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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.

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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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Authenticity: what is truly important to you?

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One of the reasons that we find ourselves unhappy is our lack of authenticity. This sadness usually happens because we are unaware of being out of alignment.

For example, one of our values might be family and relationships. Nonetheless, our definition of success might be solely focused on our career and professional development. To be successful, we sacrifice our family and relationships, living up to our goals and dreams. Nonetheless, we feel that we are living a meaningless life.

Of course, this only happens because we are unaware of the disconnect between our values and our goals or purpose. To live a truly authentic life means to have certainty that our plans and goals align with what we want and need, truly aligning with our values and priorities.

#1 – Authenticity: What are your values?

At the start of this year, I redid the exercise of examining my values. What is essential to demonstrate in my way of being this year? I wrote about this is “Secrets of the heart: revealing my values”.  In “Values & Priorities: why identify them?” I have a quick look at how to identify your values.

Of course, the values that you hold at this stage of your life are quite possibly not the values you were taught that you “should” have. Some of those might still be your values. Nonetheless, you could be surprised to discover they aren’t what others imposed on you.

Possible values

If you took a list of 50 or 100 possible values, and you whittled them down to 5 values on which you could align and base your life and every decision you made, what would those core values be?

Those might be something like: “helping others,” “being creative,” “living a healthy lifestyle”, “financial security,” keeps promises, thriving, fearless, vigorous, motivated, productive…

Want to dive in and identify your values?

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

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#2 – Your authenticity: how do you define success?

Only once you know what your values are, is it possible to define “success?” Values allow you to measure when you are in alignment. Are your goals significant and essential? Only then will you know what success could look and feel like for you.

Is the life that you are currently living on the path to your definition of success? Or are you on someone else’s path? Are you chasing someone else’s dream?

You might be feeling that the actions you are taking are merely “going through the motions”. You are acting grudgingly and half-heartedly.  Part of you thinks this is a royal waste of your time because it’s not really what you want to do!

When you know who you are, what you value, and what your definition of success is, it’s much easier to think about question #3.

#3 – What is the purpose of your life?

When you are living your authentic life, there is also alignment with your purpose.

Put another way: What is your vision or mission?  What are your passions? When is your life ideal?  For some people – it’s a vocation, not a purpose or passion.

Maybe it’s not a “life vision” – maybe it’s a shorter term than that. The next five years. The following three years.

What is your roadmap of reality?  Where are you headed over the next few years? When you are living according to your strength – when your best self is shining through – what are you doing? And Why?

Do you have a purpose or passions that guide you – an instant checkpoint for evaluating your choices and actions – if you will.

Are you daring to dream? Do you dare to have a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal? Does what I am doing align with my values? Does it serve my purpose or bring me closer to leading my ideal life?

As you look at your purpose, allow yourself to consider:

Do the relationships I have and the people that I am choosing to surround myself with help and support me on this path to living my purpose according to my strengths & weaknesses?

When we know our purpose or our passions, what our ideal life would look like – inner respect becomes easier to attain. Our actions become fruitful because they have clarity of purpose!

When you have clarity of purpose, it’s easier to let go of the things that you cannot control. Letting go allows you to focus your time and efforts on the things that will make a difference, within your control.

#4 – Authenticity:

Are you true to yourself?

When you look at the big picture:

  • who you are,
  • what your values are,
  • your definition of success for your life, and
  • your purpose or passions

Are you living with authenticity? Or have you become so focused on the external – chasing the achievements & appearances – that you lost touch with the inner you?

Bringing about change: living with authenticity

If you are not feeling good – don’t look to the past.

You can waste a lot of time studying past decisions and try to come up with a reason as to what is wrong. Nonetheless, you can’t fix or change the past. It only answers the question of why you are today where you are.

The past may have lessons on paths to be avoided – but it won’t hold the answer of where you want to go from here.

Your strength and power lie in today, the present.

  • Where, in your life, today, are you out of alignment with that greater, inner you?
  • In what areas are you failing to live authentically?
  • Where are you lying to yourself or others about who you are?

