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How to make better decisions: are you aligned with your values?

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The more I delve into great decision-making, the more I realise the importance of alignment and self-awareness. If you want to make better decisions: know thyself!

It’s easy to think that a great decision is a choice of the best option available to us: “what do I think this might be?” But great choices take into account so much more than just good ideas.

In the corporate setting: they don’t just get the best immediate result for the bottom line or take into account your financial interests or marketing plan.

To make better decisions, find your compass.

There are many challenges to making great decisions, but some of them can be avoided with the right tools.  Most of the tools I mention are ones you already know. Hopefully, you’ve already done this work. Better yet, you update and view this regularly.  These tools to knowing yourself are values, passions & vision.

If you don’t have some of this work done before you need it, making a great decision in a time of crisis is much harder, requires greater thought, and will need more effort.

to make better decisions, know thyselfWhen, on the other hand, you already know yourself, you bring more emotional intelligence to the decision-making process. Hopefully, before you start, you already have identified and regularly work with your personal (or corporate) values, your passions, your vision, and your goals and dreams.

Any decision should not only meet the criteria of being a great idea that is well thought through but should also fulfil your wants and desires, giving priority to what is truly important to you. Do your decisions reflect the importance of your relationships and connection to others? Finally, to make better decisions, you need to consider your needs, motivations, safety and security, and even your identity.

These tools ensure you are true to yourself in every decision you make. They allow you to live in authenticity and alignment.

There are three words that I want you to keep in mind as you look at your personal alignment and great decision-making:

  1. compassion
  2. creativity, and
  3. courage

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The challenges of decision-making:

Finding balance

There are many challenges in decision-making. One that we often overlook is that we focus exclusively on the decision before us, rather than recognising that it’s not just about this one issue. What might look like a potentially small decision will ripple through our life.

If you say “yes” to this – what are you saying no to?

Show me where you spend your time & money, and I’ll tell you what your priorities are!

Nonetheless, in a lack of awareness and mindfulness, you make on-the-spot decisions, failing to take into account all the impact this might have in your life.  Perhaps you say yes to overtime, thinking about the financial benefits and yet forgetting your promise to yourself to practice self-care.

When you truly know yourself, you consider the overall impact of even the small decisions.

Confusing problem-solving and decision-making

I’ve written on this challenge before, how we often try to solve the problems and challenges that will arise if we make a certain choice and therefore fail to decide.

If you get caught up trying to solve the “how”, you may fail to decide on the “what”. In that indecision and anxiety, you do not decide at all.  With this lack of commitment to an outcome, you fail to overcome the obstacles.

Living up to other people’s expectations

Many of us, especially women, are people-pleasers. When faced with a choice and decision to make, we give too much weight and credence to other people’s expectations of us and “I should”. Perhaps the path of least resistance is to give in, choosing in favour of their wants and desires, rather than your own.

This is particularly easy if you don’t actually know what you want.  If you haven’t got a clear idea of your vision and passions, you won’t take time to consider the long-term repercussions of a choice for yourself.

Today, the invitation is to do the work and start with what really matters.

To make better decisions: start with what really matters.

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If you truly know yourself, you will find your compass within. Your self-awareness and mindful consideration allow you to make great decisions.

Ask these three basic questions:

  1. What are your values?
  2. What are your passions?
  3. And what is your vision for your life?

A variation of these three questions works just as well in a corporate setting: what are the company’s values, what is the vision of the company and how does this translate into the goals and objectives?

Every decision that you make – no matter how big or how small, whether it’s to participate in the choir or it’s to change careers – should align with these three things.

If you don’t already have your values and your passions and your vision identified, how do you know that the decision you’re making is the best possible one for your life? How do you measure or categorize what is a good or a bad decision?

Values are the starting point of knowing what is important. For some people, this may be family, honesty, ambition and success. For others, it will be adventure, experience, authenticity and curiosity. They are personal and intrinsic to each one of us.

If you’re interested in identifying your values, complete your details and choose submit to get the worksheet and instructions.

