What Your Life Could Look Like

dream life

I’ve always had big dreams. When I was a teenager in Germany, I dreamed of visiting Ireland. As a university student, I spent two years in Ireland and later moved here altogether. From childhood on, I knew I wanted to see other countries, and during my 20s and 30s, I lived and worked in four different countries.
 

When I discovered Coaching and experienced the fastest and most profound personal growth in my life with the help of my first-ever Coach, I knew I’d found my calling. Years later, I became a Coach myself, eventually studying for and gaining a recognised qualification in Personal and Executive Coaching. Then I dreamed of having more time and space for Coaching and my other passions and made that happen in 2015.
 

Now my dreams include growing my business and living a more sustainable life surrounded by people I love. I’m working on it, and I’d say that judging by my track record, I’ll achieve this one, too. It’s a wonderful feeling dreaming up one’s perfect life and then going for it. Nothing quite compares to it!
 

What does this mean for you? I’m going to attempt to paint you a picture and help you give shape to your own dreams, so you’ll be able to look at your life a few years from now and say: “That was when I first dreamt about xyz, and now I’ve achieved it.”
 
 

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There’s nothing wrong with you

 

Before I continue, I’d like to make one thing absolutely clear: I believe in dreams and always having a goal, but I don’t think people are broken or that their lives aren’t perfect the way they are. Too many self-styled “Coaches” try and tell you that your life’s all wrong and needs fixing (usually, followed by an offer to fix it for you – for a substantial amount of cash, of course).
 

I don’t believe in making people feel bad about themselves. Moreover, it’s my belief that everything happens in perfect timing and that we’re always exactly where we need to be in order to learn what we need to learn.
 

What’s even more important is the insight that this is simply the way life works. Everything that lives, grows (a tree that’s stopped growing, simply dies). Sometimes, we’ll find ourselves in situations, jobs, or relationships we don’t like. At other times, we’re on top of the world.
 

Wherever we stand at the time, it’s always a good thing have a dream in order to continue growing. It doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like where we are. On the contrary, a dream is more powerful if it isn’t created out of desparation but out of a feeling of happiness and gratitude for the present.
 
 

A passion-centered life

 

Whatever your dreams for the future are, they probably include a very happy you. In my experience, human beings are happiest when they live aligned with their purpose, and that purpose is ususally connected to their passion (or multiple passions). In order to create a dream of a happy future, I therefore suggest you paint a picture of you focusing your life on what lights you up.
 

What would your days look like if they revolved around your passion? What would you do? Imagine money wasn’t an object, because believe me, it never is once someone truly puts their passion front and centre. Somehow, a solution always presents itself, even if you can’t see it just now. That’s why I suggest to not concern yourself with this particular detail.
 

Instead, pretend you didn’t have to worry about money or a place to stay at all. See a perfect day in your life, fulfilling your purpose and doing what lights you up. How would you feel first thing in the morning, when you wake up and realise you have only fun things to look forward to? What would you say to your loved ones during the day? What would you think about falling asleep at night?
 

Paint this picture in as much detail as possible. When I say “paint”, I don’t just mean you should imagine it like an actual picture, but to use all your senses. Hear the sounds, smell the scents, feel what you’re touching or holding. Bring the scene to life as much as you can.
 

Finally, it’s time to distill the main cornerstones of your dream and put them down in writing. Out of these, you can craft your next goals and go for them. Keep doing this, because life is too short to spend it without striving for something beautiful which excites you. You’re just like that tree: for as long as you live, you’ll grow and evolve, and you might as well do this consciously, after your own planning, rather than leaving it to chance.

Wanna Burst With Energy Every Day?

Burst with energy

There was a time in my life when I was so tired, it seemed a challenge to walk up a flight of stairs. I wasn’t sick, at least not in a major way. I was simply so low in energy I couldn’t face the simplest physical tasks.
 

When I started a new job at a company who offered a gym and some pilates classes, I made myself go the first couple times. I really, truly wanted to get in shape. The 50-minutes class was absolute torture! I had to stop almost all of the exercises before I’d done the required number of repetitions.
 

I stopped going. It was just too painful and also, frankly, humiliating in front of colleagues.
 

Fast-forward a mere year, and I was practically incapable of sitting in a chair for more than a few minutes. During work (from home, thankfully), I regularly jumped up to dance to a song I’d put on when I had a small break or lunch, I did yoga and aerobics, and I learned archery and swordfighting.
 

