Don’t Cut Your Time Short

A young woman in her 30s shared her goals with me recently and described how she felt an urgency “to do something soon”, because she was afraid that in ten years she would be past her prime productivity in life and not able to make the impact that she wanted.

 Have you worried that life is passing you by, and that pretty soon it will be too late to go after your dreams? Or that it won’t make a difference to commit to some positive change for yourself because the damage has already been done?

Have you had these thoughts before?

Are you thinking these thoughts now?

In every thought that we have, there is some truth, but there is also some untruth as well.

Creating an accurate view of the world requires us to use different mental models to create balanced perspectives. It also requires us to question our limiting views and beliefs, so we can shift into positive thinking that will be more productive for us.

True, it’s possible that some of our dreams and visions need to be executed over years, perhaps lifetimes. We may only get the outcomes we want through careful planning and execution, taking advantage of opportunity, and some luck.

True, sometimes life throws us surprises that cause us to shift course – for example, a geographic move, the impact of starting a family, a necessary change in career, changes in health, or death.

In the most basic way, we don’t have any direct control over those matters. Those are circumstances of our lives.

Remember, circumstances don’t create meaning. We do.

We have control over the way we choose to view the hands that we’ve been dealt.

We can decide ahead of time that any length of time that we get to be on this Earth is important.

We can choose to live the purpose we’ve each chosen (yes, you choose your purpose), to shift that when needed, and to find meaning in all aspects of our lives.

We can decide that it’s never too late, and that we have decades of meaningful, productive life ahead of us.

If life throws us a curveball, we decide how we will define things. What does it mean for something to be “meaningful” and what does it mean to be “productive”? What is enough? 

Exercising this deliberate control over our minds can help us to cultivate joy and appreciation right now.

It can help us live not from a place of urgency (e.g. “I have to…”) but rather from a place of agency (e.g. “I get to…” or “I decide to…”).

It can remind us that for as long as we are living, we are the ones that decide if the show is over.

So, let’s decide to not cut our time short.

Let’s decide to explore, be curious, and tap into all of the potential that we were meant to unleash in each chapter of our lives.

Let’s decide that we can make plans for decades of dreams fully lived, but live right now with mindfulness that let’s us love where we’re at.

Because the solution to living a regret-free life is not to just have done all that you wanted to do. The solution is to appreciate and love your life right now, for all that it is.

By defining the meaning and purpose of your life now, and living each moment with the energy that this creates, you can then not only create more of the life that you want, but importantly, love more the life that you already have.

Redeciding

Every decision we make is preceded by an emotion and an originating thought, which itself is a choice.

In every moment of our lives there is a choice to make, and in that agency, we have power.

We have the power to decide our attitudes, our beliefs, and our judgments, and the way they make us feel. We get to decide what to do next, and the results we create in our lives.

Part of the reason I think coaching is fun is that I help people think more clearly and deliberately.

In the past six weeks I’ve taken time to self-coach on decisions that I wanted to make too.

Actually, I would refer to some of them as “redecisions.” (In Googling this word, I came across a form of therapy called “Redecision Therapy”, but this is NOT what I am referring to.)

By redecision, I mean that I decided again that I wanted to maintain certain choices I had previously made. I did this by looking at my life again, this time with the lens of having had more life experience under my belt, with clarity and self-confidence guiding me instead of pressure and worry.

The outcomes were completely different.

I made redecisions in my personal life and relationships.

I made redecisions in my business about what practices and approaches I would keep, versus what needed to change.

When I redecided, that didn’t mean I wanted to create more of what I had already been experiencing.

Remember, the decision is just the first step of the “what” and “how”.

The meaning you apply to your circumstances and the way you choose to feel will ultimately be the driving forces that direct your decision into a result that matters to you.

The meaning and energy I brought to my circumstances this time around were completely different.

Then, I imagined what it would be like to create ANY result I wanted.

I’m giving myself space right now to imagine what that could be. I’m remaining patient and curious as I figure it all out.

A decision is a consequence of being determined to persuade yourself. Why not do it with powerful confidence?

It’s what gets you started on creating that result you want, and it’s always available to you.

So that you can take root, or, change course.

So that you can empower yourself.

What will you redecide today?

Looking into a new career? Here are three things you can do to start.

Here are 3 things you can do to start taking control of finding a fulfilling career.

