Coach in the Spotlight: Aurelia Rogalli

Career Coach Aurelia Rogalli spent her 20s organising events across the globe. By 30, the non-stop lifestyle had taken its toll, and left her craving a deeper connection with others. In our Q&A, Aurelia talks about the importance of nurturing relationships when it comes to building a coaching business.

Click here to read the full interview with Firework Career Coaching.

Career coaching – what to expect

Feel lost or stuck in a job you don’t enjoy? Not sure how you ended up on your career path? Almost one third of UK employees are unhappy with their job and want more from life than being stuck and feeling unhappy. We want to feel valued and recognised, contributing to a greater cause or business success. We want our work to be fulfilling and worthwhile our time.

But how do we close that gap from where we are to where we want to be? Friends are a great first sounding board, but sometimes a professional career coach might be just what is needed.

What does a career coach do?

A career coach will help you understand what you want and how you get there. The process involves to bring to light everything there is to know about you – what drives you, motivators, strengths, values, skills, work achievements and so on. With this blueprint about yourself, the coach will guide you in finding out what is missing in your current job that would make it worth your time and so much more enjoyable for you. This could be anywhere between making small changes to the current role to making a 180 degree career shift. By the end of the coaching work, you will leave knowing where you are heading and the steps involved to get there.

Career coaching is not advice about certain industries and the coach will not tell you what you should be doing. Instead, they will be objectively listening to what you are saying and support you in recognising what makes your heart sing.

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Who is career coaching for?

Career coaching is for anyone who is unsatisfied with their work. Some will already know what they want and need support in making it happen, while others don’t know at all what they want and simply feel the urge that something needs to change. With options like a portfolio career, remote work, freelancing, and running your own business, it is sometimes difficult to know the right direction.

The most common topics include:

  • understanding what you really want to be doing
  • getting ‘unstuck’
  • getting clear on career goals
  • forming an action plan
  • returning to work after a break
  • understanding priorities after redundancy
  • changing career paths
  • knowing the direction after graduating
  • not knowing what to do

How does the coaching process practically work?

The practicalities of the coaching process depend on the coach. For individual coaching, most coaches will offer an initial consultation session to assess whether the coach and coachee are a good fit for each other. This is a good opportunity to ask the coach any questions you may have, such as how the process works, the number of sessions needed, how much homework is involved, fees, and logistics. Once the coaching process has started, there will be hourly sessions, either in person or over the phone/skype. In my coaching practice, the process lasts from only a few sessions up to 12 sessions, depending on the scope of change the coachee wishes to make. There is homework involved and the coachee is asked to come to the sessions prepared, to make the most of our time together.

The art of achieving flow

In the attempt to understand what makes us feel happy, it seems I cannot overlook the topic of achieving flow. As several psychologists have researched, experiencing this state in which we are completely involved in what we’re doing, losing track of time, being focused, having clarity and losing our worries is a main ingredient to give us a sense of meaning and purpose.

mahkeo-234381Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

Ever experienced this state of mind in which you are über productive? It is as if you can almost observe yourself smoothly creating the outcomes you have set for yourself. It feels great and is worth fostering to spread into our daily lives.

According to Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, we can reach the flow state when getting the balance right between how challenging the task is and how well we are skilled at it.

flow1Simply put, our skills need to be aced and the challenge needs to be challenging enough. If any of the two factors are out of balance, worries and anxiety can overwhelm us or we get too comfortable and bored in order to be productive.

Watch his Ted talk here.


The foundation for getting into flow

Think about the challenge. Whatever the task is that you wish to complete, make sure it is challenging enough, but not unachievably difficult. If it is too easy, we get easily bored and our mind is likely to look for distraction. Likewise, if it is too difficult, it will be hard to keep up the concentration.

Develop the skills. Apparently it requires 10 years of practice to be perfectly skilled at something. While this number may seem off-putting at first, it suggests the complexity of how our brain functions. When we attempt to become highly productive at something, we need to practice, practice, practice.

Know your goals. A sense of achievement comes from completing tasks. Knowing your goals and working towards them does not only give us that, but it also ensures that we can stop at a certain point, to recharge our mental and physical batteries.

