Monday Sparkles: Is Your Life Balanced?

 

One of the most universal bits of wisdom is that there should be a certain balance in our lives: We need a degree of material security as well as emotional and spiritual fulfilment, we need success both in the “outside”, public world and in our private lives, and we’d all agree that body, mind, soul, and spirit all deserve equal attention and fulfilment. Holistic medicine tells us that this is the key to well-being.

I used to struggle with this. My life tends to focus on one area at a time, rather than balancing everything nicely. For years, I felt like I was missing a crucial skill to keep things even, and spent a lot of energy trying to change. It took me a while to learn what balance is really about, and I have since come across a lot of other people – including my Coaching clients – who face similar challenges, and so I decided to give you my own take on the subject.

 

When life takes over

In the introduction to his book First Things First, Stephen Covey writes how his daughter once told him she felt like she was failing at the “7 Habits” and at keeping things in balance, because she’d just given birth and suddenly everything revolved around the baby. Covey told her that there are times in life when certain areas in life take over and there is nothing wrong with that. As a new parent, of course you will focus on your baby for a while. It’s natural and how it should be.

Where, then, does balance come in? The answer is: Weeks, months, or even years later. Babies grow up. Whatever situation we might find ourselves in, which may lead to us focusing on only one or two areas of our lives above all others, will eventually make way to new developments. As they say, nothing is as permanent as change. As life turns into a different direction, a new focus will command our attention.

 

But what about balance?

I remember a long-ago biology lesson in school, when we were taught about something called a “dynamic balance”. What this means is not a state where things are smooth and even at all times, but a dynamic situation with many swings, even extremes, in either direction. The “balance” happens in between those extremes, meaning that all in all, things cancel each other out.

In other words, instead of having a continuously even life, flowing steadily like a river, you can have an emphasis on different things at different times and swing up and down, and still be in balance overall. The highs and lows, the different areas, are in balance when you look at them as a whole. Does that makes sense?

In other words, there’s no need to frantically try to pay attention to everything at the same time. You do not fail at life if you’re studying for an exam and fail to go to the gym for a few weeks. There’s no harm in falling in love and spending less effort on your other relationships for a while – just as long as you eventually go back and catch up with whatever it is you left behind.

 

Peace of mind

The reason why this principle is so important to understand is that our lives have a lot of different aspects, and it can be very stressful trying to keep all balls in the air at the same time. Realising that there’s nothing wrong with putting down a few of them and juggling just one or two at a time, can be sanity-saving.

You can dedicate yourself to your family, or your creativity, or your health when you feel called to do so. Obviously, you need to keep up a basic level of functionality in other areas of your life, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking they all need equal attention. Life just doesn’t work that way, and there’s no need for you to force yourself into trying to fulfill a theoretical ideal.

With my own Coach, I take stock at regular intervals to see where I stand in different areas of my life. These are the times to make adjustments and maybe pay a little more attention to something I’ve let fall by the wayside for a while. I do the same thing with my own clients, and if you’d like to try it too, simply schedule a review in your calendar twice a year. If you keep track of things, you needn’t worry when life tilts “out of balance” – you’ll know you can always make a shift in the opposite direction at your next checkpoint.

​​The above is the lead article in this week’s Monday Sparkles. Join the tribe to receive the full newsletter, exclusive offers and insider info (100% spam free), by filling in the short form below. You will get:

  • A weekly newsletter with free Coaching magic every Monday
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  • Insider “behind the scenes” info about Wild Spirits Coaching
  • A free worksheet and the valuable “One-Year Goals Workbook”

 

Smart Routines For Wild Success

 

 

Some reactions are fairly predictable. When I tell people I’m a Coach, they usually assume I teach people what to do (which I don’t, as explained in this article). When I talk about routines, people roll their eyes and think of a boring, restrictive practice designed to keep them from being spontaneous and having fun.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I’d actually say that the opposite is the case: Routines, used in the right way, will free you up to be spontaneous and make time for that which brings you joy in your life.

Routines are a Wild Spirits best friend. To make them work for you and avoid pitfalls along the way, I’ll give you a detailed roadmap below.

 

The science

A lot of people assume that their minds take in all the information and all the sensual impressions around them all day. In fact, it would be absolutely overwhelming for us to try and process the billions of details and information our brains are bombarded with all day. Therefore, most of them end up as quick impressions stored only in our subconscious. We aren’t even aware of them.

What we consciously notice is what the brain has deemed important information. We have a degree of control over this, for example someone who cultivates a positive focus will consciously notice things which re-inforce this focus.

The lesson behind this is that our minds have a limited capacity. That’s why, when you are preoccupied with relationship trouble or a pleasant memory of the weekend, you find it so hard to concentrate on the work in front of you!

