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

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The tyranny of the urgent over the important (Or, Habit number 3).

Tyranny of the urgent over the important

Tyranny of the urgent over the important

The tyranny of the urgent over the important – It was Charles E Hummel who first used this phrase in referring to our constantly pressured lives, with endless unfinished tasks and little fulfillment.

And he said this in 1967!

Seems like in some ways our oft gerbil-wheel-running lifestyle is nothing new. I have spoken here before about Burnout, which has been around since Victorian times, and which they termed neurasthenia – nervous exhaustion.

There really is nothing new under the sun.

One of the strengths I find most appealing about Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is that he does not claim to have come up with the habits, nor does he take credit for them. He states simply that he has brought together in one place a series of paradigms, mindsets and ways to live that have been around for many years in different forms.

Habit Number 3 is about putting first things first – learning how to prioritise in our lives that which is important rather than being consumed by what is urgent.

Let me expand (you know I was going to).

Urgent tasks are very visible, press round us, insisting on action, often with a short-term, shallow focus.

There will never be an end to them.

Notice too that they are often based on the priorities and expectations of others, and can be associated with achieving someone else’s goals.

Important tasks, in contrast, are associated with long term results and development, establishing and maintaining good roots, achieving your own goals. This is about considering our values, life purpose and mission, and prioritising what and who matter to us most. Important tasks are about our legacy – what we want to leave behind, the difference we want to make.

This is the outworking of Habit Number 2.

When much of our time is spent preoccupied with Urgent tasks at the expense of Important tasks, our lives can feel out of control, flitting from one crisis to another, constantly reacting to things with little breathing space. The focus becomes short-term fire fighting, or responding to the needs of others.

Choosing Important tasks however takes initiative, forward planning, thinking ahead.

Regularly implementing important tasks takes discipline and requires us to be proactive.

This is the outworking of Habit Number 1.

This can seem hard to the point of impossible at times, not least when we consider how many of the Urgent tasks are not going to disappear. And there will never be an end to them.

But it is exactly in taking that initiative, making a decision to prioritise what is Important, and keeping focused on our life goals and purpose, that we notice our effectiveness and fulfillment increase. We have a greater sense of purpose when we invest in something of value, and often this pro-active approach to developing and nurturing what and who matter to us most prevents the kind of crises that end up in the Urgent category.

As examples, consider the impact of regularly investing in your personal development, key relationships, health, and whatever team or community you are a part of. Now imagine the cost of losing sight of your goals, taking those closest to you for granted, neglecting your health, not investing in the people you work with. When viewed in such black and white terms, the contrast and impact are clear.

Of course, everything we do is on a spectrum, and life is not always clear cut. We can go through very busy seasons when there are a high proportion of activities that are both urgent and important. But that is where investing in ourselves and what/who sustains us is so vital to resource us and equip us for life’s challenges.

The central element to Habit number 3 for me is in this simple quote from Mr Covey himself:

the key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

To make time for the things that are most important to you each week.

Time management is largely a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage our time but to proactively make choices about how we use our time based on what is most important to us. Trying to prioritise what is important to you each week without a strong basis in your own proactivity and personal responsibility for your life, and without clear values, will not get you very far.

Saying this is the easy bit. Living it out is far more difficult. The first step, as always, is awareness.

How do you spend your time? How much time each week do you spend on that which is most important to you?

As ever, food for thought….

And here’s a lovely thing about being authentic….

Going from being caged in by your life to being free and able to take on anything….becoming fully alive again….

Free to be fully aliveHow exciting is that!

Would you like to be able to say that about yourself, about your own life? Maybe you are there already – yippee! Maybe not quite yet. Read on..

Last week, I was talking about being authentic, and what it means to start with who you are – living as the person you are rather than the person you feel you should be or are supposed to be.

The starting point for this is knowing who you are in the first place. You cannot begin to accept yourself and start living as that person until you know yourself and what your own, unique life means.

What are your skills, strengths, values, dreams? What are you passionate about and motivated to do? What have your life experiences taught you, and what do you uniquely bring to the world?

Yes you – not the person next to you. You are not them. That is the whole point.

