Life Coaching for the New Year: The Power of Cozy

The Power of CozyIn my Washington, DC Life Coaching, I find that many of my clients have created a life that’s stuck in stone, a calendar full of shoulds, people pleasing, self-doubt and fears that are obeyed instead of challenged.

Busy people often feel they are in their “power place” when they are doing instead of being. I believe this is often what we do when we are unconsciously anxious. We know we need rest, but we somehow find ourselves with a packed schedule, overcommitted and overstretched. Being busy is our way of trying to avoid the fear of not being “enough.” If we never have time to stop and feel, then we never have to face our inner critic. 

Resolve to “Be”

At this time of year, there is pressure pushing us to “do” the things we resolve to do. We are driven towards perfection and control instead of surrender, healing and love. This runs totally contrary to what is happening outside your window right now. During this time of resolutions, look outside at nature. What is happening there? Everything has slowed down, stopped even. In January, all of nature is in deep hibernation. Even your dog, cat or other animal is probably resting right now.

Coach Yourself to Cozy

What if the keys to a fulfilling life at this time of year were more about …

  • Letting go (rather than adding more)
  • Allowing (rather than pushing)
  • Getting cozy (rather than going out)
  • Saying “no” (rather than saying “yes”)?

The Danish people are arguably experts in this. Hygge, pronounced “hoo-guh,” is their term that loosely translated, refers to coziness, comfort, conviviality, contentment and well-being.

“What freedom is to Americans. . . hygge is to Danes,” Meik Wiking says in book The Little Book Of Hygge. The Danish national obsession with getting cozy – which can include things like sweaters, soft blankets, candles, a good book and a fire – is said to be one of the reasons Denmark often tops the list of the world’s happiest countries, despite their infamously miserable winters. Denmark is also a wealthy country, but its people have recognized that after basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness. Creating a sanctuary in their homes, they hold the values of simplicity, cheerfulness, reciprocity, community and belonging in highest regard. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we Americans could, even for just one season, catch on to this way of life?

How Do I “Hygge”?

Sorry, staring at your phone all day – even if in front of a fire! – is the least hygge thing out there. TV is okay, but try inviting some friends over to watch movies with you since togetherness is another key part of being hygge. In January, my ritual is to watch all the Oscar-nominated movies.

What you eat is also essential to creating those cozy vibes and it’s all about homemade sweets, comfort food and hot drinks (in moderation of course). While restaurants can have a hygge atmosphere (think candles on the table and a fireplace in the back), spending tons of money on an expensive meal is very un-hygge. It’s more about comfort and familiarity.

How to Say “No” & Embrace What You Need

My hard-working Washington, DC life and career coaching clients often struggle with finding a healthy work-life balance. Most are high-achieving people, yet still unsatisfied with their lives. (Last year I put this list together to help high-achieving people learn to unplug from work and really begin to live their lives to the fullest.)

I have found that learning to say “no” is a big part of beginning to embrace a better way of life. We don’t like saying “no,” and we don’t like hearing it. But it is the sharpest weapon we have in the clash between our desire to connect with and please others and our need to assert and defend our individuality and autonomy. (I wrote a post some years back with quick ways to take control of our speech, feel better and communicate more effectively with more intentional words. Read it here.)

  • If you say, I can’t eat chocolate cake, you’re implying that you’re not in control and that external factors drive you. You’re also begging the question, Why not?
  • If you say, I don’t eat chocolate cake, it signals that this is your policy and that it stems from your identity. It is empowering.

When you get more comfortable saying “no,” you like yourself better, you’re more present to yourself, you actually believe in yourself, and you can better manage your inner dialogue.

So hygge = hibernating indoors alone all winter long? While saying “no” to busy perfectionism, staying indoors all day long drinking hot chocolate and reading your favorite book alone is certainly hygge, getting outside to go for a long walk (yes, even in the winter) and spending time with friends and family is also a crucial part of the idea.

washington-dc-life-coach-catharine-ectonNeed an ally in this work? Learning to embrace what is best for us and saying “no” selectively to things that drain our precious energy can be challenging. But I believe that we can change our lives one day at a time. We’re not broken, and we don’t need fixing. We have everything within ourselves to create the life we’ve always dreamed of. With the right tools, powerful questions and the intention to create something great, through life coaching we can determine where we want to be and get there. We don’t even have to know what “our best life” looks like, just that we want to live it.

Contact me today for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation to explore the possibilities. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my Washington, DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

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Goals & How to Make Them

dc-life-coach-goalsMy life coaching clients come to me when they feel stuck, want to change something or want to do something different in their lives. They are looking for support, direction and coaching to help them reach their goals. For big or small goals, working every day towards getting there can be an uphill battle. Unless you see yourself slowly making progress, your dreams and aspirations are merely vague notions floating around in your imagination.
Are you finding some bumps in the road for fulfillment or success in:
  • your career,
  • your relationships with spouses, partners, adult children,
  • health and fitness,
  • or motivation to get started doing something new?

Will Writing Down Your Goals Help?

Perhaps you have heard of the Harvard Business School study of goals in which only 3% of the graduating class had specific written goals for their futures. Twenty years later that 3% was found to be earning an astounding 10 times that of the group that had no clear goals.

I was going to use this study as the basis of a post about the importance of writing down your goals … but it turns out that this “study” is actually an urban myth! Even though this study is widely cited in literature and business circles about how to properly set goals, investigative reporting by Fast Company magazine revealed that no such study had ever been done.

My research shows that once this myth was debunked, Gail Matthews, Ph.D. at Dominican University, undertook a study of her own. It focused on how goal achievement is influenced by writing goals, committing to goal-directed actions and being accountable for those actions.