 

Routines to the rescue

Habits and routines help us free up “mind space” because they become, well, habitual and therefore take up much less attention. Think of actions you perform every day, such as taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Your mind is completely free to wander, because you hardly have to concentrate on what you’re doing.

The idea behind implementing smart routines is that they will become almost automatic and use very little of your mind’s power, thereby leaving you with plenty of energy and focus to do what’s actually important to you.

Here are examples of useful routines. Simply pick what sings to you and spend the next weeks implementing the new habit. Remember, you need to stick with it for at least three weeks for a new routine to become automatic!

Morning routine – If you start off your morning in the right way, it’ll set the tone for the rest of the day. Consider things like 15 minutes of reading a positive book, five or ten minutes of meditation, yoga, or simply sitting with your tea or coffee for a few minutes and relax before leaping into the chores of the day. It’s well worth getting up a little earlier for this.

Workout routine – Research has shown that we are more likely to stick with a workout if we do it around the same time every day (or twice a week, or whatever suits). I have a friend who goes for a run as soon as he comes home from work, every day without fail. If a practice becomes this automated, it’s hardly a question of motivation anymore. He told me he’d feel weird if he didn’t go!

Self Care routine – A Self Care routine could be 15 minute bath in the evening or daily journaling, a walk in nature, or something really simple: I’ve found that I need a little space for myself when I finish up work, around 15 minutes just to wind down. I honour this need even now that I work from home, and it’s doing me very good.

Evening routine – Saying your prayers before bed, or reading a book for half an hour, are little habits that are easy to acquire and maintain. A bedtime routine also helps you to fall asleep more easily, as any parent with a toddler can confirm! It’s not just for children, though – if you try it out, you might be surprised at the beneficial effects.

I hope this list inspired you to think about routines you might already have, and new ones you’d like to implement. You can always tweak an existing routine if you find something else works better for you; our situations change, and so do our needs. Once you have working routines in place, you’ll discover how wonderful it feels to have the everyday things taken care of. And then you’re free to focus on your joy and passion(s)!

 

​​The above is the lead article in this week’s Monday Sparkles. Join the tribe to receive the full newsletter, exclusive offers and insider info (100% spam free), by filling in the short form below. You will get:

  • A weekly newsletter with free Coaching magic every Monday
  • Special offers exclusive to subscribers
  • Insider “behind the scenes” info about Wild Spirits Coaching
  • A free worksheet and the valuable “One-Year Goals Workbook”

 

The Money Spending Trap

 

Have you ever noticed the obvious contradictions in experts’ money and abundance advice? Some tell you to save money above all else, others insist that in order to be abundant, you need to live as though you already had material wealth, and treat yourself to luxuries.

When I embarked on my journey to learn about finances and change my money mindset, I often ended up tearing my hair trying to figure out which strategy to use. Remembering how confusing I found it all, was one of the reasons I decided to create my new “Wild and (Financially) Free” program which will be launched next month.

I thought I’d give you a bit of a sneak peak into the contents of the program.

 

Save or “be abundant”?

As usual, it’s not a question of either/or. Instead, you need to go a little deeper and differenciate. Here are a few points to consider:

Saving doesn’t necessarily mean denying yourself what you’d like to have. T. Harv Eker taught me to think of saving as “paying myself”. When I put away a certain amount every time I have money coming in, I think of it as the salary I pay myself.

Spending doesn’t have to mean going over the top either. If you spend money on yourself and things you love, it can make you happier and feeling well-cared for. The trick is to know what to spend money on – simply throwing cash at everything which takes your fancy, is definitely not the way to go.

There is a fine line between impulse purchases and things you truly love. Impulse purchases are pretty things which catch your eye, online or in a sale. You get a momentary rush of happiness from buying it, but it wears off quickly. If you, however, purchase something related to your passion(s), you will get enjoyment from it long-term. These are the things which truly make you feel abundant.

 

The multi-passionate issue

There’s another complication if you happen to be a multi-passionate like me. The issue is that there are simply so many things we love! Applying the filter I suggested in the previous section can still get you in trouble as a multi-passionate; you could always justify your purchases because they aren’t a fleeting wish but represent something you are actually passionate about.

The answer to this issue is prioritisation. Even the biggest multi-passionate cannot focus on everything at once. Here’s an example: For me, the last 12 months were about following my passion for historical combat and archery. In order to get going, I had to spend money on equipment and training, and so everything else took a back seat.

