When ‘Clarity’ Becomes One More Thing to Worry About

When ‘Clarity’ Becomes One More Thing to Worry About

I was at a women’s group last week, a small, select gathering of people working to solve global challenges, and one of the members was talking about the funding for her project ending at the beginning of next year. Still a way off, but she was considering her options for what to do next.

Well, when I say ‘considering’, I could see that it had become worrisome for her. She wasn’t worried about the project closing; rather that (she thought) she needed to have clarity in this moment about what she was going to do next year.

“I want to do something different, but if only I could pin down what I’m good at… I’d know exactly what to go and do!”

It looked like a real problem to her.

When something looks like a problem to us, the natural instinct is to try to solve it. And that’s where the discussion went.

Some of the women offered her strategies, places to start: “You need to track your values.” “Have you thought about doing a strengths’ audit?” These are decent enough strategies, only they solve a different problem.

 

I Always Try to Look Deeper

 

When I’m coaching — or even in an everyday conversation such as this — I want to understand both the experience someone is having, as well as what they believe that makes that experience look true.

In this case, my friend believed that clarity about the future would give her a sense of security now.

She thought that uncovering what she was good at would give her relief from the ‘problem’ of uncertainty. In other words, she believed that doing something would help her feel a certain way.

The premise is wrong.

 

A Feeling, Any Feeling, Can’t Be Created ‘on Demand’

 

And, even if it could, a feeling does not lead to an outcome. Whenever we do something because we think it will give us a feeling, we’re on the wrong track.

Which was the misunderstanding my friend had about the way things work. As was everyone who was offering her that practical advice.

Sure, she could do all those things, and more, and they would probably be fun. But, if she (and they) thought that a values exercise or a strengths’ audit was going to give her peace of mind, then they were wrong.

 

We Already Have What We Need

 

Peace of mind can exist at any moment — it comes and goes in the natural ebb and flow of the day. Some moments we feel it, others we don’t.

It isn’t related to our external circumstances; to having job security, to knowing what comes next, or understanding our values. Those are all things we layer over our human-ness — like the wrapping paper around a gift — to create an external picture of who we want to show up as.

The wrapping is nice, but it isn’t who we are, and it makes no difference to how we feel. My friend could feel more, or less, secure right now, if she relaxed into the natural flow of her emotions, and didn’t try to force a relationship with an imagined future.

 

A Year Is a Long Time

 

Even if she came up with a clear idea today of what she wanted to do next, who knows whether she would still want to do that in six, or nine months time? Any ‘security’ she imagined would come from that was completely made-up. As all feelings are.

She was creating the ‘not knowing’ as troubling, and then worrying it, like a dog worries a bone. The more she worried, the more paralysed she was going to become — and the less action she would be inspired to take. A certain recipe for even more insecurity!

She could just as easily create it as exciting, as a journey of exploration towards an (as yet) unknown destination.

 

Accept the ‘Not Knowing’

 

Accepting where we are, in her case, accepting that she doesn’t have all the information she needs, and then taking action from a place of exploration always looks like the more fun option to me. And the more productive.

Are you living in a misunderstanding?

Where in your life are you trying to do something to create a feeling?

Because feelings don’t come from our external circumstances, they don’t come from what we have, or don’t have.

As soon as we can see that, then we can choose to take the actions that inspire us. The actions that lead to the changes we want to create in the world.

Have a fantastic week, knowing that you are in exactly the right place and you can choose to create whatever you feel inspired to create in the world.

With love,

Cathy

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The Subtle, yet Important, Difference Between Inspiration and Motivation (The Key to an Inspired Life and a Stress-Free Day)

The Subtle, yet Important, Difference Between Inspiration and Motivation (The Key to an Inspired Life and a Stress-Free Day)

In conversation with a client this week about why she was feeling so demotivated about her work, I realised that she wasn’t seeing the difference between getting down to work, whether we feel like it or not, and choosing to only do work that inspires us.

At first glance, it looks as if those two concepts describe the polar opposites of the same idea — that we should (or shouldn’t) wait for inspiration to strike.

But they don’t.

The distinction between them is at the heart of why some of us do work that inspires us (and reject the projects that don’t), and also go through our day happily moving from one task to another with zero stress and without waiting (or even expecting) to feel inspired.

We get a lot done and we love the work that we do.