  • Matthews’s study supported the positive effect of accountability: those who sent weekly progress reports to a friend accomplished significantly more than those who had unwritten goals.
  • She also showed that those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals.

The Life Coach Says, Wait a Minute: There’s a Problem With Goals

Beware, though. When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”

The Solution: Practice or Process-Oriented Goal Setting

When we place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight, succeed in business, get that next certification or to write a best-selling novel, we are focusing on outcomes.

I’m going to let you in on a little life-coaching secret.

To keep things simple and to reduce stress, I have my coaching clients focus on the daily process – the things you need to do to accomplish your goals, not the goals themselves – and then stick to a schedule. This helps them minimize anxiety about their big, life-changing goals.

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. It’s a win-win.

The Evolution of Goals

In spelling out or writing down a goal, we inevitably try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. That’s the whole point, right? We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.

But how can we know when to step up and when to step back? How can we tell when we need to do more and when we need to trust the process more? What’s the difference between shaping the future and trying to control it?

This is especially applicable for parents, or anyone who manages people. If you’re not mindful, you can suck the joy out of your child’s schoolwork, sports or hobby. You can completely squash your team’s creativity.

Even if we commit ourselves 110% to these goals, we can end up overextending ourselves.

We need to remind ourselves to stay open to new possibilities, but chance can be a scary place. It’s the realm where things could go wrong. It’s the place where anything could happen, things are unpredictable, where you don’t feel you have a say or a choice.

Some of my Washington, DC Life Coaching clients are used to being in charge. Others are finding their way through unemployment, retirement, or changes in their lifestyle and relationships. It can be difficult to draw the line between being too heavy-handed and bringing stress into their goals, and simply being proactive and taking responsibility for them.

It can feel terrifying to simply let things happen, particularly when the stakes are high – when you care about something so deeply that it feels like a piece of you. But I promise you: it may sound cliche, but it’s all about the journey. Sticking to a process or practice is guaranteed to get you to somewhere great.

Staying True to Your Values

A lot of people put the ladder against the wrong building. Their goals are not aligned with their life’s purpose, so when they achieve their goals, the cost is their health or their relationships. According to Brendan Burchard, author of “High Performance Habits”, high performers value their own well-being more than any other demographic measured.

“I expected that these folks would be more stressed, their health would be more compromised, they would feel lonely at the top,” Burchard says. “I was wrong.”

Compared to their peers, high performers:

  • Are less stressed
  • Are healthier
  • Are 40% more likely to exercise 3-5x per week
  • Report higher levels of happiness
  • Report having more positive relationships

This has everything to do with the alignment of their goals and their life’s purpose.

If you’re trying to find the middle ground between pushing and allowing, you may find these tips helpful:

  • Accept that things may not go according to plan.
  • Remember that you can’t control what other people do. You can only control who you choose to trust. You can’t guarantee a specific outcome, but you can do your best to enable an effective process.
  • Be shaped by your goal. Obstacles to getting what you want will come up. Learn and let those obstacles shape your desires, intentions, and efforts.
  • Let go of fear around not achieving your goal. If you keep going, good things will happen—both now and tomorrow—even if you can’t predict or control exactly what those good things are.
  • Remember to be mindful of your health, well-being and relationships. The highest performers always are! (Isn’t that liberating?)
  • Use positive self-talk to motivate yourself, and stick to the process.
catharine-headshotYou can work through your goals, achieve them and have a fulfilling life. You can get there with much more ease when you enlist an ally to help you in this work. Call me, Life Coach Catharine Ecton or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today. We’ll chart the processes you need to remove fear, jump over roadblocks and squash any anxiety around them. You can have what you want, live with more ease and bring your life into alignment.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on your goals together. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Life Coaching for Hitting Your Target: Ready, Aim, Fire!

life-coach-achieving-goalsDuring my recent vacation to Mexico I had the opportunity to try archery for the first time. I was hesitant at first and it took me some time to start hitting the target but sure enough, after a little practice, I was getting closer and closer to the bullseye.

This new experience made me think about some of my life coaching clients and how easy it is to be too critical of yourself when trying something new or to take another shot after an initial miss. If you don’t give yourself a chance to fail and learn from it you will never have the chance to succeed. I’d like to encourage you not to give yourself a hard time; sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. So be persistent! Take that next shot.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take That First Shot

New experiences help us grow and learn about ourselves. You find what you like, what you don’t like, and what helps you build a full and happy life. But there can be times when you defeat yourself before even getting started. Maybe you create reason you shouldn’t, worry about failing, compare yourself to others, or fear what others will think of you. You must clear your mind of these negative thoughts because they will only hold you back.

We can’t be expected to be perfect our first time doing anything. So let go of any preconceptions and give yourself a fair chance. Take running for example. If you haven’t run long distances before (or even trained) you can’t be expected to run a 5k. But don’t let that stop you from getting out there and going on that first run, or walk. Give yourself the freedom to try the new experience and take it all in for what it is instead of what you think it should be. You will learn a lot more about yourself this way, but you’ll never know until you try.

The Life Coach Says: If It’s Important, You WILL Find a Way

So your first shot was a miss, what do you do now? To succeed in your life goals, small and large, you will most likely have to try more than once. That’s okay! If you really want something, persistence is very important. You are on your own path. Comparing it to someone else’s – or even to your initial expectations – will likely lead to feelings of doubt or even failure.

Instead of being too critical of yourself, step back and think about what you did, what the outcome was, and what you could change to make it different next time. Reevaluate your goals, making sure they are workable, reasonable ones. If it’s important you WILL find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.