I tend to video the fights at our swordfighting club’s tournaments, and for this I use my iPhone which has a surprisingly good camera. A friend once commented that I should buy a “proper” video camera and I told him that it’s just not in my budget right now. He said it would cost no more than a few hundred bucks, but the thing is, I have so many different passions to spend “only a few hundred” Euro on that I need to draw a line somewhere. Maybe in a year or two, I’ll focus on photography and video, which I also love, but right now my budget is spoken for elsewhere.

 

The key to it all

In my experience, the best way to keep your expenses in balance and be able to both “pay yourself” through saving, and treat yourself by spending, is to allocate your money by percentages. You need to know your fixed expenses every month and figure out which percentage of your income is needed for these. Let’s say it’s 70%. Then all you need to do is allocate the remaining 30%.

You could reserve 10% for gifts, 5% for donatios, 5% as “Play Money” and 10% for saving. Play Money means an amount you can safely spend even on impulse purchases if you so choose. It’s yours to blow, every single month.

With this system, you achieve two things: You will never overspend on anything, because the budget is fixed in advance, and you will grow more abundant as your income increases. Ever notice how every time you get a pay rise, you still don’t seem to have any money left at the end of the month? The truth is that when money is available, we will spend it – unless we have a system in place which allocates a certain percentage to a certain budget.

Make sense? I suggest you try it out. It’s remarkable what peace of mind a simple system like this can bring.

The above is the lead article in this week’s Monday Sparkles. Join the tribe to receive the full newsletter, exclusive offers and insider info (100% spam free), by filling in the short form below. You will get:

  • A weekly newsletter with free Coaching magic every Monday
  • Special offers exclusive to subscribers
  • Insider “behind the scenes” info about Wild Spirits Coaching
  • A free worksheet and the valuable “One-Year Goals Workbook”

Is Today The Day?

 

I don’t know about you, but I love stories of people who completely change their lives or turn around a seemingly impossible situation. What I’ve always found fascinating about such success stories is that there’s usually one particular point, one event (usually rock bottom), which triggers the change:

The day when the electricity got disconnected because of unpaid bills, the person in question decided “enough is enough” and took the risk of starting their own business. Or, the morning her size xyz jeans split, the protagonist realised she could go on like this no longer, and so she finally started getting her health and fitness back. And so forth.

 

When will it be my turn?

For many years, these types of stories set me dreaming. Books like Cynthia Kersey’s Unstoppable are full of them. I used to wonder when my own “Day X” would come around. When would there be a drastic event to make the penny drop and have me realise that I need to get up, get going, and make it happen?

The day never came. And really, why would I even wish for a catastrophic event, just so I could get over myself? They say addicts need to hit rock bottom before they can hope to recover, but you and I aren’t addicts. There’s no need for us to find ourselves lying in the gutter in order to make changes.

It’s much less dramatic – not to mention that it’s not nearly as good a story – to get there by sheer effort and willpower, but that’s what it’s like for most of us. It’s also the reason why so many people remain in “if only” mode all their lives. It’s easy to simply take the comfortable, familiar route if nothing pressing forces you to hack your own path through the jungle instead.

The truth is that “Day X” is in your own hands. Nothing keeps you from making “Day X” happen – today!

 

Make it happen

If, upon reading the above, you responded by listing reasons why it can’t be today (that you’re not ready, you don’t have the money, you need to wait for your bonus or your tax refund or your spouse to come home, or a higher power to give you permission), then please know you are making excuses. Yes, they might be actual obstacles, but for everything you list, I promise you there’s at least one person in the world who has overcome just that “good reason” and succeeded anyway.

It’s really up to ourselves. And while this might be inconvenient, it’s really a good thing because it also means that it’s all in our power and we are in control. In the following, I’ve put together a checklist for you to step up and claim the changes you desire in your life.

  • Make a decision right now. Not tomorrow, not next week – today. At the same time, know that it’s not all-or-nothing. You will experience setbacks and maybe even let yourself down occasionally. It’s normal; it’s even happened to those people who had the “rock bottom” moment, the “Day X” I mentioned earlier. Simply cut yourself some slack and keep plugging away at your goal. ​​​​​​​
  • Stop the excuses. No money to get started / get Coaching / sign up for that degree? If this is something you’ve wanted for a while, go for it anyway. You may have to get creative, and it’ll almost certainly scare you, but it’s worth the risk: You will make the money back as long as you commit to sticking with it. This is especially true for getting support such as Coaching or Education. ​​​​​​​
  • Get a solid support network. I already mentioned Coaching (also remember I’m always up for a chat on Skype, and it’s free!); also look for Mastermind groups. Find a mentor – someone who’s already succeeded in what you’re trying to do. This could be a personal trainer at the gym, a successful entrepreneur if you’re starting a business, or an experienced artist in whatever art you’re pursuing.
  • Promise yourself that you’ll work on your goal(s) every single day. If you are busy or don’t feel well, you can at least do a small, seemingly insignificant thing. It’s vital to do something every day in order to create a habit. This also tells your subconscious that you’re serious about what you are trying to achieve.

