There’s no such thing as Work-Life Balance!

I’m starting to hate the phrase “work-life balance”. It’s used a lot and it appears to mean that you need to live with an equal amount of “work” and “life”. But why do we split the two? Why do we have work on one side and life on the other?

This phrase also projects an image that work is hard and life is good. But we know it’s not like that at all. Some people find that their work is what gets them out of bed, eager to face the day, while the relationship with the person sleeping next to them is slowly suffocating them.

We all have a life whether we’re working or not, and this life is made of many parts. There’s our social life, our health, our love relationships, our spirituality, our interests, learning and character, as well the work we do to earn money.

When you look at all the different parts, you see that they’re all connected and each needs to be integrated into our life. What’s more, each part affects the other.

I don’t know much about cars but I’ll use a car as an analogy. I know that if a wheel falls off, the car cannot move. If the steering wheel is missing, there’s no way to drive it, and it’s the same with the gears and the fuel. All the different bits are important, and vital if you want to drive to your destination.

We can look at our life as though it is a car. If our health is not good, our work and lifestyle is affected. If our work environment drags us down, that’s likely to have an affect on our relationship at home; “Welcome home Mr Grumpy, how was your day?” If we have no time for the interests or hobbies we really enjoy, how does that affect our emotions? All these parts make up our life, and they all need to be integrated.

When we are running a business or building our career, we’re naturally focused on that. New entrepreneurs especially put a vast amount of energy into nurturing their new baby, even having the sleepless nights that a newborn brings! But what happens when all one’s focus is on work and the other parts are neglected?

  • Your love relationship fails
  • Your environment gets shabby
  • You don’t spend time with your friends
  • You’re an absent parent
  • You don’t eat well or exercise
  • You don’t have much fun
  • You don’t give yourself time to relax, restore and refresh.

Everything else falls apart. What is the point of growing a successful business, getting a promotion and earning a lot of money if you’re alone, slowly dying inside?

So let’s forget this work-life balance idea and realise that work is just a part of a rich and fulfilling life. It’s a very important part but just a part nonetheless and you only have one precious life. So when you’re focusing on winning in business, make sure that your whole life can be celebrated too.

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How do you want to feel this year?

This week in Facebook I asked “How do you want to feel this year? Give me one word.”

I believe that knowing how we want to feel is more important than anything else. Your feelings are what’s inside your very soul. They are so integral to you that when you know how you want to feel, and can put those into words, you have a compass for each day and throughout the year. They are the guidance system for your life!

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The answers to my question were varied and I found them fascinating. There were wonderful powerful words like Fabulous, Brave, Bold, Fearless, Legendary and Proud. These are people who have decided to have an awesome year ahead, striding through it purposefully, and being the best they can possibly be.

The wonderful thing is, we can choose how we want to feel. Nobody can MAKE us feel anything.

If we are dealing with someone angry, we can decide to allow them their own experience, or we can decide to get upset and retaliate. If someone is unkind to us, we can choose to forgive them, or we can choose to feel smaller, or inadequate. 

Even if we feel we have not control over our lives, we always have control over our feelings.

When deciding how you want to feel, and finding a word to express that , it helps to be aware that there are words where you’re relying on other people to make you feel a certain way. Like Loved and Supported.

If you’re working out how you want to feel, it’s easy to slip into this, beware! Do you want to be loving? That’s about you giving love though. How about just “I want to feel Love?”  

As for supported, if you need to be supported this year, how would you feel if that happened? Is your word perhaps Secure, Capable or Strong? Other words to watch out for are respected, cherished and heard. All good words, but a slight change makes a huge difference.

How do we choose how we want to feel?

I sometimes have clients saying they don’t know how they want to feel. Working with opposites often helps. How don’t you want to feel this year? Maybe looking back on last year there were times when you felt a failure; you felt incapable to achieving anything, and totally stupid.

If those are the feeling you don’t want to experience again, what would the opposite feelings be? Successful, capable, strong, and able to achieve anything? You want to feel like a rock star, and invincible.

Start with what you don’t want and you’ll easily find what you desire.