1. Reflect on your recent career exploration and make a decision about what is next.

Consider all the possibilities of what is out there for you. Make a decision, for now at least, about how much time and energy you want to devote to exploring another career or side-gig. The sooner you make this decision, the less energy you will waste on things that aren’t important to you. Then, you can focus on enhancing happiness and the outcomes you want in your present life, whatever it contains. There is no right or wrong here, and I promise you that you can be happy either way. The question ultimately becomes, “What do I want to experience in my life?”

2. Make a full commitment to whatever you have chosen and love your reasons for your decision. Write down all the reasons why this is important to you. 

No matter what is next for you, having an amazing reason for why you are doing this for yourself will help you stay on track even when you aren’t motivated to do so, or even when it’s easier to stick with the familiar. 

For example, if you are choosing to move into a new career but are currently working in a different capacity, having a good “why” will make sure that you prioritize your new career. You’ll then be sure to carve out a minimum time each day or week to think about, and do things, to move forward in your new career. You will use a new lens with which to see each of the things you do in your life, and will understand how they help to shape and grow you for the new career you have chosen. 

If your recent exploration helped confirm for you that you want to stay in your current clinical or nonclinical position, that is great as well! Your commitment will help you to focus on finding solutions to optimize your experience of your current job.

No matter what you have chosen, when things feel hard, your mind is probably going to try to convince you to do the opposite. If you’re constantly putting yourself out there to learn about a new job opportunity, at some point your mind may convince you it’s better to stay put. Or, if you’ve chosen your current job, you may become distracted by the possibility of a change and something new. This is normal and okay, so I don’t want you to be surprised if and when it happens. Having a strong commitment to your decision will eliminate unnecessary confusion that distracts you from finding solutions and happiness on your chosen path. 

3. Make a plan for the very next thing you need to do. Identify any obstacles or barriers to executing on that first step, and devise strategies for how you will overcome them. Then, for each thing you need to do, put it on your calendar with a specific measurable goal in mind.

Taking the first step will give you the needed momentum to take subsequent steps. The challenge is often just taking that first step. If you can create a plan for how you’ll get it done, and then put it on your calendar, as long as you show up and do what you said you would, you’ll know it’s as good as done. Knowing you have a plan will enhance your self-confidence to make it happen. A plan will remove uncertainty about what to do next. Also, if you don’t follow your plan, you’ll have a very concrete experience to reflect on to understand what kind of thoughts got in your way. 

Playing The Game

Who would have thought that Chutes and Ladders, a game of chance, would have taught me something. 

 

My son received the game Chutes and Ladders this past year and has recently started enjoying playing it with me, either before he goes to daycare or at the end of the day before bedtime. 

 

I noticed feelings of impatience and boredom come over me this morning as we spun the spinner, again and again, but only to each find ourselves toward the bottom of the board, riding down the chutes, of which there are ten on the board, compared to nine ladders that advance one toward the finish. 

 

I observed that my son didn’t show the same impatience that I did. Interesting right?

 

He just kept spinning and spinning, and of course I didn’t refuse when he offered to spin for me.

 

As I watched our pieces jump across the board and slide down, I noticed how most of the chutes would end in a position that would place us before the #28 block, where the longest ladder on the board would advance us closer to the finish, onto the #84 block. In this way, despite repeated retreats toward the bottom of the board, we would be optimally positioned and hopeful to potentially land on the #28 block, to advance quickly on the board toward the finish. 

 

Interestingly, the three chutes at the top of the board landed on several blocks that preceded the #80 block, which contained a ladder leading you to the finish. 

 

You can see where my mind was at – getting to the finish. My son was thinking the same thing, as he innocently skipped spaces and rode up the ladders trying to rise to the top.

 

This was a game. As I settled into the rhythm of the game, I came up with my own interpretation of the chutes and ladders. It was interesting how the chutes and ladders were positioned just so. With the lens I was choosing to use, I saw the chutes as almost inevitable obstacles, but followed by the possibility of recovery through strategically placed ladders on the board.

 

This interpretation made me think about life (big surprise!) and it made me wonder about the inevitable and unexpected challenges that most of us will face in one way or another, and how these so often feel like setbacks. Well, it is up to us to decide whether we will interpret something as a setback or not, but even if we take that as truth, what if we could anticipate, and even create, the ladders that will raise us up? What if we could have faith, while in the toughest part of these setbacks, that these ladders exist and are available, as long as we are willing to find them?