This then enables an unpicking and an untangling. I often describe the work we would do together in coaching like this:

Your life is like a treasure chest, and what we are going to do with coaching is take everything out,

look at it, keep and celebrate the good stuff, and ditch the unhelpful stuff.

The unhelpful stuff, as it were, can take a little longer to unearth, and includes negative self talk, lies we believe about ourselves, bad habits, to name the commonest. But by far the most significant thing for a client to work to remove from their life is negative self belief: I’m not, I can’t, I’m worthless, I’m a failure, I’ll never be able to….

This week I received the most lovely and affirming review from one of my wonderful clients. It fits so well with this theme of being authentic and starting with who you are and what you can do. Confidentiality is central to my work, and anonymity for some clients is important – people don’t always want their world to know what is going on internally, so no name. She is a teacher, she and I had face to face sessions over 9 months, initially every two to three weeks, and then much more spread out as she implemented and lived out her new habits and way of being. In a bit of shameless self-promotion, this is what she wrote.

When I went along to my initial taster session with Catriona, I instantly knew that working with her was going to be a great thing. I instantly felt at ease, and that feeling has increased as time has gone on.

She is truly an amazing life coach and person, who really cares about what she does. She is so skilled at helping you identify where you need to do some work on yourself.  There have been so many times when I have had ‘aha’ moments with her when I have thought… I have never thought about that that way!  Those moments have been transformative for me.

I truly have changed my entire life by going to see Catriona. She is totally forward thinking which I particularly loved. No dwelling on the past, more making a plan for right now and the future.  I have gone from someone who was caged in by her own life to someone who now feels free and able to take on anything! And that is thanks to Catriona!

I cannot recommend her highly enough! I even have people across the Atlantic Ocean talking about how marvellous she is!  Truly, everyone should have Catriona as their life coach! Without a doubt, the best thing I ever did!

Shucks. This is why I love what I do, why it is such an enormous privilege. This lovely, transformed and exuberant woman got to where she is now through a lot of hard work, along with my questioning, listening, support and accountability. But for her, the results speak for themselves. For everyone, the process is different as the starting point is different, and the time involved for everyone varies hugely. Change is rarely easy. The question is, is it worth it? What is the cost of not changing, of staying where you are?

At the top of this post I asked if you could describe yourself as ‘free and able to take on anything….fully alive’.

If you read that and something stirs in you that thinks, I want a bit of thatget in touch. I would love to hear from you!

 

Choosing to take an imperfect first step towards your dreams.

You’ve got big dreams.

You are going to declutter the house. Clear out the garage.

Set up your own business.

Write a book.

Have a long awaited family gathering.

Simplify your lifestyle and move somewhere quiet.

Order all your photographs and print them out to enjoy them rather than them taking up space on the computer.

What are your dreams?

What are your dreams?

And how long has that dream been in the planning stage?

Sometimes we plan, and wait, and plan some more. We have a dream of how we want things to be. But sometimes we can be so crippled by our fears that it is easier to remain at the planning stage. Fear of –

  • things not working out as we had planned (or hoped)
  • starting something that grows into a monster
  • not seeing it through to the end and feeling a failure (again)
  • other’s expectations of us
  • all things unexpected – costs, time, energy investment
  • not being taken seriously
  • looking foolish when it all goes pear-shaped
  • complete failure, of our dream not working out at all.

Fear of failure can so consume us that we become obsessed with creating the perfect plan, and paralysed into not actually taking any steps towards achieving that plan.

Some of those dreams I opened with have less riding on them than others. If I don’t get the garage cleared out or the photos sorted, the world is not going to come to an end, and no one else really suffers terribly. Starting a business, writing a book, moving to a completely different lifestyle, going back to full time study – these are much bigger dreams with greater investment and more to lose.

But all dreams are important, and common denominator is self belief.

Do I believe in myself enough – my own skills and abilities, my passion to see this dream become a reality, and my motivation and discipline – to see it through?

When we reach small, easily achievable dreams, our confidence grows, we learn more about ourselves and how we work. And it becomes that little bit easier to reach for something slightly further up the mountain.

