By Susan Paige Osborn
Are you tired of the little voices in your head that constantly remind you of why you can't do, be or have what you want? Do you sometimes feel like you want to silence your inner critic? Have you been successful? Are you familiar with the phrase, what you resist, persists?
For me, denying the inner critic feeds it, energetically. It is more invalidation. Embracing it may feel like too big a stretch, at least at first. (That will be a topic for another time, where we discuss the need to treat the inner critic like a baby, a newborn that may need special attention to outgrow its influence.) Neutralizing the energetic charge of something you’re resisting is a great first step.
If you're ready to try a new approach, consider cultivating the mind of a beginner. A beginner’s mind is open, willing to question, to doubt, to explore. A beginner is not bogged down by previous misinterpretations. Understand that perhaps the inner critic is simply a rerun in your head based on the past, a rerun that needs to be reprogrammed. As Einstein said, “you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
To cultivate a beginner’s mind consider trying something new each year. Be reminded that's it's okay to feel awkward when you're starting/trying something new. Be reminded you learn more quickly from your mistakes than by perfection. My writing coach recently shared the results of a study where participants were put into two groups, one who were told to throw as many clay pots as they could over a certain time period. The other group was told to work on perfecting one piece. Who do you think learned more? Yes, failure is a great teacher.
As a beginner, it’s easy to learn to laugh at yourself, releasing unrealistic expectations and remembering the joys of growth. It's incredible to me to be able to look back over the journeys I've travelled. I never could have imagined the landscapes I've seen. And yes, there’s been plenty to laugh about, both in the moment and in retrospect.
It wasn't that long ago people believed the earth was flat. When I was in graduate school, plate tectonics was a new and controversial theory. It is now a widely accepted concept. Ideas are developed, tested, and renovated. Our understanding of the earth is constantly evolving. Shouldn't we?
I’m glad the world is not flat; I’d miss the mountains where I so easily rejuvenate, where the clues of the past are puzzles to be solved in the remnants of the rocks. And I would miss the experience of skiing and teaching what I’ve come to love.
When I first started teaching skiing, I was surrounded by people with vast amounts of knowledge and experience in developing abilities. I worked hard to assimilate and incorporate what I was learning. Surprisingly, the harder I worked, the easier it got. That became a motivator to engage in it even more. Ironic that I work harder, because I'm basically lazy and want it to become easier.
That was 15 years ago. In a recent clinic to maintain my instructor certification for skiing, I found myself bogged down by voices of past teachings, and needed to cultivate the mind of the beginner to assimilate the current experience. Later I could choose what to do with that information, but I needed to be willing and open to try the tasks at hand. I needed to remember I was not in the same body I was then, that these were unique conditions, that I had different muscle memory I was working. I needed to cultivate my beginner’s mind.
You can cultivate the mind of a beginner at any stage in the learning process. Are you willing to become a beginner again? Are you willing to cultivate the mindset?
Consider some of the benefits:
· You don’t expect immediate results. (Expecting immediate results can set up a tension that actually blocks learning.)
· You expect to be uncomfortable as you try something new. (When you expect perfection….well, remember the clay pots.)
· You are open to learn; you know you don’t know. (This was my biggest lesson in graduate school. Yes, with more expertise comes the lesson was the vastness of what we don’t know is even bigger.)
· As a beginner, you are not alone. There are many more beginners than experts. (You can learn an incredible amount from your peers as they experience and share their own failures and how they dealt with them.)
· You can learn from others who are trained to accelerate your learning.
To me, the mountains are a perfect place to cultivate the mind of a beginner and a good place to begin to neutralize the voice of the inner critic. I’ve designed a retreat that is staged in the mountains, the perfect space to begin that neutralization process. “Becoming You: The Next Chapter” is a woman’s retreat where you can unplug, and enjoy healthy meals, yoga and massage. In this retreat, participants will set the stage for what they will create in the next chapter of their lives.
Consider joining me and my friend and colleague, Mary Shackelford, a health and wellness coach, as we take an intimate group of 20 on a journey in a secluded private retreat center high in the Colorado Rockies. For more on this space-limited event, and early bird/come-with-a-friend discounts, click here
. I guarantee that the view from up above will be different than where you are now.
