Tag Archives: coaching

Organizing as a Spiritual Practice

Being organized is a goal that most of us would like to reach. We can picture ourselves sitting at a desk with a clear surface and beginning our work without having to move piles of papers. We want to move easily through our day, feeling calm, finding the things that we need and having space to do our projects. But instead, we often feel disorganized, unprepared, and harried.

When I find myself struggling

When I’m struggling, running around in circles or stuck, I realize that I have lost my connection to my center. You may call this your heart connection, or your relationship to the Divine or a higher Being or What Is. Whatever you call it, if you’re in conscious contact with it, you can find clarity and peace, and have a totally different experience than if you are moving through your life without awareness of this connection.

Turn a problem into an opportunity

If you are trying to integrate your spiritual life with your day-to-day activities, you can use organizing as a point of entry. You can use just about anything as your focus, but consider how you could make use of your desire to be more organized.

For many years I’ve used organizing as a spiritual practice and found that it provides amazing -and continual- opportunities for me to grow and walk my talk.

When I go through a pile of things in my hall closet, I find that they represent more than 6 coats or a soccer ball or 4 umbrellas. They offer me opportunities to live my spiritual values–to be honest about what I need, to be generous, to repair and take care of my things, to create a welcoming room for visitors’ coats. I am able to continually define what I want in my life by making conscious decisions about the material things that fill my environment.

Bit by bit, as I go through my day, I will be faced with many occasions to engage in this spiritual practice—choices about how I will live and the material things that surround me.

Go inward

Take the time to  turn your attention inward. Our thoughts and emotions get our attention easily and even our bodies tell us after being mistreated, but sometimes we need to set aside our activities and be still to hear what our spirit is urging us to do.

What do you deeply want?

When you’re quiet, take time to become clear about what you are trying to achieve in getting organized and how that relates to your values. Consider how you can use a commonplace event as an opportunity to live your values and create order.

For example, your daughter hands you a permission slip to be signed. You have just gotten back from picking her up at school and running errands, and are now focused on your desire to make dinner so your son can get to soccer practice. Your first thought is “I don’t have time to deal with this now”. You feel frustrated, feeling torn between wanting to handle the permission slip so that it can be returned, signed, at the appropriate time and getting dinner on the table quickly.

“We are free up to the point of choice.  Then the choice controls the chooser.”
Mary Crowley

It is important that you recognize that this is the point at which you can make a choice that will either result in you rooting through the papers on the dining room table next week while the car pool waits, or in you making a decision to set aside time next Saturday afternoon to make a space to put such action items for your children’s school forms. Then when Saturday comes, follow through with what you decided to do.

Emotions can be cues

Let your emotion, frustration, be your cue. Frustration is caused by wanting to do several things at once, with a little irritation at being in this position thrown in. Emotions can be gentle taps on your shoulder to remind you to drop down into your heart and recognize that you have a choice.

Bringing your heart into your decision adds another dimension. It offers the possibility of practicing mindfulness and aligning yourself with your spiritual values instead of using logic and reason alone or following the lead of the loudest emotion. As you start your decision making process you need to be grounded in that part of you which can sense what is right for you at this time.

Remember your intent

A spiritual practice is a journey, and where you are at the moment is where you live your life. Now is the time you can make choices to live your life based on your deepest understanding and desires.

Coaching can help

Without taking the time to go within and check with my heart, I find that my emotions and mind can run unchecked and that my energy becomes drained. This is often the point at which I need help in bringing my whole self into the process to release emotional stuckness and connect with my deepest desires. I’ve found gentle reminders and assistance at this stage invaluable. Over and over I have grappled with this, which, ironically, makes me the perfect person to help you do this, too!

Am I centered all of the time? No, I’m not. Sometimes I’m in the flow and sometimes I find myself struggling or stuck. However, the gap between forgetting and remembering shortens with practice, and I don’t beat myself up for forgetting, I just get back on track. It’s like exercising a muscle–the more you practice, the more mindful you are.

As a coach and organizer, I’ve found that by using my awareness of disorder in my life along with awareness of my inner connection, I am able to choose actions that will help me achieve balance and peace in my day-to-day experiences, and you can, too.

If you need any help along the way, I’d be happy to hear from you. You can use the comment feature of this post and I will respond to your comments and questions. Or you can email me at thesherrymonroe@gmail.com or give me call at 573-446-3783.