When I was finishing my life coach training, I still had my job as a physiotherapist. The thought of leaving that job, setting up as a coach and starting my own business was terrifying. There was so much at stake, and all the fears mentioned above took up residence in my mind like so many gruesome monsters.

What helped hugely were some words of great wisdom from the coach who trained me:

take imperfect action.

The danger is that you become so bogged down in trying to get it all perfect that you don’t get started.

She used the marvelous phrase – analysis paralysis.

This is the idea that you spend so long analysing your plan…

…tweaking and changing it….re-doing your spreadsheet of action steps….colour coding your goals list….revisiting all your theory and learning….asking anyone and everyone for advice…

….that you don’t actually get started on the plan at all.

The longer you take to get started, the more likely you are to suffer from analysis paralysis. What will happen if you do nothing? Nothing. Becomes entirely self-fulfilling.

So simply as a way of getting started, do something. Take an imperfect first step.

How much do you want those dreams? Choose to take an imperfect first step, and the next step will follow.

[and if this has prompted you to reconnect with a dream, and you would like support, structure and accountability in taking those steps, get in touch and we can do this together. It’s what I do!]

 

 

Making good choices towards fulfillment not regret.

Good choicesHere we are in spring, quarter of the year gone already. What good choices have you made this year so far?

I began this year asking myself the question:

For me to get to the end of this year and say, that was a good year, what would have had to happen?

For as much as it is within my control, that of course comes down to good choices – how I use my time, how I develop my business, how I invest in relationships including with myself.

There are clear stages to facilitate this process.

Having an idea of a vision for what I want this year to be about is a good starting point. Looking at my values, and priorities comes next. And then creating goals, followed by action plans that allow me to move towards those goals. And doing so with the bigger picture of the vision for the year in mind keeps me going. Within that, I am factoring in the importance of time to reflect, to let my soul catch up, and to reconnect with what is most important as the year progresses.

This space creates the opportunity to regroup, get back on track and make changes. I have sought accountability in the form of a mastermind group of fellow coaches, which is great fun and hugely life giving.

Life happens, it is impossible to plan for every eventuality. But having an overall idea of priorities and goals helps ensure that time is given to that which is most important – even when the unexpected threatens to derail us.

That all sounds very good, and that I am practicing what I am working on with many of my clients. Taking one’s own medicine, always a challenge in any occupation!

[Small digression – if the process I have just summarised above sounds exactly what you are needing for this year/decade/stage in life, get in touch and we can work on that together, it’s what I do!]

At the start of a year (or a new job, relationship, opportunity), it is impossible to have anything more than plans and ideals as to how things will unfold. We cannot tell the future, and there are many uncertainties and unknowns. If hindsight could be sold in bottles, to be drunk in advance with caution or abandon, chances are our choices might be very different. But all we are left with instead is the sometimes-poisoned chalice of regret after the event is over.

Four years ago, I chose to leave a good and successful job to start a new career as a life coach. I am often asked how I came to actually jump off that cliff, rather than talk about but not implement that change. There is a book in there that I intend to write – one day. Numerous factors contributed to that decision, which are not the subject of this post. But an article I read recently on choices we regret making made me think (published on LinkedIn a few years ago by a chap called Jeff Haden).

Had I not made this momentous and truly life changing choice, I would certainly have regretted it. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed my job, had a great career as a physiotherapist and much of what I learned informs my coaching. I have wonderful colleagues, who remain good friends, and a treasure trove of memories. [A chapter in my written-only-thus-far-in-my-mind book will be on ending well!]

I made that choice without the benefit of hindsight, but with all the knowledge, information, support, wisdom and advice I could accrue in advance.

Good choices.

Broadening this out, and taking some inspiration from the aforementioned article, what other good choices can we make in life that will facilitate us living lives of fulfillment and not regret? I have written here before, a while ago, about death bed regrets. This next series will look at it from a proactive perspective – and we will explore together themes like

  • Choosing to be brave
  • Choosing to care
  • Choosing not to be too proud

This week, as a wee starter for ten, as you consider this coming week or season, what are some good choices you could make?