(Look for my next article in this series on creating the space for bringing in the new, as I share some thoughts on extracting the wisdom…
and I’m not
talking about teeth.)
By Susan Paige Osborn
When we are going through change, or wanting to create change, an often missed critical component to having a successful experience is the conscious act of creating space. This is both an internal and external process that allows us the opportunity to rest and refresh, to retool and refuel, to create a vision for our next journey and step into it.
Here are a few of the benefits you gain from creating space:
Identifying your preferred destination: Consider the challenge of getting to your destination if you haven’t identified where it is, or what you will need to get you there. Of course exploring and chartering unknown territory is part of our lives. But when setting out at the beginning, wouldn’t it be useful if you knew if you were heading north, south, east or west.
Knowing your mode of travel: Are you travelling by horseback, carriage, car, jet plane or rocket ship? With your mode of travel, wouldn’t you want to consider the space available for baggage. How much baggage do you really want to carry around with you? What can you carry on horseback? What can the carriage carry? How much fuel do you need to get there? What will you need when you get there if you’re taking a trip to the moon?
Picking a path: Are there known direct routes to your oasis? Wouldn’t a map help, and a trip advisor review that could help you stake out not only where you want to go, but the optimal experiences you might want to have along the way as well as upon arrival?
Knowing what you are going to need along the way: Even explorers set out on their journey with some provisions, and with skills that served the travelers en route. They learned how to read the stars and the land. They learned to track and hunt and collect food in a multitude of environments. They needed to learn how to get along with others they met along the way.
So I’d like you to imagine for a minute that you are in a transition in your life. We’re always going through change on some scale, but perhaps this is one that you didn’t want or expect. Or it’s a transition you’re wanting to create, that you’re excited about. Either way, there is an opportunity to make your journey an experience you want to savor.
But before all those other things can happen, you need to take a pause to pack and plan.
Anything we’re creating is first created on the inside. Retreats are a wonderful way to create space. To retreat, means to withdraw. To withdraw is to simplify the distractions that can rob you of your focus and attention. It provides the opportunity to listen deeply to the passenger, to where you want to go. It gives you the opportunity to plan with the driver--the mind--what the best route might be to get you there. It allows the horses--the emotions--to rest and prepare and train for a journey where they may be tested. The carriage--the body--is tuned up, getting ready for the trip.
Retreats can be done alone, with others, or even at home. Key components are the reduction of distractions (unplugging), a refreshing environment (nourishing and nurturing), and fuel for thought or development (what skills and provisions do you want to take with you). This retreat can be an opportunity to decide what to take forward and what to leave behind. It can be an opportunity to develop a new skill, or explore something new. When a retreat ends, it is also a new beginning.
Creating space is something that involves skill and conscious action. I’ll be sharing some principles that support creating space over the next few weeks. Sometimes it’s necessary to step away from our daily routines to create the kind of space needed to prepare for the next chapter in your life. If this is the case for you, my colleague and I will be offering a retreat in October. I’ll be sharing more about that with over the next few months. To learn more now, click here.
Next time: Tired of the inner critic, the voice that is telling you that you can’t do, be or have what you want? This next skill will help neutralize that voice and help you create the space to grow into whatever you want next in your life.
January 23rd is eat-a-piece-o-pie day at a local eatery. Eat-a-piece-of-pie was the name of the sorority I belonged to in college. The University I attended arranged for computer dates the first week of school. My friend and I thought it was a joke (at the time, we still used punch cards to program computers) and never signed up. We met across the hall from each other and decided to attend the events together. (Ironically I actually did meet my second husband online.) We formed our sorority soon thereafter.
Eat-a-piece-of-pie day is also significant because it is my son's birthday. My son is grown, yet I continue to celebrate his birthday whether he is in town or not. Celebration is a part of my life. I've learned to embrace the changes, to create tomorrow, and to enjoy the journey
. This is the model I wish to leave behind, and share with others.