Gaining clarity on how you want to feel is a very powerful tool. We all start the year with various goals. But what’s the feeling behind the goal? How will you feel if you reach it? That’s the feeling you crave. Why wait until you reach that goal? By doing things today that make you feel the way you want to feel, you’re already on the path to feeling great, and isn’t that what we all want?

If you want to get clear on how you want to feel (because that’s the greatest feeling ever), then give yourself time to think, and keep an open mind and an open heart. Don’t rush, there are so many words for feelings in the English language and some will resonate immediately, while others will need to be tried on, like a new shirt.

When you discover your feeling word, it will feel right, like you’ve arrived home. Now you know how you want to feel, each day you can take small actions that make you feel that way.  You’ll be on the perfect path to achieving your goal, but the journey itself will be more aligned and joyous than you ever thought possible.

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There’s no shortcut.

It’s that time of year when we consider making New Year Resolutions.  We read endless posts on social media about what will make 2019 a great year. “Do this one thing to improve your life in 2019!” they cry. Or “How I lost 2 stone in 2 months!”. Even, “My three easy steps to building a six figure business.”  

And we love it because it implies there’s a shortcut. If we just follow their system, and tread in their footsteps, everything will be different.

We love the idea of learning from someone else, especially the well-known, whether it’s Frank Kern, or Tim Ferriss, Usain Bolt, or Michelle Obama – how they became so successful. And there are wonderful things to learn from all of them. But none of them achieved instant success. And neither will we.

I’ve done it; bought the course, followed the challenges and tried the systems, but I’ve discovered with myself and my clients, that actually that’s not how it works. How it works is this:

Make a commitment to a small change everyday. And stick to it.

That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

baby steps

For instance, if you set yourself a goal to run a marathon, you wouldn’t stride out of the door and run all those kilometres immediately would you? You’d find you couldn’t do it and instantly give up. No-one can do that unless they’re already a trained marathon runner.

You’d break it down. You’d run small amounts gradually building up. You’d start at the beginning.

If your goal is to run a marathon this year, you don’t even have to decide to run a kilometre every day. However, you can commit to just putting on your running shoes and stand at the back door each day. It’s the first small change.

The beginning of any journey, whether it’s losing weight, learning a language or building a business, is to commit to the first steps. When you’re concerned about achieving the big audacious goal, you can take the tiniest step you can think of. And commit to that.

Find the one small thing that you can do, every day, or every week, which over time will add up to what you want. You just need to choose one.
But you do have to commit. You need to make a solemn promise that you’ll do that thing, no matter what. You may miss a day, and that’s OK (yes, we’re all human and life happens), but you can promise yourself that you won’t miss two days in a row.

The very act of doing the smallest thing drives you forward. These small changes can add up to something huge. What could you achieve in a year?

Having breakfast just one hour later can lead you to lose the excess weight you want to shift.
Learning one phrase in Italian each day, or even just a word, would enable you to chat to a local in 12 months.
Thinking of one potential customer each day could double your business turnover.

Like a lot of things in life, it’s not easy, but it is simple.

Tiny, tiny, baby steps. They won’t transform your life, but they’ll certainly start the journey.

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One very sad sentence

“I had the house but I lost the home. I had success but I had no significance. I had power but I had no purpose. I had money but I had no meaning.” That was a powerful realisation for Simon Bailey.

He saw one day that by being totally wrapped up in his work, he’d neglected those he loved most. His daughter had asked him why he’d missed her concert, why he was never there, why he pretended to talk to her, but never looked at her.

By not taking the time to be with those he loved, and by not listening to them when they needed him, he almost lost them all.

When I read “I had the house but I lost the home”, my heart flipped. Such sadness in that one sentence.

While being so focussed on expanding his business success, Simon had also forgotten why he he’d gone into that role in the first place.  He’d wanted to do something that would help people.  He’d always been passionate about making a difference, even if it was to one person at a time.  But somehow he’d got caught up in the running of the business, the targets and the goals.  But when he returned to work after being off for a couple of weeks with flu, he saw that he’d hardly been missed.  He had failed to be of any significance. 

