Invite More Playfulness into Your Life

How to Play MoreOften, when my ambitious Washington, DC life coaching clients come to me with their “big goals” and aspirations, I ask them:

“Where are you finding your creativity?”

This is often met with blank stares. My hardworking clients are not used to thinking about creativity, or how to build it in their lives. (Read my previous post where I answered the reader question, “Catharine, how do I cultivate creativity?”.)

Do you know the #1 way I’ve found my clients build creativity?

THROUGH PLAY.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw

Eureka Moments

How many times have you puzzled over something while staring at the computer, only to gain insight while on a run or in the shower? I know I personally have had many such moments.

  • Sometimes, leaning into the grind is what we need to do to be more productive.
  • Sometimes, inviting more playfulness leads to flashes of insight.

Being playful and playing as an adult is so much fun, but most of us have been trained out of it.  We’ve learned to be more serious, to put work ahead of everything else. But what does this ultimately “cost” us?

  • We have learned to give up play because we think playing is for children and frivolous people who aren’t serious about getting ahead.

Well, guess what: play is for everyone, even adults and “serious people. The more you practice playfulness, the more your creativity will flow.

Play helps my life coaching clients do these key things:

  • Reduce their resistance to new things
  • Feel better / more relaxed
  • Access more creativity
  • Become more resourceful
  • Become more successful
  • Have more fun
  • Become more fun to be around!

How to Let Down Your “Work Hard” Philosophy & Use Play to Your Advantage

Some people are naturally more playful than others. While I have a good sense of humor and find humor in so much of life’s contrasts and challenges, I’m not that good at actually playing … so I actually have to put it on my to-do list, and schedule play time into my calendar.

It’s up to you – you can either fall back on your “yes, buts” of fear, worry and beliefs such as “I have to work hard to get ahead” … or you can trust the experiments I’ve done with myself and others and start to be more playful. Start your own personal experiment about how play helps you attract more abundance into your life.

If you’re trying to access more playfulness in your life, schedule some of these into your overly-busy calendar:

Playtime with kids or grandkids. You can’t really engage with young kids without entering the world of play with them. Let them show you the way and leave your grownup mind behind.

Take a walk or day trip without any plans or route. To make it extra playful, toss a coin to decide on the direction you’ll start out in. Then just go wherever you are drawn. Let your playfulness lead the way.

Art without agenda. Go to Michael’s, buy some supplies and start sketching, watercolor, sculpting or whatever you did when you were younger (I bet you did all of these!) Let go of your need for your art to be any “good.” Just enjoy the process of creating it.

A magnetic poetry kit, crossword puzzles etc. Keep them where you spend a lot of your hours and play with them whenever you get creatively blocked.

A dinner party or other gathering focused on “fun.” Get some kids games, art supplies, and just hang out and have fun. Laugh as much as possible.

Get outside. Break the routine of your day with a walk in nature or around the block, and leave your phone, music and pedometer at home. Breathe deeply, you are at play!

Play with your dog. If you don’t own one, borrow one from a friend, volunteer to walk the dogs at an animal shelter, or go hang out at a local dog park. Even just watching dogs play can be fun!

Keep kids toys at your desk. Having them around will automatically lighten things up, but playing with them when you’re bored or in a bad mood will help even more.

Dance. Running, walking or exercising to music is one thing. But really cutting loose and dancing is another. Kids are great at this!

catharine-headshotNeed to add some playfulness and levity to your life? Enlist an ally to help you in this work. Call me, Life Coach Catharine Ecton or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today. 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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Light Up Your Life: What Schoolchildren Can Teach Us

the person you become-2Fall can be a refreshing new beginning for my Washington, DC area life coaching clients with its cooler weather and new routines. I am brought back to my children as young kids, and their sense of excitement, anticipation and even nervousness about the new school year. Who would be in their class? What would their teacher be like? What would they wear on the first day? I also remember shipping them off to college, or starting at a university campus myself as a young person. That sense of freedom, new people to meet, new things to learn, new books to read and endless possibility was like electricity in the air.

I believe that regardless of our age, we can and should tap into this type of wide-eyed enthusiasm during this time of year. What can you learn this year as the country’s young people return to school? How can you cultivate your interests and give your life more meaning?