More musings inspired by Dr Seuss…and fish.

teach a man to fish

Teach a man to fish…

As part of an occasional series of thoughts and musings based on Dr Seuss words and quotes, here are another couple of my favourites:

 Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!”

There has been much in the popular press recently about the scientifically proven power of gratitude. I can testify to this in an entirely unscientific way. Furthermore, I have anecdotal evidence of several clients. Each of them is choosing to record three things daily that they are thankful for, or that are good in their lives. And each one speaks to the huge perspective shift they are enjoying –

immensely helpful

empowering

“focusing on positive outcomes and feeling much better”

Try it for a week – at the end of each day, simply write down three things you are thankful for. And see what happens Duckie.

 

It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

I LOVE this. If there is one sentence that sums up the power of life coaching, then this is it. If I tell you the specific solution to one particular problem that you have in your life, then once that problem is resolved, you potentially find yourself back to square one when the next problem comes along – stuck with a new problem and no solution.

However, if I enable you to come up with solutions for yourself by learning how to problem solve, then you are potentially set up for life. Each of us has the ability within ourselves to come up with creative and unique solutions to our own problems. What we sometimes lack is an outside perspective, and some objectivity to think outside of the box and learn how to problem solve.

Put it another way –

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.

Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. 

‘Twas my grandfather who used to say that, not Dr Seuss. Ancient Chinese wisdom was considered to be the source of this saying, although doubt is now cast on this. It matters not a jot.

What matters is the ability we each of us have to learn how to learn, and therefore be better equipped for the rest of our lives.

Need help learning to fish, metaphorically speaking? Get in touch – I can help! Find out more about what life coaching is and how it can help you here.

 

Why would I need Life Coaching? Part 2

Here are a few more pointers and areas in which life coaching can make a life changing difference –

What can life coaching do for me?Stuck? Going through transition and no idea what to do next?

Coaching can help you assemble the jigsaw pieces of your skills, strengths, values, life experience and motivators to get a clearer picture of what is next and where you want to go, and action steps to get there.

 

 

 

 

 

Confidence in your boots? Tired listening to the negative talk inside your head, but feeling trapped and unsure of how to break free?

Coaching can help you identify the roots of the negative self talk, grow in self belief and self acceptance, and become free to be the real, wonderful you!

 

 

In a relationship that is – well, ok, but not great….stagnant and functional and not what you thought it would be?

Coaching can help you identify patterns of thinking and behaviour and change them for the better, create shared values and priorities for your relationship, and build a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship. 

 

 

 

 

Had your eyes opened a little? Thinking, wow, that would make such a difference to my life, and I’d love to find out more?

Well – look no further!

Find out more right here about how to book your free taster session and explore further what life coaching can do for you.

Why would I need Life Coaching? Part 1

Why would I need life coaching? What would I get out of it? What kinds of things does a life coach deal with?

All good, valid and important questions. And this week and next sees a little summary of some of those issues – 

Too busy? Always rushing, living a to-do list, overwhelmed and feeling like you only are only able to react to events that life throws at you?

Coaching can enable you to regain control of your life, time, and make good choices that enable you to live proactively and with greater freedom.

 

 

 

 

Feeling a bit trampled on and taken for granted, and that your needs never get a look in? A bit run ragged by expectations and demands on you, and no breathing space to stop and make changes?

Coaching can help you build good, healthy boundaries around what is most important to you.

What can life coaching do for me?

Self employed and working all the hours under the sun, feeling a bit swamped and out of balance?

Coaching can help you create a vision statement for your business to bring clarity and focus, set up systems to manage time and energy that work for you, and be empowered to invest in yourself.

 

 

 

 

Maybe one or more of these issues strikes a chord, and you think: that’s me. I’d like to find out more about that.

Then get in touch for your free taster session, and we can explore together how life coaching might transform your life.

Dr Seuss inspired thoughts Part 2

Think and wonder, wonder and think.What I love about Dr Seuss is his ability to encapsulate huge concepts in only a few words.

And to do so in beautiful, succinct and often very funny rhyme and rhythm.

This is such a small phrase, and such simple concept.