 

Well, then I learned another lesson too --- because today when we played the game we rarely ever landed on a block with a ladder. It was relentless. Then what saved us in the end? The spinner. As long as we kept spinning, we kept moving, Eventually as I made it to the finish first, my son pouted and nearly started to cry. I had decided ahead of time that I wouldn’t fake a loss. He had to learn to handle occasional losses in life and look beyond the win. So just as I landed on the “sun” as he calls it, I gathered up my energy and gave him a pep talk and cheered him on to keep spinning the spinner. And wouldn’t you know it – he kept spinning 1s, 2s, and 3s… It took him a while, but he started smiling and laughing and picking up energy as we moved his piece a few spaces at a time. Somehow he managed to avoid the chutes in the last stretch of the game, and yes, he too made it to the end. And he was so happy.

 

When in life you think that there is nothing else left, sometimes you just have to decide to keep spinning. 

 

This evening, out of curiosity, I quickly looked up the game’s history on Wikipedia, and noted it was actually an ancient Indian game of Snakes and Ladders called Moksha Patam, meant to teach children lessons in morality, where the game itself was a journey through life, and the snakes and ladders associating with various vices and virtues, respectively. As I looked at the gameboard that we had played on earlier that day, I noticed how the boys and girls were similarly depicted being “naughty” or performing “good” deeds. This point of the game was not important to me, but it stood out to me that after years of familiarity and playing this game, that element of the game had never occurred to me. I had just missed that detail. 

 

And so I come to my final conclusion, that in the game of life, it may be more important and interesting to pay attention to the details along the way, than to create a monotonous journey of spin after spin to the finish.

My compelling reason to sleep

What am I working on this month myself? Getting the right amount and quality of sleep that I need. It’s been a process, but I’m ready to solve it once and for all. It’s something I’ve been putting off. I’ll tell you why in a second.

Long story short and simple – I have acquired many poor sleep habits starting from when I was a young kid. It’s time to change them.

As a kid, I would stay up late reading under the covers with the flashlight on (with ears listening for mom coming up the stairs.)

As a teen, it was the newness of the cell phone, romantic relationships, and the pressure I put on myself even then to be the best in everything I did. (Does it even matter now who was on the honor roll?) Late nights were the norm.

In college, it was staying up to try to complete a never-ending list of what I needed to study next. Why did I do this? It was in order to get the grades I wanted (to get into medical school.)

In med school, it was much of the same, with late nights studying and preparing for my clinical rotations. The continued sense of “there’s not enough time to learn it all” drove me to stay up later. I was simultaneously driven by an enthusiasm for living the dream I had worked for all during my youth.

In residency – the context for poor habits included the long hours at work, the continual learning curve, and trying to create the feeling of a normal life outside of work. Some rotations were better than others. 

As an attending – things eased up for a little while, and then it was the question of how I would keep up with my admin tasks and growing practice (answer then: give up sleep.) Before long, my son was born, and frequent awakenings were unavoidable. 

These are the things that happened, and these were my behaviors in relation to my sleep. But why did I chronically overwork at the expense of sleep?

For a lot of reasons, into which I now have insight. We need to look at my thoughts.

Some of them were…

-Wondering if I was enough the way I was. (Now I know I am enough.)

-Wondering if I would be liked. (Now I know that some people will like me, others won’t, and that’s okay.)

-Wondering how I could do everything I wanted in the limited time I had. (Now I know that there is no rush at all, and I enjoy everything I’m doing in life.)

-Thinking my body could handle it because I had done it before. (Now I realize that there was no need to stay up late and that it was a choice all along. Staying up late was something I didn’t have to give into, even though society and medical culture said in many ways I would be better off to live that way. It might have meant that I not choose medicine as a career, and that’s okay. There would have been other ways to live my purpose in life without hurting my body through sleep deprivation, which is a usual part of medical training.)

Why do I continue to work on my tendency to overwork? 

Because our society is constantly feeding us thoughts that we have to do more, that we have to have more, that we have to be more than we are in order to matter.

Because old thought patterns can diminish, but depending on how long you’ve been having them, they may never go away completely, or they will come up in a new way with new goals and life challenges. This is okay. Have awareness of this and manage it.