Link body and mind. A good mental state requires a healthy body as a foundation. It is therefore imperative for us to prepare for productivity through regular exercise and healthy eating. Many successful people integrate this into their morning routine, by starting their day with workout, mindfulness and a good breakfast.

Related article: How to close the gap between wasting time and productivity

Building confidence in times of uncertainty

Confidence is a state of mind. A state, in which we feel we can move a mountain!

In times of uncertainty, for example when considering a scary leap or when we simply don’t know the outcome of a situation, our mind means well in protecting us and therefore comes up with tons of reasons why we should stay where we are – in our comfort zone where we are a subject expert and where we know every potential outcome of the next steps.

When we challenge our protection mechanism, our irrational brain takes over and overwhelms us with feelings. Fear of failure kicks in. We start criticising ourselves, feel we lack the knowledge and can get really insecure. Soon after, we come up with good reasons why we should perhaps postpone our move and not shake things up right now. And here we are again – back in this vicious cycle.

When going for something big in life, we need a good amount of confidence so that we dare to reach for our ambitions and don’t let our emotions stop us. As Katty Kay, author of The Confidence Code, nicely put it “Confidence is life’s enabler – it is the quality that turns thoughts into action”. It is one of the main ingredients that is required when we don’t know what our next step entails.

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People with a healthy amount of confidence have an appearance; An aura that shines and somehow impacts people around them. They seem to take more risks and look at the bright side of life, even when things aren’t always going according to plan.

Building our confidence in times of uncertainty is inevitable. And it can be learned and mastered through practice and self-reflection. Here is how.

 

Confidence building exercises

Plan and prepare for the unknown

When taking a leap that results in not knowing what’s next, it is wise to plan ahead. For example, if you are considering to leave your full time job to pursue another career, plan ahead by speaking with people who have done this step before you and back yourself up in every area that could possibly throw you off track. Usual considerations would be your financial situation, fears that are likely going to hit you, and who is going to support you. Think about investing in a mentor or a coach, who can be your sparring partner during that transition.

Knowing what to expect makes us feel prepared and ultimately more confident. Read through this related article that describes potential fears one by one.

Introduce positivity

We are programmed to feel guilty if we haven’t given something our best shot. We tend to listen to our inner critic that tells us we are not good enough, not smart enough, don’t earn enough money and so on. Once in that trap, we keep beating ourselves up and remain in this mindset of negativity. Sometimes even certain friends or family can trigger our confidence to shrink.

Drop the negative mindset, distance yourself from those who aren’t good for you and surround yourself with positive energy, enthusiasm and gratitude. This is difficult at first, however it can go a long way.

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Be conscious about your body language & appearance

The way we speak, move and interact with people plays a big part in how we feel. Simply being aware of our posture, for example, quickly reveals what gives us confidence. Wearing clothes that make us feel powerful and maintaining an attitude that is full of kindness and smiles support how we want to be perceived.

Try pulling your shoulders back and really be present during your next conversation. Be mindful (see related article Beginners guide to mindfulness), curious and actively listen. Talk slowly and notice the difference on the impact you have. It is likely you will get positive recognition.

Work out

Getting our endorphins released is one of the most powerful ways to increase our confidence. We can see the results so obviously, through stats and body improvement that we tend to approach every task that follows with the attitude to just ‘hit the ground running’.

Sports, movement, and fresh air plays such an integral part of our success, and yet is it often the first thing that people remove from their schedule due to ‘more important’ commitments. Make sure that you don’t compromise on your own well-being and treat it as important as other areas in your life.

For times when nothing else works

It happens to all of us that, despite having found good routine that sets us up in the right mindset, we do have days that are just not in our favour. Prepare for such days and have something in place that helps you to be ok with this situation. Some ideas could be to have a list ready that shows all your moments that you are proud of, getting lost in a novel or art work, calling someone who can lift you up or simply take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a new day to start all over again.

Quit complaining and do something

A lot of my clients come to me because they keep catching themselves complaining. About work, certain individuals, a lack of motivation, their personal relationships or how they spend their leisure time. And while they know it is in their hands to change the situation, they struggle to break this habit of complaining. They keep talking about their desired change – but they do not take action.

nik-shuliahin-251237Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Why do we complain so much?

