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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

compassion, creativity, courage, how to make better decisions with alignment

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.

your compass, knowing what truly matters in your life, helping you make better decisions, values, vision, priorities, passions

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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Security and safety: change is a daring adventure

Helen Keller
“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Is our need to stay in the security of our comfort zone overrated? We know that change is constant and inevitable, yet most of us resist change. We even resist the change that is for our good.

When things are bad, we are quick to accept that things are continually changing and will get better. Nonetheless, when things are going well, we try to convince ourselves that things will stay as they are. Even so, change happens, whether we like it or not.

It can be unrelenting: changes in the economy, life marches on, relationships in flux as people grow and move on.

Heraclitus
“Change is the only constant in life.”

We can choose to approach it with mindfulness. How do I feel about these changes? What emotions am I experiencing about this situation or my future? This awareness needs to even extend to feelings that we may have about the past.

I want life to change, but I don’t want to change!

who wants change, who wants to change, who wants to lead the change
https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/change-management-comic-strips/

I recently heard Michael Beckwith say something along the lines of people always want life and their situation to change, but they are not willing to change! It reminds me of the comic that we have all seen:

Most of us want to see environmental changes, but how many of us are willing to make personal sacrifices and lifestyle changes that will have an impact? Many of us talk about political reforms and then choose policies that favour us, rather than voting in favour of the greater good.

Even in relationships, we want the relationship to improve. But are we willing to improve our communication, our listening and our empathy in the relationship? Are we willing to admit that we are 100% responsible for the current state of the relationship? The relationship that we have is simply a reflection of how we have expressed ourselves so far with this other person.

In very much the same way, we want our business and sales to improve in a company, and yet we look for “innovative ways” to continue doing what we have done for the past twenty years. We like the security of our comfort zone, rather than genuinely disrupting the way we’ve always done things.

Sometimes the changing times requires that we change our actions, responses and even thought processes.

The paradox that we face is this: we are always changing and yet never change. Think of how many times you have promised yourself that you will change. Then you didn’t. You started a new routine for two or three weeks and then fell back into your old routine and habits.

Nonetheless, if you look at who you are today and who you were ten years ago, without a doubt, you have changed!

What security do I lose if I dare to change?

One of the biggest challenges for change is our identity: “Who am I?” It is much easier to change what we do than it is to change our identity “who I am”.  When we mix in identity, it gets all complicated. We start to measure our worth and value by how we consider we are living up to that identity.

Nonetheless, we also start to complicate our identity with past versions of ourselves that we unknowingly protect. Our ego seeks to protect “this is who I’ve always been”. We fail to accept “this is who I am becoming”. It’s a scary world when we start to redefine identity, and we get scared and uncertain.

One of the things I love about mBraining and mBIT coaching is that it offers my clients a discovery process. Through the techniques used, we can explore who you are, in the present moment. We can differentiate past versions of identity and all the value and worth that they bring to who you’ve now become. We can even explore your “becoming” and how you envision your growth.

The invitation is to find your security in growing into yourself: think for yourself, listen to your heart and needs.

But understand that as you grow and change, there are risks of things around you changing as well.

Our relationships change and evolve:

Every relationship I have is in constant flux, even my relationship with my six-year-old daughter. If I’m honest, especially that relationship! As she grows and discovers her independence, I have to adapt and evolve my parenting style. The conversations that we have now are so different from a year ago!

So, while we accept that my six-year-old changes and grows, why is so hard to accept that in a year a thirty-year-old or a fifty-year-old will change and grow?

If you are focused on your personal or professional growth, you may outgrow some relationships. Are you holding them lightly or grasping them tightly? The same way that you cannot force a six-year-old to mature before their time, what makes you think that you can drag another person along your growth path with you?

Consider something simple: a decision to join a gym or a running club. How will this change in lifestyle impact your relationship with a sedentary family member or friend? If you were able to find time before to go to the movies twice a week, will this new active lifestyle take away time from the activities you previously pursued? And how will that change in priorities and time impact the relationship?

Every relationship is in flux: continually changing.

The question we have to ask ourselves in each relationship is simple: are our values and priorities still aligned? We grow apart when our values diverge, and we begin to spend our time differently.

Consider any relationship where you find you have grown apart: what values did you have in common that you no longer hold so dear? And how are you going to allow your relationships to define you?

Changes in our health and wellbeing

I have to admit it: until very recently, I struggled with the fact that I am ageing. I am no longer 29 going on 35!

One of the biggest challenges I faced was a failure to change my lifestyle, diet and exercise routine to accommodate my current reality. I no longer have the body of a 29-year-old.

At some stage, we have to accept that the time is now to adopt that healthy lifestyle that we thought we could choose later. I cannot stop the ageing process, but I can embrace it and enjoy excellent health, wellness and vitality at 47! When I finally accepted everything about my body (including Celiac Disease and SIBO), healing started to happen fantastically. I was finally working with the change, rather than resisting it.

Did I have a bit of a crisis before accepting this? Yes!

And I would encourage you to do the same: learn to love and accept your body, health and wellbeing where it is at today and work from there. Accept the changes that have taken place and embrace them.

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Changes in our career or finances

With swings and roundabouts of life, our jobs and funds can have highs and lows. You might be experiencing a career change that involves:

  • more responsibilities;
  • more significant interaction with other staff members;
  • leadership or supervision;
  • delegation of duties you used to take care of yourself;
  • longer hours;
  • more travel;
  • longer or shorter commutes or telecommuting;
  • new company;
  • more remuneration & benefits; or
  • networking opportunities.

Whatever the changes are, they will impact other areas of your life, perhaps even in ways you hadn’t envisioned. Having more money, for example, might change your priorities towards savings or a new home. If you are required to travel more, you might notice the impact it has on your relationships.

