Friday, July 30, 2010

How Can I Identify My Life Purpose, True Goals, or Bucket List?

Is there really one question or method that can help you answer each or all three of these questions? Let’s find out.

First, a few thoughts about each . . .

Life Purpose

This one gets a lot of play. I think it’s because many of us feel if we, without question, know what our purpose is, we can (we believe) demonstrate, to ourselves and others, that we actually have one. By default of being here, you have a primary purpose—to have a human experience! If you find yourself craving to know what your “specific” purpose is, how about you put that down for a bit, tune into what YOU FEEL inspired and/or motivated to do whether for all time or the next few weeks, months, or years—and do it or them. If you do that, it’s pretty darn likely that you’ll manage to live your purpose, however it gets done. Walking around wondering what it is and questioning every decision or indecision isn’t fun or fulfilling—it’s frustrating. Also know that life purpose and life work (career) may or may not be the same thing. For some it is, for others it isn’t.

True Goals

What YOU really want to do for all time or for the next few weeks, months, or years. True goals are what YOU want to experience, enjoy, achieve, fulfill, help make happen, and so on. A true goal should never, ever, ever be about what another wants or believes you should do. True goals are what you go after when you get out of your own way.

Bucket List

You’re never too young or too old to put something on this list (or check it off once achieved). If you’re not playing with such a list, consider doing so. Make it a safe zone where you write anything you wish to experience. No “I can’t” or “That’ll never happen” thoughts—if/when they occur—are to be allowed to stop you from putting down what you want, including the who, what, when, where, and how you want it to look, be, and feel for you. The HOW it happens is to be left alone, unless an inspired idea comes to you about how to help make it happen. Otherwise, putting your unfettered items on this list will, remarkably, cause them to show up at their right timing—if they are truly aligned with what you are here to experience.

So, what’s the question?

It comes from Willie Jolley. Imagine your doctor tells you s/he’s got bad news and good news. (I promise it’s like but not exactly the same as the question you already know.) The bad news is you have a condition and it’s confirmed you have exactly one year left to live. As day 365 ticks over into day 366, you exit. The good news is there’s no feelings of poor health involved—you have energy—and the really good news is that you get to pick ten things you want to do/accomplish, knowing an aspect of this condition is that you WILL succeed fully at each of them.

What ten things would you pick? To help you with this, if you decide to “play,” just start writing. If your top ten aren’t obvious, compare item one to item two. Which one matters more to you? Put a checkmark by it. Compare item one to item three and pick the one you want more. Continue this item-to-item comparison until you’ve gone through all the items. Count the checkmarks for each item and you’ll see what your top ten are. You may see that some of your items fit into Life Purpose, True Goals, or Bucket List—or two categories or all three at once.

Don’t have ten items? No problem. Just prioritize your items and get started. If other items come to mind, add them and prioritize them. It isn’t about the number of items; it’s about what you do about the ones you have.

Think this will take too much of your time because you know your list will be too long? Well, if you’re not working on at least one item on this list right now, what’s stopping you? Are you happy letting that be a reason (or excuse)? What can you do that you will do?

You are what you practice.
© 2010, Joyce Shafer

Thursday, July 29, 2010

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Friday, July 23, 2010

How to Identify Your True Calling

Read this question and note how it makes you feel: If you had to do (HAD to do) one thing for the rest of your life—for no pay—what would it be? What you FEEL is a key to learning something about yourself.

Some of you had no problem answering this question. You’ve always known what you wanted to do and are either doing it or working your way towards it.

Some of you have never had a good enough question (like this one) to assist you to tune into what you really want to do, usually because others have readily offered their opinions and reasons as “wise” guidance.

Some of you were NOT inspired by this question—you had an opposite experience. Rather than stimulating you to really feel your way to your appropriate answer, it’s likely your mind started to consider what you’d have to give up (and how that would feel), in order to do just one thing.

A prevalent, imposed mainstream belief is that you HAVE to pick one thing and become expert at it—because you “should” have the desire to be a huge success; and you can achieve what’s expected of you by following this path.

If I asked for a show of hands to see how many of you were ever told (and witnessed), “Success is when you love your life; and only you can determine what that means for you,” there might be some hands that went up, but I doubt it would be the majority.

Often, people try to figure out what they will do, based on what they can earn from it. Let’s not attach judgment to that decision-making method, but let’s recognize that it’s faulty motivation for some of you. (And some of you hold the belief that no one would pay you to do what you really would love to do. Question: Is that 100-percent absolutely true? Question: What action would you take if you didn’t have that doubting belief?”)

I don’t readily recall his name, but I watched a PBS program segment about the guy who created that online security feature where you have to prove you’re a human, not another computer, by typing in one or two displayed misshapen words. That’s only one of his achievements; and he’s considered by many to be one of the geniuses of our age. When this guy graduated from university, Bill Gates approached him with an employment offer. The guy turned him down. He wanted to teach at the university he graduated from. He loves the extra requests-for-service he gets that allow him to apply his genius, but teaching and making it fun fulfills him. Some might say he’s a fool for turning Gates down, but he’s genuinely happy with his life. He IS paid well for his other efforts. By following his feelings (rather than what some might have expected him to do), he enjoys the best of both worlds.