I’m sure you can recall Thomas Edison’s response to a critic about his failures while trying to invent the lightbulb. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Wow, now that is persistence!

We are human and we are all beautiful, creative, and unique individuals. If you can view your mistakes as tools for learning and moving forward, they become empowering instead of a negative weight holding you back. There is no need to feel defeated or give up, you will find what you need to succeed.

So with a view of purpose instead of self punishment we can keep trying, learning, and adjusting until we hit the bullseye.

WOW, I Hit the Bullseye!

Congratulations. At this moment step back to enjoy the accomplishment but also remember what you did to get you there. This is the important part, because now you can do it again, and again, and again. Or maybe you take what you have learned and move the target back a little further. Either way, you have built up the tools needed to continue to succeed in this aspect of your life.

This happens in our personal relationships all the time but probably goes unnoticed. Think back to a time when you made a child smile, your partner laugh, or were thanked by a friend. This means you hit the bullseye with them! Don’t let the importance of these moments slip away.

Remember how you can support and improve your personal relationships and they will grow stronger and stronger. Read my previous post on what I believe is the #1 key to any relationship to learn more about this topic.

10 Daily Rituals

With this new perspective of positive progression and learning from the actions you take, start to think about the little things that set you up to have the most successful day possible.

  • Do you like to workout before starting your day or do you prefer to spend the mornings reading or with family?
  • Are you more successful if you eat a full breakfast or when you get an early start to your day?
  • Maybe taking a walk in the evenings helps you sleep better, or having a good conversation with you partner over dinner brings your day to a satisfying end.

A Harvard Business School study revealed remarkable statistics relating to goal setting and success. The study found that the 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. The 3% with written goals are 3 times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals.

Write down your 10 daily rules, or rituals, that set you up to be your best self. As discussed in my post Change Your Life: Raise Your Standards, these daily rituals should be different than your short term and long term goals; they are the things that keep you on track to achieve those goals. Don’t get bogged down! Write whatever comes to mind, try to follow it for a few days, then reflect and adjust. Before you know it you will have created a solid daily routine that is aimed directly at your bullseye.

Life Coaching for Hitting Your Target

headshot-facebookMany of my clients have told me that working with me through Life Coaching has given them the opportunity to discover their values, be intentional about their goals and to make a plan, taking action to realize goals. Here are some of the things my clients say they’ve gained as a result of working with me**:

  • Inspiration
  • Self Confidence
  • Self Awareness
  • Ability to go outside their comfort zone
  • A feeling of fulfillment
  • An alliance with me
  • New perspectives
  • The ability to stay focused
  • Better decision making ability
  • Peace & contentment
  • The ability to see themselves in a positive way

*Name has been changed to protect Life Coaching client confidentiality.

**All bullets above drawn directly from my many happy client testimonials. Read all of my Life Coaching testimonials here.

Life Coaching will give you the concrete strategies you need to keep you on track in achieving your goals. Many of my clients say I’ve helped them tap into their most deeply-held values and encouraged them to have more self-confidence in going after what they want. I have helped clients start new careers, businesses and projects based on the things they are most passionate about. Contact me to schedule your complimentary 30-minute session. We can begin to chart a course into a fresh start together.

If you feel you’re going through the motions and missing the mark, the hardest step is committing to change and focusing on what brings you true joy. If you are craving an on-target life full of joy and fulfillment, consider working with me through Life Coaching. With the right tools, navigated conversations and the intention to create something great, you can discover ways to live your best life. Let’s get started now on identifying what you want and find a way to get you there.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation to discuss the possibilities. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person.

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Revolutionize Your Conversations Now With Mindful Listening

Revolutionize Your Conversations Forever With Mindful Listening

Editorial credit: Sorbis

Have you ever been talking to someone only to feel as if they aren’t really listening to you? Do their thoughts seem to wander when you talk, only to interrupt you to get their thoughts into the conversation?

Or how about you. Do you ever find yourself in a conversation with a friend or partner, or sitting in a meeting at work and realize you have no idea what was just said? For the average person, this happens more often than we’d like to admit, perhaps more than once every day. You might even be interested in what’s being said but your mind has carried you into the past or future, to something that’s bothering you, or to your to-do list.

Listening seems like a natural skill that we all do, but not everyone remains present when someone else is talking. The most common thing for most of us to do is to start to think of our response instead of fully listening to what the other person is saying.

Thanks in part to the way the primitive brain evolved, our minds are always on alert for trouble or threats. If we’re not listening closely, our emotions may get involved. We may misinterpret someone’s words, and think they are saying something hurtful or uncalled for.

That’s why a technique called ‘mindful listening’ is the ultimate remedy. It encourages us to take a step back from our preconceived notions and focus fully on what the person is saying without judging them.

The Benefits of Mindful Listening

“Being listened to is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” ― David Augsburger

Empathy, connection and acceptance all begin with listening. These are some of the biggest things that we as humans want in our relationships. If we learn to listen first, I believe we can truly revolutionize all of our conversations with mindful listening.

There are valuable business rewards for practicing mindful listening, too. If you are in any role that requires you to influence others or convey your point of view, listening to their needs first is crucial. Any good salesperson knows to be quiet and pay attention to the customer when they speak – they will inevitably reveal many things you didn’t even consider. You can create collaboration with colleagues when their opinions are heard. Anyone who manages or leads others needs to listen closely. The most creative, successful people are experts at leading this way. They’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking and really listening to the answers.

Here are 6 mindful listening practices you can start using today to help transform your conversations:

1. Put your brain in gear before putting your mouth in motion. Instead of thinking through your response when someone else is talking, try to take your time. Focus on the other person’s words and what they’re actually saying without judgement. When it’s your turn to speak, mindfully pause and let the words come to you.