Why does the woman in the picture look so radiant? She eats pie. She goes to the Colorado Rockies. And she is the symbol for those attending my upcoming retreat "Becoming You: The Next Chapter. For a Healthy and Vibrant Life, and A Strong and Energized Body."
Consider what and how you're celebrating your life, and join Mary Shackelford, health and wellness coach, and me, a life transitions expert, for a "spring break" womens retreat. We'll be sharing how to embrace the changes, how to be your prime in your prime, and enjoy the journey. For more information, click here.
Whether you actually eat pie on this day or not, I hope you're celebrating wherever you are.
What a treat to witness the 10- year development of the artist Vincent Van Gogh. A man who found his calling after two "failed" careers at the age of 27, he spent the last 10 years developing himself as an artist. The repertoire talked about how he was able to "channel" his ministry background into expression in his paintings. So maybe failed isn't the best characterization. Maybe it was simply part of his personal development that would then further develop into his art.
I loved how the exhibit at the Denver Art Museum chronicled the journey of his beginning days, learning to use techniques to master perception, his experiments in developing other skills, and finally his immersion into Paris and the impressionist movement where he simply played with what suited him, and developed his own unique style. His consistent study of contrast of colors, his development of techniques, his experience in Japan, all evolved into what we recognize today as his style.
And why might that be important to you? Imagine this:
If you're a 50 year old woman who hasn't had cancer or heart problems, you can expect to live to 92. (This is no less relevant for those who have). Maybe you're done raising your family, recognizing your role is changed significantly. Or maybe you're not through with your career, but it certainly is no longer fulfilling. What could you do in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40? Who are you becoming? Like Van Gogh, maybe we're simply becoming more of ourselves. And are you doing it with a sense of adventure, exploration, curiosity and joy? That can be learned.
Share some of your challenges, and I'll be glad to write a post in direct response.
Some exciting offerings are coming your way. More on those soon.
This important question, "What if money were no object?" is important not only to how we live our lives, but as examples to our children. This video of a lecture by Alan Watts expresses it so well.(3 minutes)
I am a baby boomer. I am also an empty nester. I find this question even more poignant these days as I look ahead to where to invest my time and energy. Having lost a husband, an ex-husband, and having three friends who are or have been challenged with brain cancer recently,I know my ability to contribute won't last forever.
Overall, our generation is expected to have longer and healthier lives than any before us. And yes, more of us will be aging than ever before. We also have the opportunity to contribute in ways no one before us has, thanks to those who came before us. We also are facing new challenges. To me, this is question worth pondering. What is inspiring to you? What is challenging to you? As you enter this new age of opportunity, what will support you moving forward?
Let's start a conversation.
The harvest moon draws attention to a time when we gather the seeds and fruits of our experience and decide what is worth taking forward into our futures. I have been in a retreat mode the past month. Retreat to me simply means drawing boundaries, allowing for a time of deep reflection and contemplation on what I have learned, what I have gained, and a chance to look at where I want to put my resources moving forward. The fall is a reminder that nothing stays the same. It is a time of gaining clarity and organizing. If we don’t take the opportunity to shed, we run the risk of trying to carry everything forward with us. In doing so, I envision the bent over aging person carrying the weight of the world on their back.
This process has been going on for several months, as part of the experimenting I have been doing for several years now. Five years ago I wrote a paper on what I thought it would take to overcome uninvited changes that I was experiencing. This year I have been harvesting what I have learned, have found additional gifts in that process and am preparing to take those seeds out into the world to share with others.
There is so much to be gained by approaching life transitions with the skills and attitudes of an explorer. There are times we can’t control change. Between those times, we can build up the skills of the explorer, transforming our experiences with life itself.
Are you embarking on a new journey? Are you planning for the next piece of your life? Will you be doing so from a place of fear, confusion, and uncertainty, or a place of adventure, compassion, curiosity and discovery? Are you extracting the gems from your life experience and carrying them forward with you or are you leaving your valuable wisdom behind, buried in the burdens you carry on your back? I invite you to join in a conversation, share your comments, joys and challenges. We all have much to gain.
A friend and I were having a conversation about the challenges of uncertainty.
