Believe it or not, 2020 is almost over.
It’s odd because it feels like yesterday that I was thinking about the idea of New Year’s resolutions and the commitments we make to ourselves at the beginning of the year.
This year has thrown us a ton of curveballs and it’s been an honor to be on the frontlines of your lives with you throughout the year. I’ve worked with young people who are starting their professional lives in the most uncertain of times. I’ve worked with established business owners who had to fortify their business against a global pandemic and an economic shutdown. I’ve worked with couples who found themselves navigating an entirely new dynamic at home as schools and offices were shut down.
Through it all, I’ve watched all my clients grow, stay committed to living with passion, and stay committed to their results.
Personally, I don’t like to wait until late December to start thinking about progress and the new decisions I must make - especially in a year as disorienting as this one had the potential to be.
I encourage you to do the same. Whether you are a client, or just someone out there looking for ways to improve, start thinking about your 2020. Did you continue to grow? Did you decide to live in a great state of mind? Did you experience more good emotions than bad ones? Did you see opportunity, or did you only see challenges?
The truth is, making huge changes in your life comes down to one relatively easy concept: raising your standards.
Everything else, all the tips and tricks, exercises, and strategies are only useful if you’ve set the appropriately high standards for yourself.
When people hear this for the first time, they often get defensive. They’ll say something like “if that’s all it takes, everyone would have whatever they wanted.” To some extent – that’s true. And that’s true because most people here in the United States do have whatever they truly want.
This can be kind of tricky because part of you is reading this saying “well I want a Porsche and I don’t have that.” Or “I have 20 thousand dollars in credit card debt and I want it to be 0 dollars.”
It’s true, you may want those things, but you also want to only work 40 hours a week and to go shopping and out to the bars every weekend with your friends. The Porsche and paying off the credit card take a level of discipline and sacrifice that you absolutely do not want.
A coach is not a licensed mental health professional and any advice or commentary here should not in any way be considered medical advice. Depression can be a serious, medical issue. If you are experiencing depression, please seek out a qualified mental health counselor and do not use this discussion, or any other article, blog, or material on the internet as a substitute for a qualified mental health professional. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide call one of the suicide hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (888-487-0468) and 800-273-TALK (866-699-0189). If you have a plan for suicide then go to the closest emergency room immediately for medical treatment.
As a life coach, I’m frequently compared to therapists. I suppose I get it. We have some similarities. Our core mission is to help clients be happier and function better in their world – more or less.
There are major differences though and there are a lot of aspects of therapy that I think can actually get in the way of people thriving in their lives.
Often, I work with clients who have either done therapy or that do therapy alongside their coaching. From their experience, and from the knowledge of those who have taught me (therapist Cloe Madanes, the Peyshas, and Tony Robbins), I can see a lot of ways that therapists can get in the way of their clients’ success.
Here are a few examples:
Tempus Fugit. Memento Mori. This is an old phrase in the Christian Faith that you don’t hear often anymore. Even in the world that deals with the afterlife, death is an unwelcome subject for so many.
Translated from Latin it means this: Time flies. Remember death.
To Christians, this phrase is used to help focus the followers of Christ – a reminder that this life is very temporary when compared to eternity; and that while it is easy to get swept away in drugs and alcohol, or Netflix, or one-night stands, remember that you only have so much time to get it right before your time is up and your judgment comes.
The phrase has a sort of whimsy to it that caught my attention when I first heard it. Often paired with skull and crossbones, I could imagine a Jack Sparrow type character saying it to me while winking. Like most people, when I first heard this phrase, death wasn’t something I thought of regularly. Nor did I want to. Death is an uncomfortable thing and we tend not to like to think that we too will meet our ends.
But then it occurred to me that even in the secular world, this phrase lives in the works of artists, musicians, filmmakers, and philosophers alike.
Think about it for a minute. How many times have you been asked, if this were the last day of your life, what would you do? How would you live your life?
For years I resisted the idea of detailed planning since I so highly value variety and I was convinced that planning would cost more time than it would create.
Recently I’ve been re-working everything I know about planning. I’ve been a meticulous digital calendar user, but I recently switched to writing in an actual planner with pen and paper – the Tony Robbins RPM system to be exact.
I’m deep into my journey and it appears I was right on some level – planning does take a significant amount of time. It may save me some time in the end but that’s not the real benefit to me. The REAL benefit of a high-level planning system isn’t the 15 minutes you spend doing it every day. The real benefit is the clearing out of the mental cobwebs and the reactivity that dominates our brains every day.
So many of us live with this daily sense that we’re not doing enough, or we’re doing the wrong thing, or we’re doing too much. Most of us don’t take the time to think about it in detail like this, but that nagging anxiety that plagues many exists precisely because you haven’t come up with a clear, concise vision for your life or your day (you can’t have a clear vision for your day without a clear vision for your life.
A global pandemic has broken out and it’s changing all our lives – maybe forever.
Not only are many getting sick and fighting for their lives, the rest of us are living in isolation while the stock market crashes and some of us aren’t sure if our jobs will still be our jobs in a week or a month.
This type of drastic, rapid change is unsettling to say the least.
Difficult times are one of life’s guarantees. For some, it will create despair and helplessness. For others, it’s a time to invest in themselves, their families, and their relationships to come out of the dark time a great deal stronger than they were when it started.
Here are 4 tips on what you can do to thrive during uncertain times:
I can’t repeat it enough: If you’re not happy in your relationship, then you’re not happy.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, you might be scrambling to get some flowers or that perfect gift for your significant other, but on the day of love the best thing you can do is become intentional about taking your relationship to the next level.
One of the biggest lies believed and repeated in our culture is the lie that good relationships are easy or that good relationships just happen. Relationships, like a sport or your job, are a set of skills that you need to hone for you to be successful.
So while people spend countless dollars on education for their careers, seminars for how to better themselves, and self-care routines, far less people than should invest time and money into their relationship – due to that faulty belief that things should just “fit” between people truly in love.
For Valentine’s Day I’m going to give you 3 tools to understand and improve your relationship. If you use them, you will improve your relationship exponentially:
Growing up I was never much of a planner. To-do lists felt like a waste of time and planning often seemed like it added more work than it alleviated – which of course is the opposite of the goal of good planning.
On top of that, I have always been good at improvising on the fly and playing jazz in my life, so it just never seemed like much of a priority to sit down and plan everything out.
As I’ve gotten older, my responsibilities have grown and my dreams have gotten bigger, I’ve started to hit the limits of where “planning on the fly” can take me.
Like many clients I work with, when I’m not intentional about what I’m doing with my time and where my life is headed, I start floating along the river of life and just hoping that things work out.
This is obviously not the philosophy of someone who wants to accomplish anything of substance in their life, so I’ve revisited planning in a major way and have implemented amazing planning that has changed the course of my life forever. Here are some basic concepts in planning that will change your life forever:
One of the things I see constantly in my clients is people holding themselves back based on their own self-concept rather than the external factors in the world around them.
Throughout life, people make decisions about themselves that may or may not be true. Or they are true some of the time and people extrapolate that idea to their entire life.
How many people do you see that would tell you they are “shy,” but then you’ve seen them be the life of the party one or more times? How many people seem quiet, but then get up to give a presentation at work and magically find another gear where they are commanding and inspiring? How many people think of themselves as a total bad ass at work, but then come home and are easy-going sweethearts with their children and spouse? And I’m sure everyone is familiar with the often celebrated lady (or gentleman) in the streets who’s a “freak” in the sheets.
All of us have these apparent contradictions in our personalities if we look for them, but most people never stop to investigate these beliefs that sit in the back of their heads and filter all their decisions. We all have dynamic personalities and we all “perform” differently depending on the setting and who we are with.
If you want to move up in the world, level down, or pivot in a different direction, one of the best skills you can develop is to gain control of the different parts of yourself so that you are capable of calling whichever version you need at the time you need. Here’s how to get started:
There’s a lot of clichés in the personal development space. I will often repeat them because clichés are often overwhelming truths that we should pay more attention to than we do. One such idea, which doesn’t get nearly enough attention, is that empathy and forgiveness is the root of happiness in yourself.
If I could impress one personal development lesson it would be this: Have empathy for yourselves and others because we are all doing the very best we can.
It’s at this point that you are inevitably thinking about the co-worker you hate, your sexually harassing boss, your ex best friend who has been long written off, or any other number of people that you absolutely DON’T think is doing the absolute best they can.
Believe me, I know the feelings you have towards those people. The feelings are dark, cynical, and seductive. They will take over your life and leave you alone if you allow them to live in your head or your heart.
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: