7 steps to decision-making clarity

🤷‍♀️ Why do people get stuck when making a decision?

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Photo by timJ on Unsplash

That’s a really good question, and there may be many answers to it! This is why I find it helpful to take a systematic and structured approach to the decision-making thought process. At every stage self-awareness is as necessary as the content that surfaces when thinking through a decision. Many obstacles and hindrances to decision-making often and subtly surface up into the light but can then be excused by the irrational self. In these moments, it can be a challenge to have clear perception.

Whether you are making a life-changing decision about your relationships, your career, your life goals yourself or your wellbeing, here is my 7 step personal decision-making approach for clarity. I hope it will save you time, stress and ultimately heartache, when trying think through your decision!

 

Step 1: Define your situation

This is where it begins!

The more self-knowledgeable you are, the faster you will pass through this stage. Here, you’ll get to weigh up the significance of this decision you’re making against who you are, what you stand for, where you’re heading, and decide whether this decision needs to be taken now.

If you are a person of faith, then you will also want to bring God into this entire journey.

Self-Coaching questions for step 1

What is/are… [aka Define]:

  • the significance of this decision?
  • your needs?
  • your priorities?
  • your wants?
  • your vision, mission & values?
  • the implications if you do not make a decision about this?
  • the ideal decision?
  • the timing of your decision?

 

Step 2: Clarify what you’re making a decision about

Clarifying what the driving and resisting forces of this decision are, what is influencing the decision and how much power those influences have over you and your decision, as well as gaining insight into your decision-making strengths and weaknesses will help clarify what your decision is really about.

Self-Coaching questions for step 2

Clarify:

  • how does this decision align with your values?
  • how does this decision align with your goals & vision?
  • how does this decision align with your purpose & mission?
  • what are your decision-making strengths and weaknesses?
  • what are the driving forces in your decision?
  • what are the resisting forces in your decision?
  • what are the influencing factors in your decision?
  • what gaps are there in your knowledge, skills, competencies and experience re this decision?
  • who is/are influencing this decision?

 

Step 3: Identify outcomes of your decision

This activity will help you to separate what are assumed, and what are certain outcomes of your decision. Broken down into short, medium and long term outcomes, this step will help you to reflect on your emotional and psychological commitment to those outcomes.

You’ll also gain some insight into your change readiness.

Self-Coaching questions for step 3

Identify the short, medium and long term outcomes with:

  • what will this decisions’ impact be on your physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological health?
  • how will it affect the people directly involved in your life?
  • what it will mean for the regular routine you live by or your daily activities?
  • what are the material considerations of your outcomes (e.g. possessions & value of them)?
  • what are the financial considerations of your outcomes (e.g. regular income, savings, investments, retirement)?
  • what are the career & job considerations of your outcomes?

 

Step 4: Consider the options, alternatives, consequences & opportunities of the decision

Here is where you identify all the risks in your decision, as well as the impact of this decision to your and others before actually committing to it.

Self-Coaching questions for step 4

Consider:

  • what are the pros and cons?
  • what are the risks? How to mitigate them?
  • what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • where can opportunities be found?
  • how will it cost you in time & personal resources?
  • what sacrifices will be required?
  • what would you ideal choice be if you had to choose?

 

Step 5: Understand any emotions behind your decision

Your heart is greatly influenced by your past experiences, your desires, your passions, your pains, your personality, and a myriad of other factors and qualities.

Here is an opportunity to check the balance between your emotions and your rationale, moving forward without looking back in regret.

Self-Coaching questions for step 4

Understand:

  • what pressures may this decision be feeding on?
  • what needs may this decision be feeding on?
  • how can I be more balanced (head vs heart)?
  • what emotions are influencing here?
  • what are my fears?
  • where might I be experiencing limiting beliefs?
  • how will my feelings change after this decision?
  • how are my past experiences influencing my emotions & feelings?
  • when am I likely to change my mind because of others’ feelings?

 

Step 6: Capture other viewpoints & objective opinions

There is GREAT VALUE in seeking counsel.