2. Be present. Let’s admit it. We all get bored, especially when we are talking to someone we know well. We may think we can predict exactly what they will say, so our minds wander. To pull yourself out of this habit, no matter how repetitive you think the conversation is, practice mindfulness by focusing on the words that are being said and the present moment. You will almost certainly begin to hear things you’ve never heard before.

3. Listen without prejudice. Try to catch yourself labeling the other person’s words, or putting them into a category in your mind. Take the words in without putting a judgment on the words.

4. Let go of agenda. Many successful people have been trained to focus on the outcome of every interaction. They may get what they want in business, but often “check out” when speaking to a friend, spouse or loved one. The conversation may seem irrelevant, because it isn’t taking them to their goal. The result is lots of hurt feelings when the other person’s needs, hopes or wishes – things they deem of utmost importance – aren’t heard. With everything we hear, we can’t help but attach our preconceived notions about how we things should go. But to truly listen mindfully, you’ll need to let go of having an end result and simply “be” in the conversation. Not only will you begin to enjoy the conversation more, but you’ll probably get more out of it, too. There certainly are times to steer a conversation towards a goal or desired outcome, but the bottom line is our loved ones need to be listened to without agenda.

5. Use body language. Making eye contact, leaning towards the person talking and even mirroring them can also help the other person feel heard. There is a whole science to using body language in interpersonal relationships and at work. To explore this topic further, here’s a Huffington Post article 15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People.

6. Prompt yourself to continue to be mindful with your speech. Summarizing the other person’s words (“here’s what I hear you saying,”) and asking for permission to respond (“I’ve formed some views based on what you said. Would you like me to share them?”) are great ways to remind yourself that you are actively, mindfully listening.

Implement these 6 tips in your daily conversations and watch as you become more likable, friendly and better able learn from every conversation you have.

Life Coaching for Mindful Living

at-desk-brightNeed an ally in this work? Changing our habits to become more mindful can be challenging. But I believe we can change our lives one day at a time. We’re not broken, and we don’t need fixing. We have everything within ourselves to create the life we’ve always dreamed of. With the right tools, a few powerful questions and the intention to create something great, we can get to where we want to be. We don’t even have to know what “our best life” looks like, just that we want to live it.

Contact me today for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation to explore the possibilities. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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The Most Effective Way to Change Your Life: Raise Your Standards

catharine-ecton-life-coaching

In my life coaching work with clients from DC and beyond, I work with people experiencing transitions. We often discuss that change is automatic:

  • The seasons
  • The year
  • The economic forecast
  • The aging process
  • Our children growing up
  • Our work situation
  • The political climate
  • … and more!

But our own personal progress is not automatic. We can evolve or get stuck. Even someone with a “perfect” life wants to continually progress and successfully navigate the inevitable changes that life brings.

Over time I’ve come up with some very effective ways for clients to make lasting change. Of course through life coaching, these ways are developed collaboratively with my coaching clients. But there are some commonalities to their very unique journeys that I’ve discovered, and I’ll share with you here.

1. Have a vision. Most things we tell ourselves we “must” do like goals or ambitions (to lose weight, to get a promotion, to make more money, to work out every morning) aren’t very inspiring. We have to push ourselves to do them, and achieving these goals takes all our force of will. More compelling is to ask ourselves, what will I create? For example, I can create:

  • A satisfying work life
  • An amazing relationship with my kids, spouse or partner
  • A strong, healthy body full of vitality
  • Financial abundance
  • An energizing morning ritual

This is our vision, the pull that excites us, gets us up in the morning and keeps us following through. It engages our emotions and energizes us. Yes!

2. Have reasons. When the inevitable challenges arise – the economy is stagnant, you’re tired and unmotivated, you get passed over for a promotion – you need reasons strong enough to follow through on your vision. This is where my life coaching clients use their most deeply-held “reasons” (a.k.a. “discipline”) show up for themselves and their deepest wants, dreams and ambitions. It’s in these challenging moments that your vision for a better life will carry you though. Do you have compelling “reasons” for the changes you want to make in your life?

Take the vision that absolutely excites and inspires you from step 1 and create sound, compelling reasons to follow through on this vision. For example:

  • How would you feel if in one year you had achieved your vision?
  • How would you feel about yourself?
  • How would you feel about your life?

It is so important to create strong enough reasons.  Having a powerful enough “why” will provide you with the necessary “how”.

3. Follow through every day. Can you remember a time – maybe when you were younger – when you were so focused on something that you thought about it every day? Maybe as a teen there was a rock band you really liked. Perhaps you had intensity about your favorite sport, or in college your favorite subject. Or maybe you can remember this intensity about your first crush. Whatever it was, it was so part of your focus, you had so much intensity of emotion about it and you reviewed it so often that you were almost able to draw it to you. When anything that would get you closer to this thing showed up in your life, you noticed.

It’s important to remember these times, because they prove that you CAN accomplish what you set out to accomplish when you follow through every day!

4. Develop rituals. Great athletes and musicians, the financially successful, those who have advanced to the top of their field, great parents, great spouses – anyone at the top of their game – all have rituals that make them who they are. Great singers take excellent care of their voices. They drink tea and lemon backstage before every performance. The physically fit work out regularly – and seem to enjoy doing so. Financially successful people pay their bills without fail and invest religiously. All of these people have non-negotiable rituals that make them who they are.

Along the same lines, don’t we all want amazing friendships, great love lives, strong families, fulfilling careers and vibrant health?

