Lessons from a Life: Balance

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Lesson #5: Pay attention to health

Here is my favorite story about Gandhi taken from his memorial website:

One day a mother came to Gandhi with her little boy for help. She asked Gandhi, Please, Bapu, will you tell my little boy to stop eating sugar. He simply eats too much sugar and will not stop. Gandhi told the mother to leave and come back with the boy in three days.

The mother returned with her son and said to Gandhi. We have come back as you asked, Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “Young boy, stop eating sweets. They are not good for you.”

The mother then asked Gandhi, “Bapu, why didn’t you tell my son that when we first came to see you? Why did you ask us to leave and come back in three days? I don’t understand.”

Gandhi said to the woman, “I asked you to return with the boy in three days, because three days ago, I, too, was eating sweets. I could not ask him to stop eating sweets so long as I had not stopped eating sweets.

This story has been on my mind A LOT over the last two weeks as I contemplated writing this blog on balance while being of physical balance.  I am happy to report that thanks the readers of this blog, I have dialed up my daily spiritual practice and for the first time in months, have walked or done yoga for a minimum of 30 minutes daily for 11 consecutive days.  

I have learned most of my lessons on balance from being off the physical balance beam. Paying attention to my health and body in a compassionate and healthy way has been and continues to be a struggle. In my tweens, I developed a periodic but debilitating eating disorder that I was not able to heal in my early 30’s. In my twenties, I used work, over exercise, shopping, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes as a way to escape, myself and my emotions. Balance in that decade of life was about balancing my addictions in a way that allowed me to live and appear OK. I was not OK.

In my early thirties, after giving up nicotine and mind altering substances (except sugar)  I took on healing, health and seeking balance as my mission. I became a certified yoga teacher, spent all of my disposable income on spas, retreats, healers, gyms, therapy and started a well-paying career where I was able to teach others about balance. I was athletic and completed a 1200 mile bike ride. I was good at my job and I got a master’s degree. I remember one of my friends asking me when I was 39, “Don’t you ever get tired of all this self-care?” I laughed and answered, “No!”

In my forties, I became an entrepreneur, spiritual seeker and artist. My life and income became more creative and unpredictable. My more constant commitment to my health took a hit. I gained weight. I lost weight. I got fit. I lost my fitness. I lived in three states. I wrote and invented things. I stayed sober. I struggled with asthma, depression, dental problems and developed planter fasciitis. For the most part, I was happy, healthy and was able to help others. My life became messy, adventurous, relaxed and real.

Today I am 54 and going through menopause as I write this. I have more body fat then the 39-year-old version of me. I spend less time thinking about my body and my health than I ought to but I am not obsessed or as critical of it.  My definition of health now expands beyond the physical to include intellectual, emotional and spiritual health and I would give myself high marks for three out of the four areas. My opportunity now is to focus on my physical health in a gentle but effective way. Balance for me today is remembering to drink more water than coffee instead of working out 10 hours a week…

How are you doing with your own sense of balance? Rate yourself from 1-10 for the following areas:

  • Physical - Take care of your body
  • Intellectual - Exercise your mind
  • Spiritual – Nurture your spirit
  • Emotional – Tune in to your feelings

Choose the one with the lowest score to focus on this week. Spend time to reflect on what are you doing well in this area and what subtle changes you can make this week to make an improvement.

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods

Laurel’s mission is to help people find their home in the world of work. She has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia.  To request a private half-hour coaching session with Laurel, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com.

 

The Cure for Career Anxiety Series

Do You Fear Success?

Condition #3: Fear of Success

There is an epidemic sweeping the career world right now–career anxiety. It is evidenced by low job satisfaction and engagement rates and a need for all to dig deep and find resilience in a rapidly changing global economy.   This blog series will be a conversation guided by reader questions and is designed to cure career anxiety and bring you to career clarity.

Question from a reader: I feel like fear is holding me back and I wonder…Is it possible to be afraid of success?

The Cure: Redefine the word “success”

It has surprised me how many of my clients struggle with the fear of success.

