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Live your dreams: The simple life

Every now and then, a post goes around Social Media that pretty much everyone can agree on. It praises the “simple life”, reading by the window, going for walks after the rain… It gets shared widely and makes people sigh wistfully.
 

Ironically, those of us who share these types of posts, are often people who work all hours or juggle a family with countless social obligations. I include myself in this: As a multi-passionate, I used to be involved in way too many things. Individually, each activity was meaningful and fun, and I loved the people I met through them, but overall my schedule was exhausting.
 

You see the disconnect, don’t you? I’m the first person who’ll tell you to live your dreams – it’s what my Coaching is all about – but to do that, you need to eliminate everything from your life which doesn’t fit the vision.
 

[bctt tweet=”To live your dream, you need to eliminate everything from your life which doesn’t fit the vision.”]

I’d like to take you on a journey of creation. Are you game?
 
 

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Time for dreams

 

This is the fun part. Put on your tinfoil hat and get comfortable, and then close your eyes (well – it might be a good idea to finish reading the next paragraph first!). Then imagine that magically, money or social obligations no longer play a role in your life. You are enjoying the incredible luxury of doing exactly what you choose every single day.
 

Picture “A day in the life” for yourself. Spend at least 10 minutes on this and imagine every last detail. What does your house look like? Who else lives there, if anyone? Where do you live? What do the surroundings look like? What’s the weather on this particular day? How do you wake up in the morning, and what do you do? How do you spend all the beautiful hours of your day?
 

A few questions to consider:
 

  • Do you work? If so, what is your work? How much time do you spend on it and how does it make you feel?
  • Do you make art? Craft? Create? Pursue your passion or multiple passions?
  • Do you exercise? Play?
  • Do you travel? If so, where to?

These are just a few prompts to get you going! Go ahead and dream up a perfect day in your perfect life. If possible, write down your vision; written dreams are particularly powerful.
 
 

Reality check

 

Once you’re done dreaming, it’s time to reconcile this vision with your reality. It may seem impossible at first, but don’t dismiss it too quickly. First, take the following steps:
 

  • Think or read back over your dream day. What was the overall atmosphere in it? What did you feel (happiness, content, love, gratitude…)? Be specific and write down these feelings.
  • Before, I invited you to go into detail. Now, I ask you to look at the big picture and find out what the general theme of your dream life was. Was it peace and quiet? Excitement and adventure? People and love? Of course, there might be elements of several or all of these things (and others besides them). Just try to find the one main theme, the one which matters to you the most.
  • Now it’s time to compare the dominant emotions and the main theme of your dream to your current reality. Write down your observations, especially obvious discrepancies.

Now you have, right in front of you, the things you need to work on. If your life already matches your dream, great! Figure out ways in which to infuse even more of your favourite emotions and “theme” into every day. If you see discrepancies, make a plan to tackle them one by one. This is a perfect time to introduce Coaching into your life, by the way!
 
 

Alignment

 

Don’t try to revolutionise everything at once. Often, only small adjustments are needed. Remember, you aren’t trying to live the life of a millionaire by tomorrow; you are trying to recreate feelings and themes, and those aren’t dependent on a budget or life situation.
 

If it’s the “simple life” from the quote at the beginning of this article that you’re craving, then maybe it’s time to drop all those obligations and activities. If you’re all for excitement, then maybe you should spend more money on travelling than on housing. if you want to pursue your passion, maybe you don’t need 25 pairs of shoes or the latest gadget.
 

The point of this exercise is to align your life with what you truly want. 
[bctt tweet=”Life is too short to live somebody else’s vision. It’s time for you to create your own.”]

The Power Of Vulnerability

Wild spirits: full moon in the rain

Years ago, I worked in Multi-Level Marketing. If you’re not familiar with this industry, it’s a great place for wild spirits to grow as a person, with a huge emphasis on a good attitude and focusing on the positive. “Live your dreams” is the motto.
 

During our workshops and seminars, people who had had an outstanding month took the stage and shared the stories of their success. Everyone cheered and celebrated them. It was inspirational and incredibly motivating.
 

And yet, the most powerful moment I experienced during those years happened when I was on stage after phenomenal growth in my business, and opened up about my lack of consistent action months earlier. I talked about how bad I’d felt about myself, how much effort it had cost to get back into consistency, and how I had to keep at it for a full four months with not much to show for it, to arrive at my breakthrough success.
 