What cool little habits do you have that make you uniquely you? Maybe no one else does them – but this is why you get the great results that you do in that one awesome area of your life.

5. Raise your standards. Achieving lasting change is different than achieving your goals. You don’t always get your goals, but you always get your standards. There’s a familiar story about a baby elephant who was tied to a post by his circus trainer. When he pulled against the post, he couldn’t go anywhere, so he eventually gave up. Years later, when he was a fully-grown, two-ton elephant capable of pulling down the entire circus tent, he still accepted the constraints of the post and his shackles because that’s how things had always been.

What constraints are you accepting as a “given”? In life, we get our “musts,” not our “shoulds.” When something is a “must” it becomes part of our identity, our belief system. Doing it doesn’t require any willpower, because it’s who we are inside. The strongest force in your personality is the need to stay consistent with how you define yourself. Ask yourself: when did I decide to accept that limitation? We live out who we believe we are.

  • If it’s your “must” you find a way, in the face of all odds
  • If you do all your rituals, you have so much momentum to succeed

Catastrophic failure – failure of health, the loss of a job, the failure of a marriage – doesn’t happen all at once. It comes from all the little things we’ve failed to do:

  • Get up early
  • Make the call
  • Check the books
  • Eat your vegetables
  • Say you’re sorry
  • Go for a run

You do little things to make certain areas of your life a smashing success. That’s why you’re uniquely you – and you have a great life! But there is always room for improvement, and everyone wants to continually thrive and grow in their lives. During these periods of transition and “up-leveling,” it’s not what we get (more money, a slimmer physique, a great relationship) that makes us feel happy. It’s who we become in the process.

Life Coaching to Raise Your Standards

at-desk-brightNeed an ally in this work? Changing beliefs about who we think we are can be difficult. But I believe we can change our lives one day at a time. We’re not broken, and we don’t need fixing. We have everything within ourselves to create the life we’ve always dreamed of. With the right tools, a few powerful questions and the intention to create something great, we can get to where we want to be. We don’t even have to know what “our best life” looks like, just that we want to live it.

Contact me today for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation to explore the possibilities. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Setting a Positive Intention for the Holiday Season

how-tohave-a-betterholiday-season_-set-a-positive-intention-3

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During this time of year when the days are short but the to-do lists are a mile long, it’s easy to start living life on auto-pilot. Here are some signs you might be:

  • Your “to-do” and “have-to” lists are endless.
  • You feel disconnected from nature.
  • You feel disconnected from other people.
  • You feel disconnected from your true desires.
  • You know exactly where you’ll be in 5 years – and it’s not exactly where you want to be.
  • You chose your current situation (like your career, location or what you do day-to-day) to please others, not yourself.

If you’re living life on auto-pilot, you might not be living your best possible life. Stopping to set an intention can be a great way to begin to shift things.

The change you create when you decide to choose a different intention can have an impact on your life right now and actually help you have a better day. Here are some quick ways to make sure your focus, attention and intention are in the right places.

1. Who do you want to be?

Most people focus on how much weight they want to lose, what job title they want, what kind of relationships they want in their life or what material possessions they would like to have. In setting a powerful intention, ask yourself who you want to be. Step back from past efforts to reach your “goals” and decide to be different. Be gentle. Be wise. Be someone who is creating a great life or a better career or financial health. It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s one that can help you make a leap from living in a “lack” mindset to living a life of abundance.

2. Paint a picture of how you will show up today.

I’m not saying you have to bust out the watercolors here, this is a metaphor. Like an artist painting a picture, you are the person who has the power to depict how you will show up each day. One of the best things you can do is to consciously depict who you choose to be each day, by consciously setting your intent and reminding yourself of your dreams and goals. Gratitude journaling, a mantra in your morning yoga class, or any practice that works for you can help connect you to something deeper than your email Inbox or the news report on TV. Instead of constantly living your life reacting to the world around you, set your intention and choose the life you want. Make it your work of art.

3. Write it out, take it with you.

If you read my post about How to Keep a Gratitude Journal, you know that starting the day by being thankful has been scientifically shown to improve people’s lives. If you already have a morning ritual like coffee, yoga, a morning run or walking the dog, try setting your intention then. You can write out your intention on an index card that you carry in your briefcase or notebook. Keep it on your dashboard or tape it to a mirror – anywhere you’ll see it during the day. Review it before walking into an important meeting, and read it aloud when you can – especially when you are tempted by old ways of thinking.

4. During the day, watch your words & thoughts.

Check in with yourself during the day. How often do you worry, become anxious, fearful, or negative? How often do you talk badly about yourself, use negative words, or complain? These thoughts and words unconsciously send you out of your intent. Just observing them can be enough. Or, you can try to spin your negatives into a positive. For example, when I walked into my first kickboxing class I had immediate fears and anxieties. I quickly replaced them with my intention: that I was going to try something new, because trying something new was of value in itself. I reminded myself that it was going to be worth it.

5. Take action now.

Self-help is great, and many have benefited from self-help books and programs of all kinds. But self-help thinking can be limiting. It says, “I have to get it all fixed before I can move on to better things.” All of the working-on-yourself can keep you from really living your life. Life Coaching thinking says, “What would happen if I acted now, in spite of how I’m feeling about my life, or my capabilities?” Rather than focusing on yourself as a project, focus on your LIFE and making it better. Take ownership, take responsibility, take pride and place value on your time – and be the “boss” of your life. If you’re curious about difference between life coaching and therapy, click here.

6. Get Outside Help: Enlist a Buddy or Life Coach

As with any change, it is so much better when you have an encouraging partner to help you in this work. I have provided these suggestions to get your started, but sticking with it is where many of my clients have stumbled. To enlist the help of a powerful ally, call Catharine Ecton Life Coaching or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today.

