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Take Action to Get Going

“Take Action to Get Going”
by Laura Worth, MSW
Encore Life Coach

When it comes to goals, all the preparation in the world is no substitute for action. Action requires commitment and willingness to take a reasonable risk. There is never a perfect moment in which preparation is complete and commitment is without risk.

Research suggests that it is helpful to understand that each stage of working on a goal needs a different focus. For example, in the last two months, I wrote about the “Get Ready! Get Set! Go!” model of goal achievement. Success requires a commitment to the unique tasks for each stage.

In the “Get Ready” phase, the focus is on exploring, self-awareness and discovery.

In the “Get Set” phase, the focus shifts to preparation and examination of our motivations and the personal meaning supporting the goal. This can lead to a decision to commit when it’s a goal worthy of our attention.

Last month, I wrote that one way to destroy a goal is to commit too early. The paradox is that another goal killer is not to commit at all.

I personally find it easy to get stuck in the “Get Set” phase, where preparation feels safe and self-discovery is its own reward. To bridge myself into action from preparation, I find that applying some of the same strengths I used in the earlier phases works like a charm.


Commitment and Curiosity

When I am actively working on a goal, I can start each day asking, “What will I discover today about myself and my relationship to my goal?”

It’s important to approach this question with openness to learning new meanings. This helps to reinforce the motivations that arise from my deeply held values.

It’s these values that help me find courage and commitment to keep going. I remind myself of the deeper personal meaning that can motivate me when the day is difficult.


Commitment and Preparation

In the action phase, I find that each day still requires a period of preparation where the planning processes offer the security of the familiar. I review or revise my plan for the week and set up my day’s new expectations.

I find that these mini-preparation periods are enjoyable because they are reminiscent of the creative vision that I enjoyed in the preparation phase.

Preparation, planning and new resource identification continues even as I fully focus on my goal in the commitment phase.

I also know I must generate enough creativity to change my plans based on real-life results. As they say, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans.”


Finding Initiative

I understand that each day requires new initiative from me. I often experience this need for initiative as procrastination.

Another way of seeing this need to start anew on a goal each day redefines daily “starting” as an opportunity to refresh myself, taking a look at the goal project with new eyes.


New Action Brings New Knowledge

In the action phase of goal work, I enjoy asking myself what character challenges will emerge in the day’s process: What gratitudes will I experience? What life lessons will be apparent if I apply curiosity in the midst of action?

What will I learn about the physical world? What social and relationship skills will I need to improve? What can I do to keep my energetic spirit up to the inevitable challenges?

Ultimately, action produces knowledge about my goal. Action, at its best, is also applied curiosity that teaches me about myself. It acquaints me with the realities of my goal.


Problem Solving

Sometimes, when the next step toward a goal is not apparent, it’s helpful to remember that what seem to be problems can also become stepping stones that lead me forward. In the action phase, it’s time to tackle problems with enthusiasm. I try to encounter problems as opportunities to take action toward my goal.


Generating New Opportunities

The beauty of moving into the action phase is that commitment generates new opportunities that were not apparent during earlier preparation phases. I find that discovery and learning continues all through the action phase, as long as I remain curious and keep my plans flexible.

In the action phase, I like to define the goal in ways that let me experience curiosity, make discoveries and find life lessons in the process. This helps me move from the discovery and preparation phases into action. This process helps me express my strengths, manifest my values and satisfies me in deeply personal ways that strengthen my commitment to the goal.

These underlying goals for discovery, personal growth and new knowledge can help to ensure that the action phase is sustainable through the life of working on the goal.

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Laura Worth, MSW is a Life and Business Coach, specializing in helping clients creatively plan and develop their next meaningful life changes.  Emerging opportunities for transformational encores resonate with personal continuities of purpose, core values, and character strengths through encore life coaching. For nearly 20 years Laura has offered individual and group-based coaching, workshops, and topical classes. She coaches in-person, by phone, and by e-mail.


Contact me at (206) 463-9283, worthy@coachworth.com, or visit me at http:/
/www.coachworth.com.

 

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Commit When You Are Committed

 

“Commit When You Are Committed”
by Laura Worth, MSW
Encore Life Coach

One way to destroy a goal is to commit too early. Before committing to a goal we need a
period of mental, emotional, and practical preparation.