And yet, in this multimedia, technological world, how much more important to take time to switch off, unplug, and create physical and mental space to think and wonder.

Everyone around us has an opinion. And the extraordinary assault on our minds that is social media ensures that those opinions are entering our lives and homes and minds all the time. But we have a choice – a familiar refrain here. And that choice is to switch off sometimes from the opinions and views of others, and instead choose to wonder and think our own thoughts. Not necessarily that we might then share those thoughts on those very same social media platforms. But that we might simply again stop in wonder like small children at the extraordinary natural world around us. At the enormity of our own capacity to think original thoughts and wonder our own original wonderings.  And that fits well with –

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

What did you miss last week because you had your eyes shut, metaphorically speaking?

We can keep our eyes shut to what is around us by being glued to technology – smart phone engaging part of our brain, half listening or half paying attention with the other part.

By being focused with tunnel vision on what is The Next Thing we need to do, driven by our to-do lists.

By being emotionally absent because we are trapped somewhere else in our minds due to negative self-belief or self-talk, worry or anxiety, our own selfish agenda.

What would it mean to open our eyes instead, that we might really see what is around us – to see and notice the wonders of the world in the small, everyday moments?

To not miss the body language in conversation that indicates more is below the surface if we would only draw it out?

To see the emotion behind the words and be present in that, entering into that space we might otherwise miss?

To receive the compliment as it was intended, and not bat it away with our own negativity? All this can be learned and it starts with keeping our eyes open. And sometimes, when we keep our eyes open and don’t miss what is actually going on, we might find ourselves opening up to new opportunities or perspectives:

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

If we are honest, perhaps that is what we are afraid of….that our own agenda and carefully crafted and controlled plan for our day/week/life will be derailed in a direction over which we seem to have no control.

Maybe that is just me……

…..but I am learning to sometimes let go of my own agenda, and get myself out of the way.

To practice opening my eyes to what is most important in that moment, and in so doing, to catch the emotional connection, or conversation opening, or spark of silliness that I would otherwise have missed, that I might not initially have thought there was space for.

Sometimes I need to recognise that my need to control often clouds or blocks entirely opportunities that make my life richer and allow me to learn more about myself and others, and take myself less seriously.

And surely Dr Seuss would approve of that!

Ever tried living out someone else’s values?

Living out someone else's values?

Living out someone else’s values?

As we come to the end of this little series of musings on values and the impact of living according to them, one thought remains. What happens when we try living out someone else’s values? When we take on for ourselves what we see others valuing, and try and make our lives fit with that whilst simultaneously denying what is central to who we really are?

Our internal workings go something like this:

That person is doing such-and-such, and he/she is much more clever/successful/wise/popular/spiritual than I am, so that must be the right thing to do so I should/ought to do that too….I will therefore squash my own needs and priorities and conform to what I think is expected of me to fit in.”

This internal dialogue is often subconscious, and I have helped many a client to unearth it and look for its roots. Only when we understand the root of our behaviour can we start to address it and make changes.

A clue is in the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts‘.

“I should behave like this because that is expected of me, and therefore I will ignore what is important to me, and who I really am to conform or fit in.”

“I ought to get involved/help out/serve in some way because that is what that popular/successful/spiritual person is doing and I can’t therefore say no.”

You get the idea. It is insidious, pervasive, all-too-common, and – like a rampant weed – very hard to uproot.

Now hear me on this – I am not saying that serving, duty and responsibility are not important. Nor am I suggesting that we all become inward looking, selfish narcissists who are only out for ourselves and what we want.

But what I am saying is this –

no one else can be you and no one else can live your life for you.

Nor can you live someone else’s life with integrity because you will not be being true to who you really are.

Let me ask you some questions –

Who is the person that you are, that no one else is, that only you can be? What is the cost of not only not being that person, but trying to be someone else – to live out someone else’s life, living out someone else’s values?

To live governed by ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ – seeing how other people are living their lives, and seeking to live with their priorities, or what we think THEY think we should be doing.

Striving. People pleasing. Hiding our real selves and not prioritising what we think is important because somehow it seems less valid or worthy than someone else’s life.