Are you living a life of “have-to’s”? If so, you might find your life becomes a bit dull and predictable.

You could:

  • Simplify your gift-giving with a gift swap or Secret Santa.
  • Give the gift of time to someone you love.
  • Swap out a tired holiday tradition with something that excites you, or that you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Take a cue from nature’s hibernation: shorter days and more darkness are a signal to take it easy and rest.
  • Set your mindset on giving and receiving.
  • Enjoy gifts of winter beauty, holiday lights, and the joy of children.

Everything in life is a choice, even during the holiday season. A life of “have-to’s” creates more stress, overwhelm and discontent. The adventure is in swapping out our “have-to’s” with “want-to’s.” Instead of constantly living your life reacting to the world around you, set your intention and choose the life you want. Make it your work of art.

at-desk-brightMany of my clients have told me that working with me through Life Coaching has given them the opportunity to discover their values, be intentional about their goals and to make a plan, take action to realize them. Here are some of the things my clients say they’ve gained as a result of working with me*:

  • Inspiration
  • Self Confidence
  • Self Awareness
  • Ability to go outside their comfort zone
  • A feeling of fulfillment
  • An alliance with me
  • New perspectives
  • The ability to stay focused
  • Better decision making ability
  • Peace & contentment
  • The ability to see themselves in a positive way

*All of the above drawn directly from my many happy client testimonials. Read all of my Life Coaching testimonials here.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on setting powerful intentions together. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Why Hire a Life Coach? Get Results & Feel Better Quickly: Pam’s Story

 

Why Hire a Life Coach - DC

When I speak with someone in DC – or anywhere – for the first time about Life Coaching, they typically ask some combination the following questions:

  • How can I make a change in my life that will stick?
  • How do I get “unstuck”?
  • I am doing everything I’m “supposed” to be doing, yet I feel unfulfilled. Why?
  • How can I start to fulfill my desires instead of everyone else’s?
  • How can I unlock more passion and zest for life?
  • Should I really hire a life coach? My friends motivate and support me.
  • How long will it take to see real changes in my life?

To help answer these questions, I wanted to give you a bird’s-eye-view of my life coaching experience with DC-based client Pam*, who after retiring, decided to move from Washington, DC to her childhood home in the Midwest. She enlisted my help as her life coach to help as she felt overwhelmed and unable to start the process. Her story illustrates the timeline a typical client goes through in life coaching – some very hard work – and a very happy end result!

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(Learn more about how Life Coaching differs from friendship in my previous post on the topic.)

Session 1 – March 29, 2016

When we met for our first life coaching session, Pam was struggling with:

  • letting go
  • feeling empty
  • not being able to visualize her new life
  • not feeling motivated to get started to sell her house and organize the cross-country move
  • a feeling of “paralysis”

During this first session, we used life coaching tools to identify Pam’s values and zero in on what she is looking for — and what finding that will give her. We also:

  • explored how this geographic move out of the DC area will connect with her values
  • listened to her description of how she sees herself in a new place
  • challenged her to connect with one friend/relative in new place and make some plans together
  • talked about letting go being the first step to moving forward
  • referenced books by William Bridges including “Managing Transitions”
  • used accountability tools to get her moving in the right direction

Session 2 – April 7, 2016

By our next life coaching session, Pam had called several moving companies for estimates, had identified a real estate agent, and had arranged for things she did not need to be donated to charity. She reported in at this time that she felt overwhelmed by what is ahead and the work to do.

At this point in the process, it was interesting to both of us to notice the shift in her mindset from feeling “paralyzed” to feeling “overwhelmed.” Pam surprised herself saying, “I really don’t want to be here [in DC] any more.” We recognized that she was indeed mentally ready to move.

Session 3 – April 13

By our next life coaching session, Pam’s attitude had shifted. She was excited and feeling motivated to find best price for a house, and was making plans to decorate her new place. She reported in that she was tired but productively busy.

During this session, we used coaching tools to:

  • label Pam’s values
  • see how a lifestyle in her new geography connects to them
  • focus on instincts and intuition
  • listen to inner voices that will help her move forward
  • relax and recalibrate through visualization

Session 4 – May 5

By early May, Pam reported a major shift in her thinking. The baby steps we were taking together combined with regular accountability led to big changes in Pam’s thinking. She was beginning to recognize the adventure and independence this move would bring, and was starting to embrace it. We had identified both adventure and independence as values for Pam. She was now feeling excited anticipating her new place and new life. At this point, Pam also reported many personal discoveries. “I feel like I have an inner light, am joyful and calm,” she said. Now the decision felt right, and the work to get to where she wanted to be was done with more ease. Her house was on the market.

Together we acknowledged the things that have brought Pam to this place of success and personal fulfillment:

  • support
  • encouragement
  • accountability

Session 5 – May 18

Two weeks later, Pam reported in that she was marking things off her checklist, taking the right steps and her focus had switched to her new place. During our session, Pam noticed and pointed out all the positives of her move. We agreed that she was relaxing into this major transition.

Pam was in her groove now and ready to drive across the country and enjoy the new lifestyle she’s worked so hard to create. We did an exercise on what Pam should continue to do to help her focus her next chapter:

  • keeping in balance
  • deciding on her life purpose
  • creating her best life

In approximately three months, Pam had noticed a complete turnaround in the way she was thinking and feeling. She was able to get what she wanted, and it felt so good!