Every change you have ripples throughout your life. How mindful and conscious have you been of the effects on change: on yourself as well as on others in your life?  Do they continue to feel safe and secure in their relationship with you? What security do you feel in your finances and career as you change and grow?

May you live in interesting times

Our anxiety levels increase because we want to control not only what we do, but the outcomes and results of our efforts. Nonetheless, if we put our anxious energy to good use, we can focus it into problem-solving and creativity.

If you are struggling to accept change in a given area of your life: consider the cost of the status quo. Where will you be in five years if you make no changes and continue to resist? Does the status quo align with your values and desires?

Or would you prefer to adapt to the interesting times, finding new meaning and a level of security that you don’t currently have?

Finding inner peace in the face of change

The first step is an awareness of the change happening around us and how uncomfortable we are with the changes. What is currently taking place in your world that impacts your sense of security? Are you mindful of the fears that arise for you when you consider the change and growth that is asked of you?

I find it helpful with clients to focus on what they are afraid of: it’s not usually the change itself. Sit with your fear for a moment. What do you value that is threatened by the change? Most of the time, the way is through the fear: accepting all the implications and disruptions that change will cause.

I find it also helps to write two lists on a page:

  1. What I can control
  2. What is beyond my control

Then I have a look at how much time I am wasting worrying about all of the things which are beyond my control. Your point of power and fulcrum on which you can pivot lie only in the first list. When you turn your attention and energy to working only on things that are within your control: you suddenly realise that you can influence the outcome.

The daring adventure of a changing world

H.P. Lovecroft
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear is fear of the unknown.”

What if the change isn’t a tragedy that impacts your security, but rather a daring adventure of personal growth?

I invite you to explore these three steps in facing change:

#1 Connection & compassion:

Stay present, open-hearted even, in the face of change. Experience it, all the highs and lows, with compassion for yourself and others. Allow yourself, throughout the whole experience, to be present with your feelings and to notice how others around you are feeling.

For example, my six-year-old has been acting out lately as I have been working longer hours. I’m not only aware of it, but I am also making an effort to connect to her with compassion as she struggles with having less time with me and more time in after-school activities. Being stricter or cold is not the answer. Empathy and connection allow me to recognise her insecurity and respond to her needs.

As you do this, you allow yourself to create more safety and security in your relationships. As you notice your feelings and responses, you can practice higher emotional intelligence: how will I act with this person that feels threatened by the change?

#2 Creativity

A second challenge in the face of change is to tap into your creativity: think outside the box.

Our instinct, when faced with the unknown, is to play it safe. Most of the time, this means doing what we have always done. Unfortunately, this typically is the opposite of what the situation requires for us to navigate change successfully.

Allow yourself to get very present with the current circumstances: what response do these circumstances require of you?

#3 Courage to build a new comfort zone of security

Even if you have connection and creativity – without courage, you may be tempted to do nothing! To successfully navigate change requires courage to create a new comfort zone in which you have peace of mind and security.

Put your plan into play. Be courageous enough to talk to the people in your life that you value and love. Be bold – ask for help, build a new network of support, and create the connections you need to succeed in the changes you are facing in your life.

It’s easy to hope that the change will pass and things will go back to how they always were: but as much as things never change, they are in a constant state of flux, ever-changing.

Have the courage to allow yourself and others around you to grow and evolve with the times.

Are you struggling to navigate change?

Introductory Call

I am happy to jump on a call with you for thirty minutes to discuss how coaching could help you through the challenges you are facing.

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Overcoming fear: how to find the hidden treasures

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At age 22, I learned my first conscious and intentional life lesson in overcoming fear: you never actually stop being afraid. But that doesn’t have to paralyse you, leaving you frozen and unable to move.

Heights terrified me, anything more than five to six feet off the ground and I froze. As a kid, I still climbed trees, not entirely enjoying the experience, but too proud to admit my fear.

Don’t ask me to clean the gutters or paint the roof. Continue reading Overcoming fear: how to find the hidden treasures

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Absolutely love my body at 47 years old!

absolutely love my body, learning to love myself, ideal weight, inner energy, inner eating, emotional eating, stuffing down emotions, creativity, courage, bold, intuitive, committed, in flow, courageous, aware, resilient

More than eighteen months ago, shortly after being certified as an mBIT Coach, I started the process of learning Innergetics with Shirley Billigmeier (author of Inner Eating) and Suzanne Henwood (mBIT Master Coach and Master Trainer). Innergetics takes the process of inner wisdom of mBraining and focuses it onto your relationship with food. I like to say it uses eating as a thermometer of what is happening in your life. So, I chose to study Innergetics because I wanted to focus on my gut-brain (enteric brain). I was regularly suffering from bloating and discomfort, looking to find a way to love my body again. Continue reading Absolutely love my body at 47 years old!

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Burnout: discovering meaning, passion & purpose

I recently wrote a blog post on my personal blog about the road to burnout.  The signs, signals, and symptoms that burnout was around the corner were obvious:“When you’re burnt out, you often no longer see yourself as an agent of change in your own life. It feels like all your efforts and your choices no longer impact your outcomes.” Emilie Aries, surviving to thriving

  • exhausted
  • energy depletion
  • mentally distant
  • problems “getting the job done”
  • sense of failure & self-doubt
  • insomnia & chronic fatigue
  • constantly falling ill
  • emotional exhaustion
  • anger issues, cynicism
  • depression & anxiety
  • forgetfulness & inability to concentrate
  • withdrawal

But I had ignored them, blaming them on my auto-immune disease (Celiac). I continued pushing myself. I blamed the chronic low-grade stress in my life on my illness. And I mistakenly thought that my problem was my mindset, time management, and the need to establish clearer priorities. Continue reading Burnout: discovering meaning, passion & purpose