You are a unique and amazing individual. No one else on the whole planet is quite like you. Just absorb that for a minute…..

…..No one else sees the world  like you do, expresses him/herself quite like you do, has your unique blend of personality, values, skills and characteristics.

Therefore – what would it mean to simply be the person that you are – to live the life that only you can live, the way only you can? To be the thing you were created to be, and do what you’ve been created to do.

How often do we exhaust ourselves and become all twisted up trying to be someone else, or to live according to some list of qualities or characteristics or values that will make us more worthy or loved or valid or fulfilled?

How often do we get stuck trying to be someone we are not, to be someone that people outside of ourselves wanted us to be? Or that we thought we had to be to prove something or to achieve happiness, or to hide who we really are on the inside?

Perhaps instead of listening to external voices that might try to define who we should be, how we should use our time, what should be most important – perhaps instead each of us can start to understand, embrace and celebrate who we ACTUALLY are and what is most important to us as unique individuals. Of course that does not mean that we are perfect and the world has to accept us just as we are. There is always growth and inner transformation for all of us.

But we can’t really start to change from the inside until we know who we really are and are free to be that person. To let go of shoulds and oughts, of negative internal voices and loud external expectations.

Until we stop living out someone else’s values, and start living according to our own.

 

Be aware of the Relationship lie – the first step to change.

Beware the relationship lie

Beware the relationship lie

We only start to change ourselves when we change the way we see. That is where we left off last week, as we consider how to move forward in improving and strengthening our relationships.

Believing a relationship lie is common, and not about guilt or failure. Until we recognise how we see ourselves and our partner, it is hard to move forward. What does that mean for the remaining 3 common lies that can pervade and undermine our relationships?

Relationship Lie No 3: It is my partner’s role and responsibility to meet all of my emotional needs.

  • what are your emotional needs? When you accept that you have them and they are valid, how does that change your understanding of where and how they can be met?
  • when you change your understanding of how many and how varied your emotional needs are, how does that change your expectations of your partner’s ability to meet them all?
  • change your perspective on other areas of life, and other relationships, and other sources for having your needs met
  • consider the behaviour of your partner that you find difficult or negative. If you start to look at how it might tie in with your partner’s needs, how does that change the way you view their behaviour? How might that therefore change your behaviour in response?

Relationship Lie No 4: I am owed by my partner for all I do.

  • if you start to change the way you view who does what in your relationship, how does that affect your need to keep score?
  • try noticing more of what your partner does do, and see how this changes how you view them
  • try changing the way you see your partner to be more in line with what you first were attracted to. Practice being grateful for who they are
  • perhaps try changing the way you see the relationship from a business contract to a loving relationship. Where can there be grace and love demonstrated in doing things for each other?

Relationship Lie No 5: I shouldn’t have to change who I am to make our relationship work.

  • look long and hard at yourself. Who you are now compared to 10 years ago, but also who you want to be in 10 years’ time. Be realistic, honest and fair. What changes would start to move you more towards the future self that you want to be?
  • what if you were to look at yourself and your behaviour traits through the eyes of someone close to you – what would they change? What therefore could you take responsibility for?

If you are going through a challenging time just now, it is likely that a relationship lie or lies are undermining both you and your partner. Change is possible, and part of that is changing the way you see progress or failure, and choosing to be realistic. There will be forwards and backwards movement, frustrations and encouragements. Accept this is a process that takes time.

But the first step is to accept that change is possible. As we change the way we see ourselves, we can take small steps towards changing our situations, behaviour, responses and choices.

The relationship lies that I have covered here I first came across in a marvellous – if hugely challenging – book called The Lies we Believe by Dr Chris Thurman. If you want to explore the whole idea of internal negative scripts and the lies we tell ourselves, in the whole of life not just in our relationships, this is a great book. There is a faith perspective to it, but still hugely helpful whatever your starting point.

I leave you with this thought – awareness of who you are and who you want to be enables you to make choices based on appropriate and positive thoughts, which then leads to responses that build connection between you not distance.

Awareness – choice – response.

How do you see yourself and your relationship? What relationship lie might need uprooted, exposed, dealt with and changed for a positive truth?

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