Simon had seen his income rise and had all the shiny goods to show for it.  He was able to give his children the gizmos and gadgets they’d asked for, the pony and the trumpet lessons.  His wife was able to furnish their home beautifully and had a great car.  But what they really wanted from him was time and attention. They craved fun in the park, laughter and play fights, while his wife wanted quiet connection over a glass of wine. Yes, he’d made plenty of money, but none of it had any true meaning.

It’s so easy to forget what really matters, when you’re focussed on gaining ‘success’.  Whether it means more money, a promotion, a better business, or more clients, there’s always plenty to absorb your attention and your time.  Your most used phrase becomes “in a minute”, “let me just do this”, or even “I’ll make it up to you”; but you never do.  

It’s not hard to get back on track and re-discover life as it’s meant to be lived. 

It means examining your values and what’s important to you.

It’s owning up to what you want, without the guilt. 

It’s realising that your life is that – your one and only precious life. 

It’s deciding to live life to the full – which is what “to be fulfilled” really means.

Fortunately for Simon, he learnt his lesson. He got help and learnt how to move from hearing to listening. He says he’s learnt that the people in his life don’t need him to fix anything; they just need him to be emotionally available.  He’s learnt that he has a choice and that the life he wants is his to create.

Above all, he’s learnt that he can be successful, but have fun, and love and laughter too.  He can have deep connection with those he loves.  He’s now regained his home, and his family. He’s rediscovered his purpose and significance to those around him and to his world. His life has meaning and he’ll go on to both make an impact and leave a legacy. 

Do you know someone like Simon?  This could be anyone, woman or man. I work with clients who recognize that they could be close to losing everything if they don’t make changes. That might be their health, a partner or even just a social life!  Outwardly they might appear to have it all, but inside a big chunk is missing. They see that they they’re missing out on a whole lot of what life has to offer. They just don’t know where to start.

So they contact me and start with a conversation.

How to get that elusive work-life balance

What is Work-Life Balance?  We all talk about it these days but increasingly fail to achieve it. If you’re feeling pulled in all directions, here are 7 tips to help you have a life that feels easier. 

 

  1. Smart phones just don’t lead to a smart life. We’re plugged into the outside world the whole time and this isn’t good for us. For some it means that work colleagues can always reach us, demanding something from us, or just keeping our minds on our work. The secret is to keep our phones separate from our “off time”. We see too many parents on their phone instead of watching the football match or performance. We see parents texting while in the playground instead of enjoying the company of their children. Let’s take back control of our leisure time and don’t let our phone dictate our behaviour..

 

  1. We all play many roles these days and trying to be perfect at all of them doesn’t work. An urge for perfection can destroy us. Our expectations and demands upon ourselves are never met, so we always feel incapable, or lacking. Let’s try and be great, but not perfect.

 

  1. We hear of “setting boundaries”, and they’re becoming increasingly important. There are so many demands on us and we need to decide what our priorities are, and then make sure that time and energy wasting activities aren’t allowed to encroach. We can say No. Say No to those people who want to use up your precious time and attention in chit chat at work. Decide not to waste time on Facebook when you could be engaging with those who really matter, and are in the room with you. It’s a case of putting in firm boundaries so that your best time is given to the people and activities that really are your priority.

  1. When your life is seriously out of balance, it’s a tough job to get that balance back. So don’t. Don’t try and change everything at once but start with baby steps. If you’re always juggling phone calls with the office when you’re home with the family, commit to leaving it in your bag between 7 and 8pm for example, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then slowly build it up until you can enjoy your evenings at home. Don’t try training for a full marathon in order to get fit, but start with a walk in your lunch hour. It’s always better to gradually increase any activity.

 

  1. A balanced life means self-care too. We have to sleep, eat, and bathe, and for some this is all they manage to squeeze into their busy schedules. But at what cost? We all know that we need to eat healthily to keep our bodies in good shape, and we know how we feel when we’ve been drinking too much and eating bad food. But not only is this your one precious life, but your one body that you’ll inhabit for the rest of your days. So you might as well look after it. Setting aside some time for exercise (let’s just call it moving) or meditation, (we can call it relaxing), is imperative if you want to be a high functioning human being.