Try Something New

When you try something new – like putting yourself in a new environment or trying to learn a new thing – your brain sits up and takes notice. Researchers have shown that the brain requires energy and focus to create a new “mental map” of its surroundings, and while this can create anxiety, it can also release “feel good” hormones.

When you are engaged in what’s happening around you, you feel great. This kind of feeling not only creates joy and happiness, but also helps increase performance, productivity and creativity. This is why traveling to a new place, taking a class or changing up daily routine can help you see everything in a new light.

What about my “Passion”?

Many of my clients ask me, when making a career or life change: “People tell me to follow my passion. I don’t know what it is!”

The problem with the recent fixation on “finding our passion” is that people frequently have many interests. The “passion” question is confusing when one interest doesn’t stand out as being more ardent than all the others. So why not ask the plural: what are your passions?

Focus on Your Curiosities

What makes your heart pound and flutter when you leave work for the day? What feels like drudgery? What gets you excited when you face a Saturday with no agenda in hand? How can you make time for the things that really light you up, or where you really shine?

If you no longer partake in the activities or hobbies you’ve enjoyed since childhood, why have you stopped? When was the last time you read a really great book, took a class you loved or engaged with a fascinating teacher?

We often do certain things out of obligation, because they’re trendy, because our friends are doing them, or because we have a degree or specific training in something. Ignore all that noise, and instead listen for the voice nudging you in a certain direction, rather than focusing on what you think you “should” be doing. It’s okay to do things that are outside the box. They may not even make rational sense, and this might produce some anxiety. It’s okay to try something different simply because it piques your interest. (Read about the time I took up kickboxing – yes kickboxing! – here.) Remember: living an authentic life doesn’t come from people-pleasing, it comes from just being you.

Do the Work Gently: Show Up for Yourself

Once you decide what you are going to pursue, have a to-do or “homework” list that is flexible and changeable. If having a healthier lifestyle really lights you up, your list might include hiring a nutritional coach, downloading some exciting recipes or simply going for a walk. Setting realistic, measurable goals and holding clients accountable for their progress is my specialty as a Life Coach. When the work also aligns with their values, it happens more effortlessly.

Many of us are not used to seeing self-discipline in a caring way – as a way of showing up for ourselves, our interests and our desires. This makes doing the work possible, without self-flagellation, guilt, doubt or drudgery.

It’s one thing to work from a place of excitement, purpose and joy. It’s a completely different experience to work in an attempt to prove yourself and gain accolades from others. So take care to do the work gently. Do not use discipline as a workhorse to get to where you think you “should” be.

Working a day job while discovering and pursuing your passions demands a lot of time and focus, but you can honor both needs: one for economic stability and the other for authenticity. Even if we don’t work a day job, are going through a job transition, are retired or otherwise, it is easy to get sucked into the routine of life, never really doing anything that truly lights us up. But balancing career, things we “must” do like chores, and family or social life with our personal interests is critical to leading a full, enriched life with meaning.

Beware of attaching a desired “outcome” to every new thing you try. The best part of trying something new or tapping back into a forgotten interest might not be immediately apparent. Sometimes the “new thing” can be slowing down, taking a walk in the woods behind your house, playing a game with your family or cooking a beautiful meal. Just focus on what makes you feel more like you.

Recess

Remember having an hour of recess to just run, play, and jump? Carve out a little time each day or each week to give yourself a break, whether that’s doing a paint-by-number, or dancing to your favorite song. It may seem ridiculous at first to “schedule” this time, but it will help you have the discipline to show up for yourself. Don’t have any agenda for this time, but you might be surprised at what bubbles up. Human beings’ greatest creativity and solutions to ongoing problems sometimes are found when we simply disengage and give ourselves time to just be.

Light Up Your Life Like a Kid Starting School

First: Drop the frustration, burn-out and overwhelm about this very loaded “passion” idea. Think about “curiosities” or “interests” instead, and add them to your syllabus for this fall. You can’t have too many! Consider and play with the many things that interest you, without agenda. You may want to try things people have thanked you for, something you’ve always been good at, something you value or that lights you up. At first this might make you feel nervous, and that’s okay. Be childlike, and don’t feel the pressure to commit to just one thing. This is your life. Enjoy the process.

