Questions to ponder….

“It is necessary for a man to go away by himself, to sit on a rock and to ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been and where am I going?'” –Carl Sandburg

My son is about to graduate from high school. So the question is, “Who is he?”

Is he where he imagined himself to be at this point in his life? When he would think about what his life would be like when his formal educations years ended is he the person he thought he would be?

When I put myself into his shoes I can imagine that in his particular life circumstance these few questions might crop up in his mind quite often. Who is he? I can answer that question as his mom but my answer may not necessarily be the answer he would give because it is from only my perspective. He is iron willed and that is good and bad. He is loving, kind (when he wants to be), strong of body and will (needs a bit of polishing in the spirit and mind part), and he is goofy.

Where has he been?

He has been growing up in body and will and has an eternal way to go in spirit and mind. My prayer is that he will have enough years ahead of him to do all the spiritual growing that he needs. He has been learning life lessons that will help him get up each morning and be the hero of his days. He has been watching his brother and sister learn and grow and evolve and has taken life lessons from them that have so far shaped his perspective. He has been broken, doubted, loved, celebrated, admired, cast aside, and championed. Not bad so far…..

Where is he going?

No one knows, not even him. He is not, so far, taking the college route and giving himself the chance to figure it all out in the next 4 years. He is ready to just dive in and see what he can see. I hope to see him go at his own pace and go with love and honesty and courage and authenticity although his authenticity is in constant flux until he grounds himself in what he knows for sure about himself. He grew up with the ethos to always be going forward and paying it forward as he goes. If you were to really ask him where he is going he wouldn’t have an answer. His “going” is only as far as the next day right now; there is no future. Some might say that is cool, he is living in the present with no attachment to the past or the future. I hope it is cool. He might just have the right of it as a representative of his generation. Maybe it’s a good thing not to have it all figured out right now but to let life teach its lessons as you go.

How do you answer these 3 questions?

What would you do differently if you could go back in time?

When you have an answer to any one of these 3 questions, what happens to your life in the answer?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

“Fake it ’til you make it…”

fake it 001Whispers from my Wallpaper

 

          Fake it ‘til you make it….

Have you ever heard this phrase? What does it mean to you? I think it takes on different meanings depending on who is applying it. For me it calls to something deep inside, confidence and attitude. It asks me to challenge myself and dare to live “as if…”.

My oldest son is leaving home next month to test his independence and his self-confidence by moving far away from home, away from his safety net, his foundation, his comfort zone. As his mom it is hard for me to come to terms with his decision, but if I step back and put myself in his shoes I can almost taste the excitement of the adventure and feel the energy of ownership of making his own decisions, his own space, and his own time. Who among us doesn’t remember the feeling of wanting to take life into their own hands? He always imagined himself a leader, a doer. He is now faced with faking it ‘til he makes it; to dare and live “as if”; putting on the mask of the person he wants to one day become.

“The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

And boy oh boy is it ever hard work to become yourself. Are you even there yet? Can you remember when you were little and dressing up for Halloween? The costume you chose, whether to be a superhero or a princess? Each costume came with a mask or make-up that allowed you to transform into the idea of who you wanted to be. Can you remember what you felt like once the mask and costume were in place? There was a sort of empowerment, ownership of this imagined you. Maybe grown-ups didn’t really believe who you were imagining yourself to be but you felt encouraged to go on and be your Batman self or your Little Mermaid self. You would never know that the grown-ups could see right through because they always greeted you as if you were the superhero or the princess. You were emotionally invested in the persona. Faking it at a young age gave you the freedom of your imagination and creativity to keep on putting on masks and trying them out as you got older. What stuck? What did you ultimately believe about yourself?

Emotions play a big role in all of our life pursuits. Emotions are our fuel. In his book, Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar writes, “Emotions cause motion; they provide a motive that drives our actions; emotion, motion, motivation are intimately linked.” It is absolutely emotion that is driving my son to seek his independence and declare his abilities to himself and the world. Whenever I try to talk to him about this big step he gets emotional just trying to talk to me. It is emotion that drives the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” It is with emotion that we chose the costumes that we did when we were little. Emotion feeds our determination to conquer whatever we choose to do in life.