 

  1. What can you let go of? Too often we commit to activities that we’re either not very good at, or we could delegate to someone else. If you can let go, it can be positive on two fronts. Firstly you regain some time or energy and secondly, you might empower somebody else by allowing them to take on that responsibility. You don’t need to feel guilty about delegating when it’s a win-win situation.

 

  1. If you don’t have a good work-life balance, don’t put off improving it. It’s so easy to go through life saying “I’ll take that break when I’ve reached my target figures”, or “I’ll join the children at Saturday sports when I’ve got that promotion.” Time is the one thing we can never get more of, which means we can’t go back and have that experience again. All we can do is make sure we don’t miss out in the future. If you’re devoting all your time and energy to your work, you’re missing out NOW.

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I’m a Coach and I can’t fix your problem.

Life and Business Coaches seem to be everywhere these days. In fact anyone can be a coach, there are no exams to sit, and no regulatory body.  Anyone who’s offered advice to a friend can set themselves up as a coach. A twenty three year old fresh out of Business School can say they’re a Business Mentor!

There’s a big pool of coaches out there now, so if you were curious about getting a coach, how would you choose one?

Most coaches say they’ll help fix your problem, get rid of your limiting beliefs, or give you the answer to that problem that’s going round and round your head. Some coaches even say they’ll hold you accountable.

I suggest that you find yourself a coach who has a powerful and fearless approach and recognizes that you have limitless potential to create an extraordinary life. Find yourself a coach who believes in you, even if you don’t. 

A rare coach knows that you already have the answers. A rare coach knows that you have potential and capability far beyond anything dreamt of right now.

Most coaches will give you an insight, but a great coach will enable you to have your own life-changing insights.

Most coaches will answer your questions, but a great coach will help you increase the quality of your questions.

Most coaches will be a friend, and act like your best friend would. But a great coach will be brave and keep nothing back. They’ll be brutally honest if that’s what serves you best.

Why would you want an “accountability” coach? To make sure you get the things done that will help you reach your goal?  A great coach will help you find a vision that’s so inspiring that every action step becomes a joy. You won’t need to be held accountable.

Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, wrote, Seek a coach who scares you a little. Why: It’s easy to confuse pleasure and comfort with actual learning. But truly good coaches are about challenging you to get to the edge of your abilities, time and time again.  Seek out coaches who are authoritative.  Who know their stuff, and who take charge.  A little scary is good.”

You might wonder, with a good partner and supportive friends, why would you even need a coach? Your partner will encourage you and tell you you’re fantastic, but they won’t push you to find that goal that’s hidden deep within. Your best friend will be there to share a problem with, but they won’t encourage you to live that wild dream that might leave them behind. Your boss will guide you at work and even set you challenges, but they won’t ask what’s the life you really crave.

If you have a problem, go and find a coach.

If you want to be inspired, challenged, and scared a little, find a powerful and fearless coach.

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What I learnt from my little visitors

The huge advantage of working for yourself is that you can take time off whenever you want!  That’s what I did. And I don’t apologise.

You see, my daughter and her family live in Los Angeles, so when she comes to visit with my two grand-children I drop everything; and I mean everything.  

After all when you decide to run your own show it’s because you want freedom, choice and time to spend with those you love, right?

For two weeks while Frances spent some time in London, we had the children staying here.  And what I realised was this; it was such fun to live in the present moment.

Apart from realising that we didn’t have to go on big expensive outings, or give high octane experiences, I learnt once more that the greatest pleasure can be had from the simplest of things.

Maggie loved checking on the chickens and the excitement of bringing in the freshly laid eggs each morning.  Ethan enjoyed the responsibility of letting them out and giving them water.  We enjoyed exploring in the woods, letting our imagination run wild (Harry Potter had nothing on the adventures dreamt up by these two!).  We picked fruit, visited a neighbour and stroked an emu, (yes, an emu!).  

Sure, we took in a film, visited an outdoor museum and a Tudor House and learnt heaps, and we managed to fit in 4 different playgrounds.  But there was just as much fun to be had making “fairy doors” to pin the garden and having me paint their faces. Oh and the squidgy foam soap I bought for bath-time.