None of this was me being “good” and doing what I “should”. It still isn’t. What I do is pure joy. Now if you’re expecting a tale of pushing myself through the pain and holding on until I got into shape, you’ll be disappointed. What I do want to share is my insights on how physical fitness, joy, and passion are related, and how you can experience them all.
 
 

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The two types of people

 

When it comes to exercise, there seem to be two types of people. First there are the enthusiasts, who tell you: “no pain, no gain”, get up at the crack of dawn to run 10 miles, and post pictures of themselves deadlifting insane weights on social media. And then there’s the couch potatoes, who make half-hearted attempts at best and share social media pictures like “bacon versus exercise – no competition”.
 

Between those two groups, there’s a seemingly unbridgeable divide. However, I’ve always thought that the best approach starts in the middle. There’s a highly effective way, but people overlook it because it sounds too easy. It’s the way of joy.
 
 

Pleasure or pain?

 

The conundrum is that when you get more physically fit, you also get more energy. And the more energy you feel, the more likely you are to exercise. The issue is getting to the stage where moving feels better than sitting still. It’s all about energy levels.
 

Incidentally, this also goes for your passions. Energy is at the root of whether or not you manage to devote time to your passion, on top of working and looking after your family. The answer to all of this is pleasure and joy.
 

Try to think back to a time when you felt very joyful. What was your energy like? Chances are you were basically jumping up and down, bursting with energy. This, this right there, is the state you’re aiming for, and the easiest way to get there is through fitness.
 
 

Which activities give you pleasure?

 

You don’t have to go to the gym. You don’t even have to run, or walk for that matter. If you follow the pleasure principle, you might be surprised what you come up with.
 

I’m not a doctor, so obviously you should take everything I say here as a recommendation only. Always check with your physician first, don’t overdo it, and use your common sense.
 

Generally speaking, you need to do two things in order to get in shape and have your energy levels go through the roof: Endurance (cardiovascular) exercise and strength building. All you need to do is find one thing you really enjoy in each of these categories.
 

Cardio might be dancing, hoola-hoop, trampoline jumping, swimming, swordfighting (yes, really), and lots of other things. Strength is built by resistance, for example yoga, bodyweight exercises and anything that challenges your muscles without getting you out of breath.
 
 

The initial hurdle

 

The most effective way of getting there quickly, is the way most people ignore or roll their eyes at. I’m talking about taking things slowly. There are no drawbacks to this approach, and contrary to popular perception, it leads to fast results.
 

Do five minutes of stretches or “desk yoga” (google it!). Jump around to a song you like. Ask yourself what you like to do, what excites you, and do just a little of it. Soon your body will catch up, and because you love it, you’ll be dying to do more.
 

Let yourself be led by your enthusiasm and you’ll soon discover the joys of physical fitness. Your energy levels will be off the scale! Forget about torturing yourself, try joy instead. You’ll be surprised by just how effective it is.

Surround Yourself With Your Passion

Surround yourself with your passion

After neglecting my health for years and then starting to heal two years ago, I’m still nowhere near where I used to be in terms of fitness levels and energy. Many days, I just can’t face moving my body even to do the things I love most. As a “Passions Priority Coach”, this rankles. There’s a nagging voice inside that tells me I’m a fraud if I’m not always passionate and active.
 

I do know better. It’s about prioritising passion every day, but it’s not about trying to force anything. If rest or self care are on the agenda, then so be it. I’ve learned to listen to my recovering body. There is, however, a difference between having an off day and letting things slip. It’s surprising how easy it is to return to a state of functioning through the tasks of the day and neglecting the things that light me up.
 

If joy is our natural state, as Wayne Dyer puts it, why is it such a challenge to stick with it? Why does it feel like constantly pedalling a bike uphill? I got curious and looked into the reasons behind this, and I also believe I’ve come up with a surprisingly simple technique to counter it: To surround yourself with the thing that lights you up. From talking to friends and clients, I know I’m far from being the only one struggling, so I thought I’d share.
 
 

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“Forgetting” your passion

 

It’s not like you really forget, is it? If anyone asked you what lights you up, you’d reply without having to think about it much.
 

Then why is it so hard to remember in your everyday life? Why are there not just days, but entire weeks and perhaps even longer periods, when you don’t even pick up your paint brush, write a single word, or go for a training session (or whatever it is you’re passionate about)?
 