Constantly complaining is like being locked in in a room full of negative voices. It is hard to move away from it, particularly once it becomes a habit. This is when moaning starts happening unconsciously. We keep feeding our negative thoughts while not being fully present.

Another reason to keep complaining is that it keeps us from being responsible, for example for taking action. When blaming situations that we believe are out of our control, we can no longer be held responsible for the problem and wash our hands with that excuse. Taking action often requires us to step out of our comfort zone, which our brain does not like.

There are a few other reasons that psychologists have researched; People using complaints as a means to connect with one another, jealousy, lack of empathy or to brag about their superiority.

In this article, I would like to share some practical tools that I use with my clients, for those who genuinely want to take charge of their lives and break the cycle of complaining.

Top tips from my coaching practice 

Acknowledge the issue and move on

Consciously acknowledging the issue at hand is much more effective than constantly going over the same annoying topic again and again. By giving attention to the issue, we are not overstepping our frustration. Instead, we give our negative thoughts a voice but do it with full awareness and intention to move away from it.

Most problems are temporary and don’t effect the big picture of our journey. When we acknowledge them, they will quickly vanish.

Choose your perspective

When we complain, we are holding a certain perspective about the topic. Our perspective is likely to be negative, destructive, and pulling us further down the spiral. However, we can actually choose our perspective and it doesn’t have to be negative. In fact, it really is our own responsibility how we see life and its obstacles. Let me give you an example.

It is a rainy day and you have to drag yourself out of bed to walk to the station, in order to attend a job interview. You are unmotivated, complain about the weather, blame the company for being based so far away and think you don’t really want the job anyway. You make assumptions that you will not be accepted for the role and that you won’t get along with the person who invited you for the interview. That is a fairly demotivating outlook on the day. 

Try this instead. Imagine how this job opportunity could open doors for your career. You may not be sure if the job suits you fully, however it could also exceed your expectations once you hear more about it or you may connect with people who will play a major role in your future life. Instead of making assumptions, you are fully open to whatever may come your way on this day. It could be life changing.

PerspectivePhotos by Todd Diemer and Oliver Hihn on Unsplash

When working with my clients, we practice to create new perspectives and they get to make a conscious choice about how to see the situation.

To open your eyes for new perspectives, think about your idol. Really connect with it and ask yourself what character traits you love about it. Chances are you have exactly those character traits hidden within you, so use them. How does the topic you are complaining about look from this new perspective? What new information can you see from here? Make a conscious choice and take responsibility for how you see the topic.

“You are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life.”  Anais Nin

Test your curiosities

A lot of complaining comes from beating ourselves up for not doing what we say or think we want to do. There may be many reasons for procrastination; We may not really want what we say we want, we are overwhelmed with the possibilities or we are just excellent at moaning. Whatever it is that holds us back, it is just an avoidance mechanism for stepping out of our comfort zone. If we don’t give our curiosities a chance, we will never find out if they may actually transform our lives into something better.

A practical tool to test your curiosities is to write a list of everything that you were ever interested in. Bring everything down on paper and then see which ones catch your attention most. Pick one, for the time being, and give it a timeframe. For example, if you were always intrigued by writing, you may decide to put this on your front burner for 6 months. Start with a first blog and send it to your friends. Publish it through social media. Start a Word Press page and set yourself targets as to how many blogs you will write each week. After 6 months, evaluate the process and decide what is next for you.

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Is complaining resourceful?

Constant frustration about the same subject may raise the question about underlying reasons. Complaints are usually just the response to certain triggers, but they are not the actual source.

When we complain, it means that we deeply care about something in the situation that is upsetting us. It is likely that we are overstepping some important values and therefore, complaining is like a signal from our body that something needs to change (see also Beginners guide to happiness)

In my former role as Events Manager, I was brilliant at blaming people or situations for my unhappiness. I changed companies several times for whatever reasons I believed were true for my deep frustration. But somehow, the complaining didn’t stop.

Today I am grateful that my brother made me aware of this very situation: I wasn’t actually addressing the underlying issue. Only after spending a considerate amount of time with questioning my anger, I found ways to deal with work that were acceptable before I changed my whole career.

Complaining is a useful alarm that goes off when we are frustrated. Get curious about it and don’t let it destroy the possibility of living a fulfilling life. It may be the starting point of a life transforming journey.

