Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

How to manifest a new career

may your choices reflect your hopes not your fears

From Air Hostess to  Career Counsellor

Angela is 41 and a single parent of two young daughters. At the time she came to see me she was working as an air hostess, a job she had been doing for over ten years. She was feeling stressed by the shift work and her inability to care for her daughters as much as she liked. Her self-esteem and confidence were also suffering. She had been adopted and never felt she had achieved anything significant in her life. This was especially the case when she compared herself to her siblings who had done well academically.

The desire for a better future for herself and her daughters spurred her on to make some dramatic changes. “I went back to school and retrained to be a counsellor because I wanted to do something different and to truly help people. I wanted to be a specialist but I didn’t feel like I had any skills because I had only been an air hostess for the last ten years.”

Helping Angela to visualise her preferred future was an important step in preparing her for the challenges of going back to study as a mature student. “I am nearly finished my diploma now and so many times I felt like giving up. My vision for the life I want both myself and my children to have has helped keep me on track. And I have surprised myself with how well I am doing academically. I’m feeling nervous but excited about what the future holds,“ she told me recently.

I reminded her that she is the creator or her future and that as she nears the end of her study now is the time to revisit her life and career goals. Together we agreed that the following strategies would help her stay on track as she moved toward her preferred future:

•   Write her ideal job description, including hours of work (flexible and part time so she could drop off and pick up her children from school); benefits – including ongoing training; work environment – supportive and friendly

•   Updating her passion journal and dream board with inspiring pictures, quotes, affirmations, feedback, and looking at it daily to keep her passion alive

•   Continuing to gain work experience in the industry of her choice and cultivating helpful networks and alliances

•   Setting mini regular goals to break her future goals down and planning out each day

•   Scheduling ‘me time’ and looking after herself, including using stress management techniques

•  Talking to people who are already living her dream and asking her way to success

•   Collecting positive feedback and surrounding herself with positive role models

•   Actively working on building and maintaining high self-esteem and confidence, including actively challenging her fears and unhelpful beliefs such as “I’ll never be able to find the perfect job,”and “Nobody will hire me when I am finished studying.”

Happily Angela found a full-time job working for a family- friendly, government agency, providing career transition support services for the unemployed.

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Monday, May 19th, 2014

Boost your courage: challenge your fears

I love my job! Just had a fabulous session with a wonderful woman I am training to become a Worklife Solutions Certified Career and Life Coach. Her ‘homework’ task today was coaching me through one of the steps in our Free To Be Me life coaching programmeCourage: challenge your fears. Was an amazing experience! Thank you Sophie.

Amazingly she shared with me how anxious she was prior to our session, but the strategies in the workbook she was coaching me through, and others she had worked through in prior sessions, really helped her. Incredible testimony to the fact that when we challenge ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ and follow our passions we really can fly free.

It was such a powerful experience I thought I’d share some of the strategies here.

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront  fear, pain, danger or uncertainty. In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage. Whatever meaning you subscribe at the heart of courage is the willingness to take action in spite of real or perceived obstacles to success.

I hope you or someone you care about finds this blog helpful. Please feel free to share. And I’d love to hear from you if anything struck a chord.

Wishing you happiness and joy


Thriving not surviving

“If you allow your fears to keep you from flying you will never reach your height.” ~India Arie, Singer

I once saw a guy walking down the road with a tee-shirt which read: “A life lived in fear is a life lived in hell.”  It’s so true but it doesn’t have to be!

Fear can be a great protector. But left unexamined and unchallenged it can lead people to a state of inaction, anxiety and depression. Passionate people act differntly. Live life to the full they actively challenge their fears and live happier and more fulfilled lives as a result.

Make no mistake – positivity doesn’t always come easily. Being free to be you often takes great courage. Not only does it mean taking on new experiences in the external world, it often requires taking a new look at your internal world – actively challenging and changing who you are and who you want to be.

Sadly people often put more energy into resisting change and preserving the status quo than they do in embracing change. Changing can be hard work. It means taking a risk and stepping into the unknown. Some people fear change because they believe that they might lose what they have – even though what they have has long lost its lustre or may be nothing meaningful to them at all. For many people change means taking responsibility and ending years of blaming others, being a victim, or living in denial or in a state of apathy.

Everyone feels fear at some stage in their life, but the truly successful people nip it in the bud before it takes hold and strangles a joyful life from them – much like the noxious weed convululous sucks the life from flowers in the garden. Susan Jeffers, author of Feel the Fear and do it Anyway summarises some of the fearful experiences people feel:

  • Don wants to change his career of 14 years and follow his dream of becoming an artist, but he fears the loss of his salary.
  • Mary Alice is an actress who wants to discover why she finds all kinds of excuses for not attending auditions.
  • Sarah wants to leave a marriage of fifteen years but is afraid of being alone.
  • Ted wants to get over his fear of ageing. He is all of thirty-two.
  • Jean is a senior citizen who wants to confront her doctor; he treats her like a child and never gives her any “straight” answers.
  • Patti wants to expand her business, but can’t make the required leap into the next step.
  • Rebecca wants to confront her husband with things that    have been bothering her.
  • Kevin wants to get over a fear of rejection that makes it   very difficult to ask a woman for a date.
  • Laurie wants to know why she is unhappy when she has    everything one could possibly want in life.
  • Richard is retired and feels useless. He fears his life is over…