I believe it’s because modern life doesn’t favour joy or passion. Think about it: A regular person goes to work five out of seven days, spends most of their day there, and in addition looks after a family and a home.
 

Our lives are designed to get chores done and secure our survival, simple as that. Our society doesn’t prioritise joy and passions, and that’s why it’s so challenging to remind ourselves. Besides, depending on how much an individual is caught up in society’s demands, it can be really difficult finding the time to dedicate to passions like art.
 

In other words, it’s time you let yourself off the hook and recognised that circumstances are working against you. You have every reason to be proud of pursuing your passion at all! See, this is why I do the work I do. I can’t think of anything more important than helping people prioritise what really should be at the centre of life: That which lights you up, your passion and your joy, every single day.
 
 

Prioritise passion: surround yourself

 

How, then, can you counteract the pull of a society which keeps whispering in your ear to make a living, get a bigger car or house, and buy your children more expensive toys? How do you unearth that inner voice which tells you to create, to move, to do that thing which makes you feel alive?
 

One surprisingly simple way of keeping your passion on your mind is to literally surround yourself with it. The only problem with simple techniques is that they seem too easy to work, so people often dismiss them. I invite you to keep an open mind about this and put it to the test – it works like a charm!
 

For example, I keep my bow and my practice swords right next to my desk at home. I see them all the time and so I’m reminded to pick them up whenever I’m on a break. I’ve been neglecting my dancing a little recently, because my “dance room” is upstairs and out of sight. This is remedied in the house I’m moving to (more about this in this week’s personal update). There, I’ll once again have a space with wooden floors right in my office.
 

You could write reminders on post-it notes and stick them to every surface in the house. Leave your paint brush and easel in the middle of the room. You could place your sports bag where you practically fall over it on the way out of the house. It seems silly, but it works! Once you surround yourself with your passion, and your mind’s focus will shift.

Couch Vs Joy – Why Motivation Doesn’t Work

Couch vs Joy, Motivation doesn't work

There was a time in my life when I drove to the office in the morning, worked all day, then drove home. In the evening, I sat on my couch in front of the computer or with a book in my hand. Every day was the same, with occasional exceptions at the weekends.
 

I didn’t even notice anything missing from my life. I thought I was happy. Sure, there were things I wanted to do: learn historical swordfighting, take up archery again. But I “didn’t have the time” or the money, and anyway, I told myself that life was good.
 

Just think how many people live like this! Thoreau said that most people “lead lives of quiet desperation”. It might not be quite that bad, but a lot of us have experienced what it’s like to live without the exhileration of doing what lights us up, at least at some point in our lives.
 

Why do we do this to ourselves? I talked about the “excuses list” in last week’s article, but the truth is, it really can be a challenge to get up off our backsides. When we’re overworked and underwhelmed and constantly tired, it’s not so easy to resist the call of the couch, as my own Coach puts it.
 

What to do when even your passion feels like a chore?
 
 

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Why “motivation” doesn’t work

 

“Motivation” is this weird idea that somehow, if you only think the correct thoughts, you’ll do what you previously didn’t want to do. If you stop and think about it, it makes no sense at all! And it gets worse: The more you fail to motivate yourself, the worse you feel and the less likely you are to change.
 

How about you stop beating yourself up and look for the real reasons for your hesitation instead? For example, during my “couch years”, I was permanently exhausted because I never got enough sleep due to a rather night-active neighbour who kept me awake. I also ate foods that make me sluggish.
 

In the following years, I moved to a detached house where I could get the rest I needed. Through trial and error, I found out which types of food send me to sleep. I changed my eating habits, got regular sleep, and within months I was a completely changed person. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to jump up and get dancing and swordfighting!
 

The reasons might be different for you, but trust me, they’re there. You may be overwhelmed with too many chores and responsibilities, or you’ve neglected self care for too long. Check for what’s missing and make the necessary changes (Coaching is great for these kinds of makeovers, by the way!), and soon your passion will beckon you.
 
 

Is your passion still your passion?

 

This is a tricky one. Passions do change sometimes. If you are a multi-passionate, you’ll be used to this: We simply process the world a little differently and so we often change priorities or lose interest in something. If you find yourself no longer motivated to do what used to light you up, take a closer look.
 