This week look at frustration as a cue to drop into your heart and choose wisely!

Sherry

How do I know my decision is right for ME?

It can be tough to make decisions that will impact a number of areas in your life and those around you. A decision can become more complex the deeper you dig. You have to make some difficult choices about how you will live your life, what values you will consider as touchstones, and what risks you are willing to take. A list of the pros and cons may seem incomplete.

How do you make a decision that will not only look good on the outside but feel good on the inside? There is no definitive answer to that question, but you can find out for yourself. Let me give you an example of how one client corrected what might have been a poor decision for who she is.

An unexpected opportunity

A couple of years ago, my client was given a great job opportunity. She was offered a job which took advantage of the skills she had learned over 15 years in her current position and would promote her to management. There would be a raise in pay which would increase over two years, dependent upon her performance. She was excited about being in a leadership position. She hadn’t thought of herself as a manger before, so the offer took her by surprise.

When we met, her eyes shining, she talked about the advantages of the new job and the opportunities it presented in terms of the higher salary and recognition.  Although a little nervous, after reflection she thought that she was up to the challenge and that she could do all of the things the job entailed. She thought she was ready to accept the offer. However, days and then a week went by and she dragged her feet in responding to the offer.

When I asked her what was stopping her, she shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.” She looked puzzled.

Check in with your body

I asked her to check in with her body and see what it had to say. Often we tend to rely on intellectual reasoning, advice, and “shoulds” and ignore what our bodies have to tell us.  I told her to focus on where there was tension in her body and the quality of that energy for a few minutes and see what she could learn. She said that there was a surface layer of excitement, but below that there was a hesitancy pulling back part of her energy. She felt uneasy about something, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her body was warning her of some aspect that wouldn’t be a fit for her.

Project yourself into a decision

I suggested that since she had already looked at the terms of the offer, she should now close her eyes and project herself into that job several months into it.  She should take as much time as she needed to watch herself move through what would be a typical work day in this new position. After several minutes, she opened her eyes. She gave a little laugh with a frown and said that it was hard to project what might happen since she hadn’t done this job before, but that her day was okay…and her voice trailed off. She still couldn’t put her finger on what was causing her to be hesitant.

Does this decision match who you are?

I told her to close her eyes again, only this time she should imagine that she had the perfect job for her, for who she was. She shouldn’t worry about trying to decide what kind of work she was involved in before she started the visualization, but just start through her perfect work day. When did she get up? What clothes did she put on? Where did she go? What kind of building was it? What did she do once she went through the doors? Who was there? Where did she eat lunch and with whom, etc.

She settled in for another round and several minutes later, her eyes flew open. “I know what it is that bothers me! I’m not in an office by myself in front of a computer. I’m picking up some materials and going back out to my car. I go to see people at their places of work. I wouldn’t be happy sitting in an office by myself every day. I’d be miserable and always finding excuses to go to where other people were hanging out.”

Decisions which are right for you

My client longed for more direct human contact and physical movement at her job than this offer would provide. She decided it wasn’t the right offer—for her, but she felt that she could do better than her current job. She started looking around for other jobs that could use her skills and give her the freedom that she wanted. Ironically, at that point, one of the things she had to deal with was how other people would have dealt with the “great” job offer, but thanks to her body check she knew in her heart that she had made the right decision–for her.

A “Good” Decision

For my client, a good decision was based on both checking in with what her body was trying to tell her and projecting the details of her choice into the future to see how they felt. She needed help in acknowledging what her body was trying to communicate and in following through with a decision that was right for who she was. A decision based on external factors only, without including what your heart and your sense of yourself have to say, is a decision that will fail to satisfy you.

It’s wonderful that we all carry around with us a body which gives us physical clues to what’s right–or wrong–for us. Don’t forget to check inside when making choices!

Sherry

Procrastination

Do you ever have a hard time getting a project started?

I like to have things done on time and done well. I meet my deadlines, but that’s not to say that I make steady progress towards my goals or that I don’t experience stress when I can’t seem to get started.

Procrastination is not a stranger to me; it is something I face over and over. I know I have a task or project that I need to get done.  Whether or not to do it is really not up for discussion; I either need to do it or have determined I want to do it, and here it is— it’s time to get started and I have yet to begin.

It looms over me for days….