Then: Set some “homework” for yourself. Here are some ideas:

  • Want to read more fiction but don’t have a favorite author or are stuck in a rut?Join a book club.
  • Have a latent interest in science you never pursued? Research local parent/child STEM clubs and activities.
  • Have an interest in aquaculture or marine biology? Book a private kayak tour with a local environmental center.

Finally: Remember that passion is a feeling. Feelings come from within, not without. Like a kid starting school, create a feeling of passion from within yourself and watch the whole world open up like an oyster.

at-desk-brightIf you get stuck, enlist an ally to help you in this work. I’m here to help you. Call Catharine Ecton Life Coaching or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today. In my blog about Life Coaching vs. Therapy, I discussed the differences and reasons why you might want to hire me as your life coach. You can also learn more about how Life Coaching differs from from friendship here.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation and we can work on lighting up your life, giving it more purpose and meaning. 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: Feel Better by Watching Your Words


Feel Better_
Here are some quick ways to take control of your speech, feel better and communicate more effectively with more intentional words.

Be careful with:

Never and always. They are extreme, final words.
– Break the habit of using the word depressed to describe yourself.
– Avoid the word hate. Again, too extreme and could even deplete your energy.
I can’t. You might end up believing this about yourself!
I doubt.
I’ll try. As Yoda famously said, do or do not do. There is no try.
I don’t have the time, or impossible. These are very self-limiting.
I’m afraid not. Avoid saying you’re afraid of anything, even in this figure of speech.
Just: “I just want to check in and see…” “I just think…” makes you sound apologetic and defensive. Take out the “just” and sound more confident, without really trying.
Actually: “I actually disagree…” “I actually have a question.” The actually makes you sound surprised or sorry that you disagree or have a question, which may connote incompetence.
“Does that make sense?” You want to check with the other people in the conversation to make sure you’ve been clear. The problem is, you come across either as condescending (i.e. they’re “too dumb” to follow what you’re saying – probably not what you want to say!) or you imply you’ve been incoherent. More than a little self-sabotaging.
– Drop “I don’t know” from your vocabulary. It’s a dead end phrase! And, I find that typically, the people I work with in Life Coaching DO know. (My job as a Life Coach is to help them really see and embrace that.)
Other qualifiers: “I’m no expert in this, but…” or “I know you all have been researching this for a long time, but…” You’re trying to soften what you’re saying, but you’re also undermining your own opinion. Be careful!

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These simple swaps will help you speak more positively, establish better leadership and get better reception from others:

Instead of I should, say I am choosing to, I would like to, or I don’t want to. This way, you avoid being the victim of your speech.
When someone asks how you’re doing, instead of saying I’m fine, say fantastic, great or something equally positive. Say this several times and see if you’re not feeling fantastic by the end of the day.
When you are agreeing, simply say yes. “Sure”, “all right”, “okay” and “yeah” sound reluctant.
If you catch yourself complaining, add the word and – and a solution. So if you hear yourself saying, “I’m tired,” add “… and I need to get some rest.” “I forgot … and I’ll set a reminder.” You are now providing solutions, which spins even a complaint into something positive and forward-moving.
Change your don’t to a do. Instead of “don’t throw the ball inside,” even your children will listen when you say “throw the ball outside.” Or, tell someone “I like it when you put your dirty socks in the hamper.”
Instead of telling someone I missed you, just tell them how great it is to see them. Live in the present instead of associating negative emotions with your meeting.
Always use yes, and … instead of yes, but “Yes, and” allows you to work through conflict in a healthy manner and helps you move forward.

Positive words to use whenever you can:

  • Certainly
  • Great
  • Definitely
  • I can
  • I will
  • I know
  • I will make the time
  • I am confident
  • I believe
  • All things are possible

Speaking with power and intention creates a sense of accountability and commitment to get the best from yourself and others. Your challenge is to consciously avoid using words that take away energy and commitment from your interactions, and ultimately, your actions.

DC Life Coach Catharine Ecton

at-desk-flippedSpeaking with power and intention will certainly help you feel better; this is one of the tools I use when talking about change with my clients. I believe that by working collaboratively we can change our lives one day at a time through Life Coaching. With the right tools, a few powerful questions and the intention to create something great, we can find the answers within ourselves … and get to where we want to be.