And so it goes until everyone’s story is heard. The tension quickly fades and relief is expressed on everyone’s face. First, my students begin to realise they are not the only ones in the world feeling afraid. Second, they begin to see how attractive people become as they open up and share their feelings. Long before the last person has spoken, a feeling of warmth and camaraderie pervades the room. They are strangers no more. Although the backgrounds and situations of the class members vary greatly, it does not take long for the surface layers of their particular stories to disappear, opening the way for everyone to touch on a very human level.’

The common denominator is the fact that fear is keeping all of them from experiencing life the way they want to experience it.


Courage – seven ways to feel the fear and do it anyway

 Overcoming Your Fears

“You can’t possibly hit the ball when you are thinking of all the ways you can miss.”

Ultimately, everything we do in our lives is driven by our fundamental need to avoid pain and our desire to gain pleasure: both are biologically driven and are, whether we are aware of them or not, controlling force in our lives. Pain is a great motivator! We will do far more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. Often, it is not until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of making a change, that people find the motivation to change.

 1.) Feel the pain

 Step into your future – what will your life look like, how will you feel if the status quo remains. Clarify by listing or identifying the pain of remaining the same. Hate your job – what will happen if you stay stuck? Over your relationship or yearn to be with someone you love – what will life feel like if you don’t take a risk and make a change? Ask yourself, ‘and what else? And what else? Until your list is exhaustive.

 2.) Affirm for what you want

Let desire drive you. What do you want more of in your life? How will your life be different, better? Get clear about your preferred future and then affirm for what you want by saying out loud what you wish to be true. See below for a few tips on how to construct powerful affirmations:

Guidelines for Constructing Affirmations[1]

 1 . An affirmation should be short, simple, and direct. “I believe in myself” is preferable to “There are a lot of good qualities I have that I believe in.”

2. Keep affirmations in the present tense (“I am prosperous”) or present progressive tense (“I am becoming prosperous”). Telling yourself that some change you desire will happen in the future always keeps it one step removed.

3. Try to avoid negatives. Instead of saying “I’m no longer afraid of public speaking,” try “I’m free of fear about public speaking” or “I’m becoming fearless about public speaking.” Similarly, instead of the negative statement “I’m not perfect,” try “It’s O.K. to be less than perfect” or “It’s O.K. to make mistakes.” Your uncon­scious mind is incapable of making the distinction between a positive and a nega­tive statement. It will respond to a negative statement in the same way as a positive affirmation (for example, “I’m not perfect” becomes “I am perfect”).

4. Start with a direct declaration of a positive change you want to make in your life (“I am making more time for myself every day”). If this feels a little too strong for you just yet, try changing it to “I am willing to make more time for myself.” Willingness to change is the most important first step you need to take in order to actually make any substantial change in your life. A second alternative to a direct declaration is to affirm that you are becoming something or learning to do some-thing. If you’re not quite ready for a direct statement such as, “I’m strong, confi­dent, and secure,” you can affirm “I am becoming strong, confident, and secure.” Again, if you’re not ready for “I face my fears willingly,” try “I’m learning to face my fears.”

5. It’s important that you have some belief in—or at least a willingness to believe in your affirmations. It’s by no means necessary, however, to believe in an affirmation 100 percent when you first start out. The whole point is to shift your beliefs and attitudes in favour of the affirmation.

3.) Find out what stops you

What’s stopping you? List all the obstacles – real and imagined that stand in your way. What’s your biggest obstacle. This is your rock. Swarm all over it by identifying possible solutions and taking constructive action until you have cracked your ‘rock’ and turned it into dust.

4.) Challenge your fears

I love the acryonym FEAR – Fantasised, Experiences, Appearing, Real. When we are fear based we have a tendency to catastrophise and imagine the worst that can happen. Work with this positively – what’s the worst that can happen? Is that realistic? Where’s your evidence for that? If reaslistic, would that be so bad? How can you minimise the likeihood of your worst fear happening.

5.) Harness the power of neuro-associations

 Whatever pleasure or pain we associate or “link” to a situation, creates specific thought patterns which trigger specific parts of our brain or neuro system. As a consequence, not only do these associations trigger feelings but the pleasure or pain we associate to a situation also stimulates neuro-response which determine our behaviour. That’s why it’s so critical to take control of your thoughts.  Through gaining greater awareness of your current neuron-associations you can break the pattern of allowing your unconscious conditioning or patterns to control you.

Before you can harness the power of neuro-associations three things need to be in place: 1.) a commitment to change 2.) changing current behaviours 3.)  and conditioning new, empowering associations by overriding old associations, installing new choices and reinforcing new habit are formed.