Let’s look at my experience in trying to write this blog and see if my progress (or lack thereof) sounds familiar to you:

I had already picked the topic (procrastination) and chose to use myself as an example.  So all I need to do now is sit down and start to write, which should not be too difficult.  Let’s see if it is….

1.  I bought groceries (what if I starved while trying to write?)
2.  I re-arranged my living room furniture, (no excuse, I just wanted to) which led to…
3.  Re-arranging the furniture in my meditation room (that feels better!)
4.  I decided to clean off my desk (who could write in this mess?)
5.  I organized my notes from several meetings (what if time goes by and I forget?)
7.  I replied to three e-mails (before they move down the list and I forget)
8.  I made 2 phone calls (OK, I’m just out-and-out procrastinating here)
9.  I got a drink of water…

You get the idea.

I feel productive with these other things done but I’m starting to feel stressed and anxious and the longer I procrastinate, the more stressed I feel.  All along I realize that I am doing things that are lower in my priorities, perhaps not even on the list! And, I’m doing an amazing job rationalizing my choices.

So I sit down and think about the job ahead, and snap, bang, clunk! I step into another place that I don’t need to be.

Avoid the trap of “Awfulizing”

When you are spending a good part of your energy projecting your life forward with various scenarios and awful outcomes, Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, called this “awfulizing”.

Awfulizing. I love that word! It’s so ridiculous that it reminds me that I’m being ridiculous and out of touch with reality when I do it.

Instead of writing my blog, I first awfulized about a lot of things that might happen: What if I had nothing to say that appealed to anyone? What if I sounded too serious? What if my sense of humor turned people off? What if my writing wasn’t good enough? What if…??? If these things happened, people wouldn’t like me, respect me, trust me, etc. I was boxing myself in and I couldn’t mentally find my way out.

How do I get myself in gear?

This is when I need to do what I call “prime the pump.”

“Prime the Pump!”

My grandparents lived in the country and had a hand pump in their yard that was hooked up to their well. To get water to come out of the pump, they first moved the handle up and down several times. The motion of raising and lowering the pump handle was necessary to get the water to flow. As a small child from town, I thought the whole thing was weird:  why do you need a pump in the yard and why do you have to pump it up and down so many times before the water will start to come out?   More important than learning about the science of pressure, that visual image of my grandparents priming the pump taught me something useful that I apply to my life frequently:

Action begets action!  And sometimes you have to start a process in motion before you can expect to see some results.

A similar principle is referred to when you hear people say that to get something done, you should ask someone who is busy. They are already in motion, so they don’t have to start from a dead stop.  Inertia is hard to break out of—it takes effort to start moving.

Below are some suggestions on how you might “prime the pump” to get yourself in motion when you find yourself “stuck” and unable to get started:

Prime the Pump # 1:  Be creative

For me, priming the pump is usually doing something creative that allows my mind to take a back seat. When I sit down to do something and I’m stuck, I will get out my sketchpad and pastels. I’ll draw or do some abstract art about the task ahead. I lose myself in the artistic act itself. I become energized and more creative just by doing something creative. It gets me moving. I can then shift back to the task that I hadn’t been able to begin with my mind freed from my fears and unproductive thinking. In other words, I first get my creativity flowing and can then transfer that energy and creativity to my project.

For you it might not be anything artsy. It might be playing a round of golf, or taking a walk in nature, or cooking a casserole, or…name something relaxing and fun. The idea is that you become absorbed in what you are doing and lose yourself in it.

Prime the Pump # 2:  Lose yourself, find…inspiration

Losing yourself in something can be useful. It allows you to relax; you don’t have to keep thinking of reasons why you can’t do what you are “supposed” to do. You don’t have to keep banging your head into that wall.

When you are truly focused, you also are tuned into this moment now. When you lose yourself, your entire focus is on what you are doing. You can see it and sense it with your entire, undivided being.

Inspiration strikes when you are fully in the moment. Or, it may sift in on wings with a “ta-duh!”  However you experience inspiration, you can be sure that it won’t have a chance to be seen or heard if you are dooming and glooming.

Prime the Pump # 3:  Reach out for help

Just reaching out, to a friend or a coach, to discuss the task or project you are having trouble with can be a tremendous start.  Discussing the project with someone else is taking action! There are various “tricks” you can use to get yourself moving, and I can help you find some that will work for you if you are stuck.  Being stuck is a very unpleasant feeling, particularly when you really want to get somewhere and you’re running out of familiar options. It’s also helpful to have some support so you can avoid awfulizing and overcome obstacles you encounter.  Sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective and you can find a way to get started and get moving on a path that will end up where you want to go.

