Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Category Archives: Making Change Possible

Ever feel that you’ll never change? Well change is possible, and starts with understanding yourself and what your motives are, and believing that you can do and be more.

Now we are getting somewhere!

Yogi Berra.  File photo 1965 by Indy photographer Fred Parrish.

Understanding not only who you want to be in 5 years time, but some ideas about what you want to be doing give your life clear direction and a greater sense of purpose. It enables you to create goals for your life.

This is where we have reached as we have explored over the last few weeks some questions of character development and growth.

Now, the fun really starts with some practical applications:

Work backwards – take one aspect of who you want to become, and apply this question to it:

How can I demonstrate more…..in my home/neighbourhood/workplace today?

For example – go back to your reflections on what you would like to be said about you by your close friends and family by way of introduction or at your funeral. Which comment or character trait stands out to you most? Say you pick considerate – now simply ask yourself how you can show more consideration today to those you interact with.

This isn’t about trying by sheer force of will to be a better person, nor is it about piling on the guilt. But each day we have the freedom to choose how we behave towards others, and having as a goal how you want others to see and experience you is a great motivator.

So this week, make yourself some small goals to do with who you are becoming, live them out each day, being kind to and not hard on yourself as you do so! This is a process, a journey and today you have taken a great first step towards your own goals.

How did you get to who you are now?

Who are you becoming? Who were you 5 years ago?

An odd question to start with, you observe. So let me explain where I am in my thinking. Over the course of this past week, I have had several conversations with people who find themselves now, today, in a different place, and – more excitingly – as different people to where and who they were five years ago. Common themes that were identified in bringing about such change include –

Different attitudes to themselves and others, with greater understanding.

Negative self talk has been identified and is being addressed.

A willingness to look under the surface of what is going on to the root emotion, and seek to learn and change.

A growing acceptance of strengths, skills, and life experience that now enables them to be who they are now and do what they now do.

Now I imagine for each of them, had I described to them 5 years ago the person that they would now be, and what their lives  would now look like, I suspect that might have been too much of a world-change for them – too big, too unlikely, too unrealistic.

And of course, herein lies the point. None of these precious folk have got to where they are in one, dramatic step. I can confirm that none of them woke up one morning to find their lives utterly transformed. Sometimes we fantasise about this very thing – short-cutting the hard stuff, leaping past the problems, frustrations and challenges and simply waking to a brand new shiny us, content, fulfilled and living a purpose-full life.

But in so doing, we would miss all the character development and growth that occurs in and because of  the hard, challenging and frustrating stuff, and of course the joy in the celebrations, and the more routine life events in the middle.

It is rare to get to where you want to go in one fell swoop.

The key, of course, is one step at a time. Taking lots of small steps, being kind to yourself, sometimes stretching yourself, and choosing each day to make decisions based on the person you want to be in 5 years time. And that is a whole new post!

What is world changing about the ice bucket challenge?

One small, watery step towards massive change

Sometimes it feels like changing the world is just too daunting and insurmountable a challenge, and, as one, tiny part of this world, I have so little power to really make any kind of a difference to some of the monumental tragedies that are around us in our world all the time.  And if we all stayed in that mindset, we would become a self-fulfilling prophecy and nothing would change.

But sometimes, something comes along that shows in action what happens when multitudes of individuals each take one seemingly inconsequential step, with a unified purpose.

This week, I had two large buckets of ice cold water dumped on my head by my children. Why? I doubt you need an explanation – I took the ice bucket challenge. If you have taken the challenge yourself, you will know how unpleasant it is, how shockingly cold that water feels on the back of your neck. But in the grand scheme of things, a momentary unpleasantness is nothing compared to the life-changing horror of serious illness, be it ALS or motor neurone disease, cancer, or any other devastating disease that comes to mind.

Now I know there have been a number of concerns and criticisms of the challenge. Like everything in life, the important thing is that you, as an individual, understand why you are doing it, and what your motives are, and make clear choices based on those motives. I did it for Macmillan Cancer Support, because in my world at the moment are several people whose lives have been devastated by this disease. But that was my choice, and says nothing about the importance of the original focus on ALS/motor neurone disease.

The whole point of the challenge is to raise money, and awareness, for charity. Much has been said about which charity, and whether this detracts from other charitable giving. Again, I simply say, be aware of why you are doing what you are doing, and look at the bigger picture.

For me, the world-changing aspect of this particular social media phenomenon is the clear demonstration of what can happen when many people all combine to take one small step each towards a massive target to change one aspect of our world that would be impossible for any one individual to achieve alone.

This of course is not limited to the ice bucket challenge. The point is a much broader one – each of us can choose to be proactive in some small way in our own community, inspire and encourage others to do the same. And that is how, ultimately, each of us can be involved in changing the world.

But it all starts with one small step.

How big is your world?

What would be your first change?

How big is your world? Last week, I was reflecting on a Huge Question:  how are you going to change the world?

Goals, challenges and direction in life give us focus and meaning, as we have explored through the Steps to Happiness over the past months. It is good to have ambition, to dream big dreams, to want to make a difference.