As with any change, it is so much better when you have an ally to help you in this work. To enlist my help, call Catharine Ecton Life Coaching or schedule your free Life Coaching consultation today. In my blog about Life Coaching vs. Therapy, I discussed the differences and reasons why you might want to hire me as your life coach. You can also learn more about how Life Coaching differs from from friendship here.

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 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 making your life a more powerful, positive one 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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Life Coaching: How to Keep a Gratitude Journal

start eachday witha gratefulheart-3

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It’s now been scientifically proven: counting your blessings actually leads to a happy life.

UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons cites “scientific proof that when people regularly work on cultivating gratitude they experience a variety of measurable benefits – psychological, physical and social.”

In one study, Emmons collected data from three groups of research subjects. One group made weekly entries in a gratitude journal, listing five things for which they were grateful. Another group kept a journal discussing five things that displeased them. A third group was asked to list five things that happened to them during the week, with no prompting to add value judgements to them.

After 10 weeks, subjects were questioned about their psychological and physical health. The study showed the gratitude group was 25 percent happier than the other participants. They also exercised more (!) and reported fewer health complaints. Amazing what a little gratitude will do!

The Gratitude Movement

When you train your brain to find the blessing in everything, you start to find joy in everything. It is hard to find blessings if you are always complaining. Accepting what is, and finding the good in it, reveals the many blessings that are sometimes hidden in plain sight. After all, if we aren’t grateful for what we have now, what makes us think we will be happy with more?

Most of us know this, yet continue to start our day with things other than gratitude. Our day starts in the opposite way: we hit the snooze alarm, hit the floor, hit the gym or hit the shower, sometimes begrudgingly, thinking about everything that needs to get done. Maybe we resent our obligations, or feel overwhelmed.

It’s counterintuitive, but personally when I start my day in a more contemplative state I’m actually able to accomplish more.

Many of my clients’ lives have changed when they have taken conscious steps to cultivate gratitude.

A Simple Way to Add Gratitude to Your Day

A gratitude journal is an easy way to build gratitude into your every day routine – and could get you on the way to feeling happier!  Whether it’s a few sentences, a word, phrase, or many paragraphs, there is no one format that you “must” follow. Just start! These gratitude journal writing prompts will help you get started.

Gratitude journal writing prompts:

  • Today I felt grateful for something. What was it?
  • How am I fortunate?
  • Whom do I appreciate?
  • What material things or possessions am I thankful for?
  • What unique abilities do I have?
  • What can I offer to others?
  • What do I love about my surroundings?
  • What experiences have I had that I’m grateful for?
  • What opportunities do I have?
  • What have others done that I now benefit from? (Even if I don’t know them personally!)
  • What challenges or difficulties am I having that I can appreciate?
  • What can I be thankful for because it is different today than it was 1, 5 or 10 years ago?
  • What insights do I have today that I can be thankful for?

Life Coaching & Gratitude: Take The Next Step

at-desk-brightGratitude is just one piece of the puzzle. If you feel you’re spinning your wheels, procrastinating or that obstacles are blocking you from reaching your true potential, 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

*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 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. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Basketball & How “Peak Experiences” Define Us: Marty’s Story

case-study-marty

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In Life Coaching, “peak experiences” are often described as the best moments of one’s life, moments of pure joy and elation, moments that stand out from everyday events. The memory of these events is lasting and people often liken them to a spiritual experience. Through Life Coaching, we can begin to understand how these moments are connected to our values at a core level.
Here is an example of a Peak Experience that helped one of my clients connect to her values.

Marty’s Peak Experience

“Marty” (name changed to protect client confidentiality) remembered vividly a basketball game she played in as a Junior in High School. She was a star player in that game. Now in her late 60s, Marty’s description of the gymnasium, the crowd, the players, the sights, smells and feelings associated with the game itself transported us both to that time and place. It was a story rich with texture and emotions. From her many life experiences, Marty chose this one because it was still so alive for her.

From the story, the values that define her bubbled to the surface:

  • recognition for her hard work
  • teamwork
  • support from family and friends
  • challenge
  • competence
  • taking risks

By identifying her values, Marty was able to better understand what was at the core of her being. They made choices about what to commit to now so much more clear. Marty began to recognize that somewhere over the years she had stopped honoring the very qualities that were necessities for her personal fulfillment.