I have to wonder what his personal questions were:

1)      What motivates me to consider this move?

2)      What is the opportunity?

3)      Who do I need to be in order to become who I want to be?

The philosopher and founder of American Psychology, William James believed that  ”acting a certain way could make you feel that way.” In the thought processes of “fake it ‘til you make it” that is exactly the case. Hundreds of experiments have proved this theory correct. For example, a Clark University study showed that smiling, whether on purpose or naturally induced, made people feel happier. Try this experiment when you don’t really feel like smiling, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds. Take notice of how you feel during the experiment and at the end. Keep trying it and you will start to believe in the emotional effects of smiling.

Perhaps you are not taking a leap of faith and going out to conquer the world in the way my son has decided to do. Perhaps you are or will be a new college graduate and wondering what now? We live in tough economic times and finding a job in your field of study is not easy. You may and probably will have to take a job way outside of your degree in order to start paying back those student loans. Will you fake it ‘til you make it? Will you have the self-confidence and positive attitude to push forward no matter what? What mask will you choose to wear so that people outwardly will believe in who you are trying to become inwardly, but more so that you will start to believe in who you are trying to become? In every job experience you will have you will always need to ask yourself these questions:

1)      What gives my life a sense of purpose?

2)      What do I enjoy doing?

3)      What am I good at?

Answering these questions might guide you toward a calling or help you get through each phase of your life in general. Staying true to who you are and how you answer these questions will always lead you to doing good work. You might not yet know the answers to these questions because you are about to test them all out in the real world. Fake it ‘til you make it. Try on different masks and costumes until you find what fits.

DO smile always. People are attracted to smiling people.

DO stand up straight and tall and proud whether you feel like it or not. People will believe in your inner strength if they see it outwardly.

DO contribute where and when you can. Talk to people and be part of conversations. Make an effort to believe that you have something to say because you know what, you do have something to say, you do have worth and substance; you are enough.

DO know that you are not alone. There is a world full of people faking it until they make it; practicing to become the person they want to be.

DO know your own strengths. Take time to discover all the great success characteristics about yourself. It will empower you to smile more, stand taller and contribute endlessly.

DON’T hide in corners or find distractions like using your cell phone too often in social situations. Make people see that they matter to you and you will matter to them. People like to feel validated (and so do you).

DON’T gossip. Don’t tell tall tales and don’t talk about others behind their backs.

Dr. Ben-Shahar writes, “Happiness at whatever level, does not require a constant experience of ecstasy nor does it require an unbroken chain of positive emotions. To be happy, we have to feel that, on the whole, whatever sorrow, trials, and tribulations we may encounter, we still experience the joy of being alive.” There was pure joy in wearing those costumes so long ago. There can be joy in allowing life to be the teacher now. Putting on the fake it ‘til you make it mask has a more positive impact on the overall experience.  Despite feeling frustrated or let down by not getting that all important job in your field of study right away, smiling anyway, choosing to take each experience for all it’s worth goes a long way to help you and everyone around you believe that you are right where you should be. I know that my son will have no choice but to fake it ‘til he makes it because as far as the real world is concerned he is a newbie and at the same time doesn’t want his inexperience to shine brighter than his determination.

At the University of Rochester, researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem. Those people that folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered twice as long as the people that did not display any body language. A study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers your willpower. Try some experiments to see if you can empower yourself to get through some tough moments.  Turn your have-to situations into want-to situations by readjusting your confidence and your attitude. Live “as if” this is exactly where you want to be, “as if” you are experiencing exactly what you hoped to experience. How we perceive the work we do, how we perceive the situations we are in matters more than the work or the situation. My son perceives his life’s journey to be in a different location from where he grew up, with different people surrounding him and influencing his perspective. He is approaching this with zest and humor and courage. What more could a mom ask for?

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

What thoughts will you produce? What actions will you take to make your moments uniquely you? Will you smile anyway, will you laugh anyway, and will you allow for gain in the experience? What words will you say to start living “as if…?” What about you will you allow to bear your signature? Fake it ‘til you make it and enjoy the ecstatic experience. Journey On…

 

If you would like to explore how coaching can help move your life forward powerfully and purposefully, email Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Journey On Coaching Services would like to extend condolences to the victims and their families of the tragic Boston Marathon Bombing. I encourage all my clients to give to the American Red Cross or any charity in support of a stronger, happier, healthier America.

Chapter 2: The College Decision

Chapter 2: The College Decision 

Congratulations! You made it! You have graduated from high school and made it through 12 to 13 years of mandatory schooling. You’ve studied hard, crammed for tests, joined clubs, performed community service, played a sport and tried to be as well rounded a student, a young adult, as you could be all in the hopes of beefing up your transcripts so that a college will choose you to represent them. Whew! That was exhausting. Can you just rest for a while?  Well, actually, no, no you can’t. If you thought these years of mandatory schooling have been hard wait until you start this next chapter of your life.

Chapter two begins with the question, to be a college student or not to be a college student? The well rounded answer is, be the college student. The realistic answer is not if you are not ready. The very first lesson to learn in the “real” world is whatever you do, be ready for it. If you are deciding to do something, do it with a full heart and full determination to succeed.

“Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard fought battle, the goals won with sacrifice are the ones that matter. ” –Aisha Tyler

I know, I hear the questions…..”but my grades were not good enough to get into a good college, who will accept me?”….”but I can’t afford the college I want, where can I go now?”….”but I don’t have a clue as to what I want to study, how will I possibly succeed?”….”but I’m not ready for college and my parents want me to go, what should I do?”

Relax. Take a deep breath. All the rules are different now. There is no script to follow. You are now allowed to decide for yourself what road you would like to take. Sit down, preferably on a very comfy couch and hug a pillow to your chest. These are all very good concerns, questions, doubts. Take a moment and write down your answers to these questions, and no, this is not another test to pass:

1) What is important to you right now?

2) What scares you the most about this new chapter of your life?

3) Where do you want to be, what would you like to have accomplished in 3-5 years from right now?

What I know about you is that you are creative and resourceful. Look at you. You made it through these difficult 12 years, messy as it’s been, and you have a diploma to show for all that hard, messy work. What you need to know is what you can commit to do with your life now? The easy answer is to stay a student because it’s what you know, it’s what is familiar. No matter what you do after high school you will have to learn something whether on the job training, or sitting behind a desk at school or learning hands on through vocational training and education, learning something is in your future forever. Embrace this concept, make friends with it. Once you have a solid handle in your brain that you are always a student whether in school or out of school you will be infinitely more prepared to allow the life lessons in to your soul.

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”  ~Vernon Howard

If money is the issue as to whether you should even consider a college education or if the school you want to go to is too expensive, start at community college. There are ways to make it work that won’t cost you much money if any money at all.

The one thing to know at this point is that the first two years at any college is made up of required classes. Basically it is  like cramming 4 years of high school into 2 years of college so why pay more if you don’t have to right away? All you need to do is be open to learning but most of all, be open to learning how to navigate your path, your road, your own life. It takes time to learn the ropes. Ask questions of everyone you meet. Their life story will undoubtedly help you with your life story. While you are attending community college you can work part time and start saving money to transfer to the college you want to go to for you bachelor degree. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish school now. There are no schedules to keep anymore. You design your life so be creative, take the scenic route. The path less traveled has way more adventures tied to it than the conventional path.

If the thought of more school right away is weighing you down then don’t go yet. You have the option to wait for a semester or 2 and work for a while until your thoughts become more clear and focused. Standing still with no decision should never be an option. In the words of Henry Ford, “Indecision is often worse than wrong action.” At this point everything is possible.

Where will you place your stepping stones to get to where you want to go? What adventures do you want to experience along your path to your best life? Journey on….

If you are a high school junior or senior and would like to explore how coaching can help your next life chapter be successful or if you are already in college and need more clarity on why you are there at all please contact Lisa at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com