? Contact me for a no obligation chat! .

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5 Questions to ask (and answer!) ...everyday!

I am a wanna be journal writer - if that’s even a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy writing, obviously! However the practice of daily writing and reflection that is supposed to be so very useful has eluded me. I have tried, occasionally, until it started to feel like “work” - usually by day two!

So what have I discovered that has changed this for me? These five simple questions that take minutes to answer, because often they can be answered in one word. I can’t take credit for them, although I also do not know who came up with them.

So - here they are - actually in order because it does make a difference. I recommend doing this first thing in the morning before you start your day.

  1. I am (feeling)? Just notice without judgement. It is information. Is it determined, sad, joyful, tired, happy etc.? Check in.

  2. I want…? Whatever this means for you. I’ve learned to let whatever “pops” into my head be the “thing” that I will focus on for that day. I figure that it must have come up for a reason.

  3. I choose to…? This is an action step - you can’t get what you want without deciding that you will do something. Again, something usually bubbles up for me that seems to be what I need to do.

  4. I ask for…? For some, this could be a request to their God, guide, source or it could be an actual person that you want to ask something of.

  5. I am grateful for….? There seems to be a lot of evidence that suggests gratitude is a way to live a happier life. Pick one thing. If you are having a difficult time, it could be the bed and pillow you have or the good cup of coffee you had yesterday. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Oh yeah, and if more than one thing comes up feel free to write that down too!

So why do I like this, and actually stick to it? It takes maybe 5 minutes maximum and usually much less, and, it really has made a difference in how I approach my day - with some focus and clarity.

Give it a try! I’d love to get your feedback. Interested in taking the 7 day challenge? Subscribe below to receive a free worksheet.

Want more guidance on getting clear? Contact me for a no obligation chat.

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Bye bye 2018....

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end". Semisonic

I love quoting this line from a song from my past because it never gets old for me. Simple, yet such a powerful way to sum up how life goes. Sometimes in order to move on , we must leave something behind.

As this is the last day of 2018 I thought I would share an exercise on setting intentions that I did this morning. Simple yet thought provoking and insightful. Feel free to grab a piece of paper and something to write with if you wish.

The key here is to NOT think too much - the first thing that pops into your mind is there for a reason. Get curious about it and don't judge it or try to make sense of it. Just notice it.

First - think of something you would like to leave behind from 2018 - it could be a relationship, a habit, a feeling etc.

Then, think of something you would like to keep from this past year -again could be a feeling, relationship, perhaps a new and useful habit.

Finally, think of something you would like to add or have more of in 2019.

I am intrigued by what came up for me and still mulling it over. That is the point - to get you thinking.

So, will you take just 5 minutes??

I wish you a Happy New Year and Happy New Beginnings!

If you are looking for someone to help you get clarity on your “new beginning” contact me via my website:

www.steppingstonecoaching.ca

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At the end of the day, the “achievement” is not the prize..

2019 is on the heels of 2018…and approaching quickly.

As you head to the “finish line”…whatever that may mean for you this year, I wanted to share some reflections on “achievement” and offer some tips for staying the course, especially for those who are working on long term personal or professional goals where the end of the year may not signify “completion” for you. You know, the “trophy” moment.

The "prize", the trophy, the medal, the certificate, is the celebration. The symbol of the last piece in the puzzle, the final milestone being met. I'm guessing if you asked anyone to tell you about one of their achievements, they would not run over to their drawer and pull out their medal and show it to you.  Rather, they would tell you a story.  Why?  Because, it is in the road they took to get there that was full of potholes, hills and unexpected gravelly spots that made it an achievement. That’s what makes it a story.

Think about the word “achievement”. By definition, it is something that is challenging and worthwhile…in other words, an accomplishment.

Celebrating the road that lead to the achievement is what really matters. Learning to recognize when you are making progress, noticing what may have gotten in the way and how you were able to get moving again. The obstacles met and overcome. I’m guessing that no one is going to tell you a story about something that went off without a hitch…where’s the story in that?