Thank you for choosing to work on identifying your values - Identifying Values

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Your passions:

I have to thank Bonnie Muenz for helping me identify my passions, and then reminding me each year to check and update them! These are the aspects of my life that I want to pour my energy into and it takes many forms.

Simply put, my five passions are:

  1. building a legacy,
  2. financial freedom,
  3. travel & adventure,
  4. spiritually grounded, and
  5. health and fitness.

Each of these passions has multiple tiers and levels. This blog post, for example, is tied to building my legacy and impacting the lives of people around the world.

Likewise, I’ve learnt in the school of hard knocks that if I am not spiritually grounded, I am not the best version of myself. If I ignore my health and fitness, I don’t have the energy and stamina to lead the life I want to have.

Knowing your passions helps you choose your priorities.  

Your vision and direction

The final question of inner alignment is your vision. There are many different ways of approaching your vision:

  • your vision board
  • a vision statement
  • mission and vision
  • plans and goals.

In the end, it’s not about how you create it. What is important is that you have it, because it provides you with a compass pointing you in a particular direction that you want to grow.

With each decision that you are faced with, ask yourself whether it keeps you on course or takes you off course.

Does this decision help me build the road that I want to travel?

The specifics of decision-making

Only after you have the clarity of direction and a compass, can you get into the specifics of decision-making.

1. To make better decisions – always start with the heart:

No matter what the decision is, acknowledge your wants, dreams and desires. Forget, for a moment, about rational limitations and what “can” or “cannot” be done.

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

What is your ideal, desired outcome from the decision before you?

Allow your compassion – for yourself as well as for others – to guide your choices. Take into account your feelings, emotions, hopes and dreams. What would you choose to create an optimal outcome?

Consider your values, your passions and your vision. What guidance and wisdom can they provide you with?

2. Create opportunities, possibilities and imagine

Taking a blank page, allow yourself to brainstorm, mind-map or dump ideas. Taking into consideration the facts and considerations that you know, what options present themselves?

Allow yourself to think outside the box. Also consider who you might ask for guidance, support, mentoring or ideas. Do you know someone who has done this before or something similar? Who do you know that might have better ideas?

This is a moment to consider whether you need professional advice, such as a lawyer, accountant, financial adviser, doctor, career adviser, entrepreneur, scientist, architect, or another professional that has experience of the kind you are looking for.  Who might have more ideas to offer you alternatives?

3. Remember your needs

In any decision, remember to take care of your needs. It is not enough that you decide in favour of your wants and desires or that you choose a good idea. If you overlook your needs (professional, financial, emotional, security and safety, or even growth), you will not feel fully satisfied with the outcome.

Allow yourself time to consider all of your needs, not just the most obvious ones.

4. Replace expectations and “I should” with compassion

A source of great unhappiness and lack of fulfilment is living up to other people’s expectations, rather than living life authentically. A beautiful solution to this, taking into account the wants, desires and needs of those that you care about is to replace their expectations with compassion.

If you truly loved yourself and them: what would you choose?

What outcome provides the greatest joy and satisfaction to everyone involved?

Compassion allows you to choose tough love when it’s required. Rather than feeling railroaded and giving in, proactively choose to love yourself and others.  How do your choices reflect how much you care?

Compassion will allow you to be true to your values, passions and goals. To make better decisions, seek the option that aligns with who you are.

5. Choose to perform on your stage: priorities

Closely tied to expectations and pressure from others is getting roped into performing on other people’s stages. If you don’t have clarity about your passions and vision, you will accept working to fulfil another person’s vision.

Even professionally and in business, you need to be clear about what business you are willing to let go of to focus your attention and energies on growth in the direction that you have planned. Plans may change, but this should be intentional. Otherwise, you find yourself spread too thin.

It’s easy to get exhausted and find yourself with a short fuse because you are struggling to juggle too many responsibilities.

When you are invited to participate on someone else’s stage, look clearly at your values, passions and vision. Does this project, opportunity or request take you closer or further from your path?

For example, one of your values might be connection. Will your connections and relationships grow if you say “yes”? Are you performing on your stage while supporting and helping them, or are you putting your priorities on the back burner while you assist?