If you asked them what they did the day before, they found it hard to remember the details.  If you asked them what they’d like to do tomorrow, they couldn’t say.

We all lived in the present.

There is a great quote that I love. “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, in the future.  If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.”  

This is to say that there is no point looking back and regretting what you did or didn’t do.  It is gone, so let it go. 

None of us know what the future holds so why worry about it unnecessarily?

There is only the present, where we are right now.  This is what I learnt from my little visitors.  Live in the moment.  LIVE in the moment.  Make the most of every day.  Look for the excitement, wonder at the simple, ordinary things around you. Appreciate what you have and find pleasure in what you can do NOW. 

What a great lesson!

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AND

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What I’m giving up.

Calm scene with flower

May was a tricky month weatherwise. One day we were basking in a heatwave, the next my gutters were overflowing in a monsoon-like downpour. But the day came when I knew had to put away my winter clothes (though being in England I kept by a few jumpers!), and get out the lighter trousers and caftans.

 Going through the mounting pile, I felt an urge to get rid of a whole load. I’m the sort of woman who hangs on to clothes for years. Oh yes, I mean decades! But looking at some items I couldn’t bear the thought of getting them out of store in the autumn and wearing them for yet another season. I was bored. They were dragging me down.

 I’m giving up on having things in my life that drag me down.

 My energy is precious these days and I want to surround myself with people who lift me up, things that I find beautiful and experiences that enrich me.

I’m also giving up on time-wasting. My time is precious, I can never get it back and I can’t see anyone inventing a way of getting more of it! So I started to think about the things that I spent time on needlessly.

I’ve been getting very selective on the TV I’ll watch, though I must admit this one was forced on me this month while our television gave up on us and we’ve had to wait for the repairman to come knocking. I missed watching the Chelsea Flower Show and it’s been agony not being able to watch The Handmaid’s Tale (definitely not uplifting but so gripping!).

I’m trying to give up sugar. I ignore the biscuit tin in the house, even though there’s very little in it. I can now stand by a sweet counter and turn away. I treat myself to one small but very good chocolate each afternoon and I can truly savour the deliciousness instead of just popping sweets into my mouth without noticing.

But the BIG thing I’m also trying to give up is complaining. Have you tried that? It’s a difficult one!  I get annoyed by drivers speeding past me in small towns; people chatting in doorways when I’m in a hurry; companies not getting back to me; data protection systems; fruit packaged in plastic, birds pooping on my clean car….. the list goes on.   But when you switch your focus from situations that are frustrating you and stop… breathe…and smile, life becomes easier.

When you complain you’re focusing on lack and what’s not working.  You can get caught in a downward spiral of dissatisfaction making you angry and frustrated. 

When you look instead at what you do have and what’s making you feel good, your mood is instantly uplifted.  Suddenly you notice the sway of the trees, the smile from a stranger, even the song from the bird that pooped on your car!  Gratitude I’ve found is the greatest healer, mood enhancer and life improver.

 And that’s what it’s all about, wouldn’t you agree?

The secret to getting over fear.

Do you love a good roller-coaster? Why is that? I would take a guess and say it’s because when you’re waiting to set off, you feel really scared! It can be an intense fear, when emotions flood your system.

Life is often like this. We’re ready to do something brave and then the little inner voice starts talking.

“What if you hurt yourself?”

“What if everyone thinks you’re crazy?”

“What if you fail?”

Fear can hold us back and it does, time and time again. Often the fear is so great that we don’t go any further. We turn around and get on with our familiar life. It may even prevent us from EVER trying something new. And that’s a tragedy.

There’s a secret I try with my clients. It’s called reframing. And it works.

There’s a lovely saying that “Fear is the other side of Excitement”. Think again of the roller-coaster. You can reframe that fear and call it enthusiasm or excitement. We’re usually afraid of something we don’t know. So think of fear instead as “Excitement for the unknown”.

When you realise that you can choose whether to feel afraid or excited everything changes.

 Businesswoman jumping in water   . Mixed media

 Think back to when you were a child learning to swim. What if something happened, maybe a daft uncle pushed you in, or kids splashed around and you ended up gulping for air. If you felt as though you were drowning you would understandably equate learning to swim with dying. It would certainly put you off learning to swim for a long time!