Achievements give us a chance to notice the patterns that may emerge when we are working hard towards something we want. Perhaps noticing that taking even the smallest of steps towards our goal, rather than doing nothing at all makes a difference, or noticing the things that get you "stuck", and what skills or resources you draw on to get you going again.

I’m guessing that at some point, you started with a "direction", something you wanted. A setting of your compass.  You didn’t have to know every step, it started with the first one. It might have been a phone call, an email or to register for that first course. It was all about setting the wheels in motion and, as you continued to take steps, the compass may have started to shift and lead you somewhere else. 

Ask yourself: am I where I thought I would be when I set out in January of this year? If not, are you further along, behind, or did you course correct and decide that the “goal” you had actually wasn’t important anymore? Just notice. This is life. We don’t have a crystal ball to let us know what will happen so we make a plan and start from there. Some might call this a strategy. The thing about strategies is, if they are too rigid, we risk missing the opportunities that are right under our noses. A plan or strategy that has backbone and direction and also flexibility leaves room for course correction. Options. Because a plan without options well….sounds….kind of like a straightjacket.

As you continue on your quest for that achievement, remember to stop and look around every now and then and to savour all of the experiences that present themselves because, at the end of the day, it is the experiences along the way that make it worthwhile. That is why it is an achievement!

Are you looking for someone to help you with your strategy when you get stuck? Contact me for a chat about how I can help get you moving again.

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Is it time for a wake up call?

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Well?? Is it?

I’m not referring to the “olden days” when a wake up call was a call you arranged for when you were staying in a hotel and wanted to make sure that you got up in time for something you were planning on doing. That is probably the only time that a wake up call is invited and expected. I’m talking about those moments in life when things change, often in a heartbeat and nothing is ever the same again.

A “wake up call” is a call to action. It could be a result of an “aha” moment, you know, that moment when someone says something that lands with you in a way that changes your previous thinking about a situation and you have your own mini-epiphany. Or, it could be a result of an “oh sh*t” moment, a moment that blindsides you and leaves you wondering “what am I going to do now”? And, it could be that moment when you decide that enough is enough. I’m done….with whatever it is…the job, the relationship, your physical state, way of thinking etc.

A “wake up” call doesn’t sneak up on you, it is a whoosh…and all of a sudden, things will never be the same. It is that kind of experience, a moment that can knock the wind out of you and leave you breathless. It can also be the moment that propels you to the next amazing chapter in your life. Regardless it is a “call to action” where taking action might be the last thing on your mind. In fact, that is typically why it is a wake up call. Now what?

It is nearly the end of November. I know…sorry about that. Has another year gone by where you are wondering where the time went? You really meant to do this or to stop that, but then….

I felt compelled to write this article as I know a few people who recently received an unplanned wake up call and are looking for what’s next. However, I also know far too many people who have gotten to this time of year again by doing the same old thing, getting the same old thing and wanting something else. Putting in time.

Sometimes a wake up call gives you no other option than to make a decision, start something new, re-visit something you used to do or ….or what? That can be what happens too. Now what? Rather than been caught like a deer in the headlights, what if you actually had a plan?

What if you consider this message an invitation for a “wake up” call…your call to action. How would New Year’s Eve be different this year as you reflect on that thing you ended up taking action on because you decided it was time?

When the count down to 2019 is on how do you want to be feeling?  Do you want to feel like you are starting off on the right foot, that you are taking your situation under your control?  That you DO have options? Fast forward one year...what do you want to see? How do you want to feel?  

It is possible to start planning to be where you want to be in 2019. To be setting yourself up for the best year ever.  There are so many possibilities for you!  

Want to make 2018 the year that you decided to take a step towards what you want? Or do you want to continue to put things on hold until …..It is time to claim the life you deserve!  Lets discover your next step together.