My life has changed a lot in the past two years. I have new perspectives about my self-worth. I know how to set boundaries for myself. This is good news, because now I know how to create a balanced life around my part-time clinical practice, my health, my family life, and my passion for coaching. 

I know it’s possible to have all of this, but first, I need to sleep.

To get the sleep I need to do it all, I needed to find a compelling reason

I had been having a hard time finding a compelling reason to sleep – not because I didn’t understand the benefits in general, and not because I didn’t love myself or my health or my family. These are common reasons we use to drive ourselves into action, but isn’t it interesting when they don’t always work?

The reason it was hard was because part of my human brain believed what it chose to believe. For a long time I had strengthened the compelling reasons to follow old habits (by choosing to believe them.) For example, “Well, if I stay up a little longer, I can do more and I can learn more. I can be more.” I found all the ways in which this was true — missing the ways in which I was simultaneously creating the exact opposite reality as well.

I needed to question that thought and find strong evidence to support an alternative perspective.

This happened when I started reading the book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, PhD. (I highly recommend it if you have sleep issues yourself.)

After having had many failed attempts, I found my compelling reason in the refresher about NREM and REM sleep. NREM sleep, predominating earlier in the night, refines neural connections; REM sleep increasing in duration over the course of the night, strengthens neural connections.  

By staying up later and having lost a couple hour of sleep, we lose more of our REM sleep, “60-90 percent of all your REM sleep,” Walker states. 

No way. Not after all that I have invested in myself. I have invested so much of my life into learning for my profession, so much of my money into coaching to enhance my mental health, so much of my time to create a beautiful family life, and more. What a shame if I was to just lose the benefits of all my investments — including the ability to be awake and present in my life, and the ability to maximize my creativity and critical thinking– due to a few hours of lost sleep each night. 

No way. 

So I keep reading the book, and practicing the thought, to strengthen my compelling reason. “By going to bed now, I’m going to live my best life.”

Find your compelling reason. Then decide how you’re going to invest in yourself.

Getting from A to B: Stop Checking Boxes

For a long time, I had lived by checking the boxes – boxes that society, school, friends, and family had created for me, but that I had adopted as my own. 

 

There were items on that list of “shoulds” and “to dos” that had even come from an old version of myself many years ago.

 

Have you ever done that? Gotten stuck on autopilot – living a good life, living a not-so-good life, or living an okay life – but never really stopping to ask yourself if that life is what you wanted to be living? 

 

I’m not suggesting that you need to change a thing – your life might be amazing for you right now in many ways. Actually, you can choose to see that things are great if you want to, no matter what. And that’s exactly it — I’m asking you to pause and notice that you have a choice in each and every moment of your life to decide what you want. 

 

Did you know that? I didn’t. For a long time, I thought that I was “stuck.” Stuck because I thought that I was bound to the decisions I had made a long time ago. 

 

Why? Commitment, loyalty, embarrassment, to eliminate confusion and uncertainty – there were a lot of reasons. 

 

I also thought that I was stuck because I didn’t realize the power I had in creating my own life – the power I had to be in charge of my mind, my feelings, and how I showed up. 

 

One big reason that I was stuck was because I wanted to check the boxes. Checking the boxes meant that I could be certain that I would reach my goals, when I couldn’t know with certainty if I would get there otherwise. But this kept me on a path, without an option to try something else. 

 

Checking boxes: it’s an easy and sometimes useful thing to do 

 

Until it isn’t. 

 

After a while, it gets exhausting, because ultimately you aren’t the one creating your own path. Rather, you’re following someone else’s. And it’s hard living a life that someone else has decided for you. For me, I lived with tension about this for a long time. 

 

The hard thing is, sometimes the paths that have been laid out for us to follow seem perfectly appropriate and nice. They really may help us get to where we want to be. But we may get lost in the allure of the final destination, and miss the fact that scenery isn’t really what we were looking forward to. We put up with this, thinking that there is going to be better than here. 

 

But you know what? It isn’t. It really isn’t.

Life is lived now, in the present moment. The thoughts that we have about the past and the future even, these occur now. It is worth it to create a life where you can enjoy the journey of getting from point A to B. 

 

Are you enjoying your journey? Are you enjoying it 100%? The good stuff and the bad stuff? 

 

Remember, life is a 50/50 balance of negative and positive emotions. You’re always going to experience some negative aspects of life. But in what you are able to control, you can choose what flavor of “negative” you want to experience. This is still in your power. 