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How to improve your work life balance

jon-flobrant-1362Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Today’s generation is struggling with a healthy work and life balance. We often work crazy hours and come home to quickly do the laundry, prepare dinner and watch some TV. On an early night, we might be lucky enough to squeeze in a phone conversation with our parents who we haven’t heard from since weeks.

It seems like we have no time to ourselves! When can we read a book or go for a stroll in the park enjoying nature? When can we recharge our batteries?

We all know there are better ways to do things, such as planning ahead, scheduling breaks into our work day, mindfulness, sticking to a morning routine, etcetera. And yet, most of us are unable to find a healthy balance of work and life.

Why is that? Most articles I researched suggest that our work consumes too many hours of the day – and surely that is true for some. However, I stumbled upon an article from the Harvard Business Review, which calculated that we have 23 hours each week that are not allocated to any work and household related tasks. Now this got me thinking!

Here is a summary of the calculation:

We have 168 hours per week, of which we should allocate 49 hours for sleep. We need to allow for 56 hours for an ambitious job, either spread over 7 days or squeezing in longer hours during the workweek. Then account for about 20 hours of commuting and regular household duties, leaving us with 43 hours. Cooking and other stuff might take up another 20 hours, leaving us with 23 hours of spare time.

To me, this seems like a reasonable calculation of a normal week. And it strikes me that we are clearly not taking enough responsibility for creating a balanced lifestyle, as lack of time does not seem to be the problem.

Work life balance benefits

 A healthy work life balance has tons of benefits, both for us personally but also for our immediate relationships and wider networks. When we are balanced, it has a ripple effect on other people too.

  • Feeling more in control
  • More targeted allocation of our time
  • Increased productivity, focus, and motivation
  • Improved active lifestyle, health and well-being
  • More positive attitude towards work
  • Improved self confidence
  • More time for things we enjoy
  • Less stress and related negative emotions

Work life balance ideas

To find more balance in life, I recommend to begin by creating a very own definition of working smarter, not harder. The phrase is widely known, however there are many different interpretations about it and a customised version seems appealing when considering our individual lifestyle.

Invest in self-awareness

Before adjusting your lifestyle, it pays out to do some research about yourself. You need to understand when you are at your best, when you are most focused, when you stick with habits, and when you use your willpower wisely, so that you can apply this knowledge when managing your work life.

In my recent article How to close the gap between wasting time and productivity, I provided some top tips to be more productive. But how do we make sure that, whatever we prioritise as our tasks, doesn’t end up taking up all of our day? In order to identify the priorities based on realistic information you need to get more self-awareness and pinpoint how much time you spend on a particular type of task. So it is wise to start tracking time and use that intel when scheduling your day and tasks.

Equally, it really helps to know your peaks and troughs. When in the day are you most productive? Do you usually get most done in the morning or do you tend to leave things to the evening and really get into the groove when no one else is left in the office?

The more we know about ourselves, the more targeted we can create a healthy balanced lifestyle.

Make yourself the priority

When we are stressed, most of us tend to skip the gym or cancel on a friend last minute. And we have incredibly good reasons, such as our client requested information urgently or we have a deadline to meet. However, just doing more without the right amount of attention dedicated to the task drains our energy very quickly and this results in the same task taking the double amount of time.

Productivity and efficiency comes from willpower and focus, which we can only sustain when we give our brain enough time to recharge. In order to do that, we do need to stick with doing our workout, meeting our friends and enjoying leisure activities.

Leave work at work

Smartphones, emails and so on were a great innovation, but we tend to put ourselves under a lot more pressure to be available 24/7 as a result. How often do you quickly check your emails to answer a question that your colleague had or to respond to a client after you already had dinner with your loved ones?

There is always more that we can do or another email to reply to. Without closure from work, or just limits around social media and communication, we cannot achieve a healthy work life balance. We need to establish our own boundaries, learn to respect them and develop a routine around them.

In a nutshell

Despite a busy work schedule, there is enough time in the week for leisure activities, family and personal ‘me-time’ to recharge our batteries. And yet, most of us seem to struggle with a good balance of stress and healthy living.