Seek the opinion of those:

  • immediately involved in this decision
  • indirectly involved in this decision
  • experienced in this area
  • whose wisdom you appreciate & respect
  • in the ‘helping’ professions

Self-Coaching questions for step 6

Capture:

  • what do the people most involved in this decision have to say?
  • what do people indirectly involved in this decision have to say?
  • what do people with experience of this decision have to say?
  • what do people whose wisdom you appreciate and respect have to say?
  • what do professionals from the ‘helping’ professions have to say?

 

Step 7: Prepare & commit yourself to your decision

Often, limiting beliefs and self-sabotage about a decision happen before the very moment of committing to a decision. This is unlikely to happen if you’ve gone through the previous 6 steps to decision-making clarity. You will know what actions are needed to move forward confidently and courageously.

Self-Coaching questions for step 7

Prepare & Commit:

  • what are my critical activities moving forward?
  • what personal preferences do I have?
  • how can I exercise greater freedom of heart?
  • where do I need to exercise more resilience?
  • where do I need to exercise more courage?
  • what are my coping strategies?
  • how often should I review my progress and approach?
  • what does my task list look like?

 


Need an objective opinion to walk through the above with?

Depending on your situation (particularly the time limitation) and the gravity of the decision you have to make, you may be interested in an intensive breakthrough coaching session to get to decision-making clarity quickly, and for putting a sketch plan in place.

Intensive Breakthrough Coaching Session for decision-making clarity (2.5 hrs)

What is included in your session?

  • Initial email outlining your preparation for the session
  • Any relevant tools or materials required for activities in your session
  • Face to face to face session in West London OR video meeting call (prices vary by location & added onto base price. Video meetings via Zoom are no extra cost.)
  • Follow up email with reflections from the session and suggested actions

 Your investment

My intensive breakthrough coaching session is great value at a base price of £325. For this amount you will gain:

  • peace of mind and of heart that you have made the most informed and thought-through decision you could possibly have made
  • clarity on 99.9% of elements, factors, influences and options worth considering
  • an impeccably designed set of action points / plan to make any changes smoothly based on who you are and where you’re heading
  • greater knowledge of your blindspots and choke points, with an increased desire to manage those
  • confidence because you’ll have cleared mental and emotional obstacles preventing you from moving forward
  • enhanced or maintained good quality relationships (personal or professional)
  • holistic & well-balanced perspective, energy and momentum
  • avoidance of more time and money spent down the line from a decision that ultimately cost you more than you could afford
  • relief from stress and heartache that would have been an outcome of a poorly-made decision

ToC Tips for Sleep Wellness

Introduction

When we look up at the world, it’s not difficult to see how and why sleep wellness is reputed to be at its lowest point in terms of human priorities in all of modern history. We tend to try and find so many solutions to our physical, emotional, social, spiritual and psychological ailments during our waking day, when actually, the best solutions and remedies to these ailments occur naturally at night, when we sleep.

We need to wake up to the following facts:

  • Tiredness and fatigue are the primary cause of one in five (21%) GP consultations in the UK.[1]
  • The NHS in England is spending almost £50 million each year to ensure the nation gets a good night’s sleep and insomnia is a significant problem which now affects more than one in three adults.[2] 
  • Sleep deprivation in the UK workforce costed the economy £40.2 billion in loss of productivity in 2016 and it is estimated this will steadily rise to £47 billion by 2030.[3]
  • Workers who sleep less than six hours per day report on average about a 2.4 percentage point higher productivity loss due to absenteeism or presenteeism than workers sleeping between seven to nine hours per day.[4]

With all the things we would like to fit into our day, a really good starting point ought to be our sleep – since the quantity and the quality of it greatly influences our daily activity, energy levels and productivity, which in turn affects our daily achievements.

There is a multitude of techniques, methods, hints and tips on sleep wellness online. But here are my top tips for sleep wellness (learned from experience!).

 

Sleep Environment

Your Bed: Your mattress, your pillow, your bedding, it has to be right for you! It is really important to invest a good amount of your attention and time to getting the right bed and sleeping environment for yourself. Yes, it’s easier to buy beds and mattresses online, but how do you know it’s the right firmness for you and that you will be comfortable recuperating in it every day for the next 8-12 years? During this Covid-19 period, where we are seeing many shops closing down, one of the types of shops that I’m really praying doesn’t close down are bed stores – for the simple reason, that is very difficult for people to buy the right mattress and bed for them unless they’ve tried it out.