 

What do you have to do before you choose a path that is your own?

 

You must develop certainty and clarity. You must have clear goals that you are working on, and then develop the mindset to create certainty about what you can achieve. (In other words, you must believe in yourself and your vision without a doubt.) When you can do this, you free yourself from checking the boxes. You become willing to follow your own path, even if it takes you a bit longer to get to where you’re going. 

 

Life becomes easy.

 

Life becomes more joyful. 

 

Because you can love all of it, the whole experience of getting from A to B.

Are You Living 100% of Your Life?

Pura Vida – it means, pure life. 

 

“What does it mean to be living 100% of life, 100% your life? What has opened you up to your 100%?”

 

These are questions that I asked myself last year during a trip to Costa Rica, where I experienced “Pura Vida” during a simple family vacation. At that time, an intentional slowing down occurred, and I was able to experience being with myself, my son, and my husband. I appreciated the simplicity and ease with which Costa Ricans lived. Costa Ricans use the saying “Pura Vida”, to greet each other, to say goodbye, to show appreciation, and to shrug off what can’t be changed. For me it was a saying that created calm and ease and was an expression of gratitude for all of this life that we have been given. It was an expression of something I had wanted to discover more deeply, and so, I was curious. 

 

When I think about Pura Vida and the context in which it is used, there is an inherent idea of sufficiency contained within it. Relating it back to my own journey, I had always wanted to be more than who I was, to do more than I was doing. This is a habit I have had to unlearn, and one that I continue to work on, though with new perspective and understanding. In the past, this resulted in a busy life focused on things outside of me to help me feel like life was good. I was always pursuing something new, chasing after happiness.

 

In truth, at that time, my life up to that point could still be seen as a good life. But what I had come to realize, whenever I slowed down enough to observe what was going on, was that life lived that way wasn’t sustainable, and that in many ways I was numb.

 

Why was this the case? Part of the reason was because I wasn’t embracing 100% of my life. It comes back to the idea of 50/50 balance of life, or 50/50 balance of positive and negative emotion – because life is experienced and motivated by our emotions. For so much of my life, I was constantly resisting or avoiding the negative parts of life. There was a resistance against the fear of my own mortality, there was a resistance of the sadness and disappointment that naturally come throughout life, and there was a constant push to be perfect, which was a resistance against my own humanness. 

 

I was a doctor. All of the achievements that came with that accomplishment interestingly only given me a fleeting joy (though thankfully, it was regenerative as well.) Overworking, overeating, and looking outside of me for happiness, I had also lost the ability to enjoy the journey and lacked an appreciation for all of the good things in my life. 

 

When my son turned one, it had been a year that I had been trying to figure out a new way of life on my own. I was struggling still. I asked myself, “What is my aim here?” It was to find out who I was, to transition from my old self into a new version of me, and to ultimately recreate my life from blank slate. Without even initially knowing that life coaching would be the solution, I found my first coach. There was something about her message that resonated with me and I connected with her at the time when I needed it most in my life. And perhaps because I wanted to change things so badly, I believed that this was the solution for me. Now, of course, I know how this work can be so powerful. 

 

Coaching was both inspirational and transformational. I soon developed fuller awareness of my “self” and my feelings, an awareness that had been absent in my life prior to this point. I was no longer numb. This unearthed a lot of things for me, things that I continue to work through even now. It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t easy at times. But on a whole, life was easier. And for sure, it was real, and I was living my life. 

 

I am living my life, and in a much bigger way than I ever imagined, and it’s because of coaching. 

 

A huge part of life for me is about connection. It is why I have pursued my work as a physician and as a life coach, and through connection with others is when I experience the most joy. 

 

Life for me is also about creation and creativity. Existence alone is good enough, but by contributing in the world, by creating something in this world, it amplifies our experience of our existence. Sometimes though, fear, uncertainty, and other aspects of our humanness get in the way of that amplified experience. 

 

On the day that my son was born, with my son laying on my chest, and my doctor by my side, I observed various facets of life. I saw a new life – in my son. I saw the preservation and delivery of life – through my physician. It was in that moment too, that I realized: I create my life. That realization would inevitably bring me to life coaching, and to becoming a coach myself.  