The key to success is increased self-awareness. This knowledge can help us to plan the work life most productively and avoid distractions that drain our energy. Following our personal work smarter, not harder recipe frees up time that we can then invest in doing the things that not only we enjoy most, but that also recharge our batteries.

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How to close the gap between wasting time and productivity

It is really challenging to be productive these days. We all have exhaustive to do lists and try to squeeze in even more tasks into our daily lives. However, instead of just trying harder, there are more researched approaches these days that help people be more productive.

For some, productivity is just ticking off as many tasks on the to do list as possible. However, I will be focusing on the type of productivity that is about getting the right things done – those that have heart and meaning for you (see related article on how to find those things in the first place: Beginners guide to happiness)

Productivity requires willpower, of which we have a certain amount to spend each day and therefore need to use it wisely. When we use our willpower (and we use it more often than you might think) it becomes tired and needs time to recharge. Typical signals are when we feel tired, in a bad mood and our attention is just not sharp. However, the good news is that we can train it and increase our daily allowance as well as follow a few top tips to invest it more consciously in the tasks that matter.

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Fast burners of willpower

A fast burner of our willpower is the enormous amount of decisions we make every day. What clothes will I wear? What shall I have for breakfast? Which parking spot do I take? Which washing up liquid makes it to the shopping basket? When I researched for this blog, I was astonished that we make hundreds of small decisions just in the early morning hours of each single day! Decisions are definitely one of the biggest elements that drain our willpower – but they are not the only ones.

Stress also drains our willpower massively. Anger and anxiety are the logical consequence of stress and they are screaming signals that ask for our attention. Particularly when stress starts to conquer our sleep and eating habits, we are mentally and physically unable to perform at our best. Stress also occupies our minds and makes it hard for us to focus. This leads to interruptions through distraction, which consumes even more of our energy. (See related article on how to get on top of a stressful situation: Breaking the frustration cycle).

Knowing what eats into our daily allowance of willpower helps us to understand where we may need to adjust, create habits or manage our time better. Below are my top tips for becoming a productivity-ace.

Top tips to be more productive

Plan ahead! Lots of people lack sleep because their mind doesn’t stop thinking about the urgent to do’s for the next day. By planning ahead and clarifying what we want to accomplish the next day, we can release ourselves from this restlessness and can just hit the ground running when we get up. What are the things that are most valuable to you right now? Those are the things to focus on. If your brain only works for a short time, at least you have accomplished something important.

Stick to your morning routine! We all have an idea of what puts us in a good place and it is a good idea to just make a habit of it. For most of us, a ‘good place’ comes from hitting the gym, going for a run or a mindful morning walk through the park followed by a healthy breakfast. Movement gets our blood flowing and we release endorphins, which are natural “feel-good” chemicals that help us feel focused, less impacted by pain and they put us in a better mood. By regularly sticking to our personal routine of whatever gets us into a good place, we don’t waste any of our limited decision-making ability on how to spend the morning and instead, save our energy to kick-start a productive day.

Schedule your time! Being productive is not about doing as much as possible, but doing the things that are valuable deliberately and efficiently. In order to do that, it is important to give our minds a rest every now and then, to declutter and recharge. A suggested work regime could be to focus on a task for 90 minutes and have a 15-20 minutes’ break. There are other methods, such as the Pomodoro technique where we work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. Whatever works best for you, do take breaks! Instead of eating lunch at the desk, use the time to go for a stroll or simply change the location. Downtime is essential for our emotional and cognitive health.

Get rid of distractions! How often do you check your phone to see if you have new emails, a new like on your Facebook post or on your breakfast photo on Instagram? According to socialmediatoday, we spend an average of 35 minutes per day on Facebook and 25 minutes on Snapchat and Instagram. Those easy distractions interrupt our flow and it takes a lot of energy and time getting back into it. When we are interrupted, it typically takes a good 23 minutes to return our focus, according to Gloaria Mark, Professor at University of California. So setting clear boundaries when we are available for calls, when to check emails and when to check the news can really support our productivity.

Forget multitasking – focus on one task! When we attempt to do several things at the same time, we actually still only do one activity at a time, and instead, we switch to the next thing very quickly. This switch between tasks drains our energy massively and we feel exhausted and tired much quicker than when focusing on one task only. If there are a lot of things to get done, set aside chunks of time that you dedicate to each one of them individually, to invest your energy wisely.

