Are you asking the right questions?

We all know that the language we use can our affect our thinking and ultimately our actions. But what about the questions we ask ourselves.  If you want to make changes, are you asking the right questions?

I’ve found that most people ask a certain type of question when they want to improve something.  I had a client called Claire who had got incredibly frustrated with her business. It had stagnated and she felt stuck. 

She asked herself the usual questions. Why can’t I get clients? What am I doing wrong?  Why isn’t my business thriving?  Why can’t I be as successful as her?  She turned these questions over and over in her mind – often in the early hours of the morning. 

What am I doing wrong, she implored me, with tears of frustration in her eyes.

We ask ourselves similar questions when we’re struggling to find answers.

Why can’t I lose weight? Why can’t I speak confidently in public? Why do I always attract the wrong people? How come I’m always broke?

Then our inner voice gives us the answers, and they’e usually ones that make us feeling stupid and incapable. They tend to go like this:

  • You’re lazy. 
  • You’re hopeless.
  • Nobody wants what you’re offering.
  • You’ll shake with nerves.
  • You’ll never be wealthy.

These answers always make you feel worse, and they’re certainly not going to inspire you or give you the solution you’re looking for!  

So let’s turn it round.  Are you asking the right questions? If you were the successful business woman, the slim, vibrant woman who sashayed into parties attracting all the most entertaining people, what questions would you have asked yourself?

To get answers that will get you to where you want to be, you have to ask different questions.  Questions like this:

  • What needs to happen for me to get more clients?
  • How do I get in front of the best people?
  • How can I give my body what it needs and not what I want?
  • How can I have more fun today?
  • What type of people am I excited to meet?
  • How can I learn from that past experience?
  • How can I create more income?

It’s time to ask different questions.

If you are facing a challenge right now, I suggest you do what Claire did. She wrote out all the negative, energy draining, questions that kept her locked in her whirlpool of despair, and turned them round.

Instead of asking Why can’t I get clients? she asked What can I change in my marketing?

Rather than asking What am I doing wrong? she wondered What have I learnt so far and what can I change now?

She turned Why isn’t my business thriving? into What needs to happen for me to move forward?

Then she started to get the answers she needed, the answers that were fresh ideas and became new plans. 

If you want to make a change in your life, try changing your questions. 

*****

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If you feel something is missing and your life isn’t exactly what you want it to be, then book a free LIFE ASSESSMENT and discover how you really do get to create the life YOU want.  Click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Authentic

Authentic is a word that is bandied about a lot these days. You’re probably often asked, Are you authentic? Authenticity appears to be a requirement from everyone, and yet we rarely see it in the media, social or otherwise.

What does being authentic mean? I’d say it’s being yourself. Which is kind of weird as what choice is there but to be ourselves?

We always have a choice, and it’s the same with being authentic. We, like everyone else, choose how we present ourselves to the world, but we are surrounded by images and text about people who are probably not being themselves. After all, Instagram and Facebook are full of people showing their ‘best’ side – their airbrushed bodies and happy faces. Deep down we know it’s a front, but we get swept up in it and start comparing, and then perhaps copying, and before long we’re also adding the layers of pretence!

We try to be someone we’re not and we become inauthentic.

So how do we start being authentic once more?

Let’s start with defining inauthenticity. It’s the feeling of not being your true self.

It’s pretending to be someone you’re not. You don’t need to add anything to be authentic because the key is to take away what isn’t real.

Let me repeat, to be authentic, you need to take away what isn’t real.

  • Lower the mask you’ve been wearing.
  • Stop agreeing to anything that feels wrong.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others.
  • Don’t feel you only have to share the positive.

Do you remember the TV sitcom ‘Keeping Up Appearances’? We laughed at Hyacinth Bucket, but how much happier she’d have been if she decided not to ‘keep up appearances’ but be happy in her own skin? She could have kicked off her shoes, invited the neighbours round and poured a very large gin and tonic. Hyacinth would enjoy her life instead of being in a constant state of stress.