 

Why? Because life coaching – whether you coach yourself or you coach someone else – is a way of guiding the creation of life. A life coach is someone who helps people develop belief in themselves to overcome the fear and uncertainty that are a normal part of human existence, so that those people can create and live their biggest, most amazing lives. Empowerment through coaching is one of the most profound things a person can achieve. Coaching helps people experience their own version of Pura Vida, and then learn how to create that for themselves.

Does Being A Parent Make You Happier?

While checking out at the grocery store recently, I came across a “Special Edition” of TIME Magazine titled, “The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for A More Joyful Life.” As a mom, physician, and life coach, I was intrigued to see what advice was offered, so I picked up the magazine and flipped to the contents. My eye landed on an article titled, “The Parenting Paradox” by Belinda Luscombe.
In summary, the author of the article reflected on the question: “Are people who have children happier than people who don’t?” Most of the article was spent discussing the contrast of experiences in being a parent – the simultaneous “joys and tribulations”—and ultimately determined that being a parent doesn’t necessarily make us happier. 
Was I surprised by this conclusion? No. Still, I felt an uneasiness as I thought about this further. Socially, it’s difficult to hear that being a parent doesn’t necessarily make us happier overall. Who wants to think that our children don’t bring us a net positive in terms of the happiness we experience in life? 
The truth is, no circumstance in life makes us happier. Rather, it’s how we choose to think about that circumstance that causes our emotional experience. Having children and all that it entails is a neutral life situation. We decide what we make it all mean, and then ultimately how we feel. Does this mean that we should try to be happy about our kids all the time? Not at all!
I regularly talk about the idea of 50/50 balance of positive and negative emotion – meaning that our emotional experiences in life will be a balance of positive and negative feelings. Definitions of happiness and success aside, none of us was meant to live a life that is more happy than not. Most simply put, life is meant to be both happy and sad. It is more fully lived this way. (Have I needed to remind myself of that this week as my son transitioned daycare rooms and was crying at each drop-off? Yes.)
For me, embracing this concept has created so much more fulfillment than trying to be happy all the time. One of the things I teach through coaching though is how to alleviate unnecessary suffering and how to maximize positive emotion through being in control of your mind.
Though our children can, and do, bring us so much joy (i.e. make it easy to think thoughts that create joy), having children can also be the circumstance in which we experience negative emotion too – the worry over a sick child, the sadness of leaving them with another caregiver, the guilt of wondering if we are doing the right thing, the frustration with a child that doesn’t listen to our requests, etc. 
Questioning our current belief patterns can help alleviate unnecessary suffering that compounds the challenges that naturally come with being a parent. When we can take a step back and examine our current thoughts about what parenthood and parenting is, and what it “should be”, we are then one step closer to achieving the real joy of parenthood. 
Take a few moments these next few days to reflect on your thoughts about your experience as a parent and what you think parenting should be like. 
1. Do you currently have expectations of what parenting/being a parent should be like that are causing you to feel frustration, sadness, guilt, or some other negative emotion? 
2. What would it be like if you let go of some (or all) of those expectations and just looked the whole experience of being a parent – all the ups and downs – as being perfect just as it is?
 
(Originally published on my “Happy Physician Mom” email list – July 9, 2019)

Can You Have It All?

 
2 years ago…
 
“Dada,” my son said as he tried to squirm out of my arms once again during the family photo shoot. As he said that, my mind drifted off… I thought about “dada” being his first word and how it took him many more months to name me. This was consistent with usual speech development since the consonant sounds are easier to say, but nonetheless it was emotionally heart-wrenching for me. I thought about how I had so few pictures of us together – not just because I was usually the one behind the camera, but also because during his first year of life, so much of my life was consumed by my work and the routine daily tasks of caring for an infant. I had been just getting by; I had not remembered to have family members take our picture regularly. Fearful that I would not have special moments captured with my son, I had scheduled a professional photo shoot, but in that moment, it felt like capturing the special mother-son moment just wasn’t happening.
 
I held back tears, feeling the guilt, shame, jealousy, and sadness I had felt all year. I kept thinking that I was spending too much time at work. Thinking that as a result of my work commitments, I wasn’t being a good mom and that my son preferred my husband. Thinking that I was being selfish for choosing to work, while simultaneously wanting more connection with my son. I wondered, as I often had, if I could have both: a fulfilling career and connection with my child.
 

