Monthly Archives: September 2009

Facing Your Inner Demons

This caught my eye this morning:
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

How are your inner demons doing today? I’ve been busy grappling with mine over the past few months. It’s not easy, is it?

I was thinking about Rick Carson’s Taming Your Gremlin this morning and have just taken it off the shelf to re-read. The concepts are simple and clear to understand. Implementation is a lifetime process; Carson helps me understand that it can be fun. Simply Notice … Choose and Play with Options … Be in Process. Buy the book! I’m off to play with the “You Can’t Do This”  Gremlin.

Future Search

There are whole organizations dedicated to looking at the future. In fact, rummaging around The Futurist or Trend Hunter is a great way to get ideas and find inspiration. Why are corporations willing to invest thousands of dollars in future research? Because it’s a wonderful day to get a clear picture of how to act in the present.

What about your future? How much time have you spent researching your own life? As an old career planning book said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re liable to end up somewhere else.” If any future will do, stop reading now. If , instead, you have some ideas about your destination, take a few minutes to create three simple scenarios:

In six months, I will be:

In one year, I will be:

In five years, I will be:

How easy was that? Now you have the start of a roadmap. Look backwards from the 5-year vantage point. What does it feel like to be there? What did you have to do to get there?

Go back another step. Look at where you are a year from now. Again, generate some action steps.

Finally, look at your 6 month vision. Ask one final question:

What can I do, starting today, to get there?

Goals – Out of Fashion?

Robert K. Cooper wrote about goals in a book called Getting Out of Your Own Way. I worked my way through this book slowly, taking time to think about the content and practice what I’d read. I’m once again thinking about goals and Cooper’s notion of Open Space Goals.

Goals can be tricky things. Some experts say that the only way to get ahead is to have specific, measurable goals. Another advocates ditching goals altogether. Yet another focuses on intentions. Cooper does a nice job of resolving this issue by setting up a continuum.

Most people don’t get very far, he says, because their goals are too narrow. He calls the first level of goals “stop goals.” You’re familiar with these — I’m going to stop spending and zero out my credit card balances; I’m going to stop eating. These are limiting because there’s no new state. Once you’ve accomplished the goal, what’s Next?

Usual goals have outcomes, but are still very limiting. If your goal is to save $1,000, what comes next? The solution? Think of some sort of stretch goals — often called Big Hairy Audacious Goals — that leaves you plenty of room to grow. Cooper contends that this is not enough either and can still be limiting. Get thin … win the marathon … become a multimillionaire …. These all sound good, don’t they? These are BHAGs that could take a lot of time and energy.

Go even further, Cooper urges. Set what he calls Open Space Goals. Open Space Goals allow room for creativity and growth in many directions. Open Space Goals allow us to create whole new ways of being. What if your goal moved from becoming a multimillionaire to financial freedom? This would mean that you wouldn’t be limited to the pursuit of money; your goal would also include lifestyle choices. You might decide that riches are less important than quality of life. Or you might want both. Helping the victims of Katrina might grow into finding ways to sustain residents in safe housing in storm-prone areas throughout the world.

Cooper’s model makes me think harder about how far I can stretch. What if we all thought and worked as if there were no limits?

Changing Yourself – Oy Vey! It Hurts!

Things hurt this morning. I decided that I really needed to do something good for myself and get out there and walk. And things hurt this morning. Many things. There’s a cramp in my left calf that keeps coming back and is tender in between cramps. My back is not happy. My left shoulder and arm turned against me weeks ago and they don’t seem interested in reversing the position that every wrong move of my arm and/or too much time at the computer shall equal pain. Yes, things hurt.

So, today I’ll get back out there and walk some more, on the theory that I can walk out this pain. Maybe I’ll just have more pain – who knows? All I know is that I’m not giving up. I want to feel better – and if feeling worse for a while is the way to get there, I guess I’ll just do it.

I know that in a few days I’ll see different (lower) numbers on the scale, the blood pressure meter and the blood sugar level – three sets of numbers that are getting to be common among us “upper midlife” folks. I’ll be able to measure these changes and rejoice in the results. I’ll be able to walk faster and farther. My clothes will fit better. I’ll be stronger.

I’m working through a lot of other changes that probably aren’t going to be as obvious from the outside. I’m working on letting go of a couple of tons of old garbage, misconceptions, negative thinking, and limiting beliefs. And that hurts too. Breaking up is hard to do – especially, it turns out, when you’re breaking up with a way of thinking and being that no longer serves you.

I’ve been reading and journaling and writing forgiveness letters. I’ve been rereading Martha Beck and Abraham-Hicks. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Choprah echo in my ears as I commute. My Buddhist practice supports and frames all of this. Affirmations and reminders fill my workspace. Really, all these sources say the same thing, each in a slightly different way. They all show different ways to do a few things that look oh so simple on paper:

  1. Live in the present
  2. Know what you want and ask for it
  3. Be receptive
  4. Be mindful
  5. Love yourself

What a nice, short list.  How easy to read it. Harder to achieve it and live it, though.

So, I struggle. And get support from my two excellent coaches and my wonderful friends. And struggle. And cry. And keep at it.

It hurts. Change isn’t easy, whether it’s your body or your spirit. I measure this change too, although the measures are more subtle. I measure it in moments when I know exactly who I am, in days when I am at peace, in acts of kindness – given and accepted. I measure it in what I no longer need. I measure it in days when I see clearly what thinking does and does not serve me.

This is from an Osho Zen Tarot card that gives me hope:

The pain is not to make you sad, remember. That’s where people go on missing …. This pain is just to make you more alert – because people become alert only when the arrow goes deep into their heart and wounds them. Otherwise they don’t become alert. … The arrow is hurting: it can be used.

The pain is not to make you miserable, the pain is to make you more aware! And when you are aware, misery disappears.