Bedding: We can be more flexible with bedding, but I’d say the main thing to consider the material that you choose. Cotton is a natural fabric. It is breathable, wicks moisture and stays comfortably cool against skin. Polyester, on the other hand, is a synthetic fabric and does not absorb water the way cotton does. It will trap moisture and heat in hot environments, which can make for sweaty and uncomfortable nights.

Room temperature: Another critical element to a good night’s sleep. In the summer we all know how difficult it can be to sleep well. If you don’t have an air conditioner in your bedroom, then we can learn about room-cooling techniques from the Mediterraneans. Provided you do not use the bedroom for any kind of daytime work, close the curtains and blinds during the day, as well as all the windows and any doors. In the evening, as it starts to get cooler, open curtains/blinds and windows wide to let air in to cool the room.

Light & Sound: Invest in real sturdy black-out curtains. If you’re choosing windows, opt for windows that not just look great, but block sound efficiently. Sometimes blocking out light and sound needs to become a priority, and extra measures need to be taken. My next door neighbour has the most enormous dog with arguably the most enormous bark, and if there’s a fox that sets him off at 02:30 in the morning, it instantly wakes me up. And I don’t mean snoozy kinda woken up. I mean really awake. So I know that if the dog hasn’t been taken to Richmond Park for a good workout that day, I know I have to stick earplugs in the ears. So… aids such as earplugs and blackout night masks can be most helpful sometimes. Note: Make it non-negotiable to pack these two things in your travel kit!!

It took me a month to find the perfect bed, mattress and pillow for me. That’s partly down to the fact that shops such as Dreams and Bensons for Beds exist! Thank you Dreams! And the other part is the fact that I did not want to regret my decision of beds further down the line. #JustSaying

 

Nutrition

Cut down on caffeinated drinks (note: green tea has caffeine in it). If possible eliminate caffeine from your diet except for treat days and special occasions.

Don’t eat 2 hours before going to bed, with the optional exception of an organic camomile-only or organic ginseng infusion around 60 mins before bedtime. Another thing that can be considered in your diet is an organic magnolia bark supplement, which affects your HPA nervous system and has been known to regulate cortisol spikes during sleep – please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication.

 

De-Stimulation Techniques

Don’t look at a screen of any kind (including tv) at least 30 mins before bed to reduce visual stimuli. A Lumie clock is great for gradual de-stimulation of your optic nerves through the technique of light reduction. Another light-reducing technique is to focus on the flame of a single candle 5 minutes before you sleep without any other lights on, inhaling and exhaling in deeply and slowly. These techniques will help you fall asleep easier.

 

Rest-Inducing Techniques

Build into your routine (aim for fall-asleep time to be between 21:30-22:30) a relaxation ritual. Something like a self-massage (on feet, hands, neck, shoulders, arms & legs) or a 30 min hot bath will do wonders. You could soak unscented bath salts in some of the suggested essential oils in point 6 to increase the relaxing effects of bathing, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.

 

Consistent Routines

To be frank, all the above and below suggestions can be built into a consistent routine. But there is one routine that requires extra special attention: that of your wake up time. Try to wake up every morning at the same time. I know the thought of weekend lie-ins seems absolutely glorious, but the effect of a lie-in on your circadian rhythm can be brutal as you head into the weekdays. Take a nap during the day if you need to try to make up for some sleep deficit, but try to stick to the same wake up time. Irregularity in this will affect your hormone balance, which in turn effects your immunity and your metabolism. Homeostasis is greatly disturbed when sleep regularity is disturbed, which is why quality of sleep is as important as quantity of sleep.

 

Physical Exertion

Aim to ‘spend’ built-up energy caused by stress on a physically demanding activity at some point during the day. Human stress response is most naturally impacted by the secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine (although other hormones also impact stress responses) into the blood stream – and these can be regulated by exercise. Even something as simple as a 10 min hard plié workout (and example of a load-bearing, strengthening exercise) or a HIIT workout (which promotes supramaximal expenditure of energy /or anaerobic exercise) will help you re-balance, and work toward physiological homeostasis.

 

Natural Therapies & Remedies

Aromatherapy solutions work wonders! I recommend an ultrasonic diffuser or nebuliser to release the oil fragrances for up to 4 hours into your sleep without burning the properties out. If you don’t use equipment, you could blend with carrier oils and massage the mixed oil onto your skin (use only therapeutic grade essential oils for this), or dab the oils onto a tissue that you have close to your nose when you are sleeping.