The idea evolved beginning with how it is easier when either
1) you know you want to do something or
2) you know you don't want to do something.
The challenge comes up when you don't know. My friend shared his experience of not knowing becoming overwhelming. When you start to recognize how much we don't know, and then are trying to move forward. It can paralyze you. The fear of the unknown can fill us up. There is the fear we could make a mistake that could lead us down a disparate path, one we would regret later. What if we do something "wrong"?!
For me, sometimes not knowing is irrelevant.
Today, that got me thinking about purpose. There are the times we are "spot on", feeling deeply connected to a purpose that drives all our decisions. It makes things so much easier. This is what I experienced immediately following my husbands sudden death. An unlikely time to feel purpose, but I did. This was definitely one of those completely unknown experiences that could have sent me into a tailspin. Yet, I knew no one else knew who he had become so intimately. Honoring his values upon his death became my mission. I was so grateful for the time we had together, I felt a deep responsibility to honor him. It made decisions simple, even in the face of opposition.
Soon after his death I adopted another purpose. Not feeling intimately connected with it didn't matter. It kept me moving at a time when that was paramount. There was a part of me that needed to withdraw, to process, to heal. And there was another part of me that knew I needed to keep growing. I needed to honor the need for both simultaneously. A part of my life was dying; a part of it was tilling the soil, even if I didn't know what for yet.
So a few thoughts when you get really uncomfortable with not knowing:
If you know you don't know.... you already do know something...you know that you don't know. That is a discovery that had helped my friend in dealing with the overwhelm of not knowing.
You can move from asking your mind, to asking your body. (Okay body, how do you respond when I say "I like this"? How do you respond when I say, "I don't like this"? Which seems more comfortable? Which response is more uncomfortable? Which is truer? Is there some other information begging to be discovered?
Not knowing our purpose can put us in a tailspin. It can also be the gift of chaos from which clarity arises. We all experience it. Next time you start to feel that you are sliding down that slippery slope, instead of fearing where it will lead, maybe try welcoming it. Step to the side and take a new look. Consider there is something else there to be discovered. Get curious. And get ready to discover something new.
If you're in transition, are feeling the need for a realignment, or new statement of purpose, contact me. You may qualify for a free "discovery" call. The chaos you are experiencing may simply be the first step on your road to clarity, and a path for discovering your gifts. Sometimes it is bold action that is needed, sometimes the action is to wait patiently and keep growing.
From the hills of Virginia, to the Harvard Business School, and then an experience at a local book reading, the theme emerged. The universe always seems to provide the signs I need to move forward. I ask for help, but then it’s up to me to become observant, and a deep listener to catch the signs. At other times the awareness pops up unexpectedly. I am working on my business and marketing plan. I asked where I needed to put my energy. This past week, the theme that has emerged is commitment. The beauty and synchronicity of how the response unfolded amazes me.
I had just returned from an inspirational gathering of family and friends to witness the marriage vows of my niece and new nephew in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Orated by one of the men in black, the two exchanged their commitments in a magical setting surrounded by loved ones. The black and white horse that strolled by during their exchange witnessed from the other side of the fence.
Concurrently, I have been immersed in “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christianson. This thought-provoking book on success and failure theories taught at Harvard Business School examines how these same ideas can help you think about your life and your purpose. Between sculpting what you want to become and metrics for measure your progress on the path, there needs to be a deep sense of commitment. That commitment will guide the day-to-day actions that bring success.
Commitment came up again, as I listened to a reading from a newly published author friend of mine. One of the other authors raised the need to recommit at different points in your life, to develop new vows. Rather than recommit to old vows, there is an opportunity to create new vows that honor the people we have grown to become over time.
During this same reading, someone mentioned the death of a man who came into my life briefly twelve years earlier. This person provided a recommendation for me to attend one of the most transformative programs I experienced in my life. I looked up the obituaries when I returned last night. Now he was gone. His impact in the world of transformation will live long beyond his body. I am grateful he touched my life.
So this week I am revisiting my commitments, updating my business and marketing strategies, to look at how I serve the world. When my husband died, I made a commitment to serve. It wasn’t from a place of passion, as it is now. Making one step at a time, I found it changed both where I was and who I have become.