When you can be yourself, without striving to present a different image, life becomes easier! Being you is so much more relaxing. You also feel freer when you stop trying to be something else – what other people think you should be, who your parents taught you to be, or what your job demands.

There’s more joy in just being you. Stop working hard to be ‘perfect’ and enjoy who you are and what you have. You can stop judging yourself as being inadequate, and flaunt the talents that make you unique. You learn to trust, and revel in, your own intuition, when you stop listening to everyone else. 

As humans we recognize authenticity and are attracted by it. When you can be authentic, people will be drawn to you. They will recognize someone who trusts themselves, believes in themselves and doesn’t try to be anyone else. Sometimes it means being vulnerable and admitting that you’re not perfect. But others will love that because none of us are perfect either, and we recognize another very human, being.

There is no-one else like you, so embrace that and be YOU. After all, as Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

Better boundaries, better business!

A couple of years ago I had a client who ran a holiday home rental company. She came to me because she was exhausted. She’d spent the weekend in bed with a lung condition that always flared up when she was stressed. ‘Don’t worry’ she said, ‘I’m taking a break next weekend – 4 days in Morocco!’  I mentioned her office manager holding the reins while she was away; she laughed and told me that the woman would probably phone her twice a day!   She also admitted that she always had her phone on, even by her bed, in case a client should need her at any time.

She allowed everyone to encroach on her time and energy!

It’s very easy to completely give yourself to your business, but there comes a time when you need to stop and ask yourself why you decided to go it alone in the first place. I’m guessing you wanted something better, for yourself and your family. You wanted more income, more time, and more freedom.

But you soon discover that now everyone demands your time and attention. As you strive to keep everyone happy, just getting through your day to day routine leaves you with little energy, no time, and precious little freedom!

When you’re always busy serving others, you lose the ability to spend time focusing on what your business needs. You never have time to plan your work effectively or focus on your next strategy. Your business stagnates and your life has become a shadow of what you dreamt of.

So how do you reclaim it all?

You need to erect that fence!

Establishing boundaries puts you back in control.

Firstly I suggest that you set aside some time and revisit your dream. What did you imagine your dream business would look like? How many hours would you ideally work? Where would the profit be coming from, and what sort of team would you have around you?  Do you still want that?

What did your dream life look like? Do you still yearn to travel more and experience new places? Did you desire time to enjoy the things you also love? Today do you crave for free weekends and an afternoon off?

To resurrect your dream you need to sit down and plan it. Write out the hours you want to spend working (there are no ‘shoulds’ here). What hours you’re going to join the family, meet with friends and take time for you?

The most successful business owner I know, guards his boundaries fiercely. He spends 90 minutes each morning focusing on his business without interruption. He puts a very firm boundary around that time because he knows how much can be achieved. He’s also decided how he wants to spend his time with his family and it’s clear that all school holidays are ring-fenced!

You too can decide when you’re going to work – and when you aren’t. Even when you are employed.

To regain your life, you need to put a fence around the ‘me-time’ too. For instance, let’s say you always mean to go for a run each day, or you want to read your child’s bedtime story each evening. Decide you’re going to do it and put it in your diary. Now treat that appointment as importantly as any client meeting. After all, who’s more important than you, or your family?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your business, it’s because you haven’t put in the boundaries. When you do, you’ll have more energy to act on fresh ideas. You’ll find that you’ve freed up time to work on growing your company. What’s more, you’ll create the time for you, what you enjoy doing, and being with those you care about most.

And wasn’t that the dream?

I help overwhelmed and stressed entrepreneurs ensure they can grow their business while creating the best version of their life. Contact me for details of the new Elegant Entrepreneur online programme.

Dare to Dream!

This week I’m in Los Angeles, described as the City of Dreams; it’s full of people waiting on their dream (literally, in every restaurant your server may be a ‘wannabe’ actor), pursuing their dream, or living their dream!

Last week we saw Olivia Coleman hold high the Oscar she’d long dreamed of. “I imagined this”, she cried.