Calmative Oils (C): Calms and sedates the nervous system, mind, and reduces anxiety

Soporific Oils (S): Induces sleep

Hormonal balancing Oils (H): Motivates the endocrine system or balances hormone levels.

OILS: Valerian (S/C), Lavender (all), Sweet Orange (C), Petitgrain (C), Mandarin (C), Sandalwood (C), Clary Sage (C/H), Chamomile Roman (C/H), Neroli (C), Sweet Marjoram (So), Maracuja (C – not an essential oil, but a great sedating carrier oil for massage).

Important: Please seek professional advice from an aromatherapist if you are on medication, are pregnant, have sun sensitivity or have serious underlying issues as the effects of essential oils have an impact on the effectiveness of medication and pregnancy.

 

Pre-Sleep Release Techniques

Activities that help you to recollect yourself, your feelings and your mind may help you let go of the weight/burdens of that day. Meditation / Prayer, reading and spiritual moments or activities will help you to achieve this. The practice of examination of conscience helps me to find peace, and to also learn to accept my humanity in all its wonders and imperfections.

Brain dumping for the day – get all the last vestiges of the day’s worries, struggles and pains onto paper, and then throw the paper away, symbolising that you’ve let go of the day’s burdens and anxieties, and allow yourself to be at peace with who you are that very moment you fall asleep. Alternatively, journaling allows you to store those thoughts and feelings somewhere other than your head!

 

Understand your Sleep Wellness

Monitor your sleep activity every night using a Sleep app. I’ve been using the Sleep as Android sleep cycle app for at least 7-8 years now, and it gives me a lot of helpful information that helps me to monitor my sleep wellness.

 

Sleep Retreats

Particularly if you’re close to burnout, please, just STOP! Book yourself into a hotel and make a sleep retreat for yourself. Approximately every 2 years, I book myself into a sea-view hotel room for 7 days with the intention of recuperating physically and mentally, in order that I don’t burnout! About 50% of the focus of these 7 days is my sleep. If you have an interest in the programme I set for myself, please do get in touch with me and I would be delighted to share that with you. It would make this post too bulky to include it here, and there is a lot of wellbeing practice in it that needs thorough explanation. Note: I make other retreats that focus on other dimensions like my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. My point being that I don’t try to cram too much or set too many goals into one retreat.

 

Conclusion

So I have given you some techniques, methods and concepts that work for me. I’m of course also open to any thoughts you might have on this subject too! Feel free to leave comments below. I’m always learning new things, and love to learn about sleep. But I leave you with these words from The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity:

“While diet and exercise have their parts to play in a healthier Britain, SLEEP is the catalyst that makes diet and exercise more effective – whilst also delivering significant additional health benefits. Clinicians are already ‘prescribing’ exercise, it is now time to ‘prescribe sleep’ to the nation.

A good night’s rest is essential to a healthy lifestyle – protecting you physically and mentally as well as boosting your quality of living.” ~ The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity

 


[1] National Hydration Council. GPs reveal UK ‘tired all the time’. https:/www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/press/gps-reveal-uk-tired-all- the-time/#footnotes1 (accessed December 2019)

[2] Daily Telegraph (2012). https:/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/ news/9257191/Sleeping-pill-cost-to-NHS-almost-50m.html (accessed December 2019)

[3] Hafner M, Stepanek M, Taylor J, Troxel WM, Van Stolk C. (2016) Why sleep matters — the economic costs of insufficient sleep: A cross- country comparative.

[4] The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity, 2020 Sleep Manifesto. Sleepcouncil.org.uk

12 week LIVE online Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Programme – Winter 2020

 

12 week healthy eating wellbeing programme - Jan 20An action-focused Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Programme designed to progress you into looking, feeling and BEing healthier by Spring 2020!

Education. Accountability. Support. Action plan. Fun. Achieve.

 

Dates: On Tuesdays from 7th January – 31st March 2020 @ 20:00 GMT (London time). Half term (18th February) is taken into consideration.

Location: LIVE online webinar (Presentations delivered live online) + Live community forum available for accountability and community support.