Last month I wrote about the “Get Ready” phase in a “Get Ready! Get Set! Go! model of goal achievement. It makes use of research by social psychologists that shows the importance of acknowledging that we typically go through stages before embracing a goal whole-heartedly. Each stage has a different focus depending on the stage. Success requires focus and commitment to the unique tasks for each stage.

During the first Get Readyphase, a goal may have been just the glimmer of an idea to be investigated and considered. During that phase, commitment is low and curiosity is high. The goal may or may not come to life.

“Getting Set” means preparation.
In the “Get Set,” second phase, I like to pay attention to my inner dialogue about the goal and stay curious about outer cues about its meaning and achievement.

I begin to develop an approach to the goal that acknowledges that commitment to the goal will need a two way street between our inner dialogue and our outer reality. Internal exploration and external planning and resource identification all play key roles in the success of the “Get Set” phase. In our “Getting Set”, the ultimate goal is a “Go! No-Go!” decision. This is the time to decide whether it’s a goal worthy of our attention.

Getting set means preliminary planning and resource identification. I start identifying the small tasks and larger milestones that I expect to find along the way. There are many planning tools that help in this process: logic flow charts, time-line charts, calendars, and budgets. I begin to identify resources at my disposal, including logistical, financial, social support for the goal. This preparation phase prior to committing to the goal prepares us for a deeper preparation that continues throughout the life of the goal.

Developing self-awareness.
During this phase, curiosity leads to inner work to widen the two-lane street between inner and outer processes. Is this a goal that is worth my time? What are my feelings about the goal? Is it rooted in my more meaningful values or is it the result of a passing whim? These questions will generate self-awareness in relationship to the goal.

With self awareness, a useful focus of curiosity is to discover positive “frames” for goals. In order to pursue a goal successfully, I like to find ways to “frame” the goal as something to move forward to rather than run away from. The classic example is losing weight by pursuing a physical and emotional sense of well being, rather than focusing on feelings of repulsion about extra weight.

Problems are stepping stones.
During the first Get Ready” phase in the goal process, I took notes on ideas that come to me about my goal. Typically the ideas are sprinkled with problems that have occurred to me in connection with pursuing the goal.

Now it’s time to get some use out of this “problems list”. I start by picking a few problems from the list and ask myself: “If I were to pursue this goal, what are some ways to address this problem?” I write down any ideas with an open mind as to whether the solutions will work or not.

It’s important in the “Get Set” stage to develop a list of creative solutions and a sense of mastery in problem solving. This is important for the action phase when all systems are “Go”.

The meaning behind my goal.
Is this a goal that is worth my time? These questions will generate positive frames for my goal. In order to pursue a goal successfully, it’s best to find ways to “frame” the goal as something to move forward to rather than run away from. The classic example is loosing weight by pursuing fitness and a sense of well being, rather than focusing on feelings of repulsion about extra weight.

Begin preliminary engagement with the goal.
During the “Get Set” phase I am discovering whether I have good chemistry with the goal. Dabbling in the goal and learning from that process helps. During the “Get Set” phase I may reach a point where it’s appropriate to be bold by taking action toward the goal.

The magic of boldness.
For me, a Goethe’s couplet comes to mind: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

During the “Get Set” phase I am experiencing a magical paradox: I’m aware that it is premature to fully commit during this phase. It is this awareness that defines my action as bold. It is boldness that helps me cross over into the “Go” phase of actions that are primarily focused on achieving the goal.

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These are the kinds of tasks and processes needed in the second stage of setting a goal. Action taken in the second stage is dominated by the curiosity that drives planning and self-awareness. Committed action that is focused on goal achievement waits for the “Go” stage when accomplishing the goal is primary and commitment is appropriate.

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Laura Worth, MSW is a Life and Business Coach, specializing in helping clients creatively plan and develop their next meaningful life changes.  Emerging opportunities for transformational encores resonate with personal continuities of purpose, core values, and character strengths through encore life coaching. For nearly 20 years Laura has offered individual and group-based coaching, workshops, and topical classes. She coaches in-person, by phone, and by e-mail.


Contact me at (206) 463-9283, worthy@coachworth.com, or visit her at http:/
/www.coachworth.com.

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Gratitude, Generosity, Renewal Bring Well Being!