Quite often, being asked to participate with another person will allow you to stay on your path. But be clear whose stage you will be performing on.  Pour your time, compassion and energy into the right places.

6. Be authentic

The final question to ask yourself in any decision is “is this who I am?”. The best decision aligns with who you are and want to become.

Sometimes, we feel that a decision has us between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes, we have to choose the more painful option, because it aligns better, in the long term, with who we are and want to become. The easy way out is not always the right choice.

To make better decisions: exercise compassion, creativity and courage

Every decision you make gives you an opportunity to exercise your compassion, creativity and courage. To make better decisions, do the inner work that allows you to know yourself. Then, you can courageously choose your path of alignment.

Who knows where this adventure called life might lead you.

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introductory call, Beth Gray, coach, coaching packages, phone call, Zoom, Skype, online, purpose, expectations, value, fit

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Outside your Comfort Zone: how to find freedom

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One of the challenges I consistently encounter is that the restrictions of a diet allow you to ignore underlying issues. It doesn’t matter whether those are emotions, health issues or just relationships that need attention.

Following someone else’s rules hides the fact that you seek out food as a panacea for life’s challenges.

  • Are you feeling angry? Stuff it down by eating something!
  • Need comforting? Grab the ice cream.
  • Are you feeling tired? Scoff down an energy bar or drink.

But, are you living if you are ignoring underlying issues? If you’re angry: what are you frustrated or feeling powerless to change? When you need comforting, who could you call? Do you need a hug or to focus on loving yourself? If you feel tired, do you need more rest and better sleep? Is a change of lifestyle actually in order so that you no longer feel constantly tired?

If you escape the confines of diet, size and weight, you begin to experience life with all the highs and lows. Most of us never develop this level of self-awareness. It’s an uncomfortable place to explore, requiring that we dive into each of our triggers and emotional responses.

What does emotional eating allow you to hide from view?

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Habits & lifestyles

We are not merely human beings – we are human ‘becomings ‘. Each habit that we adopt, whatever it might be, forms, and shapes our future self.  Eating is a daily practice that shapes us, not just physically!

Exercising choice when you eat

Every time we sit down to eat, we face choices.

Awareness and mindfulness

The first is whether we will practice awareness and mindfulness of our body, our environment and our internal state (emotional or mental).

Practising awareness can be uncomfortable if we customarily move through life focused on stimulus, rather than our internal response.  This includes noticing whether we are hungry or whether we are eating for any other reason.

If we are not hungry, will we still choose to eat? Or will we honour the message from our body and wait until it requires food?

How do you eat?

Secondly, we face a choice of how we eat.

We control our environment to some extent: will I choose to honour “rest and digest” or will I continue in a stimulated (fight & flight) zone of doing while trying to eat.

Our bodies do much better when we sit and dedicate time exclusively to eating because we send the subconscious message that it is time to rest and digest the food. The great thing about physical hunger – as opposed to a craving – is that we might decide not to eat yet in a state of activity.

Sometimes, it is better to wait until we can sit down to eat in peace and tranquillity. Will waiting thirty minutes or an hour mean that you are less stressed when you sit down to eat?

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What do you eat?

Thirdly, what will we eat?

Food should fill our senses and not just our stomach. It should be our nutrition and energy, as well as a source of joy and enjoyment. Do you enjoy how your food makes you feel: are you enjoying aroma, taste and texture? How does it make you feel thirty minutes or two hours later? Do you regret the choice later?

Our bodies regularly give us feedback about the food we choose. Feedback includes:

  • clarity of mind or foggy brain
  • lethargy and tiredness
  • energy levels
  • the ability (or not) to sleep deeply regularly
  • feeling crowded or full shortly after eating
  • gassiness or bloated
  • light and easy

Stop and get moving

Finally, we face the choice of when to stop eating and return to activity. This choice requires the same level of internal awareness that we started with.

  • Am I honouring my body by stopping my eating before feeling crowded or full? Have I listened to what my body has to say about “enough”?
  • How do I feel physically, emotionally and mentally?
  • Am I ready to get back to movement and activity, or do I need to rest for a few more minutes?