What is that self-image that you have hidden behind a mask?

A poet, an artist, a writer, a politician, an activist, a helper, a gardener, a runner.

  • When you have clarity of who you are;
  • And you have clarity of what your values are;
  • When you have identified your purpose and passions;
  • Then speaking up for yourself and living authentically – standing your ground courageously on what you hold dear;
  • That becomes easier:
  • Because you know what you stand for;
  • You know what you believe in;
  • You know what it means to you.

And as you find this voice, as you live authentically, you will start to love your life once more.

You can choose how you get your lessons – with a sledgehammer or a feather.  Ask yourself whether you are willing to learn.

Are you willing to face the choices?  Once you accept the alternatives, realise you also agree with the consequences and results of those choices. Then, you choose & commit to moving forward on that new path of authenticity.

FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”

Your power lies within your respect for yourself. When you are true to yourself – you will respect that.
Others are compelled to respect that as well.

Have you discovered what is truly important to you? If not, what are you waiting for? When will you start to live authentically?

Have you signed up for our weekly newsletter? Beth Gray Coach
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Finding your voice: loving your authentic life

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For me, the year 2018 was all about finding my voice and becoming me authentically. I discovered areas I focused on people-pleasing. I was busy living up to expectations, rather than speaking my truth.

It came on the heels of burnout. I recognised that recovery required a new set of standards and values by which to lead my life!

Have you stopped loving your life?

Maybe some of the following words or phrases resonate with you:

  • Disengaged
  • Unfulfilled
  • Unhappy
  • Stuck
  • Inauthentic
  • Going through the motions
  • Living up to old dreams
  • Yesteryear
  • Living up to other people’s expectations
  • I forgot what the question was while pursuing the answer
  • Life just got in the way and took over

And then, one day, you wake up, finding you lost all respect for yourself and others and you ceased loving.

FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him, and so loses respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

The Power of Authenticity

There is an extraordinary power that is held in YOU being You. When I suggest you need help finding your voice, I am not referring to a writer or a speaker. Instead, I want you to find the power of the small, still voice – somewhere deep inside – that dares to stand up for you.

It’s finding that voice that dares to think your thoughts.
That dares to speak your mind.
That dares to make decisions for that are right for you – because they are right for you.
The voice that truly represents who you are – or perhaps, at this moment in time, who you wish to be.

I invite you to search for the best, authentic, true version of you.

  • The you that keeps your word – especially to yourself – that wakes up when the alarm goes off the first time. When you know the value of starting the day early, you keep the smallest promises to yourself. “I will get up at this time.” When you finally recognise that if you lied to yourself about something this insignificant, you couldn’t trust yourself for the more essential things in life.
  • I want you to find YOU – the you that keeps your word about how much exercise you want to do and how you want to feel in your body – because you care about you.
  • You keep your word about what you will do and get finished today because what you say to yourself matters.

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Because how you do anything is how you do everything.

Finding your voice is discovering the You that has investigated, for yourself:

  • What you really think
  • What you truly desire
  • And who you most deeply are: the deep inner you.

You are, in your own, unique way, really creative, truly compassionate and fiercely courageous.

They say that we come into this world as living souls of infinite potentiality to be discovered and released – when we dare to live life from the inside out.

A story is told of a man who sits brooding at his desk in the evening.
Earlier that day, he received his dismissal notice from a company that he had served for more than 20 years.
He’s busy despairing on the difficulty of getting a new job – at his age – the impossibilities of living on his income – the shock of finding himself dispensable in the world!
Useless.
Washed up.
A little spider was walking across his desk at that moment, and he unconsciously brushed it off.
Immediately he found himself watching, in awe, as this tiny creature took this disaster – of being swept into the air and off its path, and spun a tiny strand to bear its weight and gracefully swung down to the floor.

If that spider – a tiny creature – can get into the flow of using all its talents and natural resources and deal so creatively and gracefully with a crisis – why can we not do the same?

Your innate power lies within:

Could you invest a little of your time discovering your inherent ability?  This power comes from knowing who you are and what your strengths are and the resources that you have at your disposal.