When our dream is really aligned with our soul and what it craves, it never really goes away.

In the busy-ness of life, it is still there, nagging away. And we sigh and say “one day when…” and carry on with our life. But your dream is still there.

When we were young, we dreamt of what life would be like. We imagined the person we’d be and what we’d be doing. We’d always be doing something wonderful – being a doctor, famous dancer, explorer or author.

What happened?

We allow life to happen to us and along the way, we lose the belief in ourselves to make those dreams happen.

We allow the negative thoughts to creep in.

We allow ourselves to doubt.

We allow ourselves to feel incapable.

We allow ourselves to shrink back into life and to play small. We just ‘get on’, and our dreams become a faded memory.

But still they remain, buried in our soul.

One day, and I hope this is for you, you realise that the dream you had is still there, and you decide to fight to make it happen.

It can start in a small way.

When I was a little girl I dreamt of being a famous actress. I was entered into a big poetry competition but when I got on that stage, I froze. I remember still the room going black and the over-riding fear that took over.

So as I grew, I would never speak out loud in a room. I wouldn’t even raise my hand to ask a question. I would say for decades, “I don’t do public speaking”.

I came to believe that if I opened my mouth, my throat would constrict, my heart would pound and I’d never get to the end of my sentence. And that’s exactly what happened.

My dream was still to be able to get on a stage and talk. I knew I wasn’t going to be an actor, but I still loved the idea of captivating an audience.

So I took a decision and then those baby steps.

I went to networking lunches where I had to stand up and introduce myself. I stood with my small piece of paper, reading out my introduction with my hands shaking. Eventually I was able to put the paper down and stand up straight!

I started speaking in public.

After many months I put my name down to give a 10 minute talk. That’s when I really felt fear! But I’d said yes. I had to coach myself through that one, using the tools I use with clients today.

It was all about changing my mindset. It is ALWAYS about changing what you believe!

The short talks became longer talks until I could confidently talk to a room for 20 minutes without notes, and without stumbling or shaking!

Last week I stood in for a speaker who cancelled at the last minute. This year I’m preparing to talk to groups of people in companies. I want to talk to them about making their work just part of their life, and how to make that life the best it can possibly be.

Now here’s the BIG reveal; I’ve learnt that by going for my dream I’ve changed. This is the best part.

When you reach for your dream, who do you become on the journey?

Reaching for a dream IS a journey. Like any other, it will have its twists and turns, ups and downs.

But if your dream is one that is deep inside and fully aligned with who you are, it will keep you going.

Yes, it feels uncomfortable at times. Yes it can be scary and will involve change. Yes you’ll bump up against questions and criticism. But let’s face it, haven’t you dealt with all that before?

Do you dare to resurrect your dream? Many women I meet have firmly packed away their dream. But I believe every woman has her dream. Do you?

What would happen if you owned up to that dream and really went for it?

What if you stopped listening to the voice of doubt?

What if you allowed yourself to believe that you deserved whatever you desire?

Let me ask you; when you’re old and frail and looking back on your life, do you want to cheer or regret?

How will you feel knowing you had a dream once but it never came to fruition?

How will you feel knowing you made it happen?

Will you see what you were capable of?

Will you see that you created something wonderful?

Will you see that you stepped up and were brave?

Will you see that you brought joy and even astonishment?

You have a dream. It doesn’t have to be about becoming a professor or climbing mountains.

It may be to create the most peaceful retreats, or a beautiful garden.

It may be to flaunt blue hair when you’re sixty, lose 2 stone, or become an award-winning dancer.

It may be to influence 100,000 people, or inspire 50 in a village hall to improve your locality.

It could be to play guitar or form a jazz band.

Do you dare to reach for that dream?

You are capable.

You already know what you want.

You are ready.

You can do it.

Tell me, what dream are you going to reach for? Please share in the comments below. Because by declaring your dream, you’re a step closer to achieving it.

And it all starts with one step.

