3 Secrets to Success

Perhaps it is time to rethink New Years’ resolutions. Why? Because it works against our natural rhythm. Winter is the cycle of resting. Spring is the time to dive into action or start something new. You have the natural rhythm supporting you, everything is waking up, the sap is running… you naturally feel more alive and awake.

No matter what you’d like to change or achieve, the secrets to success are the same…

#1. Get clear.  As specifically as possible, decide want you want. The more clear you are on what you want to have in your life, the more likely you are to achieve it.

#2. Get perspective.  Most people don’t tell anyone what they want or what they are struggling with. Because of that, they don’t get an outside perspective.

#3. Get support.  Very few people achieve anything great alone. Sports stars have teammates and coaches, humanitarians have whole organizations, and you have a support system, too. Use them!

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An Engaged Life

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Imagine you were given a small, plain houseplant. You watered it regularly, made sure it had enough light, fed it fertilizer, and maybe you even played music for it. Over time, the plant grew strong and bloomed. It became beautiful and it filled you with joy every time you looked at it.

Now imagine that you forgot about that plant. You forgot to water it and it drooped. It started looking pretty sad, so you put it in a dark corner. It wilted and turned brown. Leaves fell off. You threw it out in the trash. And you missed out on that joy it would have brought you.

This is your life. This is everything in your life. If you do not care for things, engage in everything around you, they will wilt, and you will miss out on many opportunities.

Deepak Chopra, renowned doctor and writer, states, “The moment you stop interacting with anything, show indifference toward it, or even just go through the motions—whether it is a relationship, activity, or object—is the moment it starts to become less relevant to your life and starts to wither away” (43). Contrary to that, when we purposefully engage with relationships, activities, or objects in a positive and caring way, those things in our life will grow.

Think about a relationship that’s important to you. It may be positive or negative. Now, what would happen if you paid more attention to it? What would happen if you communicated more often? Or if you did kind things for the other person? If you told them something about themselves that made you happy? Chances are, the relationship would yield more blossoms, rather than wilt.

Of course, it’s hard to change. If you’ve always just called your mother on holidays and birthdays, it may be uncomfortable to start calling every Sunday. But think of it this way: Chopra tells us, “Our brains literally lose the capacity to expand, adapt, transform, and evolve if not challenged. As a result, we doom ourselves to a world of repetition, boredom, and stagnation.” Does “repetition, boredom, and stagnation” sound like something you want to perpetuate in our short time here on earth? Chopra goes on to say, “We settle for something far more predictable because it feels safer, even if it dulls our very experience of being human” (NEED PG #).

So, yes, it’s safer to keep doing what you’re doing. You know the outcome, if it’s something you’ve always done. But if you truly want to grow and have a richer, more fulfilling life, you need to engage.

We are all connected to each other. And not just to people, but the world around us. Chopra states that the wisest “look at the trees as their lungs. If the trees didn’t breathe, they would not breathe. And if they did not breathe, the trees would not breathe” (34). Realize that every one of your actions affects everything around us. When you realize that, you may want to consider what you’re putting out there. Is it negativity? Indifference? Is this what you want your surroundings to become?

I hope the answer is no. To make positive changes in your life and that which surrounds you, you must be purposefully engaged. Pay loving attention to the people in your life, start to care for things you may have inadvertently neglected, and get in the game! Become truly involved in your life. Don’t just wait for things to happen to you. Be the catalyst of your life. You are the one responsible for change and growth.

Your Life May Need a Little Pruning

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Life gets so busy that the days, weeks, months and years become a blur; that goals and plans remain unfinished. We can change all that. Henry David Thoreau tells us, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” When we reclaim our day and our “Wild Self,” we are creative, powerful, wise, and intuitive. We are authentic, passionate, and boldly spontaneous.

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I love to take the wisdom from earth’s seasons; they offer both invitation and reflection. The seasons help us to engage and understand life. The crisp clarity of Fall, for example, is a time of retrospection. What needs to be tidied or pruned in my garden and in my life? What do I need to cut out to live a life that is in alignment with my values? What is non-negotiable in how I choose to live my life? Hard questions? Absolutely.

Let me paint you a picture. It was early morning, as mornings are on a farm, and I had just finished milking the 85 cows. I enjoyed the rhythmic, pulsating sounds of the milking machines and revelled in witnessing the gift that wraps the start of each day with a beautiful sunrise. But life changed from those peaceful mornings.

Soon mornings became all about my deadlines, things to do, and places to be. One morning I remember hurrying up 17 flights of stairs, out of breath. I whipped off my shirt, took a mouthful of mouthwash to swish around for the required 90 seconds while making my bed, then headed back to the bathroom to grab a toothbrush for finishing my oral hygiene routine. I looked up at my unguarded reflection in the mirror. I was shocked at what I saw—hair sticking up, standing practically naked from the waist up, mouthwash foaming and dripping out the corners my mouth, poised with a toothbrush.

Oh my God, I resembled Jack Nicolson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or perhaps a person bitten by a rabid animal—certainly something that represented insanity at its finest. Until that day, I used to see doing four things at once in a span of 15 minutes miraculous, and wore it like a badge of honour. Not anymore. My real self was saying, ARE YOU CRAZY?

That day I decided to stop doing so much so quick, and I started to cultivate the act of just being. There are three types of people out there: Thinkers, Doers, and Feelers. In order to bring each into balance, the Thinkers have TO DO MORE, the Feelers have TO THINK MORE, and the Doers just have to TO BE.

I am a Doer and need to cultivate more times where I am just being. This requires me to prune the many activities a Doer innately gravitates to.

What am I willing to trade my life force for? What activities add passion, and which ones burden it? Which ones soothe and calm?

I invite you this autumn to prune and expose new surfaces for growth and relaxation.

This softens the boundaries of separation and blurs the line between you and the world around you. In relaxing, you open up to be permeable and flexible, which allows you to eventually grow to your fullest potential. Prune out some of your activities and cultivate your inner Thinker and Feeler.