But often, the mundanities of life and the reality of non-stop-gerbil-wheel-living cause us to slide inexorably from the heady heights of perfectionistic idealism and land with a bump into normality, deciding to delay the awesome responsibility of changing the world to Another Day, Another Time or simply that we are not cut out to do this and it is up to Someone Else.

And if we continue down that slippery spiral, there is the risk that we end up in the land of What’s the Point Anyway, wading through the swamp of Fear and Failure. Not to get too heavy about it.

Does it have to be thus?

No, no, and no again I say. How do you change the world? One step at a time, to quote the cliché. So, this week, two questions:

What one change would make the biggest difference to your world, the one which you inhabit?

And what would the first step towards that change look like?

Is today a World Changing Day?

How big is your world?

How are you going to change the world?

This was the question that assailed me early this morning from a large billboard, on the side of a building on the University campus near where we live. Being early, there was hardly anyone around, and I stood undisturbed for ages reading some of the answers folk had written under smiley photos of themselves posted alongside the initial question.

What struck me was the breadth and depth of the answers – everything from buying each resident of this planet a puppy (not a solution I would be thrilled with, even though I do like dogs!) through finding cures for various diseases, to teaching and equipping the next generation in a multitude of different subjects.

Of course, the standard answer to the question is One step at a time. Not all of us are called to make a world-wide difference in our lifetime. But then it depends on the size and extent of your world. For you, reading this now, what IS your world? Who are the people in it, what is your role, what are the matters of significance to you?

Because when you start to think along those lines, making changes to that world, your world, becomes a more achievable task.

So this week, think with me about what changes you want to make to your world, on whatever scale fits where you are in life right now, and over the coming weeks we will look at how to put those changes into practice.

 

(The photo incidentally was taken above the cloud at the top of North Berwick Law, on the East coast of Scotland. A truly memorable sight.)

What is your GREAT DREAM?

What makes you happy?

What is your GREAT DREAM? We have been exploring the 10 Steps to Happiness over the past weeks, as outlined by the Action for Happiness, and following a UK government initiative to create a national happiness index. This is the holiday season for some, and a chance perhaps to be less busy and more reflective.

So over the next few weeks, I simply want to ask a question to get you musing over how happy you are, and how you can put changes into your life to move you more towards where you want to be.

Have another look at the 10 steps:

Giving Relating Exercising Appreciating Trying out

Direction Resilience Emotion Acceptance Meaning

Which one stands out to you right now?

Why is that, and what feelings does that generate in you?

What could you do this week within that step to increase your happiness and fulfilment?

Has this inspired you to think in more detail about your life, but not sure where to start? I can help! I would love to give you my self-coaching guide for free. The guide contains many more ideas, thoughts and practical action points you can start implementing now to make the changes in your life that you really want. Simply fill out the form (and watch your spam folder as the reply sometimes ends up in there).

It’s perfectly ok to not be perfect

We're not living in a perfect world!

We’re not living in a perfect world!

Ooh, a really thorny one this week – Acceptance. Being kinder to yourself when you get it wrong. Accepting that no-one is perfect, and that yes, you are going to get it wrong sometimes, but dwelling on those faults will cause a spiral downwards out of which it is hard to climb. Accepting yourself warts and all – the ninth key to Happiness.

How often do we play the Comparisons Game?

“If only I was as clever/arty/thin/attractive/generous as ………..”

“I will be happier about myself when …………. “

“If only I was less short tempered/shy/fat/ugly/…….”

“I wish I was more like……..”

This is exhausting, and keeps our focus on what we are not and can’t do, rather than enjoying what we are, and have, and can do.

It is a sure and guaranteed way to be unhappy, and to allow much of life to pass us by as we live in a boggy mire of self doubt and self criticism, regret and recrimination.

We have all done this, we have all lived like this. But the great thing is, we don’t have to! We have choice, and we can choose to respond to ourselves differently.

This is not about sweeping under the carpet the mistakes we’ve made, or ignoring what we are not good at. But it is about acknowledging and enjoying what we are good at – our strengths, skills, personality traits – and taking responsibility for the downsides of who we are, what might be called our weaknesses. Not beating ourselves up about them, but seeing them for what they are, and choosing to change our response to something more positive and life affirming.

Acceptance is choosing to feel ok about ourselves even when we have got it wrong. It is facing up to when we have made a mistake, learning from that mistake, and choosing to respond differently next time – and then letting it go.

Acceptance is recognising what we are not good at, and finding someone who is good at that, and working together – recognising that each of us is unique, and together, we can be greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Acceptance is agreeing that, in the words of the song Perfectly OK, by the fantastic Fischy Music folk,

WE’RE NOT LIVING IN A PERFECT WORLD, SO HOW CAN ANYBODY BE PERFECT….
BUT WE’RE PERFECTLY OK, WE’RE PERFECTLY OK, WE’RE PERFECTLY OK!

Exercise your way to being happier

Exercise your way to happiness!