Life Coaching Timeline

Many of the clients I work with are familiar with therapy, or have had counseling sessions in the past. This can be a hurdle to starting work with me, because they imagine the years of work we will have to do together. In my blog about Life Coaching vs. Therapy, I pointed out that by nature, counseling or therapy is often a slower process than Life Coaching. This is not always the case, but as a general rule of thumb it is common to spend a year or two in therapy working on a comprehensive plan addressing your past, present and future.

My style of Life Coaching begins with a three month commitment, and usually focuses on accountability for a very discrete goal or set of goals. Life Coaching with me usually includes a planned end date, within six months to a year of our initial session.

My clients, Pam included, are surprised that they can achieve such a big shift in a relatively short period of time! Of course, the work isn’t easy. But it’s certainly worth it.

DC Life Coach Catharine Ecton

at-desk-flippedAre you struggling with a big life transition? I believe that by working collaboratively we can change our lives one day at a time through Life Coaching. My clients come to coaching with the belief that they have everything within themselves to create the life they’ve always dreamed of. They are teachable. They can change. With the right tools, a few powerful questions and the intention to create something amazing, we can get to where we want to be. We don’t even have to know what “our best life” looks like, just that we want to live it.

As with any change, it is so much better when you have an encouraging partner to help you in this work. To enlist the help of a powerful ally, call Catharine Ecton Life Coaching or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today.

Many of my clients have told me that working with me through Life Coaching has given them the opportunity to discover their values, be intentional about their goals and to make a plan, take action to realize them. Here are some of the things my clients say they’ve gained as a result of working with me**:

  • Inspiration
  • Self Confidence
  • Self Awareness
  • Ability to go outside their comfort zone
  • A feeling of fulfillment
  • An alliance with me
  • New perspectives
  • The ability to stay focused
  • Better decision making ability
  • Peace & contentment
  • The ability to see themselves in a positive way

*Name has been changed to protect Life Coaching client confidentiality.

**All bullets above drawn directly from my many happy client testimonials. Read all of my Life Coaching testimonials here.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on setting powerful intentions together. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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Quick Way to Have a Better Day: Set A Powerful Intention

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Are you living life on auto-pilot? Here are some signs you might be:

  • You know exactly where you’ll be in 5 years – and it’s not exactly where you want to be
  • You chose your current situation (like your career, location or what you do day-to-day) to please others, not yourself
  • You feel disconnected from nature
  • You feel disconnected from other people
  • You feel disconnected from your true desires

If you’re living life on auto-pilot, you might not be living your best possible life. Stopping to set an intention can be a great way to begin to shift things.

The change you create when you decide to choose a different intention can have an impact on your life right now and actually help you have a better day. Here are some quick ways to make sure your focus, attention and intention are in the right places.

1. Who do you want to be?

Most people focus on how much weight they want to lose, what job title they want, what kind of relationships they want in their life or what material possessions they would like to have. In setting a powerful intention, ask yourself who you want to be. Step back from past efforts to reach your “goals” and decide to be different. Be gentle. Be wise. Be someone who is creating a great life or a better career or financial health. It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s one that can help you make a leap from living in a “lack” mindset to living a life of abundance.

2. Paint a picture of how you will show up today.

I’m not saying you have to bust out the watercolors here, this is a metaphor. Like an artist painting a picture, you are the person who has the power to depict how you will show up each day. One of the best things you can do is to consciously depict who you choose to be each day, by consciously setting your intent and reminding yourself of your dreams and goals. Gratitude journaling, a mantra in your morning yoga class, or any practice that works for you can help connect you to something deeper than your email Inbox or the news report on TV. Instead of constantly living your life reacting to the world around you, set your intention and choose the life you want. Make it your work of art.

3. Write it out, take it with you.

If you read my post about How to Keep a Gratitude Journal, you know that starting the day by being thankful has been scientifically shown to improve people’s lives. If you already have a morning ritual like coffee, yoga, a morning run or walking the dog, try setting your intention then. You can write out your intention on an index card that you carry in your briefcase or notebook. Keep it on your dashboard or tape it to a mirror – anywhere you’ll see it during the day. Review it before walking into an important meeting, and read it aloud when you can – especially when you are tempted by old ways of thinking.

4. During the day, watch your words & thoughts.

Check in with yourself during the day. How often do you worry, become anxious, fearful, or negative? How often do you talk badly about yourself, use negative words, or complain? These thoughts and words unconsciously send you out of your intent. Just observing them can be enough. Or, you can try to spin your negatives into a positive. For example, when I walked into my first kickboxing class I had immediate fears and anxieties. I quickly replaced them with my intention: that I was going to try something new, because trying something new was of value in itself. I reminded myself that it was going to be worth it.

5. Think like a boss.

Self-help is great, and many have benefited from self-help books and programs of all kinds. But self-help thinking can be limiting. It says, “I have to get it all fixed before I can move on to better things.” All of the working-on-yourself can keep you from really living your life. Life Coaching thinking says, “What would happen if I acted now, in spite of how I’m feeling about my life, or my capabilities?” Rather than focusing on yourself as a project, focus on your LIFE and making it better. Take ownership, take responsibility, take pride and place value on your time – and be the “boss” of your life. If you’re curious about difference between life coaching and therapy, click here.

6. Get Outside Help: Enlist a Buddy or Life Coach

As with any change, it is so much better when you have an encouraging partner to help you in this work. I have provided these suggestions to get your started, but sticking with it is where many of my clients have stumbled. To enlist the help of a powerful ally, call Catharine Ecton Life Coaching or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today.