Never before or after did I have so many people come up to me during the break and say how my story had given them a reason to keep going. It was humbling and very, very moving.
 

Owning experiences and emotions is empowering. I’d like to outline some ways in which you can make this work for you, but first allow me to clarify something.
 
 

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Is negativity good, then?

 

This doesn’t mean that it’s a great thing to talk about negative things. I still maintain that we should focus on what’s working, rather than what isn’t. However, not focusing on something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged and owned (it’s incredible how many people get this wrong!).
 

To state the obvious, human beings have both positive and negative emotions. To allow this full range acts like a beacon. Others around you can sense your authenticity. It’s why there was such a strong response about my sharings on stage: people knew instinctively that I wasn’t trying to make myself look better or embellish the story. Authenticity is like an invisible hand reaching out to others.

[bctt tweet=”Authenticity is like an invisible hand reaching out to others.”]

Everyone wins when you own up to your full range of emotions, especially when you then proceed to act on the constructive ones.
 
 

How authenticity empowers you

 

Finding a job

 

Have you ever seen those articles that tell you to respond with something which can also be seen as a strength, when an interviewer asks you about your weaknesses? I’m sorry, but I call BS.
 

In the past ten years or so, I’ve taken to being myself and completely open during job interviews. I’ve owned up to my weaknesses and at times, I’ve actually laughed with an interviewer about some spectacular failure I’ve had. Oh, and I got every job I applied for during those years.
 

Employers are relieved to have an actual human being in front of them, someone who doesn’t pretend but gives them a realistic impression of what to expect. They know everyone has flaws, and they appreciate the fact that at least there won’t be any nasty surprises when they hire you.
 

Enabling you to pursue your passion

 

To find what truly makes you happy, especially when you’re a multi-passionate with many different interests, requires a thorough knowledge of yourself. If you keep rationalising that you “don’t have the time” (or money) for your passion, if you tell yourself you don’t really need this and you’re really fine without it, you can keep yourself in a state of inertia for a very long time.
 

Trust me, I’ve been there. I’m the uncrowned queen of lying to myself and spent years rationalising a joyless life of work, junk food, and gaming (none of these things are negative on their own, by the way. I still work, I still occasionally eat junk, and I’m still a gamer. But when these things make up your entire existence, it becomes a problem).
 

I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you find yourself settling, for whatever “good” reason, you are not being your authentic self. Dig deeper. Allow your emotions. Wade through them until you arrive at that joy, and then watch yourself soar. And whatever else you do, put your passions first. [bctt tweet=”I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you find yourself settling, you’re not your authentic self.”] 
 

Improve your relationships

 

This is too wide a field to talk about in detail (this article would turn into a book!), so I’ll make it short. Authenticity opens up relationships. If one person shows vulnerability, the other feels safer to do so, too. Try it with your spiteful teenager or your emotionally distant partner. It can be incredibly scary to be the first one to open up, but the results are nothing short of spectacular.

Monday Sparkles: Your Priorities Aren’t What You Think

Sunny hillside, wild money, wild spirit

It’s clear that we aren’t always free to choose our priorities exactly how we want them. If we could, every loved-up couple would spend all their time together and hardly anyone would turn up to work anymore. However, we do have control over our lives and therefore it’s worth it to take a look at our actions versus our intentions.

In the following, I’m going to help you gain clarity about your own, deepest priorities in life. If it turns out they aren’t aligned with your life situation, I’m also going to suggest steps to take towards balancing priorities with the demands of life.

Let’s dive in.

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What really matters to you?

Open a new text document, or if you prefer, take out pen and paper. I would like you to take five minutes to write down your priorities. Be sure not to write what you think is expected of you (family, kids and so forth feature on most people’s lists, but please don’t put down anything just because you feel it’s “the right thing” to focus on). Nobody will see this list apart from you, so be completely honest with yourself.

I suggest you start out by brainstorming anything that’s important to you without regard to the order in which you write them down. Once your list is complete, you can try ranking it. You should end up with at least five items (there might be as many as 15, or more) saying anything from “my husband” to “table tennis” and “time spent alone in nature”. Don’t forget to include worldly matters like success in your job or making money.

