Carol the Coach: Are You Willing to Do What it Takes?

Women want strategies to change things about their behavior but many times they don’t want to do the things that are necessary to bring about change.  The dilemma is that they are not ready to make the personal alterations in their lives that will support results.

When clients come in and describe their situations, I have a series of questions that I ask to remind them that the " desired strategies" are behavioral changes that they will need to implement to insure life-long success

 Does this sound like you? If so, read on and assess your willingness to do the work.

 ·         Are you ready to change?

·         Are you willing to do what it takes to change? 

·         What can you do to become personally responsible for your change?

 To determine your willingness requires some introspection. I would ask that you to spend at least an hour pondering the question, "Am I really ready to change?"  If you can answer with a resounding “Yes” then you need to assess are you willing to do “the hard stuff” to effect change?

Unfortunately, about 60% of the people who come in for an initial consultation want to change, but they are not willing to do what it takes to change.  They are hoping for painless strategies that will make it easier to change. The problem is that change is rarely easy or painless. It is a lot of hard work!

Did you know that it will increase the likelihood of success by at least 80% if clients who want to lose weight, will write down everything they eat in a food journal?  Unfortunately, many clients aren't willing to make tough behavioral changes that require discipline.  They want an easier formula to make weight loss happen.   Unfortunately, goal-setting is rarely easy.

I recently met with a middle-aged woman who was easily frustrated and reported having to deal with ongoing stress.  I explained that I could teach her skills like deep breathing and progressive relaxation to manage her stress.  In a disheartened tone she stated "I want you to help me alleviate the stress.  I don't want to learn how to manage it! She was clearly not ready to change.

 Lastly, are you willing to change your mindset so that you stay enthused about the change? 

 Can you look at change as an opportunity for personal growth?  Can you get enthused about substituting your behaviors?  Can you create a positive structure to support the new paradigm?  Whenever you embark on change you need to meet it with enthusiasm and energy.  If you go into it with a negative outlook it will sabotage your long-term success.   Altering your mindset is paramount to creating change. 

Your homework for the next month is to think of one small change you would like to make in your life.  Then, find some quiet time and ask yourself the following:

  • Am I ready to change?

  • Am I willing to do what it takes to make the change happen?

  • Am I ready to look at it with a positive attitude, focusing on the energy and excitement that it can generate?

If you can't answer those three questions affirmatively, you may not be ready to change.  Don't put the cart before the horse. Although wanting to change is a prerequisite for being able to make the very important behavioral changes; assessing whether you are ready to do what it takes is essential for success.

Carol the Coach: Managing Anxiety

As a mental health therapist and life coach, I encourage people to manage their emotions, and in today’s fast-paced world, the emotion that seems most out of control in many people’s lives is anxiety. Emotions occur naturally, but oftentimes need to be managed. Many people spend days, worrying about situations that have not even occurred. They believe that if they prepare for the situation, they will be more likely to handle it when it occurs. This creates anticipatory anxiety and it robs you from enjoying the moment.

“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.”

Much of the mindfulness work I do with clients involves them imagining that they can move the anxiety away with their hand. I ask them to spend one to three minutes visualizing how they may see a subject, and then put that fear in a compartment, in a box if you will, leaving it closed until the actual event occurs. Compartmentalizing feelings, especially anxiety, is a very helpful tool, because it teaches the client that although the emotion needs to be felt and dealt with, it also can be managed and kept in perspective. A simple way to change a feeling is to link it to a positive thought. The good news is that you cannot have two feelings at one time, so if you feel anxiety, you can change that feeling to a feeling of confidence if it accompanies a confident thought.

Here are some examples of how you can slow down, reduce, or alter your feelings by attaching a strengthening thought:

You have a specific deadline at work to complete a project. You recognize the project is not as comprehensive as you would have liked it to be. You feel anxiety about the project. You tell yourself that the next time you have a project, you will allot three more days to work the process so that you feel more confident about it. You also tell yourself that you have an innate ability to handle situations spontaneously, and your staff will really appreciate the work that you have done on it.

Your husband’s company is being downsized. He comes home on a daily basis complaining that he fears he will lose his job. You begin to worry insurmountably about your future. As a result, you nag and coerce him to look for other positions in the community. You are experiencing anticipatory anxiety. Imagine that you take that worry out of your mind by writing down your greatest fears. You put that paper into a special jewelry box and you close the box. You tell yourself that this is your husband’s issue and that he is totally competent and capable of providing for your family and that you will support him in any way possible. You share your feelings with your husband. You tell him that you will be doing three things on a daily basis to manage your anxieties about his work. You remind yourself of the quote, you will say a little prayer every day reminding yourself that you are not alone in this endeavor, and you will read an affirmation that will help him to know that you absolutely believe that he can land on his feet in all situations.

This, coupled with the belief that there is much gratitude in your attitude, will allow you to look for things that are working well in your life, and offset normal and natural anxiety. 

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and you get to decide how you manage it!