The exploration of a “peak experience” story through Life Coaching helped Marty find ways to rearrange her life so that she could once again experience and continue to enjoy the values that define her.

 

Life Coaching & Peak Experiences

In Life Coaching, I help my clients use peak experiences to help them live “on-purpose” and according to their values. When we conclude our Life Coaching sessions, my clients often tell me that they’ve begun to see themselves differently. Perhaps they do not need others’ approval as much. They definitely feel freer. They begin to see it’s possible to change and find their voice, power, and passion through “unmasking” and getting reacquainted with that self they’ve hidden.

at-desk-flipped

Contact me, Life Coach Catharine Ecton, to start living an unmasked, authentic and healthy life in line with your core values. Let’s chart a course to the truth of who you are and discover why being yourself is the ONLY answer.

Each Life Coaching session is an hour intensive one-on-one conversation by phone or Skype with me. We’ll meet once or twice per month for three to six months for a total of six sessions.

Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation to discuss my Life Coaching for Authenticity program. 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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Life Coaching: Be More Authentically You

who-are-you-really

“Couple in Love” at the 2010 Carnevale in Venice by Frank Kovalchek, Anchorage, AK

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My life coaching client Patricia* came to me when she decided that after 30 years of living with her sister in a caretaking role, she was ready for change. She reached out to me to find support, encouragement and a plan to take steps for a major transition.

“I want a sense of control of my future.” -Patricia, June 2015

We all want to be safe, loved, and accepted. Some of us find that the best way to do this is to put aside what we want or feel and allow someone else’s needs and feelings to take precedence. This may work for a while, but it can create intense inner turmoil. When we’re overly accommodating of others at our own expense, we may begin to resent that we’re always the one called on to do extra work or to take care of someone else’s problems.

Patricia decided that she was ready to shake off the caretaking role and shed the mask that she had been wearing for so many years. Our life coaching sessions gave her a platform for venting and an honest assessment of her dreams and options. The mask came off! Patricia found ways to navigate a complex relationship and create to a more authentic one. It started by being true to herself.

Life Coaching for Authenticity

at-desk-flippedMy life coaching clients want to be balanced, fulfilled and “real.” They are tired of living a life to please other people and following a dream that is not theirs. Many of us wear masks that hide what is authentic and true. Most of us think we are doing the best we can.

I think we can do more and do better if first we are true to ourselves.

Life coaching with me can help you examine:

  • How you can create your own success instead of riding the coattails of someone else’s
  • Ways to change your mindset
  • The risks and rewards of taking the step to “unmask” and be the person that person you really are
  • The baby steps needed to let go of perfectionism and comparisonism and lead the unique life that is yours alone
  • What you can do every day that brings you joy, energy, and moves you toward the reality you want

I believe you can create whatever your heart desires – a successful business, passionate relationships, daily happiness. Often, the reasons I see people struggling with creating what they want is because they are stuck:

  • Needing other people’s approval
  • Bowing to other people’s definitions of success
  • Trying to be everything to everyone
  • Waiting for just the right moment to have “me time”
  • In a cycle of comparison and perfectionism
  • Doubting their own ability to change

Contact me, life coach Catharine Ecton, to start living an unmasked, authentic and healthy life drawing on my “co-active coaching” approach. Let’s chart a course to the truth of who you are and discover why being yourself is the ONLY answer.

Each “Life Coaching for Authenticity” session is an hour intensive one-on-one conversation by phone or Skype with me. We’ll meet once or twice per month for three to six months for a total of six sessions. Those living in the Washington, DC area have the option of meeting with me in person in a mutually-agreed upon location.

By the end of our time together, you’ll begin to see yourself differently. You may not need others’ approval as much, and you’ll definitely feel freer. You’ll see it’s possible to change and find your voice, power, and passion through “unmasking” and getting reacquainted with that self you’ve hidden.

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.

*names and other details have been changed to protect client confidentiality

 

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Life Coaching: 5 Life Lessons from France

france-dinner

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Spending the past two weeks in Paris with some of my grandchildren gave me the opportunity to observe and enjoy the playfulness, rich lifestyle and pure pleasure the French take in their daily lives. It is a culture devoted to beauty, tradition and pleasure. I hoped it would inspire my life coaching in DC, but I may have underestimated how much. I am more excited than ever to return home with my “French lessons” in mind.