 

Do you have a dream that feels impossible right now?  I occasionally have spaces in my Elegant Entrepreneur programme to enable you to create the life and business you desire. Message me at karen@karenjburge.com to talk about your dream.

 

 

 

Why french women say yes to everything!

I fell in love with France when I was at school learning about the beautiful chateaux in the Loire Valley. After many years of holidaying there, and even buying a tiny house in a village, we eventually bought a much bigger place – a ‘Maison de Maitre’ – and lived there full time. 

Now there’s a lot written about french women and how they treat themselves so well; particularly the Parisiennes who are always thought to be slim and chic!  In the south west my neighbours were as varied as the women in any other country, but it’s true, there was a different philosophy that permeated life. 

I can tell you, French women do say Yes to life!  They certainly say yes to great food and wine, so how do they stay slim?  We know they eat croissants, chocolate, and foie gras.  They drink Champagne and wine of course! They say yes to four course meals and eat all that cheese!

But there are certain rules in place.

Firstly they only eat when they feel hungry, and then it is the best quality food.  If they indulge one day, they’ll make sure they eat less the next.  Because they eat delicious food, they eat slowly and savour each mouthful, and while they might adore croissants and pastries, these are an occasional treat, not an every day indulgence!  Food, like friendship is to be celebrated!

 

French women on the whole, treat their bodies with respect.  They recognise that unless they take of themselves, they can’t take care of others. They know that when they feel strong, they can handle any circumstance. But above all they treat themselves well because they honour and respect themselves in all things. And they take responsibility. 

When you do all that, you don’t allow other people to take advantage of you, sucking your energy or taking up your precious time. You don’t tolerate bad behaviour from others because you know you deserve better. 

At the same time you enjoy the nice things in life.

You don’t keep the good china for ‘special occasions’, because life is a special occasion!

You wear good clothes because you want to look your best, not for others, but because it makes YOU feel good.  

If you feel tired, you take a nap, because that’s what your body needs. And when you feel like dancing until dawn, you do that too, because life is to be celebrated. 

When you honour yourself, you find yourself saying yes to everything life has to offer – as long as it’s the best thing for your mind, your body or your soul. 

                       ******************************************************

If you’d like to learn more about staying slim the french way, I can recommend the book Why French Women Don’t Get Fat!  Get it here.   

How are you when it comes to respecting and loving yourself? Do you yearn to say Yes more often but think you don’t deserve what you want?  Do comment below and let me know; and if you’d like to talk about this, click here.

 

When to say a big loud Yes!

That short word Yes.  Such a little word, yet so powerful. Saying it can keep us stuck, or help us rise.

Sometimes it’s said out of laziness.   You know, when you mean to “be good”, and lose those few extra pounds? But you’re in the queue for a coffee and it’s so easy to say Yes to that double chocolate chip muffin that’s sitting there on the counter.

We say Yes out of obligation.  A friend calls you up and asks you to help out at a school fete, or sit on a committee;  you think “well I really ought to, she’ll be disappointed in me if I refuse”. Then you end up resenting your friend, and the event, and it’s just an energy sucking experience all round!

Then there’s the Yes due to the Fear Of Missing Out (see my last blog on this here).  You agree to going to a local knees up, not because you like the people and you think it’ll be a great thing to do, but because you dread the idea of missing out on the local gossip, that they might have more fun than you, or heaven forbid, the chance to be “in with the in-crowd”.

However, saying No can stifle you and keep you stuck.  Saying No can keep you safe, at home, doing what’s familiar.   If you want to expand your life, have more experiences, and grow yourself, there are times to step up and say an enthusiastic YES! 

When you say a big loud Yes to life and all that’s on offer, you become the person who’s eager, courageous, confident and fun to be with!  (I still push myself to say yes; here I am in Egypt having a wonderful time when so many said it was too risky!)

What could you say Yes to?