My purpose is to help my clients step into their exploration. While I create the space, the opportunity and the guidance to help them accelerate their own journey, it is still up to them to take the first step. Are you willing to take that step? What is not taking that step costing you, and what would make it worthwhile for you to commit?
Nothing stays the same. The question is are you a willing participant in creating and responding to change, or are you simply waiting for life to come to you? I invite you to step into the journey, to make a commitment to whatever purpose you choose …..and to be amazed, watching how life unfolds in its mysterious ways. It begins with committing to the exploration.
Back to my planning....
Happy Monday Morning Minute to You.
My recently retired friend and newly graduated daughter were both experiencing similar symptoms. Each 1) were aware their bodies were changing, aware they were aging; 2) had expectations the fruition of their last phase of life would result in immediate new results in their next phase of life and 3) were experiencing a lot of surprising emotions including fear, anger and frustration. They are not alone in this experience with transitions.
"I know what I want and what I expect. Why do things seem like they're getting harder instead of easier after all this work?" Always with endings there are new beginnings. Completing a job, a project, a masters thesis, bring us to a new place. First there is satisfaction in completion, something to be celebrated and acknowledged. Then there is typically a shift in our resources of time, energy and money. For example, my daughter was feeling the responsibility of upcoming new bills, my friend working within a fixed budget. How you spend your time comes up. What will bring you what you want next? How are you working with your energy, what is draining you, what is fueling you?
Because you are a beginner. And there is more to learn. You are designing and bringing in the next phase of your life. Being a beginner means getting uncomfortable. Getting uncomfortable is a good sign, it means you're doing something different, creating new neural connections. To get new results, or even work on mastering and refinement, means being willing to get uncomfortable. For me, when things have gotten more challenging, I find the easy way out. That means jumping right in. Not in an in your face challenging way, but in a gentle and liberating way. The fastest way to get beyond the discomfort is to become friends with it. It gives you power, it changes the landscape, it offers you another view, and the discomfort shifts.
So with the endings come new beginnings. And with new beginnings, you get to become friends with your new self. With nurturing and kindness you find the way to the next experience your aging body can embrace.
To all of you graduating from whatever phase, congratulations. I hope you take the time to pause, reflect, celebrate, and open up to the next you, gently in it's infancy, just being birthed.
Sometimes getting going is hard for me. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head; I don’t know where to begin. Clarity around the direction I want to go helps me to develop goals that keep me on track with the results I want. I’ve been experimenting with this the past year to see how else I might go about getting started.
One of the problems with focusing on just the goal, for me, has been the focus on the end result. Why is that a problem you say? No doubt it has gotten me to where I want to go, and I’m sure more quickly than I might have gotten there otherwise. For me, though, if the only satisfaction is upon arrival, that satisfaction is short lived. So…my experimentation these days focuses on my changing the behaviors that will bring the result that I want. For me, that is more interesting. And it brings me both results AND satisfaction along the way.
For example, sometimes it’s clear I have to focus on a single goal. Usually I have self-constructed a deadline that requires it. It doesn’t necessarily help me develop my skills in a more sustainable fashion. So these days when I am waffling and uber resistant to doing what I “Should” (should is a cue word for me NOT to do whatever comes after it) be doing, I’ve been trying different approaches. I decide I will focus on one item for thirty minutes and keep moving on that item until the time is up.
I stop even when I’m in the middle of something interesting (like for me, writing this article). I then do something else, in a focused fashion, and can then come back to working on the item I didn’t complete last time. This is helping me in multiple ways.
First, I am learning to let go, even when in the middle of something that is finally moving. Second, it gives me lots of experience in getting going, again, and again. Finally, I’m making progress, in small steps towards many things I want to achieve. I can celebrate that.
I don’t use this approach everyday, but it is a habit I am experimenting with to get me going when I don’t necessarily “feel” like it. I make it into a game. This article started out that way, not knowing what direction it was going. And now, as it nears completion, the upper level of my home is cleaned. Twenty-two minutes left in this segment to keep writing. But this assignment is complete--onward.