Life Coaching

Living His Passion - Eric Moses

Eric.Moses

Eric Moses experienced a childhood filled with challenges. At age four, his brother passed away after an asthma attack, leaving Eric as the only child in his already small family. That event was more than enough for anyone to handle, let alone a young boy, but Eric was forced to face another challenge when his mother suffered a brain aneurysm when he was eleven. Although she thankfully survived, her life—and his—would never be the same.

While continuing on his unique coming-of-age journey, Eric played sports, which he believes helped to keep his head above water. He made friends, excelled in basketball, and built his self-confidence. Looking back, Eric says his true inspiration was his grandmother. She was always laughing, making him food, and allowing herself to be the safety net he needed whenever he started to feel down. Later, his father filled the same role, becoming Eric’s idol more and more as he came to understand and appreciate his father’s unwavering leadership and unconditional love during a time of great loss and beyond.

As Eric entered his teenage years, he battled addictions that caused him to let his family down, lose many friends, and also his sense of identity. Thanks to a newfound interest in the sport of boxing, Eric was able to not only fight and win within the ring, but also fight and win the battle within himself to conquer his addiction. Through it all, he learned a valuable lesson: always be prepared for change.

As he continued to transform his life, Eric’s mentors helped him find his way into college. He originally thought he wanted to be a teacher, then a geologist, and finally he joined the university’s English program where he discovered he could write about anything and not be judged for it. But as he entered his final year of college, Eric had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do. He says, “I think my desire to complete college showed me that I could try for anything and everything in life.” It was that desire that led him to graduate and help found Free Wheel Media, a one-stop-shop web site for the least-biased online news available. “We went from writing our own articles to aggregating articles, and then back to writing articles. It’s been a nonstop of testing to see what works, but we’re finally happy with what we provide the public,” Eric adds. “We help them stay informed, not brainwashed.”

Fueled by perseverance, his passion for sports, and a strong determination to find his sweet spot in life, Eric applied three times at his dream company—Hudl—that provides tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. On the third attempt, he attained his first interview and eventually landed a much-coveted role in sales. Although the role was out of his comfort zone, Eric settled in quickly by focusing on making his clients happy.

Today, Eric is fulfilled realizing how his life has come full circle. Through his love for sports, he landed a role at his dream company. Through his love for writing and editing, he founded an innovative web site that provides unbiased news to a large audience. He says, “Sometimes you get the worst news possible. Sometimes the easy way out seems exactly that: the easy way out. Fighting through my troubles and letting myself be open to change has really made me the person I am today. The most valuable thing in life is to never give up.”

Eric’s boxing coach, Wilfred Davis, offers sage advice. “Keep your chin down but your eyes up. Don’t let anyone knock you out, but always be prepared for a good punch to the nose. With those eyes up, you might be able to avoid that punch to the nose. With the chin down, you won’t get knocked out if you can’t evade it.” He takes his coach’s profound words to heart not just in the ring, but in life.

Eric has been through much in his young life, yet his story to date is living proof that whatever life throws at him, he can handle it through his strong belief in himself, his abilities, and a determination to focus on the small things that provide the greatest happiness every day.

Despite suffering heartbreaking loss and unimaginable setbacks, Eric is living proof that it is possible to persevere through challenges by always preparing for change, fighting through the darkness, and never giving up.

For more about Free Wheel Media, visit https://freewheelus.com/,

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

How to Open Your Mind to the Possibilities

 Photo by  Anton Darius

Photo by Anton Darius

Our mind is a powerful piece of machinery that can work in our favor—and also work against us. When imagining all the possibilities in life, sometimes it is easier to shut down than it is to ask “What if …?” While analyzing opportunities or possibilities, it can be helpful to break each decision down and write down all the pros and cons. Additionally, it is important to be completely honest with yourself during this assessment. You don’t have to show your list to anyone. This is just for you. For example, your question and list might look something like this:

What if I sold my house?

Pros

I would gain freedom from yard work, house repairs, and hefty property taxes.

I would have more time to pursue my passions.

I could invest the profit from the sale for retirement.

Cons

I would lose a solid investment that generally increases in value with each year.

I would lose a significant tax deduction.

I would lose space for my dog to run.

I would lose great neighbors who know me and look out for me.

Now it is time to sit back and evaluate the pros and cons. Are there more pros than cons or the opposite? Are your pros stronger than your cons? Are your pros and cons realistic (R) or are they fear-based (F)? Write an R or an F next to each pro and con. Do you have more Rs or Fs? Finally, ask yourself one last important question:

Am I making this decision for me or to make someone else happy?

Although we all sometimes make decisions based on what is best for our families, it is equally as important to make decisions that fill our happiness tanks and give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Is this decision taking you to where you want to be? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate again.

Another example might be this question:

What if I take the job?

Pros

I would gain a 20% increase in annual salary and bonus incentives.

I would gain the kind of skills that I need to pursue my dream job.

I would gain a relationship with a superior who is nurturing, kind, and supportive.

I would be free from a negative culture that does not support the growth of its team members.

I would have regular hours that would allow me more time with my children.

Cons

I will lose three weeks of vacation.

I will lose the feeling of security.

I will lose an office with a door.

When contemplating career changes, it is crucial to your decision-making process to evaluate the role based on facts gathered through research, the culture of the prospective company, the personality and management style of your potential boss, and most of all, the gut feeling you get when you walk in the door for the interview. Trust it. It doesn’t lie.

Other sample questions might be as follows:

What if I move to Los Angeles?

What if I end my marriage?

What if my son goes away to college three states away?

No matter what decision looms in front of you in the future, following this process of opening your mind to the possibilities will lead you to the answer. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s not the right time for a change.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

Living His Passion – Ben Evers

 Ben Evers, Farm Focused

Ben Evers, Farm Focused

When Ben Evers was young, his parents purchased property outside Plattsmouth, Nebraska, with the intent of creating a horse farm. Little did he know at the time that the move would be the single most impactful change in his life. As life on the farm presented him with daily opportunities to perform chores, creatively solve problems, work with his hands, and develop a variety of skills, Ben grew up understanding the value of fulfilling work that instills pride. Additionally, he watched his mother walk away from a corporate job to start her own business. As her company developed and grew, Ben was by her side, helping whenever and however he could. Despite his desire to pursue other interests that included playing sports and riding a dirt bike, Ben never forgot the valuable life lessons he learned during his childhood.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Business Management and marrying his wife, Morgan, Ben pursued a career in retail management that took him from big box stores to a family-owned automotive collision repair shop and finally to a major auto parts supplier where he progressively moved up the ladder to become a district manager who oversaw over 200 employees. In 2015 after deciding that fulfillment was more important to him than chasing the dollar, Ben moved with his wife and their three children back to Nebraska with the intent of starting a business and getting back to his roots. A few months later, Farm Focused was founded near the horse farm where Ben first learned to embrace the country life and the value of hard work.

Driven by his love of working with farmers and a respect for agriculture, Ben started the business based on the idea of bringing efficiencies to local growers through soil additives at planting time that ultimately allow the grower to use less inputs (synthetic fertilizers and fungicides) and increase the health of the soil. Additionally, Ben focused his business on improving efficiencies of the diesel engine, the heartbeat of the farm. As the business grew, Ben added another sector to his brand by creating lifestyle apparel items that he originally created as thank you gifts and marketing collateral. Before long, a demand for his apparel helped him discover that there are surprises in every business. Ben states that he eventually realized that Farm Focused is not just a company that helps farmers, but also a relatable brand that people want to be a part of, no matter where they live or work. Since creating a great logo, Ben has built the line from one t-shirt to 10 separate designs in both unisex and female cuts, seven hat designs, and has even branded socks. Ben adds, “The growth of this side of the business has happened very rapidly. Today we are at a point where we are ready to take it to the next level.”

The farmers that Ben deals directly with on a daily basis all primarily grow corn and soybeans. He states that one of their biggest challenges is the current state of the commodity market. Unfortunately as smaller acre farmers start to fall off and massive yield farmers continue to produce higher yields than ever before, an increase in supply is outrunning the demand. Because of this, there are many progressive growers who are looking for better ways. That is where Farm Focused steps in to help.

A typical day at Farm Focused involves office business as well as time working on a diesel engine, walking fields conducting comparison analyses between treated and untreated soil, or staffing a booth or space at a county fair or other event. The company continues to evolve and change as Ben learns more about the industry and identifies opportunities to bring further products and services under its umbrella.

Ben openly welcomes the personal growth he has experienced over the last few years. “I have seen a different side of life and I am a happier and more content person today. Professionally, I have gained new perspectives that have allowed me to look at things a little differently.” He advises those who want to pursue their passion to build self-confidence first and then decide that you are going to make it, no matter what unexpected obstacles pop up on the path to living a dream.

John D. Rockefeller once said, Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." Three years ago, Ben Evers did just that when he stepped outside his comfort zone, listened to his heart, walked away from a corporate job, and jumped into building a business that would not only provide him with fulfillment, but also support his family. As he walks the fields and searches for innovative ways to help those who provide the world with food, there is no question that Ben is putting his all into going for the great. Rockefeller would be proud.

For more about Ben and his business, visit http://www.farmfocused.com/.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Living Her Passion – Hannah Olson Nodskov

 Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov has been passionate about fashion and entrepreneurship ever since she was a little girl who loved sketching outfits, drawing realistic figures, and creating a small flip-flop business with her mother. But it wasn’t until she was a junior in high school that Hannah decided to stop complaining about a lack of trendy clothes that fit her curvy body and taught herself to sew using Pinterest, YouTube, and Google. It wasn’t long before she was designing outfits that caught the attention of other plus-size teenagers and women.

Boosted by encouragement from friends and family, she debuted Hannah Caroline Couture a year later with a self-produced show in her high school auditorium. After twenty-five friends modeled outfits and other friends stepped in to DJ, emcee, and photograph the event, orders for her custom garments began pouring in. As her interest in business and fashion led her to pursue a business degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Hannah began to feel the love from Omaha’s vibrant, helpful startup community. In 2014, Hannah won a business plan competition at her college that she says pushed her out of her comfort zone to create a unique business plan, present it to a large audience, and then manage the subsequent press coverage.

After attending Full Figured Fashion Week in 2015 where she showcased her designs in the same runway show as such mega brands as Lane Bryant, the door opened for Hannah to transform her hobby business into a sustainable business that grew from a few local orders throughout the year to multiple orders per month from women nationwide as well as in other countries.

 Hannah on the runway with one of her models at Full Figured Fashion Week, 2018

Hannah on the runway with one of her models at Full Figured Fashion Week, 2018

Although she currently designs for women of all sizes, Hannah especially focuses her designs and ready-made collections for plus-size women using a larger standard production size than the industry uses. She is passionate about serving a niche of women who struggle with shopping for fashionable clothes that fit well, are comfortable, and take into consideration factors like bigger arms, large busts, nonstandard hourglass shapes, and differently proportioned shapes. “I believe my ability to understand these factors is crucial to the success of my business,” Hannah adds. She draws inspiration for her designs from architecture, interesting juxtapositions, and most often, the fabrics and materials themselves. Her business role model is Christian Siriano, one of the most successful winners of the television show, Project Runway and a vocal supporter of and designer for plus-size women.

Since inception, Hannah Caroline Couture has matured into offering what brings her the most joy: designing evening and bridal wear for the plus-size woman. During the day, Hannah works full-time in her dream role as Marketing Manager at a local sports technology startup, ScoreVision. At night and on weekends, she sews orders, plans social media posts, manages business finances, orders materials, and packs and ships orders to her loyal clientele.

Hannah says her favorite part about owning a business is the opportunity to make a difference in her customers’ lives and the opportunities that have opened up to her because of her business that include learning new skills and traveling to exciting places. Her challenges include balancing her perfectionism tendencies with personal relationships, a social life, and a solid self-care routine. Hannah states that the best piece of advice she ever received is to continuously gather feedback and never stop doing so. “Every time I want to expand or pivot my business, I make sure to ask for feedback from my target market(s) before investing time and resources in the idea,” she adds. “Paying customers guide businesses down the paths they’re supposed to follow.”

Being an entrepreneur has allowed Hannah to gain confidence in herself and her purpose. She advises other entrepreneurs to work on finding the balance between passion, ideas, and solving the problems of a target market. Hannah states, “Passion for something is great, but when things get tough, it isn’t always enough. Having a sustainable market is the best way to enable yourself to continue pursuing your passion.”

Renowned fashion photographer Bill Cunningham once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” Every time Hannah Olson Nodskov sits in front of her sketch pad or sewing machine, she focuses on bringing light, hope, and love through creative designs that help her customers remember that we are all beautiful, no matter what our size or shape.

For more about Hannah Caroline Couture, visit https://hccdesign.co/.

Living Her Passion – Chelsey Erpelding

 Chelsey Erpelding in her garden.

Chelsey Erpelding in her garden.

Chelsey Erpelding was a busy mother of two little ones, Edith and Bette, when she first began receiving Reiki, a Japanese technique that uses touch to activate the natural healing processes of the body and restore physical and emotional well-being. From that point on, Chelsey, who had become frustrated with the lack of support for mothers post-birth, was hooked on the nourishing effects of Reiki. Six months later, she began training to become a Reiki Master. It wasn’t long before her passion for healing, gardening, and creating natural products led her to open an online shop, Other Magic, LLC.

Chelsey, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public health, always yearned to own a business. But it wasn’t until her path led her to healing work that Chelsey discovered her true passion. After her love of vegetable gardening inspired her to grow more herbs and medicinal plants and contemplate how she could incorporate them into her healing work, Chelsey’s backyard transformed into an organic oasis for roses, mint, lemon balm, yarrow, bee balm, valerian, lavender, sage, thyme, red raspberries, blueberries, goldenrod, anise hyssop, chamomile, and other flowers and vegetables.

In 2017, she began researching how to infuse her garden plants in oils. Soon she was creating nontoxic products to sell through Other Magic, LLC, that include Rose Oil made with yarrow, rose petals, and rosehips; Face Magic Oil made with chamomile, rose hips, and hibiscus that are all high in Vitamin C and great for skin; Magic Salve created with yarrow and plantain that is tailored to help heal deep dryness, burns, scrapes, and bites; and Lemon Balm made to use as a protective coating for hands and lips. Today she is studying herbalism and is excited to grow new plants and create more natural products to sell in her online shop.

Chelsey’s favorite part of owning a business is that she is doing what she loves. When she is not fulfilling the duties of motherhood or performing Reiki for her loyal clientele, Chelsey is busy harvesting her garden and developing products in her kitchen. She says, “Some products can take weeks to prepare, so some days I am creating and other days I am bottling or shipping.” By pursuing her passion, Chelsey claims she has gained a sense of calm about her life. She adds, “I spent most of my twenties trying to find my purpose. I can now happily say that I am finally doing what I feel I am meant to do. I also know now that finding purpose doesn’t always look like a nine-to-five job. Finding purpose means digging into the things you love.”

Supported by her husband Brent, her family, and an incredible group of female friends who are always cheering her on, Chelsey encourages others to find the courage to put themselves out there and pursue their passion, even if it causes them to feel vulnerable. “Sometimes it takes a while to connect all of the dots when thinking about a passion,” she says, “but stick with it. Spend time with people who inspire you, do the things you love as often as you can, and keep your mind open to creative solutions.”

Vincent Norman Peale once said, “The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” When Chelsey Erpelding uses her hands to heal through touch or to plant medicinal herbs in her garden that will eventually be turned into natural products, there is no question she is investing in something much bigger than herself: helping others find happiness and inner-peace through healing.

For more about Chelsey and her products, visit her at https://www.othermagic.org/.

Learn to Let Go and Live Minimally

Photo credit: Christopher_Flynn

George Carlin, the now deceased comedian known for his sarcastic wit, once said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” It’s true. Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us have accumulated enough stuff throughout our lifetime to fill a house. Then when we think we have too much stuff, we don’t declutter, but instead buy a bigger house so we have more room for all our stuff!

Having a lot of stuff weighs us down. When we spend money on things we want, but don’t really need, we need to take a step back and evaluate why we are buying each item. If we are really honest with ourselves, are we buying a new dress or couch or phone because we’re lonely? Bored? Stressed? Trying to keep up with everyone else around us? Although this way of thinking forces us to look inward every time we reach for our credit or debit card, it is an excellent exercise that helps curb spending and forces us to focus on what we really need in our lives. If you’re always spending money on material items you don’t really need, how will you afford to travel to places you’ve always wanted to see?

If you feel weighed down by clutter, it’s never too late to begin removing it from your life. It’s easiest to break the project down into small pieces and accept that it will take you more than a day to complete. Think in terms of rooms instead of an entire house or apartment. Start with your bathroom. What can you remove from your medicine cabinet? For information on safely discarding medications, visit https://www.fda.gov. Do you have old shampoo bottles under your sink? Expired makeup or lotions? Toss anything older than six months old. Do you really need 20 bottles of nail polish or five different brands of hair gel?

Next, move to your bedroom closet. While going through items one-by-one, determine if you have worn the item in the last year. If you haven’t, toss it in a bin to take to a thrift store. If you have been holding onto your old concert t-shirts, evaluate if you wear them at least once every two weeks. If not, then either have a quilt made from them or take a photo of each one and create a wall collage. Recycle old hangars. Give away all shoes that are too painful to wear. And from this point on, pledge that for every new item you buy and place in your closet, you give another one away.

When decluttering your kitchen, start with your spices first. Check expiration dates and toss any that are past their prime. Look at all your small gadgets and appliances. Do you need five spatulas or just two? Do you use your immersion blender every week or just once every two years? Toss any dishes that are chipped or cracked and nonstick pots and pans that are scratched. Move to your pantry and refrigerator and toss any expired food items or leftovers in your freezer that have been there since cell phones were invented. Tackle your junk drawer and discard all of those refrigerator magnets you've been saving, old pencils and pens, and receipts.

Once you have decluttered your entire space, sit back and enjoy the feeling that comes with removing items that have been weighing you down. Then vow to take another pass at all your material items again in three months. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll toss again.

When we focus on making memories instead of accumulating stuff, we are happier, less stressed, and able to look forward into a future that does not overwhelm us but instead frees us to live in the moment and embrace the happiness that comes with living more minimally.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

How to Write a Happy Story Every Day

It can be a seemingly daunting request to write a happy story in just four words. But a recent Twitter hashtag prompted many around the world to take a stab at it. What resulted was an inspiring list of posts that included:

Had courage to change.

Passionately living my dream.

Love makes a family.

No one’s truly alone.

Sometimes even a creative hashtag can become a gentle reminder of how we should be mindfully living on a daily basis. When the sun rises each morning, we all face an important choice whether to write a happy story or a negative one.

Contemplating how to write our own happy story forces us to look inward and find gratitude for love, kindness, or friendship—not things—and also to embrace awareness for our purpose in life. Asking introspective questions of ourselves is a wonderful way to grow personally while making a positive contribution to the world.

Tomorrow, before your feet hit the floor, close your eyes and think about how you want your story to be written. Tap into your emotions and then recognize all you are feeling. Then think about how you want to conduct yourself despite your challenges. How do you want people to remember their interactions with you? What do you want to accomplish that will make you happy?

Keep a journal next to your bed. After you have identified your story for the day, write it down. Some examples might be:

Today I am going to:

Make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Show confidence in all I do.

Treat myself like I would a friend.

Practice positive self-talk.

Believe in myself and my abilities.

Take one step toward making my dreams come true.

Tell my children I love them no matter what.

Remember, you are the only one who can tell your story. Although you may not have the power over unforeseen events or hurdles that may occur along the way, you do have the power over your attitude and how you choose to impact those around you.

Writing your own happy story every day allows you to live in the moment and create the life you deserve. With every sunrise comes a new beginning. Get busy writing.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

Living Her Passion - Jean Thares

 Jean Thares, Owner Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

Jean Thares, Owner Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

As a busy Minneapolis mother and wife, Jean Thares always enjoyed her career outside the home that allowed her the flexibility to be there for her family. Still, she recognized the nagging feeling inside that she needed more. After raising her son and daughter, Jean stood at a crossroads, uncertain of where to go next. With help from her husband, she began brainstorming.

A self-professed lover of clothes and unique pieces, Jean had been a long-time loyal customer of Mainstream Boutique, a Minnesota-based women's clothing retailer built to empower, strengthen, and celebrate women through fashion. While researching franchise opportunities, Jean completed several assessments to discover what would make her happy. After each assessment pointed to working with women, Jean decided to take the plunge and open her own Mainstream Boutique.

Jean confesses she was afraid to own a business. “It was definitely easier to keep working for someone else.” While coming to grips with the fact that many new businesses fail, Jean says that weighing the pros and cons became an extremely important part of her research and decision to start a business. She adds, “It’s easy to be inspired by the stories of successful businesses instead of failed businesses. But studying failures is an essential part of the analysis before investing in a business.”

Once Jean made the decision, her opening came together quickly. Four months from the time she decided on the location, signed the franchise and leasing agreements, and hired a contractor to perform the build-out, Jean opened her boutique. Supported by her family and friends as well as other franchise owners, Jean soon realized how much she loved meeting people and helping her clientele find their own unique style and feel good about themselves.

Just like any business, there are challenges that come with the joys. Jean says that hiring and keeping excellent staff is her greatest challenge. “It takes the right person to help a woman find what she looks good in,” she adds. “I have had to adjust my schedule to work nearly every Saturday so I can be there for my customers. Being a present owner, rather than an absent owner, does make a difference to your business, sales, customers, and employees.”

Jean loves the variety that comes with owning a boutique for over two years now. She switches gears a lot between answering emails, posting on social media, working with vendors, directing employees, helping customers, paying bills, and attending networking functions. It is clear she has gained much since opening the boutique. “I’ve grown as a person and have met so many fabulous women. I also have a better understanding and appreciation for challenges in women’s lives.” Although Jean is careful not to focus on the success of the business all the time, she does feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when she looks back and sees how far she’s come as a business owner.

 Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

Her advice for someone who wants to open a business is sound. “Research and try to work in the business before signing any agreements. Decide what you are willing and able to sacrifice in your personal life. Find a good bookkeeper. Partner with people who know how to do things you don’t know how to do.”

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” There is no question that Jean Thares is a sailor at heart who waited for the right wind to carry her to achieving her dream. And every day when she walks into her boutique, she inspires other women to do the same.

For more about Mainstream Boutique of Northfield, visit: https://www.facebook.com/mainstreamboutiquenorthfield/

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Five Ways to Work through Life’s Challenges

 Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu

Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu

Life has a way of throwing challenges our way when we least expect them. One day we’re motoring along on our journey through life without major bumps in the road. But then when we least expect it, life throws a curve in the road that sends us in a direction we never anticipated. Oftentimes, an unexpected turn of events causes us to wonder if we are expected to overcome obstacle alone.

Navigating through challenges is like driving in a snowstorm. Even though you are a cautious driver, your car suddenly hits a patch of ice and, in just a few seconds, lands in a ditch. As you assess the situation, you realize you are the only car on the road. Suddenly you begin to panic. You have two choices: to attempt to shovel yourself out or to call for help. It’s hard to know what to do.