Presented by: Claz Gomez – Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Therapist and Accredited Life Coach.

Cost: £54 for the entire programme. Includes online forum support. Individual coaching is available at additional cost. No refunds permitted within 7 days of the start of the programme.

Format of the session: 20-30 min of webinar teaching. 10 min breakdown of weekly activities. 20 min live Q&A with coaching.

Format of the week: Each person will be challenged with a set of tasks or activities to strive toward throughout the week. One of these is to motivate and support each other on the Winter 2020 Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Programme online forum (only nicknamed the HEW crew).


Outline

Week 1: Your Current Lifestyle & History

  • Description: Change behaviour and its impact on our general wellbeing, Personal eating history, Assessment of daily routine, Your weekly diary, Identify ‘red zone’ issues, Your body type.
  • Knowledge: Know thyself and thy history!

Week 2: Goals

  • Description: Establish your SMART goals for long-term effective change.
  • Knowledge: Your Why, Set Better Goals, Behaviour Goals

Week 3: Integrative energy intakeTOC - 8 Wellbeing Keys - White Background

  • Description: Enhance your intake of energy into the ‘healthier’ zone in all 8 areas of wellbeing. Primary focus on nutritional energy.
  • Knowledge: Essential nutrients for the human body, choosing the most appropriate diet for your goals that doesn’t allow you to compromise on the other 7 areas of your wellbeing. Time vs money vs wellbeing.

Week 4: Menu Planning & Healthy Food Preparation Skills

  • Description: What’s in your kitchen? What shouldn’t be in your kitchen? Re-arrange your diary so that you make time to prepare your own meals. Plan for the week.
  • Knowledge: Kitchen clean up, Being prepared, Weekly meal planner, Healthy snacking available from your own cupboards.

Week 5: Self-awareness, Moderation, and Portion Sizes

  • Description: Eat for your body type. 3 strategies to prevent overeating. Self-awareness, body awareness. Tracking your fullness level. Change what isn’t working.
  • Knowledge: Macro breakdown for your body type, Recommended portion size guide, Moderation, Calorie education.

Week 6: Healthy Eating Check-in + Review

  • Description: Use this week to catch up on the lessons and guides, really plan your shopping list and meal prep, ask questions, share where you are stuck, get involved in the community forum, etc.! Repeat often until things become a habit!
  • Goal check in – how are you doing? Struggle? Schedule a meeting/call?

Week 7: Wellbeing Check-in + Review

  • Description: Use this week to review your progress, assess the impact of your changes on the other 7 areas of your wellbeing (e.g. emotional, occupational).
  • Overall wellbeing check & impact assessment. Behaviour change checklist.

Week 8: Metabolism & Physical activity

  • Description: Adding exercise to the picture.
  • Knowledge: Metabolism education (incl. hormones leptin & ghrelin), HIIT + Strength Training

Week 9: Sleep, Stress, + Self-care

  • Description: The difference between self-care and self-comfort, the impact stress has on your body (and goals), and creating a healthy sleep routine.
  • Knowledge: Hydration, Good + Bad Stress, Caffeine effects, Self-Care, Sleep, Recovery, Wellness Pyramid

Week 10: Detoxing, Fasting and Finding what might be right for you

  • Description: Detoxes, gut health, and intermittent fasting…
  • Knowledge: Detoxes, Gut Health, Pre-biotics and pro-biotics, Fasting

Week 11: Movement

  • Description: While strength and cardio work is useful, your most optimal results you will come from NEAT movement and healthy eating as becoming a daily priority.
  • Knowledge: NEAT Movement

Week 12: Living out your sustainable change

  • Description: Your change journey
  • Knowledge: The Change Formula & using it to your advantage moving forward.

 

Bookings now open

with a 25% discount until Christmas Day!

 

hewsum19 booking button

12 week online Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Coached Programme

12 week healthy eating wellbeing coaching programme 02

Coaching you into a sustainable healthy lifestyle for life.

Education. Accountability. Support. Action plan. Fun. Achieve.

UPDATE: This programme has been postponed until January 2020.

More information to follow.

 

Dates: On Wednesdays from 5th June – 18th September 2019 @ 21:00 BST (London time). There is a summer break on dates 7th-28th August, resuming back on 4th September.