For some, this fear stems from being successful in the past and associating success with loss. These losses include lack of privacy, health problems and serious damage to important personal relationships. In this situation, creating a more holistic definition of success for the future is critical.

Then there are people who are afraid to even admit they have been successful in the past. This reluctance may be associated with other things, such as a fear of appearing as an overly preachy parent or sibling who was successful and now feels the need to force their advice on to others. It can also be possible that they may associate success with unappealing qualities such as greed or flamboyance. In some cases, people have held an unconscious fear of success because they believe they will have to distance themselves from their friends, peers or family to reach new heights.

In truth, everyone should create a definition of success that is in alignment with their own values. For one person, success can mean launching a business and becoming a millionaire while another person can define success through being a great friend. For some both are important aspects of success.

Ultimately, it is more difficult to fear success if your own definition of fulfillment is in sync with your talents, purpose and passions. To get you started with creating your own personal goals, here is a definition of success from Ralph Waldo Emerson for some inspiration:

To laugh often and love much,

To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children,

To earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends,

To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of oneself

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

To know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived-

This is to have succeeded.

Thank you for your great question and I hope this gives you permission to begin the process of digging deep and getting to your purpose. Let me know what you thought and if have a specific question I can answer in this series.  My approach to career development is from the inside out; dreams find their freedom and people find their dream jobs.

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods

Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia and consistently provides effective career education, organizational consulting and executive coaching programs To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to http://brightlivelihoods.com. To schedule a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com

 

The Cure for Career Anxiety Series

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Condition #2: Passionless

There is an epidemic sweeping the career world right now–career anxiety. It is evidenced by low job satisfaction and engagement rates and a need for all to dig deep and find resilience in a rapidly changing global economy.   This blog series will be a conversation guided by reader questions and is designed to cure career anxiety and bring you to career clarity.

Question from a reader: When my manager asked me what my interests at work were in a career development session, I blurted out, “I have no idea.”  Sadly, I feel like I have no passion left and walk around work feeling numb. Can you help?

The Cure: Possibilities

Once, I had a discussion with a client, based in London, who told me that the corporate world had “beaten all the creativity out of her.”  A year after she said that, she left her job in banking and began a new career as a freelance consultant and television producer.  A big part of her process to getting there, required her to revive her natural creative spirit and generate new ideas from that place.

Taking responsibility for your own creative process and not relying solely on an organization can put yourself back in the driver seat of your own career. Whether you want to grow in the job you are already in, change career tracks or jobs or start a business, you probably need new ideas that will inspire you to action. This is often more challenging than people expect, but help is on the way through the 3 P’s of Possibilities, below, which offers questions designed to spark your imagination and get to new ideas you will need for your own career development.  

3 P’s of Possibilities:

1.      Passions

     What do you love to make?

     What do you love to buy?

     What do you love to do?

     What moves you to tears?

     What ignites your curiosity?

2.      Problems

What are the problems that intrigue you? (use to list to inspire your own ideas)

     Service

     Product

     Social Issues

     Technology

     Health

     Convenience

     Education

     Government

     Competition

     Your own area of interest

3.      People

     Who do you love?

     Who do you admire?

     Who do you like hanging out with?

     Who do you envy and why?

     Who do you want to help?

     Who is easy for you to serve?

     Who do you think you understand best?

Take your time to explore and answer all the questions above thoroughly, keeping in mind those areas of ideas that most excite you. Some of you that are better working in a group, may want to do this exercise with colleagues or friends. Once you have made a concerted effort and explored these ideas deeply, make a list of your top 10 ideas and then choose one or more to investigate that best align with your talents, goals and interests. From there you can create an action plan to put your passions into practice in a practical way such as using them for a school project, a product development process at work and taking actions to start a business plan.

Thank you for your great question and I hope this gives you permission to begin the process of digging deep and getting to your purpose. Let me know what you thought and if have a specific question I can answer in this series.  My approach to career development is from the inside out; dreams find their freedom and people find their dream jobs.

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods

Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia and consistently provides effective career education, organizational consulting and executive coaching programs To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to http://brightlivelihoods.com. To schedule a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com

 

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