For the French, the human experience is more about being than doing. Coming from the other side of the pond – and our success-driven DC culture specifically – I’m more aware than ever of the American messages to go bigger, harder, stronger. The French mindset is a refreshing perspective. We can achieve our goals in life … but we can also appreciate the journey. Call it what you will: taking time to smell the roses, being present in the moment. It’s the whole point of living an exceptional, meaningful life.

Here are five take-aways that I’ll be bringing to my coaching:

french-flowers1. Slow Down. Walk by a French cafe and you won’t see people frantically texting on smart phones. Instead you will see them sipping a cafe creme, savoring a croissant, reading and talking animatedly with a friend. With the American focus on productivity and over-scheduled lives, maybe we should take a moment to breathe, create a ritual for ourselves to relax and set aside some unstructured time doing what we love to do. Whether it is drinking good coffee, painting or reading, this time can be restorative on many levels.

2. Enjoy Life & Good Food. The French seem to have their cake and eat it too. Are they genetically gifted? I don’t think so! They appreciate the art of fine dining. They savor fresh vegetables, ripe fruit, bread from the oven, wine from local vineyards and critique each meal with an artist’s eye.

3. Move More. The common myth is that French people don’t exercise, and it’s true that you won’t find many Parisians jogging. But the truth is that the French do exercise … a lot! … because it’s part of their lifestyle. They are less sedentary, drive less, walk a lot, take the stairs, play games, swim and dance. Movement is a way of life, not something they drive to the gym for. While I won’t be soon giving up my morning lap swim ritual, this trip reinforced my belief that moving my body is a gift that I appreciate and indulge in daily.

4. Stress Less. In DC in many circles, “stress” is a badge of honor. Living a busy, harried and frazzled life is somewhat endearing. The ideal is a brainy, conflicted, even neurotic persona, like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally or Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Many women with no clinical issues spend a lot of time in therapy, but still don’t feel particularly great about themselves. In contrast, my Parisian friends are calm, discreet and decisive. They have frustrations and disappointments like the rest of us, but always carve out time to appreciate the simple pleasures of being with friends and family and enjoying good food. It was contagious being with others who don’t apologize for truly enjoying themselves.

french-square5. Simplify. Why do the French seem to have more time to enjoy life? In part they haven’t inundated themselves with massive debt, too much “stuff” and over-booked calendars. The simpler your life, the richer it becomes. This trip reminded me to keep paring down, to simplify and create a life of meaning. A legacy for my grandchildren is to value the joy found in simple pleasures.

If you feel you’re in a rat race, on a hamster wheel – when you’re going through the motions and not really living your life – the hardest step is committing to change and focusing on what brings you true joy. If you are craving an exceptional 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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Life Coaching for Single Moms: Erica’s Story

Image Courtesy: Wiros. Barcelona, Spain.

Image Courtesy: Wiros. Barcelona, Spain.

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As a single Mom, you may feel like a tight-rope walker without a safety net. Loneliness and feelings of overwhelm are common, as are fears and worries about “doing enough” to raise your children alone. Working with a Life Coach can provide you with vital tools to balance raising your children with having a life of your own, and make your time spent with your children more rewarding and fun.

Erica’s Story

Erica* was looking for support, love and companionship after years of being a single Mom with three young children. She loved her job and was confident in her career, but her personal life was lonely and unfulfilled.

In my coaching sessions with her, we spent time uncovering what she truly values. We found that Erica had deeply bittersweet feelings about parenting. She adores her children, but finds time away from them necessary, exciting and empowering. This results in conflicting feelings about herself, and about parenting. Erica came to me to create a plan for how she could improve her life – and she wanted to do it within 6 months.

What Life Coaching Can Do

Single Moms often come to me looking for help on how they can be a better parent. But I always consider that their dissatisfaction may stem from needing support with their career, relationships, and overcoming guilt. Successful parenting depends on so many facets of life, so I base my work with Life Coaching clients on their self-articulated values and the many areas that can help their parenting be more effective and rewarding. I love to help clients achieve measurable goals – their own heart’s desires – on a schedule that we set together. In Erica’s case, this stemmed from her commitment to make lasting changes within a relatively brief time frame.