The power of a person that owns what they say – that can compassionately, and yet clearly, say what they mean. Can you permit yourself to be you – warts & all?

– Jay Acunzo
“If you just stopped trying to be a better version of everyone else, you might find way more success using your creativity to be the only one who does what you do.”

Finding your inner voice: WHO AM I?

When you are alone, taking off the labels of relationships, religion, profession, nationality, and all the rest of the tags that society or even you have placed on yourself – WHO are you?

-Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist Philosopher.
“Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power.”

Know Thyself.”

Know thyself now. It does you little good to know the person you were ten years ago. Even the person you were last year is not going to help you out today. Who are you now?

Are you in touch with your feelings and needs?

We are human beings: who are you now? And I would even go further. We are human becomings: who are you becoming?

Most importantly, who do you want to become?  Understand “this is me here and now” even as I grow and change.

‘A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly.’

I started off asking if you were stuck, unhappy, disengaged. One of the issues with forgetting who you are – really, truly, deeply – is that you can’t express who you are because you don’t know any more. You’ve become trapped in the definition of self that you made up some time ago.  Or worse yet, you failed to define “who am I?” and so someone else told you!

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Finding your voice and identity: 

As you get to know yourself, you find happiness: I like this, but I don’t like that. Then you can say I want to do this and I don’t want to do that.

When you know yourself – you feel less conflicted.  Your actions will align with your inner feelings & values.

When you know the answer to “who am I?”, it’s easier to make better choices for yourself.

  • Do I like this sweater?
  • What would I like to eat?
  • What do I want to invest the rest of my life building?

Knowing who you are, and finding your inner voice, allows you to slow down. Do you feel that you are busy living your life with other peoples’ choices?  Or, are you choosing what you would like to eat? Do you love your body? How does this influence your wardrobe? Who decided your lifestyle?

Know Thyself

What are your limits & boundaries?

Here are some great questions to ask yourself:

  • How good am I at X?
  • How well do I do what I do?
  • What are my strengths & weaknesses? What are the limits of my strengths? Strengths might be your abilities, skills & talents – but don’t forget your character strengths –
      • Loyalty
      • Respect for others
      • Love learning
      • Emotional intelligence
      • Empathy
      • Encouraging others or a great listener

Do you know your “superpowers”- because knowing these strengths also gives you self-confidence!

Knowing and acknowledging your weaknesses allows you to hold back from accepting responsibilities or roles that you are not cut out for.

And one of the best things about knowing yourself, of really understanding your likes and dislikes – is having the power to say “no” when you mean “no”.  How many times do you say yes – to social obligations, to invitations, to responsibilities & commitments, when you wanted to say “no” because you weren’t standing in your power?

Do you need guidance in finding your voice?

 

Have you signed up for our weekly newsletter? Beth Gray Coach
Sign up to receive my weekly newsletter, which will let you know about my latest blog posts, as well as including a weekly journal prompt and weekly affirmations!
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How to separate decision-making from problem-solving

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Recently, I was putting off some crucial decisions about how I wanted to move forward in my life. And it’s not that I haven’t been looking at the issues and contemplating what I wanted. But I felt stuck.  Then, I came across a question in Wendy Craig-Purcell’s book “Ask Yourself This“, and realised my dilemma. I was mixing up problem-solving with decision-making.  

The question she asked as “If I could solve the “how”, what would I do?” Continue reading How to separate decision-making from problem-solving

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Values & priorities: why identify them?

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Yesterday I supervised a coaching session where the trainee coach was working with a “client” to identify their values. And I realised that for myself, it was really important to re-examine this area of my life, which I took time doing this afternoon!  I recognised that as life changes, so had my priorities!!

I wanted to share two things with you:

  1. The purpose of core values elicitation.  Why do coaches spend time eliciting their clients’ values?  What’s the purpose and “value” in doing this?
  2. My core values and how I define them: what do they mean to me?

The purpose of this exercise:

Continue reading Values & priorities: why identify them?