We all know the fear would be irrational though. Many are. But they can still send you into a spiral of anxiety, self-doubt and negative thinking. Behaviours can then be established to overcome these feelings, such as over-eating, becoming a workaholic or an alcoholic.

 When fear takes over, it actually dictates our behaviour and actions. We make decisions based not on opportunity or potential, but on the fear that holds us back. That’s when we lose our freedom. Our freedom of choice.

Do you have old fears that still show up for you today? Are there old fears about life that hold you back, cause you to make bad decisions and impact the life you’d rather have?

 Let me know below and next week I’ll talk about how to crush that fear and build emotional resilience.

Is there a fear holding you back?  Something you think may have come from childhood, that you want to say goodbye to forever?  Book a call with me and we’ll get it sorted. Click here.

Whatever you want, you need this first.

Last week I watched a short video about a guy named Jon who, at the age of 54 and a grandfather, had the same taut, fit, physique as he did at 29. He was asked how he managed to retain such a body. Of course he mentioned the way he’d always eaten healthily and exercised, and worked 3 – 4 times a week. But then he talked about what I’ve always thought to be the most important requirement when wanting to attain anything in life – PURPOSE.

 You see, I believe it’s not HOW we do anything. We all know what we need to do to attain that goal we’re after. We probably have the dates set, the action steps worked out and the practices all lined up.

 It’s WHY.

 If you have any sort of goal, whether it’s to run a marathon, lose weight, have a better relationship, or grow a business empire, it’s the WHY that will get you there. What is your PURPOSE for doing this thing?

 For Jon it was that he wanted a great relationship with his wife and a sex life where they continued to turn each other on. He wanted to set a great example to his kids. He wanted to remain fit enough to travel to extreme places on earth.

Once you have a strong enough purpose, and you’re deeply connected to that purpose, the disciplines you put in place become a given. When you have your purpose, you have the reasons that make everything easier. It becomes easy to do what it takes and it becomes easy to avoid anything you shouldn’t be doing, or giving up.

 When I was in California last week I came across the book Achieving Vibrance by Gay Hendricks. Maybe you’ve read The Big Leap by him, and that great book prompted me to buy this one. I’m enjoying reading about the steps that I need to do each day to ensure that I’m an energetic, vibrant woman well into old age. Oh yes, I know I need to make changes!

It was when reading about simple exercises and a way of breathing that the following resonated with me.

“Living in a human bodymind is like inheriting the Taj Mahal. Maintaining it is a way of honouring the gift. I inherited the great gift of a human bodymind, as did you.

Let’s honour that blessing by opening the windows of our own private Taj Mahal each day to let the breeze blow through. Let’s commit a few minutes of our day to letting the flow of vibrance stream through us.

Enjoying the breeze and honouring the gift: until I can think of a better meaning of life, I’m going to go with that one.”  Me too.

It’s all about finding a purpose and then committing to the disciplines or habits you need to put in place. These two examples are about physical fitness but it goes for all parts of our life, and business too.

Karen on the beach

Often clients come to me to talk about their goals. The conversation usually starts with dates and numbers, such as “I want to lose ten pounds by June 1st”, or “I need to find 10 more clients in the next 3 weeks.” But the questions I like to start with, the ones that really get them thinking deeply are “how do you want to feel?” and “what’s your purpose for wanting this?”

They’re both really the same question.

When we have a goal, it’s not the goal we’re chasing. We’re chasing the feeling that we believe achieving the goal will give us. We’re chasing the purpose.

Once you know your purpose, you know how you want to feel, and it’s a deep inner knowing and certainty, then that goal is probably going to be achieved. You’re so committed that you don’t have to find reasons for doing what you need to do.

When you don’t need to find reasons for exercising, for writing, for practicing whatever you’ve decided to do, then you don’t find excuses for avoiding them either.

Being deeply connected to your purpose, makes going for your goal SO much easier.

If you’re aiming for a big prize, growing an empire or getting fit, ask yourself first, WHY am I doing this?  Once you have the answer to that, your goal is already in sight.