The moment of truth

Next, start a new page and write two more lists:

1. A list of the things you spend money on each month.
2. A list of where you spend your time every day and week.

The first list will be easy to put together if you’ve done the first part of my free money training series. One of the exercises was to write a list of all your expenses in a month. If you haven’t done the training yet, it’s still there for you whenever you wish to do it, and in the meantime you can simply write down your expenses by yourself.

Number 2 is even easier: How many of your weekly waking hours do you spend at work, doing housework, chauffeuring your kids, following your passions, with loved ones, exercising, etc etc? Rank this list, too, and the money list, by largest amounts of time respectively money spent. Now compare these two lists to your list of priorities, the one you wrote out first. What do you see?

Your result and what to do about it

They say, “money talks”. I say, yes it does, and time talks, too. What does your comparison reveal? Do you spend your money and your time where your heart lies? Or is your life out of alignment with your goals? The truth is that your priorities are wherever you spend your money and your time. It’s good and well to protest that other things are more important to you – as long as your actions, your life, don’t reflect this, your “priorities” remain pretty words.

This may sound harsh, especially since there are realities in life we all face, such as having to pay rent or a mortgage, and needing money for food. Like I said at the beginning of this article, most of us have obligations we cannot simply break free of, especially since they often affect other people in our lives as well, such as children or other family members.

At the same time, it’s still possible to align your life with what matters to you. Work and obligations only take up so much time. The rest of your day is up to you. You may argue that you’re tired in the evenings, but does TV really refresh you or is it just convenient? Look over your list again and find the time- and money-wasters. If you are serious about putting your money (and time) where your heart is, you’re going to have to learn money management as well as time management and be ruthless with anything that keeps you from living the way you want to.

It’s quite a process, and I gently suggest you get some support in the form of a buddy, a mastermind group, or a Coach. Your life is your own, and it’s up to you to shape it into a form you love! Otherwise, what’s the point? The effort is always worth it.

Monday Sparkles: Information Overload vs Action

Information overload, coaching, pursue your passion
A few years back, I went to see Peter Gabriel live (again), and in between two songs he talked about, in his typical insightful way, how these days dictators can no longer get away with “disappearing” people in secret. People will spread the news via the internet to every corner of the earth. He went on to say that ordinary people have never been so powerful, and that we have yet to realise the full extent of that power we hold through modern media.

I’m tickled by the potential, the endless possibilities of this. In a way, I already participate in this with my one-woman freelance business which is conducted through Skype, with people from all over the world, people I never would have connected with if it wasn’t for the internet. Peter Gabriel is right, we have only just scratched the surface of what we can do.

There is, however, a danger inherent in the immediate accessibility of information. That danger is that we will get better and better informed all the time, learn more and more, but fail to actually do anything. And with the constant bombardment from advertising and cute but pointless Social Media stories, we often end up spending a disproportionate amount of time on trivial bits of “news” instead of taking action and living our own lives.
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Information Overload

Have you ever scrolled through Facebook, commented, reacted, clicked and read articles, and suddenly realised you just spent two full hours doing nothing but stare at your computer (or phone)? It’s scary how these things can eat up your time, even if the articles you’ve been reading were actually useful.

Marie Forleo says: “Clarity comes through engagement, not thought.” We try to figure out our lives and move forward, and to that end we tend to collect and consume more information and learning, hoping that this will give us direction and purpose. In reality, though, only action – moving forward, making mistakes, performing course corrections and gaining ever more experience – will give us the clarity we crave.

 

Striking the balance

Some people reject the internet and especially Social Media altogether, but that’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I don’t think we should forego all the amazing benefits of the internet just because we can’t restrain ourselves and “overdose” on information. In the following, I give you some steps to take towards sanity and a productive balance between information and action.

Be smart with your online time. I used to have my email open in one tab and Facebook in another at all times when I was at the computer. Every time I saw a new notification or email, I’d interrupt what I was working on and check it out compulsively. It scattered my focus and made my work take twice as long.

These days, I check email and my social media accounts three times a day. When I receive newsletters (yes, I too am subscribed to some newsletters, just like you read Monday Sparkles!), I save them in a special folder and read them in the half-hour I have allocated each day for “educational reading”. I quickly scan through offers and promotions, reply to business and personal emails, look through my social media accounts, respond to comments etc, and then I close these tabs again. Done.