One of my favorite quotes is from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.:

“The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand
as in what direction we are moving.”

Have an inspiring day—take a creative break—and get moving!

Sherry

Perspective

I met a friend recently who I hadn’t seen for awhile. The last I had heard from him, he was excited about moving out of a job that wasn’t working for him into a new job that was very promising.  However, when I asked him about how things were going, his face fell. After some hesitation, he told me that he was finding it difficult.

I asked him to tell me more. I knew that he had had to move to a new city, but he said that he really liked his new surroundings and apartment. He was now working from his home, but he had set up a home office and that wasn’t the problem, either.  The issue for him was that he was being asked to make cold calls. He was used to working from a list of clients or prospects who had already indicated an interest in the company and their product. It was complicated further by the fact that he was not familiar with the new company’s product and found it almost impossible to make a call. He hated cold calls. In fact, he feared them. He would psych himself up and then feel so bad after getting turned down that he would spend hours trying to get his head in a place where he could make another call, only to have the same thing happen.

I have to do it—but I can’t!

I asked him if he had ever done cold-calling before. He said no. He said that he had talked to his boss, but his boss insisted that everyone had to do this at first and pointed to research that showed that for x number of calls there was always a certain percentage that would say yes, and that number was sufficient to make it worthwhile. His boss told him that he would get better as he did it and not to worry.

 I fail, again and again

This wasn’t the answer that my friend had been hoping for. He tried again, but he found that in fact, his anxiety was growing. He tried to relieve his anxiety by doing some physical exercise in between calls, jumping jacks or his treadmill or lifting weights. But instead of feeling more relaxed and gaining a sense of conquering his fears, he was becoming exhausted from all of his physical activity and his sense of failure was growing. He was even beginning to doubt his decision to leave his old job and its frustrations—at least it hadn’t involved calling strangers and stumbling over what he was selling. In the back of his mind he knew that it might be true that he would get better at it, but it was becoming more and more impossible for him to pick up the phone.

 What is success?

I asked him if he believed the research that his boss had quoted. He said, yes, he had heard it before and knew that it was pretty accurate. I thought a moment and then asked him “What would you consider to be a success in this beginning phase of your new job?” He frowned and thought about it for a minute. Finally he said in exasperation “I want someone to say yes!!!”

 Perspective kicks in

I looked at his tense features and heard the desperation in his voice. I then asked, “If you really believe the research numbers, then it;s a matter of re-defining ‘success’. What if you trust the numbers and decide that the same figures will work for you, too? You’ll get the same percentage of yeses if you put in the necessary number of calls. You could make a chart on the wall listing the number of calls you want to make your daily goal. Mark off each call, knowing that you’re on your way to make the numbers prove themselves. Success is now how many calls you make every day instead of how many prospects say ‘yes.’

 Wise use of your time…

Along the way, you’ll hear the questions you need to research. The time you spent before avoiding a task you see as unpleasant can now be used to build your knowledge of your product, confident that you are doing all that you can do in your new job.”

His eyes grew big. He was silent for a moment. Then his body seemed to relax a little and he started to smile. “I could do that. Yeah, I can see myself making calls if I’m not worrying about whether or not I will hear a ‘yes’, beating myself up and then jumping to my fears about what might happen in the future.”

 Has this ever happened to you? 

It certainly has happened to me, and not just once, but regrettably many times. We can worry so much about the outcome that we aren’t able to focus on being open and simply doing the work. I have to keep reminding myself that if I am clear in my heart about the direction I want to go and what I am wanting to do, I can become fully involved in the process and  let it feed me. I can use my energy on my work, planting seeds instead of continually pulling up the seed I am planting to see if it has grown any.  I also avoid hurting myself on the thorns….

 Let the results take care of themselves

My life just works better if I focus on the work I have chosen mindfully and let the end result take care of itself. If the results aren’t what I want, I know that I gave it all of my energy instead of spinning my wheels judging my performance as I go along and projecting my fears into the future. I can step back and look with an open heart at what is happening and then make the necessary changes. Without fear and self-limitation, my work can move forward with the proper course adjustments!

Have a heart-filled day!

Sherry Continue reading