This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Life coaching advice that can use a spring cleaning

This month, I've been focused on the subject of joyful living. To find new ways to discuss the topic, I ran a quick Google search and found the website for a life coach. I won't name her, because I'm going to critique her advice, and she might not like what I have to say about her TOOLS TO INCREASE JOY AND MAINTAIN IT, but here's what she wrote:
1. Think of a positive experience from your past.  Imagine it as if you were really there.  How do you feel, 
who are you talking to, what are you thinking,  what are you doing, what does it look like around you?  
Do this once a day.
 
2. Have a day of random acts of kindness. 

3. Find a career, business or project that is meaningful to you. 

4. Find something that creates passion and joy where you feel you are making an impact beyond 
yourself.

5. Notice the good things that are happening to you each day; write them down or tell others about 
them.  
What do you think about her 5 Tools? Here's what I think:

1. This is a good exercise. I've tried it. It can work. But you have to be consistent for several weeks in a row to see positive results. And, unless you have a lot of free time, that's hard to commit to doing on a daily basis.

2. I believe it's a good practice to focus on other people when your life seems less than joyful.

3. This is the step I was disappointed in reading. It tells you to find something meaningful but with no advice on how to do that. This, in my opinion, is empty advice. If you're stuck, having someone tell you to find something meaningful in your life isn't going to help. It's only going to make matters worse, because, after all, that's your problem. You don't know the answer to that. That's why you've come to the coach in the first place. So, if I were this coach, I'd work on Tool #3 a bit more. I'd include the "how" here, instead. In fact, this would be a whole other article or tip sheet.

4. Same as above. This is empty advice. It does nothing to motivate you. Rather, it may work to deflate you. If you were receiving coaching from this woman, you'd leave her office or the call would end with you possibly feeling less than you did at the start. You'd want to know: How does one go about finding this meaningful whatever?

It can take months and months of introspection and journaling and workshopping and practice and playing and discovery. It is not something you just FIND overnight. I'm sure she realizes that. But she may not realize how empty this advice can be, and how unhelpful it is at the same time. Instead, she might consider suggesting things her coaching clients could actually DO to discover what is meaningful to them. That is the advice that will lead to joyful living.

Learning to live in joy or to live a joyful life is about DISCOVERY. You don't do that by accident. You do that through EXPLORATION. And that's where her Tool #5 will come in handy. She should place her focus on that one. Here's why:

5. Notice the good things that are happening to you each day; write them down or tell others about them. Now, this is good advice! It's what we talk about here at B.I.K.E. WITH JACKIE. When you're looking for joy, you may be in a place of anxiety or confusion. You may not realize joy is right there within you. You're not seeing it, not just yet. Writing what you allow yourself to notice will begin to change your mindset. Over time. Lots of time. Here's how it can work for you:

Imagine taking a walk down the street in front of your house. Your neighbors' gardens are blooming. One of your neighbor's children are playing hopscotch on the street. Another is walking his dog. Still others are packing up the car to go away for the weekend. If your mind is not in the right place, that is, you're feeling depressed or somehow distracted by what's NOT going on in your life that you WANT going on, you could walk right by all of this and not notice a thing.

BUT, when you literally force yourself to stop and take notice (by writing things down right then and there, or sharing your thoughts about what you see with others openly), that's when you start to see things. There are times in our life where we have to practice noticing before we can begin seeing. When you force yourself to see life as it really is beyond your own personal troubles or concerns, that's when you'll be able to put a smile on your face and appreciate the joyful things in life.

That's when you'll lift your arm and wave hello to neighbors picking up the mail or taking out the trash. You'll stop in front of the neighbor's house with the blooming garden and pay attention to the yellow tulips or the potted geraniums. Maybe you'll pull out your cell phone take a photograph. You'll actually notice the color of the pot. You'll see that it's painted green with yellow stripes. And you'll say to yourself, "I'd like to paint a pot like that." You'll smell the soap from the bucket of suds your next door neighbor is using to wash her dirty car. You'll see the smoke rise up from behind the home with burgers on the grill. You'll see the mountain view across the street--and think about hiking there tomorrow.

When you begin to stop and take note of your surroundings, you will want to be a part of it, and that is where joyful living begins--with observation, with hope, and then with embrace, meaning you've decided to play along.

Noticing takes practice, so here's something you can do that might make sense:

Tonight, when you turn on the TV to watch a show, note what channels you turn to on the television instantly. You have your favorites. You know which ones you'll skip over quickly. What shows interest you more than others? Note the color of the furniture in the room, the dishes in your cubboard when you get up to make that popcorn or open a can of soda. What is that you like to drink? Are you buying it, or are you just making do with what's available now? What about your clothes? Is your closet filled with solids, prints, a combination? Do you like what's in there? Are you pining away for something else?

Within these personal choices you've already made are clues to who you are and what naturally brings you joy. That's where you can look to begin your hunt for a joyful life. You have access to it. But to use it, to take full advantage of it, means you need to decide to use what you already know about yourself and then explore that which you don't yet know.

Do this for a few weeks and see what happens to your attitude then? Maybe you'll start buying the fresh flowers you've always wanted to buy but didn't dare spend the extra money on. Maybe you'll light that candle when you take your next bath. Maybe you'll go for a walk in your neighborhood and notice the sunset or the sunrise like you've never noticed it before. And maybe you'll come back home and write all this down in a journal, so you can take note of that which brings you small pleasures. When you notice that you can appreciate the small things, that's when you'll begin to want to do the bigger things--like set aside time for a 15-day vacation, just because you'd like to do it. Not because you allow your internal editor to warn you away from your desires.

What do you think? Have you ever been offered empty advice? How did it help or hinder your progress? 

1 comment:

Bach said...

A wonderful and very honest post! I am a stresser (I got it honest, thanks Mom & Dad!). Doctor after doctor has told me to stop stressing to cure GI pain, headaches, anything. I get it, but nobody ever helps with the how (and a pill is not how!). If you are going to put yourself out there as an expert or advice-giver, then you need to give me more than "be happy" or "stop stressing." At least give me some steps to try, anything other than "stop doing x."