In the last 6 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of people. I’ve coached them, presented to them, helped them facilitate leadership development, or guided them on an Epic Adventure. I have learned so much, and have been so inspired by these wonderful human beings – and by all of the wonderful people I am blessed to have in my life. This short video is about the most important thing I’ve learned in this work I do. I hope you’ll watch it, and if you do, I thank you so much for your time.
If you, or someone you know, could use some loving support, encouragement and daring, I’d love a chance to be your/their champion. Email me and we can schedule a call to see if I might be what you’re looking for.
Thank you so much for stopping by. And speaking of thanks, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy new year! I love this time of year. In fact, I love the last week of every year. Not only because I’m with family and friends, and we’re celebrating the holidays, but because it’s the last week of the year. I love this time of reflecting back on this year, while imagining what’s possible in the next.
I am a goal-oriented person, and what Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, and most recently, Better Than Before, would call an Upholder. I am self-motivated and am always setting goals and working hard to achieve them. And most of the time, I do achieve them. But not always. For example, one of my goals for 2015 was to become limber and flexible enough that I would be able to touch my nose to my knee in a hurdler stretch. I didn’t achieve this goal. I worked pretty hard at it for 5 months before falling of the stretching wagon, and try as a I might, it’s not going to happen in these remaining 70 minutes of 2015. Darn it anyway.
As is tradition, my husband and I and our three sons sat around the table at dinner tonight, on New Year’s Eve, and reflected on the year before brainstorming our family goals for 2016. (We went around the table and each of us offered up some highlights from the year. One of our sons, and not our oldest, said, “I became a man this year.” He laughed when he said it, and we didn’t ask for specifics! Another son said he was glad he had so many days where he didn’t wear socks or underwear. Another reflected on a year that was the first for him to drive, and to work a paying job. We were grateful we spent some of our spring break with Jerry’s dad, since he fell sick unexpectedly shortly after that and passed away a month later. And there were others, but that’s a sampling. Then, each of us offered up family resolutions for 2016. These include eating more exotic foods, offering to do more service work for our community, going to Europe, and others.
Our family game of Tripoley, which we played while reflecting on 2015 as a family, and looking ahead to the new year.
But I digress. I think the most important question any of us can aim to answer is, “Who do I want to be?”
I feel strongly about this. When we know who it is we want to be – when we can imagine and visualize our Best Self –- then we can orient our whole life, including all of the things we do and all of the ways that we behave, accordingly. Our Best Self is our True North. It’s not a destination. It’s not a place we hope to arrive at. We can be our best version at any moment. Our vision of who we want to be is an orientation, and having this vision of our Best Self keeps us on track to being the person we want to be.
As a coach, I invest a certain amount of time with my clients encouraging them to imagine and articulate who they want to be. I hadn’t done the work myself in a few years, and so earlier today, with the new year dawning, I thought I’d revisit the exercise. What I found is that it is easier for me to imagine who I want to be if I first imagine, and list, HOW I want to be. (I love Annie Dillard’s quote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Amen to the emphasis on HOW we live our lives.)
So I wrote down the following roles I play in my life, starting with my Best Self, and then for wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, coach, community member, and so on, and next to each, described how I want to be in each role. Words describing how I want to be included patient, loving, compassionate, generous, kind, open, etc.
Thinking about and writing down how you want to be in 2016 is an exercise I recommend doing.
Not too long ago, one of our sons was having a problem related to forgetfulness. He was doing his homework but often forgetting to turn it in. After a few occasions of forgetting to turn his work in, he did it again, and at wit’s end, I lost my temper with him. I can tell you, I was not the mother I want to be, and it not only hurt him, it hurt me. While I didn’t regret the value I was taking a stand for (forgetfulness is not a positive habit to develop), I did very much regret the way I was handling it. What I’m grateful for, though, is that I’ve thought a lot about how I want to be as a mother so that when I am about to go off course – or as was the case in the above example, right after I’ve gone off course – I notice and am aware of it. I was able to make it right with my son, and find a different strategy for how to handle this if it were to happen again.
This is just one example of why reflecting on how we want to be in the world is valuable and important.
One of the realizations of 2015 for me is that I’m pretty much a practicer of stoicism. This wasn’t intentional… it’s just that almost everything I’ve learned about Stoicism mostly lines up with how I live my life. Four of the best books I read this year were Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, The Guide to the Good Life, by William Irvine, The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday, and Seneca’s On The Shortness of Life. I am also a fan of Tim Ferriss, and he talks a lot about stoicism in his podcasts.
Seneca, a Stoic, was a proponent of meditating at the end of the day that took on a form of evaluating the day’s events and how he handled each of them, against how he wanted to be, and how he wished he would have behaved. I see tremendous value in this exercise, especially since I’ve done the exercise I mentioned above, where I have thought about and listed HOW I WANT TO BE in each of the roles in my life.
By the way, I did also come up with many new year’s resolutions, which I may write about from time to time in the coming weeks and months. But for now, I guess I’m sharing what I think is a valuable insight, and that is, taking the time to consider how we want to be in our life is probably more important than the goals we set for ourselves.
Happy New Year, and thank you for reading. I really appreciate your stopping by.
P.S. How do you want to be in 2016? I have room for a few more clients if you, or someone you know, would benefit from having a coach to dare, encourage, support, and hold you accountable.