Get started! When we have a big task ahead of us, our mind sees this as such a big task that, instead of starting it, we simulate real work by mindless things like checking emails or Facebook. But did you know that our mind wants to finish a task once it started, as we otherwise experience discomfort? This is called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’. It suggests that incomplete tasks remain in our head and keep reminding us that they are incomplete until they have been completed.

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As Francis of Assisi quite rightly noted:

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.

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Breaking the frustration cycle

Desperate for change to happen, but somehow you cannot break the cycle of procrastination? Know that there is something waiting around the corner, but you just don’t have the strength to go there?

It is likely you have stumbled upon this blog because your cycle looks somehow similar. You can probably relate to the emotions of feeling angry, lacking confidence, stress or spiral downward of giving up; eventually lacking control to take charge of the situation.

This blog is intended to provide some theory on this subject as well as some practical tools to break that pattern.

What creates the frustration?

This uncomfortable feeling overcomes us when our actions and efforts don’t lead to the desired outcome. It is as if a big wall stops us somewhere along the way and we therefore keep staying in this cycle of negative emotions.

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

The reason for this negative feeling to get stronger and stronger is our own unawareness. We don’t know what is causing those emotions and fill this gap with whatever makes sense. So our actions come from a place of ‘logical thinking’ mixed with our subjective opinion.

We create our very own story of what’s happening.

In our own story, we usually blame the external circumstances for causing the situation and take a stance of a victim. Here is an example:

A few years ago, I found myself deeply frustrated with my job. The reasons (so I was led to believe by my own unawareness) were the corporate environment, the politics, at times my bosses, at other times the duties of the job itself. Despite changing the company a few times, there were always new reasons and people to blame. I kept going further down the spiral of frustration.

The more we go through life unaware, the more we nurture that wall and build our self-imposed barriers and limitations.

Breaking the cycle

The good news is that we humans are self-reflective people and are able to step back and look at the situation from another angle. The angle that I want to introduce you to is the one where this uncomfortable feeling is a gift.

Look at it this way. Isn’t it great that our body sends us such strong signals that something needs to change? How amazing is it that we have an internal alarm going off when something is off?

Admitting the discomfort and accepting it is a part of the process. Chances are, if you have read this far, you have already accepted that something is off, so take a moment to appreciate that. It takes courage to admit!

Most people go through life being controlled by their circumstances. In order to break the frustration cycle, we need to step up and start making choices that are aligned with our passion (see related article Beginners guide to happiness). To get started, I have listed 4  steps that provide food for self-reflection.


Step 1: Get familiar with the triggers

Getting familiar with what is causing the frustration gives us the ability to see the situation as it is, not as we make it out to be.

Most of us don’t make time for self-reflection. We typically prioritise other things on our to do list. However, this attitude will keep us stuck. Instead, we need to make time, just like we make time for other necessities in life. Getting to know ourselves takes time and effort. Getting unstuck from the frustration cycle requires understanding what triggers it.

A few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What kind of situations lead to those frustrating emotions?
  • What are recurring patterns in your life that aren’t working for you?
    Some examples might be:
    You distract yourself when you get upset rather than facing the issue at hand
    You rather watch another series on TV than getting started with important work
    You are in a job that you know doesn’t work for you but that you tolerate
    You find yourself saying things you didn’t mean
  • Why are those patterns not working for you?

Use your curiosity to reflect on yourself. Get really familiar with the triggers that are causing the frustration and get curious as to why.


Step 2: Say hello to the facts

As you stop feeding your negative emotions, they will fade away and you will slowly see the circumstances as they are. The limitations and self-imposed barriers will become thinner and you can judge the circumstances in a more objective way.

Going back to my example earlier; The company I worked for was corporate. The next company had politics in place. My boss and I had different values. Elements of the job were not in line with what I enjoy. Those are facts! Only by making that distinction and seeing clearly what was going on was I able to make choices that came from a resonant place.


Step 3: Do something differently

Once you have recognised what is triggering those negative emotions and you have established the factual circumstances, you can try something different.

As you will know from past experience, whatever you tried so far hasn’t worked for you. So it is time to try out different actions. Put yourself out there and speak to people, tell them what you are curious about, join new sports or interest groups or start researching about what you have always been interested in.