Hmm.

How to account for the apparent contradiction?

 

Choosing Our Projects Versus Choice in the Moment

 

There’s a difference between choosing our work and the projects we commit to, and choice about which task to do next — even when it may not, in that moment, feel inspiring to do.

This was the part my client couldn’t see.

She knew that being in a low mood (or any mood!) had no relationship with the items on her to-do list, and that she could work whether she felt like it or not. Yet she was puzzled when I challenged her to give up on a project that didn’t seem to inspire her.

But I don’t understand,” she told me. “If I wait for inspiration before I do anything, I’d never get anything done!”

Ahhhh.

Suddenly I realised that she did not see the subtle, yet important, distinction between state of mind and inspiration.

State of mind — whether we feel motivated, whether we’re tired, or bored, anxious or even excited, plays no role in whether we get on and do things. Those emotions aren’t giving us any useful information about whether it’s a good idea, or not, to set about our to-do list.

 

At the Same Time, We Have a Choice About What to Do Next

 

It’s like a relationship. We can love someone and still go through ups and downs with them. We can choose to watch the movie they prefer over our choice of movie because it’s in service of the relationship. And we value the relationship more than any in-the-moment perceived hardship of watching a mediocre movie.

I like to write when I’m inspired, when the ideas are flowing. But, since I also write something for my community every week, the inspiration doesn’t always come on demand.

I can still make a start. Or, I can put the writing aside and choose to work through my emails, reach out to a new connection, or work on something I’m setting up for a client.

I don’t have to be inspired about those activities, because I’m inspired by the bigger commitment to write regularly for you, to connect with people I meet, and to create the best service I can for my clients.

The inspiration exists separate from my mood in the moment.

 

The Distinction Between Inspiration and Motivation

 

I realise this can look like a very subtle distinction, I didn’t even see it clearly myself until I was exploring it with my client. But there is a difference, and it’s what frees us to choose work that inspires us, yet never need to wait for the motivation to get started.

Have a great week and here’s to you creating more of the things you feel inspired to create in the world.

With love,

Cathy

 

P.S. Once my clients see this difference, and begin to work with it, soooo much more space opens up for them to create amazing change in their organisations, their day-to-day life, and, ultimately, the world. Oh, and did I mention it makes life a lot easier?

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Are You Invested in What You’re Doing?

Are You Invested in What You’re Doing?

This week I experienced a ripple of vicarious joy when a client secured a meeting with a high value client; someone she’d considered, just a few weeks prior, to be way out of her reach.

I love those moments, when I can celebrate alongside my clients, when I see them taking bold actions to create the change they want to see in the world.

 

Sadly, though, it’s never about me.

 

Nice as it is for my ego, those moments pass. I know, underneath any joy I feel, pride even, that it’s about my client, not about me.

This client succeeded because she had a bold vision, she set her sights high, and she took actions without attachment to results.

Sure, we worked on her vision, we aligned it with what she knows to be true, we talked about creating what she wants, about being in discomfort and making an impact despite her state of mind.

But she is the one who shows up to our sessions wanting answers, wanting to discuss the way the mind works, how to generate ideas, get into and stay in motion, and how to build strong relationships with those around her.

 

Without her commitment to our conversations, without listening for insights, without acting on those that inspire her, the results simply would not happen.

 

This is true in any client-coach relationship. No matter how much money you pay, how talented, well-trained, or otherwise the coach — you are the necessary ingredient in creating change.

I’d like you to remember this as you work on your projects this week. Whether you’re working  with a coach, working on your own, or connecting with a group of colleagues or peers — however you choose to create results in your life — just make sure that you’re invested in the process.

Invested not just in the money you might be spending, but invested in the conversation, invested in listening, in being open, vulnerable, in sharing exactly how you feel and what you want to achieve. Because, only then, can you create something truly wonderful.

With love,

Cathy

 

P.S. We often fool ourselves about what we’re looking for in life, and we look to other people to help us create something that, deep down, we don’t want to do. Friend, family, professional, however you’re seeking reassurance or guidance, why not do yourself (and them) a favour, and make sure you’re ready for what you think you want. Otherwise, just put it on the back burner until you are.

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Why Is Self-Worth Considered Better Than Self-Doubt?

Why Is Self-Worth Considered Better Than Self-Doubt?