Every choice influences what we become

Our relationship with food is merely a reflection of our relationship with self. When you feel love and compassion for yourself, you make better choices for your body.

Do I choose to honour and respect myself in the way that I eat and drink?

The habit of how, when, and where we choose to eat impacts every aspect of life, including:

  • how productive you are
  • your energy levels after eating and while digesting
  • choices about exercise and movement
  • whether or not you can sleep deeply and well every night
  • the relationships that you have (do they have the same eating habits that you have?)
  • the activities that you can carry out.

All of your day-to-day choices impact your health and wellness.

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The challenge to get outside your comfort zone

One of the problems with comfort zones is that they become familiar. Take a moment now to note your comfort zone when it comes to food and eating. Do you sit down to eat, or are you eating on the run?

Are you comfortable following a diet that someone else has set, which controls things like:

  • portion size;
  • calorie intact;
  • types of food that you are allowed to eat; or
  • when you are allowed to eat.

One of the reasons that comfort zones work is that they allow us to be more effective and efficient. Great comfort zones will enable you to dive deeply into developing yourself.  As you work within your comfort zone, you grow – taller & with deeper roots.

The question is: are you growing and developing within this comfort zone that you’ve built?

“Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Caged-in by your comfort zone

What happens when nothing new is happening?

If we stay too long in any position, our muscles start to atrophy.  If your leg went to sleep while you were sitting down, you would get up and move around and shake it until it was completely awake and all the blood had come back to all nerves and movement was fluid once more.

Why would you not do this with your life?

At that point, ask yourself – am I still on the top of my game? Am I innovating in my life, health and well-being – moving with the changing climate & conditions?

When we have success (as we have when we start a new diet), there is the temptation to think we’ve done enough.  But is this keeping us on top of our health and getting to know yourself better?

The consequences of staying put

What happens if you stay on a diet? You atrophy.

It’s much like only doing one exercise or one workout. The muscles get used to that movement and stop developing. Change is often a good thing!

And if you manage to lose the weight you wanted (or you get bored or stop getting results), you go back to life as it was before the diet. Before you know it, you’ve started to put the weight back on and lose the physical conditioning that you had gained by being on the strict regime.

Nothing changed within.

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For the change to be effective: you have to change!

If you’ve lived continuously by someone else’s rules, when you stop, you find yourself in limbo – in a space that no longer works effectively.

If we are not living & developing, we are withering.   It doesn’t matter how big or how old the sequoia is in the forest – if it stops growing, it is dying!

Is it time to get to know yourself, your body and your triggers to grow beyond where you are?

Getting outside your comfort zone

Start by considering three words:

  • compassion,
  • creativity, and
  • courage.

If you lived with deep compassion for yourself and others in your life, what choices would you make about eating and drinking? How would you choose to love and respect your body each day?

Is the way that you are living life at the moment supporting your creativity? For example, if you overeat and are always tired and lethargic after a meal, is your creativity being stifled by brain fog? If you are living on a diet, are you feeling constantly hungry and unable to get in flow? How does your lifestyle support creativity in the ways that it shows up for you?

Finally, do you have the courage to love yourself as you are today? To truly get to know yourself in a way that allows you to make changes? What does moving forward with courage in your life look like?

To get outside your comfort zone, you will need to ditch the diet of the rules you’ve been living by and face the feelings about everything that comes up in life! If food was not available: what would you have to face?

This is where you will find your freedom to grow. It will be uncomfortable, but undoubtedly worth it.

Choosing opportunities – identify your vision and values.

If you want to ditch the diet, I’d suggest you start with identifying your values and vision. This creates the opportunity to be the best version of you – a human becoming!

The person that will change your life is you!

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If you want to live without rules, then you need a guiding light that you create.

  • What do you want?
  • Why do you want it?
  • How will you get it?

For me, for example, I want to be in excellent health because I have a 7-year-old daughter. I want to have the energy and physical strength to keep up with her in the years to come. I’m not looking to have a great beach body that others praise and admire: instead, I’m looking at stamina, health and well-being. That is my why, and it influences the questions of what and how I go about creating this.

If you take away the diet and restrictions: what do you want and why do you want it?

What do you want to have? be? do? create?

“Are you motivated? Are you coherent? Is your intention aligned? Are you feet, tongue, heart & wallet congruent?  That intention shines through.”

― Peter Guber

Use hunger as your compass.

There is no need to be afraid of feelings of hunger or cravings, especially when you learn to differentiate physical hunger (needing food and nutrients) from another hunger or craving.

Like any other emotion, hunger can be resourceful or unresourceful.

  • How will you choose to use your hunger? Do you let it guide your respect for yourself and your body?
  • Will you allow it to be a compass that shows you the way? Do you listen to what it shows you?
  • Are you hungry to create, to move or to have? Perhaps you’re hungry for knowledge and learning. On the hand, it might be a hunger to satisfy your curiosity.
  • What satisfies you in life?
  • What do you need in your life to have energy and vitality?

Support moving forward

Start by looking at who is supporting you. One of the reasons that diets and personal trainers work is because you have someone supporting you and providing you with accountability.

If you choose to live without a diet, you need that very same support and network that will allow you to discover yourself!

  • Which members of your family or friends can support you and help as you move through this?
  • Do you have a mentor or coach that will ask you the right questions?
  • Do you have a professional adviser to turn to when you lack information? This might be a nutritionist, dietician or even a health coach. They will think in terms of rules and diets (most likely), but explain to them what you are looking to create for yourself and find the right one that supports the journey.
  • How will you discover what you are hungry for?

As you move outside your comfort zone, regularly check that you are receiving the support you need.

Ready to move outside your comfort zone?

introductory call, Beth Gray, coach, coaching packages, phone call, Zoom, Skype, online, purpose, expectations, value, fit

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Reaching full potential: thriving through growth

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“I’ve never seen you live up to your full potential.
You always reach the summit, but you never take off in flight.”

That’s the challenge I received from my best friend one day as we were talking about my career and life decisions. Proving… once again…  that she is — indeed — my best friend. Calling me out for failing to live up to my full potential. Reach a limiting belief or ceiling and then pull back.

Always fearful of going from good to great.

Never courageous enough to fully step outside of my comfort zone and learn to fly.

Because of this challenge, the past 18 months have been rife with challenges. I have stepped up and out of my comfort zone and into an arena of learning to speak my truth. Recognised when I am pandering to others’ expectations of me, rather than my own.

Continue reading Reaching full potential: thriving through growth

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Evolving wisdom: how wisdom emerges

Evolving wisdom: choosing the next right step forward, mbraining, multiple brains, head, heart, gut, gut instinct, heartled decisions, decision making process, direction, choices, choice, choose, generative wisdom, perspectives, views, considerations

I recently came face to face with some shadows of my past. While I took to blogging as part of processing my feelings, I also got in touch with two other mBraining coaches (Sarah & Wendy) that I regularly do sessions with and I asked for help to process my loss of direction. I needed assistance to get in touch with my naturally evolving wisdom.

I know the importance of dealing with these emotions and issues when they arise: one of the biggest mistakes I typically make is that I want to fix it for everyone else as well. Nonetheless, the only person that I can change and work on is me. I am responsible for how I respond and what I do.

Next right step

So, I found myself in a place where I needed clarity on “what is my next right step forward?”

Continue reading Evolving wisdom: how wisdom emerges

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What’s missing? mBraining Integration

What's missing? mBraining integration, lead from the heart, create options & solutions, listen to your needs & instinct

I started off last week thinking about “what’s missing in my life?” – in the sense of what’s missing when I feel unmotivated? When I am “stuck” and failing to move forward – what have I overlooked?

Or what might be missing if I feel unable to make a “good” choice?  When I am not taking care of my well-being – why do I forget to put on my oxygen mask first?  Or when I am struggling with gratitude, what do I need to do?

How can I do a better job at following through?

Continue reading What’s missing? mBraining Integration