Location: Online (Presentations delivered live online, and community forum available for accountability).

Presented by: Claz Gomez – Accredited Life Coach and Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Therapist.

Cost: £36 (+processing fees) for the entire programme + online forum support. Individual coaching is available at additional cost. No refunds permitted within 7 days of the start of the programme.

Format of the session: 20-25 min of webinar teaching. 10 min breakdown of weekly activities. 20 min live Q&A with coaching.

Format of the week: Each person will have a set of tasks of activities to strive for throughout the week. One of these is to motivate and support each other on the Summer 2019 Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Coaching Programme online forum.


Outline

Week 1: Your Current Lifestyle & History

  • Description: Change behaviour and its impact on our general wellbeing, Personal eating history, Assessment of daily routine, Your weekly diary, Identify ‘red zone’ issues, Your body type.
  • Knowledge: Know thyself and thy history!

Week 2: Goals

  • Description: Establish your SMART goals for long-term effective change.
  • Knowledge: Your Why, Set Better Goals, Behaviour Goals

Week 3: Integrative energy intakeTOC - 8 Wellbeing Keys - White Background

  • Description: Enhance your intake of energy into the ‘healthier’ zone in all 8 areas of wellbeing. Primary focus on nutritional energy.
  • Knowledge: Essential nutrients for the human body, choosing the most appropriate diet for your goals that doesn’t allow you to compromise on the other 7 areas of your wellbeing. Time vs money vs wellbeing.

Week 4: Menu Planning & Healthy Food Preparation Skills

  • Description: What’s in your kitchen? What shouldn’t be in your kitchen? Re-arrange your diary so that you make time to prepare your own meals. Plan for the week.
  • Knowledge: Kitchen clean up, Being prepared, Weekly meal planner, Healthy snacking available from your own cupboards.

Week 5: Self-awareness, Moderation, and Portion Sizes

  • Description: Eat for your body type. 3 strategies to prevent overeating. Self-awareness, body awareness. Tracking your fullness level. Change what isn’t working.
  • Knowledge: Macro breakdown for your body type, Recommended portion size guide, Moderation, Calorie education.

Week 6: Healthy Eating Check-in + Review

  • Description: Use this week to catch up on the lessons and guides, really plan your shopping list and meal prep, ask questions, share where you are stuck, get involved in the community forum, etc.! Repeat often until things become a habit!
  • Goal check in – how are you doing? Struggle? Schedule a meeting/call?

Week 7: Wellbeing Check-in + Review

  • Description: Use this week to review your progress, assess the impact of your changes on the other 7 areas of your wellbeing (e.g. emotional, occupational).
  • Overall wellbeing check & impact assessment. Behaviour change checklist.

Week 8: Metabolism & Physical activity

  • Description: Adding exercise to the picture.
  • Knowledge: Metabolism education (incl. hormones leptin & ghrelin), HIIT + Strength Training

Week 9: Sleep, Stress, + Self-care

  • Description: The difference between self-care and self-comfort, the impact stress has on your body (and goals), and creating a healthy sleep routine.
  • Knowledge: Hydration, Good + Bad Stress, Caffeine effects, Self-Care, Sleep, Recovery, Wellness Pyramid

Week 10: Detoxing, Fasting and Finding what might be right for you

  • Description: Detoxes, gut health, and intermittent fasting…
  • Knowledge: Detoxes, Gut Health, Pre-biotics and pro-biotics, Fasting

Week 11: Movement

  • Description: While strength and cardio work is useful, your most optimal results you will come from NEAT movement and healthy eating as becoming a daily priority.
  • Knowledge: NEAT Movement

Week 12: Living out your sustainable change

  • Description: Your change journey
  • Knowledge: The Change Formula & using it to your advantage moving forward.

 

Bookings open up on Good Friday

with a 10% discount available over the weekend!

 

hewsum19 booking button

An Alternative to ‘New Year, New You!’