Erica and I developed strategies to deal with her parenting issues, and to disarm the intensity of handling life alone. Together, we developed an action plan to make life less overwhelming while gaining control and balance in her career and personal life. Today, Erica has achieved several of the goals we set together. She continues to work towards filling herself up first so that she has something left for her children.

A Unique Approach to Life Change for Single Moms

As a Life Coach, I help clients set up a plan to change their lifestyle, improve their career, or cultivate new relationships. Therapists work with people who have problems with thought patterns, emotional difficulties, or ingrained behavioral problems (due to their past, a chemical imbalance, etc.). If you are experiencing stress caused by your Single Mom lifestyle, working with me would be a great fit if you:

  • Believe you have everything within yourself to create your best life
  • Are teachable, and committed to change
  • Would like to jump-start feeling great again, gain momentum and create success, balance and fulfillment in every area of your life
  • Need the support and synergy of a coach dedicated to your success

Read more about Life Coaching vs. Therapy. As a Certified Life Coach, my methods are proven, collaborative and effective.

Working together with my clients, we are able to change our lives one day at a time through Life Coaching. 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 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.

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.

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Help for “Empty Nest” Moms

emptynest

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Busy Moms often jokingly rave about what their “empty nest” years will look like: the travel they will do, how they will convert a child’s room into a game or guest room, all the time they will reclaim for themselves. But once a child actually does leave home, there are two key emotions that Moms often share: 1) loneliness and 2) regret.

The loneliness can hit you the moment you first walk into your child’s empty room: the stuffed animals, trophies and art left behind can fill you with grief. There will be no more teeth under the pillow. There’s no more laundry to pick up off the floor. There’s no child to say good-night to before bed. You may feel that life has moved on without you: your child is in college, married or moved out, and your spouse is at work. You are profoundly lonely.

Regret can then creep into your thoughts. Did I do all I could for my child? Did I seize every moment with him or her? The time to mentor, teach and befriend might feel like it has slipped away. Regret can also be about what you did with your own life, and the time that has passed for you. Your child is pursuing his or her dreams, your husband is still active on his career track. But what about your hopes and dreams? You can’t get the time back, and there can be a painful emptiness and regret when your whole world centered around raising your kids.

Feelings of anger, bitterness, disappointment, guilt, abandonment or loss can also creep in. If unchecked, an empty nest parent can experience depression, weight gain, illness, a loss of self-esteem or identity, and even divorce. In fact, divorce rates increase by 16% the first year after the children have left for empty nest Moms in the U.S.

Empty Nest Syndrome & Life Coaching

catharine-badge2At Catharine Ecton Coaching, I’ve been there. My own children have “flown the coop.” Through Life Coaching, I’ve worked with many empty nest Moms and together found tailored, individualized ways to cope. The common thread with all of my Empty Nest Life Coaching clients has been to not only move through and past these very valid, very negative feelings … but to also find ways to enhance their own lives. My clients have found they can seize this moment to reinvent themselves as women – both personally and professionally – and they already have everything they needed to do so inside themselves.

Life Coaching: Fulfilling Your Potential

As our children leave home, we may feel we’ve reached the pinnacle of our own personal success. We’ve done a great job raising our kids, and prepared them to have successful lives. In the process, however, we may have forgotten ourselves. As we watch the rest of our family pursue their dreams, we regret we didn’t pursue our own. Because our identity has been so aligned with our role as a Mom (or Dad!), we often experience a sense of floundering when children leave home.

Life Coaching with can help during this crucial time of transition, seeking, and sorting out your best life. I’ll help you do it on your terms, with the resources you already have. An empty nest comes with its own joys. As with most transitions in life, it’s a time when we’re most open to growth and personal discovery. You may have only joked about it before, but now could be the time to start fulfilling your own potential – and living the life you’ve always dreamed of!

Schedule Your Complimentary Life Coaching Appointment Today

If you’re struggling with loneliness, fear or regret about your children leaving home, contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation. Use my Appointment Scheduler to 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. Together, we can help you find meaning in an empty nest … and in the process, create a more fulfilling life.

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