  • Saying Yes to the chance of a last minute trip could lead to new and exciting places and people.  Who knows who you might meet, or what may happen?
  • Saying Yes to an opportunity that feels darned scary could lead to a new dimension in your work and business, and potential growth. You’ll never expand if you always say No to an invitation.
  • Saying Yes to buying something gorgeous and expensive (that you normally wouldn’t),  wakes you up to recognising your worth. Yes, you do deserve that!
  • Saying Yes can be uncomfortable, but if it’s the next step that will take you nearer to your dream, it’s the best Yes of all.  Take a deep breath and jump in!

This week, what could you say Yes to that will help you rise?

 

What are you afraid to say yes to right now?  Is there a goal that feels impossible?  I can help you get rid of the fear and take the next steps to a different way of doing and being. If you’re tired of saying “I’d love to but…”, email me at karen@karenjburge.com and let’s talk.

 

 

 

Your love is the best love! Here’s how to love yourself.

When we yearn to “be loved”, we ‘re relying on someone else to give that love to us. We want that love because we believe that having that love will make us feel “whole”, cherished, beautiful, important, and valued.   But the truth is, no-one can do all that for you, no matter how much they love you.

If you want to feel all those wonderful things, you need to love yourself. When you love yourself, you’re able to:

  • Recognise and embrace all of you – your strengths and your weaknesses.
  • Give yourself whatever you need that day, whether it’s encouragement, or a little peace.
  • Stop criticising yourself because you recognise that we’re all human and bound to fail at times.
  • Know that you’re enough – for anyone, and anything you dream of doing.
  • Have the confidence to create the life you desire.

So how do you do that? Here are a few ideas.

  • Make a list of all you’ve achieved. This is one of the first exercises I give my clients. Open your eyes to how capable you are.
  • Talk to yourself as though you were your best friend. How would you comfort, guide and inspire her?
  • Ask what you need today. It may something as simple as a lunchtime walk, or as complex as extra assistance at work. Act on what comes up.
  • See yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. The day you were born, your mother looked upon you as though you were the most perfect human on earth. You are still the same person.
  • Live in integrity. If you tell yourself you’re going to do something, keep that promise.
  • Trust your own judgement. You do not need the opinions and advice of others. You have your own intuition to guide you to the right decision for you.
  • Don’t hold back from buying things that make you feel good. Treat yourself to that massage, bunch of flowers, or gourmet meal. You enjoy giving to others so sometimes, give to yourself.
  • Practice having conversations with yourself. Ask how you want to feel, what you need, or how you can enjoy today. Then listen to the answers.

How would you feel if you did all this? Wouldn’t you fall in love again, with yourself? After all this person speaks kindly to you, listens to you, cherishes you, can be trusted, and you can have so much fun with!

And the best bit? That person is you!

Do you feel unworthy of love?  Is your life less than it could be and you yearn for change? As your coach, I can encourage you to dream bigger, recognise your worth in the world and achieve what deep down you’ve never dared admit. Want to talk to find out more? Email me at karen@karenjburge.com

When to say “Let Me be Me!”

When you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s usually because you’re allowing everyone else and their demands to encroach upon you.

If you feel put upon, ask this question; do the important people around me every day really know me? Do they know what I want or do they just assume? Am I allowed to be the real me, or am I covering that up, just to please them?”

Sometimes it requires you to have what feels like a difficult situation. You need to go to that person and say “hey, I don’t really want to do, that’s not me!”. Or it may be “ please don’t do that, it really get’s me down”.

You always have a choice about a situation. You can choose to ignore, neglect or improve it.

Often people can’t change their behaviour if they don’t know what your boundaries are. None of us are mind readers! There’s no point in dropping hints or becoming passive aggressive in the hope they’ll understand how you’re feeling.

No-one has the right to tell you what to do, how to think or how to spend your time. When you allow them to do that they just keep throwing all this stuff at you that makes you feel overwhelmed.

Today, give yourself permission to speak up for yourself. Maybe you’ve been holding back because you just want a quiet life or to keep that other person happy. If you are, you’re creating low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem traps you in a downward spiral. You don’t think worthy of speaking up so you don’t, and so others pile more on top of you. That makes you feel even more unworthy, creating lower self-esteem and so it goes on. Round and round, down and down. You get more put upon and feel increasingly overwhelmed.