There are so many things I’m excited about entering into 2019. I can’t wait to be meeting and working with amazing clientele who are full of potential and I’m totally looking forward to the ways in which my business will be an opportunity for many others. But one thing I want to do differently right now is suggest an alternative to ‘New Year, New You!’ – a notion that serves as a popular up-sell strategy for life coaches around this time of year. The idea of ‘new year, new you’ is to start anew, with a fresh outlook and fresh new ways of doing things, or even a brand new way of ‘being’. Life coaches support clients to come up with new year’s resolutions, targets, and promises which they make both to themselves and where appropriate, to loved ones. We also support them to follow through with the resolution by holding them accountable. Often however, no matter who we are, or what our experiences of the past have been, we can potentially set ourselves unrealistic objectives that we not only become disillusioned by, but even become rebellious toward after a certain time. The thing is, I don’t often find an issue with the resolution itself. More often, it’s the approach to the resolution that is badly managed, and sometimes life coaches can fall into the trap of promoting an unsustainable approach to human behavioural change over the new year period. Here’s a solution to the folly of the ‘New Year, New You’ ideal, which proposes an altogether healthier approach to ‘A Transformed You’. The solution is itself, transformation. The approach: to enact three fundamentally healthy actions that drive and sustain the transformation.

 

Action #1: Don’t ignore your past – use it to your advantage!

Yesterday, Disney’s The Lion King was on the TV, and I was struck by this particular scene. It presents a very healthy life lesson for all of humanity. Our past, no matter what it was like for us, became a promise of increased knowledge and learning at the very moment that it became a reality of a present moment for us. That learning extends as much to ourselves – our intellects and inner world from where our behaviour and responses stem, as to our external world – our environments and circumstances that influence, inform and evoke our behaviour and responses.

As Rafiki the baboon says, “we can either run from the past, or learn from it”. The former does not help us to grow or to transform into freer human beings. People who run from the past tend to use it as an excuse for behaviour that is not conducive to transformation into a more mature being. A refusal to confront the past imprisons them to a moment of the past that shaped their attitude, behaviour and responses, resulting in present decisions formed by experiences that hold them captive. This prevents progress in maturity. It is easy enough to make plans and set goals, but when we are triggered by negative emotion, attitude, or experiences associated with the past, the person who runs from the past will refuse to overcome the barrier. This same barrier will return time and again if it is not addressed.

The person who learns from their past and brings it with them into the present moment from a reconciled position is liberated from the captivity of the past. Their decisions are formed and made with the future in mind. They are able to use their past to know ‘how to’ and ‘how not to’. They have been changed from a deeper place within themselves, that their actions are informed by this knowledge gained from their previous experiences.

The point here is that interior change caused as a result of our past is the safest way of sustaining the journey toward the end goal or resolution. The notion of ‘new year, new you’ tends toward an attitude of ignoring past experiences which configures and informs our current self-knowledge – a vital key to setting and achieving realistic goals. The folly of ‘new year, new you’ is that at the stroke of midnight on 01/01/2019, you didn’t become a whole new person, and your history was not voided as if some man in the cloud with a giant computer deleted your mental and emotional cache! We didn’t just enter into the new year a brand new person, no matter how much we might want that to be so. We bring with us into the new year all our old habits, fears, discouragements, resentments, as well as capacities and capabilities. Don’t forget to include your own ability to bring into 2019 all that was positive and successful from your past! Use your past as an advantage for the decisions you make along this journey of achieving your new year’s resolutions, and you’ll find yourself more encouraged and committed to the change you’re putting into action.

 

Action #2: Accept change as a journey and not as an immediate reaction

The purpose of you setting a resolution is because you want something to change in your life. What I have learned, however, in the many years that I have been journeying with people, is that the last thing many of us human beings want to change, is ourselves. We believe it’s much easier to change our external world – our circumstances, environments, states, the people in our lives – than our understanding, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. As a change management practitioner, it’s my job and joy to bring to light the journey of change in every human being. The journey is often a difficult one, but is ultimately a very liberating one! In fact, the greatest joy of reaching our goals ought not be the goal itself, but how much we have grown and changed along the journey.