I was on my way to a meeting when I stopped to take this picture. It was the office of an advertising agency (this is the slogan for a L’Oreal campaign the agency’s currently running) and it brought to mind something that one of my mentors had posted about just the previous week.

 

Is self-worth better than self-doubt?

 

The L’Oreal campaign is urging us (well, mainly the women amongst us!) to replace any feelings of self-doubt with feelings of self-worth. Oh, and of course, it goes without saying that we can enhance that feeling of self-worth if we buy their particular products!

It’s a false premise, however.

Neither self-worth nor self-doubt, is any better — or worse — than the other.

They are both illusory states of mind, transitory feelings that we create in the moment. And both will pass.

 

The ‘Self’ Part is the Problem

 

Both of those phrases contain the word ‘self’ and any discussion of ‘self’ brings us back to what we make up in the moment, a thought that comes to us unbidden, or a meaning we create from something outside of ourselves.

It’s falsehood and fairy stories.

No-one, and nothing, can make us any less ‘worthy’ or less perfect than we already are, and nothing can give, or take away, access to our innate well-being.

We already have everything we need in life. We don’t need ‘fixing’, and that fix definitely won’t come from changing our thoughts, or even changing our hair care products!

 

Our Experience Changes; Our Humanity is Constant

 

What we feel in any moment will change; our state of mind goes up and down, there is an ebb and a flow to the way we feel — which is the natural way of things.

What’s underneath that, what makes us capable of love, connection, creativity, and service, however, is always there. What makes us human, is constant, and we can tap into it whenever we want to, whatever our state of mind.

 

Our shared humanity makes us special. And that’s far, far more powerful than any manufactured notion of ‘self-worth’.

 

Whatever your mood in this moment, can you feel that to be true? That there is something deeper? That you possess a beauty and a strength regardless of how you feel?

Knowing you always have access to that, and you can always act from that place makes it possible to rise above any feeling of self-doubt, self-worth or self-anything.

Once you see the value of separating your feelings from what is real and true about being human, it makes it soooo much easier to take bigger and bolder actions. To remove your ‘self’ from your decision-making is the most powerful place you can come from. It’s what makes you unstoppable.

And, surprise surprise, when you focus on coming from that place, self-doubt will likely dissipate as a welcome (but not intentional) by-product!

With love,

Cathy

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It Doesn’t Have to Be “Either / Or”

It Doesn’t Have to Be “Either / Or”

I was talking with a client last week about how he sees the world. It was fascinating listening to him — almost every part of his life appeared to be binary…

If it wasn’t like this, then it had to be like that.

His choices seemed to exhaust him. One was usually nirvana, an unachievable storybook ending. While the other was the ‘hard work’ option. Something linear and usually slow, effortful, or both.

 

The third way?

 

And yet, in every single example he brought up, it always looked to me as if there was a third way. An easier option, something he didn’t consider to be on the table, or had dismissed as ‘impossible’.

It reminded me of something one of my mentors talks about. That, in life, we think we have to make a choice off a metaphorical menu. We debate only what we can see on the page….

… and yet, what if there are many more choices on the menu and all we need to do is turn over the page to see them?

I love that metaphor, not least, because it actually happened to me in LA recently. I returned to a restaurant close to the venue for a training course I was taking and, lo and behold, the menu I was given had a second side to it with many more food choices.

Or at least, I just hadn’t turned it over the first time 😉

 

Binary = Dissatisfaction

 

I find that when I’m in a mood of binary choices, of an either / or, I tend to feel dissatisfied with life — that was certainly true of my client!

But, what if life is more like the menu metaphor. What if there are infinite pages? What if, rather than bemoaning the choices we’re presented with, we simply dismiss them and say “next!”

 

…Until You Create Different Choices

 

I like that kind of life. I like knowing that, if I don’t want what’s in front of me, the A or B option, I can create another solution. I can find something that feels like a better fit.

Is there somewhere in your life where it feels like you’re trapped between by an either / or choice?

Maybe you could loosen the grip a little. Maybe you could experiment this week and see whether some new possibilities come along.

Who knows, you might be surprised by what you experience.

With love,

Cathy

 

P.S. I have an opening for a new client right now so if you’re looking at your life knowing you aren’t seeing all the possibilities to create the impact you want, please connect with me by email at info @ cathypresland dot com and let’s see what we can open up for you.

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