Do this and you’ll be conditioning your mind for success.  If you then link pleasure to this new choice by reminding yourself of all the benefits that will flow and reinforcing these new habits with an emotional reward (something you buy or do for yourself that makes you feel good), you’ll find that your new associative patterns will take root more quickly.

 Mary’s story: from career rut to freedom
Even though Mary yearned for the freedom of being her own boss she was afraid of leaving her salaried job. She associated self-employment with financial suicide. Conditioning her mind to success she began to challenge her assumptions and to to actively look for examples of people who were flourishing as entrepreneurs. She was heartened to discover many examples of people who had excelled financially once they’d left their salaried jobs. She further intensified positive associations by reminding herself of the joy, creativity and self-fulfilment self-employment would enable her to experience, and the liberation of working from home and enjoying better worklife balance while her son was young. She made an action plan of steps she needed to walk on the road to success and rewarded herself with special things for her home office each time she ticked off a task, such as researching competitors, meeting with collaborators and finishing her business plan. Furnishing her office intensifed positive associations and she really yearned to spend more time at home. Things really took off for her when she created a business card and started ‘acting as if’ she was already full-time in her new self-employed role. People started requesting and paying for her services, and having gained confidence she started reducing her hours, and within months took the leap and quit her job. “I can’t believe I’m living my dream,” she told me, “I’m so lucky.”   The truth is Mary ‘created’ her luck through all the positive changes she made – all supported by a fundamental mindset change.

6.) Plan for success

“Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life.” ~Mark Twain

It’s not NASA Science to know fortune favours the prepared. Motivator Guru, Anthony Robbins, is amongst the many people who have studied what separates successful people from what he calls ‘life’s losers’. His view is clear: in order to gain greater personal success and fulfilment you must learn to control the motivating forces of pain and pleasure.

How can you minimise the likelihood of your worst fear happening? What strategies can you employ to minimise risk? What the best that could happen? How can you plan for success? Break it down into manageable chunks. What steps – big and small need to happen and when to increase the likelihood of achieving a positive outcome.

Years ago as a single parent I dreamed of being my own boss. Yes, the fears were real – I worried no clients would come, I worried that without a guaranteed income I would starve – and many other worries that went round and round in my head. But the pain of remaining stuck in a job that didn’t fulfil me was taking a toll. It was hard to get leave to look after my daughter in the seeminly never ending school holidays. It was soul-destroying seeing others take credit for my work and having a boss who micro-managed me. I yearned for more freedom, autonomy, creativity and to work less and earn moreJ.

Over the course of a year I planned for success – researching the market, upskilling, approaching the Dominion Post and then successfully writing my careers column to build market awareness, and then finally having calculated the risks of self-employment and planned for success made a leap. Man, what a fulfilling, life-affirming leap it was too!

7.) Visualise creatively

Visualisation is the creation of a clear mental picture of the goal that you desire.  Make a clear mental picture and then imagine or “image” the goal as already realised.  See it as a reality and play that picture over and over on the screen of your mind until you can see it with perfect clarity.  Draw it out or do whatever is necessary to create that mental picture.  Think about it over and over and over again until you impress it deeper and deeper and deeper into your subconscious.

Before you start visualising your goal achievement/success in your mind you may wish to write your vision down.  Remember to write it in the present tense as though it is already a reality: Another option is to create a vision board or passion journal and place images that reflect your preferred future.

[1] The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

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Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Shape-shifting for career and life renewal

Chameleons are nature’s greatest shape-shifters. Have you ever wondered that they can teach we mere mortals about making positive changes in our lives and careers?

Most chameleons change from brown to green and back, but some can turn almost any colour. A change can be complete in as few as 20 seconds. Imagine if we could change that quickly! Many people think chameleons change colour to blend in with their surroundings. Scientists disagree. Their studies show that light, temperature and mood cause chameleons to change colour. Sometimes changing colour can make the chameleon more comfortable.

If you’re struggling with how you feel or where you’re at, take a cue from the chameleon and change colour – what you wear, and what you see around you, as well as aromatherapy (nature’s alchemy) are some simple ways to make positive changes.

One of my client’s kept saying she felt really ‘blah.’ I asked her, ‘why do you wear so much black?’  When she said she never really thought about it, I asked her ‘how does it make you feel?’  The connection was made instantly. As a result she started wearing more colour. Just a little splash and first and then a bit more.

People commented on how great she looked in her greens and yellows. Soon she started to feel better and better too. As a result she has more energy and confidence to plough into making some positive changes in her career.

She also started surrounding herself with nature’s alchemy – aromatherapy. The healing green energy of Rosemary, Lime and Peppermint helped boost her mood and ground some of her anxieties. While the yellow energies of Lemon and Grapefruit helped nourish her depleted confidence.

Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of holistic approaches to support change. Rational, logical approaches to working out next steps are as important as intuitive, creative and feeling based tools.

Every year I choose a colour as my central theme for the year. Next year is green. I already have a new green dress, green bag and shoes. I’ve also purchased a green passion journal to start gathering images and quotes and other sources of inspiration for the career and life changes I want to manifest.

What could a change of colour do for you?

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