As I pondered that question, I hoped the next year was going to be different. I had signed up with a life coach who was going to help me feel better, help me gain control over my work efficiency, and finally live a life without regret.

 
3-6 months later…
 
I came home from a long day at work and settled in for the evening. My mind was still thinking about the day, but there was a change from how I used to think: I was able to pause long enough to see that my son was ready to walk on his own, and I made a choice to be fully present for this momentous event. He demonstrated his new-found skill as he walked back and forth between me and my husband as we coached him to continue taking his first steps on his own. In that moment, I saw that it wasn’t just about me, my husband, or my son. This experience was showing me how we were all learning to be ourselves, be with each other, and be there for each other. We needed to have curiosity, acceptance, and love in order to grow.
 

Once I had signed up for coaching, I knew my first focus was to be the best mom I could be in the space and time that I had. I also wanted to feel good about the choices I was making as a working mom. I became extremely diligent in learning to separate what was actually happening with my son (i.e. that he was healthy, happy, and loved his mom and dad) from what my mind was saying was happening (i.e. that he preferred my husband and that I was a bad mom for working so much). In these instances, I learned to experience unconditional love in the truest way. Knowing that his dad held a special role, and that I did too, I was able to answer the question:

 

“What can I do to love him the way he needs to be loved right now?”

 

I learned to refocus my mind and energy into doing what my son needed, rather than forcing a connection through negative energy. In doing so, I started to experience more often a deep feeling of love, connection, and being loved. It was exactly what I had been yearning for all along.

When my son needed it, I was able to let go and hand him off to my husband without jealousy or bitterness, knowing it was what my son needed. I stopped asking the question, “How can I get him to love me more?” Because the truth is, for me to experience love, I had to choose to see that it was there all the time if I wanted it to be. I had to deliberately choose to feel it. And I had to express it myself first.

I also worked on improving my presence at home and being more engaged with my son. I set boundaries so that the effects of work would not spill over into my home life.

 
Now…
 
“I love you, Mommy,” my son says spontaneously sometimes. I’m ready to hear this from him.
 
“Mommy, listen to my words!” he bellows sometimes when I am distracted. Instead of endlessly judging myself for my inattentiveness, I redirect myself and am grateful that he wants me there in his life.
 
“I want Daddy,” he still says occasionally. I no longer make it mean that I’m a bad mom or that I’ve done something wrong. Instead, I’m grateful my son has both of us, and that I can get some time for myself every once in a while!
 
I am more present with my son than I have ever been. I intentionally take the time to reflect upon the sparkle in his eyes, to hear his laughter, to observe his behaviors, and enjoy seeing the world through his eyes. I approach my time with him with the thought, “I want him to know that I am here, that I see him, and I hear him.” Whether I have ten minutes or an hour after I return home from the office, through practice, I have learned to feel gratitude for the time that I have with him. “There’s no amount of time with him that could be enough” is no longer a part of my regular way of thinking. I see my time with him as enough, and with this mentality I have a deep sense of joy and appreciation for what I have.
 
Now, I am able to make decisions about my work more confidently. I am able to choose to give time to my clinical work when I need to. When guilt about how I’m showing up as a mom is present – I reassess, tell the guilt to quiet down, and then let it come along for the ride. I’m no longer driven by it. Are things perfect? Of course, not – I’m human. But I’m in control.
 
 
Why I Share My Story…
 
I share my story so that you can know that right now, in the time that you have, it is possible for you to balance your career with connecting with your family at home.
 
You may or may not have had the same experience as me. Yet, I suspect that you may have had some similar experience or wish that you could have more connection with your kids while you are trying to figure out how to get a handle on your workload. Even if you don’t see a direct connection to your own experience, I hope my story may have prompted you to think about how a shift in perspective could enhance even one of your best relationships. We can all have deeper connections, and it begins with us.
 
If having a deeper connection is the one missing piece between you and your ideal life, it can happen without anything having to change.
 
If you are in the process of making some changes at work or in your career, you don’t have to wait for everything to be “figured out” in order to have more fulfillment and connection in your relationships.
 
If you are feeling joy, satisfaction, and complete unconditional love each and every day with the people in your lives, applying the work of life coaching can help you to maintain and deepen your love, and help it remain resilient to life’s most mundane and profound challenges (those that we may easily miss, or those that try us the most, respectively.)
 