For those of you who shivered or broke into a sweat trying to figure out what you’d give up, visit Barbara Sher’s website to learn about Scanners, if you haven’t already. You may have been or are frustrated by all the advice to pick one thing and do it. This kind of advice to a Scanner is like telling a brown-eyed person to make their eyes blue by using willpower. A Scanner forced to do only one thing is a frustrated, unhappy individual whose creativity stays dormant rather than is shared. A better question for Scanners might be: What two (or three) to five (or more) things would you do if you had to do them the rest of your life?

You may have held the belief that it should be simple to identify your true calling—and found it wasn’t or hasn’t been. Use the question. Eliminate any “voices” but your own. Put logic and “shoulds” aside. Whatever your initial thought about trusting what you feel is (because feelings get a bad rap), try this: “I’m putting aside all thoughts and logic for a moment. What do I really feel?” Let your inner voice, your inner Self who knows you better than anyone, speak to you. Its language is feelings. You have them for a reason.

Also, allow that your calling may “call” you for a finite period of time, then another one calls out to you—even in later years. Don’t argue with this, have a conversation with it.

If you’re not already doing what you really want to do, ask yourself the question. Your calling—or callings—are waiting for you.

You are what you practice.
© 2010, Joyce Shafer

Friday, July 16, 2010

How Well Do You Cope with Change?

There are two types of change to be aware of—the type you desire and the type you don’t. Do you feel you manage yourself well enough through these?

Do You Want Your Life to Be Different?

If you desire change in some area of your life, the first thing that must change is whatever in you prevents or delays your desired outcome. Inevitably, your desired outcome is to feel the way you wish to feel about whatever it is that has your attention.

What are some ways you prevent or delay desired change?

You don’t allow it or make room for it. You cannot desire something to change and also believe it never will AND expect to see it as your reality. A good mantra for this is, “It COULD happen,” because it could! But it can’t if you don’t allow that it can.

Your thoughts, feelings, and words don’t support the change you desire—only what you don’t like. If you mentally replay and repeatedly say what you don’t like, you’ll never experience what you desire. What you feed is what grows. Whatever you criticize, it’s likely you’re doing the same thing, in some measure, without even realizing it. When you adjust this, you’ll notice the issue shifts, ends, or it no longer bothers you as it once did.

You believe that the outer experience must change BEFORE you have the inner experience you desire. Sorry, but that’s bassakwards according to how reality works. Ask yourself what may need to be adjusted in you, as ultimately, that is where you desire to feel the difference.

Ask yourself if the change requires you end or let go of something. If you’re truly unhappy about, say, your relationship with someone you believe will never change—and you know you cannot continue to live this way—make an exit plan. If a situation is genuinely intolerable, leave it. Just keep in mind the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Ask if perhaps your perceptions, assumptions, and expectations are off-center. Perceptions and assumptions, more often than not, lack enough information. Expectations are affected by our programmed beliefs and may not allow us to reassess and adjust as needed with a more open, relaxed attitude. This also leads us to burden others to provide what only we can provide to ourselves.

Do you wake every day and deliberately connect with a good feeling or do you immediately enter negative-mode?

Do you take a few moments throughout the day, and especially before you go to sleep, to feel genuine appreciation for the good you experienced during the day and the good you do have in your life, or do you have a gritch session streaming in your mind?

You’re impatient. It’s just not happening fast enough. First, go back through the above list and see which one or ones you’re engaging—and shift this. Everything in life has an incubation time before it’s hatched or born. This may be fast or slow, depending on what’s needed and how you’re managing your energy. When you genuinely trust that your best interests are always fulfilled (and get what that might mean), you release being so concerned about timing because you trust right timing. This is why it’s recommended you envision (with deep feeling) what you truly desire—then release the thought of it, as the tendency is to return to the thought of its non-presence rather than allow it to be yours, in the right timing.

It may be a “bitter pill to swallow,” but you can’t expect desired change until you realize in what way you’re part of the problem—and shift this. This kind of conscious awareness lets you feel more empowered, relaxed, and on purpose. And, isn’t that the point of any desired change?

When Change Happens to You

My iPEC training manual lists four cycles of change: Shuffle, Deal, Play the Game, Toss In.

Shuffle: You’ve faced an ending or know a change is at hand. Healing is needed, emotions run the gamut. It’s time for a new direction and you reassess where you are and explore where you want to go next. It’s scary and perhaps even a bit exciting, depending. You may feel you’ve lost control in some way, but realize new opportunities do exist.

Deal: You came up with a plan, feel optimistic, and begin to take next steps. You test the waters to see how they feel. If all feels good, your confidence builds and so does your commitment.

Play the Game: You are engaged with this new aspect or phase. You still reassess, but if you feel it’s going well, feel successful, you want it to continue. But as in any game, you still face challenges.