The tricky bit is that even the strongest passion can become less appealing for a period of time if you’re stuck or plateauing in your skill. For example, a novelist might experience writer’s block to the point when they hate the sight of their workspace. In my archery, I’ve been through times when I adjusted my technique and for some weeks, didn’t seem to hit anything. I had a lot of resistance to even picking up my bow to practice.
 

As long as you’re tuned into your own emotions, you should be able to tell whether you’re losing interest in something or simply going through a challenging phase. If it’s the former, then let yourself off the hook, re-assess, and find a different passion which lights you up. In the latter case, you’re going to need a mixture of self-forgiveness and discipline to push through the dry spell (this is once again an area where a Coach can be invaluable).
 
 

Go for the emotion

 

Lastly, in order to find your drive, focus on the way you want to feel rather than the activity itself. To build the strength I need for swordfighting, I do some basic strength exercise which isn’t always pleasant. However, I love the feeling of accomplishment after completing the routine, and I definitely love getting better at swordfighting. Remembering the exhileration motivates me to do my training.
 

Find the emotions your passion gives you, and make that your goal. You’ll be up and about in no time at all!

How To Kill Any Passion Or Goal

Kill your passion

I can practically hear your protest. “Oh come on. Nobody would kill off their passion. Don’t be silly.” But you see, I beg to differ.
 

This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, at least not all the time, but most of us have been guilty of killing a goal or passion at least once in our lives. And I see too many people doing this habitually to stay quiet about it. The thing is, you might not even notice that you’re doing it in the first place.
 

What does killing a passion look like? How about these samples:
 

“I’m not a pro, my stuff is really amateurish.”
“I don’t have the time/money/talent.”
“If I didn’t have three kids / 40 pounds to lose / a bad back, I would do it.”
“My partner doesn’t want me to do xyz.”
“I’m too busy now, but once summer/winter is here / the kids are at university / xyz, I will get to it.”
“I’m way too old to begin. You really need to start as a child.”
 

They come disguised as valid reasons, but really they’re excuses. And they kill your passion, by preventing you from pursuing it and feeling the wild joy associated with doing what lights you up.
 

I’m here to tell you: It’s time to cut the cr*p and go for it. No, your job or family aren’t more important. You are more important, because a fulfilled, joyful you living your purpose is what your job or family need most.
 
 

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The excuses list

 

The above quotes are some example of what I refer to as “the excuses list”. It comes with a matching hand gesture, as if opening an old-fashioned scroll to read from it! I’m telling you this because the ability to laugh at ourselves goes a long way towards taking our own excuses a little less seriously. You see, they really aren’t reasons. They’re just what we allow to stand between ourselves and our passion.
 

If you set your mind to it, you can debunk every one of these excuses. For example, I have tendonitis which prevents me from swinging a sword in my strong hand. But I still do archery and I still dance, and I also occasionally swing an axe in my left. Physical impairments can always be worked around – just look at the paralympics!
 

Time is relative, as I explained in many previous articles. And who says you need to be good at something to enjoy it? If you think you’re too old, remember Grandma Moses started painting in her 80s.
 

As for deferring your passion for the sake of your spouse or children: Ask them if they want you to deny yourself the thing you love doing, of if they’d prefer a happy, fulfilled mum or partner. Once you think about it, the answer is so obvious that you don’t even have to ask, isn’t it?
 

Lack of money? There’s an easy fix for that. Don’t take my word for it, just try it and join the others who’ve all made at least twice the cost of the program back within the two months it takes to complete it.
 
 

Get support

 

Finally, don’t do this journey on your own. It doesn’t have to be me you sign up with. I do specialise in passions and priorities, but really any trained and experienced Coach can help you with this. If there’s someone you resonate with, I’ll be the first to cheer you on!
 

Historically, human beings have never done things on their own. Chores, crafts, expeditions, art were all undertaken jointly. Traditional societies were much more communal than our disconnected, anonymous lives today. We have made a lot of progress, but having lost this support can really hinder us.
 

Therefore, it’s important we use the new support structures our modern society offers. There are groups for almost everything, both online and offline – just look around, google it, talk to people, go to gatherings! And then there’s the whole industry of advice, mentoring, and coaching. You’ll find something that suits you, and it’s vital that you accept this support. It’s in your nature as a human being, so claim it and use it.
 

The time is now! Circumstances will never be perfect. Don’t kill your passion – go for it, set that goal, and then find a way. There’s always a way, as long as you’re determined not to let excuses stop you anymore.