Today decide who you need to sit down and talk to. They may not even realise what is going on. But this is your chance to say “let me be me!”. When you draw that line and clearly set out your boundaries, life will suddenly become a lot easier, calmer and lighter.

Do you get overwhelmed? I have the perfect course for you that will eliminate stress, overwhelm and take you from everything feeling so hard, to a place of calm, ease and confidence. Click here – www.theelegantentrepreneur.com/signature-sales

Being like Lara

As I write, little Lara is sleeping upstairs. She is almost 22 months and a delight to look after. We put wooden shapes in their box, then switch to playing Boo with her red blanket. In a few seconds she wants to read a book but half way thorough, she thinks that launching herself at her giant teddy is far more fun.

Simple things make her giggle, and she appears to me, to be always looking for what will be the most fun. Because she is so full of joy, it’s impossible to be sad when with her. She giggles, I laugh. She smiles and I smile back.

We are all born like Lara, looking for simple pleasures, and finding fun is all that’s around us. This, I believe, is our default nature. We are born to be happy.

There are three emotions that we constantly seek; love, appreciation and joy. Everything we do, we do because that’s the feeling we’re seeking. Think about that. I mean, let’s really think about that.

When we give love, appreciation and joy, it usually comes back to us. That’s why we do it! We may say we want to be completely selfless and give these without expecting anything back, but there’s nothing wrong with giving love, appreciation and joy in the hope that we receive them in return. It’s in our very nature after all.

We can test this quite simply. If you walk down the street scowling, it’s likely that you’ll receive only scowls or even rude comments in return. However, if you smile at everyone you meet, you will have people smiling back at you. And that feels good.

So it figures that if we approach the world, whether they be friends, clients or family, with the aim of giving love, appreciation, and joy, we cannot fail to experience the same wonderful emotions that feed our soul.

Like Lara, we can look for joy in all we do and expect to be happy. If a toddler can do it, so can we. After all, we’ve done it before.

Fear and Hunger

What do you think of when you hear the phrase FOMO? It stands for the Fear Of Missing Out, a digital phenomenon, which makes us addicted to our screens.

  • It is our hunger for knowledge.
  • It’s our hunger to stay connected to everyone.
  • It’s our hunger for checking emails and messages.
  • It’s our hunger for sharing all we do, so that people may form a certain impression of us.

It’s all based on fear; the fear of missing out and of not being good enough.

We spend so much time gathering information, watching what others are doing, and concerning ourselves with what the outside world thinks of us. There are messages to check and reply to, other people’s posts to respond to. And we feel that everyone is always better, smarter and more connected to us.

And so it goes on. The more we see, the more inadequate we feel. The more we read about, the more we feel we’re missing out. Our fear increases and so our hunger increases.

What a vicious circle.

And it’s worse. As we spend increasing amounts of time looking to the outside, the less we listen to ourselves.

The “busy-ness” of outside prevents us from listening to our own thoughts. Which I have to say are usually better and smarter than those we pay attention to. Our fear should be what of ourselves are we missing out on!

Bill Gates had what he called a “think week”, when he would remove himself from the office, ignore the outside world and give himself time to think. The ideas he came up with during those times, meant he grew Microsoft in an extraordinary way. In ways that even changed our world.

We all need these times to think.

You may not be able to take a week, but a day can make a huge difference when you create space and allow your own thoughts, and ideas to come to the forefront of your mind. When you give yourself this time, you become a creator.

When you let go of the Fear Of Missing Out, you are no longer hungry for what others offer because you reclaim your own ability and power. You too find the opportunity to expand your life and your business and hey, you too could change the world.

Want more like this? You can sign up for Life Notes on this page.  Follow me at www.facebook.com/karenjburgecoaching

If you feel something is missing and your life isn’t exactly what you want it to be, then book a free LIFE ASSESSMENT and discover how you really do get to create the life YOU want.  Email me at karen@karenjburge.com