Gratitude, Generosity, Renewal
Bring Well Being in the New Year!

by Laura Worth, MSW
Encore Life Coach

Each year around mid-December, I start wishing people a happy new year. I need to admit, it’s been a somewhat rhetorical tradition — until this year. 

With a little reflection, I realized that there could be a cause-and-effect relationship between the rituals I associate with our Season of Gratitude (around Thanksgiving), our Season of Generosity (December’s many holidays), and our Season of Renewal (around New Year’s)  with achieving meaningful well being in the next year. 

Psychological research shows that the choice we make to notice gratitude and practice generosity, and attend to renewing our sense of purpose can reliably increase meaningful happiness and life satisfaction. When we notice opportunities for gratitude and find ways to express authentic generosity, we strengthen the roots of our own well-being and lay the groundwork for our own meaningful happiness. 

Professionals and scientists in the new field of Positive Psychology point to simple gratitude and generosity exercises that can be taught. They uplift us and generate measurable improvements in subjective happiness (even decreases in depression). They can shine a light on those experiences and emotions in life that make us feel that we are flourishing. 

The time around Thanksgiving and the other winter holidays gives us a ritualized opportunity to proactively create behavioral and emotional building blocks to create a happy new year if we are mindful of them. 

A dose of gratitude

A little imagination lets us use the winter holiday rituals to set up some habits and lay groundwork for achieving happiness all year.

For example, with Thanksgiving, we can recommit to paying attention to life’s bounty even as we work to counter the areas of “lack” in our lives. In the midst of trying economic times, “gratitude journals” can focus on noting those experiences that have grown our heart space. A little attention can focus us on gratitude for the many intangibles that create loving relationships with friends, spouse and family. 

“Gratitude conversations” can intensify the happiness-building benefits that come from noticing gratitude by adding the additional component of generosity. The tradition of giving during the December holidays creates a segue to deliberately initiating the practice of gratitude conversations. These conversations can be informal over a cup of coffee, beginning with “Dad, I want to tell you how much it means to me that you….” 

They can also be added to other holiday rituals. For example, when it’s time to share the gifts we have so carefully selected for each other, we can precede the gift by telling our loved one a special reason they are appreciated. To prepare for this, the holidays then can become a period of mini-reflections on gratitude and expressions of generosity. 

Generosity is own reward

The desire to express generosity exists naturally in our gene pool to help us build community. Historically, it has helped us achieve the social cohesiveness we rely on for survival as a species. 

Research, common sense and reflection on our own experience of offering generosity show that practicing acts of generosity is uplifting. Generosity brings its own rewards. 

When we give gifts we create opportunities for gratitude for the recipient. When we have given a gift, it multiplies the benefit of the gift with an intangible — if we generously allow space to acknowledge gratitude from the recipient. 

So many of us deflect gratitude for a gift in embarrassment rather than allowing it to flow into us and buoy us up. In doing so, we give the recipient an opportunity to add another building block to their own happiness resources. 

Preparing for happiness

Gratitude and generosity are each their own blessing and flip sides of the same coin. At the holidays, we, unfortunately, can experience them as burdens. 

Gratitude becomes a burden when we judge that our own generosity has fallen short. So it can take a disciplined heart to focus on gratitude and generosity without guilt. In so doing, we create opportunities for others to also experience the intangible blessings of gratitude and generosity. 

Our culture’s winter holiday celebrations have the potential for cultivating more people who experience a profound sense of well-being and habits of gratitude and generosity that generate meaningful happiness. 

These holidays and their traditions offer us opportunities to set up conditions for a happy new year. We can pay attention to the opportunities they present to be conscious about practicing behaviors that heighten gratitude and generosity. 

When being mindful of these happiness-building habits is extended into the new year, wishing our friends and family a “happy new year” is more than rhetoric. Even extending that authentic wish for a “happy new year” to chance encounters with strangers in the grocery store can help to set up a fine culture of giving and gratitude.


Laura Worth, MSW is a Life and Business Coach, specializing in helping clients creatively plan and develop their next meaningful life changes.  Emerging opportunities for transformational encores resonate with personal continuities of purpose, core values, and character strengths through encore life coaching. For nearly 20 years Laura has offered individual and group-based coaching, workshops, and topical classes. She coaches in-person, by phone, and by e-mail.


Contact me at (206) 463-9283, worthy@coachworth.com, or visit her at http:/
/www.coachworth.com.