OK, so for me, this one is a no-brainer: exercise makes you happier. On our exploration of the 10 steps to happiness, this is number three. And with more than two decades working as a physiotherapist (physical therapist), I really do know about this subject! Of course, there are bucket-loads of information, advice, data on why exercising is good for you, how it can lighten your mood, improve self-esteem, promote better sleep, even lift depression. Were I to suggest a wee shot of morphine to get you through the day, I would be in a morsel or so of trouble. But endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that go to work in your brain during exercise, induce similar feelings to morphine – and have no negative side effects, cost nothing and have multiple benefits. So I am more than happy to recommend a bit of that! 

Exercise has to be fun otherwise we won’t stick at it. I must have said that thousands of times to folk going through their rehab after ill-health or injury. We all know what we should do, but actually doing it is a different story. Most of us don’t suffer from a lack of information, but motivation.

For me, I love being outside, and I love music, and I love being fit – running was a bit of a revelation to me, but over a year on and I am still pounding my way around the local river paths and parks. Lovely. And our favourite family thing is our new-to-us wii (we are a bit reticent on the technology front) – dancing, sports, sword fighting (GREAT for unleashing and off-loading frustration!), yoga – all become much more fun, more competitive, and more likely to be stuck at when done together. 

So – a good key to motivation is to know yourself.

What do you love to do?

How do you love to do it – on your own, with music, with a friend, in a group?

Outside or inside?

What sports really rock your boat or what have you always had a secret yearning to try? 

Exercise with a friend or in a group and you get to tick off two happiness keys at once, as your relationships will be strengthened too – bonus!

Although I am no longer working as a physio, I can’t switch it off – that awareness of what is happening in your body, the connection between body, mind and soul. The importance of good posture. Balance in all dimensions – physical, emotional, mental. The essential role of exercise in creating time to cherish and care for ourselves

I’m off to energetically and vigorously hang the washing up. And this week, how can you incorporate more exercise into your life, and run/cycle/dance/walk/bop/play your way to happiness?

And if you are looking for more tips, practical ideas and inspiration about exercise, caring for yourself and living with greater happiness, my free self coaching guide will help you with just that, plus a lot more. Simply fill in the form (and keep an eye on your spam folder as the reply sometimes ends up in there).

The Combating busyness Challenge Part 4

my sunny daffodils, on my list!

Stop a wee minute for me would you? What is in your head right at this moment?

Is your mind so full of the next thing that there is little awareness of or appreciation for the current thing you are doing, or for what is in your life right now?

Many things can stop us enjoying the moment – from the very common (and sometimes necessary) Thinking Ahead to What Needs To Be Done Next, and it’s subcategory, The Endless To-Do List, to worries or fears that preoccupy our thoughts. All valid, all part of life. But sometimes, all-consuming at the cost of missing what is good about the present.

The challenge this week is to list 10 things that are good about your life currently. Right now, today. Not things that you would like to have in your life, nor things that you wish were good. There is time for that, and this is neither about regrets and guilt, or dreams. It is simply a way to focus on the present, just for a few minutes, and perhaps regain perspective on the worth and value of what is right under your nose. The items on your list can be as teeny tiny or as monumentally huge as you wish – mine would include the cheery, sunny daffodils in my window box, my just-delivered new washing machine (which hopefully spins properly unlike our old one!) and the effervescent enthusiasm of my children. If there is a human on your list, perhaps the next step for this week could be to thank that person for what they mean to you, and that they make your life good. And for more ideas, or a bit of background, see previous weeks’ entries.

What would be on your list? What makes your life good just now?

And if you are looking for more food for thought, and how to have more of what makes your life good in your life, I can help! My self coaching guide is full of tips, inspiration and ideas to help you work out what the good things are in your life, what is most important, and how to put changes into place to live accordingly. The guide is FREE, simply fill in the form below and you will be directed to it (watch your spam folder as the reply sometimes ends up in there). Still not sure? Find out the benefits of signing up for your guide here.

 

The Combating busyness Challenge part 3

What does caring for yourself look like?

How much of your time do you spend loving yourself? I don’t mean in a self-indulgent, or narcissistic way or at the expense of others. But there is a role for considered, gentle self care that includes rest, refreshment and restoration of ourselves so that we can be our best selves to the rest of our world, large or small. I have had many conversations with women and men who give of themselves all day, in many and varied and important ways, and to many groups of people, be it family, colleagues, friends, volunteering, but who have little clue what it means to care for themselves. A very wise Man said that we are to love our neighbour and our self, as well as loving God if that is part of your life. The balance here is important – caring for others and ourselves, being outward looking but also inward looking and potentially upward looking. Sometimes in our crazy busy lives that balance gets skewed, and the time we give to ourselves gets eroded until we feel we are running on empty. So this week’s challenge is to list 10 ways you could care for yourself. Again, just take a few minutes to do this, and go with your gut, and instinctive reaction.  Small things, do-able things, immediate-benefit things. Or big, always-wanted-to dreams, creative ideas that have been squashed down inside of you somewhere for longer than you can remember. And then pick one, and choose to carve out a little bit of time this week, if possible every day, to do just that – care for yourself. See previous weeks for the background to this, and some other ideas. And let me know how you get on so we can all be inspired!

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