We can’t escape change – it’s necessary for our survival and good for our human faculties (by this I mean body, soul and spirit). It happens not only outside ourselves, but the most precious place that change happens is within ourselves. Attitudinal and behavioural change doesn’t happen instantaneously – it is a process that requires self-knowledge (as addressed above) and time (addressed here). Due to many varying factors, we tend to want to speed things up and if possible, skip parts of the process required to achieve the goal. If I were to set a goal of praising God from the top of a mountain, the temptation is to imagine myself singing from the top of the mountain. However, a zoomed-in image of the goal ignores the rest of the picture, and I would then forget or ignore the reality that is the climb that would get me there. Embracing the bigger picture, and gaining knowledge from maps means that I can assess the valleys, mountains, deserts and oceans on the journey in between where I am at now, and that goal. They inform me of what needs to happen for me to get to the top of the mountain and to make decisions on whether that need must be met to achieve the goal. For example, I don’t need a good singing voice to get up to the top of the mountain, but I need a sturdy pair of legs that are fit for climbing, and I will need lots of courage! There’s lots of other things that would need to be added to this list. In essence, it would be folly to commit to the goal without perceiving the journey that will get us there a sustainably changed person without giving up. In other words, it’s not the things around me that ought to change, but my approach to change that takes into account the reality of my humanity.

The point here is that for the change in us to be sustainable, we have to undergo a journey of behavioural change to move us into the future, as painful or difficult that may at first seem. It’s the most foolproof way of tackling barriers and remaining committed to the goal. We need to let go of old ‘vicious’ habits, and form new ‘virtuous’ habits. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, back in 1969, upon observing the process of overcoming grief and bereavement, identified a characteristic pattern of responses that human beings needed to go through to ‘let go’ of the past and begin to embrace and engage with a different future. It is a model that applies as much to objects, circumstances and situations as to ourselves and other people in our lives. If practiced, the increase in the probability of a change being successful is really quite noticeable. Kübler-Ross’ 7 stages of the process of human change are: 1) shock; 2) denial; 3) anger or blame at others; 4) self-blame, bargaining or guilt; 5) depression or confusion; 6) deep acceptance; and 7) problem-solving. A graphical representation of the change curve can be found here. Undergoing this process is the most natural and harmless way of accepting the present moment and forming new habits and connections in our psyche and heart.

 

Action #3: Form new habits for your new beginnings

Once a change has taken root within ourselves, we’ll find that our lives begin to change, in huge and small ways. That’s partly because the change has cost us. A lot. We were so dissatisfied with the way things were, we found the benefit of the change outweighed the cost, and the long-term change is now here to stay. So what must a person do, if say for example, his or her approach to life has changed, but s/he misses the positive aspects of what s/he used to have and s/he discovers a longing in his/her heart for this aspect of his/her past? This re-visit or return to fond memories happens often, and my experiences with other people tend to show that the majority of these are relational (contact with certain persons of value in the heart or any subconscious establishment of a relationship to objects, circumstances, environment or states). A preventative measure to the ‘re-visit’ or ‘return’ lies in 3 important questions:

1)     Do I have an attachment of any kind (most especially emotional attachments as these are the hardest to detach from) to this person/object/circumstance/environment/state?

2)     What boundaries can I set to ensure that I go into the future avoiding old habits associated with this person/object/circumstance/environment/state?

3)     How can my own ability and capacity to live with this person/object/circumstance/environment/state be strengthened and improved?

Answering these questions once the initial change has happened but before one has reached that point of re-visit/return could be very useful to the next part of the process.

 

The pre-condition to transformation

The irony of finding freedom in these actions that focus your capacities on remaining committed to that journey will paradoxically invoke change in the life that is external to you, because the change will ultimately happen in you yourself. There is one pre-condition to this taking full effect. The three actions, to be successful together, require your readiness to change. I encourage starting 2019 and our new year resolution(s), not with ‘New Year, New You’ in mind, but with long-term sustainable transformation in mind. If you like, you can call it: ‘new year for new beginnings’. Only with readiness to change will we find ourselves:

a) letting go of the past’s bad habits, attitudes, behaviours and misunderstandings

b) living the present moment of transition by developing new habits, attitudes, behaviours and understandings.

c) putting a plan in place to ensure the sustainability of the changed ‘me’, having new habits, attitudes, behaviours and understanding embedded in my daily life for the future.

May the changes that are to happen in your life and your readiness for that change bring you to an encounter with the truth of who you are and what your mission in this world is to be for this year. I would love to hear how this has been helpful for you! Likewise, please do share it – especially if you find someone you know is encountering disillusionment and difficulty progressing toward their goal or new year’s resolutions further down the line!

 

Every blessing!

C.

Copyright © 2018 Claz Gomez.

Photo credit to Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash