life coaching

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.

 

How to Avoid Catching Negativity

A cold is contagious. The flu is contagious. But the one thing that is more contagious than anything is negativity. Thankfully, all of us have a choice every day whether to be a carrier of the kind of attitude that spreads faster than anything else in life.

Think about what happens when you encounter someone in the hallway at work. You smile and innocently ask, “How’s your day going?”

When their response is something like, “Oh, it could be better,” or “God awful,” or “I’ll be glad when it’s over!”, our natural instinct is to sympathize and then ask, “Why, what happened?” Before we know it, suddenly our need to relate prompts us to nod our heads in agreement and subsequently grumble about things that we may have brushed off as insignificant only moments earlier. And so the cycle begins.

Now as we part ways with that person, we have sadly become a carrier of the same infectious pessimistic attitude. Even worse yet, our smile may have disappeared, our heart rate may have increased, and we may not have the same spring in our step. Luckily, all hope for staying positive, even when those around you aren’t, is not lost. By following these five simple steps, it is possible to be sympathetic to someone who is suffering while still managing to avoid catching a negative attitude:

Believe that you have control over everything, including your mindset. No one forces you to take on a negative view of anything in life. We are all on this earth to love and learn. When looking at each experience in life as a lesson, it becomes possible to transform negativity into positive energy. Silently repeat to yourself throughout every day, “I am in control.”

Find a way to gracefully move away from negativity to a place of peace. While conversing with someone who is drowning in pessimism, remember to breathe while discovering a balance between feeling empathy and not transforming into a sponge. Smile and nod, pat their hand, and show them that you care. But ending it there and not carrying the attitude with you throughout the rest of the day empowers you to stop the cycle.

Focus on the positive aspects of every day. No matter what happens, there is always good in every day. Perhaps a stranger opened the door for you or your dog greeted you at the end of a long day with a slobbery kiss. Maybe a friend called unexpectedly and invited you to dinner. When feeling yourself caught up in a negative cycle, train your mind to concentrate on the good in the world. If you are somehow not able to find the good in others, perform a random act of kindness yourself.

Practice gratitude for the simplest of gifts. Many of us take the simplest things for granted. Not everyone in the world has clean water and a warm bed. Others do not have good medical care or a house without a leaky roof. When those surrounding you attempt to pull you into their darkness, focus on what you have, not on what you do not have.

Surround yourself with friends and family who share your attitude that life will always get better. While sometimes it is not possible to avoid negative people, it is possible to create a squad of supporters who believe in you, encourage you to follow your dreams, and love you unconditionally. If you are not receiving what you need from anyone in your life, it is perfectly okay to give yourself permission to move on.

When you wake up tomorrow and begin preparing for a new day, remember this: No matter what you are wearing on the outside, it is the attitude you are wearing on the inside that people remember more. Now go tackle the world.

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.

Release Your Need to Be Right

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

There are times when it’s important to be right like when taking away the keys from an impaired driver or performing CPR to save a life. But in today’s divided world, the need to be right is often ruling many conversations and discussions, either in person or online. Expending all our energy in an attempt to sway someone to believe the way we do can be exhausting and frequently limits us in listening to and accepting the views of others. So is it really possible to release our need to be right all the time?

There is no question we all want to be heard. Our opinions, thoughts, and feelings are important. But it is equally as important to stop talking and listen during a conversation with loved ones or strangers on the subway or a Facebook friend. Truth be known, we are not all alike in how we view the world around us. Our perspectives are different and that’s a good thing. When we listen to and honor the opinions of others—even when we disagree—we not only open ourselves to new possibilities, but also to new ways of thinking. Simply put, letting go of our need to be right expands our knowledge of the world around us.

In breaking old habits such as the need to be right, it is sometimes helpful to utilize these three tips:

Take a deep breath. During a passionate or heated conversation, it is easy to become defensive when believing, “I must convince this person to think exactly how I do.” Instead of using all your energy to sway the person to your side, instead take a deep breath to remind yourself that it is okay if we all view a situation a little differently.

Really listen. Instead of thinking about what to say next to defend your own views, really listen to the other party (or parties) in the conversation. Everyone offers a unique perspective. Even if you passionately disagree, listen anyway. Remember, we are all in this world to learn. If you are always talking over others, how will you learn?

Express gratitude. Thank them for expressing their opinion. You might say, “I appreciate your opinion. I may not always agree with you, but I enjoy that we can have a respectful conversation with each other.” It is a blessing often taken for granted that we live in a country where we are free to express our opinions.

Releasing your need to be right comes with the possibility of viewing your life—and those around you—in a new way. It is really okay if they do not think the same way you do. Think about it. How many times have you actually changed someone’s mind when they firmly believed they are right? When you let go of your need to be right, you allow yourself to be free. Your opinions belong to no one else but you. And that feels pretty darn good.

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 Easy Steps to Implementing Self-Care into Your Life

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

In a busy and competitive world, it is sometimes easy to place self-care on the back burner. We spend long hours at the office, drive our kids to soccer practice, care for our aging parents, and eat meals on-the-go. With “to-do” lists a mile long, we mistakenly believe there is not a free moment left in the day to focus on ourselves. Thankfully, there is good news. There are simple things you can begin doing today to create and implement a self-care routine that allows you to take a breath, focus on your own happiness, and ultimately find the good in every day.

Take a 20-minute walk outdoors. Being out in nature boosts your immune system while providing a gentle reminder that life, just like nature, changes often and, in the process, creates beauty. By turning your focus to the color of the trees, the warm sun, and the blue sky, you give your busy mind a much-needed rest and allow yourself to just be. Walks can be scheduled on your calendar, just like meetings. Appointments with yourself are just as important as appointments with clients, your boss, or a friend.

Find one thing to be grateful for every day. Whether it is clean water, a warm bed, or a car that starts on a cold winter morning, it is important to recognize the simple things in life we take for granted that so many others wish they could have. Every night before bed, make a mental note of what you are grateful for. This exercise takes only a few moments and will provide you with the kind of fresh perspective that leads to unlimited happiness.

Say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Your colleagues will still like you if you occasionally turn down an invitation for after-work drinks. Your family will still love you if you say no to doing laundry on Sundays. Your friends will still want to be your friends even if you have to reschedule a lunch. It’s okay not to be so busy that you just run from one place to the next without focusing on the here and now.

Meditate. Meditating does not have to include sitting cross-legged on the floor, burning candles, or listening to New Age music. Meditating can occur while you’re on the treadmill, on your lunch hour, or while you’re lying in your bed at night. The process of meditating means that for a short period of time, you are allowing your mind to rest. Simply repeating peace-invoking words in your head like “love” or “joy” can provide serenity to even the most stressed of souls. Meditation lowers blood pressure, heart rates, and can even help promote creative thinking.

Practice empathy and forgiveness … for yourself.  Implementing positive self-talk is a valuable component of a daily self-care routine. Learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes. We are here on earth for two reasons: to love and learn. Talk to yourself empathetically like a friend would. Tell yourself that it’s okay if you make mistakes, that you’re not perfect, and that life will go on, just as it always has. None of us are flawless. Don’t expect yourself to be either. Remember it is just as important to treat yourself as well as you treat others around you.

Implementing a self-care routine is an important part of achieving a happy and fulfilling life. You are worth it. Start today. I promise you won’t regret it.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Transitions 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.