Doing something different is a big barrier for people. ‘Where do I even start?’ you might ask yourself. The answer is, it doesn’t matter! It is more important to just make a start and do something. It may not directly lead you onto the right path yet, but it will certainly open new doors that may give you more visibility on your journey ahead.


Step 4: Repeat the cycle with the new results

Take time to reflect on your learnings. After having tried new things, what is now triggering the frustrating feelings? What does it take to set them aside? What are the facts? Do something differently.

Getting to the bottom of frustration and breaking the cycle is a long-term game. However, it is well worth the effort. You may well know the ‘Cocoon and the butterfly’ story, which I have summarised below.

A man, who had much love for butterflies, stumbles upon a cocoon with a tiny opening. The butterfly was trying to make its way out to enjoy the world. The man decided to watch the butterfly come out of the cocoon. He was watching its struggle and hard work to transform from this tiny opening, and patiently waited for hours and hours. The man eventually decided to help the butterfly. With good intentions at heart, he broke the cocoon’s shell to widen the opening. The butterfly emerged without struggle, however it was never able to fly.

 

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5 thought-provoking questions to find your purpose

I have a love-hate relationship to those ‘success’ stories that go something like this: “When I was a teenager, I had a revelation that I simply had to become a doctor. I just knew it was my destiny to help people in crisis and since then, all my decisions and actions were led by this insight”. Some people are privileged to have such strong influences in life, usually triggered by some sort of incident, however most of us frankly don’t. I love them, because I find such stories hugely inspiring if the person behind it is fully authentic, and I don’t love them because they can be frustrating and demotivating.

However, the fact remains that only if we can answer the ‘why’ question, we can look at ‘how’ to achieve those goals that create a life in alignment with our purpose.

raechel-romero-211500.jpg Photo by Raechel Romero on Unsplash

The word ‘purpose’ is so difficult to grasp for many of us. It brings expectations around a mission for our life with it. The effort to get it right seems as intense as moving a mountain.

During my training as a coach, I made about dozens of attempts to find my purpose. At the beginning, it felt as if I was the only one in my class who was hesitant to address this subject in the first place. And the reason was that most of my peers understood an easier segway to the topic. And so I learned that our purpose could just be considered as a ‘work in progress’ statement that gets permanently reviewed and rewritten, just like our personal values (see related article: Beginners guide to happiness). When we’re open for this different view, our purpose doesn’t seem that far away anymore.

I have put together a list of my favourite questions that may help you find your path.

My suggestion would be not to answer them all at once, but rather to sit down with a blank paper, pen and coffee and to really engage in one or two questions and revisit the subject every once in a while.

What makes you forget the world around you?

We all know this feeling of getting so stuck into an activity that we simply loose track of time and the hours just pass by. We may even forget to eat and drink or forget to inform our partner that we will be late for dinner. Those kinds of activities that consume all of our being have great insights about where our passion lies.

What was a time when your full attention was on one particular subject?What was the subject?

What kinds of conversations get you really engaged?

In coaching, we call it ‘resonance’ when certain topics just land and you can just hear the person’s passion. It is this feeling when you know your subject inside out and you don’t want to leave the conversation. Resonant topics bear so much information about what is important to us.

What kind of topics do you love talking about?
What topic gives you full confidence?

What did you love doing as a child that you forgot to pursue?

As children, we have tons of hobbies and go fearlessly about testing things out. What we would resist to do today, because we’re bad at it or because we’re afraid of what others might think, was so effortless and natural when we were young. Following those signs of curiosities reveals new information about what we enjoy.

What did you give up that you really loved?
What would you want to pick up again?

What problems in the world are you moved to meet?

Environmental issues, poverty, politics, economy, literature, philosophy – the media is packed with subjects that may have heart and meaning for us. We may not be able to solve the world problems ourselves, however we can contribute to what we care about. The feeling of making a difference has a big impact on our overall happiness.

What subjects in the news do you usually pay attention to?
What is an area in the world that you feel strongly about?

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

As we go through life, we continuously create our own legacy. Our morals, values, actions, relationships we choose, and decisions all shape the path we walk. 

What do you want your grandkids to say about you?

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Related articles: Beginners guide to happiness