Finally, remember joy. This is about creating your life purpose. Feel the passion! This is your adventure, and you might as well enjoy the ride.

 

The above is the lead article in this week’s Monday Sparkles. Join the tribe to receive the full newsletter, exclusive offers and insider info (100% spam free), by filling in the short form below. You will get:

  • A weekly newsletter with free Coaching magic every Monday
  • Special offers exclusive to subscribers
  • Insider “behind the scenes” info about Wild Spirits Coaching
  • A free worksheet and the valuable “One-Year Goals Workbook”

 

Having A Great Year Is No Accident

The New Year is well on its way, the festive decorations have been packed away, and you are running out of excuses. Time to ‘fess up: Have you closed off 2016 and set your goals for 2017 yet?

If your answer is a resounding: “no”, or a slightly less resounding “not entirely”, don’t worry, it’s not too late. We’re not even ten days into the new year after all. You could of course argue, that a new year is a somewhat random point for the process I’m suggesting, but if you consider that much of our world is organised around the calendar and around years, it does make sense to align yourself with this rhythm.

No matter when you choose to do this, it’s important to occasionally review your life, close off what you’ve left behind, and plan your next steps. It’s what keeps you aware and conscious, “online” as I call it, and engaged in your life. In the following, I’ll give you a process for doing this; it’s a ceremony I do at the end of every year.

 

Closing off 2016

Many people have nothing but complaints about the year we’ve just left behind. I say, there was good as well as bad, and in any case it is important to formally finish what needs to be closed, and draw a clean line, so you can move forward unburdened. I have developed a little ritual for this process. Here are the steps.

  • First, take some time, maybe half an hour, when you’ll be undisturbed and undistracted. Keep some paper or a notebook ready, and a pen.
  • Set the scene: get comfortable, maybe get a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle if you like.
  • Think back over 2016, month by month. If necessary, take out your calendar as reference. On a piece of paper, write down everything that didn’t go so well in the year past. Disappointments, failures, illness, personal heartache (family troubles or a relationship break-up), other hardship, or simply a bad mood, sadness, or lack of motivation.
  • Take your time with this step. Look over your list, and if necessary, experience the emotions associated once more. Cry if you have to, say angry words you feel you need to say. Then when you feel at peace and ready to move on, tear up the list and burn it (don’t set the house on fire, please! The sink is usually a good place to burn a paper safely).
  • Now remember all the good things that happened. Achievements, new projects, love, good times spent with your friends or family, success, happiness, well-being, arts and crafts, your hobbies and passions. Write them all down.
  • Now look over your list and take time to fully experience the emotions associated with each item. Feel yourself flooded with gratitude. If it feels right, say aloud words of thanks to the universe or God or whatever you believe in.
  • Finally, determine which projects or goals you wish to carry forward into 2017. Write these down on a separate piece of paper.
  • Say: “Thank you for all the experiences and lessons. I am now ready to move on into 2017.”

 

Setting yourself up for 2017

Now it’s time to create your joyful, passion-filled 2017! Are you ready? Here are some helpful steps. For a more detailed guide, refer to your One-Year Goals Workbook and the Goals Worksheet (if you need another copy, email me and I’ll send you one).

  • First, determine where your intentions are for this year. Is there any particular area of your life you wish to focus on? You can pick more than one, but I’d recommend limiting the focus to about two areas in any one year. This might be health, business, finances, family, hobbies, passions…
  • Now pull out the paper where you wrote the goals and projects you wish to carry over from the previous year.
  • Add goals for each area of your life, with particular emphasis on the areas you’ve decided to focus on.
  • Determine a first step for each goal. It can be a small step, something seemingly insignificant, like googling art schools if your goal is to do a course, etc.
  • Schedule your first steps for the following three days. It is absolutely vital to actually complete these first steps within three days, as psychologists have found out. After this period, it becomes increasingly unlikely that you’ll take the step at all.

Once you’ve done all this, reward yourself. It could be a night-out or a special Self-Care session, and it doesn’t have to cost money. You have set yourself up for all possible success in 2017; all that’s left is to follow through and revise your goals regularly.

 

The above is the lead article in this week’s Monday Sparkles. Join the tribe to receive the full newsletter, exclusive offers and insider info (100% spam free), by filling in the short form below. You will get:

  • A weekly newsletter with free Coaching magic every Monday
  • Special offers exclusive to subscribers
  • Insider “behind the scenes” info about Wild Spirits Coaching
  • A free worksheet and the valuable “One-Year Goals Workbook”

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