To cut it short: I recommend using the internet, but use it on your own terms and in your own time.

Spend “offline” time with people who matter. I have recently ramped up my work on my Coaching business, and whilst this is one of my passions and lights me up, it also means more time spent on my own, working, because I also have a daytime job. To balance this, I make a conscious effort to have fun in between, and most especially to meet friends “in the flesh” regularly. I often don’t feel like I’m missing something and only afterwards realise how good it’s done me to actually hug and talk to people I love.

To cut it short: Your passions are important, but so are the people in your life. Make sure to spend quality time with loved ones regularly.

Take action. Forget waiting for the right time, or until you’re ready. If you want to do something, start! Get Coaching (the shortcut to action!), get a teacher, do whatever it takes to get into action mode. If you just keep reading and learning about it, you might get smarter but you’re no step closer to actually living what you really want.

To cut it short: Stop overthinking and take a first step towards your goal today. You can thank me later!

Monday Sparkles: Breaking Free

Some weeks ago, I wrote about what it means to be financially free. My motivation for this came from the new Coaching program I’m working on, “Wild and (Financially) Free“, which focuses on getting enough money for our passion(s) – to pay for any expenses and to create the necessary space and time in our lives.

Money can translate into freedom in very real terms, but it’s not the only aspect, and that’s how I had the idea to this article today. I’m going to explore different paths to your personal freedom, and I’m also making a strong case against anyone else trying to tell you what your freedom should look like.

This includes freedom without any money. It may seem counter-intuitive for me to talk about this, as a Coach who helps people achieve better cash flow, but it’s actually very much in line with what Coaching is all about: Empowering the client to achieve their dreams, instead of simply teaching them to reach the same dreams the Coach is pursuing.

 

The meaning of freedom

If you ask ten different people what freedom actually is, you’ll probably get at least eight different answers. There are so many ways to be free. Before I delve into definitions, I’d like to state the rather sobering fact that nobody actually is completely free. We all live in the context of society, our loved ones, or at the very least we are restrained by the living conditions of our planet and our basic physical needs. Freedom as an absolute doesn’t exist, and that’s where the contradictory definitions come from – they are all equally subjective, and so they reflect what’s important to an individual, rather than a universal truth.

Having said that, here are some ways to look at freedom:

Financial freedom. If you remember that article a while ago, being financially free means to be able to live comfortably off the interest of one’s financial assets without having to touch the invested capital. I’m starting out with this one because it’s the only term on this list which actually has a clear, verifiable definition, but there are still a few subjective aspects to this one as well.

To be financially free of course means that you can do what you wish with your days, and that is definitely freedom. if you are, however, stuck in a scarcity mindset and feel the need to constantly increase your wealth to still feel secure, you aren’t free at all. Even for the extremely wealthy, mindset determines the fulfillment they feel around their money.

Freedom from finances. Now this one is probably not going to be relevant for you, as you are fairly certainly using a computer or other electronic device to read this, and that implies you live very much “on the grid” and as part of our regular bill-paying, grocery shopping society, like I do. Getting away from all that is a fairly effective way to free yourself, though, and so I thought I’d mention it. I personally know people who either on their own or as part of an eco-village project, are growing their own food and making their own things, at least for the most part. They have become almost or completely independent of money, jobs, and consumerism.

Freedom to live a joyful life. This is the one I’ve chosen for myself. I would love financial freedom but have decided that I don’t want it enough to do the work required. Instead, I have chosen to grow my Coaching business, which is my calling, and to use my financial savvy to make sure that I’ll always have sufficient money for my passions and to have an ecstatically joyful life every single day. It’s a viable choice, either as a temporary stage in life or a permanent solution; I’m honestly not sure which one it’ll be for me.

This approach is all about the freedom to do as I please, within the limits set by earning money and organising my life. It works for me, as I couldn’t do archery or swordfighting or dancing all day anyway, and I love both my daytime job and my Coaching business.

Your own situation is just that, your own. We all come from different backgrounds, face different challenges and enjoy different advantages. What’s important is that you understand that “freedom” is a subjective term and up to your own interpretation, because frankly, living according to someone else’s idea of freedom defeats the very idea behind being free.

Nothing’s more worth figuring out than your own version of freedom. It’s precisely that which I work on with my clients, and why I chose this particular focus of my Coaching.
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