Unfortunately we will all face our own snowstorm at one point or another in life—and the same two choices. So, how do we know when to shovel ourselves out of a situation or ask for help? Here are five ways to work through a challenge and determine whether you need help from an expert:

1.      Assess the situation objectively. If your car is stuck in a ditch during a snowstorm, you’re going to get out and look at how bad it is, right? Then you’re going to determine if you can shovel your way out or if you need a tow truck. When assessing the situation, view the challenge as a stranger would. What is the worst possible outcome? Can I solve this challenge on my own and remain safe? What are the ways I can solve this challenge?

2.      Try a few solutions on your own first. Stay calm and go into problem solving mode. Mentally go over solutions or list them out on paper. Work through the problem one step at a time, just like a math student would. Select one of the options and try it. If it doesn’t work, try another. If your problem is not solved within a comfortable timeframe, then it is time to try another option.

3.      Be open. When seeking help from an outside source, you must first be honest with yourself and then with them. By showing your true self and communicating candidly, you are allowing the person who is trying to help see the entire picture, not just the movie trailer. Be open to ideas and solutions. Be willing to walk down a new path to find the answers.

4.      Learn from the challenge. What is your positive takeaway from this challenge? Could you have prevented it from happening? If so, how? If the challenge was unpreventable, determine one lesson you can extract from the experience that will help you become a better person. Remember, in every experience—good or bad—there is something to learn.

5.      Look forward, not back. It is easy to continually reflect on our most challenging moments, especially when they were negative. But when we are always looking back, it doesn’t allow us to see the beauty in front of us. Chalk up your challenge to a valuable life lesson and, as quickly as you can, do your best to move on.

Working through life’s challenges can be … well … challenging. Following these five steps will help guide you out of the snowstorm and to embracing the message behind the challenge, realizing a newfound resilience, and finding your way back to the road that leads to achieving all your goals.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

Three Ways to Become a Better Listener

Be-a-Better-Listener

At some point or another in life, we all want to be heard. When someone really listens to us, we feel appreciated, loved, and inspired. Unfortunately, there are times when we have all felt like no one hears us when we are speaking. In today’s world filled with distractions, it is becoming increasingly challenging to capture someone’s attention for longer than thirty seconds. The good news is that it is possible to become a better listener by following three easy steps.

1.      Put away all distractions and don’t interrupt. No matter how tempting it is, it is important to remember how you feel when you are interrupted while speaking, whether with words or a ringing cell phone. Does it make you want to shut down? Stop talking? Give up expressing your feelings? By putting yourself in the speaker’s shoes, you will remember how valued you feel when someone really listens to you. Actively listening does not mean you have to agree with the speaker. It simply means you are showing respect for a fellow human being and their freedom to voice their views and feelings. Silence your cell phone and stash it in your pocket or purse until the conversation has concluded.

2.      Make eye contact, smile, nod, and take notes if necessary. Show you are interested. If you feel your mind begin to wander, slowly bring yourself back to the present. Keeping eye contact shows the speaker you are focused and interested. Smiling and nodding are also two indicators that you are engaged in the conversation. If you need extra help in paying attention, take notes. Write down highlights of the conversation and then circle key points. Studies have shown that taking notes by hand improves learning and retention. More importantly, it demonstrates to the speaker that you are attentive and care about what they are saying. Finally, try not plan what you will say when they are done speaking.

3.      Repeat what the speaker is saying. Once the speaker has finished, it is okay to ask for clarification to ensure you’ve understood. You might say, “I want to make sure I’ve heard you correctly. You want me to know that …” Leave yourself open to correction as we often hear what we want to hear, not what is actually being said. This technique also leaves the speaker open to hearing what they’ve said and to emphasize a point or rectify an assumption.

Listening is one of the kindest things you can do for another person. By putting ourselves in the speaker’s shoes, we can embrace the skill of really listening—not just to the words, but to the power behind the words. After all, as the wise already know, great leaders always listen more than they talk.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.