It all starts with a small shift in perspective.

When Change Feels Hard: What You Can Do To Keep Moving Forward

A little boy said to his mommy, “I’m scared to go to bed by myself.” 
She asked him why, and he indicated that he didn’t want to be alone. 
In response, she said, “What if, instead you said to yourself, ‘Mommy and Daddy are here if I need them. I’m not scared.’”
“Ok,” he said.

He walked over to his bed, laid on the mattress without a blanket (as was his preference), and quietly he repeated this mantra again and again. The mother sat in the rocking chair in the corner of the dark room, breathed a sigh of relief, hoping he may put himself to sleep. 
30 seconds later…
“Mommy,” the little boy said.
(“Yes??!” she thought.)
“I’m scared,” he said. 
Silence…
“Okay honey, how about this? Say, ‘I’m a little scared, but that’s okay. Mommy and Daddy are here if I need them.’ Does that feel better to you?”
“Yes. Mommy don’t forget the words,” he said. 
He laid back down, and whispered what was newly suggested to him… The mother sat back in the rocking chair in the corner of the dark room, breathed a sigh of relief, hoping again that he would fall asleep on his own.
And then 30 seconds later…
“Mommy…”
Sometimes we feel a negative emotion. Here are some examples — maybe we feel guilty thinking about how we are showing up as a parent or spouse; maybe we feel overwhelmed thinking about the amount of work we have to do; or maybe anxiety comes up as we think about if we are making the right choices for ourselves and our families. 
Through coaching, through this work, we know that our feelings come from our thoughts. The idea that “I’m not doing enough” makes us feel guilty. “There is so much to do!” causes a feeling of overwhelm. And the thought of “I don’t know if things will turn out okay” may cause anxiety. 
I teach about how we can let go of a thought that does not help us, and in its place create an intentional thought that does. From that thought, we can create a model to see how we will feel and act in a situation, and ultimately determine the results we want to see in our lives. 
It seems easy – just let go of one thought, and then replace it with another. 
Very occasionally it is easy – awareness of this simple concept may be enough to transform our perspectives. 
HOWEVER, the great majority of the time, it is not so easy. It takes time to change a way of thinking. In certain situations, we may not be 100% ready to take the leap. Our minds may not be open to the change. We may need to spend some time practicing what it will feel like being a person who doesn’t think “that way” any more, allowing ourselves glimpses of that existence before that way of being fully takes form. 
So, do we stop? Do we just stop trying to change? Do we let ourselves believe that it’s not possible? That it wasn’t meant for us? Absolutely not. 
We keep going. Even if we can’t yet see who it is that we will be on the other side, we hold the belief, and in that mindset that it is possible to change. And having that belief, we keep trying until we find a way that works. 
There is no rush to get there. There is no better place “over there.” We are meant to experience the challenges in our lives. We are meant to learn how to overcome them in our own time. And when we do, we will be in a place of our choosing, and that is the difference. 
We can learn how to be in control of our minds – to be deliberate in thinking in ways that serve us and be deliberate in choosing how we feel. We can be in control of when we feel sad, disappointed, and angry. When the human experience brings us anxiety and fear – we can learn to be present with those emotions too. And so importantly, we can remember that we can choose positivity as well. But this will all be learned in time. This work is not easy, nor is it quick. But it is beautifully simple and accessible. 

Through this work, become the next version of yourself through patience and compassion for yourself during your journey. 
The little boy in the story above, he was still scared to go to bed on his own, and that’s okay. He tried that night to go to bed on his own, but he couldn’t, and that’s okay. He tried, he really tried his best, and that’s all that anyone could ask for.

His mom laid down next to him, patted his back as he requested, and told him she loved him. And that’s exactly how it was meant to be that night.

Look at the challenges you are having in your life right now. Remember that I am here to help you. Remember that you have so much ability to keep growing and moving forward. It may not always turn out “perfectly” – but it was never meant to. Remember that the challenges you are experiencing are not a sign that you are weak. Not at all. They are an opportunity to grow yourself. Who would you be if no part of your life had been difficult? Who will you be because you have overcome and learned from your life’s challenges?
P.S. Interested to learn more about how you can become the next version of yourself? Learn how you can get your work done so you have more quality time with your family. Make confident and guilt-free decisions about your career. Schedule a 25-minute consultation with me: CLICK HERE