Many of my clients have told me that working with me through Life Coaching has given them the opportunity to discover their values, be intentional about their goals and to make a plan, take action to realize them. Here are some of the things my clients say they’ve gained as a result of working with me*:

  • Inspiration
  • Self Confidence
  • Self Awareness
  • Ability to go outside their comfort zone
  • A feeling of fulfillment
  • An alliance with me
  • New perspectives
  • The ability to stay focused
  • Better decision making ability
  • Peace & contentment
  • The ability to see themselves in a positive way

*All of the above drawn directly from my many happy client testimonials. Read all of my Life Coaching testimonials here.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on setting powerful intentions together. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Life Coaching & the Power of a Healthy Lifestyle

Without exception, every client I work with mentions wanting to work on their weight, energy levels, feeling “blah,” lacking motivation, sleep problems, bad eating habits, lack of exercise, issues with self-confidence, and/or no time for healthy living. I decided it was time to enlist expert, nutritionist and triathlon coach Leslie Knibb to provide some guidance for us on the power of a healthy lifestyle. Read on for her valuable insight, and how you can combine it with life coaching to show up as the best version of yourself every day.

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Cleaning up your diet takes great strength and determination. Every. Single. Day. It’s challenging in a world where we are surrounded and often bombarded with marketing efforts to treat ourselves to some delicious looking (but highly processed) foods.  We’re welcomed into a grocery store with a giant, freshly baked cookie display and colorful snacks recommended to accompany your TV viewing. As far back as Socrates and Aristotle, humans have been acting against their better judgment. The ancient Greek philosophers called the behavior “akrasia.” It is the state of procrastination or when you lack self-control.  Humans are hard-wired to put a greater value on immediate gratification than future rewards. When you set a goal, to lose weight for example, you are making a plan for our future self, picturing what you want your life to look like, or be like in the future. But your decisions on the way to your future self are in the here and now. Keeping this in mind can help you make decisions based on where you want to be and who you want to be, by managing where and who you are now.

Some steps to help you:

  1. Set yourself up for successCome up with strategies to improve the likelihood of making good food choices.  The food options you make available to yourself, starting at the grocery store, can immediately support you in making good choices. If you buy healthy food in bulk, package the foods in individual bags to help you avoid consuming too much of a good thing. (Except maybe vegetables – have all the green, leafy vegetables you’d like!)  
  2. Automate as much as possibleThe fewer choices you have to make, the less likely you’ll make bad ones.  So, decide on a breakfast that’s healthy and that you enjoy and have that breakfast every day.  Limit your meal options at work by bringing your healthy lunch to work with you.  Plan ahead, shop to support that, then eat and enjoy!
  3. Mark your calendar. Studies show that when you make a plan to start a particular behavior at a specific time, you’re more likely to make it happen.  For cleaning up your eating, it’s every day, but try setting yourself a 30 day challenge.  For 30 days, drink more water, eat your automated meals, limit the bad food options available in your house, and see what the scale – or your clothes – tell you.

Knowing that we’re human and hard-wired to seek immediate gratification, strive to achieve your “enkrateia,” or what Aristotle referred to as the opposite of akrasia.  Enkrateia is defined as “power over oneself.”  In striving to be the best that you can be, seek power over yourself every day and before you know it, you’ll be the future self that you envisioned.

Life Coaching & the Power of a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is incredibly important in helping you achieve your goals and show up as the best version of yourself. Getting on the right track to holistic wellness will support your overall success. The word “discipline” can mean many things to many people. Sometimes, “discipline” means slowing down, setting intentions, being with your family, cooking a beautiful meal or showing up for yourself for some time outdoors or at the gym. If you feel you’re spinning your wheels, procrastinating or that obstacles are blocking your journey to wellness, contact Catharine Ecton Coaching today. Here are some of the things my clients say they’ve gained as a result:

  • Self Confidence
  • Self Awareness
  • Ability to go outside their comfort zone
  • A feeling of fulfillment
  • An alliance with me
  • New perspectives
  • The ability to stay focused
  • Better decision making ability
  • Peace & contentment
  • The ability to see themselves in a positive way

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 12.07.40 PM

Leslie Knibb is a is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, a USA Cycling Level III Certified Coach, and a Road Runners of America Certified Coach, as well as a 24 year triathlon veteran with a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University.

“I’m excited to work with athletes who are looking to achieve fitness and athletic success – to see their potential come to fruition. I design custom plans, and have worked with clients ranging in age from 13 to 53, recognizing individual differences and catering to help each one reach their goals.” Contact her at LKnibb@verizon.net

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Clients: How to Review Me on Google

Dear Clients,

I have learned so much from you. As I approach my birthday this year, I am taking stock once again of where I am and where I want to be in six months. Moving forward is hard work and as you know, requires being intentional, committed and making a plan.

I am very grateful for my work with its many rewards. I want to do more! I continue to develop coaching skills with the additional coaching courses I’m taking, research, reading and my own coach (naturally I have one, I believe in this process!). I would love for Google Reviews to reflect all of this hard work.

So I am asking each of you if you could complete a Google Review. This gives prospective clients the confidence they need and real-life experiences to help them understand coaching. Google Reviews are just like testimonials. They are public and help boost my online reputation.

It is four easy steps, illustrated in the screenshot below:
  1. Type www.google.com into your browser & search life coach dc as shown
  2. You will see a map of DC. Scroll to my name, the 3rd listing that pops up below the map. Click “Catharine Ecton Life Coaching.”
  3. “Catharine Ecton Life Coaching” in a larger, bold font will pop up as shown. Click “Write a Review.” Use the five star system & click on the corresponding star to rate me.
  4. Write a brief testimonial the “Describe your experience” box and click “Publish.”

google-review

Your positive words will help make this one of my best birthdays ever!
Thank you so very much.
Catharine

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