Thursday, July 2, 2009

Smart Actions

Cheryl Richardson is a wonderful life coach and Hay House author. I had the privilege of seeing her at the I Can Do It! conference in Toronto, and I've been a subscriber to her free newsletter ever since. Here's a great article from her:

Topic of the Week
Smart Actions
"Security is not the meaning of my life.
Great opportunities are worth the risks."
-- Shirley Hufstedler

I love simplicity. As a coach, I especially love learning about small behavior changes that can reap big rewards. For example, I use a technique that's made an enormous difference in both the success of my company and the quality of my life. This week, I'd like to share it with you.

In the morning when I start my workday, I begin with the following question:

"What action do I most want to avoid doing today?"

Then, once I have an answer, I do two things. First, I identify the cause of my resistance. For example, does the task feel too tedious or difficult to complete? Do I need more information or guidance from someone who's done it before? Is it related to a goal that no longer serves me? Or, am I simply afraid? Then, once I know what's going on and feel convinced that it is, in fact, important, I take this action right away.

Starting your day with this simple step has several key benefits. First, you'll quickly discover whether or not the items on your to-do list are truly designed to move you toward a worthy goal. Second, it will save you time and energy by keeping you focused on the actions you really need to take rather than the busy work we all tend to get caught up in when trying to avoid something that feels uncomfortable or risky. And finally, once you've determined that this task is indeed important, by doing it first, you accelerate your progress toward your goal. Let's look at a couple of examples of what I mean.

Imagine that you'd like to become an actress. You begin your day by reviewing your to-do list and notice that the action you most want to avoid is calling a local theater that's holding auditions for a new performance. When you think about making the call you feel nervous and excited at the same time (a good sign!). You not only recognize that this is the step you most want to avoid, you also know it's the one that could be most significant in terms of moving you closer to your goal. So, rather than spend time reading trade magazines or updating your bio once again, you make the call.

Or, let's imagine that you want to change careers altogether and the action you most want to avoid is writing a resume (most people hate this step, by the way). When you consider your resistance, you realize that you haven't done one in years and you don't know where to begin. So, instead of dreaming about a new career, or talking with friends about the change you hope to make someday, you call a colleague who recently changed careers, get a referral to a good job counselor, and you get the resume done this week. Then, you're ready to get the ball rolling!

It's really pretty simple. So many of us dance around the action steps that matter most because of the anxiety they cause. Understandably so. After all, using this method does mean that you will, on occasion, experience disappointment or rejection, or come up against the need to ask for help. But, what's the alternative? Would you rather waste time doing things that really don't make that much of a difference? Are you willing to keep putting off your dreams? Since there's a good chance that you'll live through disappointment or rejection, why not face your fears head on?

Believe me, you have far more to gain than you have to lose!

Life Makeover for the Year 2009(sm) is written and produced by Cheryl Richardson.© Copyright 1999-2009 Cheryl Richardson, P.O. Box 13, Newburyport, MA 01950, All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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