Turning a Wish into Reality

The little girl on a lawn with a puppy in the sunny day

A particular television commercial fills me with delight. Perhaps you have seen it. An adorable little girl declares she would like a “chango machine” so she can turn her little brother into a puppy. Thank heavens I never got my hands on that magic machine growing up! My poor baby brother would have been a soft furry canine before you could pronounce “presto chango.”

As refreshing as it is to imagine instant change, we know changing course takes time and effort. But just for a moment, imagine you were granted one wish. Visualize stepping into the chango machine and then out again. What one thing is different? Did you find yourself in the corner office, or married to the woman of your dreams? Perhaps you now live in Hawaii, or you reappeared as an executive chef working at a trendy five-star restaurant.

What occurred in your fantasy machine you can duplicate in real life. You need no secret formula to accomplish the change you want most. It just takes planning, focus and a dose of grit as evidence by the story of a young college graduate named Ken Ilqunas.

Finding himself deep in debt upon graduating from the University of Buffalo, Ken moved to Alaska to secure employment and pay off his $32,000 college loan. With dedicated hard work he paid back every dime in two years. Determined never to pile up debt again, this enterprising fellow sought a master’s degree. Staying true to his vow, Ken creatively invented a way to live in his van while attending grad school at Duke University. Wow!

Not all of us have Ken’s super-sized moxie, but his inspiring story provides the impetus to move forward. Whatever it is standing between you and the goal line, I doubt it means working at a remote Alaskan truck stop or living in your van.

Now that you have a clear vision of that one thing in your life requiring change, commit to facilitating action. Draw up a plan and stay the course. Big leaps are made of many tiny steps. If you start today the time will arrive when, like Ken, you can take a bow and reap the benefits.

Time To Put on Your Big Girl Panties

Pretty little girl sits on potty.

While visiting family in Michigan I had the opportunity to coach my niece, Alina, through a life-changing event, one considered major in a toddler’s life. She was ready for toilet training. The little charmer took it very seriously. As we worked toward the goal, I accompanied her on bathroom trips that were sometimes a false alarm, occasionally an oops…too late, but much of the time successful. My role in the process, as requested by Alina, included reading to her from a children’s potty training book, which I did at least twenty-seven times. She listened intently, reviewed the pictures carefully and gave me that knowing smile proclaiming, “Don’t worry Auntie, I’ve got this.”

When I stop to think about it, giving up diapers and people who attend to your personal needs must be challenging. No one ever said change is easy. Not for a mere child, or a seasoned adult.

Many of us avoid change because it’s uncomfortable. What we really fear is the unknown. The perception of fear can immobilize us. Consequently, we create excuses and either continue our bad habits or lack new achievements.

Another common excuse for avoiding change is the difficulty factor. We imagine it’s going to be painful. In his book, “Excuses  Begone!” Dr.  Wayne Dyer advises “the belief it is going to be hard is only a belief.” Stop programming your mind with defeating convictions. Dyer recommends conquering our negative thoughts with positive affirmations. For example, perhaps you could increase your earning power if you moved to a different city where jobs are more plentiful. Don’t scare yourself silly with the thought that leaving your family and friends behind will cause immense loneliness. Instead, affirm you are a likeable person who makes new friends easily. Repeat the affirmation when fear tries to sabotage your new direction. Begin to embrace life changes.

Need some more pointers on gaining momentum when dealing with change? Start simple. Define one positive action you can take to can alter your life. Schedule it into your calendar for the next thirty days. Commit to it in writing and post it in a highly visible location. Then make a list of all the benefits of follow-through.

Want to run a marathon? Don your running shoes and start training today. Working your plan not only delivers results it builds your self-esteem.

After you run that marathon, celebrate! Reward yourself with something fun and meaningful. You DID it! Climbing that mountain proved you put on your big girl panties (or big boy boxers) and implemented positive change. Now, continue your journey onward.

Formula to a Balanced Life

Western Australian Black Swan

I live on a small lake and share the surrounding beauty with a variety of water fowl. Yesterday I delighted in watching a black swan perched on a rock. He balanced on one leg while enjoying the soft current cascading over his webbed foot. A small white egret-like bird stood less than two feet away as if in silent companionship. Both soaked in the sun’s rays, practicing silence and taking pleasure in the serene setting.

As I absorbed the simplicity of this tableau, it made me think of the path to happiness. Balance in life theoretically yields peace and contentment. But it’s the balance part we find so difficult to achieve! Many individuals fail to balance career and home life, relationships and commitments, downtime and party central. Much of my coaching practice is devoted to helping clients create the magic formula to win the balancing act.

Cracking the code on this dilemma is not as difficult as it seems. My “go to” strategies are simple and straight forward. For example, how does a young, single woman study for her CPA exam while trying to cram in dating, stellar work performance, family obligations and quiet time? Sounds daunting, I know, especially to her. It is doable, but requires organization and prioritization.  If earning her CPA designation is a priority, she must commit to it. Numerous hours must be devoted to study time. That means sacrifice, of course. Date nights, happy hours with friends and shopping excursions with her sisters must be limited. She needs to make peace with the fact that a rigorous study schedule is temporary. Once the exam is passed, she can resume the activities of choice, however, she cannot put those three letters behind her name without planning. The X in my equation equaling happiness is planning. To enjoy a balanced life, plan your days, your nights and weekends.

Wondering what composes the Y part of my equation? It involves our decision making process when others make demands on our time.  If you love college football and want nothing more than to spend a few leisure hours watching the Saturday line-up, you must learn to say no to the friend who implores you to go golfing.

Easier than is sounds? Yes. Standing on one leg may come naturally to our swan. Human beings require dedicated practice when it comes to planning and drawing boundaries. This week, keep working on my equation: Planning + setting boundaries = a happy balanced life.