Toss In: Every cycle, whether considered a success or not, runs its course and it’s time for an ending or an upgrade. If an ending, you may wonder how you’ll manage to work through the cycle yet again—but you will. Momentum will slow as you enter the Shuffle phase to figure out what’s next.

What’s generally feared about this type of change is the unknown—what’s next and how you’ll handle yourself in the midst of it. Yet, without walking into the unknown from time to time (and every future moment is unknown), we enter stagnation. In time, stagnant waters offer nothing. Allow that some fear of change is natural, but let go of fearing the fear. Draw on your courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but it is proactive. Action sets you free.

You are what you practice.
© 2010, Joyce Shafer

Friday, July 9, 2010

Does a Road Trip Parallel a Life Journey?

Do you ever wonder if you’re on the right road of your life? If this is or has been your experience, how did you manage yourself?

A friend and I took a road trip using her GPS to get us from New York City to Louisiana. We wanted to beat the anticipated July Fourth traffic, so left Thursday evening and drove until we stopped for the night.

The next morning we continued on the interstate highway marked as West. At 1:30 we’d been driving in the beautiful state of Virginia for a while and decided to stop for lunch. Afterwards, we got back in the car and the GPS directed us onto Highway 81 South. We immediately entered a Twilight Zone experience: No evidence of the west highway sign was anywhere and the highway looked completely different. We kept driving, trusting the GPS, though my friend re-entered the destination at each stop we made.

My friend’s boyfriend called and asked where we were.
“We’re on Highway 81 South in Virginia,” she told him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be going west?” he asked.
“I’m following the GPS,” she replied.

He called several times to see where we were, and each time my friend’s answer was the same: “We’re still in Virginia on 81 South,” and he’d exclaim, “You’re still in Virginia?!” He was genuinely concerned we were on the wrong road. My friend and I joked that if we were on the wrong road, all we had to do was go south until we hit Florida, then turn right. Her boyfriend confirmed we were on the right road (from his computer), though we didn’t cross the Virginia state line until 9:30 that night.

During that Virginia segment, we exited 81 South to get gas and refreshments. This exit turned out to be one that doesn’t tell you, until you’re off the highway, that the gas station is a several-mile trip—in our case, three miles back north. The GPS repeatedly said: “Recalculating,” giving directions for how to get back on the highway. My friend was not happy, initially, that we were going “backwards,” but we decided to make a joke of it and to take only exits obviously right off the highway.

Life is similar to a road trip, and we discussed this to some extent as we traveled.

Road Trip: You have a starting point and a destination, with a number of pauses along the way.
Life: You can only start from where you are, and it’s important to have a desired goal so you know where you want to go. For some this is an overall goal; others are better served by the next goal then the next. You may pause along the way to have a certain experience then get back on track.

Road Trip: You use a vehicle.
Life: Your skills, talents, and willingness to learn act as your vehicle to get you where you want to go.

Road Trip: You use an atlas or a GPS for guidance.
Life: You are blessed with intuition or gut feelings (whether you use this or not) and ability to reassess. People who listen to their intuition will tell you it’s always right, whereas ego-based logic is often faulty and not necessarily connected to what’s appropriate for you.

Road Trip: You need to periodically refuel your vehicle and yourself.
Life: You must feed your body and mind in ways that help you maintain momentum and fulfillment. You must rest to recharge.

Road Trip: You need to periodically visit a restroom and toss out any trash that accumulates.
Life: You have to eliminate what is no longer needed or no longer serves you (or never did) and keep your body, mind, emotions, spirit, and environment as uncluttered as you can so your journey is more comfortable. No one is at their best with a cluttered life.

Road Trip: Traveling with the right companion(s) makes any journey better.
Life: Appropriate others matter. We all need others, and we can accomplish far more when we connect with people who are heading in the same direction we are.

Road Trip: Take appropriate exits so you avoid back-tracking, which adds miles and time to your travels (though, you can turn this experience in your favor).
Life: You have a choice, and using your intuition will guide you. If you find you take a detour from your path and purpose, you can always get back on the right road.

Road Trip: Some roads are longer than you thought they would or should be.
Life: Relax and trust that any and every path you travel has a purpose and is therefore a “right” road for you—if you make it so. You want to keep this in mind, particularly when a progress segment seems to take longer than you or others think it should.

Road Trip: Find the positives and the humor. In our case we had perfect weather, light traffic for a major holiday weekend, and gorgeous scenery. We made light of whatever came up and found reasons to laugh.
Life: Use positive statements to support yourself along the way. Laugh rather than take so much too seriously. Appreciate what you see and discover. Our egos tend to get anxious when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Tune in to the explorer and adventurer inside you.

My friend and I agreed to create a code to use whenever we feel unsure about our personal journeys: “I’m on 81 South.” (Everything seems unfamiliar. I’m not certain this is the right road; and this segment seems to be taking longer than anticipated.)

Despite appearances and opinions, it was the road that got us where we were going. Keep this in mind when you feel you’re on your true path and others doubt or question that you know what you’re doing. Reassess your true direction as needed.

You are what you practice.
© 2010, Joyce Shafer